VPN Review: ExpressVPN
The insatiable appetite for internet and tracking data of all sorts has seen virtual private networks (VPNs) grow in popularity over recent years. However, the anonymity which they offer should not come at the cost of performance. Our test below shows whether ExpressVPN truly lives up to its name.
What is ExpressVPN?
ExpressVPN is a VPN service registered in the British Virgin Islands and among the most popular and well-known VPN-solutions available on the market. The service's reputation has been well-earned, with our test showing that ExpressVPN performs superbly, however, this quality does come at a price.
Pros and Cons
Uncomplicated app which emphasizes performance
Huge server network
High security; does not compile or save logs
Allows only 3 devices to be connected simultaneously
Installation and Features
Upon registering with ExpressVPN, you receive an activation code through the program's dashboard, with which you can log in to various devices, eliminating the need to create a new username and password for each device. Your username and password are only needed when you log in through a browser. As an added layer of anonymity, it isn't necessary to verify the email address to which the authentication code is sent.
Although we limited our test to Windows and Android, the selection of supported devices, from Mac to Windows, as well as various routers and gaming consoles, is truly remarkable.
After entering the activation code, the application automatically configures itself and its settings, such as auto-start. Thereafter, you are already in the application's main screen.
ExpressVPN has a no-frills interface: The server location, and a 'menu' button are the only accompaniments to a large, red-bordered 'start' button. There should no doubt that the app is designed for its users to connect to a network as quickly and with as few distractions (such as NordVPN's world map) as possible.
This no-nonsense approach should appeal to minimalists, with ExpressVPN living up to its name.
If you would prefer to connect to a specific server in a certain country, instead of that automatically chosen by the program, you can click on 'server location', which opens a second window. Here, a search function, a list of suggested locations, your favorite locations, and a complete list of all servers can be selected from.
A navigation bar is hidden behind the hamburger button in the top left corner. The 'options' subsection, which opens in a new window, can be found here. Alongside familiar features such as a kill switch or protocol options (more on these in the "Security and Privacy" section of this report), browser expansions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari can be installed. These are nice additions for users who prefer to use the app directly in their browsers, however, there is not really any added value in doing this compared to a proper desktop app. Extras such as a speed test and DNS leak test, which links to the service's homepage are also provided.
With a subscription, three devices can be simultaneously connected using ExpressVPN. This should be enough for most situations, however, other VPN providers are a bit more generous here.
ExpressVPN's Android app is, in essence, identical to its desktop counterpart. Its operation is therefore, just as simple and intuitive: In the center is the large red 'connect' button, and connections can be established as quickly in the app as on the desktop. The only question that arises here is why the mobile app does not have an integrated option to select from one's 'favorite' servers: Alongside 'auto-location', several recently-used servers are also visible.
Apart from these minor issues, the app leaves little to be desired.
ExpressVPN is straightforward and streamlined: The app's design has been optimized for speed, and its additional features are simply bonuses. These encompass a number of important features which one expects from a VPN provider, however, those searching for something extravagant should look elsewhere. For those who want to quickly and easily protect themselves using a VPN either on their desktop, or their other devices, ExpressVPN's sleek user interface serves precisely this purpose.
Score: 4.7 / 5
ExpressVPN has more than 3,000 servers in 160 VPN server centers located in 94 countries. Along these dimensions, the provider has few competitors. Although in terms of pure server power, NordVPN still out-muscles ExpressVPN, owing to the greater variety of the latter's server locations, ExpressVPN's servers are less-burdened. Alongside the usual presence in Europe and North America, ExpressVPN also has a number of servers in Asia, South America, and Africa (South Africa, Kenya, Algeria, and Egypt), the last of which is usually overlooked by other providers.
ExpressVPN is undoubtedly a contender for having the best server network on the VPN market.
Score: 4.7 / 5
The speed of all VPNs which we tested was evaluated using a server in Europe with a 1 GB/s connection. We tested random ExpressVPN servers at different times of the day to more accurately evaluate their performances. More information concerning our methodology can be found in our VPN speed test.
The table below shows the average results from the last 365 days, arranged in order of download and upload speed (descending).
When the test was conducted, ExpressVPN clocked a download speed of 162.1 MB/s and an upload speed of 41.5 MB/s, easily securing first place in our ranking.
The diagram below shows ExpressVPN's average speeds over the past months.
Score: 5 / 5
Security and Privacy
ExpressVPN is registered on the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, a country known for its lack of data retention legislation. This means that your data is in safe hands and can only be accessed by authorities with great difficulty. Even then, they won't be able to get much from ExpressVPN since the company does not hold on to a significant amount of information. According to their website, "ExpressVPN does not and will never log traffic data, DNS queries, or anything that could be used to identify you."
However, the company still needs to log some data, saving your email address (a throw-away email account could be used for the activation code) and the date of your connections. Relevant data security information should be safe, at least according to the company's statements. This could be definitively verified if ExpressVPN agreed to certification through an independent data security tester.
ExpressVPN uses the default OpenVPN protocol, which offers a great deal of security and high performance. The VPN connection is encrypted using AES-256, which, at the moment, is the international standard, guaranteeing maximum security.
You can change this to L2TP - IPSec or PPTP; IKEv2 is not supported for Mac and iOS devices, and must be configured manually for Windows and Android devices. ExpressVPN offers a solid selection of protocols, whereby most users are likely to keep the pre-installed OpenVPN settings.
Naturally, the program also features a kill switch, which is referred to as "network lock". This function ensures that in the event of a break in the VPN connection, the entire internet connection will be closed, preventing security risks from arising.
ExpressVPN allays all security or privacy concerns. The integration of a few features offered by other providers, such as NordVPN's 'server categories' would be welcome, however, as things stand, ExpressVPN's package of features is good enough.
Score: 4.7 / 5
ExpressVPN's support center provides answers to a variety of FAQs, as well as video tutorials and guides. The support team can be contacted directly through live chat, email, or filing a support ticket. The app also has an integrated contact form, allowing for questions to easily be asked in regard to whatever function or aspect requires clarification. A support member then replies to an email address of your choosing.
During the numerous tests conducted using the service's live chat, we were answered within seconds by knowledgeable support personnel. A question sent using the app's contact form was answered within 20 hours.
Score: 4.7 / 5
For ExpressVPN's excellent services and features, customers need to dig a bit deeper into their wallets than for other providers. Similarly to other services, the price depends on the length of the contract, however, the savings from long-term contracts are a bit less than elsewhere. An overview of ExpressVPN's current rates is provided in the table below:
|12 Months||6 Months||1 Month|
|Price per month||$8.33||$9.99||$12.95|
|Contract period (months)||12||6||1|
|Number of devices||3||3||3|
|Number of servers||3,000||3,000||3,000|
|Number of countries||94||94||94|
ExpressVPN accepts all major credit cards, PayPal, and additional payment methods such as Alipay, Yandex, or Giropay. For even more anonymity, subscriptions can also be paid with BitCoin.
Speed is not only part of ExpressVPN's name; as one of the leading VPN providers, ExpressVPN consistently offers the best performance. Alongside its high upload and download speeds, ExpressVPN also possesses a superbly-designed application that leaves little to be desired, to say nothing of its unparalleled network of servers.
There is not really anything 'wrong' with ExpressVPN, apart from its price, which may be off-putting to some potential customers. Other VPN services offer similar performance for much less. Ignoring the price, however, ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN options available on the market.
ExpressVPN is highly regarded by its users, with its good performance and user-friendliness frequently lauded. Its main disadvantage is (for many potential users) its high price.