ExpressVPN Review [Jan 2021]: Safe, but is it worth the price?
ExpressVPN is a stalwart of online privacy and security. The VPN provides great bang for the buck whether you are a basic or an advanced level user. In this ExpressVPN review, it has earned 4.2/5.0 rating. Learn why in the detailed analysis below.
ExpressVPN is one of the leading VPN brands in the industry. It is ranked as #1 almost everywhere. But it would be unfair for me to treat it superficially without putting it to the test and evaluating it under the light of cold objective reasons.
So, to keep my review of ExpressVPN as fair as possible, I extensively checked out ExpressVPN and evaluated its merits through rigorous testing. Upon delving deep, I found that ExpressVPN VPN offers a RAM-only network of 3,000+ servers and 256-bit military-grade encryption.
It is capable of unblocking Netflix, torrenting, and other streaming services as well. In terms of compatibility, it is compatible with all the major operating systems such as Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and a few other popular platforms discussed below in the detail.
Although ExpressVPN is super capable, its excellent range of features comes at the relatively high price of $6.67/mo . But if budget is not a problem for you, then ExpressVPN is the most capable VPN you can buy in 2021.
However, like other VPNs, this VPN has some cons as well. This is why, after analyzing ExpressVPN for days, I gave it a 4.2-star rating in this ExpressVPN review.
Streaming – Does ExpressVPN work with Netflix?
ExpressVPN is good for unblocking US Netflix. I performed extensive tests to check whether ExpressVPN unblocked Netflix or not using its different US servers.
Below, I am streaming the movie Ex Machina with ExpressVPN’s New York server. There were no proxy errors, neither did I face slow streaming. Worked 100% fine!
To access Netflix with ExpressVPN, you just ought to connect Express to a US server. Once you do that, open Netflix and start streaming! If you ever get any problem, just get help from ExpressVPN Chat Support 24/7. They will help you out.
ExpressVPN is fully capable of supporting HD-quality streams with minimum buffer times, unlike other VPNs that generally require longer buffer times.
Furthermore, ExpressVPN supports Kodi, and other streaming services as well such as Hulu, BBC iPlayer, & Amazon Prime Video. For American streaming services like Hulu and Amazon, you can use ExpressVPN’s US servers such as Los Angeles and Washington DC, both of which work reliably.
Speed Test – Is ExpressVPN fast enough?
As per our latest tests, ExpressVPN offers excellent download speeds on its servers. Overall, ExpressVPN offers 3,000+ servers in 94 locations around the world.
We tested several ExpressVPN servers to measure their speed and performance on a 100 Mbps connection as follows:
|Server location||Download speed||Upload speed||Pings|
|USA- New York||85.84 Mbps||68.59 Mbps||358 ms|
|Netherlands – The Hague||85.84 Mbps||86.67 Mbps||127 ms|
|Switzerland – 2||86.67 Mbps||90.84 Mbps||142 ms|
|Italy – Milan||84.17 Mbps||93.34 Mbps||123 ms|
|Hong Kong – 2||86.67 Mbps||94.17 Mbps||259 ms|
|Canada – Toronto||84.17 Mbps||39.17 Mbps||210 ms|
|Singapore – Jurong||78.75 Mbps||94.17 Mbps||86 ms|
|Australia – Melbourne||85.84 Mbps||94.17 Mbps||168 ms|
|UK – docklands||89.17 Mbps||75.5 Mbps||134 ms|
Based on these speeds, it’s no exaggeration to call ExpressVPN one of the fastest VPNs in the industry. Here’s a more detailed blog on the ExpressVPN speed test if you’re interested.
ExpressVPN US Servers Speed
The download speed that I managed to get from the USA- New York server was 85.84 Mbps and the upload speed was 68.59 Mbps.
ExpressVPN UK Server Speed
The speeds that I managed to get from ExpressVPN’s UK – docklands server was 89.17 Mbps download and 75.5 Mbps upload.
How to get the fastest speed with ExpressVPN?
The performance you get with a VPN largely depends on the location of the server you are connected to. ExpressVPN displays a recommended list of servers that are likely to perform the best for you. You can see this list on the server selection screen with the app.
Alternatively, the Smart Location feature automatically chooses the fastest server for you on the basis of latency, proximity, and server load. You can also manually select any server of your choice by checking their latency and other factors as displayed in the server selection menu of all ExpressVPN’s desktop apps.
This makes it extremely convenient to choose a fast server, allowing you to maximize the performance of ExpressVPN in terms of speed and connectivity.
Security – How secure is ExpressVPN?
ExpressVPN is totally secure due to its powerful AES 256-bit military-grade encryption which offers the best security. To be precise, the VPN implements AES-256-GCM (Galois/Counter Mode) to encrypt the control channel, which passes control instructions for message transfers between the client (user) and the server (website/web service).
For the data channel, which contains the actual information about your activities, ExpressVPN uses the Diffie-Hellman key exchange as the symmetric encryption scheme. The company’s encryption system is characterized by perfect forward secrecy, whereby your encryption keys are automatically changed every 60 minutes and every time you connect to ExpressVPN.
Other security features include protocols like L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2, and OpenVPN UDP / TCP, the latter two of which are some of the strongest protocols in existence in terms of protecting the integrity of user data. The recommended protocol, however, is OpenVPN UDP/TCP because this is the most robust of VPN protocols currently available.
Overall, ExpressVPN is an extremely strong package of security capable of defending you from various kinds of cyber-security threats.
Is ExpressVPN located in a safe country?
Yes, ExpressVPN is located in a safe country i.e British Virgin Islands. What this essentially means is that ExpressVPN isn’t subject to the UK, US, or other countries that are a part of the Fourteen Eyes (a group of surveillance-sharing countries).
This is highly reassuring because authorities and agencies lack the jurisdiction to legally request any information from companies based in the British Virgin Islands. Also, there are no data retention laws in the country.
Does ExpressVPN keep logs?
ExpressVPN is a zero log VPN which means it retains no privacy-sensitive information pertaining to the user. To be specific, it has clearly outlined in their logging policy that they never log:
- IP addresses
- Browsing history
- Any website you visit/Torrent you download
- DNS queries
We have carefully engineered our apps and VPN servers to categorically eliminate sensitive information. As a result, ExpressVPN can never be compelled to provide customer data that does not exist.
But what does ExpressVPN collect? This is what it logs:
- Which OS app you successfully activated
- Dates (not time) when you connected to ExpressVPN
- Your server location
- Data (MB) you used
Based on ExpressVPN’s logging policy, it’s clear that ExpressVPN legitimately does not keep activity logs or any other compromising information. I even confirmed the ExpressVPN policy statements by reviewing the case of a Turkish policeman that killed the Russian ambassador.
Even though Turkey had to seize the ExpressVPN server which was part of the criminal investigation, the authorities were unable to retrieve any user data, vindicating their no-logs stance conclusively.
Does ExpressVPN have a kill switch? (ExpressVPN Network Lock)
Yes, ExpressVPN offers a kill switch feature by the name of “Network lock”, which is essentially a leak protection tool. You can use kill switch on different apps like Windows, Mac, Linux, and routers too.
If your VPN connection drops for any reason, the kill switch will shut down your computer’s Internet connection until the VPN is online again This kill switch mechanism makes sure that there’s not even a single packet of your data that slips through the Internet from your computer without ExpressVPN guarding it.
In my testing, ExpressVPN’s kill switch worked flawlessly without any issues and responded swiftly to my attempts to close off the OpenVPN connection (for which I applied different tricks such as closing the UDP/TCP ports, launching a firewall, etc.)
If you don’t know, you and I both use third-party DNS servers to access websites we want to visit. These third-party DNS servers log DNS queries whenever we try to access any site.
But with ExpressVPN’s Zero-Knowledge DNS feature, all of your DNS requests will be handled by private DNS servers owned by ExpressVPN. This is in stark contrast to the practice of many other VPN providers who use OpenDNS and other third-party DNS services.
With private DNS, ExpressVPN ensures that there are no loose ends or kinks left anywhere in the entire system that a hacker can exploit, giving you all-encompassing security and secrecy on the internet, and shrouding your DNS requests.
Does ExpressVPN offer a Split tunneling feature?
Yes, ExpressVPN offers split tunneling for its desktop apps. It is a powerful feature that only a handful of premium VPN services offer. Fortunately, ExpressVPN supports split tunneling in all but its iOS app.
Split tunneling allows you to select which apps will use the VPN connection, and which apps should directly connect to the Internet, bypassing ExpessVPN’s. For instance, if you want to set all of your browsing traffic to pass through the VPN, but want to leave your video games out of the VPN network, then split-tunneling helps you bifurcate your VPN and non-VPN traffic.
ExpressVPN Lightway (Beta)
ExpressVPN recently launched an all-new VPN protocol branded as Lightway. This offering is currently in the beta stage and available for Android beta testers for now.
Basically, Lightway is an attempt to remove inherent weaknesses and bugs in legacy VPN protocols. It is designed with a minimal code base which entails faster connectivity, faster performance, and easier auditing.
Another improvement this protocol offers is in the way network changes are handed off. For instance, when you typically switch networks from 4G to Wi-Fi or vice versa, your VPN connection drops and must be established again. Lightway solves this problem and allows seamless switching between networks so that your VPN connection persists uninterrupted during the handover.
Is ExpressVPN Compatible with TOR?
Yes, ExpressVPN is compatible with the TOR browse for users that require extra privacy online. To enable VPN over Tor, you will first need to connect to your favorite ExpressVPN server and then launch the Tor browser. It is important to follow these steps in the right order, as launching Tor before connecting to the VPN doesn’t provide the same anonymity and this functionality is not supported by ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN Leak Protection Test Results
ExpressVPN is a leak-proof service. In all the leak tests I performed from IP address leaks to WebRTC leaks, ExpressVPN came out clear as shown below:
Now, I connected to ExpressVPN US server and as expected, the test result showed an IP address from New York, United States:
To run the DNS test on ExpressVPN, I logged into dnsleaktest.com before connecting to ExpressVPN. As you can see from the screenshot below, dnsleaktest.com is showing the DNS address my device is connecting to:
Then I performed the test again after connecting to ExpressVPN’s US server. Now you can see that my default DNS address is swapped with a DNS address from the United States:
There you go, ExpressVPN clearly passed the DNS Test with excellence.
Lastly, I ran ExpressVPN through browserleaks.com to check whether it leaked my WebRTC information or not. Since I was connected to the US server of ExpressVPN for the test, the results below showed IP addresses associated with ExpressVPN’s servers, evidence that I did not encounter WebRTC leaks at all with ExpressVPN.
To know more about different types of VPN leaks like IP, DNS, WebRTC, and others, read our detailed VPN leak test guide.
Server locations – Does ExpressVPN have a good server network?
Yes, ExpressVPN has an excellent server network. The VPN provider delivers its services through a massive network of 3,000+ servers spread across 94 countries. This is just perfect for anyone looking to bypass geo-restrictions. Compared to other VPNs, ExpressVPN has a multitude of servers in every continent be it Europe, Asia, the Americas, the Middle East, or Africa.
While the majority of the servers in ExpressVPN’s network are bare-metal, physical servers, a few of these are virtual. According to the company, less than 3% of the servers are virtual.
Moreover, one of the most distinguishing characteristics of ExpressVPN’s network is its use of RAM-only servers in contrast to hard disk-based servers that most providers use. Therefore, any information related to the user gets instantly deleted every time their servers are restarted and refreshed. ExpressVPN calls its server technology TrustedServer.
Does ExpressVPN work in China?
Yes, ExpressVPN works in China. ExpressVPN provides an efficient obfuscation feature that allows users to bypass severe online restrictions in various oppressive countries and enjoy fuller internet access. In the case of China, the VPN serves the local users by effectively circumventing the GFW (Great Firewall of China).
Furthermore, with particular “Stealth Servers” located in Hong Kong, it allows users to bypass the GFW instantly and access Facebook, Snapchat, Tumblr, YouTube, and almost every blocked site from within China. This is extremely helpful when making a VPN connection in China in order to bypass geo-restrictions online and get wider internet access.
Our guide on accessing blocked content with ExpressVPN in China explains this further.
Does ExpressVPN allow torrenting?
ExpressVPN is an excellent choice for P2P or torrenting activities as it allows torrenting on all of its server locations. The fact that the VPN provider is based in the British Virgin Islands, combined with its zero-knowledge DNS, leak-proof performance, and no-logging policy, the obvious conclusion is to regard ExpressVPN as one of the safest VPNs you can have for downloading torrents.
ExpressVPN’s stable speeds that regularly max out by reaching close to your base connection makes it a perfect companion to be running in the background while you download torrents with a high degree of security.
Learn more about torrenting with ExpressVPN.
Virtual Server Locations
As mentioned above, ExpressVPN’s network comprises two types of servers: physical and virtual. While the majority of the servers in Express’ network are physical in nature, the provider employs virtual server locations for those regions where they haven’t been able to find servers meeting their quality standards.
When ExpressVPN can’t find physical servers that fulfill their quality requirements in a given location, they use virtual server locations. These servers are physically located nearby to the country you’re trying to connect to so that they may behave in a similar manner and make it possible for you to access any services within the country.
Obviously, the physical servers will perform better in a side-by-side comparison, ExpressVPN’s virtual server locations are quite secure and behave much the same way as physical servers do.
Pricing – How much does ExpressVPN cost?
There are three pricing plans currently offered by ExpressVPN i.e. 1 Month, 6 Months, and 12 Months. So, on the 12-months pricing plan, you get to save 49%. These are:
When it comes to discussing its payment methods, ExpressVPN accepts credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin among others.
As compared to other VPNs, ExpressVPN’s prices are indeed expensive but if you look at ExpressVPN features, it’s one of the best VPN services and it’s totally worth buying.
Does ExpressVPN offer a free trial?
ExpressVPN is not free. However, it does offer a 7-day free trial for iOS. In order to get the ExpressVPN free trial, you will have to provide credit details, however, the provider will not charge you until the end of your trial period. To test ExpressVPN for even longer, you can go for its 30-day full money-back guarantee.
How do I get a refund from ExpressVPN?
The service offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to its users so If a subscriber is unsatisfied with its service, they can request a full refund. Refunds are usually processed within seven days.
However, if the refund is requested after 30 days, then it will provide a pro-data-based refund of service fees for the time duration when VPN wasn’t working. For more information, our guide on canceling ExpressVPN will walk you through the whole cancellation process.
Compatibility – Does ExpressVPN work on all Devices?
Yes, ExpessVPN works on all commonly used devices and operating systems. It even supports many of the less common devices such as Roku. Speaking of which, here’s how you can configure ExpressVPN on Roku. You can also set up ExpressVPN on a FireStick device.
Here’s a complete list of different platforms that ExpressVPN apps support:
- iOS / Apple TV
- Gaming Consoles
ExpressVPN for Android & iOS App
For Android, you can use the app on different versions like Android 10, Oreo, Nougat, Marshmallow, and Lollipop on 5 simultaneous connections at a time.
Like the Windows version, the app has a Location Picker that assists with choosing the best server for your choice. However, it lacks the speed test feature available in the desktop apps which provides a quick overview with details of server parameters such as speed, load, latency, etc.
Also, one of the most impressive and convenient features is the leak test tools embedded in the app. You can check for DNS and WebRTC leaks within the app without needing to use third-party website-based tools for these tests.
Moreover, the settings tab offers similar features as for desktops with Network Lock, split-tunneling, and protocols configurable. However, the Android app only supports OpenVPN UDP and TCP. It also lacks the IPv6 leak feature.
The iOS app is compatible with all the latest iOS versions be it iOS 13, iOS 12, iOS 11, iOS 10, iOS 9, and iOS 8. It is similar in design and functions to the Android, but some features are missing here like kill switch, etc.
Unlike the Android app, you get a broader choice of protocols here with L2TP and IKEv2 along with OpenVPN. There are DNS and WebRTC leak tests that you can run with a single tap, which is a very convenient feature to have. The connectivity is also extremely stable and can be used on different kinds of mobile networks including LTE/4G, 3G, and Wi-Fi. So, whether you’re just using your Wi-Fi Internet connection or mobile data, ExpressVPN works extremely well for both types of networks.
Unfortunately, it lacks the kill switch which is available in other ExpressVPN apps. However, it does come equipped with a configurable auto-connect feature to establish the connection back to your chosen server in case of an interruption.
ExpressVPN for Desktop (Windows & Mac & Linux)
The desktop app is compatible with the different versions like Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows Vista, and Windows RT. The Windows and desktop apps of ExpressVPN, in general, are very well-designed.
The Mac app of ExpressVPN is very similar in visuals, design, and functionalities to its Windows counterpart. From the main screen, you can choose your preferred VPN server. The settings and other features such as Speed Tests are also retained in the MacOS version of ExpressVPN.
The app is highly responsive and extremely user-friendly. Furthermore, the app works on all Macbook and iMac models. The app delivers a secure VPN client for High Sierra, Yosemite, Maverick, and other versions of MacOS.
If we talk about ExpressVPN’s Linux compatibility, you can use it on various 64-bit and 32-bit versions such as Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Raspbian, and Arch too.
ExpressVPN for Routers and Browsers
ExpressVPN is compatible with a wide range of routers. The good thing about ExpressVPN is that it makes it super easy to set up its router configuration files on a wide variety of router models. You can easily find plenty of easy to understand router setup guides on ExpressVPN’s website. I’ve covered a complete guide on how to set up ExpressVPN on a router. You might want to check that out.
Aside from offering router support and dedicated apps, ExpressVPN also offers extensions for Chrome and Firefox browsers, and not just in a half-baked, run-of-the-mill way. The extensions are beautifully designed and offer more features than most other VPN extensions in the market right now.
The extensions work as a front-end interface for the actual app on your computer. As a result, you can’t use these extensions as standalone add-ons. It is, nonetheless, extremely convenient to control the ExpressVPN client from the browser even if there are limitations to these extensions.
It is commendable that rather than picking some of the features from desktop apps and sprinkling these within the browser extensions, ExpressVPN carefully adds browser-appropriate features that actually enhance the privacy of your browsers beyond simply masking your IP address.
Therefore, ExpressVPN’s browser extensions are valuable additions on their own and improve user experience substantially. If any of these apps are giving you problems for any reason, you can see this ExpressVPN troubleshooting guide.
How Many Devices Can I Connect With ExpressVPN?
You can connect up to 5 devices simultaneously with a single ExpressVPN account. However, if you set up ExpressVPN directly on to a router, then you’ll be able to secure all the devices that connect to your router at once regardless of how many multi logins ExpressVPN officially allows.
Customer Support & Reliability – Is ExpressVPN Reliable?
Customer support is another area where ExpressVPN has outperformed other VPNs by a long distance. The service has divided the section into different subcategories including live chat support, troubleshooting guides, and installation instructions, email support, and support ticket submissions.
Moreover, there are tons of troubleshooting guides and installation articles on the support pages of the website. The guides are well-written and easy-to-understand so even if you’re a beginner, you should have no problem following the instructions.
If you can’t find the answers you are looking for in the support articles, you can directly reach out to the customer service team through email or live chat. The live chat isn’t always available, but I found the people behind the live chat quite responsive, polite, and knowledgeable that promptly answer what you ask rather than beating about the bush and trying to hard sell the service.
When I contacted the live chat representative with a question, I started a stopwatch on Google to record the response time. It took them exactly 2 minutes and 17 seconds to answer my question, which is pretty good!
In short, the customer support lives up to the standards we can expect from a provider that charges as much as ExpressVPN does. The quality truly justifies the price.
ExpressVPN App Usability & User Experience
ExpressVPN’s Android app is super smooth and highly intuitive to use for beginners as well as advanced users. The app is lightweight and takes only a few minutes to install. The app, overall, is very well-designed and offers enough features with smooth functionality to make it a pleasure to use ExpressVPN on Android.
As for the iOS app, when the app is launched, displays a neat, mobile-friendly interface containing the Location Picker, a menu button to access settings, and a connect button. The Location Picker offers the same functionality as in the desktop and Android apps, giving users the ability to choose a VPN server by country or city. You can also maintain a list of favorites as “Recent Connections“.
All in all, ExpressVPN’s iOS app is extremely well-developed and offers much more than the bare essentials that most of the competition fails to go beyond on their dedicated iOS apps.
The Windows app is intuitive and easy to use. With a single click, you can select your desired server locations from anywhere. The app allows users to select a server in several different ways. You can let the app make the best decision for you by selecting a server based on speed, latency, and proximity. You can also see the list of recommended servers that the app automatically generates for you based on the analysis of best-performing servers that will give you optimum performance.
If you have a specific server location in mind, then you can ignore these recommendations and simply connect to whichever server appeals to you from its vast network. The search bar embedded within the app makes finding any VPN location super convenient. There’s also a Favorites list that you can make by adding your preferred servers for easy accessibility.
The speed test feature measures speed as well as other variables such as latency and sums up these metrics in a concise report that can help you see the current status of each server.
The settings tab allows you to choose from various protocols, enable or disable the Network Lock, or set split-tunneling rules to control which apps should use the VPN and which apps should simply connect to the internet directly. So, if you use the VPN for some apps such as BitTorrent clients but not for other activities, you can reserve the VPN for just your selected apps and leave everything else directly connected to the web.
For all versions of MacOS, ExpressVPN has a built-in Network Lock (kill switch) feature to protect your online activities even if the app suddenly stops working for any reason. The kill switch simply kills your network so you don’t go online unprotected. The Smart Location feature is also integrated into ExpressVPN’s apps for MacOS.
For Linux, ExpressVPN offers a command-line based app interface where users can enter simple commands to run the VPN, change settings, and use other features. For instance, establishing a connection with a VPN server only requires you to type in a simple command in the interface. The ExpressVPN Linux app also includes a built-in DNS leak protection that secures your DNS information completely.
Is ExpressVPN legal?
Yes, ExpressVPN is perfectly legal to use. However, if you use it for anything illegal like extortion, cybercrime, stalking, or any other malicious reason, you can get prosecuted by law.
How can I get ExpressVPN for free?
ExpressVPN is a paid service. However, you can find a free trial version which ExpressVPN which becomes available for a limited period of time every now and then.
Does ExpressVPN offer static/dedicated IP addresses?
No. ExpressVPN doesn’t offer static or dedicate IP addresses. The provider only offers shared IP addresses for better security and privacy.
Does ExpressVPN Have an Adblocker?
No, ExpressVPN has no adblocker currently.
Which is better, ExpressVPN, or NordVPN?
This is a bit of a subjective question because both providers are highly rated and offer excellent services. The key difference is that ExpressVPN is slightly more expensive. So, if budget is not an issue for you, then you can’t go wrong with ExpressVPN, but NordVPN is no slouch itself.
What do I do if ExpressVPN servers are down?
It is extremely unlikely that you’ll ever find the entire ExpressVPN network down. But you might face problems with individual servers from time to time. When that happens, simply choose a different server location from the wide range of options that ExpressVPN offers.
Is ExpressVPN good for gaming?
Yes, ExpressVPN is excellent for online gaming. The provider uses strong encryption and privacy features to protect the digital footprint of gamers online. VPN also maintains fast speeds and low latency to ensure good framerates and smooth gameplay.
Is ExpressVPN good for gaming?
Yes, ExpressVPN is excellent for online gaming. The provider uses strong encryption and privacy features to protect the digital footprint of gamers online. VPN also maintains fast speeds and low latency to ensure good framerates and smooth gameplay.
Does ExpressVPN protect against viruses?
No, ExpressVPN does not protect against viruses since this is not the purpose of a VPN. In fact, no VPN can protect you from viruses. That is the job of an anti-virus program. However, it detects and protects you from entering malicious websites which can infect your device.
Do I Recommend ExpressVPN in 2021?
Yes, I definitely recommend ExpressVPN. The VPN is packed with numerous features like unblocking Netflix, Kill Switch, reliable torrenting, excellent logging policy, VPN protocols, advanced security features, unlimited bandwidth, 3000+ super-fast servers, 30-day money-back guarantee, Bitcoin Payments, and powerful encryption as well.
All these features make it ideal for any VPN user. Thus, based on all the capabilities evaluated in this ExpressVPN review, the higher pricing is quite easily justified for a VPN of ExpressVPN’s caliber. As such, it has earned a rating of 4.2-star rating overall.
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