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Express VPN Review

Rank #1
Ryan Glenn portrait
Ryan Glenn | VPN Expert
Updated November 1, 2020

Express VPN claims to be the world-leading VPN with rock-solid security and blazing fast speeds. I ran an abundance of tests to see how well it performs. In this deep dive review, we will answer those questions from security, geoblocking, speed, streaming, and more.

What's in this Review?

Highlights
Pros and Cons
Privacy
Security
Server Locations
Streaming & Torrenting
Speed
Censorship
Ease of use
Pricing
Verdict

Highlights

Server Size
3000+

Server Locations
94 Countries, 160 locations

VPN protocol and Encryption
OpenVPN Protocol; AES-256 bit Encryption

App Compatibility
Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Fire TV

Router Compatibility
Yes, installing the VPN on a compatible router is recommended to secure all devices without the need for downloading an app on each device or worrying about simultaneous device limitations. This is great for gaming consoles, smart TVs, and streaming devices.

Streaming
Unblocks popular streaming platforms including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, and more
See all platforms

Logging Policy
Strict Zero Logging Policy

Support
24/7 Live Support

Pros
  • Strong security and military grade encryption (256-bit AES)
  • Fast speeds
  • Huge server network
  • Torrenting P2P availabiliity on many servers
  • VPN apps of range of platforms
  • Strict zero log policy
  • Strong 24/7 customer support
  • Try it free for 30 days
Cons
  • Shorter plans are expensive
  • Lacking double encryption and port forwarding
  • No kill switch or split tunneling for iOS

Privacy

Express VPN is headquartered in the Bristish Virgin Islands, this is an ideal location for a VPN provider as countries like Panama, British Virgin Islands are known for not sharing intelligence with other countries which make it a privacy haven. Express VPN is not required watsoever to share any information or report any storange of data. This is great as they are far way from the 14-eyes surveillance alliance. On the countrary countries like the US, UK, and Australia share their info

ExpressVPN’s core mission is to keep your information private. In service of this mission, ExpressVPN’s headquarters and registered place of business is in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which has stricter laws concerning information disclosure than most countries. The BVI has no data retention laws, and any legal order requiring a BVI company to disclose customer records must come from the BVI Supreme Court.
Zero logging policy

ExpressVPN does not track any personally identifiable activity logs. This means all your data, browsing, and web traffic remains hidden and are not stored or logged anywhere.

Here is what Express VPN collects:
  • Apps and app versions successfully activated
  • Dates (not times) when connected to the VPN service
  • Choice of VPN server location
  • Total amount (in MB) of data transferred per day
Here is what Express VPN does not collect:
  • IP addresses (source or VPN)
  • Browsing history
  • Traffic destination or metadata
  • DNS queries
Our commitment to your privacy means we never keep sensitive information and eliminate both activity logs and connection logs. Our systems are built around NOT knowing how customers use our services. ExpressVPN cannot answer questions like “Which users were connected to a given IP address at a specific time?” or “Which users accessed a particular website?” because we simply never possess that data.

Security and Encryption

How secure is ExpressVPN?

ExpressVPN uses AES 256-bitencryption algorithm to hide your data. It’s the same encryption standard adopted by many governments and used by security experts worldwide to protect classified information.

AES-256, which has a key length of 256 bits, supports the largest bit size and is practically unbreakable by brute force based on current computing power, making it the strongest encryption standard.

256-bit keys means 2^256 or 1.1 x 10^77 possible combinations. That’s 115,​792,​089,​237,​316,​195,​423,​570,​985,​008,​687,​907,​853,​269,​984,​665,​640,​560,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000 combinations! A brute-force attack on a 256-bit keyspace is simply infeasible, even if all the world’s most powerful supercomputers ran for as long as the universe has existed so far, billions and billions of times over.
Protocols

Express VPN offers a variety of protocols. It is defaulted to automatic and recommended as Express VPN will determine the best protocol to use.

ExpressVPN Protocols
Network Lock (aka Kill Switch)

One of the features Express VPN offers is a kill switch. The kill switch is an advanced security measure, which prevents your data from leaking to the web.

If your VPN connection is ever interrupted, Network Lock will immediately stop traffic from entering or leaving your device. By halting all online activity, Network Lock keeps your personal information from being exposed to your internet service provider (ISP) or other prying eyes.
Network Lock means you never have to worry about a failed connection compromising your security and privacy. Not even for a moment.

The kill switch is available for both mobile and desktop users. This includes iOS, Android, Windows, and MacOS

Split Tunneling

They offer a split tunneling feature. VPN split tunneling lets you route some of your device or app traffic through the encrypted VPN tunnel while other traffic through your local IP. For sensitive data you always want to route your traffic through an encrypted tunnel however there are some adavantages for using split tunneling:

  • Route some of your internet traffic through the VPN encrypted tunnel while other traffic locally to reduce the chance of bandwidth throttling which may slow down your internet speed
  • You can access foreign and local internet services at the same time
Zero-knowledge DNS

ExpressVPN runs its own DNS on every server meaning no activity logs, no connection logs, no DNS blocking and no third parties. Your DNS queries are handled and encrypted by ExpressVPN and not your ISP.

TrustedServer

Express VPN introduces TrustedServer server technology which adds another layer of security. ExpressVPN servers never write to hard drive, running only on RAM. TrustedServer ensure all servers run secure up to date software on start up. By removing write access to the hard drive they minigate security risks by hackers.

  • All data wiped with every reboot, as VPN servers run on RAM only
  • Servers never write to the hard drive, further minimizing data risk
  • The entire software stack is reinstalled on every server at startup
With TrustedServer, ExpressVPN prevents the operating system and apps from ever writing to the hard drive. Instead, the server is run entirely on volatile memory, or RAM. Since RAM requires power to store data, all information on a server is wiped every time it is powered off and on again—stopping both data and potential intruders from persisting on the machine.

TrustedServer has been independently audited by PwC to confirm essential privacy protections

This video offers a detailed approach to TrustedServer

Server Locations

Express VPN has plenty of server locations for your needs. They offer 3000+ servers, 160 locations in 94 countries. One of the features they offer is a smart play feature which finds the best server for you. The smart play feature finds the most optimal server based on distance, latency, and download speed. They recommend using the smart play feature if you want the following:

  1. Secure and fast connection
  2. In a country where you want to bypass censorchip
  3. No preference, in this case finding the most optimal server will satisfy your needs

If you want to access TV shows, movies, sports, games, or live events from a certain country connect to a server location in that country. This is all detailed in the video below:

Streaming

Express VPN does a great job of bypassing geoblocks. I tested many of their server locations and all had no problem acessing Netflix, one of the toughest geoblocking services. Their VPN unlocks a ton of Netflix libraries. We were able to unlock the following:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • United Kingdom
  • Panama
  • Brazil
  • Sweden
  • Colombia
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Chile

Even better there are more libraries Express VPN unlocks the ones above are just some we tested.

Other streaming platforms that I had no problem with:

  • Hulu
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • HBO
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Showtime
  • Sling TV
  • Fubo
  • Disney +
  • ESPN
  • Kodi

Overall, Express VPN is highly recommended for streaming.

Torrenting

Express VPN stands out for torrenting, it allows P2P traffic across all of its servers resulting in less server congestion and ultimately faster download and upload speeds. There is no bandwidth limit or data cap which is great for torrenting however there is no port forwarding. For torrenting the Network Lock feature is nice to have the extra security. Make sure the Network Lock is enabled in the VPN app. We also found Express VPN works great with Kodi as we found no issues.

We tested and found Express VPN works with all the popular torrent clients including uTorrent, qBittorrent, BitTorrent, Vuze, WebTorrent, BitComet, and Deluge

Speed test results

ExpressVPN is fast and reliable, with great local speeds and consistent international speeds ExpressVPN is a great choice when it comes to speed & performence. Express VPN belongs in our list for fastest VPNs. We conducted a speed test, first by testing local speeds from New York and secondly international speeds. We tested 4 international server locations which are UK, Australia, Japan, and Canada.

We capped our speeds at 100 Mbps to compare VPN results and then by calculating a % loss between our baseline and resulting speeds to understand how much the VPN affected our speeds. The starting baseline speed with no VPN for upload is 94.38 Mbps and download is 85.74 Mbps.

One thing to note when I selected a server furthest away from my location the speed slightly decreases. The longer your traffic travels the slower your speeds will be, however, the best VPNs will mitigate the effects and ideally, won't even notice the difference at all.

Server Location Download Upload Ping
US - New York 85.47 Mbps (9.44% loss) 78.28 Mbps (8.72% loss) 12 ms
UK - London 76.33 Mbps (19.12% loss) 40.68 Mbps (52.55% loss) 63 ms
AU - Sydney 32.79 Mbps (65.26% loss) 16.85 Mbps (80.35% loss) 336 ms
JP - Tokyo 49.73 Mbps (47.31% loss) 26.75 Mbps (68.8% loss) 121 ms
CA - Toronto 76.84 Mbps (18.58% loss) 68.58 Mbps (20.01% loss) 20 ms

Geoblocking, How well does it fare in China?

Finding a VPN in China is difficult, China has tough restrictions and government surveillance. Some VPN's are not powerful enough to bypass these restrictions and are blocked from accessing VPN sites and apps.

Fortunately, Express VPN bypasses Chinas censorship with ease this is due to devoting significant resources into outsmarting them. Express VPN recommends using the smart play feature to bypass censorchip as they do a superb job of using proprietary obfuscation security protocols to bypass any restrictions.

Ease of Use and Support

ExpressVPN makes it very simple and easy to use for all platforms including device specific aps and browser extension. It is very easy to use their interface that includes a power option button for turning the VPN on or off as well as a dropdown to select the server location.

Browser extensions

Browser extensions are availble for Chrome and Firefox, we recommend getting the browser extensions as they ensure you have full protections and masks any of your web activity without you leaving your browser window.

For instructions on installing the browser extension, please see these guides for Chrome and Firefox.

Customer Support

ExpressVPN has a dedicated support page that includes troubleshooting, setup guides, and video tutorials. ExpressVPN has 24/7 live chat support that is very responsive. If you ever had any problems rest assured they will be helpful as they are customer focused. You can also reach them by email.

Pricing

Express VPN's pricing is straight forward, they offer three different plans. Each plan includes all of the features and functionality they offer so there is no upselling. The monthly plan is slightly more expensive than some competitors, however the longer you purchase a subscription the lower your monthly fee will be. Also, they are dedicated to providing a superior VPN experience to its customers making it a great value.

Friendly payment methods including anonymity
  • credit/debit card
  • Paypal
  • Bitcoin
  • Alipay
  • UnionPay

Verdict

9.3
Privacy & Security
Speed & Reliability
Streaming & Torrenting
Advanced Features
Usability & Support

There is a lot to like about ExpressVPN, it passed all our tests and we highly recommend ExpressVPN.

Bottom Line

ExpressVPN is the leading industry standard for VPN services. With ironclad encryption, user privacy in mind, and plenty of features. ExpressVPN is a the best overall VPN and tops our list for best VPNs, it's no wonder why ExpressVPN is gaining the recognition it deserves.
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