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ExpressVPN vs Proton VPN: which VPN is better?

ExpressVPN and Proton VPN are highly known names in the VPN realm. Proton VPN comes from the same people behind the popular email service provider ProtonMail. It’s known for offering advanced encryption and tunneling protocols, a sizeable server fleet, and robust features at a very reasonable price point. Plus, it has a solid free version, too.

At the same time, ExpressVPN also puts up a good fight with its sprawling server network, good streaming performance, and fast speeds. However, its high price tags, lean features, and iffy past are a concern for many.

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

ExpressVPN vs Proton VPN

After multiple tests, it’s clear that Proton VPN is the winner of the ExpressVPN vs ProtonVPN comparison. In contrast to ExpressVPN, Proton VPN offers more features at significantly cheaper pricing, with prices starting from just $4.99/month. Additionally, Proton VPN generously allows up to 10 simultaneous connections, twice the number supported by ExpressVPN.

Meanwhile, ExpressVPN provides more server options, but this comes with considerably higher price tags that start from $6.67/month. Additionally, ExpressVPN also rather restrictively caps simultaneous connections at just 5 devices. Taking all this into account, Proton VPN offers better overall value for your money.

Proton VPNExpressVPN
⭐ Rating:
🥇 Overall rank:#12 out of #35#6 out of #35
🖥️ Servers:1800+ servers in 66 countries3000+ servers in 94 countries
📖 No logs policy:No logsNo logs
💵 Pricing:From $4.99/monthFrom $6.67/month
🔥 Coupons:Cybernews VPN CouponsExpressVPN coupon 49% OFF
🔒 VPN protocols:WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2/IPsec.Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPsec
🍿 Streaming services:Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, HBO Max, Disney+Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+
🖥️ Platforms:Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOSWindows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
📥 Simultaneous connections:105
💁🏻 Support:Guides, FAQs, support tickets, subredditKnowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chat

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
BBC iPlayer
Amazon Prime Video

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.

Another factor to consider is that Proton VPN offers specialized streaming servers to its paid subscribers for a better streaming experience. However, that win is marred by its lack of SmartDNS, which helps to unblock geo-restricted content on devices that don’t support VPN apps like some smart TVs and consoles. But, while this omission is an inconvenience, it’s not quite a deal-breaker.

As for ExpressVPN, it doesn’t offer specialized streaming servers but you do get a SmartDNS feature called MediaStreamer. It comes with several caveats, however.

First, it only works with US libraries and you’ll need to manually configure the feature. Plus, there have been complaints that it doesn’t work on certain devices. That was the case with our test where MediaStreamer failed to work on Xbox.

Overall, this round of ExpressVPN vs ProtonVPN comparison ends with a tie. Both are excellent VPNs for streaming and at bypassing tough geo-restrictions but also have their weaknesses.

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
6-month plan$9.99/month
1-year plan
From $5.99/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?

Proton VPNExpressVPN
EncryptionAES-256 and ChaCha20AES-256-GCM or ChaCha20/Poly1305
RAM serversNoYes
A member of the 5-Eyes
No-logs policyAuditedAudited
Kill switchYesYes
Ad blockerYesYes
DNS leak protectionYesYes

Proton VPN and ExpressVPN are very secure but aren’t entirely above reproach. Between them, Proton VPN has a slight edge.

Both Proton VPN and ExpressVPN offer advanced encryption with AES-256 and ChaCha20. Plus, neither is based in a 5-Eyes country as ProtonVPN is operated by a Swiss company while ExpressVPN is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. Moreover, their no-logs policies have been audited and they offer some very useful security features like a kill switch and DNS leak protection.

However, on the flip side, Proton VPN doesn’t run on RAM-only servers. Meanwhile, ExpressVPN’s shortfalls are harder to overlook for some. The company is owned by Kape Technologies, which has a controversial past in malware. Additionally, ExpressVPN’s CIO was also involved in a computer network exploitation scandal.

That said, ExpressVPN has taken steps to reassure users of its commitment to privacy by offering things like RAM-only servers, no-logs audits, and perfect forward secrecy.

To sum up, Proton VPN is the winner of the Proton vs ExpressVPN security comparison. While both are security-focused, ExpressVPN’s troubled past is, understandably, a cause for concern.


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.


Both Proton VPN and ExpressVPN are based in privacy-friendly countries – Switzerland for Proton VPN and the 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.

However, their differences become more apparent when we compare ExpressVPN vs ProtonVPN in terms of tunneling protocols. With Proton VPN, you can choose between WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2/IPsec. All three are popular and praised for their great speed and privacy.

Meanwhile, ExpressVPN offers OpenVPN and IKEv2 in addition to Lightway, which is its proprietary protocol.


Both promises that they don’t log your data. However, words are cheap, so it’s fortunate that they back up their no-logs claims with 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 rigorously audited. 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, Proton VPN has better upload and download speeds as well as consistency but both providers offer excellent results.

Proton VPN’s case, the VPN is relentless in its efforts to boost performance. To start, it offers three protocol options: WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2/IPsec. Among them, WireGuard has the best speed and is considered to be one of the fastest protocols on the market. Additionally, Proton VPN’s proprietary VPN Accelerator feature helps to improve overall performance as well.

Similarly, ExpressVPN also has three protocol options – Lightway, OpenVPN, and IKEv2. Lightway is its proprietary protocol and boasts good speeds. However, it’s still not in the same league as other leading protocols like WireGuard and NordPass’ NordLynx. You can check out our VPN speed test tool to find out just how fast the top VPNs could be.

At the same time, I also ran real-life tests to compare their performance for this ExpressVPN vs ProtonVPN comparison. Using their different protocols, I ran the tests in various regions to determine how they stack up and which would yield the best results.

Briefly, both providers were remarkably fast. However, Proton VPN steals the show with its incredible results.

Features overview

When it comes to Proton VPN vs ExpressVPN feature comparison, Proton VPN has an easy victory. Although both providers have quite a few features up their sleeves, Proton VPN’s offerings far exceed ExpressVPN’s features. Plus, many of its features are more functional than those offered by ExpressVPN.

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 offer the feature but Proton VPN’s version is considerably more advanced.

With Proton VPN, you’re in the driver's seat and have plenty of customization options. Besides allowing you to select the apps to use the encrypted tunnel, you can also include/exclude specific IP addresses. The feature is available on Windows and Android.

ProtonVPN Split Tunneling

As for ExpressVPN, its split tunneling feature is more run-of-the-mill and doesn’t allow as many configuration options. However, in addition to Windows and Android, it’s also available on Mac. This is a strong redeeming quality since only a handful of VPNs have split tunneling on Mac.

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).

Proton VPN’s features

Apart from the features above, Proton VPN has plenty more to offer. The highlights include:

  • 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.
  • VPN Accelerator. Its proprietary always-on feature could boost speeds by up to 400% and improve overall performance. Here, the feature helps to overcome CPU limitations, tackle latency and TCP congestion, and improve infrastructure efficiency.
  • 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.
ProtonVPN connection status

ExpressVPN’s features

In contrast, ExpressVPN is more tightfisted with its features. That said, it still has a few very nifty ones like:

  • 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.

Overall, Proton VPN leads the ExpressVPN vs ProtonVPN feature comparison by a huge margin. Its robust and diverse features far trump ExpressVPN’s meager offerings.

Server locations

Proton VPNExpressVPN
Countries 6694
Virtual locationsNoYes
Specialty serversMultipleNo

Server location is one of the few areas where Proton VPN concedes to ExpressVPN since it has fewer servers. While 1800+ 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, unlike ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN doesn’t use virtual locations.

One rally that we can see from Proton VPN is its offering of specialty servers. The provider has multiple specialty servers while ExpressVPN doesn’t.


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

Proton VPNExpressVPN
Supported OSWindows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOSWindows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
Other software and devicesAndroid TVs, Amazon Fire devices, ChromebookAndroid TV, Fire devices, routers
Browser extensionsChrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, OperaChrome, Firefox, Brave, Edge
Simultaneous connections105

When it comes to compatibility, Proton VPN leads the match. Both support all the major operating systems as well as work perfectly with other software and devices.

However, where Proton VPN gained the upper hand is that it offers a bigger selection of browser extensions than ExpressVPN. What’s more, it also allows twice as many simultaneous connections as ExpressVPN.

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. However, split tunneling is only available on Windows and older versions of macOS. In terms of looks, they lack the sleekness of modern apps and are slightly clunky but easy enough to get around. Meanwhile, 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 while ExpressVPN’s iOS version lacks kill switch, split tunneling, and shortcuts.

Customer support

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

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?

CategoryProton VPNExpressVPN
Ease of use
Customer support

Proton VPN is the ultimate victor of the ExpressVPN vs ProtonVPN comparison although both are first-rate VPNs. To start, Proton VPN is cheaper, and yet it allows twice as many simultaneous connections as ExpressVPN. Beyond that, Proton VPN also offers far more core and additional features as well as browser extension options. Plus, its unblemished history is a boon, too.

Meanwhile, ExpressVPN has a bigger server network and better support. However, these merits come at too high a price considering its slim selection of features. High price tags and sparse features aside, ExpressVPN’s controversial past could be a deal-breaker for some, too.

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