VPN

ExpressVPN Review

Don’t know who might be looking over your shoulder? Our review of the ExpressVPN will give you the peace of mind you crave.

Operating out of British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN was founded in 2009. It starts offering its services from £10.35 ($12.95) per month, though its price comes down to £4.71 ($6.67) per month with three extra months for free, if you opt for its yearly subscription plan.

Still, while its pricing plans are clear, what we don’t know – yet – is whether it’s as fast and secure as promised. Can we use it for streaming Netflix? What about torrenting? Will it let us bypass national censorship laws? Will it keep us secure at all time?

To answer all these (and more) questions, our ExpressVPN review comes into play.

ExpressVPN Pricing

If you’re on a tight budget, ExpressVPN is not for you. It has three pricing tiers: $12.95 due every month, $59.95 due every six months, and $99.95 due annually. As is the case with most VPN providers, ExpressVPN reduces its prices if you commit for longer periods.

There are plenty of VPN providers which can beat that pricing, but ExpressVPN justifies its asking price. You get more than 2,000 services located across 144 locations in 94 countries, with easy setup, P2P support, and custom clients for Mac, Windows, iOS, Linux, and even Android.

And while you didn’t ask, paying the abovementioned prices opens the world of 24/7 email and live chat support. Not to mention the remarkably useful web-based troubleshooting guides and tutorials. Therefore, as the adage goes, “you get what you pay for.”

Also, while it doesn’t offer any free trial, you get a 30-day money back guarantee on sign-up. It includes no sneaky small print restrictions on sessions or bandwidth, and if you’re unimpressed with their services, you can email and ask for a refund.

We tried this method ourselves – even though we were highly satisfied by the services – and there were no questions asked. All we received was an acknowledgment the next working day, followed by a full refund three days later.

What’s more, if you still think the price is expensive, ExpressVPN offers a simple referral scheme. Just convince a friend to sign-up for it, and ask him to give your email address when placing the order. That way, both of you get a free month.

Turning our attention to its payment options – and as long you want to pay – you won’t encounter any difficulties. For, it supports both Visa and MasterCard Credit Cards, Amex, PayPal, and even Bitcoin.

ExpressVPN Setup

Supported Devices

 

Supported AppsSupported Browser Plugins
Routers, Apple TV, Smart TVs, PlayStation, Xbox, Roku, Chromecast, Android TV box, among othersWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Routers, Fire TVChrome, Safari, Firefox

Once you have signed up, download and install the VPN client, following which you should run the application. There, you’d be asked to provide an activation code, which is different for each device, and which will be sent to you in the confirmation email.

Remember, the activation code is different for each device. It means that if you use ExpressVPN on two different devices – let’s say laptop and smartphone – both these devices will have different activation codes. You should save your activation code (s) at someplace handy because you’d be required to input it at the start of each session.

If you want to use ExpressVPN on more than three devices at one time, purchase the ExpressVPN firmware and install it on your Wi-Fi router. Since the router will count as one device, unlimited devices connected to it can use the ExpressVPN.

Next, the moment you input the code, the app will start. During the installation procedure, you’d be given the option to increase speed by sharing anonymous connection data.

Regardless of the device, you’re setting up the VPN on, the activation process will be the same on all of them. You may want to note that ExpressVPN can connect to a maximum of three devices at one time. And if you want to connect it to the fourth, it won’t unless you have manually disconnected at least one of the previous three connections.

ExpressVPN Interface

ExpressVPN Interface

Once the installation procedure is complete, a new dialogue box will appear; containing a list of servers divided by the countries on the left and VPN On/Off button on the right. It is this straightforward plug-n-play interface which makes ExpressVPN the darling of its users.

Also available on its interface are two buttons: Smart Location and Choose Location. If you decide to click the former, ExpressVPN will automatically choose your server’s location based on your actual location. Click the latter, and a list would appear to let you choose from all of the VPN’s server locations.

This list also contains a Recommended tab that provides you with the list of top-performing servers. Then there’s the All Tab list which provides all possible serve connections, and Favorites tab which displays any locations you may have bookmarked.

Finally, there’s the Options window which also contains some features. You can use it to decide whether your system should launch ExpressVPN at boot. Also, you can enable/disable the kill-switch and select from the list of protocols provided. In case you don’t want to go into the technicalities, set the last option at automatic.

One last option, which some people call the most-impressive, is that of a built-in speed test. You can activate it to gauge the speed of any country server so that you know which of them is the best performing.

ExpressVPN Privacy

Even before the advent of GDPR – Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation – which takes care of data protection and privacy, the privacy policy of ExpressVPN was clear, detailed, and had little sneaky fine print.

Take logging, for instance. It is an area where other providers go vague and don’t tell you the full truth. ExpressVPN, on the contrary, gets straight to the point:

“We do not collect logs of your activity, including no logging of browsing history, traffic destination, data content, or DNS queries. We also never store connection logs, meaning no logs of your IP address, your outgoing VPN IP address, connection timestamp, or session duration”

Also, while it stores your connection dates, the total amount of data transferred and choice of server, ExpressVPN doesn’t store your IP addresses or connection times, which are the major ways law enforcement agencies use to identify you.

ExpressVPN Protocols

ExpressVPN Protocols

As you might guess, ExpressVPN offers support to multiple VPN protocols including; IPSEC, OpenVPN ((TCP and UDP), SSTP, PPTP, and L2TP. OpenVPN was our favorite not only because it is the latest open-source technology, but also because it’s more reliable and provides better speed. Regardless of your platform, you can use this VPN protocol.

As for PPTP and L2TP, they are legacy standards which are available for both Mac and Windows. Still, if you hear Microsoft, it says don’t use PPTP because it has vulnerabilities that might expose you.

SSTP, meanwhile, is only for Windows whereas if you want to secure your iOS app, you can rely on IPSEC, though the same is also supported by Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows Server 2003 operating systems.

The best thing about all these protocols is that their encryption levels are non-negotiable. That is, regardless of the protocol you’re using, you can’t tweak it to speed up your connection at the cost of security. Also, ExpressVPN makes sure all DNS requests go through the more secure IPv4 protocol rather than the less secure IPv6.

ExpressVPN Features

Starting with the best ExpressVPN has to offer, it provides a Network Lock feature which stops all network traffic once your connection drops. Then there’s the anti-tracking, anti-malware ad blocker which prevents any website you visit from showing ads.

Also, while you can connect it to numerous devices, ExpressVPN provides browser extensions for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. It also provides an app for your Wi-Fi router, though you need to check whether your router is compatible or not.

Then come the limitless features this VPN has to offer; as it provides unlimited server switches, unlimited bandwidth, and unlimited data. If that wasn’t enough, it supports BitTorrent and allows you to circumvent location specific Netflix filters to browse your favorite content on the streaming platform.

Also on offer is a built-in speed tester tool which lets you gauge which server offers the fastest download speeds. You can use this tool to determine latency and download speed on every server on the ExpressVPN’s network.

Moving on, and at the cost of sounding too technical, ExpressVPN also provides VPN split tunneling. It is a concept where you get to choose which of your device internet traffic goes through the VPN, whereas the rest maintains direct access to the internet.

Finally, the ExpressVPN gives you the freedom to choose from a list of 1,500+ servers, which are spread across 148 cities in 94 countries. It provides support to 3 simultaneous connections, however, provided you connect it to your router, unlimited users could use ExpressVPN pending your network’s bandwidth nod.

ExpressVPN Pros

  • Located in the British Virgin Islands

The fact that ExpressVPN is located in the tax-free haven of British Virgin Islands provides it with an unexpected advantage. That is, because, their location makes sure that they don’t have to submit any information about their employers and consumers to any authority.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the secrecy of ExpressVPN makes it a sweet-spot for criminal minded people. Instead, BVI laws state that ownership information could be obtained through a court order. However, since all you’d be doing is browsing the internet, you won’t have to worry about this legislation.

 

  • No Logging Policy

ExpressVPN’s policy towards logging is predicated on three pillars. First, once you connect to ExpressVPN, all your data is automatically encrypted to make it indecipherable. That means you won’t have to worry that someone might intercept your passwords or other sensitive information.

Second, ExpressVPN is one of the few VPN service providers that provides in writing form that they never share your details with anyone. Third, since it hides your location and IP address, ExpressVPN makes it almost impossible for services and third-party sites to track your browsing patterns and send you targeting ads.

That doesn’t mean, however, that ExpressVPN doesn’t collect any of your data. For, it collects the date when you connect to its service, your choice of VPN server’s location, the total amount of data you transfer per day, and any apps you’ve successfully activated.

Still, if you pay close attention, you might notice that none of these items have the potential to give away your personal information.

 

  • Lots of Privacy Features

Anonymous IP? Checked. Kill-Switch? Checked. Netflix compatibility? P2P servers Checked. Multiple simultaneous connections? Checked. What’s more, you also get Netflix compatibility and 1,500+ servers operating across 148 different cities in 94 countries.

In case you are wondering, Kill Switch means a feature using which your VPN hides your true IP address even when your VPN connection is dropped. It does that by closing any website or software you might be using when your network connection is lost.

That means that even if you become careless, ExpressVPN would still make sure you remain anonymous.

 

  • Supports Multiple Devices

The services provided by ExpressVPN are supported on multiple devices. They include Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone and iPad, Linux, Routers, and three different web browsers. Then there are multiple apps which you can download and install on your smartphones and tablets.

Therefore, while there could be some device out there which isn’t supported by ExpressVPN, you’d have to try very hard to find it.

 

  • No limit and Support for Torrent

In stark contrast to many other VPN providers, ExpressVPN places no limit on your data usage. Yes, that’s right, you can consume as much data as you want, and all you’ve to pay for is the monthly subscription charges of Express VPN.

Then there’s the support for various services including BitTorrent. This feature deserves particular attention because not many VPNs provide this service with the fear that it would take user’s data consumption to astronomical levels.

 

  • Media Streamer

Living out of US but want to watch U.S. Netflix? You could do that by activating the Media Streamer feature of ExpressVPN. You can use it to watch U.S. Netflix on consoles, Apple TV, and other set-top boxes.

One thing you may want to note about the media streamer is that it won’t protect your browsing like a VPN. Instead, it relies on a Dynamic Domain Name System which circumvents location blocking of Netflix.

Also, it isn’t too easy to setup Media Streamer, though ExpressVPN website provides a very useful guide for the same. Follow it and you should be done with the whole procedure in less than 10 minutes.

 

  • Built-in Speed Test

One of the many reasons people don’t turn to VPNs, despite their country’s obnoxious censorship laws, is the speed provided by VPN. And you can’t blame them because ordinary VPNs are notoriously slow.

Luckily, as suggested by its built-in speed test, that’s not the case with ExpressVPN. Whether you’ve automatically or manually selected a server, this feature would gauge its speed test for you. You can use it as many times as you want to find that server which provides good speed.

 

  • Ease of Use

In contrast to some VPN providers which leave everything to their user’s discretion, ExpressVPN helps you at every step along the way. For instance, if you want, it would automatically select the protocol that delivers the best speed and performance.

Also, if you desire, it would automatically select your server based on your actual location. That means you won’t have to have a technical mind to use it.

 

  • Strong Encryption (AES-256)

To make sure no one can breach your online privacy, ExpressVPN relies on Advanced Encryption Standards or AES. Without boring you with technicalities, AES-256 encryption is the highest-grade of encryption which intelligence agencies employ to protect sensitive data.

And guess what, while it makes sure you’re safe online, AES-256 doesn’t do the same at the cost of speed. Instead, as stated here, you get the best of both worlds – speed and security – with AES-256.

 

  • TOR Compatibility

Want to access the deep web? Looking for a way to do that without breaking the laws of your country? One way to do just that is using a TOR browser. While we’ve written as to how you can access the deep web safely, the fact that ExpressVPN is compatible with TOR adds another layer of security.

For, when you’re using TOR, your traffic information is already encrypted across multiple servers. That, in turn, makes it difficult – though not impossible – for anyone to track your location. And provided you use ExpressVPN, you’re just making your defense that more impregnable.

 

  • No DNS or IP Leaks

DNS or IP leaks occur when your VPN connection breaks down while you’re midway through a browsing session. That, in turn, allows anybody tracking your online activity to track your actual location.

Fortunately, as we found out during its review, ExpressVPN doesn’t have any DNS or IP leaks.

 

  • 24/7 Customer Service

What is truly remarkable about ExpressVPN’s customer service isn’t the fact that it is available 24/7. Instead, it is the maximum response time of 15 seconds which makes it customer service stand out.

And if you are too busy to chat, an email address and contact form are also available. What is missing, however, is a phone number, which means you’d have to be connected to the internet to reach them.

ExpressVPN Cons

  • Too much secrecy

Despite all the good features that this VPN has, the fact that it doesn’t reveal much detail about itself, from where it operates, and who its operators are, might make you nervous. After all, you might want to know who is running the VPN which you are trusting to keep you private, right?

Well, when you search for ExpressVPN, no such information is available.  That means that while we know it is located in Road Town on Tortola Island in BVI, we don’t know much about its founders. So much so that no street address is given, either.

 

  • Allows Only 3 Simultaneous Connections

If all you’re interested in is your personal security, the limit of 3 simultaneous connections shouldn’t bother you. However, if you want to protect the sanctity of your entire family’s data, this limit could then pose a problem.

That limitation becomes more glaring once you compare ExpressVPN with other VPN providers. For, despite charging less, most of them allow 5 to 7 connections at the same time.

 

  • Premium Pricing

As stated earlier, the pricing plans of ExpressVPN – whether monthly, bi-annual, or annual – are way more expensive than the competition. That said, in contrast to its other limitations, the premium pricing of ExpressVPN is justified once you compare that with the features it offers.

 

  • No Free Plan

In a world where even streaming giants like Netflix have to cough-up a free plan to lure new subscribers, ExpressVPN showcases its confidence (or arrogance) in services by not offering any such thing.

Yes, it does come with a 30-day money back guarantee – and you get back your money without any hassle if its service doesn’t inspire you – but the absence of a free plan still takes the sheen off ExpressVPN.

 

Final Verdict

As we found out during while reviewing it, ExpressVPN is a highly reliable, functioning, and secure VPN service provider. Apart from providing a wide array of features, it provides a huge pool of servers, allows you to stream Netflix and browse BitTorrent, and provides a unique amalgam of speed and security.

Therefore, providing you can afford its asking price, we see no reason why you shouldn’t subscribe for ExpressVPN.

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