ExpressVPN is a popular VPN in the industry. It will appeal to most users thanks to its high speeds, the ability to unblock a huge list of streaming services (including Netflix), and a decent server selection. ExpressVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
After getting recently purchased by Kape Technologies, ExpressVPN is now owned by the same company that owns Private Internet Access, CyberGhost, and ZenMate VPNs. Soon after, a report was released about the company's Chief Information Officer Daniel Gericke. It revealed him as one of the members of Project Raven, which is behind building cyber-espionage tools helping the UAE target human rights activists, journalists, and rival governments.
With this news in mind, a lot of people may lose their trust in this VPN. Should they? Or is this high-speed VPN still a product worth purchasing – even at a pretty high price? In fact, when there are some pretty good (and much cheaper) alternatives like NordVPN, should you consider getting ExpressVPN at all? Read our ExpressVPN review and find out.
|🥇 Overall rank:||#13 out of #29|
|📖 No logs policy:||No logs|
|💵 Price:||from $8.32/month|
|🖥️ Servers:||3000+ servers in 91 countries|
|🍿 Streaming services:||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more|
|🔥 Coupons:||ExpressVPN coupon 35% OFF|
ExpressVPN pros and cons
- Excellent speed
- P2P support
- Specialized servers
- Unblocks most streaming services
- Independently audited
- Threat manager
- Inconsistent speeds
- On the pricier side
- Purchased by Kape Technologies
- Not many extra features
Is ExpressVPN good for streaming?
|Platform||Does it work?|
|Amazon Prime Video||✅ Yes|
|HBO Max||✅ Yes|
|BBC iPlayer||✅ Yes|
Streaming is one of the major attractions why the users flock to ExpressVPN. They have a reputation for being able to unlock anything that is watchable online. Their faster speeds surely help with that, as well.
Unblocking Netflix with ExpressVPN
Our tests can do nothing else but confirm that it's perfect for geo-restricted media unblocks. I tested it with the US Netflix library, and it worked flawlessly. The upside is that I didn't need to pick a specialized streaming server or tick anything. Everything worked out of the box.
Unblocking other streaming services with ExpressVPN
Presumably, it’s not only Netflix libraries that you’ll want to unblock. Other streaming services, such as Hulu, HBO Max, and Disney+, as well as streaming devices such as Apple TV also have tons of content to offer. So, it is only fair to see if ExpressVPN works with them just as well.
BBC iPlayer and YouTube didn't pose many problems for ExpressVPN. UK expatriates and those who want to see how the ads on YouTube look like in other countries can do so without any problems.
When it came to DAZN, I had high hopes, as the only service which managed to unblock it up to this point was NordVPN. And the hopes were justified - ExpressVPN is just as capable to unblock DAZN.
All of this is good news if you're looking for a VPN for entertainment. ExpressVPN will easily allow you to stream Hulu or Disney+ shows outside the US, and change your Netflix region so you can watch that one show that isn’t available anywhere else.
Is ExpressVPN good and safe for torrenting?
Yes, ExpressVPN is good for torrenting. It allows P2P connections on all of its servers, has good speeds, and advanced security features which make it a decent torrenting VPN. During our tests, it took some time before download speeds went up, but once it happened, the speed was 6-15 MB/s (48-120 Mbps). The speed was also prone to fluctuations. ExpressVPN is a good enough choice for torrenting, given that you aren’t looking to download or upload files at light speed.
However, if you’re looking for a VPN for torrenting only, we suggest searching for a more affordable and faster provider, such as Surfshark or NordVPN. Both of these providers have shown very good results when tested for torrenting, and the same can’t be said about ExpressVPN.
Plans and pricing
Like most VPN service providers, ExpressVPN doesn't lock particular features behind certain plans. You're getting the same package. The only difference is the length. The longer the subscription you pick, the better are your savings.
You can choose between three options:
|6-month plan||$59.95 or $9.99/month|
|1-year plan||$99.95 or $8.32/month|
Even though the advertised prices are shown split throughout the subscription, they are high. Even with the 35% discount for a yearly subscription, you're still paying twice as much as you would be for many other quality VPN services, including their main rival, NordVPN.
As with many VPN services, you'll be getting a five simultaneous connections cap. It may be good to note that with NordVPN, you’d be getting six connections for just $3.29/month, and Surfshark offers to connect an unlimited number of devices with whatever plan you choose.
As for the payment options, you can use a credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, or other options like UnionPay. So, there are choices for those who want to remain private and those who prefer convenience.
Regardless, ExpressVPN is one of the most expensive VPN providers out there. Frankly, you would get much more for a much lesser price in terms of simultaneous connections, free trials, and extra features with any other top VPN. So if your wallet can’t exactly handle these colossal ExpressVPN prices, we suggest taking a look at our VPN discount page for more affordable providers.
Can you get ExpressVPN for free?
Unfortunately, ExpressVPN has no free version or free trial. So the only way back if you don't like the service is using their 30-day money-back guarantee. While the money-back guarantees are something that every VPN provider offers nowadays, ExpressVPN is lagging behind without at least giving the option to try it out completely for free. Especially considering that their pricing is much higher than that of their main competitors.
ExpressVPN servers and locations
ExpressVPN has around 3000 servers in four regions all over the world:
|Regions||Number of countries|
|Asia Pacific||27 countries|
|The Middle East and Africa||5 countries|
Compared to VPN market giants NordVPN or Surfshark, these aren’t bad numbers. ExpressVPN has servers in significantly more countries than NordVPN across all four regions but the general server count is smaller, meaning that some servers may experience overcrowding and lower speeds.
But generally, you shouldn't have a hard time finding an ExpressVPN location to connect to. ExpressVPN has more servers in both the Asia Pacific and Europe than any other top provider as of right now. What’s even more impressive is that you can choose between four locations in Africa, while other VPNs usually offer one or two.
The server selection and connection processes are also extremely easy. To change your ExpressVPN server, go to VPN locations on your client app >> choose whether you want to see recommended, recent or all locations >> connect. That’s all there is to it.
All in all, ExpressVPN certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to servers and locations.
Does ExpressVPN work in China?
China actively blocks VPN providers. As such, not all of them are able to bypass the great firewall of China.
However, it would be safe to assume that ExpressVPN can function in China or other countries with similar views on VPN usage. Keep in mind though that to be able to use a VPN in China, you’ll have to download and install the client app before you travel there.
Additionally, ExpressVPN support usually doesn’t recommend manual connections, so your best bet is to keep the client up to date and try different networks till you find the one that works.
Speed and performance: Is ExpressVPN fast?
ExpressVPN has a proprietary VPN protocol called Lightway, which allows for relatively fast speeds, it’s not as fast as some other established providers in the industry, the most famous being NordVPN’s custom NordLynx. There are issues with connection consistency, for example, and in general, it just doesn’t reach the speed that it may have the potential to.
But let’s take a closer look at the speed test results to get a better picture.
- Baseline: 1 ms/300 Mbps download/300 Mbps upload
|Location||Download speed (Mbps)||Upload speed (Mbps)|
Using their proprietary Lightway protocol, the connection time was almost instant. The average drop in download speed was a mere 34%, which is not that bad compared to some of the fastest VPN providers on the market.
The same can’t be said about upload speeds though. ExpressVPN retains around 49% of upload speed on average, which is kind of disappointing when compared to some of the speediest VPNs such as NordVPN, which showed upload speed drops as small as 13%.
Let’s see how ExpressVPN compares to other top VPN providers in terms of download speed:
|Provider||Average download speed|
ExpressVPN performance with other protocols
Apart from ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway, the VPN provider offers other, more common VPN protocols to its users. Here you can see the differences in ExpressVPN speed using other tunneling protocols.
These are the average download and upload speeds across 10 different locations:
- Lightway: 203.5/146.4
- IKEv2: 211.2/9.5
- OpenVPN (TCP): 103.7/52.6
- OpenVPN (UDP): 174.1/123.5
The OpenVPN UDP protocol shows some impressive speeds. The drops can be as low as 14%, which is certainly not a bad score. Meanwhile, IKEv2 also performs as one of the fastest available protocols. Overall, ExpressVPN can be blazing fast. It breaks most previous speed records when you pick a nearby country (even if it means picking the same country you live in).
That said, it does have some strange drops in random locations and for no apparent reason. This makes the service very inconsistent, which can be a dealbreaker if your needed location suffers from poor performance.
In simple terms, here’s how ExpressVPN protocols compare to each other in terms of speed, security, and connection stability:
All in all, ExpressVPN might not be the fastest VPN out there, but it still performs pretty well compared to some other VPN providers. The speeds are suitable for streaming, gaming with a VPN, and casual browsing alike.
Short on time to read the whole article? Check out our video review for ExpressVPN – you’ll find all the same tests and facts, just condensed into 8 minutes of quality content and striking visuals.
Interface and ease of use
|Windows||Basic but functional VPN app|
|macOS||Very similar to the Windows client|
|Linux||Works through terminal and is easy to use|
|Mobile||Android app has more features than iOS|
|Browser||Attractive extensions for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox|
ExpressVPN has clients for a variety of operating systems, which include Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, as well as apps for Kindle Fire, Chromebook, and routers. You can also get ExpressVPN browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. There are apps for smart TVs and streaming devices such as Apple TV and Roku, too.
Windows and macOS
Usually, the Windows app is the best version of a VPN that you can experience. However, there isn't a night and day difference between Windows and macOS versions in this case. Both applications look almost identical and have the same features.
The main window is pretty small and pretty much has one big button to connect. You can even add shortcuts or connect to the most recently used server. If you want to access options, the window will open on the side. At first, I found it a bit clunky. Still, I appreciated that I could change settings and see which servers become available for me.
It's not a dealbreaker that the app doesn't have a map. There's a location filter according to the continent from which you can select the country you need.
Both Windows and macOS apps have split tunneling, which is rare, to say the least. So, whichever platform you prefer, with ExpressVPN, you won't be making sacrifices.
ExpressVPN has apps for Debian, RedHat, and Arch-based Linux distributions. None of them require root permissions, which most cautious users will appreciate. The feature suite doesn't feel lacking. You can list all available servers, use Lightway tunneling protocol, and diagnostics are simple to perform. It doesn't feel clunky or underdeveloped.
It's even possible to control the app through a browser extension if you don't like to use the terminal. So, you can choose the way which seems more convenient to you. That said, some features are missing. For example, there's no split tunneling.
ExpressVPN mobile apps
Mobile versions borrow the design logic directly from the desktop counterparts. The country selection tab is identical, but the options tab is modified to fit taller mobile screens.
That said, Android does have some features that establish it as a better-equipped version. While both apps have auto-connect and can switch between several tunneling protocols, only the Android app has a kill switch, split tunneling, and shortcuts.
The overall feel of ExpressVPN mobile apps is pretty nice, as the interface is responsive and easy to navigate. We also liked the modern feel of it.
There are ExpressVPN browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, and Edge for those who need a more lightweight option. They can also act as supplements for your desktop app – you can control the app via the extensions.
Otherwise, it protects you against WebRTC leaks and spoofs your geolocation. You can even set it up so that it would connect each time you open a browser. This makes it essentially a better version of the Opera browser with an integrated VPN.
The UI has a dark mode, and I found it much more convenient to use than desktop apps. It shows your connection status more clearly.
ExpressVPN may not be the one VPN with the most features, but of those that it does have, each seems to serve a different and pretty important purpose. You get the VPN-standard ones like split tunneling and stealth mode and some more sophisticated features such as MediaStreamer or Threat Manager. Let’s take a closer look at everything that ExpressVPN has to offer.
Split tunneling gives you much more precise controls on how to direct your VPN traffic. So, there are three ways how you can set up ExpressVPN:
- If you use the default option, all your traffic goes through a selected VPN server
- You can exclude select apps from VPN, forcing them to connect directly
- It's also possible to set it up, allowing only select apps to use a VPN
So, you can tailor this tool directly to your usage. Do you prefer watching foreign streaming libraries but like to listen to your local charts? Add an exclusion to the Spotify app, and direct the rest of the traffic through the VPN.
The same can be done with browsers, clients, games, and so on. Plus, even if you're using a VPN, there might be frequent cases when you'd rather be using localized versions of the pages. So, this option saves you the trouble of switching servers each time.
With your subscription, you're also getting a SmartDNS feature called MediaStreamer. It doesn't add any additional encryption and has nothing to do with safer or more private browsing. However, it has everything to do with making your streaming experience easier.
This is especially useful when you're accustomed to watching streaming media on a device that doesn't support VPN. With MediaStreamer, you can change the DNS address, and the device will act as if it's using a VPN when connecting to geo-restricted sites. It only works with US libraries, but these are the ones that are the most restricted.
MediaStreamer did work on our test PC, but it didn't work on Xbox. It seems that Cloudflare DNS settings on the router were overwriting them. The best solution was setting up MediaStreamer directly on the router. That way, I didn't have to set it up on each household device separately.
Most VPNs can be set up on a router, but it usually requires some technical knowledge and tinkering with the firmware.
ExpressVPN has streamlined this process by introducing a router app that shaves a couple of steps from the complicated setup. What’s more, since the app is made from the ground up by ExpressVPN, you can control which devices will be using a VPN, adjust your connection settings, and configure your port forwarding settings.
There's one more thing - the router application now supports adding devices into device groups, letting you choose different servers for each group. This allows you to connect to different servers on different devices simultaneously. I see this as a big advantage as normally, this functionality is only present on the most expensive routers.
ExpressVPN has a feature for those who couple VPNs with particular services or apps. If you frequently launch a specific app immediately after you connect to a VPN server, there are shortcuts.
After you connect to a VPN server, you can right-click the bar under the connect button and select Edit shortcuts. That way, you can add an app or a website link to have it available on the bar. Clicking the shortcut icon will instantly launch the added website or URL link, which saves you the trouble of manually looking for it.
It's fully customizable, and in total, you can create up to 5 shortcuts. The feature is available for Windows, macOS, and Android users.
Stealth servers, stealth mode or obfuscated servers are all methods employed to mask VPN usage from Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). Oppressive governments, streaming services, and some other websites use Deep Packet Inspection as an anti-VPN technology.
ExpressVPN doesn’t have stealth servers as an option in the server selection, nor are they talking about it in their blog or features page, so it’s hard to determine if they really exist.
However, once asked directly, ExpressVPN support claim that stealth servers are available when connecting to a protocol that’s chosen automatically by the service. Once the VPN detects DPI, your connection automatically switches to stealth servers.
So, even though there is no way easy way to intentionally test and inspect ExpressVPN stealth servers, there is also no point in assuming that they don’t exist.
Threat Manager on ExpressVPN is essentially a feature that blocks all tracking and other potentially malicious activity from third parties when browsing or using apps.
ExpressVPN does this by cross-checking every website or app you visit with its own constantly updated blocklist.
Thus, with Threat Manager turned on, online tracking from some websites or apps will be reduced to a minimum, further enhancing your online privacy and anonymity.
Unfortunately, ExpressVPN’s Threat Manager feature is currently only available for macOS, iOS, and Linux users.
Is ExpressVPN safe and secure?
ExpressVPN is a safe VPN service that meets most of the security requirements and standards. However, it's owned by Kape Technologies, which has an alleged history in malware distribution and owns several VPN services.
Recent events regarding the ownership and leadership of ExpressVPN raise questions about the platform’s security and privacy. With the company’s Chief Information Officer tangled up in the cyber-espionage scandal, some people may hold reservations about choosing ExpressVPN and regarding it as trustworthy enough.
When choosing a VPN, it’s important to consider everything that it offers. Many alternative options, like NordVPN, offer similar (or even better) no-logs policies, independent audits, and security features – without any doubts about their overall security practices.Visit NordVPN
When you connect to a VPN server, your traffic becomes encrypted. It means that the data stream is unreadable to those who don't have encryption keys.
ExpressVPN uses the AES 256-GCM cipher but if you select Lightway, you can choose another encryption protocol – ChaCha20/Poly1305. It's more suitable for lower-powered routers or entry-level mobile devices. Otherwise, if your device is more powerful, AES should be working about as fast as ChaCha20, so there's no reason to switch.
Your authentication is processed with the help of the SHA-512 hash function. This solves the problem of using your credentials for login, and not exchanging them in plain text. This ensures that in case of a data breach, your password would still be safe.
It's also worth mentioning that ExpressVPN is opting for a much less frequently found version. They're using SHA-512, while many VPN services are sticking with SHA-256. So, it would be twice as difficult to go through ExpressVPN to get your data.
|Protocol||Best use case|
|OpenVPN||Well-rounded security and availability|
|IKEv2||Mobile devices and cellular/wifi data|
|Lightway||Overall the best ExpressVPN protocol|
|L2TP/IPsec||Use when other protocols don’t work|
Lightway – the newest open-source addition to the service uses lightweight cryptographic libraries to make your connection faster. It's perfect for mobile devices or for those who have frequent internet drops. It's available on Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android.
OpenVPN (UDP/TCP) is one of the most popular and widespread tunneling protocols. It comes in two options: one that favors speed (UDP) and one that favors stability (TCP). With ExpressVPN, you can freely choose between UDP and TCP. It's also available on all ExpressVPN clients.
IKEv2 – the best option for mobile devices, as it allows for seamless switching between mobile and cellular data without the need to manually reconnect. It is also quite fast and is available on Windows, macOS, and iOS.
L2TP/IPsec is a very old tunneling protocol and probably only useful only in cases when other protocols don't work. You can use it on Windows and macOS.
Network Lock is the name for ExpressVPN’s kill switch, which is usually a central component of any Virtual Private Network. If you're using a VPN to protect your identity, the kill switch shuts down your Internet connection when the VPN connection gets interrupted or otherwise disrupted. This prevents unwanted leaks of your real IP and location.
You can easily turn on the Network Lock by heading to your settings. It's also possible to disable or allow access to the other local network devices like file servers and printers. This creates a block so strict that your device gets cut off from the local network. It can be handy if you're using a VPN in a public place.
Plus, it is possible to set it up in such a way that it also disables specific apps. The feature is available on Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android. Though, iOS users will have to deal with the fact that it isn't available to them.
However, they do collect some usage information, like successful VPN connections and the aggregate sum of transferred data. It’s mainly used to improve the service, and if you're worried, you can opt-out.
ExpressVPNs chosen business location doesn't interfere with providing a privacy-friendly VPN service because they're based in the British Virgin Islands. This location doesn’t have any potentially harmful data retention laws, and also doesn't belong to any big surveillance alliances, such as the 14-eyes alliance.
Security and privacy audits
ExpressVPN has put itself through a series of independent audits. Their no-logs policy was audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the Big Four accounting companies, which also audited NordVPN. The report indicated that ExpressVPN's setup is in accordance with their privacy claims.
But this isn't the only form of how ExpressVPN is ensuring your utmost privacy. Their bug bounty program, which has been running for years, covers not only all of their clients but also VPN servers and internal systems. This allows for independent testers to catch a bug or a vulnerability that in-house developers might’ve missed.
For those, who remain skeptical about obstructions of justice and third-party audits, ExpressVPN has another ace up its sleeve. TrustedServer technology makes it physically impossible to store data logs because the servers are running only on RAM, storing only working data. So, it allows the data to be exchanged at extremely high rates and instantly purges the data the moment it's not in use.
Such a mode of operation also means that the software that manages your connections has to be reinstalled every time the server shuts down. So, if a hacker would find a vulnerability and installed a backdoor, it would also be wiped with the rest of the data during the reset. So, with one simple solution, they're shaving off a long list of potential vulnerabilities.
ExpressVPN has made their customer support easier by including a lot of useful information on their support website. There you can find a lot of guides and tips with screenshots, and sometimes even videos. This makes setting up your device a pretty easy task when you can access such an extensive knowledge center. It's also nice to see that it's kept up to date.
If the issue is too big to solve on your own, you can always reach out to a human. For that, there is the 24/7 live chat or email tickets. If the question is too tricky, the live chat query might be converted to an email ticket, and you will be contacted later. Keep in mind that the first thing that you will be asked during the session is your email. So, it seems like they're verifying your account status before providing support.
During our usage, my experience was only positive. When asked, the customer support agents sent me the transcripts to my mailbox, so I could conveniently store the given tips for later.
Is ExpressVPN any good?
Overall, ExpressVPN is a trustworthy, safe, and capable VPN service. It has fast connection speeds and works with streaming platforms such as Hulu, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. It allows P2P connections, has numerous security features and has a trustworthy no-logs policy that ensures your total privacy.
However, ExpressVPN doesn’t have much to offer when it comes to features, besides the standard VPN features such as a kill switch or alleged stealth servers. The MediaStreamer is just SmartDNS under another name - nothing that other top VPNs such as NordVPN don’t have.
And even though the speeds are fast for the most part, they’re not incredibly consistent, so it’ll always be a hit or miss with whichever protocol you choose.
And all that for some of the highest prices on the VPN market. Whether it’s 10 or 8 dollars a month, you won’t be getting nearly as good a service as that of NordVPN or Surfshark. Mind you, these providers offer much more for a half-price when compared to ExpressVPN.
More on VPN providers from Cybernews:
ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN: Top VPNs compared
ExpressVPN vs. PIA: which will you choose?
PrivateVPN review: what will you like about this VPN?
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN: two top VPNs compared
Is ExpressVPN good for gaming?
Yes, ExpressVPN is suitable for gaming if you chose a closer location. If you connect to further locations, this will add more latency, introducing lag to your gaming sessions.
Does ExpressVPN have a free version?
No, unfortunately, ExpressVPN doesn't have a free version or a free trial. Instead, you can make use of the 30-day money-back guarantee to refund the paid amount if you end up not liking the service.
Does ExpressVPN slow down Internet speed?
Yes, ExpressVPN slows down your internet speed just like any other VPN. That's why in our tests, we measure the drop-off from the baseline connection to evaluate how much it reduces the speed.
How many devices can be connected to ExpressVPN?
With a single subscription, you can connect to ExpressVPN on 5 devices. You can install the client app on more than 5 devices, but if you exceed the number of the allowed connections, some devices simply won’t connect to the VPN.