ExpressVPN Review

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN has been a consistent performer in the VPN space and the one who most look to benchmark themselves against. A committed guardian of online privacy, they continue to innovate and impress users and industry followers alike with their innovation, attention to detail and professionalism.

BestVPN.com Score 9.7 out of 10

Overall, a solid all-rounder. They tick all the right boxes with the only real challenge being their price point which others in the field look to use to their advantage. Despite this, Express VPN stands its ground on the premise of being a premium product worthy of a premium price...something we look closer at below!

VPN Stats

  • Server Locations 94
  • Average Speed 77.14 Mbit/s
  • Simultaneous Connections 3
  • Jurisdiction British Virgin Islands

Likes

  • Super fast - great for streaming!
  • Very secure 256-bit encryption
  • Unlimited downloading
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 5* 24/7 customer support
  • Special Deal: Save 49% Today

Dislikes

  • IPv6 WebRTC leaks (fixed by browser extension)
  • A little pricey
  • BVI jurisdiction is not ideal

Features

Port forwarding
Total servers 2000
Countries 94
Simultaneous connections 3
Bare metal or virtual servers A combination
Router Support
Allows torrenting
Port selection

Supported platforms

Windows
MacOS
iOS
Android
Linux

Protocols offered

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN

Privacy

Jurisdiction British Virgin Islands
Logs Traffic
Logs Connections
Logs Timestamps
Logs Bandwidth
Logs IP Address
Logs Aggregated or Anonymized Data

Performance

BestVPN.com SpeedTest (max/burst) 178.05
BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average) 77.14
WebRTC leak detected?

Payment

Visa/MasterCard
Amex
Cryptocurrency

Security

Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)
Self-hosted/Proxied DNS Yes

Support

Free trial No
24-hour support
Live chat support
Money-back Guarantee

Unblocks:

Netflix
iPlayer

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Price

Money-back Guarantee

All of our approved VPNs come with a hassle-free money-back guarantee. Should you purchase one of the recommended VPNs via BestVPN.com and struggle to get a refund, contact us and we will do our very best to help you get your money back.

So, how much does ExpressVPN cost? 

ExpressVPN’s full range of packages are listed below with the greatest value found in their 12-month plan which, with 3-months free (making it a 15-month subscription), costs a reasonable $6.67 a month (paid $99.95 in advance). ExpressVPN does not offer a free trial*, as such, but it does offer a very generous 30-day money-back guarantee. And unlike with some companies out there, there are no catches to watch out for. Cancel any time within 30 days and you will get your money back. No explanation is required.

*A free trial is available for mobile users – seven days for the iOS app and one day for the Android app – as per standard Apple Store and Google Play Store policies.

It is also worth mentioning that ExpressVPN offers quite a nice referral program. Convince a friend to sign up and you both get 30 days free.

Supported Payment Platforms

Visa/MasterCard
Amex
Cryptocurrency

ExpressVPN accepts payment via credit/debit card, PayPal and Bitcoin. It has also partnered with Paymentwall to accept a number of more obscure international payment options.

Speed and Performance

Please see VPN Speed Testing Done Right for an overview of our scientific speed test system. 

Looking at data throughout the whole of November 2018, ExpressVPN performed 2nd fastest out of 33 VPN providers hitting an average speed test result of 45.6 Mbit/s and came in 7th fastest Max Speed/Burst at 120.8 Mbit/s.

DNS lookup time is a good measure of how fast users perceive their connection to be. Faster lookup time = faster web page loading. ExpressVPN does not break records, but scores perfectly well in this test.

ExpressVPN's connection times are well above average meaning they are a great option for those wanting to stream in HD. 

Overall, ExpressVPN scores very well in these tests. It is a fast VPN service with some of the fastest overall speed test results on the market. Color me impressed.

Leak Tests

BestVPN.com SpeedTest (max/burst) 178.05
BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average) 77.14
WebRTC leak detected?

We detected no regular DNS leaks, but our IPv6 address was leaked via WebRTC in both Windows and macOS. If you are lucky enough to use an ISP that offers IPv6 connectivity then you should either disable IPv6 on your system (see the optional section for each OS listed in How to Change your DNS Settings) or disable WebRTC in your browser. Alternatively, the ExpressVPN browser add-ons for Chrome and Firefox also fix the problem.

Please note that Private Use RFC IPs are local IPs only. They cannot be used to identify an individual, and so do not constitute an IP leak.

Expressvpn Leak August 2018

Visit ExpressVPN

Does ExpressVPN unblock Netflix?

Netflix
iPlayer

In short, yes. ExpressVPN's Smart DNS feature has many advantages over using a VPN for streaming, and also makes a great backup if its regular VPN IPs are blocked by services. For most people, though, it is much easier to just turn on the regular VPN for this. It is therefore good to know that Express VPN will unblock many major streaming platforms. This includes US Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

Get the best Netflix VPN

Get the best iPlayer VPN

Unblocking such services is always a cat-and-mouse game, and readers occasionally report not being able to access them using ExpressVPN. In this case, the Smart DNS service makes a great fallback, and ExpressVPN always resolves the issue within a day or two at most. If you experience issues (as well as telling us in the comments below - please!), then the 24/7 live chat support will often be able to recommend a particular server that works.

Visit ExpressVPN

Ease of Use

Custom VPN apps are available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. A custom Linux app is also available. This is terminal command-line only, but does include DNS leak protection.

The website features a ton of setup guides for a wide range of devices and platforms. In addition to this, pre-configured ExpressVPN routers are available from FlashRouters. These use custom firmware developed by ExpressVPN, and feature DNS leak protection and split tunneling for connected devices.

New additions to the ExpressVPN app lineup are browser add-ons for Chrome and Firefox (Windows and macOS only).

Signing Up

Registering with ExpressVPN is easy enough. Other than payment details, the only information you are asked for is a valid email address. There is nothing to prevent you from using a disposable email address. And because ExpressVPN accepts payment in bitcoins, if care is taken, it is possible to register anonymously. Do please remember, though, that however you register and pay, ExpressVPN will know your real IP address.

Once signed up, you will receive a welcome email which includes a number of useful links for setting up the service.

The ExpressVPN Windows Client

ExpressVPN specializes in making its service easy-to-use and as layman-friendly as possible. One wrinkle is that you need to enter a unique activation code. This is available via your subscriptions page on the ExpressVPN website.

Once installed, all you need do is select a location and hit the big friendly Connect button!

If you wish to delve deeper, however, the ExpressVPN client contains some powerful features. This includes a firewall-based kill switch and DNS leak protection. The basic client does not protect against IPv6 WebRTC leaks, however.

Various VPN protocols are available. I sort of wish that, given how insecure it is, PPTP wasn’t even offered, but at least ExpressVPN clearly warns you about the issue.

So the Windows client is very easy to use, but is packed with powerful features that are actually useful.

Mac OS X/Mac OS client

Recent changes to the Windows client mean that it now matches how the Mac client in looks.

Both clients offer the same functionality. This is great, as Mac users often get the short end of the stick when it comes to features.

The Android App

Available for Android 4.2+, this app can be installed from the Google Play store or downloaded directly as an .apk file. This is great news for anti-Google privacy heads.

The app has the same aesthetic as its desktop siblings, and is similarly easy to use.

This reviewer does not use iOS, but the app looks to be more or less identical to the Android one. And unlike many custom iOS VPN apps, OpenVPN is fully supported.

Browser Extensions

Unlike most such extensions, these are not browser-only proxies. They are instead a front-end to the full desktop software, which must also be installed.

This means that when the VPN is turned on with the browser extension, your entire computer is protected by the VPN. The primary advantages of using the browser extensions over just using the full VPN client are convenience and that they provide full WebRTC protection.

Visit ExpressVPN

Customer Service

Free trial No
24-hour support
Live chat support
Money-back Guarantee

Support

ExpressVPN in large part built its reputation on the level of support it provides to customers. Instant 24/7/365 support is available via live chat or a ticketed email system.

As is to be expected, front-line staff are not all technical whizz-kids. However, even with more difficult questions they always managed to point me to relevant resources or answer my questions knowledgeably after a quick consultation with other staff members.

Privacy and Security

Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)
Self-hosted/Proxied DNS Yes

Logging Policy

 ExpressVPN keeps no usage logs; however, it does keep some (fairly minimal) connection logs:

For the purpose of improving network resource allocation, we record aggregate data-transfer amounts and choice of server location, neither of which are data points that can identify a specific user as part of an investigation. We may collect the following information: dates (not times) when connected to our service, choice of server location, and the total amount of data transferred per day.

Furthermore,

Our software may send diagnostic data to a third party analytics provider for the purpose of identifying connection errors and possible bugs in our application. The information collected is generic in nature and does not contain personally identifying information.

This last part is important. ExpressVPN only keeps logs in aggregate form. This means that the minimal amount of information collected for troubleshooting purposes is not associated with the IP addresses of individual customers.

Privacy purists may still not be entirely happy about even this level of logging, but it is unlikely to be of concern to most users.

Another potential issue is that ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which is a British overseas territory. The BVI regulates its own internal affairs and has no mandatory data retention laws.

However, since it lies under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the UK government, it seems reasonable to assume that the UK could put pressure on the BVI government and businesses. So (and this is something of a guess, as the legal situation is very murky), being based in the BVI is probably safer than being based in a Fourteen Eyes country, but is not ideal.

Protocols and Encryption

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN

ExpressVPN supports most VPN protocols, including OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), SSTP, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP.  For OpenVPN (our recommended protocol) it uses the following encryption settings:

Data channel: An AES-256-CBC cipher with HMAC SHA-256 data authentication.

Control channel: An AES-256-GCM cipher with RSA-384 handshake encryption and HMAC SHA-256 data authentication. Perfect Forward secrecy is provided by a DH-2048 Diffie-Hellman key exchange.

This is a very strong OpenVPN setup. If the above is gobbledygook to you, we explain everything is as layperson-friendly terms as possible in VPN Encryption: The Complete Guide.

Or just take a look at this interesting graphic on the ExpressVPN review over at Comparitech.com which explains exactly how long it would take to break their encryption.

Security Features

Both the Windows and macOS and clients feature IPv4 and IPv6 leak protection, although as we have seen, IPv6 users should take additional steps to prevent IPv6 WebRTC leaks. Such installing ExpessVPN's browser add-ons. DNS requests are handled by ExpressVPN's self-hosted servers for maximum privacy. The desktop clients also include a firewall-based kill switch to ensure your IP address is not exposed in the case of a VPN drop-out.

ExpressVPN offers "stealth-servers" located in Hong Kong. These are specially designed to defeat censorship in mainland China, but should be useful wherever VPNs are blocked. ExpressVPN is understandably cagey about how these servers actually work., but from the reports we receive they work well.

Just remember that nothing can be 100% guaranteed when a powerful government is actively working to counter technologies such as this.

Visit ExpressVPN

Features

What are you actually getting for this premium price (in comparison to others in the market)?

Allowing up to three simultaneous connections is fairly average these days, but in an increasingly competitive marketspace some providers are starting to become more generous. ExpressVPN pioneered the concept of expert 24/7 customer support within the industry, and continues to lead the way in this regard. Torrenting is permitted on all VPN servers with Express, although hardcore downloaders may miss the ability to port forward through the VPN NAT firewall.

As is common with larger providers who offer a great many server locations, ExpressVPN uses a mix of bare metal and virtual servers. For the vast majority of users, virtual servers are a non-issue, but we would prefer it if ExpressVPN clearly labeled which servers are which. This would allow customers serious about privacy to make an informed decision about which servers to use.

In addition to online support for a wide range of routers, ExpressVPN offers a range of pre-configured ExpressVPN routers via FlashRouters. These use custom firmware developed by ExpressVPN, and feature DNS leak protection and split tunneling for connected devices.

In addition to the above standard features, ExpressVPN offers some groovy non-standard ones that add great value to its already fully-featured package...

Smart DNS

Smart DNS is a technology used for geo-spoofing your location. This very useful for accessing streaming services such as US Netflix and BBC iPlayer, which are geo-blocked. It works by resolving your DNS requests at a specified location, and has the following advantages over using a VPN:

  • It is must faster, as no encryption/decryption is required. This means fewer buffering issues.
  • It can be used with any internet-capable device, including many that cannot run VPN software. For example, smart TVs,  games consoles, and Roku devices.
  • It is less likely to be blocked by services that try to ban VPN users (although this cannot be guaranteed).

On the flip side, Smart DNS does nothing to improve your privacy or security.

All ExpressVPN customers gain full access to both its VPN and Smart DNS services.

ExpressVPN Smart DNS unblocked both US Netflix and BBC iPlayer for us when performing this review.

A .onion Tor Web Address

Sometimes the most difficult thing about defeating censorship with a VPN is actually getting onto a VPN provider’s website so you can sign up for the service and download its software. ExpressVPN has a solution for this!

Just type http://expressobutiolem.onion into the URL bar of the Tor Browser to visit a Tor Hidden Services dark web mirror of the ExpressVPN website. Using a .onion address makes it more or less impossible to censor the website.

Port forwarding
Total servers 2000
Countries 94
Simultaneous connections 3
Bare metal or virtual servers A combination
Router Support
Allows torrenting
Port selection

Visit ExpressVPN

Final Thoughts

ExpressVPN offers a fully featured and highly polished service that oozes professionalism. Its superb customer service, easy-to-use software, and generous 30-day money-back guarantee have always been big pulls.

I am glad to say that ExpressVPN’s technical security now matches the professionalism it shows in making the service as user-friendly as possible. Encryption is truly excellent, which makes ExpressVPN’s great speed performance all the more remarkable.

The minimal aggregated connection logs kept by ExpressVPN may concern privacy purists, but they really do present very little threat to your privacy.

Throw in an excellent, Smart DNS service, anti-censorship stealth servers, and a very generous referral program, and I think it fair to say that ExpressVPN is a market-leading VPN service that is at the very top of its game.

So, a premium product worthy of a premium price? We think so - yes! If you take your privacy seriously, and you want free access to the world wide web (as it was intended!), we believe that for less than $7 a month Express VPN is worth its money. 

Visit ExpressVPN

181 Comments

  1. Liberty Action
    on November 12, 2018
    Reply

    Anyone heard of XVPN? Its the one with a blue x for it's app and offers dns leak test a decent amount of servers, a premium service, and a free service although with the latest update the free service went to hell. Now it only allows you access to o e server (instead of about 25 to 30 as it did before the latest update). I am curious because I NEVER see it as a VPN that anyone reviews? I've see just about every VPN under the sun reviewed, except this one.? I wonder why? If someone who knows more than I about reviewing VPNs can check this out and put something somewhere I'd really appreciate it. I'm sure it's many users would too! If XVPN is legit and does a gooey job than they would be happier than pigs in sh*t! If they ain't then they will just be sh*t. Rightfully so. We've all got some interinsting times ahead of us. We will either stand together or hang separately.

    1. douglas replied to Liberty Action
      on November 13, 2018
      Reply

      Hi Liberty, There are a huge number of "no-name" VPN apps out there. Many of which are extremely dodgy https://www.bestvpn.com/privacy-news/beware-cowboy-mobile-vpn-apps/) . We only review apps that belong to full VPN services.

  2. Dave Jones
    on October 11, 2018
    Reply

    Love your new site guys - looks real sexy.

  3. Paul Drummond
    on September 3, 2018
    Reply

    Used to be the best VPN available, but no longer. Makes false claims that it is compatible with kindle Fire & ps4 - this is no longer the case. For what they charge I would expect their techs to do more than direct me to out of date links. Indeed I had to explain to them that their app was no longer available on the Kindle Amazon store!

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Paul Drummond
      on September 4, 2018
      Reply

      Hi Paul, Er... do you mean this one?

  4. James
    on August 16, 2018
    Reply

    Hi, I just found this and was wondering if you can look into it. If it's true it would explain how Express is constantly the best VPN in China. https://www.reddit.com/r/VPNTorrents/comments/93sdoq/expressvpn_really_based_in_hong_kong_vpnscamcom/ http://vpnscam.com/expressvpn-really-based-in-hong-kong/

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to James
      on August 22, 2018
      Reply

      Hi James, If true, then it is rather ironic that Hong Kong is better for privacy than the BVI! We'll see what we can dig up.

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