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ExpressVPN vs Proton VPN: which VPN is better?


ExpressVPN and Proton VPN are highly known names in the VPN realm. While both offer advanced encryption and security their offering significantly differs.

ExpressVPN puts up a good fight with its sprawling server network, good streaming performance, and excellent security features. Meanwhile, Proton VPN is known for its speeds, and robust features for a reasonable price point.

But which one is the better VPN? Find out in this ExpressVPN vs ProtonVPN comparison, as we review and test these providers to identify how they stack up in terms of streaming performance, pricing, security, speed, features, and more.

ExpressVPN vs Proton VPN

Based on our tests, it’s clear that ExpressVPN is the winner of this ExpressVPN vs Proton VPN comparison. ExpressVPN is better than Proton VPN because it offers excellent streaming possibilities, has a larger server fleet in more locations, includes advanced security, and provides more customer support options.

While ExpressVPN is slightly pricier than the opponent, you can redeem a discount coupon for extra savings.

ExpressVPNProton VPN
⭐ Rating:
4.3
4
🥇 Overall rank:#4 out of #42#13 out of #42
🖥️ Servers:3,000 + servers in 105 countries3,000 + servers in 71 countries
📖 No logs policy:No logsNo logs
💵 Price:From $6.67/monthFrom $4.99/month
🔥 Coupons:ExpressVPN coupon 49% OFF + 3 months FREE!Cybernews VPN Coupons
🔒 VPN protocols:Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2/IPsec
🍿 Streaming services:Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and moreNetflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, HBO Max, Disney+
🖥️ Platforms:Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOSWindows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
📥 Simultaneous connections:810
💁🏻 Support:Knowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chatGuides, FAQs, support tickets, subreddit

Netflix and streaming performance

Both Proton VPN and ExpressVPN are great for streaming. They have no trouble unblocking Netflix’s powerful geo-restrictions, including the difficult-to-bypass Netflix Japan. The same could also be said for other major streaming sites like HBO Max, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and YouTube.

Proton VPNExpressVPN
Netflix
BBC iPlayer
Amazon Prime Video
Hulu
HBO Max
Disney+
Youtube

But, while the ability to bypass region restrictions is key, it’s not the only metric to take into account when assessing Proton VPN vs Express VPN streaming performance.

This said, ExpressVPN offers a better streaming experience thanks to its MediaStreamer – a proprietary SmartDNS feature. If your device doesn’t natively support VPN, MediaStreamer allows you to access content that isn’t available in your region. Unfortunately, Proton VPN doesn’t offer such function.

Therefore, ExpressVPN wins this round against Proton VPN. While both providers are excellent VPNs for streaming, ExpressVPN unblocks major streaming platforms and also includes MediaStreamer that unblocks content on devices that don’t natively support a VPN.

Plans & pricing

Proton VPN and ExpressVPN have clear-cut pricing schemes, which clarify that Proton VPN is the cheaper option. Either way, you’ll see bigger savings with longer subscriptions and both have 30-day money-back guarantees.

As for differences, the obvious one is that Proton VPN has a free plan – something completely missing from ExpressVPN’s lineup – and it’s quite generous as far as free plans go. The most glaring contrasts, however, are in their prices with Proton VPN offering lower prices in this Proton VPN vs ExpressVPN match.

For a longer subscription, Proton VPN’s affordable 2-year plan costs only $4.99/month, while, ExpressVPN doesn’t have a specific 2-year option. Meanwhile, the difference in their 1-year plans’ prices is more subtle but Proton VPN is still cheaper at $5.99/month compared to ExpressVPN’s $6.67/month.

PlanProton VPNExpressVPN
MonthlyFrom $9.99
$12.95
6-month plan$9.99/month
1-year plan
From $5.99/month
$8.32/month
2-year plan
From $4.99/month

However, their monthly plans are where you’ll find the greatest margin. Proton VPN is far cheaper at $9.99/month compared to ExpressVPN’s $12.95/month. That said, the high bills mean that both plans don’t offer good value for money.

Prices aside, Proton VPN allows 10 simultaneous connections, while ExpressVPN caps the limit at half of that. The latter’s lower limit could leave some of your devices unprotected.

In any case, both providers are flexible with payment options. Credit and debit cards, PayPal, bank transfers, and even Bitcoin are accepted. However, Proton VPN has the advantage of allowing cash payment, too.

In brief, Proton VPN is the cheaper choice in the ExpressVPN vs ProtonVPN comparison. Plus, it also offers more simultaneous connections as well as payment methods. Make sure to check out our Proton VPN coupon and ExpressVPN coupon pages to get the best deals.

ExpressVPN vs Proton VPN: which is more secure?

ExpressVPNProton VPN
EncryptionAES-256-GCM or ChaCha20/Poly1305AES-256 and ChaCha20
HashSHA-512SHA-384
RAM serversYesNo
A member of the 5-Eyes
NoNo
No-logs policyAuditedAudited
Kill switchYesYes
Ad blockerYesYes
DNS leak protectionYesYes

Both Proton VPN and ExpressVPN offer advanced encryption with AES-256 and ChaCha20. However, ExpressVPN uses stronger hash encryption, therefore, gains a point over Proton VPN.

Also, neither is based in a 5-Eyes country. Proton VPN is located in Switzerland while ExpressVPN is incorporated in British Virgin Islands. Also, their no-logs policies have been audited, and they offer some very useful security features like a kill switch and DNS leak protection.

Moving on, ExpressVPN gains advantage over Proton VPN because it runs on RAM-only servers. It means that data is cleared with every reboot, so your data is completely safe with this provider.

To sum up, ExpressVPN is the winner of this security comparison. While both are security-focused, ExpressVPN offers a stronger hash function, and RAM-only servers ensure all-around anonymity with every reboot.

Infrastructure

Rather than upgrading its fleet to RAM-only servers, Proton VPN opts for Secure Core. The Secure Core architecture protects against network attacks by routing your traffic through multiple servers. Proton VPN is also quick to point out that its Secure Core servers are in privacy-friendly countries (Iceland, Switzerland, and Sweden) and are guarded by strong physical security.

In contrast, ExpressVPN was one of the first to switch over to RAM-only technology. It completed its move to TrustedServer – its RAM-only feature – back in 2019. This move helps to boost security and privacy since RAM-only servers mean that there’s no hard drive to store your data on and the servers are wiped clean with each reboot.

Privacy

Both Proton VPN and ExpressVPN are based in privacy-friendly countries – Switzerland for Proton VPN and British Virgin Islands for ExpressVPN – that aren’t in the 5-Eyes alliance. Additionally, the pair employs advanced algorithms of AES-256 and ChaCha20 to encrypt your data.

When it comes to tunneling protocols, both offer fast and steady ones. With Proton VPN, you can choose between WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2/IPsec.

Meanwhile, ExpressVPN offers OpenVPN and IKEv2 in addition to Lightway, which is its proprietary protocol. All three are popular and praised for their great speed and privacy.

Logging

Both providers ensure that none of your data is logged. Fortunately, both VPNs also validate it by running independent audits.

Proton VPN has gone through a few rounds of audits by third parties like SEC Consult, Mozilla, and Securitum. In its latest security audit, Securitum confirmed Proton VPN’s no-logs claim. You could also check out its open-source code for yourself if you’re still wary.

Likewise, ExpressVPN has been audited rigorously. Its no-logs policy was independently audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the Big Four accounting companies, in 2019. The firm verified ExpressVPN’s no-logs policy.

Speed comparison: ExpressVPN vs Proton VPN

In the ExpressVPN vs ProtonVPN performance comparison, both providers showcase excellent results in consistency and speeds. However, Proton VPN is faster.

Data period: 02.13 - 02.27
Download retention
US (NY) US (NY)
14% (139 Mbit/s) 51% (495 Mbit/s)
United Kingdom United Kingdom
16% (154 Mbit/s) 43% (416 Mbit/s)
Upload retention
US (NY) US (NY)
15% (150 Mbit/s) 47% (454 Mbit/s)
United Kingdom United Kingdom
23% (221 Mbit/s) 41% (393 Mbit/s)
Download/Upload baseline speed - 500 Mbit/s

We ran real-life tests to compare their performance for this ExpressVPN vs ProtonVPN comparison. Using their different protocols, we ran the tests in various regions to determine how they they stack up and which would yield the best results. Nonetheless, both providers showcased equally speedy results.

ExpressVPN has three protocol options – Lightway, OpenVPN, and IKEv2. Lightway is its proprietary protocol and boasts excellent speeds. With it, you can expect ExpressVPN to retain up to 77% of the initial download speeds on average. It's a great and consistent result.

Meanwhile, Proton VPN also offers three protocol options: WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2/IPsec. Its speediest tunneling protocol WireGuard manages to retain 94% of the initial download speeds on average.

Therefore, Proton VPN wins this battle because it's faster than ExpressVPN.

Features overview

When it comes to Proton VPN vs ExpressVPN feature comparison, the fight is fierce and also finishes in a tie. Both providers offer quite a few features up their sleeves and they're equally valuable for reputable VPN providers. Plus, many of its features are more functional and help you customize a VPN usage.

Split tunneling

Split tunneling is a handy feature that allows you to choose the specific apps that will use VPN and the ones that can connect directly. Both providers offer split tunneling, however, ExpressVPN supports it on more operating systems.

While Proton VPN allows customization of the feature, unfortunately, it's only available on Windows and Android.

As for ExpressVPN, its split tunneling feature allows an equally great customization. In addition to that, ExpressVPN supports split tunneling on Windows, Android, and also macOS. his is a strong redeeming quality since only a handful of VPNs have split tunneling on macOS.

ExpressVPN split tunneling feature

Stealth servers

Both providers also offer stealth servers, which are a protocol used to avoid detection and let you bypass censorship and VPN blocks. They essentially hide the fact that you’re using a VPN and are especially instrumental if you face restrictive limitations at schools and offices or are in a censor-heavy country like China.

Proton VPN’s version is called Stealth and it’s available on all plans. It’s currently supported on Android, macOS, and iOS apps but not on Windows or Linux.

ProtonVPN preferences

ExpressVPN, meanwhile, claims that it uses stealth servers but is reluctant to elaborate on the feature. Instead, when pressed, all its customer support could share was that your connection automatically switches to stealth servers when the VPN detects Deep Packet Inspection (DPI).

Threat Manager

ExpressVPN includes a Threat Manager into its feature offering. It's a preventive tool that restricts apps and websites from communicating with third parties known to track your online activity or engage in malicious behavior.

Proton VPN also protects against malware with its NetShield feature. Whenever you visit a website, Proton VPN identifies whether it has any viruses, spyware, or other malicious

ExpressVPN Threat Manager

Proton VPN’s features

Apart from the features above, here's what features you can get with Proton VPN:

  • Tor over VPN. Tor support is built-in and easily accessible with a click. With the feature, you can reroute your internet traffic through the Tor network for anonymity and privacy as well as access hidden services and onion sites.
  • Quick Connect. A convenience-focused, time-saving function that connects you to your default profile with a click. By default, it automatically connects to the fastest server but you can always configure the country and server type.
  • Secure Core. Proton VPN’s multi-hop connection funnels your traffic through two different servers to protect against network-based attacks. These servers are in heavily-guarded facilities in countries with strong privacy laws.
  • NetShield. This feature ensures you avoid infecting the device with malware by checking apps and websites and whether they contain malicious software.
ProtonVPN connection status

ExpressVPN’s features

In comparison, ExpressVPN includes some features that the opponent lacks:

  • MediaStreamer. A SmartDNS feature that simplifies the streaming experience by unblocking geo-restricted content on devices that don’t support VPN natively.
  • Threat Manager. Blocks all tracking and other potentially-malicious activities when you’re browsing the web or using apps. It's currently only supported on Mac, iOS, and Linux.
  • Obfuscated servers. They conceal the fact you're using a VPN. So, no one can restrain your access to various sites just because they detect a VPN usage.
  • Shortcuts. A provider offers shortcuts for apps or sites that you launch frequently after connecting to a VPN.

Overall, this fierce fight ends up in a draw. Both providers have feature-rich offerings, therefore, you'll be able to find robust features to enhance your online security.

Server locations

Proton VPNExpressVPN
Servers3000+3000+
Countries 71105
Virtual locationsYes (Smart Routing)Yes

While 3000+ servers are nothing to scoff at, they can’t compare to ExpressVPN’s impressive 3000+ fleet.

Geographically, Proton VPN also covers less ground at 67 countries compared to ExpressVPN’s 94 countries. Moreover, same like ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN use virtual locations.

However, ExpressVPN is a winner thanks to its larger server fleet and more locations.

Torrenting

Proton VPN and ExpressVPN are solid picks for torrenting. Proton VPN lets you torrent on any of its Plus servers but also has 140+ special P2P servers optimized for BitTorrent. Additionally, its comprehensive security features like kill switch, split tunneling, and VPN Accelerator come in handy, too.

Meanwhile, ExpressVPN allows P2P on all of its 3000+ servers. However, on the flip side, the speed tends to fluctuate a fair bit and you won’t see the best speed, either.

Platforms, interface, and ease of use

ExpressVPNProton VPN
Supported OSWindows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOSWindows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
Other software and devicesAndroid TV, Fire TV stick, Kindle Fire, ChromebookAndroid TV, Fire TV stick, Chromebook
Browser extensionsChrome, Firefox, Brave, Edge, VivaldiChrome, Firefox
Simultaneous connections810

When it comes to compatibility, ExpressVPN and Proton VPN support major operating systems and work perfectly with other software and devices.

However, ExpressVPN wins against Proton VPN because it offers a bigger selection of browser extensions. In addition, ExpressVPN's MediaStreamer feature provides more flexibility to connect this VPN on various devices that don't natively support a VPN.

While ExpressVPN offers twice less simultaneous connections than Proton VPN, it gains a point for flexibility and more browser extensions.

Desktop apps

Proton VPN has desktop apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux users. All three are streamlined, modern, and beginner-friendly. Everything is clearly labeled for easy navigation.

ProtonVPN for Mac

The Windows app is the most functional and comes with all the features. However, the Mac app is as good. All the key features minus the few Windows-only tools are there. Additionally, you also get the Mac-exclusive Notify, which notifies whenever you connect to an unprotected network. Linux users, meanwhile, get an intuitive and versatile graphical user interface.

As for ExpressVPN, its Windows and Mac apps are near identical and have the same features. In terms of looks, they are sleek and easy to get around. However, Linux users will have to control everything using command lines.

ExpressVPN for Mac

Mobile apps

Both providers’ mobile apps are intuitive, responsive, and straightforward. It’s easy to search for a specific feature and the modern designs are easy on the eyes.

ProtonVPN mobile app settings 1

However, as with most mobile apps, their Android apps house more features than their iOS versions. For instance, Proton VPN’s iOS app is missing split tunneling and alternate routing .

ExpressVPN vs Proton VPN: comparison video

Check out our comprehensive video comparison – ExpressVPN vs Proton VPN and find out all the differences and similarities these providers have:

Customer support

Proton VPNExpressVPN
24/7 live chat
Email
Phone line
Guides and articles
FAQs

Proton VPN takes the back seat when it comes to customer support. The provider lacks 24/7 live chat, which is typically the fastest and easiest way for assistance. However, fortunately, its email support is responsive and you can expect an answer in a few hours. Alternatively, its knowledge center is also jam-packed with articles and guides on all things VPN.

Meanwhile, ExpressVPN offers 24/7 live chat. You could also reach out using email tickets. Otherwise, for some self-help reading, you could hit up its help center.

ExpressVPN vs Proton VPN – which one wins?

CategoryExpressVPNProton VPN
Streaming
Price
Security
Speed
Features
Servers
Torrenting
Ease of use
Customer support

Although both VPNs are first-rate providers, ExpressVPN is simply better than Proton VPN and wins this comparison.

First, ExpressVPN offers better streaming possibilities than Proton VPN. More so, it includes a larger server fleet spanned across more countries, and provides better security (for example, RAM-only servers). Finally, ExpressVPN gives more options how you can contact their customer support.

However, Proton VPN was better in terms of speeds and price, but it wasn't enough to defeat ExpressVPN. Overall, both VPNs will provide you with top-notch security features – you just need to try.


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