ExpressVPN Full Review: Let's Be Honest
ExpressVPN is one of the best choices for a very-secure VPN service with very reliable encryption and privacy protection features. Many militaries and governments worldwide use it to hide confidential information, which shows how serious are the security measures in ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN overthrows content constraints and restrictions to deliver unlimited access to any platform worldwide. With features such as VPN split tunneling, which lets you tailor your VPN needs by selecting which apps and services are encrypted and which apps are not. Also, ExpressVPN provides a network lock through its VPN kill switch feature, which keeps your data safe even if your VPN connection drops.
ExpressVPN innovative TrustedServer technology assures that every ExpressVPN server always loads the same secure, up-to-date software and erases all server data with every reboot, which reduces security risks significantly.
Let's be frank… You are definitely tired from all these VPNs claiming to be the best in the market, the wannabe VPNs, and the VPNs with a great marketing team and shoddy products. You're probably wondering if ExpressVPN is one of those VPNs with all the hype and fuzz about it.
The Truth is…
After many reviews and analyses, we can assure you that ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs out there. And with the latest version they released in May 2019, they are definitely on the right path to be the best VPN on the market.
Why are we so optimistic and keen on ExpressVPN?
To see if the hype was real, we examined and reviewed its pricing plans, features, and servers and compared them to the best VPNs on the market. And below, you can find our detailed review and thorough analyses about everything you have to know about the next giant in the world of VPNs.
In this section, we checked how ExpressVPN fares against its competitors in terms of speed tests, number of servers, geographic distribution, and their fastest available protocol.
1. Speed tests
ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN as attested by many users worldwide, and experts their developed protocol Lightway is a protocol built from scratch by ExpressVPN which provides top-notch speed. It scores top points when it comes down to the speed it provides. Whether it's for streaming, torrenting, or gaming, ExpressVPN makes sure you won't feel any lags or speed drops.
2. Number of servers and geographic distribution
Short explanation: ExpressVPN has 3000+ servers distributed in over 94 countries.
Long explanation: ExpressVPN offers 3,000 servers in 160 different VPN server locations in 94 countries, a decent number of servers for a VPN provider. On the same point, it offers the broadest server coverage in the world. Not even NordVPN has servers in 94 countries.
What does this mean to me?
Take our words for it; this means a lot! Wherever you are, you will always find a nearby server. Whether you live in the U.S., Turkey, Venezuela, Sri Lanka, or Kenya, The company either has a server where you are located or a server in a nearby country.
3. Fastest available protocol
Short explanation: Lightway is the fastest secure available protocol by ExpressVPN (recommended to use vs. the slightly faster but lacks security PPTP protocol).
Long explanation: In the VPN world, many protocols exist, with differences between protocols making the difference in how secure a VPN is, how fast, and whether it can bypass geo-censorship. Typically, the trade-off is between speed and security, with the PPTP protocol typically being the fastest but the least secure.
Lightway is a unique protocol developed by ExpressVPN and built from scratch using the wolfSSL library. Lightway was announced by ExpressVPN in 2020 and is still undergoing development, as it's fast, but it might be it suffers a bit in terms of security relative to OpenVPN. Lightway uses approximately 1000 lines of code vs. WireGuard's 4000 and the open-source OpenVPN 70,000. Hence its execution is faster, and troubleshooting is easier.
Security and Privacy
When it comes to VPN security, we have to look into main things; encryption levels, kill switch, and leak protection.
The SHA-512 HMAC authentication it uses for data transfers, such as P2P file sharing, using a shared secret key, which needs both the sender and receiver of the download to have a way of confirming the authenticity of the file.
The most important features regarding security and privacy discussed in further details include:
1. Encryption and protocols
ExpressVPN uses 256-bit A.E.S. encryption, which is the highest standard of encryption. It is so secure to the point that governments, militaries, and banks utilize this type of encryption to secure their data.
Are you new to VPNs?
For ExpressVPN use, Lightway protocol for speed (PPTP while faster is less secure, and hence is not recommended), use OpenVPN protocol for security and bypassing geo-censorship (obfuscation).
Pro mode: The protocols available for ExpressVPN include:
|Platform||All platforms||Main for Windows, BSD, Linux||All platforms (typically preferable for iOS and macOS)||All platforms||All platforms||All platforms||All platforms|
|Security||Basic encryption (weakest) supports encryption keys up to 128-bits, and it uses MPPE (Microsoft Point-to-Point Encryption)||Uses SSL 3.0 (vulnerable to the "POODLE attack", not recommended)||IPsec encryption||IPsec encryption||OpenVPN AES 256-bit encryption||ChaCha20 for symmetric encryption with poly1305 for message authentication||WolfSSL encryption|
|Firewall||TCP port 1723, and IP port 47 (easiest to block/ least reliable)||Uses 443 port (hard to block)||UDP port 500 (easy to block)||UDP ports 500 and 4500, and ESP IP Protocol 50||Uses 443 port (hard to block)||The port
can be freely selected
high ports range. If no port is
|Speed||Fastest but least secure||Fast||Relatively slow due to the double encryption||Generally fast (faster than OpenVPN)||Generally fast||Top competitor. Very fast with decent protection||Top competitor. Very fast with decent protection|
2. ExpressVPN logs policy
Short explanation: ExpressVPN has a true no-log policy.
3. Kill switch
Short explanation: ExpressVPN has a fully functional kill switch feature for Windows, macOS, and Linux. However, not for iOS and Android.
Long explanation: With all that was said, you have to understand that although your traffic is secured and sent through encrypted channels, it could still leak.
This is known as a DNS leak, and it makes your online activity detectable to your Internet service provider, which means your data might be accessible to third parties. One of its most crucial features ExpressVPN offers is that it protects you against DNS leaks and guarantees your privacy in the form of a kill switch.
ExpressVPN offers "Network Lock", a kill switch that keeps your I.P. address and DNS secure if the VPN connection drops. ExpressVPN's kill switch is available for macOS, Windows, and Linux. However, for Android, it appears as a network protection feature, while on iOS, there is no kill switch available.
4. RAM-based servers
Short explanation: ExpressVPN has RAM-based servers.
Long explanation: ExpressVPN offers TrustedServer Technology which is the most advanced VPN server technology, and it's independently audited to confirm essential privacy protections.
Wait, what's the problem with traditional servers?
Standard servers run on hard drives, keeping all data until they are erased and written over it, which raises the risk that data could be at risk if third-party access the server anyway.
ExpressVPN TrustedServer Technology ensures that every server is only run on RAM. In this case, all your data is entirely wiped with every reboot because RAM is unable to store any data, so once it's turned off, any data from your session is automatically deleted and cannot be restored.
This means that you and your personal information are 100% secure and anonymous.
5. Based country
Short explanation: ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands.
Long explanation: Many VPNs argue that they keep you private online; however, what's happening is that some of these VPNs (Some of the well-known VPN providers) store your data and share it with third parties, including the government.
The good news is that the company's headquarters are located discreetly in the British Virgin Islands. And The British Virgin Islands, in fact, sit outside of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance, meaning it's a privacy-friendly country.
VPN companies based inside the 5/9/13 Eyes Alliance are considered a possible security threat as these countries are known to spy on their citizens and share information internally. (Read more on the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance).
6. Warrant canary
Short explanation: ExpressVPN doesn’t have a warrant canary system.
Long explanation: A warrant canary is an indirect method to warn customers of governmental attempts to subpoena data from VPN companies. The warrant's presence on the company’s official website means the local government hasn’t tried anything yet. If the warrant canary is removed from the company’s page, it means they were asked to provide logs.
Since ExpressVPN is based outside the 5/9/14/ Eyes Alliance (British Virgin Islands), and with VPN being legal there, ExpressVPN doesn’t need a warrant canary system.
ExpressVPN in Practice
In terms of the applications of VPN in the real world, we dive further into how ExpressVPN fares against the rest in the following categories:
ExpressVPN is one of the most trusted services when it comes to unblocking streaming platforms and geo-restricted content.
It's proven to successfully access Netflix U.S., UK, Canada, Portugal, and the Middle East. In addition to that, you can use ExpressVPN to unblock Amazon Prime Video in the U.S. and UK, Disney+ (all countries), Hulu, B.B.C. iPlayer, HBO, and ESPN+. Not all VPN providers can access all of these streaming services, especially Netflix, which is considered the most challenging streaming platform to unblock.
Short explanation: ExpressVPN allows torrenting; furthermore, all ExpressVPN servers support torrenting, making it a major player in this field.
Long explanation: ExpressVPN is a British Virgin Islands-based company with no data retention laws or international copyright agreements. This helps you avoid legal and privacy concerns when torrenting using its servers.
ExpressVPN also offers unlimited bandwidth, no data caps, and P2P sharing on all their servers. It's safe to use uTorrent, BitTorrent, or any other torrenting services using it since they don't keep logs. The company headquarters in a privacy-friendly location, "British Virgin Islands."
Short explanation: ExpressVPN has specialized gaming servers that are top-notch.
Long explanation: When it comes to gaming, the reason why you would want to use a VPN for games is variable, but one thing is clear, which is that no one wants to lag at all. ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN in the market and holds an edge in this area as well. (Read more on VPN and Gaming).
4. Dedicated IP servers
Short explanation: ExpressVPN doesn’t have a dedicated IP.
Long explanation: While mostly when using a VPN, you would want a dynamic IP (an IP that changes whenever you reconnect to a server). In certain situations, this is not the case. A dedicated server is recommended in the following situations:
- Work-related security and login
- Frequent online payments and banking
- Frequent CAPTCHA
- Avoiding the blacklist effect (same IP with an individual that got banned)
In the NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN debate, a major point for NordVPN is the availability of dedicated IP servers. If you want a VPN with static IP, I suggest you take a look at NordVPN. Read more about NordVPN.
5. Geo-censorship bypass (obfuscation)
ExpressVPN can consistently break through geo-censorship, including the Great Firewall of China. For the best results for Obfuscation, use the OpenVPN protocol.
6. Split tunneling
Short explanation: ExpressVPN has the split tunneling feature.
Long explanation: This unique feature lets you encrypt part of your traffic through specific browsers while everything else stays the same. This means that you can browse with and without a VPN at the same time.
ExpressVPN's Split tunneling gives you more flexibility as it allows you to decide which apps will use the VPN and which will not.
For example, you can use split-tunneling and customize it so that only Netflix traffic is encrypted through a VPN tunnel, while the rest of your traffic is accessed through the internet directly.
7. Tor over VPN
Short explanation: ExpressVPN supports Tor over VPN.
Long explanation: Torrent onion router (Tor) is a P2P program used to enter the dark web. Using a VPN adds an extra layer of anonymity, especially at the entry node, with the addition of data encryption.
ExpressVPN Device Compatibility
ExpressVPN is available on most popular platforms and browser extensions, specifically...
ExpressVPN is compatible with:
- Chrome OS
- Fire OS
ExpressVPN is available as an extension on:
- Google Chrome
- Microsoft edge
ExpressVPN provides its users with assistance in every possible way. Customers can choose from a long list of options. Their knowledge base is excellent and has sections to every single problem you might encounter; it includes a setup guide, a troubleshooting section, and FAQs.
You can also report a problem in the ticket section or have a one-on-one live chat with one of the customer support team members, who are available around the clock and 7 days a week.
1. Supported languages
ExpressVPN supports the following languages:
- Norwegian Nynorsk
2. Customer support
ExpressVPN has a well-established customer support system. In addition to that, their website offers troubleshooting guides, setup instructions, and tutorials in 16 different languages, as seen in the above picture. You can also get in touch with the customer support team either by the 24/7 live chat or by emailing the customer support team with your inquiry.
ExpressVPN provides customer support in the following forms:
- Live chat
- Knowledge base
- Email and tickets
Pricing and Payments
Even though ExpressVPN is a bit pricey compared to other VPNs on the market. However, we recommend choosing the 12-month plan as it offers the best value for the price. This plan comes with a 49% discount and an extra three months for free. This means that you will be paying $99.95 for a total of 15 months ($6.67 per month), covering 5 devices.
What justifies this price?
ExpressVPN runs a reliable, secure, and ultra-fast network, with a comprehensive network coverage consisting of thousands of servers. Unlike budget VPN providers, ExpressVPN invests in a spectacular and consistent platform to deliver you a trustworthy and stable VPN.
ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee; therefore, you can test it for a few weeks without taking any risk. And if it turns out to be not what you're looking for, you can easily cancel your subscription and request a refund from a live chat agent and get your money back within a week.
ExpressVPN offers several payment options, including Credit Card, PayPal, BitPay, Alipay, Mint, and many other payment options.
Available payment methods include:
- Major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, etc.)
- YooMoney (Yandex Money)
Several.com expert opinion on ExpressVPN
In Several.com, we believe that ExpressVPN is a cutting-edge VPN option which worth every penny they are asking for. It might be a bit more expensive than its competitors, but that's because you're getting the highest level of encryption, a huge global network with top-notch quality servers, advanced split tunneling that most top VPNs don't offer, and impressive streaming platforms unblocking capabilities.
Bottom line: We highly recommend it.