ExpressVPN Secure VPN Review

ExpressVPN is a leader in nearly all facets of the VPN industry. To date, they boast 3000+ servers in 94 countries worldwide. They offer best-in-class security, usability, and customer service. For these reasons and more, they are often referred to as a premium VPN provider.

ExpressVPN is a subscription VPN providing deep anonymity in an intuitive, user-friendly package. The cost runs a little high. But this service comes with nearly universal device support, a strong server selection, and 24/7 live chat support. Their feature-set is designed for average users, with few drawbacks for power users.

ExpressVPN Overview

Pricing – Expensive / Subscription plan, 30-day money-back guarantee / 1 mo $12.95, 6 mo $59.95 ($9.99/mo), 12 mo $99.95 ($8.32/mo)

Connectivity – Comprehensive and Reliable / Most major OS systems (Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, etc.), streaming devices (Apple TV, Fire TV, etc.), gaming devices (PlayStation, Xbox, more), router support, standalone DNS; 2000+ servers in 94 countries, built-in server speed testing

Security – Highly Anonymous / Popular encryption methods (OpenVPN, SSTP, L2Tp/IPsec, and PPTP), AES-256 bit +, No data logs, anonymous purchasing available

Usability – Easy / Streamlined interface, smart server selection, fast server switching,

Service & Support – Great / 24/7 live support (via chat and e-mail), Online FAQs for troubleshooting and setup

ExpressVPN Pros

  • Intuitive Setup & Use for VPN Users of All Levels
  • Top-Tier Encryption, Privacy, & Anonymity
  • Wide Selection of Supported Devices
  • Unlimited Bandwidth & Server Switching
  • P2P Enabled Servers for Torrenting
  • Protect Your Home Wifi with VPN Router
  • Detailed Knowledgebase & Fast Live Support
  • Avoid Geoblocks & Censorship While Streaming

ExpressVPN Cons

  • One of the Most Expensive VPNs in its Class
  • Average Server Speeds are Middle of the Road
  • Only 3 Simultaneous Connections Allowed
  • No Built-In Ad Block or Malware Protection
  • Lacks Some Customizations for Power Users
  • No Option for Dedicated Servers

How secure is ExpressVPN?

Encryption

ExpressVPN utilizes military-grade encryption to keep your data safe.

AES-256 bit encryption via the OpenVPN protocol is the default. This is the level of encryption recommended for those trying to avoid government censorship. Authentication is executed with 4096-bit SHA512 key. On top of this, they issue a new key every 60 minutes or every time you reconnect to their servers, helping ensure perfect forward secrecy.

ExpressVPN provides both TCP and UDP support for OpenVPN. Beyond that, they also offer encryption via the SSTP, L2Tp/IPsec, and PPTP protocols. Switching between protocols is easy. And if you don’t have any idea which to use, use the app’s automatic selection. It will choose the best options based on speed and security.

If you’re a real tech pro, you can download and edit your configuration files to further customize certain aspects of security.

Anonymity

ExpressVPN offers methods to conceal all your identifying data, from purchase to daily use.
For starters, ExpressVPN enforces a strict “no logs” policy.

The only data they collect is to help ensure a strong user experience. As stated in their privacy policy, they only collect (1) apps and app versions successfully activated, (2) dates (with no times) when connected to the VPN service, (3) choice of VPN server location, and (4) total amount of data transferred per day.

Furthermore, DNS and IP leak protection are key features of ExpressVPN. They force all DNS requests over the IPv4 protocol, which is safer than the newer IPv6. And of course, sharing servers with other VPN users increases anonymity even more.
To top it all off, you can anonymously access the .onion version of their website using the TOR browser. If you also make your payments with Bitcoin, your access to the service is virtually untraceable to your real location or identity.

Company Values

ExpressVPN positions every aspect of their operations in the interest of user privacy.

Location is critical for VPN company legal protections. ExpressVPN resides in the British Virgin Islands, which helps protect them against invasive governments. BVI laws do not require the retention of data. This allows ExpressVPN to never keep any activity or connection logs.

For more information on company log policies, check here.

Furthermore, the entire company is anonymous. Depending on your views, this could be positive or negative. Keeping company info private is standard in the VPN industry—it helps them avoid government scrutiny. But please understand: an untraceable company is handling your data.

There’s no telling what ANY company may do with your data. So you’ll have to consider whether this is worth the risk. If you’re using a VPN to fight totalitarian policies, this may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Other Security Features

Encryption, anonymity, and company values are easily the most important aspects of VPN security. However, there are a variety of additional features that may or may not be important to you.

Here’s how ExpressVPN deals with some of those:

Killswitch – A VPN killswitch marries your Internet connection to your VPN. If the connection to ExpressVPN (or an individual ExpressVPN server) is lost, the killswitch cuts your Internet connection entirely to prevent unencrypted data from leaking through and your identity from being revealed.

Run on Startup – You can set ExpressVPN to connect on system startup. This means you’ll be protected as soon as you turn on your device. ExpressVPN offers this feature for any and all devices.

Split Tunneling – This feature allows you to choose which data runs through your VPN. While not everyone needs this feature, it can be especially useful for business owners. ExpressVPN is one of the few premium VPN services that offer split tunneling.

Virtual Servers – ExpressVPN uses a number of virtual servers. These may not be as safe as physical ones. Whatever your opinion, ExpressVPN provides a list of which of their servers are which.

Router Support – VPNs can help secure your home connection. Luckily, ExpressVPN provides support for a variety of router brands and models. (This is the only way to achieve more than three simultaneous connections through ExpressVPN.)

ExpressVPN Connectivity

Supported Devices

ExpressvPN provides the level of compatibility you would expect from a “premium VPN service”.

ExpressVPN provides compatibility with a wide selection of devices via their native platform apps, browser extensions, or through their router app. Most users will get the most use from the native or router apps, while the browser extensions are simply a nice bonus.

Here are some of the popular supported OS systems:

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Linux*
  • Blackberry

*Linux Setup requires a slightly more in-depth setup process.

Browser extensions are also available for most major web browsers:

  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Safari

Console and streaming systems also have native DNS support using the ExpressVPN MediaStreamer.

  • PlayStation
  • Xbox
  • AppleTV
  • Amazon FireTV

***MediaStreamer is not a VPN. As such, it does not offer encryption benefits.

For any other devices you’d like to protect, ExpressVPN has an app you can install directly to your router. Of course, this means you’ll need to be close to the router to connect your device to the VPN. Plus, your router must be VPN-compatible.

Server Locations

ExpressVPN offers a multitude of servers with unlimited server switching.

Geoblocking keeps many users from accessing content locked to other regions. Streaming services are notorious for this. But by offering servers located in other countries, ExpressVPN allows you to access content that may be blocked in your current location.
Geoblocking practices extend beyond streaming services. Many governments around the world engage in Internet censorship. ExpressVPN is one of your best bets to beat such country-wide firewalls. Whether its Netflix, BBC iPlayer, or porn, ExpressVPN is great for streaming.

Additionally, ExpressVPN provides unlimited server switches and a plethora of locations to connect to. Still, VPN server availability, speed, and features may change at any moment. If you’re having a hard time, ask the live support team which servers support Netflix and you’ll get a prompt reply.

Speed

Express VPN is slower than some of its competitors but does provide unlimited bandwidth.

The built-in speed test can test server speeds within a few minutes. Some may dislike the time it takes (about 5 minutes), but it does test speeds for every server accessible to the VPN.

If you’re willing to sacrifice security for speed, you may consider using an encryption protocol besides OpenVPN. ExpressVPN only allows 256-bit encryption for OpenVPN. Configuration is just as easy, as you’ll only need a single configuration for any server on the mobile app. Plus, built-in walkthroughs show you all you need to access faster servers on-the-fly.

Torrenting

ExpressVPN supports torrenting with its unlimited bandwidth, making it easy to engage in P2P file sharing.

You’ll find that server speeds aren’t always ideal for torrenting. That said, the split tunneling option can be of use in this situation. If you want to keep your other traffic on your home network, you can exclusively dedicate your torrenting to the VPN.

ExpressVPN Usability

Ease of Use

ExpressVPN is simple to run for everyday uses. There is little you’ll need to do once the app is set up on your devices.
The design is great for beginners and techies alike. The app’s default settings are fine for most users. It has automatic selection features for both encryption and servers. They also make it easy to find important options like “run on startup”.

Based on the user interface and simplicity of design, ExpressVPN has done a decent job creating a VPN service that “the whole family can use”. One-click activation, simple server switching, and a decluttered interface help make this VPN simple enough for children and the elderly.

The app’s clean home screen feels great with the giant “on” switch and quick access to the server menu. Menus in the app are simple and hardly present. They even made it so that you can close out the interface to the system tray if you don’t want to keep it open.

When it comes to server switching, ExpressVPN offers two excellent benefits. First, the “smart server” function can find and select “the best” server for you. Second, ExpressVPN also has a built-in server speed test. It can take a little over 5 minutes—but that’s not bad considering how much time and frustration it may save you.

Neither of these features is perfect: the smart server function doesn’t always get it right and server speeds change so quickly that the speed test may be incorrect shortly after you run it. Still, they are a good start. Plus, switching servers manually only takes a few clicks and it’s easy to save your favorite servers for later use.

One of the few (but quite valid) complaints against ExpressVPN is the lack of built-in malware and/or ad block protection. Not all VPN services offer this feature, but you would expect it from one of the industry leaders (and the ExpressVPN price).

Other usability drawbacks only affect a certain type of user. Advanced users may find some of the deep configuration options lacking. Families and others sharing a single subscription may want more than three simultaneous connections. While the router app will allow you to connect additional devices through wifi, this option may not work for students looking to share a single subscription. Plus, you need a compatible router.

Under the Hood

A quick note: this section covers material for non-novices, so you may want to skip this if you don’t plan on fiddling with the advanced options.

ExpressVPN doesn’t have as much under the hood as some other VPNs, but there are a few native features to give you more control.

Advanced security features are just a click away in most cases. For encryption method selection, the protocols menu offers one-click choices of OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), SSTP (Windows only), L2Tp/IPSec, and PPTP. If you need to split your traffic between your faster home connection and the VPN servers, the app comes with a split tunneling option. You can even set up split tunneling on a per-app basis.

The built-in diagnostics tool is nice if you need to send off error info to the live support team. Some tech-savvy users might even be able to make use of the diagnostics tool themselves. You can also download your configuration files and do the editing yourself if you have a specific speed and/or security needs.

One notable absence: ExpressVPN lacks a dedicated server option. If anonymity is your utmost priority, that’s a good thing. But some users may need a server all to themselves. If that’s you, you might try NordVPN. They offer dedicated servers as a $70 add-on.

How to a set up a VPN through ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN has built-in walkthroughs for apps on all operating systems. Even without them, all OS apps are fairly intuitive. Most users should have no trouble getting started.

Once you’ve purchased the service, you’ll be able to activate the VPN on all your supported devices using your activation code (or account login). From installation to switching it on, here’s what the setup looks like:

On Desktop
Step 1: Download the app from the ExpressVPN website.
Step 2: Install the app.
Step 3: Sign in using your activation code.
Step 4: Choose whether to launch the app on startup.
Step 5: Choose whether to allow diagnostic reporting.
Step 6 (optional): Choose a server location, or just keep the pre-selected smart location.
Step 7: Turn on the VPN and enjoy secure browsing.
For advanced users: Access the options window to turn off the internet kill switch, enable split tunneling, or change your encryption method.

On Web
Step 1: Set up your desktop app.
Step 2: Download the extension from your browser’s web store.
Step 3: Turn on the VPN and browse securely.

On Mobile
Step 1: Install the app from your native App Store.
Step 2: Sign in using your account login.
Step 3: Follow the simple guided setup of your VPN.
Step 4: Turn on the VPN and enjoy secure browsing.

On Router
Step 1: Buy (or already own) a VPN-compatible router.
Step 2: Setup your router using the website instructions
Step 3: Connect devices to your router and enjoy secure browsing.

Service & Support

As a “premium VPN provider”, ExpressVPN is almost required to have excellent support.

First, they have an extensive knowledgebase. The website includes step-by-step setup instructions for every supported device. The guides are easy to read and come complete with screenshots and YouTube video walkthroughs. The website also has an impressive troubleshooting section that covers most user issues.

Live support is available in the forms of an e-mail ticketing system and 24/7 live chat. The chat support runs an average response time of 15 seconds according to Comparitech. You can even use the chat to ask questions before even becoming a customer. The only downside: there is no phone support.

Pricing

ExpressVPN is one of the most expensive VPN services in its class.

The cheapest subscription is $12.95 per month, assuming monthly billing.

Subscriptions come in three tiers at discounted rates for longer plan cycles. All tiers offer the service’s full feature set, including all apps, 24/7 customer support, and high-speed unlimited bandwidth. The only differences in plans are price and term length.
If you’re not happy with your experience, ExpressVPN offers a full 30-day money-back guarantee. Simply reach out to support via live chat or e-mail and they’ll credit you the full refund.

Payments are accepted in many forms, including credit/debit card, PayPal, and Bitcoin.

  • 1 month: $12.95 per month
  • 6 months: $59.95 billed every 6 months ($9.99 per month)
  • 12 months: $99.95 billed every 12 months ($8.32 per month)

ExpressVPN Takeaways

ExpressVPN is not without its shortcomings, but it is a leader in the personal VPN industry for good reason.

The ease of use and simple setup make it a great option for those who are less technical. Around-the-clock support is another major bonus. It also has everything you need to avoid geoblocking and government censorship. But perhaps most important, ExpressVPN offers top-of-the-line encryption, anonymity, and overall security.

On the downside, we’re surprised not to see built-in ad-block and malware protection. For certain users, the three connection maximum and lack of dedicated servers may be a deal-breaker.

ExpressVPN is not a cheap VPN provider. But if you’re looking for an easy-to-use VPN that will keep you safe, it’s worth a try. After all, if you don’t like it, you can always make use of the 30-day money-back guarantee.

Scroll to Top