ExpressVPN Review: What is The Leader VPN Really Worth?

For several years, ExpressVPN has been consolidating its place on the podium of the best VPNs. With its outstanding reliability and speed, it leaves all competitors behind in terms of stability and performance.

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ExpressVPN Technical Sheet

Features

  • Servers: 3000 servers
  • Nb of countries: 94 countries
  • Simultaneous connections: 5 simultaneous connections
  • Free trial: Free 30 day trial
  • Customer Chat: 24/7 in French
  • Data logs: No-log policy
  • Storage: RAM storage
  • Country: British Virgin Islands
  • Protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, L2TP/IPSec, Lightway
  • OS: Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Apps: Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, Android TV, Kindle Fire, Chromebook
  • Extensions: Chrome, Firefox
  • Bitcoin payment: Yes

Update:

  • ExpressVPN has announced that it has updated its infrastructure with servers offering up to 10Gb/s throughput versus 1Gb/s. This not only increases speed but also prevents congestion and connection latency. The company says it has increased the processing capacity of its servers, which are now powered by 20 or 32 cores compared to 4 previously.
  • Faced with the new legislation that has come into force in India aimed at ending online anonymity, ExpressVPN has decided to close its physical servers within the country.

What is ExpressVPN?

Founded in 2009 in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN is one of the world’s leading VPN providers. A strong advocate of Internet freedom and privacy, it supports numerous non-profit organizations that fight for the protection of digital rights, including the prestigious EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation). Not subject to the Patriot Act or any form of restrictive laws, the provider is known for its strict non-journaling policy.

Although it has a smaller infrastructure than NordVPN or CyberGhost, it stands out with a very large number of physical or virtual locations around the world. ExpressVPN has also developed various very powerful technologies, including TrustedServer, which offers an additional layer of security.

Specifically, this technology allows the servers to run only on RAM (random access memory). As a result, no data is stored on hard disks, but only on volatile memory, which is automatically erased each time the servers are restarted. This limits the attack surface and the risks linked to hacking of the protocol that ExpressVPN has developed internally, called “Lightway”. This protocol allows you to connect 2.5 times faster than before, while doubling the connection speeds.

According to ExpressVPN, it is faster and more efficient than other protocols, including WireGuard, thanks to a code base even smaller than the latter. This is in response to NordVPN and its NordLynx protocol, which has also been extended to all platforms. Innovations that result in performance well above average, whether for NordVPN or ExpressVPN.

Is ExpressVPN free?

This is a paid solution and the company does not officially offer any demo version. ExpressVPN does, however, include a 30-day money-back guarantee, in our opinion quite enough for a trial period.

What are ExpressVPN’s prices?

ExpressVPN’s prices show a slight increase and still remain higher than the average VPN on the market.

The monthly plan without commitment has increased by a few cents and is currently 12.79 €/month.

For a 15-month commitment including a special offer of three months free, the price drops to €6.59/month (€98.85 to be paid in one go) or €9.87/month over six months (€59.22).

Each subscription allows the use of up to five devices simultaneously.

Download and install ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN remains, along with CyberGhost, the undisputed champion of multiplatform coverage. On its website, it offers a wide range of applications including the main OS on the market (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS), web extensions for Chrome and Firefox, as well as applications for the Amazon FireTV and Kindle Fire platforms, Android TV and Chromebook.

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ExpressVPN’s applications are among the simplest and most efficient on the market. Various solutions are also available to configure the VPN manually or with third-party software on Apple TV, Smart TV, BlackBerry and Windows Phone mobile devices, streaming devices, or PlayStation, Nintendo and Xbox consoles.

The VPN also supports a large number of routers (Asus, DD-WRT, Tomato…) and NAS. The service is one of the few to also offer applications for more than a dozen routers on the market. A real plus in terms of comfort and security for use on a router.

Special mention for the various tutorials available on the ExpressVPN website. There are guides to install applications for common platforms (Windows, macOS…), as well as for more complex devices such as the Freebox or NAS from QNAP and Synology.

Finally, ExpressVPN was one of the first to offer pre-configured routers with its service and still sells different models (Netgear, Linksys or Asus) via its website. Its packages offer the possibility to connect up to five devices simultaneously. This is not as good as what PIA (10 devices), CyberGhost (seven devices), NordVPN (six devices) or Surfshark (unlimited) offers, for example.

ExpressVPN, however, allows you to use an unlimited number of devices as long as you connect the VPN directly to a router. A little trick that could be very interesting for a large family, or people living in a shared apartment, for example.

Main features of ExpressVPN

Interface and handling

ExpressVPN’s applications are very simple and do not give any technical information about the servers, such as distance, load rate, etc. This is a bias, but those who want to can nevertheless obtain more details by using the integrated “speed test“. This allows you to see which ExpressVPN servers and locations offer the best speeds by measuring latency and download speed.

In the same vein, the service also offers an IP address verification tool to find out if websites being accessed can see the VPN’s IP address and location. Proof, if any were needed, that the provider really has nothing to hide from its users.

Unchanged for several years, the ExpressVPN application is above all simple and efficient. The settings are basically limited to choosing a protocol, configuring Split Tunneling, or setting the VPN to launch automatically at system startup. In concrete terms, the provider takes care of everything so that its service can function optimally in an almost fully automated mode.

Choice of locations and server specifications

ExpressVPN does not offer dedicated servers for streaming or P2P, as it does not need them. All of its servers are in fact capable of working for all uses. Apart from the inevitable differences in ping, there is very little difference in speed between locations.

To connect or disconnect from the VPN, simply press the eponymous button on the home page or select a location from the list that appears by clicking on the icon in the shape of three small dots. Servers can be saved in the Favorites list with one click by checking the small star to the right of the location name.

Unlike other VPN services, it does not display certain information such as ping, distance, or load rate. These indications can be useful with some competing VPNs delivering too slow or uneven connection speeds between their different servers. ExpressVPN offers such a linear quality of service and throughput across its network that this information is quite dispensable. However, it is possible to obtain some technical details by clicking on the icon in the shape of three small horizontal lines (at the top left of the connection window), then on “Speed test”, or “Help and support/What is my IP address?”, for example.

Protocols and encryption

Like other players in the market, ExpressVPN protects by default all data that passes through its virtual private tunnels with high-level AES 256-bit encryption. This technology generates 256-bit keys that allow you to hide your real IP address, mix traffic with other users, or encrypt communications between VPN servers and your computer.

In addition to 256-bit keys that are considered virtually unbreakable, ExpressVPN provides a strong additional layer of security with its in-house TrustedServer technology that allows data to be written only to volatile RAM.

Besides its in-house Lightway protocol, ExpresVPN continues to offer multiple VPN protocols, including OpenVPN (UDP or TCP), IKEv2, L2PT and, in a few specific countries, PPTP, which is considered by many to be obsolete. Unlike more and more market players (PIA, CyberGhost…), the BVI provider does not risk deploying the young open source protocol WireGuard. This is probably a well-considered choice, as it would present vulnerabilities potentially capable of compromising users’ data.

Technical support

The provider offers 24/7 technical support via a classic live chat or by email via the VPN’s online management console. The chat service responds in a very short time (about 2 minutes). You can chat in English and French via an automatic translation system.

Speed tests

Very few VPN services today can compete with ExpressVPN in terms of performance. As evidenced by the tests conducted for this review using the benchmark SpeedTest measurement tool on a fiber connection, the VPN does not impact the original (non-VPN) connection speed whether you select a server in the UK or the US. The BVI service offers one of the fastest and most stable connections on the market, regardless of server location. As with all other VPNs tested, we have deliberately selected the fastest servers for each destination.

*Remember that the ping is a measure (in milliseconds) of the time taken for data packets to travel between a terminal and the Internet. The lower it is, the better the network connection is. Concerning the downstream (download) and upstream (upload) speeds, the higher they are, the faster the Internet connection is.

Apart from the inevitable ping differences between destinations, the results on our fiber connection are relatively close, even in remote areas such as Japan and Australia. The speed there is even fast enough to stream content or unblock TV services. Along with NordVPN, ExpressVPN continues to lead the way as the best performing VPN on the market.

Security tests

It must be said that ExpressVPN doesn’t mess around with privacy and systematically deletes all sensitive data. A minimum amount of information is collected to ensure the service works. This includes the applications and their versions that connect to its servers, the date of connection (not the time) and the total data transferred daily. None of this data can compromise the identity of users in any way.

ExpressVPN for streaming

ExpressVPN is currently the most effective VPN for unblocking streaming platforms, TV services or even geo-blocked websites. All our tests conducted for this review have been conclusive whether it is to bypass blocks of Netflix (US/UK), Spotify, Pandora, YouTube US, HBO Now, Disney+, Hulu, TF1, Canal+ or even Amazon’s Prime Video service which gives so much trouble to competing VPNs. Indeed, many VPNs we have tested lately have been systematically detected by Amazon, except for ExpressVPN, Hide.me and PureVPN. In most cases, you have to modify your Amazon account and change your billing address by the country where you want to connect so that it does not detect the VPN.

With ExpressVPN, none of that, the service connects without batting an eyelid with impressive ease, whether it’s on a fiber optic connection, ADSL on a computer, 4G and 5G, or Wi-Fi on a mobile device. ExpressVPN’s stable and ultra-fast performance is obviously a huge asset for comfortably streaming videos or TV channels, including in high definition.

ExpressVPN for torrenting

The same goes for torrent downloads, which are ultra-fast and have no data transfer or bandwidth limitations. With excellent support for peer-to-peer, ExpressVPN retains its crown and even raises the bar a little, with almost zero latency in most destinations. Impressive…

ExpressVPN country network and servers

ExpressVPN currently has over 3,000 servers in 160 locations and 94 countries around the world. Apart from Antarctica, the company covers the entire planet with physical or virtual servers. Even though it offers almost half as many servers as its two main challengers CyberGhost and NordVPN, it manages to offer speeds that are as fast, if not faster.

Unlike the latter, the provider does not detail the number of servers present in each country, but only the different cities when there are some. There are 22 cities in the United States, four in Canada, four in the United Kingdom and three in France. Data transfers and bandwidth are unlimited.

ExpressVPN on Android and iPhone

Almost identical to the desktop clients, the mobile applications are also distinguished by their sobriety. Whether on Android or iOS, the service works in an almost fully automated mode. Numerous tutorials are integrated in the application to help users get started, solve a problem or discover the advantages of TrustedServer technology.

In terms of settings, it is possible to modify VPN protocols, reinstall the VPN configuration in case of a problem, or use the automatic Kill Switch (“Auto Connect”) to reconnect if a server drops out.

The app also offers features such as “IP Address Verification”, “DNS Leak Test”, or “WebRTC Leak Test” (“Options/Features for your security”). The central button on the home interface allows you to connect or disconnect to the fastest server at a glance. To choose a specific location, simply select the three-dot icon on the login menu, then scroll through the list of countries.

Pleasant to use and extremely efficient, especially for unblocking streaming services, ExpressVPN’s mobile app remains a must-have.

Other ExpressVPN features

The VPN also has protection against DNS leaks, a self-managed emergency blocking feature (Kill Switch) and Split Tunneling to exclude certain applications from the encrypted tunnel if necessary.

Our Verdict

ExpressVPN continues to distinguish itself with a metronome-like performance around the world. It remains one of the undisputed champions for unblocking streaming and TV platforms around the world. Unlike many of its competitors, ExpressVPN has never been found wanting in terms of security or privacy. Some expert users may regret the lack of specific advanced settings or technical information, but this is a bias on the part of the provider who prioritizes simplicity and efficiency by keeping control over the settings.

The level of service excellence is, in our opinion, unmatched on the market today. Players like NordVPN, Cyberghost, or the latest version of ProtonVPN follow it very closely, but ExpressVPN wins on the whole. The only real flaw of the service lies in the fact that its prices are always higher than average. A safe bet.

ExpressVPN

At the cutting edge of technology, ExpressVPN offers a first-rate level of service. It’s hard to fault it for its privacy policy, server performance and security, application quality and cross-platform coverage. In addition, ExpressVPN offers many educational guides and tutorials to understand, install and use its VPN on a daily basis. A must.


9.6

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