Is ExpressVPN really the fastest out there? Is it worth its price, even with its latest discount? I ran every test possible to find out.
Whether you want to stream Netflix, download torrents, play video games, or stay anonymous and secure online, I’ve got the important info you need. Spoiler: ExpressVPN can do all of these, and its latest version is a serious contender for the VPN crown. But it’s not perfect, and my research found one thing that might surprise you.
Short on Time? Here’s What Matters Most
- Streaming. Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon prime – all worked flawlessly – here are my testing logs.
- Speed. It’s a blazing-fast VPN, and can increase torrenting speeds – just look at these numbers.
- Security and Ease of use. It’s one of the safest and setup took less than 4 minutes.
- Breaking geoblocks. I’ve tested the toughest, and it shattered them all, even in China.
While ExpressVPN was always famous for its speed and unblocking capabilities, the market didn’t stay frozen: streaming services added new geoblocks and doubled their efforts to limit access in the last few months, countries like China raised new barriers, hackers became more dangerously creative and, of course, competitors keep getting better and faster.
But ExpressVPN is still one of the fastest and most impressive VPNs I’ve tested. And I’ve tested a lot of VPNs.
To give you a complete picture of ExpressVPNs performance, myself and my researchers in China, Russia, and the USA ran every test possible to dig deep into all of its features and to see how well it really holds up.
I looked at everything from server coverage and speeds to privacy, security, and even customer service and pricing. Afterall, it doesn’t matter how amazing a product is if the company who sold it leaves you hanging when you need help.
Streaming – Does ExpressVPN Work With Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Other Services?
Yes. I started with the UK and US Netflix libraries, both of which were a success. I even tested the US Netflix library across ExpressVPN’s 20+ US servers, and I was able to unlock content to stream in HD easily on each one.
Then I headed over to Netflix Australia, which I was also able to access hassle-free.
However, when I tried to access Netflix Germany, I did run into geoblocks while connected to a Frankfurt server. I changed to a Nuremberg server and was able to stream freely.
South America was my final test. I tested Netflix libraries in Brazil, Chile, and Peru, and I was able to stream in HD across all. I experienced no buffering, lag, or pixellated images.
Is Netflix your top priority? Check out our top recommendations of VPNs for Netflix – all guaranteed to bypass Netflix’s tough geoblocks and unlock geo-restricted content wherever you are. With its impressive unblocking capabilities, ExpressVPN made it onto our list.
While testing, I found that ExpressVPN can stream Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Go, and more in Full HD.
It’s also reliable for unblocking YouTube, Google, Facebook, and other popular sites that are often blocked in schools and workplaces, as well as in heavily censored countries like China and Russia.
If streaming is your primary reason for choosing a VPN, ExpressVPN is a sure bet.
Is ExpressVPN Good for Torrenting?
ExpressVPN has unlimited bandwidth and data caps for completely unrestricted torrenting. But it also allows torrenting and P2P sharing across any of its servers.
Since ExpressVPN keeps no logs and is headquartered in a privacy-friendly location, your torrenting activity or history cannot be leaked to anyone. It’s safe to use with uTorrent or any other BitTorrent client, with guaranteed anonymity.
DNS protection through ExpressVPN’s own DNS on every server further protects you from leaks and revealing your torrenting activity. It’s a solid choice for torrenting and P2P sharing, not just for security, but also for its speed and performance.
ExpressVPN has a Smart Location feature that allows you to connect to a server with the simple click of a button. It measures latency, speed, and distance, so that you’ll get the fastest possible server every time. My test shows this feature is one of the reasons for ExpressVPN’s impressive performance.
There’s the option to view and connect to all of ExpressVPN’s locations, but the quick connect and recommended servers are ExpressVPN’s way of providing you with a guaranteed fast, reliable connection.
Using the Quick Connect feature, I connected to a local server nearest to my home. This connected me to an East London server. My speed was 23.4 Mbps.
My speed only decreased by 23.28%, which is really impressive. Even when connected to local servers, other VPNs often cause your speed to drop significantly. I was able to browse and stream with the same reliability I’d had before I connected.
As I was connected to the smart location ExpressVPN’s smart algorithm had chosen for me, I wanted to connect to another local server to see if this would have any difference.
My speed was better here than with the Quick Connect feature. That makes it just a 12.64% decrease in total, which is easily the best speeds I’ve had with any VPN so far.
Long-Distance ExpressVPN Speeds
I started with a server in the US. I connected to the recommended server on my list in the app. My speed was 15.5 Mbps, meaning my speeds only slowed down by 49% overall.
Then, I headed over to a Hong Kong server. My speeds slowed by 46.89%, giving me a speed of 16.2 Mbps. This was barely noticeable while I was streaming and gaming. After all, speeds of 16.2 Mbps are still pretty fast.
Finally, I connected to a server in Australia to really test the distance. My speed was 10.3 Mbps. From my base speed of 30.5 Mbps, this means my overall speed decreased by 66.23%. I was pleasantly surprised by this, as I expected my speeds to decrease by at least 80% when I connected to a server so far away.
ExpressVPN Speed: The Results
My findings show that even when I connected to a server on the other side of the world, my speeds dropped much less than I expected.
The data shows that my speeds only slowed by 66.23% over the longest distance, and since I had such a quick starting speed, the reduction wasn’t noticeable. I was able to browse and stream in Full HD, hassle-free, as if I wasn’t connected to the VPN. Though if you’re starting at a slower speed, you might feel some lag.
I tested packet loss, too – the amount of data packets that didn’t arrive correctly at the destination. Packet loss of 5% significantly impacts the quality of your session. So I was pleased that my results varied from 0 to just 0.3%.
It’s clear from my tests that ExpressVPN’s speeds really are lightning-fast. No matter which server you connect to, anywhere in the world, you’ll have quick, reliable service.
Is ExpressVPN Good for Gaming?
We’ve seen just how impressive ExpressVPN’s speeds are. But the basic speed tests other reviewers rely on only assess how quick a server is with nothing else working in the background – no streaming, no browsing, no gaming.
I believe in tougher tests! And gaming is one of the toughest tests for VPNs.
Can ExpressVPN maintain its high speeds while playing a resource-heavy MMO like League of Legends? Will the ping rate and latency be low enough? Will the bandwidth be high enough? Can I play LoL with ExpressVPN without lag and buffering?
Rather than connecting to the smart location, I decided to connect to a server thousands of miles away, where my speeds would more likely be affected.
The results? My gameplay was remarkable. I was expecting some lag mid-battle, but ExpressVPN managed to keep up with the fast-paced action easily for the whole hour I tested the game.
I was able to play in HD with amazing speeds, keeping up with my teammates as quickly as if I was not using the VPN at all.
Many VPNs claim to protect you in the event of a connection failure or guarantee that your IP address always remains hidden. Researching, testing, and confirmation are the only ways to find out if the claims are true.
During my review, I was looking for maximum encryption, strong security protocols, and IP leak protection. I also wanted to thoroughly test out ExpressVPN’s extra security features, like its split tunneling feature.
ExpressVPN uses the highest standard of encryption. It keeps you protected with 256-bit AES encryption, which combines an AES 256-bit cypher with a 4096-bit RSA key and SHA-512 HMAC authentication.
What does this mean? AES 256-bit encryption is symmetric, meaning the same key used to encrypt your data must be used to decrypt it. This makes it near-impossible to break. Even the world’s most powerful computer would take billions of years to decrypt just 0.1% of the data it holds.
The SHA-512 HMAC authentication ExpressVPN uses is highly secure for data transfers, such as P2P file sharing. Using a shared secret key, both the sender and receiver of the download have a way of verifying the authenticity of the file.
Any change in the secret key will be proof that somebody tampered with your file.
ExpressVPN also uses perfect forward secrecy. This is a highly advanced feature that changes your encryption key every time you log on, so you’re assigned a new one at the start of each session. Any data from your previous session is completely unrelated to your current session. Should anyone attempt to intercept your browsing session, anything before or after this is completely secure.
ExpressVPN uses multiple security protocols, and will automatically select the best protocol for the most reliable connection. The default is the most advanced OpenVPN UDP protocol, but OpenVPN TCP, PPTP, and L2TP/IPsec are supported as well. Want to know more? See our expert protocol research.
This is an advanced security feature that keeps your IP address and traffic secure, even if the VPN connection drops. ExpressVPN calls this feature a Network Lock, and here I’ve found a surprising downside.
It’s designed to block traffic if your connection is compromised, keeping your data and IP address hidden. I was pleased to see the kill switch is automatically enabled in the app, rather than requiring manual configuration.
ExpressVPN’s kill switch is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, routers. For Android, it appears as the network protection feature, but it’s the same thing. iOS is a different story. There’s no kill switch available for iOS. At vpnMentor, we keep track of the best VPNs for mobileGAMs, including for iOS. And ExpressVPN is among the best, so it’s a shame this important feature is lacking for iOS.
This standout feature lets you encrypt just part of your traffic through certain browsers, but leave everything else untouched.
You can browse locally AND through your VPN at the same time. You just need to decide which apps will use the VPN. Adding and removing apps is easy. Just click on the plus symbol.
I chose to leave my online banking app and both BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub out of the encryption tunnel so I could still use them. Then I actually put this to the test.
I connected to a server in the US, and then revisited the BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub apps to see if I was able to stream the content. Success! I could watch all content across both apps, and I was able to browse while being connected to the US server at the same time.
Leak Tests and Leak Protection
Although your traffic is sent through an encrypted tunnel, it could still leak; this is known as a DNS leak, and it makes your online activity visible to your ISP. More worryingly, it means your data is accessible to third parties.
A solid VPN protects you against DNS leaks and guarantees your anonymity. I ran leak tests on ExpressVPN’s apps for Android and Windows to see how strong its connections really are.
ExpressVPN does offer its own leak test, but I always prefer running my own tests with a a third party to ensure unbiased info.
In this case, I turned to ipleak.net for comprehensive results on my IP address, location, browser default, and fallback information.
I tested servers in the US, Australia, Canada, and the UK on my Windows device. I had no DNS leaks across any server.
The results: I was pleased to see there were no data leaks and my IP address was completely protected throughout my browsing sessions. IPv6 was also blocked, which is the request from your ISP to your device that provides you with an IP address. This means I was undetectable by my ISP as there was no request sent. Pretty impressive!
Tor Compatibility, Security Audits, and Security Breaches
ExpressVPN has Tor compatibility – a feature only a handful of VPNs offer. I was pleased to see that ExpressVPN only supports Tor over VPN rather than the reverse. This means you benefit from maximum anonymity, as your data and online traffic are invisible to the VPN. ExpressVPN performs independent security audits, done by the renowned cybersecurity firm Cure3 and professional services and advisory titan PwC. This VPN did not suffer any breaches.
Having run every possible security test on ExpressVPN and troubleshooting all of its features, I can safely say that its advanced security can protect you, even with an unreliable connection.
Many VPNs claim to keep you private online, but a closer look at their privacy policies reveals all kinds of loopholes and woolly language. This means your data is actually stored and might be shared with third parties, including the government.
ExpressVPN’s headquarters are located discreetly in the British Virgin Islands. The good news is, the British Virgin Islands sit outside of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance, meaning it’s a privacy-friendly country.
Does ExpressVPN Have an Adblocker?
ExpressVPN does not have an ad blocker. If you are after an ad blocker, though, check out one of these highly-rated vendors with ad blockers.
Does ExpressVPN Keep Logs?
Its policy states that it keeps no logs of any of your activity or connection logs, which includes all of your online traffic, websites visited, data content, and DNS queries.
The only data it does collect is the information you provide when you sign up, such as your email address and payment details.
How does ExpressVPN’s zero-logs policy really hold up? Very well! In 2017, one of ExpressVPN’s servers was seized by the Turkish government who were seeking information about an assassination, but they received no information, as there was no stored data available.
Server Number and Locations
- 3,000+ servers
- 160+ locations
- Servers in the US, the UK, Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, Canada, and more.
Some locations have more servers than others, and the service offers the best coverage in the US, with 20+ servers in over 15 cities. By comparison, PrivateVPN only offers servers in 9 US cities. This means you can specifically select a server nearer to you within a certain country, so you can enjoy better speeds, lower latency, and more reliability.
Server Security Standards
ExpressVPN uses TrustedServer Technology. But what does that really mean?
TrustedServer Technology ensures that every server is only run on RAM. This means that all data is entirely wiped with every reboot. RAM is incapable of storing any data, so once it’s turned off and on again, any data from your session is deleted.
In fact, literally everything, including the operating system, is loaded fresh with each reboot, from a secure read-only image stored on the hard drive. This makes you less vulnerable to attacks, especially from hackers, as there’s no data for them to access in the first place.
Virtual Server Locations
When you connect to one of ExpressVPN’s servers, the server and IP address are usually in the same country. However, the service also offers virtual server locations where your IP address is within your target country, but the physical server is elsewhere.
This means ExpressVPN provides a more reliable connection with better speeds. You still have an IP address in your target country, regardless of the virtual location of the server.
Does ExpressVPN Offer Static/Dedicated IP Addresses?
No. ExpressVPN told me it doesn’t offer static/dedicated IP addresses. It says it aims to rotate its IP addresses regularly to increase your overall experience and make sure you get the best speeds every time.
Apps, Extensions, and Compatibility
ExpressVPN offers compatibility across nearly every device.
To get the full functionality of ExpressVPN, you should install it on your desktop. The iOS and Android mobile apps both fell short of a few important features, but on Mac and Windows, you have everything you could possibly need from a VPN.
iOS and Android Apps
You can download both the Android and iOS apps from Google Play or App Store, and configuration is easy. You need to agree to a few security measures and other preferences, and then just connect to a server. There’s also an option to auto-connect to the VPN when you fire up your mobile device.
The iOS and Android apps differ slightly between each other, and neither of them has all of the features included in the desktop app.
There’s no Tor compatibility with mobile, so if you’re looking for added privacy with Tor, you’d be better sticking to the desktop app.
I tested IPv6 leak protection on mobile, but unfortunately, this doesn’t work either. I was unable to see whether this had been blocked, which raises some questions about privacy on mobile.
You can’t use the speed test on mobile, so you can’t assess servers for latency and download speed. Connections are all reliable, despite no speed test. I didn’t experience any buffering or lagging as I switched servers on mobile. In fact, I often found my mobile app was quicker than desktop.
iOS users can choose from OpenVPN and IPSec/IKEv2 protocols. However, Android only supports OpenVPN. This is the highest standard, and probably the only protocol you’d use anyway.
Android users do have something that iOS users don’t, which is a network protection feature. This acts almost like a kill switch, blocking internet access when it can’t connect to a server or has trouble reconnecting.
ExpressVPN has dedicated browser extensions for both Chrome and Firefox. These only encrypt the traffic that goes through your browser, so everything else you do online is unencrypted. It’s almost like a split tunneling feature.
You install the add-on directly in your browser and just click on the extension to connect. It’s ideal if you’re just looking to encrypt your browser traffic quickly, like when using Chrome and a public WiFi connection.
ExpressVPN does offer an app for routers. If you install the app to your router, you’ll protect every device in your household, even if they don’t usually support VPN software. That includes any TVs, games consoles, mobiles, or tablets. There’s no limit on the number of connections once it’s installed on your router.
There are only a few, quick steps to follow to get set up. You can actually select your specific router from the drop-down on ExpressVPN’s website, and it’ll give you a guide on how to get started.
If there are certain devices you don’t want connected to the VPN, you can change your settings using the split tunneling feature, adding and removing devices freely.
Breaking Geoblocks: Can It Work in China?
Lately, many countries have tightened up their geoblocks to detect and block VPNs.
The Chinese government heavily restricts website access in the country, including sites like Google, Facebook, and YouTube. This is known as the Great Firewall of China, and most VPNs simply aren’t powerful enough to get around it. However, ExpressVPN can.
In fact, when the Chinese government cracked down on VPN use a few years ago, ExpressVPN was one of the only VPNs that still worked.
As we’ve already seen, ExpressVPN has servers in Hong Kong, which allow you to access Chinese TV and websites while outside of China.
It works in the reverse, too, helping people inside China access digitally censored sites. It does this by using obfuscation across its servers.
Obfuscation disguises the VPN server code so that it looks like usual internet traffic. This means it won’t be detected as a VPN and blocked, so you can browse freely and access restricted sites from inside China.
ExpressVPN allows you to unblock Facebook, Google, WhatsApp, Netflix, and more from inside China. However, you need to install the VPN outside of Chinese borders first, otherwise it will be blocked regardless.
How Many Devices Can I Connect With ExpressVPN?
ExpressVPN allows five simultaneous connections.
However, if you install the app to your router, you’ll actually have unlimited simultaneous connections. This is because the router is considered to be the device connected to the app. You can protect every WiFi-connected device in your household, just by installing ExpressVPN on your router.
Comparison: Is It Better Than the Competition?
When it comes to the competition, many reviewers see NordVPN as a cheaper competitor with many similar features, but not as advanced. But there is another competitor that could threaten ExperessVPN – CyberGhost, which is not as feature-rich but tends to be cheaper.
|Our speed rating||#2||#1||#5|
|Jurisdiction||British Virgin Islands||Panama||Romania|
|Encyption||256-bit AES||256-bit AES||256-bit AES|
|Kill switch||Yes, but not for iOS||Yes, for all||Yes, for all|
|Allows torrenting||Yes, on all servers||Yes, dedicated P2P servers||Yes, dedicated P2P servers|
|Unblocks Netflix US||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Unblocks BBC iPlayer||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Works in China||Yes||Yes||No|
|Pricing||From $8.32 per month||From $3.49 per month||From $2.75 per month|
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||30 days||45 days|
|Number of countries with servers||94|
|Number of servers||3000|
|Number of IP addresses||25000|
|Does VPN keep logs?||No|
|Does VPN include a kill switch?||Yes|
|Number of devices per license||5|