ExpressVPN is one of the most popular and trusted names in the industry. It’s known for being one of the safest, fastest VPNs around, so I wanted to see if it can live up to these claims. It’s not the cheapest VPN, but it often offers discounts that make it better value for money. Other decent VPNs offer similar security features for much cheaper. So, do you need to pay so much for a VPN as good as ExpressVPN?
My conclusion: ExpressVPN is tough to beat in almost every way. It’s definitely worth the price. It is one of the fastest VPNs I've ever tested, is incredibly easy to use, and has powerful security features. Plus, it's one of the best VPNs I've used for unblocking streaming sites, and it has the best VPN router app I’ve tried. It has a money-back guarantee too, so you can test out all of ExpressVPN’s features risk-free. You have 30 days to get a refund if it’s not for you.
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Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
- Unblocks lots of streaming platforms. ExpressVPN is incredibly reliable for bypassing geoblocks — I could easily watch Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and more. Read my test results to see if there were any it couldn’t access.
- One of the fastest VPNs out there. No other VPN performs so well at long distances. On both local and long-distance servers, my speeds remained impressively fast, with only minor reductions that weren't noticeable. Find out how ExpressVPN affected my download rate here.
- Vast server network. It has 3,000+ servers in 94 countries, so you’ll be able to find one near you to ensure the fastest speeds possible. Read ahead to see if its virtual locations affect performance.
- Military-grade encryption with excellent security features. ExpressVPN keeps your connection hidden from anyone looking to spy on your data with top-notch encryption technology and advanced security features. Find out why hackers can’t crack its encryption keys here.
- A proven no-logs policy backed up by independent audits. Its strict no-logs policy has been proven in court and by a leading auditing firm. Read about when ExpressVPN’s policy was put to the test here.
- Native apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and routers. On every major operating system, you’ll get a user-friendly, feature-packed app, although there’s 1 that’s lacking a few features. See which apps have the most features here.
- Works in China. ExpressVPN is one of the few VPNs left that can bypass the Great Firewall of China. See how it works in restrictive countries.
- Great value with long-term subscriptions. Plus, you get 3 extra months of service and a year of unlimited cloud storage for free with its long-term plan. It’s also backed by a trusted 30-day money-back guarantee. Check out how to get the best deal here.
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ExpressVPN Features — 2023 Update
Money Back Guarantee
Does VPN keep logs?
Number of servers
Number of devices per license
Based in country
Virgin Islands (British)
24/7 Live Chat Support
Streaming — Unblocks 40+ Platforms, Including Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+10.0
ExpressVPN is great for accessing streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. It’s so dependable because it actively monitors its servers. If a streaming service blocks an IP address, ExpressVPN quickly replaces it with a new one.
It also lists all the streaming platforms it currently supports on its website. I tried every platform on the list and even some that weren't, and I didn't experience any difficulties. The only small downside is that ExpressVPN can’t access a couple of popular Netflix regions.
I tested over 50+ server locations and unblocked the following platforms:
|Amazon Prime Video
Pro Tip: If you’re having trouble accessing a platform, try switching browsers. When I had issues unblocking HBO Max and Hulu, I switched from Chrome to Microsoft Edge and they loaded in a matter of seconds. Clearing your browser’s cache and cookies can also fix the issue, or you can try another server in the region. If you still get the error screen, you can contact ExpressVPN’s 24/7 live chat support to find a server that works with the library you want.
Stream in HD with ExpressVPN >>
Unblocked: 20+ Netflix libraries including US, UK, and Japan
ExpressVPN let me unblock tons of Netflix regions and stream without interruptions. Netflix is always amping up its VPN-blocking technology, so it’s hard for even the most reputable VPNs to keep up. It’s not unusual for a VPN (even ExpressVPN) to stumble upon the dreaded Netflix proxy error, but I didn’t run into it once.
I first tested the London server and logged in to Netflix with no issues.
I never experienced any loading or quality problems on any Netflix library
I was able to unblock 20 different Netflix libraries. Even faraway servers let me watch in HD without buffering. When I used the New Jersey location, I was able to access US Netflix totally lag-free. But at super long distances, the videos took longer to load. On the Tokyo 2 server (9,500 km away), it took about 5 seconds for videos to start (which is still quite fast).
In addition to the US library, I was able to unblock Netflix in the following countries:
Unfortunately, ExpressVPN’s virtual servers could only access Netflix Originals. This is a version of the site that only has the movies and shows that Netflix owns, so you miss out on region-specific content. So, I could only watch Netflix Originals with the Argentina, Taiwan, Egypt, and Pakistan virtual locations.
Watch Netflix with ExpressVPN >>
ExpressVPN unblocked Disney+ and let me watch Not Dead Yet without any buffering on all 10 servers I tested.
The picture quality never dropped down, even with the faraway US servers
I was able to watch Disney+ with servers from the US, Australia, Canada, Italy, and the UK with zero buffering. The only difference was the Australian server took about 3 more seconds to load videos.
Watch Disney+ with ExpressVPN >>
Unblocked: Amazon Prime Video
I had one small issue accessing Amazon Prime Video, but for the most part, it worked great. I used servers in the UK, the US, and Canada to unblock it.
Every video played back instantly in HD, and I didn’t experience any buffering
I did run into one issue with the US servers. At first, it didn’t work even when I went through my basic troubleshooting procedure (switching servers/browsers/protocols), so I contacted support.
Prime Video might not work when your billing address is different from your IP
ExpressVPN’s support agent told me Amazon Prime Video won’t work on the app unless you have a US billing address. Mine is in the UK, so I didn’t get access. It was a little weird that it worked for other regions, though. However, the agent let me know Prime Video will work in your browser, even if the billing address doesn’t match. So, I headed over to Amazon.com and was able to stream US content from there.
Watch Prime Video with ExpressVPN >>
I was able to unblock Hulu and watch shows and movies in HD with super short load times.
The show began streaming 3 seconds after I pressed play in perfect HD
I normally have a tough time unblocking Hulu, but I used 7 different ExpressVPN servers to access it easily.
Watch Hulu with ExpressVPN >>
Unblocked: HBO Max
I unblocked HBO Max and watched shows on the platform without any problems. Succession played back perfectly with no issues.
Every US sever worked to access to unblock HBO Max
HBO Max worked great; the show loaded immediately, and it never stuttered or stalled.
Watch HBO Max with ExpressVPN >>
Also Unblocks: BBC iPlayer, Peacock, Crunchyroll, ESPN+, Kodi, social media sites, and more
ExpressVPN unblocked every other platform I tried, including BBC iPlayer, Peacock, Crunchyroll, ESPN+, and many more. I was even able to stream the public domain movie, The Wasp Woman, on Kodi. I was really impressed by this as there’s always at least one platform that a VPN can’t unblock. Even CyberGhost and NordVPN have problems with platforms like Sky Go or Amazon Prime Video.
Each of ExpressVPN’s 5 UK server locations let me watch BBC iPlayer, and I always had seamless streams. On Peacock, videos took about 10 seconds to load and started fuzzy. But, they upgraded to HD in 2 seconds. Streaming live basketball worked great on ESPN+; the game loaded instantly and played back with no errors. How Not to Summon a Demon Lord streamed perfectly on Crunchyroll as well.
Overall, ExpressVPN is an excellent VPN for streaming. I could access every single streaming platform I tested it with, and the videos played back perfectly with very few exceptions.
ExpressVPN also works with dozens of popular social media sites and apps that are blocked many countries. If you travel abroad and can't access your social media accounts, you can use ExpressVPN to unblock Facebook, Instagram, Google (and Google services like Gmail), Twitter, YouTube, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Tinder, and more.
Stream in HD with ExpressVPN >>
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Speed — Lightning-Fast on Local and Distant Servers10.0
ExpressVPN gave me the fastest speeds of any VPN I’ve tested. I was impressed by how consistently quick my speeds were on both local and long-distance servers. These were the 3 aspects I focused on during my tests:
- Ping is how long it takes data to travel. This is crucial when you’re gaming; the lower the ping, the faster your inputs are received. It’s measured in milliseconds (ms).
- Download speed is how quickly you receive data. This affects your computer’s performance while streaming videos, loading web pages, downloading etc. It’s measured in megabits per second (Mbps).
- Upload speed is how fast you send data. It tells you how quickly you can upload videos, post to social media, share files, etc. It’s also measured in Mbps.
We have a speed expert who conducts tests on ExpressVPN servers every week from the same UK location. This chart displays the average speeds of 10 tests done on each server.
Local servers dropped my speeds by around 5% on average and long-distance by 25%
ExpressVPN is incredibly fast — I didn’t record any speeds below 75 Mbps. In other words, my speeds never dropped by more than 38%. To put that into perspective, I saw speed drops of around 30% on some local servers, and up to 85% on some long-distance connections, with VPNs like CyberGhost and Private Internet Access. And both VPNs are much faster than average.
In June 2022, ExpressVPN began upgrading its servers to make overcrowding less of an issue. Several popular servers’ bandwidth went from 1Gbps to 10Gbps. More than 20 locations have been updated, including every US and UK location.
ExpressVPN’s speed testing tool is now only available on the macOS app. That’s too bad because it used to be on the Windows app too. It shows you the relative difference in ping (listed as latency), download, and upload speeds between servers to help you choose the best server for your needs.
Test ExpressVPN Risk-Free >>
ExpressVPN’s local servers were the fastest of any other VPN I’ve tried. I never had more than a 7% drop. I started by testing my base speed without a VPN connection to compare.
No VPN (London, UK):
I connected using ExpressVPN’s Lightway UDP protocol because it gave me the fastest speeds. Then, I began recording speeds on my Windows laptop.
I started by using the “Smart Location” feature, which automatically finds you an optimal server based on latency, speed, and distance. It connected me to a server in London, UK, and my rates barely dropped.
||115.78 (5% drop)
||16.37 (7% drop)
I then went a little farther and connected to Paris, France, and got really similar results.
||113.43 (6% drop)
||16.27 (7% drop)
Staying in Europe, I then connected to Germany and Ukraine and still didn’t experience a big drop. My speeds only fell by 5% connected to a Ukrainian server, which is impressive since it’s over 2,500 km away.
My speeds never dropped more than 7% on local servers
There were no noticeable changes in performance when I was browsing or streaming on any of the European servers. I was always able to stream in Ultra HD, since you only need 25 Mbps.
My speeds dropped more over long distances, but were still very impressive. The biggest drop I had was on the Tokyo 2 server, where I lost 38% from my base connection. But since it’s 9,294 km from my location, I was still happy with these results — I’ve tried VPNs that drop my speeds by 90% at that distance.
I tested a few servers in the US on both the east and west coasts:
New York, United States:
||95.21 (21% drop)
||16.21 (6% drop)
Los Angeles, United States:
||84.96 (30% drop)
||14.54 (25% drop)
Then, I increased the distance and tested ExpressVPN’s servers in Australia, India, Brazil, and Japan.
My speeds never dropped more than 38% on long-distance servers
While there was a bigger drop at these distances, my connection was still fast enough for high-bandwidth activities. I was able to stream geo blocked content on all these servers without buffering. Overall, ExpressVPN’s long distance speeds are great, and you’ll be able to find a fast connection no matter where you are.
Protocol Speed Tests
Lightway UDP was the fastest protocol during my tests, but there wasn’t a huge difference between that and IKEv2.
You won’t have to worry about speed drops if you decide to switch protocols
Although OpenVPN was the slowest, my speed never dropped below 70 Mbps.
Gaming — Seamless, Lag-free Gaming on Nearby Servers10.0
ExpressVPN is an excellent VPN for gaming as long as you stick to local servers. On long-distance servers, I wasn’t able to load a match because the ping was too high. But this is to be expected — I’ve never found a VPN that lets me game on long-distance servers.
When you’re playing competitive online games, your inputs are very important. This is why you want a ping rate below 85 ms. If it takes too long for the game to register your commands, it stops being fun. Even a split-second of lag puts you at a disadvantage, especially in games that require instant reactions.
I performed my tests with the fast-paced shooter Team Fortress 2. I started on the London location with a really low ping of 8 ms. I found a match in no time at all. During the game, I didn’t even notice I was using a VPN.
I was able to run, jump, duck, and shoot with zero delays
However, playing an FPS on a long-distance server was impossible. I got the best download speeds from the Chicago location, 6,349 km away. So, I decided to test it with gaming. The quick download rate didn’t matter because my ping was over 13 times higher than London at 110 ms. I waited 5 minutes for a game to load. After that, I decided to exit out and reconnect. The same thing happened again, so I couldn’t even see how it played.
Unfortunately, the same issue popped up when I tried a New York server. It’s only 5,567 km away from me, but I still couldn’t find a game even after multiple attempts. Because of this, I only recommend ExpressVPN for gamers if you know there’s a server near you.
Server Network — A Vast Collection of Servers Distributed Worldwide9.2
ExpressVPN's network comprises more than 3,000 servers located in 94 countries. This makes it simple to locate a quick, reliable connection. High user traffic can cause slowdowns, as can the distance from you to the server. While this isn’t the largest server network I’ve come across (Private Internet Access has 3,000), you can still easily find a fast nearby server that’s unlikely to be congested.
The United States and Europe have the most servers, and Africa has the least
ExpressVPN also has great coverage within countries. For example, it’s nice to see servers on both Australian coasts. There are also servers in several countries that other VPNs often neglect, including Hong Kong, Venezuela, and Turkey. Just keep in mind these are virtual locations, and that might affect speeds.
City-level servers make it easier to optimize your speeds. That’s because they let you know which city a server is in, so it’s easier to find one nearby.
ExpressVPN does not offer dedicated/static IP addresses. Some VPNs let you pay extra to use one of these, which can be helpful if you run a website. However, they’re much less safe. ExpressVPN mixes your IP with the traffic of other users, making it much harder to track your information and activity. Each time you sign in, you’ll connect to a different rotating IP.
While the IP addresses are all owned by ExpressVPN, they do work with third-party data centers. Their job is to maintain the servers, but they have no access to the information on them. After contacting ExpressVPN, I was told their partners can see traffic coming in and out of the server. However, they don’t have the proper credentials to tie any online activity to individual users.
Find the Right ExpressVPN Server >>
Smart Location is convenient, but I was able to find faster servers on my own.
The 3 dots next to your Smart Location will show you the full server list
For example, Smart Location connected me to the Midlands server, but when I tried the East London location my speeds were 5 Mbps faster.
ExpressVPN increases your security and privacy by running RAM-only servers. They call this TrustedServer Technology. RAM is incapable of storing any data, so once it’s restarted, any data from your session is deleted. Everything, including the operating system, is loaded fresh with each reboot from a secure read-only image stored on the hard drive. This increases the safety of the technology in the following ways:
- None of your data is ever stored in a hard drive.
- Data is stored for shorter periods of time.
- The software is reinstalled every time the server reboots, so they’re all updated with the latest security patches.
- It ensures the software is consistent across all servers. With some VPN services, the software can vary across servers, leaving some more vulnerable.
Most VPNs store their information on hard drives. This is less secure because hard drives store data until it’s manually deleted. ExpressVPN’s servers are rebooted every 1-2 weeks. Since these servers won’t store your sensitive information, you’d be safe no matter how often they reboot. However, it’s good that they are continually restarted to make sure they’re always running the most updated technology.
ExpressVPN is even offering a bug bounty of $100,000 to anyone who can find flaws in its servers. This is one of the highest sums any company has offered on Bugcrowd (the website where it hosts its bug bounties). ExpressVPN doesn’t expect anyone to gain unauthorized access to its servers, or to find leaks. So, this shows me it’s very confident in the security of its servers.
Every ExpressVPN server is automatically obfuscated. Some VPNs make you use different servers or special protocols to use a VPN on networks that block them. I’m glad you don’t have to worry about this with ExpressVPN since every server “obfuscates” (hides) your VPN use.
Does ExpressVPN Use Virtual Locations? Yes
Less than 5% of ExpressVPN’s servers are virtual locations, meaning the physical server is somewhere else. Your new IP address is within the target country, but the actual server is in another one.
It also lists the location of the physical server, which helps you estimate speeds
Virtual servers let ExpressVPN offer IPs in countries with restrictive internet policies. It can be difficult to find safe locations to place a data center in countries that ban or restrict VPNs. Having no physical servers in countries like Saudi Arabia, China, and Russia also keeps ExpressVPN outside their jurisdiction.
ExpressVPN removed physical servers from India in 2022, for example. The country’s government passed new laws requiring VPNs to record customers’ personal information like phone numbers and physical addresses. Removing physical servers means ExpressVPN doesn't have to adhere to these laws, and it still has virtual Indian locations.
Virtual servers can also provide you with better speeds and more reliable connections. Some countries don’t have fast or stable internet connections, so the VPN’s performance is improved by placing the server in a country with better infrastructure.
The downside is these locations aren’t great at unblocking streaming sites. They can sometimes lower your speeds if the server’s real location is farther away than the virtual one. Overall, these servers allow ExpressVPN to offer much wider global coverage than most other top VPNs. For example, NordVPN only offers servers in 94 countries.
Security — Flexible Options to Customize Your Safety Features10.0
ExpressVPN’s wide variety of security features and military-grade encryption will keep your data safe. I thoroughly tested ExpressVPN’s kill switch, split tunneling, and Tor compatibility. Plus, I compared its protocols and did a deep dive into its exclusive Lightway technology. Lastly, I looked into the results of its third-party audits to see how its infrastructure and practices held up under scrutiny.
The only downside I found is that ExpressVPN doesn’t offer a built-in ad and malware blocker. This is a really convenient feature for sure, but the ad and malware blockers offered by other VPNs usually don’t work very well. You need to use a dedicated app or extension for full protection anyway.
Stay Safe Online with ExpressVPN >>
Encryption — Military-Grade Protection
ExpressVPN’s encryption technology protects your private information. It keeps you safe with 256-bit AES encryption, which combines an AES 256-bit cipher with a 4096-bit RSA key and SHA-512 HMAC authentication. In layman's terms, your data is essentially uncrackable. This is the same level of encryption used by militaries, banks, and governments.
The number of bits in a key determines the number of possible combinations available. For instance, with 1 bit, there are 2 combinations, while 8 bits offer 256 combinations. With 256 bits, the number becomes a 78-digit figure, making decryption of even a small fraction of the data an arduous task taking billions of years for even the most powerful computer.
ExpressVPN ensures high security for data transfers, such as P2P file sharing, through the use of SHA-512 HMAC authentication. It uses a shared secret key that allows both the sender and receiver to verify a file's authenticity. Any alteration in the secret key would indicate tampering, enabling prompt detection and resolution of breaches, so any breach would be quickly identified and dealt with.
ExpressVPN employs perfect forward secrecy as well. This feature alters your encryption key with each logon session, ensuring that even if one key is compromised, previous and future VPN sessions remain inaccessible as they use different keys.
Security Protocols — Multiple Options for All Devices
ExpressVPN offers multiple security protocols that let you customize the VPN for any situation. Protocols are a set of rules a VPN uses to tell it how to encrypt your information. They can be switched in the protocols tab for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. On Linux, you use commands in the terminal.
Advanced options for Lightway lets you change the encryption cipher
Each of the protocols is a little different:
- Lightway: This protocol was developed by ExpressVPN, and no other VPN offers it. It drains less battery and transitions between networks seamlessly, making it a good choice for phones. There’s a UDP and TCP option. UDP was faster during my tests, but it’s a little more error-prone than TCP.
- OpenVPN: This is one of the most secure protocols. It’s open source, and people all over the world continuously examine the code to strengthen it. It also has UDP and TCP options.
- IKEv2: Generally thought to be faster than OpenVPN, it was only 1% quicker in my tests. I only use this protocol if the others aren’t working because it’s not as secure. There’s no TCP option, so it’ll be blocked by some firewalls.
You’ll have different options for protocols depending on your device. There is also an automatic setting. This will choose the best protocol for you based on your current connection.
Overall, I’d recommend Lightway UDP since it gives you the best balance of speed and security.
Lightway is ExpressVPN’s proprietary protocol that’s super lightweight and offers several advantages, including fast speeds (my speeds were around 12% faster than OpenVPN). For devices like smartphones, switching to ChaCha20 encryption further enhances speed. It uses wolfSSL, a modern cryptographic library known for its military-grade 256-bit encryption, thoroughly reviewed by third parties.
Lightway also changes networks quickly. Rather than terminating the VPN connection, it idles when the signal drops, allowing quick reconnection when switching between WiFi and mobile networks. Plus, Lightway often establishes connections in less than a second. With only 1,000 lines of code, Lightway has one of the smallest VPN protocol code bases, making it easier to audit and resulting in lower battery usage.
Although ExpressVPN doesn’t offer Wireguard, Lightway is a comparable replacement that’s similarly speedy and safe. Lightway has been independently audited by Cure53 and its core library is open-source (it's available on GitHub).
Leak Test Results — Passed
ExpressVPN passed all of my leak tests on Windows, Mac, Android, and iPhone apps. In my first set of tests, I used ipleak.net with 10 different servers.
Even though I was really in California, the test only detected the VPN's Montreal server
The image above shows that each of the tests only saw the Montreal IP address and DNS server I was connected to with the app. IPv4, IPv6, WebRTC, and DNS leaks are all different ways that your data can be accessed. Even if a VPN does a great job protecting you in every other way, leaks like these can still occur. That’s why it’s great that ExpressVPN has built-in leak protection to conceal your data from every method hackers use to access it.
Private DNS on All Servers
One of the reasons ExpressVPN passed my leak tests is because of its private DNS servers. You need to access a network called the Domain Name Server to move between websites. A Private DNS server cuts out this middleman, eliminating one more area where your information can be leaked.
There is an option to use your own DNS, but I recommend sticking with ExpressVPN’s own Private DNS servers as often as possible.
Try ExpressVPN Today
Independent audits done by several reputable security firms prove ExpressVPN is as secure as it claims. These reports never found any major issues and each minor vulnerability was quickly fixed.
This firm has audited its Lightway protocol (2021), TrustedServer technology (2022), and the Chrome and Firefox extensions (2018). The browser extensions are open-source, so anyone with the technical ability can perform a similar test. Its latest audits were on the Linux and macOS apps in 2022.
This is a team that tests the security of many of the world’s top banks. In 2022, it looked for any weaknesses in the Windows v.12 app an found none.
ExpressVPN also received ioXt Alliance certification for its Android app. The app was checked in 2021 for low-level security issues to ensure its design and how it runs is safe and can be trusted. For ex., network security, where the encryption keys are stored, and whether the software design and updates are secure.
ExpressVPN’s kill switch blocks your internet traffic if the VPN ever disconnects, so you’re always protected. This is an essential feature in any VPN, and ExpressVPN calls its version “Network Lock”.
On the iOS and Android app, it's called Network Protection in Settings
When the connection is incomplete, ExpressVPN lets you know that the traffic is blocked
On Windows, Linux, and Mac, the kill switch is enabled automatically. You can also grant access to devices on the LAN. This is handy if you have a printer connected to WiFi, so your documents aren’t affected by a faulty server. With the desktop, Android, and iOS apps you can toggle the kill switch on and off, but the router app cannot. It’s called Network Protection on Android and iOS apps, and it takes one additional step to activate: you just need to set the VPN to “Always On” in the Android settings.
Split tunneling lets you exempt traffic from the VPN tunnel. This is handy if you need a local connection for banking while streaming in an international region. You can also use it for printing or to save bandwidth while you’re downloading files (by only encrypting your torrenting app).
Adding and removing apps is easy, but you will need to disconnect the VPN while adding in exemptions.
You will need to disconnect from the VPN while you add or remove apps and websites
I removed my online banking app from the tunnel and put this feature to the test. I connected to a US server and returned to Hulu. It worked, and I was able to stream The Secrets of Hillsong while still staying connected to my UK bank.
This feature is available for Linux, Windows, Android, and router apps. Unfortunately, there is no split tunneling in the iOS app or on macOS devices using OS 11 and up.
You can use ExpressVPN with Tor (The Onion Router) using the Tor over VPN method. Tor is a special browser that encrypts all traffic within its network, anonymizing your data. Since it’s one of the main hubs to access the dark web, it has a bad reputation for housing many darknet sites where illegal activities can occur. However, Tor is also necessary since it allows activists and whistleblowers from anywhere to share important information anonymously.
For ExpressVPN to work with Tor, you need to connect to the VPN first. This lets you access Tor even if it’s blocked on your network. You also won’t have to worry about being flagged for using Tor, and you’ll have extra protection against any bugs in the browser.
ExpressVPN even has its own .onion website in the Tor network. This is useful because you can access blocked sites in countries with lots of internet censorship. So, if you accidentally forgot to download your VPN before traveling to China, you can still download the app via Tor.
You need to connect to your VPN first before loading TOR
Since Tor is highly encrypted, it’s a little slower than traditional browsers. Connected to the Los Angeles 1 server, I loaded up a Tor browser in 4 seconds. Accessing ExpressVPN’s .onion site took 9 seconds. This is equivalent to my speeds with no VPN connected, so I used Tor without any extra delays.
Threat Manager stops websites and apps from communicating with third parties known to track your activity or engage in malicious behavior. There's nothing more annoying than when you start seeing a bunch of targeted ads after browsing a site or app.
It’s currently only available within the ExpressVPN app for Mac, iOS, and Linux, though, so I hope it’s added to Windows and Android soon.
Privacy — A Trustworthy Company That Won’t Store Your Data10.0
ExpressVPN has a zero-logs policy and it's located outside of the 14 Eyes Alliance. It's owned by Kape Technologies which owns many other VPNs (CyberGhost and Private Internet Access, for ex.).
Does ExpressVPN Keep Logs? No
ExpressVPN has a strict no-logs policy, so it will never store, share, or sell your personal data.
It only stores email and billing information along with anonymized data to improve performance
ExpressVPN states it only collects:
- Information you used to sign up (billing details and email address)
- How many apps and app versions you’ve activated
- The day a connection was made (no specific time)
- The server location you connect to (but not the IP address assigned to you)
- The amount of data transferred in one day
I was impressed with how little information is stored; I can’t think of another VPN that collects less. This is the minimal amount of information needed to maintain the VPN and stay in contact with customers. It only reveals that you’ve used a VPN at some point, nothing more.
To protect yourself further, you can pay with cryptocurrency and make a new email for your account. I reached out to ExpressVPN support through the live chat to see if your data, payment, and email information can be deleted. It can, but only after you cancel your subscription.
This can only be done after you've cancelled your account
ExpressVPN does not collect:
- Your personal IP address or the VPN IP address you’ve used
- Data on your browsing history (which websites you’ve accessed)
- DNS queries (the websites you’ve attempted to access)
In other words, there’s no record of where you used ExpressVPN from or what you did while connected.
Diagnostic information can be shared with ExpressVPN voluntarily. When you download the app, simply choose “No Thanks” on the “Help Improve ExpressVPN” page.
If you choose to share, it only gives them anonymized data that can't be linked to you
On top of all of this, ExpressVPN’s zero-logs policy was put to the test in 2017. One of ExpressVPN’s servers was seized by the Turkish government while seeking information about an assassination. But they found nothing because no data was stored, proving the no-logs policy is legitimate.
ExpressVPN International Limited (the parent company behind the app) uses ExpressVPN as its sole source of revenue. The company has also worked with the Center for Democracy and Technology to help improve privacy rights worldwide. This, along with its proven track record, shows me that ExpressVPN is dedicated to online anonymity.
Based in the Privacy-Friendly British Virgin Islands
ExpressVPN is located in the British Virgin Islands, a country with no data retention laws. The country where a VPN company is incorporated is very important because it's required to follow the rules and regulations of its jurisdiction. Along with their strong privacy laws, it’s very difficult for prosecutors to acquire a warrant. They don’t have a mass surveillance program, and the BVI are also outside of the 14 Eyes Alliance (or SIGINT Seniors Europe). This is an agreement between countries to share data on their citizens.
Although it’s a British overseas territory, the BVI has a completely autonomous government. This is good because Britain is a member of 14 Eyes. Other countries can petition the BVI high court to share data, but they can’t be forced to reveal information about their citizens or companies. Even if another country was able to persuade them, ExpressVPN retains no data on its customers anyways. Still, it adds an extra layer of protection to be headquartered in such a privacy-friendly area.
Stay Safe Online with ExpressVPN >>
Torrenting — P2P Support on Every Server for Quick Downloads10.0
ExpressVPN allows P2P file sharing with unlimited bandwidth on every server, so it’s great for torrenting.
Many VPNs restrict P2P to a specific server, but with ExpressVPN, you’ll be able to use the best location near you for top speeds. ExpressVPN works with qBitTorrent, Transmission, Vuze, Deluge, uTorrent, and every other major P2P application. It also works with Kodi, where you can access P2P streaming sites.
To test ExpressVPN’s torrenting performance, I used uTorrent to download the public domain movie A Boy and His Dog. On a New York server, I was able to download at 2.1 MB/s with only 0.44 seeders. That let me complete the 700 MB file in under 6 minutes.
Even with only 0.44 seeders, I reached a 2.1 Mb/s download speed
ExpressVPN enables port forwarding exclusively on the router app. Additionally, it doesn’t provide a SOCKS5 proxy. These features are primarily utilized for quicker seeding; however, as demonstrated by my test, fast downloading is still possible without them.
That being said, my team and I do not condone any illegal torrenting or streaming, but many people use P2P services to legally share files. I recommend researching any applications you use to download torrents to make sure they’re not sharing copyrighted movies or shows.
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Does ExpressVPN Work in China? Yes
You can use ExpressVPN in China, but it’s best to download it before getting there. While only government-approved VPNs are legal in China, so far, the government fights these VPNs by blocking them. It’s uncommon for them to go after the individuals using them. However, we urge you to read up as much as you can about VPN use in China so that you’re fully aware of the risks.
The Chinese government heavily censors internet usage in the country. This online censorship is known as the Great Firewall of China. However, when the Chinese government cracked down on VPN use a few years ago, ExpressVPN was one of the only VPNs that still worked (and still does).
ExpressVPN also has servers in Hong Kong, which allow you to access Chinese TV and websites while outside of China.
Although the ping was high (229 ms), the Hong Kong 2 server only decreased my speed by 14%. So I was able to stream Chinese shows with no lag in HD.
It works in reverse, too: people inside China can access digitally censored sites with foreign locations. While ExpressVPN uses obfuscation technology, it also keeps an updated list of servers that are guaranteed to work in China. To stay safe, I recommend you do your research because the laws and regulations are always changing.
You need to set your protocol to automatic and connect to one of the recommended servers for China
The support team told me it also works in restrictive countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. For China specifically, the company has a website with troubleshooting advice, along with the servers it recommends. These are constantly changing, so be sure to check out the list each time you connect.
Nevertheless, it is important to install the VPN before arriving in the country to avoid any potential blocking. However, if you find yourself in China without a pre-installed VPN, you can still download it by utilizing its .onion site.
Installation & Apps
ExpressVPN’s desktop and mobile apps are attractive, stable, and user-friendly. It has a sleek, modern design with a big power button in the center.
The three dots take you to the server list, and the three lines let you access options
One thing I liked is that the app shows recent locations you’ve connected to. In addition, the Windows and Mac apps are essentially the same.
Navigating through the app to find your settings is easy: just click on the hamburger menu. From here, you can change security protocols, access the split tunneling feature, and use the toggles to turn other features on and off, such as the Network Lock (or Network Protection).
There are a few settings and features that you need to access through your ExpressVPN dashboard on its website. When you go to "My Account" and log in, you'll have access to your activation code and subscription details, and can change your payment details or view past invoices. You can also tweak your DNS settings and access your MediaStreamer IPs. You'll also find the setup page, where all the ExpressVPN apps can be downloaded (accompanied by a handy setup guide that shows you how to install it on each device).
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Setup & Installation — Straightforward and Fast on Every Device
It took me less than 3 minutes to sign up and install ExpressVPN.
Just select your device and press the big green download button
Step-by-step guide for installing ExpressVPN:
Quick Guide: How to Install ExpressVPN in 3 Easy Steps
- Pick a plan. Go to ExpressVPN’s website to begin the sign-up process. Choose a plan and enter your info. It also offers a generous 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out risk-free.
- Install the app. ExpressVPN has easy-to-use native apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. Just download the app on your preferred device and enter your activation code.
- Connect to a server. Start streaming, browsing, gaming, or torrenting securely with ExpressVPN.
This method works for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. If you’re using Linux, you’ll need to use the command line. It’s nearly as fast as installing other versions, and ExpressVPN has detailed setup guides on its website.
Device Compatibility — Available on a Ton of Hardware
ExpressVPN is compatible with every major operating system on a wide variety of devices. Native apps are available for devices running Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux. There are also apps available for many routers.
MediaStreamer makes it super easy to connect devices that don't have a native app
One great thing about ExpressVPN is how intuitive the apps are across every device. Each app functions in largely the same way. The one exception is the Linux app. It doesn’t have a graphical interface, so I had to interact with it using text. I still found it quite easy to switch servers and access every feature using the command line.
While the apps look similar, there are slight differences in the features available with each.
In addition to these operating systems, MediaStreamer lets you easily connect devices that don’t typically support VPNs, like gaming consoles and smart TVs. It also has browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.
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Desktop Computers — Apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux
ExpressVPN’s Windows and Mac app interfaces are nearly identical. However, there are some differences in the features. While the OpenVPN and Lightway protocols are available on both, IKEv2 is only available on macOS. Another difference is that you don’t get the split tunnel feature if you’re using OS 11 and up on a Mac.
You’ll need Windows 7 or newer, and macOS 10.11 or newer. ExpressVPN has also added native apps for Apple’s Silicon Mac devices (sometimes called M1 and M2). Many apps need to be “translated” to work for these devices, which usually causes issues. That’s not a problem here; just make sure you update to the latest Mac app, and ExpressVPN will be fully compatible with your Apple Silicon tech.
The only difference is the Mac app won't have split tunneling
I found the app easy to use on all 3 versions of desktop, although it did take a little time to learn the commands for Linux. Technically, it doesn’t have a graphical user interface (GUI). There aren’t many VPNs that do, but Private Internet Access offers one that you control the same way as your PC or Mac app.
However, ExpressVPN’s unique browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome let you use the VPN with a GUI. Since these extensions are remote controls for the app instead of proxies, using them will protect your entire device (not just what’s in the browser). The only drawback is you can’t change settings; you can only connect, disconnect, and change servers.
To install ExpressVPN and to access the settings on Linux, you’ll need to use commands in the terminal. For example, “expressvpn connect” will reconnect you to the last location you used. The command “expressvpn list all” will bring up the entire collection of servers for you to choose from. Since the browser extension is easier to use, I mainly only access the terminal when I need to change protocols.
Besides split tunneling, the Linux version has all the other desktop apps’ essential features. Other notable differences are that it only uses Lightway and OpenVPN and you can’t use app shortcuts like with Windows and Mac. This feature gives you one-click access to websites from the app, which I rarely used anyway. Apps are offered for Linux users with Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch, and Raspbian systems.
The only features it doesn't have are app shortcuts and split tunneling
No matter which operating system you use, you’ll get a feature-packed version of ExpressVPN on desktop.
iOS and Android
In general, the Android and iOS apps are similar to the desktop ones.
The Android app has all the same features as desktop apps (split tunneling, kill switch, auto-connect), along with a few extras. There’s also a crawl on the bottom of the homescreen with tips that link you to ExpressVPN’s blog.
Another unique feature on the Android app lets you disable in-app screenshots. This prevents any apps or snoops from being able to view sensitive information on your ExpressVPN app screen.
You should sign up on ExpressVPN’s website before downloading the Android app through the Google Play Store, and you’ll need Android version 5.0 or newer.
The only difference between the mobile apps is that the iOS one is missing the split tunneling feature
ExpressVPN Keys, ExpressVPN’s password manager is a feature unique to its Android & iOS apps. It encrypts and stores all the passwords you use online (there is no limit) to easily access your accounts. It also has a password generator to create a unique, secure password for every service. You can also use Keys on Windows, Mac, and Linux through its browser extension.
Both mobile apps also have the Protection Summary feature, which shows you a percentage of how often you’ve connected to the VPN since installing.
Android apps let you choose Lightway UDP or OpenVPN UDP protocols. The Android version also has app and website shortcuts (up to 5) that can be added in. Overall, the Android app works just as well as the desktop versions. I was able to stream shows in picture-perfect HD and switch between mobile data and WiFi instantly using Lightway.
Unfortunately, the iPhone version is missing the split tunneling feature. However, you will receive 2 extra features on your iPhone that Android users don’t get.
Threat Manager and Parallel Connections are available on iOS, so you’ll be safe from malware and connect to the VPN faster on restricted networks.
Parallel Connections lets you connect to a server faster (especially on restricted networks) because the VPN will try to connect using several methods at once. For example, some schools may block UDP connections, but the VPN will simultaneously try to connect using TCP. That means you don’t have to waste time trying different protocols to find a working connection. On top of that, ExpressVPN’s iOS app also retains the website and app shortcuts available on other versions of the app.
As well as the Lightway protocol (TCP and UDP), IKEv2 is also available on iOS.
With your iPhone, you’ll have to purchase and install through the App Store and need iOS version 12 or newer.
Browser Extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, and Vivaldi
ExpressVPN’s browser extensions give you a few extra security options, but you can only use them on desktop. There are dedicated browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. You can add it to Microsoft Edge as well, but you’ll need to download it through the Chrome Web Store and allow extensions from other stores in Edge’s settings. This process also works for Brave and Vivaldi.
Instead of proxies, these extensions are more like a remote control for your app. This is good because it gives you all of the app’s features. You’ll need to have ExpressVPN downloaded to your desktop. Connecting in the browser will also connect with your app.
Spoofing your location helps when platforms require geolocation in the browser
Using the browser extension helped me access platforms like Hulu that require geolocation in the browser. Hulu can use the geo-tracking tech in your device to see where you really are. But, toggling “Spoof your location” will make it look like you’re in the same location as the VPN’s server, unblocking the platform.
The extension also lets you block WebRTC leaks. WebRTC is a communication software activated in many browsers that can reveal your IP address. I tested this out during my leak tests, and no WebRTC leaks were found.
You can make your browsing even more secure by activating “HTTPS Everywhere.” When a website is offered in HTTPS (a safe version of a site that uses encryption), ExpressVPN will automatically access it. I visited 6 different websites I normally use with this option activated, and it gave me the HTTPS version each time.
The browser extensions are super useful, but it’s a shame they’re not available for phones or tablets. Switching between apps and browsers on a desktop is easy, but with a touch screen, it’s a hassle. Browser extensions are available for Chromebooks (which use ChromeOS), but I had syncing issues when I tested it, so I don’t recommend using them. It’s also too bad there’s no Safari extension.
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Dedicated Router Applet
ExpressVPN has a browser-based app for routers, along with manual configuration on selected devices. This is a great feature that makes ExpressVPN stand out, especially for ease of use. There just aren’t many VPNs out there with such a sleek app for routers.
Installing the app this way gives you lots of benefits. You can access ExpressVPN’s entire server network, and you'll protect every device connected to your home network, even if they don’t usually support VPN software. That includes any smart TVs, gaming consoles, and streaming devices like Chromecast or Roku. Plus, there’s no limit on the number of devices you can connect once it’s installed on your router.
You’ll also have access to the kill switch and split tunneling. The interactive setup guide was really helpful, and I was able to install everything in less than 10 minutes. You can get the ExpressVPN app on most models of Asus, Linksys, and Netgear routers.
It’s important to bear in mind that installing ExpressVPN’s firmware on your router will replace the original firmware. This may invalidate your warranty and could damage your technology if done incorrectly. Just make sure you follow the steps on ExpressVPN’s website very carefully, and seek assistance from their 24/7 support if you need it.
Here’s how to set up ExpressVPN on your router:
- Perform the initial internet setup for your router. Then, search for your router model on the ExpressVPN download page and download the firmware.
- Log in to your router’s admin panel via the browser. The default address is 192.168.1.1.
- Go to the “Administration” section in the “Advanced” tab. Then, select “Browse.”
- Go to the folder with the downloaded firmware. Select the file, and click “Update.” After installation, you may need to reconnect your router using the factory settings.
- Go to https://www.expressvpnrouter.com. Follow the step-by-step instructions to finish the setup.
- Select a VPN server. Now you can also manage your ExpressVPN router app via the dashboard.
Note: The setup guide provides detailed instructions depending on your router model. The steps above were followed to set it up on a Netgear Nighthawk R6400v2, so the steps for your router may be slightly different.
ExpressVPN has also recently updated its router software. It’s added an auto-update feature (for versions v2.7.0 and up), so you don’t need to manually reinstall when upgrades and updates are offered. As for infrastructure, it’s now using OpenSSL version 1.1.1k for improved security. New Linksys WiFi drivers have also been implemented for added stability.
It also lets you set up different groups, which lets you choose different servers for each group. Using the Device Groups feature was a breeze, too — you can just drag and drop your devices on the interface to quickly switch locations. This feature really sets ExpressVPN apart from other VPNs, since you usually have to have all connected devices on the same server. I set this up to connect to a US server on my smart TV to watch US Netflix, while my iPhone was excluded so that I could access my online banking app with my normal IP address.
You can buy pre-installed routers, install it on compatible routers, or use a manual configuration
You can also manually install ExpressVPN on router models from Asus, D-Link, DD-WRT, Netduma, Sabai, Tomato, TP-Link, and Xiaomi. However, manual configuration is more time-consuming, and you’ll only be able to switch IPs. Manual configurations and the router app are controlled through your browser.
The easiest way to get set up is to buy a router with ExpressVPN pre-installed. However, this is the most expensive method. You can find several routers with the firmware already configured for you on the ExpressVPN website.
ExpressVPN also developed its own WiFi router called AirCove 6. It has WiFi 6 technology for fast speeds and lets you drag and drop every WiFi device in your home into 5 separate groups connected to different servers. Aircove also underwent its own independent audit by Cure53 that proved its security.
MediaStreamer — Works with Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, Apple TV, smart TVs, and more
MediaStreamer (SmartDNS proxy) lets you connect ExpressVPN to devices that VPNs don’t normally work with, like gaming consoles and smart TVs. These devices don’t support VPN use, but you can alter your default DNS servers. This simply involves replacing the DNS server address in the devices internet settings with the MediaStreamer’s IPs.
Keep in mind, MediaStreamer is only meant for streaming and is not the same as a VPN — you can’t switch between various locations. Once you connect to the MediaStreamer DNS, it automatically gives you a range of US and UK content.
Configuring a device with MediaStreamer will use up one of your 5 simultaneous device connections. It also doesn’t encrypt your traffic or hide your IP address, so you won’t get the same protection as using the full VPN app. However, because of this, I didn’t record any difference in speeds when using it.
It took me less than 5 minutes to set up MediaStreamer on my LG smart TV. All I had to do was register my IP in my ExpressVPN account. I was given new MediaStreamer IPs, and it only took a couple of seconds to enter the new address into my TV’s network settings.
Register your IP address, then click "Configure DNS on this device" to get your MediaStreamer IPs
Since I live in the UK, I wanted to see if I could unblock US content with MediaStreamer. I was happy to see that I easily unblocked Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, and US Netflix on my LG Smart TV. It can also unblock some UK channels, like Channel 4 and BBC iPlayer. For apps that have different content libraries (like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video) MediaStreamer defaults to the US versions. But that tends to be the largest library anyway.
MediaStreamer is a convenient way to watch your favorite platforms on devices that don’t normally support VPNs. But, if you require the full functionality and safety features of a VPN, it’s best to use the dedicated router app.
Simultaneous Device Connections — Connect up to 5 Devices
Technically, you can only use ExpressVPN on 5 different devices at once. Some VPNs do give you more (for example, Private Internet Access, Surfshark, and IPVanish offer an impressive unlimited connections). But there’s a workaround — ExpressVPN has super accessible router support. It’s easier to set up and use than most other VPNs because of the native router app and firmware. After you set up your router, you’ll have unlimited device connections, too.
To test this feature out, I set up ExpressVPN on my laptop, PC, iPhone, Android tablet, and through MediaStreamer on my LG smart TV. I accessed 4 different streaming platforms while playing Doom Eternal multiplayer online. None of the videos dropped in quality or buffered, and there was no lag in the game. So, you won’t have to worry about simultaneous connections affecting ExpressVPN’s performance.