ExpressVPN Review: Does it Meet the Hype?
This in-depth review of ExpressVPN examines whether it really meets up to all the hype as being the best VPN service for virtually all VPN uses.
So, you’re in the market for a new VPN, and ExpressVPN caught your eye. You have probably seen it mentioned almost everywhere as the #1 overall VPN service and you’re wondering whether that's too good to believe or even true or not.
Well, that’s a good question. We started out being very skeptical about ExpressVPN, but are now true believers. Yes, it really does check all the boxes and meet up to all the hype. Keep reading to find out why.
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'ExpressVPN Review' Contents (select to expand)
Why Everyone Needs a VPN
Before we get into the details of our ExpressVPN review, let’s be clear here: everyone should use a VPN, whether you only casually use the web for activities such as email, social media, and banking or whether you’re a full-blown Internet addict (like us).
There are simply too many people out there trying to get a hold of your data and use it against you.
The privacy, security and peace of mind provided by a VPN are definitely more the reasonable price of a VPN subscription.
Not only that, VPNs will let you access parts of the Internet you might not have been able to without it. For instance, you’re in the UK and want to access the US Netflix library, you live in the US and want to access the UK’s BBC iPlayer, or you’re in China and you want to access Facebook. You get the picture.
In short, you owe it to yourself to grab a VPN, whether it’s ExpressVPN or another top VPN service.
ExpressVPN Review 2018: Is it Really "All That"?
With all of the other choices out there for VPNs (there are almost 200 VPN services on the market today!), why choose ExpressVPN?
Let's weigh the pros and cons.
Summary of ExpressVPN Positives
On paper, ExpressVPN looks like the ideal VPN service because it ticks all the right boxes you want from a VPN. Here's what we mean:
- no activity logs and no connection logs
- based outside the USA away from NSA spying
- 3,000 servers in 148 VPN server locations in 94 countries (and growing)
- unlimited, high-quality bandwidth
- industry-leading network lock kill switch, a must-have for anyone P2P'ing
- VPN apps have built-in speed test
- supports anonymous Bitcoin payments
- use their own zero-knowledge DNS servers
- best-in-class, military grade encryption
- award-winning, easy-to-use apps for virtually every platform and device
- 24/7 live chat support for immediate technical troubleshooting
- unconditional 30-day money-back guarantee for full peace of mind
- ExpressVPN has made strong, public commitments to keeping no logs of its users' activities and provides financial support to The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and other worthy privacy causes
Wow. OK, so that's nice in theory but how does it work in practice? Like a dream in our experience. Seriously.
- easy sign up and app installation.
- its apps connect fast to VPN servers. No waiting.
- it downloads fast. For example, no lagging when streaming or torrenting.
- reliable as hell. Minimal dropped connections and when they do occur, the kill switch ("network lock") kicks in every time.
- so easy to use. Plain English settings and its 1-click 'Smart Location' couldn't be easier.
- unlike most other VPNs which are now blocked, ExpressVPN still works with Netflix.
- if you want dig more into the apps' Settings and play with protocols and encryption levels it's all there too.
Summary of ExpressVPN Negatives
OK, but wait. Does ExpressVPN have any weaknesses, you might be asking?
Nothing in life is perfect and ExpressVPN could improve in these areas:
- ExpressVPN currently allows 5 simultaneous connections with one account. That's not the highest in the industry with some VPN services allowing up to 10 concurrent logins (that's IPVanish VPN). This means you could use ExpressVPN at the same time on your computer, smartphone and tablet, but not any other devices unless you logged out of one of these first.
- ExpressVPN's price point of $6.67 per month for a 1-year subscription is at the high end of spectrum with some VPN services costing half as much per month. However, we wouldn't for one second compare the quality of ExpressVPN to those cheaper VPN services. Built in to ExpressVPN's pricing is its faster speeds, longer guarantee, better customer support, superior features, higher number of server locations and more privacy-friendly location.
A Breakdown of ExpressVPN's Benefits and Features
With that handy summary as an introduction, let's highlight in more detail some of these elements.
ExpressVPN has always had a reputation as one of the faster VPNs in the business. It usually ranks near the top of any ‘fastest’ list, no matter which site or reviewer is doing the ranking.
If you’ve got the need for speed (or you just like fast downloads), ExpressVPN is definitely one of the better options. You won’t see much drop off when you’re using it compared to your normal Internet speeds.
Longest & Best VPN Guarantee
ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee, which is pretty rare in the VPN world.
If you don't like it for whatever reason, request a refund and you'll get your full money back with no fuss.
ExpressVPN does not offer a "free trial" like some VPN services, but with that long of a full money-back guarantee period, what ExpressVPN offers is better than a free trial.
No Leaking of Your IP Address
Independent tests confirm that ExpressVPN does not suffer from leaks.
See the test results for ExpressVPN for yourself on page 6 of AV-TEST's report on VPN services:
- no DNS leak
- no WebRTC leaks
- no local IP leaks
- no Windows Login leaks
- no P2P & Torrent leaks
- no HTTP request leaks
Respected researcher VoidSec also interdependently confirmed that ExpressVPN has no WebRTC leaks.
- Related: VPN Testing Study
When ExpressVPN had one of its servers seized by the Turkish government, ExpressVPN's "zero-logging" claims were put to the test.
Sure enough, the Turkey authorities were not able to find any logs on the server and ExpressVPN's customer's true identity was unknown. Read more about proven VPN no-logging claims.
Another area where ExpressVPN has established a solid reputation is their customer service. They definitely don’t skimp in that regard.
Not only is their support good but it’s also available 24/7, around the clock, meaning they’ll be there when you need them.
This is an important consideration for users that are new to VPN services or even intermediate users who want to use their VPN for things like Netflix geo-shifting or to access the Internet in places such as China, UAE, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc. as you may often need the help of your VPN’s customer support to stay ahead in these games of cat and mouse.
Safely Located Outside USA and Europe
Believe it or not, where a VPN service hosts its business is a major factor in how safe it is. That’s because if it’s hosted in the US, it’s subject to US laws; if it’s hosted in the UK, it has to follow UK laws; and so on.
In the case of ExpressVPN, they’re located in the British Virgin Islands (or BVI for short), which is definitely a good thing when it comes to your privacy. Don’t let the name fool you. The BVI are outside the jurisdiction of Britain, with Internet and data collection laws being a lot less intrusive. Plus, the BVI’s privacy-friendly laws are also less likely to change for the worse in the near future – in contrast to places like the US, UK, Australia, and the rest of Europe – since they generally receive less scrutiny.
ExpressVPN’s location in the BVI is off the snoops’ radar and that’s a good thing for your privacy. That makes your activities and your data that much safer, especially for sensitive online activities.
Plenty of VPN Servers
ExpressVPN offers a ton of servers and locations. ExpressVPN offers 2,000 servers in 148 locations in 94 countries.
That’s one of the best spreads in the industry, and it means you’ll almost always be covered, no matter where you are in the world. It’s even a great option in China, for example, where other VPNs struggle to crack “The Great Firewall”.
That also makes ExpressVPN a good choice for people who are in countries where other providers don’t have servers. To use Private Internet Access as an example, they are cheaper than ExpressVPN, but have servers in only 48 countries, meaning you have lots more options and choice with ExpressVPN.
All the Advanced Features You’d Expect
ExpressVPN also boasts all the leading features we demand from a VPN these days including:
- a kill switch to prevent your real IP address from ever being exposed
- strong encryption
- DNS leak protection
- IPv6 protection
- split tunneling
Furthermore, ExpressVPN provides its customers with access to a full suite of web browser extensions (including for Chrome, Firefox and Safari). The Chrome Extension in particular also now features HTTPS Everywhere.
Still Works with Netflix (But Read)
As of October 2020, ExpressVPN still works with Netflix USA, UK, India & Canada. Yeah!
Netflix has been successful at blocking most VPN services but a handful, including ExpressVPN, keep managing to overcome the block.
But we cannot say it will 100% always work.
If you are running into any difficulties, try switching servers in the same country. For example, ExpressVPN has no less than 29 server locations in the USA, 6 in the UK, 3 in India and 4 in Canada. Cycle through servers until one works.
You can always jump onto ExpressVPN's 24/7 chat support and ask for a server that is currently with Netflix. They will be happy to oblige.
OK, so our verdict on ExpressVPN is pretty clear: a resounding YES. It meets the hype, not only on paper but in everyday use too.
We’ve outlined above where ExpressVPN stands out. They offer great speeds, the best guarantee in the business, strong customer support, a safe location and a big VPN server footprint.
ExpressVPN is the closest thing we have seen to a one-size-fits-all VPN service. It is well worth its affordable monthly subscription.