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We consider ExpressVPN to be the best VPN on the market, along with NordVPN and SurfShark, because it is the fastest and most robust VPN that does not crash, with a strict no logs policy, maximum security with military encryption (256-bit AES), servers in 94 countries (including USA, UK, Australia, and Canada), specially designed for watching Netflix, HBO, Hulu or Disney+ and excellent customer service.
ExpressVPN has been providing services since 2009 and currently has a network of over 3,000 servers. Their cheapest plan starts at $8.32/mo. Based on longterm testing, our rating for ExpressVPN is 9.9.
ExpressVPN, an excellent VPN service with all the necessary guarantees, is available for those who have restrictions when it comes to browsing. ExpressVPN consists of software that creates a virtual private network, allowing you to access any site freely and securely. One of the striking features of this application is its compatibility with Windows, Mac, Linux devices, as well as Android and iPhone. You can download this great service here.
ExpressVPN is our favorite when it comes to the best VPN providers. The service is fast, slick and easy to use, and while other services are coming close – read our NordVPN review for a notable example – they can never have enough.
That’s not to say ExpressVPN is perfect: server switching times can be a bit slow and the service is expensive. In fact, it’s the most expensive of all the top-ranked services in our VPN reviews and we wouldn’t blame our readers for running out of money for wanting to go elsewhere (although it’s not IPVanish, read our ExpressVPN vs IPVanish article to see why).
That said, if you have the money, we highly recommend you make use of the ExpressVPN 30-day money back guarantee and see if you like the service. You almost certainly will. Let’s take a closer look at its most important features, or check out our review video instead if you’re not into the whole reading thing.
ExpressVPN is super simple to use and navigating the app’s options may seem a little under the wheel at first, but that’s because all the good stuff is happening under the hood. We’ll get into the details a little further down in our “ease of use” section, but what it boils down to is that ExpressVPN just takes care of getting you connected, it takes care of how for you.
It’s not like you just have to drag your thumbs (or other forms of manual entertainment): ExpressVPN comes with numerous tools, including a speed test that lets you get an overview of all the servers at your disposal and their speeds. It takes about five minutes to run, but gives you a comfortable overview to work with.
There is also a diagnostic tool, which allows you to detect from within the program itself if there are problems with the connection. While it may not be of great use to most people, if a problem ever occurs, all you have to do is run it, send the information that breaks to ExpressVPN’s support staff, and you should be on your way.
Other tools include an IP address controller and DNS leak test, which are useful little tools that can help suppress any concerns you’re hearing, although many other providers, even those like Shellfire, include your “new” IP address in the main application window (read our Shellfire review to see why we gave our stamp to mehproval).
With the toolkit available, we’ll move on to the impressive array of ExpressVPN security features. Even if the service isn’t editable within the client like TorGuard (again, if you read our TorGuard review you’ll quickly see that no one is) or even NordVPN, it all fits into the out-of-the-box mentality of ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN features 256-bit AES encryption (which will take several billion years to crack) and offers the ability to use even more secure protocols if you don’t mind staying under the hood for a while (find out more in the “security” section below). In addition, it keeps no logs, which means it leaves no trace anywhere.
Another critical feature, which many services overlook for some reason, is a killwitch, which interrupts the Internet connection when the VPN server stops working for some reason. This is particularly important for torrenters, as well as people looking to stay off the radar of totalitarian regimes, which makes ExpressVPN one of the top choices in our best VPN per torrenting item, as well as our best VPN per China roundup.
Finally, ExpressVPN is one of the few VPNs that offers tunnel splitting (read our StrongVPN review for another), the ability to choose which of your programs and applications make use of VPN and which don’t.
While this may seem trivial at first, it’s great for business users, as you’ll be able to, for example, keep your torrent secure, but allow backup uploads to run at the fastest Internet connection speed. For the most practical tunneling applications, check out our best VPN for your cloud storage element.
If you’re streaming shows and movies, you’ll fall in love with ExpressVPN: the service didn’t win our article on the best VPN for Netflix at all. It doesn’t matter if you’re consuming your media on Kodi, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, iPlayer or Netflix, ExpressVPN’s impressive speed and large network of servers will get you watching international content seamlessly.
ExpressVPN is our top pick for not only Netflix, but also the best VPN for BBC iPlayer, so it gives you an idea of its power as an entertainment tool. While it’s not the only VPN that does what it does, ExpressVPN is up to the task when it comes to streaming.
Setting up ExpressVPN is easy: go to the ExpressVPN site, select a plan, enter your email address and choose your payment method. It’s so simple and fairly anonymous (you can use a disposable email account and pay with cryptocurrency if you really want to stay under the radar).
You’ll then be directed to the account page, where you can easily access downloads for your chosen device, view account details, check your knowledge base, and contact support staff.
For this review we used the ExpressVPN Windows client, which works for all Windows tastes from XP onwards. We downloaded the package, clicked and the installer did all the work for us. The installation took about five minutes and we were up and running.
One thing we liked was that the first screen we were presented with gave us the ability to have ExpressVPN always start up when the computer does, so we would be protected all the time by the get go.
As we said in the “Features” section, ExpressVPN offers a very simple, configurable and forgettable interface that is exactly the same on all operating systems except Linux. There is very little that can go wrong here, unless you press a large, very obvious button that is beyond its capabilities. Still, the first time you get a tooltip to see what button it is.
If you are satisfied with the assigned “smart” position, just press the button and it will connect, this usually takes a few seconds. With some VPN providers it is difficult to see at a glance whether you are connected or not, but not with ExpressVPN; the button has a huge shield as a background.
It should be noted that the smart server feature has a mind of its own and you may want to change a bit if you are not satisfied with the speed you are getting. Your reviewer has two anecdotal examples of this: smart connect used to always connect to Amsterdam server 1 in that city, while number 2 was generally faster (and better for Netflix), but is painfully discontinued.
Another example is that during a vacation in Thailand, smart connect always sent it to the Singapore server, even when the Thai server was a few blocks away from Bangkok and got better speeds. Again, mileage can vary, but it seems better to manually find a server using the speed test function.
Swapping positions is done using the “choose position” button on the right under the big button and opens a new window that is fairly easy to navigate, although it would have been nice to have a map of servers as NordVPN gives you, even to give you that control room feel.
The list is split into three, with a “recommended” tab, useful but with the same problems as the smart positions above, as well as an “all” tab and a “recent” tab. The latter is useful as it will show you not only where you’ve logged in recently, but also your favorites, which is great if you’re doing the Netflix VPN ban dance (most of which were working at the time of writing, by the way).
Under “all”, finding a specific server is easy: just find the country you want (or use the search bar at the top), then click on it. If there is more than one server in a country, just click on the small arrow next to the country name and you will get a submenu.
Once you have selected your server you will still have to press that big button on the main panel, so be careful.
While there’s not much to do, if you want to break away from the settings, you can do so by pressing the hamburger menu at the top left of the application.
“General” is used only for basic functions, such as allowing ExpressVPN to run at startup and modifying tunnel splitting functions, while the “account” settings are a shortcut to the account section of the website. We don’t recommend confusion with the settings under “protocol” and “advanced”, as they are serious business; we’ll talk more about this in the “security” section of this review.
Perhaps more interesting is the “browser” tab, which allows you to install ExpressVPN extensions in your browser. These are useful enough to have, as it’s basically a way to control your VPN through your browser. Note that this is different from most VPN browser extensions, which usually only protect your browsing, leaving you vulnerable to spying.
Installing an extension means clicking on the VPN’s own button and following the link when you open your browser. Extensions are available for Chromium, Firefox and Safari.
ExpressVPN has clients for Windows (going back to XP, so tough luck for all Win98 users), Mac and Linux (although, as you can read in our best VPN for Linux article the word “client” is a bit ‘exhausting). On cell phones ExpressVPN has apps for Android, iOS and BlackBerry, although there is something ironic about using a VPN with a CrackBerry. It also plays nicely with routers.
As for browser extensions, ExpressVPN offers them for Chrome, FireFox and Safari, as well as MediaStreamer plugins for Playstation, Xbox, AppleTV and Amazon FireTV. Basically, if it exists, ExpressVPN has a client or downloader for it, making it ideal for technophiles who don’t want to play around too much.
The downside is that ExpressVPN only allows three simultaneous connections (which marks a poor position on our list of the best VPNs for multiple devices). While it can be installed as many times as you want, only three devices can be active at the same time, making it less useful for large families or students looking to take on the costs.
ExpressVPN has a huge network of servers, spread across the globe in 148 locations and 94 countries. However, in addition to the usual suspects in Europe and North America, ExpressVPN also excels at having servers in all sorts of strange places. While we don’t expect many of our readers to need IP addresses in Algeria or Laos, for some people this will be a blessing.
However, not all of these servers are dedicated, meaning that the server is virtual rather than a physical machine in Vientiane or Algiers. While this should not pose too many problems, there are some questions regarding the security of virtual servers, so buyer beware seems to be the key word.
Servers are present on all continents except Antarctica and, unlike most competitors, coverage is good. The Americas are represented with countries across North, Central and South America (including one in the Bahamas), while another continent underrepresented with most providers, Africa, has servers in Kenya, Algeria, Egypt and the usual suspect South Africa.
Asia and Europe are, of course, well represented, with servers in every single European country, as well as a few Asian countries you’ll need to find on Google. In short, if wide coverage is a priority for you, ExpressVPN should probably be on your list.
As we said above, ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN service we’ve tested and is unique in that it remains relatively fast even over long distances. Below you will find a table of the speed tests we have performed by connecting to different servers around the world from our publisher’s office near Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and running speedtest.net.
All connections were made to the first server in a location, unless otherwise specified.
|Ping (ms):||Download (Mbps):||Upload (Mbps):|
|Amsterdam, NL (2)||17||33.84||3.47|
|New York City||106||11.76||3.53|
As you can see, none of this is to be sneezed at. The most striking connection was with Japan, which, despite being over 10,000 kilometers away, did as well as Lisbon, which is less than 1,000 clicks away. However, we must admit that we were not able to reproduce those speeds again and most of the time we were stuck around the 25Mbps mark (which is even better than reading from nearby Taiwan).
Being able to get decent speeds while connecting to servers on the other side of the world is critical when streaming, which means ExpressVPN has almost automatically won our best VPN for streaming rankings.
However, if secure browsing in general is your priority, ExpressVPN is also a great option. A secure server about 20 miles away saw us with only a small drop in performance. No other service gets this kind of speed, at any distance. Its ping also stays relatively low, making it our top choice for the best VPN for gaming, too.
ExpressVPN’s security is, quite simply, great, even if it scores a bit lower than NordVPN here because it’s not as out of the ordinary as its competitor. Using the OpenVPN protocol (more on that later), users can download different configuration files and create confusion in their guts to improve some aspects of security. This, of course, should not be attempted by novices.
ExpressVPN comes standard with 256-bit AES encryption, which should be sufficient to support most, if not all, decryption attempts. That said, to make sure ExpressVPN can tunnel under the Great Firewall, you should set it to 4096-bit security to make sure the Chinese authorities aren’t after you.
The supported protocols are OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), L2TP/IPsec, PPTP and SSTP. In principle, only OpenVPN connections are used – provided that it is set to “automatic” in the settings – all other connections can only be activated manually. If you decide to switch to a server that does not support more advanced protocols, a warning message will appear.
We have done some third-party DNS tightness testing, webRTC testing and IP tightness testing (we like and trust the ExpressVPN suite of integrated tools, but as KGB has always said): “trust, but check it out”) and the service has passed with flying colors on all fronts. This VPN is safe for everyone to use; you don’t have to worry about corporate or government surveillance.
ExpressVPN is strictly a log-free service, which means it doesn’t even keep a temporary record of where you’ve been and what content you’ve viewed, meaning that even if someone comes with a warrant, there’s nothing to turn over. The company is based in the British Virgin Islands, which has some of the best privacy laws in existence, so you’ll be safe on this front as well.
ExpressVPN takes care of its customers: the site has a huge knowledge base that should help you overcome most problems, and there’s always live chat and email to get you back. Navigating through the FAQs is easy and the explanations are mostly clear; some of the more technical stuff (like setting advanced security options) can get a little obscure.
To contact a real human you have to click on the tab at the bottom right of the screen on the site, there is no way to contact support directly in the app. In our case we had some questions about the servers, so we sent a message on the live chat, we received a reply within a minute.
In our experience live chat will suffice in almost all cases, especially since it is very fast. Email support is also an option, although response times are a bit slower in this case: expect about an hour, maybe two, depending on how busy you are. Overall, however, ExpressVPN offers friendly, courteous and efficient support.
ExpressVPN has always been our favorite and we hope you’ll agree with us after reading this review and making use of the 30-day money back guarantee. It is the fastest VPN, offers great security and is the best VPN for watching any streaming content.What do you think of ExpressVPN? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.
Choosing a VPN is never easy, especially when you are a beginner who is about to purchase their very first plan. There are so many providers to choose from!
Based on longterm testing, average download speed when using ExpressVPN is 128 Mbit/s. Currently, the size of their network is around 3,000 servers.
The size of the server network is an important factor as it determines a global availability of the VPN. The bigger the network is, the more reliable the service can be.
The download speed is very important too, especially in today's fast-paced world. If your VPN speed is too slow, many websites or streaming services may not work or the experience will definitely be less comfortable.