ExpressVPN review,The best just keep getting better ExpressVPN is our #1 VPN
Starting at $12.95 a month on a rolling monthly basis, and dropping to $6.67 a month (including the three months free available ), ExpressVPN is no bargain basement VPN. However, users are treated to a 30-day money-back guarantee, during which they can test the full service and claim a full refund if they’re not happy. And now, those signing up to a 12-month plan will also get a free 1-year plan from cloud backup firm Backblaze.
ExpressVPN uses industry-standard 256-AES encryption and a 4096-bit RSA certificate, with support for plenty of protocols including the super-fast proprietary protocol Lightway. You’ll also get Perfect Forward Secrecy, and all Express’s servers are RAM-only (known as TrustedServer), meaning none of your data can be physically be stored. Plus, its no-logging policy has been independently audited, backing up the strong claims made on-site.
Speeds are excellent, and with the introduction of LightWay they’ve rocketed over 500mbps. That’s far faster than most domestic connections are capable of, and while a select few VPN providers can beat it, for the vast majority of users ExpressVPN will have no discernible impact on connection speeds at all. Plus, no matter where you are in the world, getting a reliable server is simple.
That’s good news, since it’s great for unblocking pretty much every streaming provider we tried too – regional Netflix, BBC, iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and more. And, P2P sharers will be pleased as every server is optimized for torrenting – although the website seems to keep it pretty quiet.
In terms of usability, ExpressVPN’s apps are available on a wide range of devices, and not just typical desktop and mobiles systems. You’ll get access to a dedicated router app, a Linux client, and MediaStreamer (Smart DNS) support for games consoles to name a few. All of these are easy to use and powerful with in-depth setup guides.
The limit of five devices is something of a drawback, and disappointing considering the price. Another small gripe is that while the browser extension is powerful, it relies on having ExpressVPN installed on your PC or Mac – not great for those looking for a browser extension to avoid just that.
However, with excellent support – both written articles and 24/7 live chat – any issues you have should be sorted easily, and if we’re honest, few VPNs offer everything ExpressVPN does in one package, and none do it as well.
Keen to get stuck into the nitty-gritty details of ExpressVPN? Just keep scrolling, as we’ve got everything you need to know, right here.
ExpressVPN on paper
Number of servers: 3,000+
Number of countries: 94
Platforms supported: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, BlackBerry, Kindle Fire, Nook, routers, consoles (MediaStreamer), Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Boxee, Chromebook, Windows Phone
Simultaneous connections: Five
Split tunneling: Yes
Kill switch: Yes
Supported protocols: Lightway, OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2
Country of registration: British Virgin Islands
Support: 24/7 live chat, email, knowledgebase
ExpressVPN price: how much is it, and is there an ExpressVPN free trial?
To start off, let’s look at the numbers – an area in which plenty of potential users will make up their minds.
Like just about every VPN provider, if you go for a one-month rolling plan you’ll be paying the most – $12.95 to be exact. If we’re honest, this is really only any good for true commitment-phobes, or those signing up to test out the service.
Sign up for six months and you’ll see that price drop to $9.99, which isn’t bad, but it’s still fairly expensive compared to other providers. ExpressVPN is one of the only providers to offer a mid-length plan like this, though, so we’re sure it’ll appeal to some users.
You’ll get the best value if you sign up for a year, and without any deals or discounts you’ll be paying $8.32 a month – which, overall, works out at $99.95 a year. That’s still substantially more expensive than cheap VPN providers like Surfshark and Hotspot Shield, whose longest plans dip under $2.50 a month. However, if you sign up through Tom’s Guide, you’ll be able to claim three months free on any 12-month plan, which takes the monthly cost down to a much more reasonable $6.67.
It’s also worth noting that other cheaper providers may crank up the price upon renewal. If you’re in it for the long haul, your ExpressVPN outlay will stay the same for an indefinite amount of time (sans the three months free, of course), whereas providers like IPVanish and Surfshark offer admittedly tasty introductory offers, but increase to prices similar to or even more than ExpressVPN after the first term’s up.
In terms of payment methods, there’s a good selection on offer. Alongside traditional methods like PayPal and credit card, you’ll also be able to use Bitcoin, and other payment providers including AliPay, Yandex Money, WebMoney and more. Most of all, we’re pleased to see Bitcoin support, as this can help make the whole paper trail more difficult to link back to you.
If you fancy a VPN free trial, downloading the Android or iOS app will get you seven days free, and plans of any length come with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can make sure the service suits you before you commit – be aware that this chargeback is only available once, though.
Thankfully, cancellation is straightforward. All you need to do is contact the support team and request your refund, and they will oblige – there’ll be no investigation into how much you’ve used the service, and as long as it’s within the 30 days, you’ll get your money back. That displays impressive confidence on ExpressVPN’s part.
The question most will be asking, then, is whether ExpressVPN offers enough to justify its slightly higher price – and whether any sacrifices are worth it to save a couple of dollars a month.
How private is ExpressVPN?
The core of any great service, privacy is absolutely make or break for VPN providers. And, while other providers might make flimsy promises, ExpressVPN has some serious tech on show to prove it.
To kick off – and be forewarned that we’re getting technical here – ExpressVPN uses a 4096-bit SHA-512 RSA certificate, employs industry-standard AES-256-CBC to encrypt its control channel and HMAC to safeguard against real-time alteration of regular data. When we inspected the OpenVPN config files, we confirmed this was absolutely the case.
To give you even more protection, Perfect Forward Secrecy is also present, meaning that you’re given a new session key each time you connect, and a new one every 60 minutes after that. That means that even if your connection is somehow compromised, all they’ll get is a maximum of 60 minutes of data before they’re booted.
While the extent of which isn’t made public, ExpressVPN also has a number of obfuscated servers which are very useful for using it as a China VPN. These servers cloak the fact that you’re using a VPN at all, and can sidestep regional VPN blocks, or even make it useable at places like universities that may restrict VPN use.
Finally, ExpressVPN’s Android app has recently been given the ioXt certification. That means the design of the app and service has been investigated on a low level, so users can be sure that the software is behaving in the correct way. Undertaking these tests yourself is a tricky task, so this certification is a big green tick in our books.
How secure is ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN runs its own zero-knowledge 256-bit encrypted DNS on every one of its servers. This eliminates the need to use the vulnerable OpenDNS or any other third-party DNS services. These third parties are liable to log your DNS requests and, if unencrypted, offer up a handy way for hackers to intercept and alter your requests.
While we didn’t go super in-depth with this, brief testing on websites such as IPLeak and DNS Leak Test proved that ExpressVPN indeed does not leak DNS information – and if you want to use it, the apps also provide this service too.
You’ll also get a simple and functional kill switch to cut your internet in the event that your VPN-protected connection fails, which is very useful for torrenting. If you didn’t have this, you could be browsing or downloading for hours without realising you were disconnected.
Finally, we get to the fact that every one of ExpressVPN’s servers is 100% RAM-only. Compared to traditional hard-disk servers, RAM-only servers are physically unable to save information after power-down (even after a complete wipe, data can sometimes still be retrieved from hard drives). This follows VPN best practice to a tee, and leads us very well onto…
How good is ExpressVPN for streaming?
It’s no longer a secret that one of the most tempting VPN uses is unblocking streaming content on Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime and many more.
ExpressVPN isn’t shy – its website overtly states which services you’ll be able to unblock (hint: it’s pretty much all of them). This can only be good news, as it means the provider is essentially holding itself to these claims, and using them as direct selling points.
We tested all the services – Netflix, Amazon, iPlayer, and Disney+ – from a selection servers worldwide.
As a Netflix VPN, the results were seriously impressive with ExpressVPN consistently unblocking content from the UK, US, Canada, Australia and Japan – and we’re confident in saying there are probably a few more locations we didn’t try where it excels as well.
Amazon Prime unblocking doesn’t work the same way as Netflix (your content is limited to your sign-up country), but if you’re abroad and want to watch shows from back home, ExpressVPN works well too. In our testing it reliably accessed US content from the UK.
BBC iPlayer can be troublesome for many VPNs and the BBC has invested a lot of money into protecting its free-to-watch content. ExpressVPN didn’t have a clean sweep, but two of our four attempts were effective, meaning there shouldn’t be too much hassle to get watching – all you need to do is disconnect and reconnect, and refresh iPlayer. Disney+ finished our testing on a high, with all our attempts being successful.
However, losing access to certain streaming sites is an issue all VPNs have to combat, as IP addresses are blocked and different protections are put into place.
When ExpressVPN has had these issues, users haven’t been left in the dark. If you have trouble with a certain service or server, it’s well worth opening a live chat and firing a question at a member of the team. They’ll usually give you a straight answer, and advice to remedy the situation.
Also, it’s worth noting that ExpressVPN has a dedicated Smart DNS function called MediaStreamer, which lets users streaming on non-VPN supporting devices like Smart TVs and game consoles switch location and watch geo-blocked content. Out of the VPNs that offer Smart DNS (and not all do), ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer is probably the easiest to use.
What customer support does ExpressVPN offer?
While ExpressVPN has proven to be very stable in our experience, like any complex software, problems can crop up – from server upsets to lost Netflix access. This is when it’s important to have an experienced customer support team on hand when you need it the most.
Your first port of call should ExpressVPN’s encyclopaedic raft of articles and setup guides, which cover topics as varied as remedying connections that drop out, setting up the VPN on a router, how to cancel your account and how to set up MediaStreamer.
These articles don’t go on for thousands of words, but they’re not too brief either – you’ll get the background info necessary to understand the problem, and then the steps you need to take to resolve it. Each app also has a dedicated setup guide, and we’re comfortable saying they’re the best-written FAQ articles from any VPN.
If you don’t want to search through that, though, you’ll want to hop on the 24/7 live chat – and boy, are they good. We asked a whole bunch of admittedly geeky questions, and each time a real person replied within minutes – it was evident we weren’t talking to a bot.
Even if you think you might not need this sort of support, it’s incredibly useful when you come up against an issue that you can’t work out – or can’t be bothered to do the digging around to resolve yourself. Plus, they can also tell you the best servers at any given point to use to access blocked Netflix locations, and that’s a really useful tool in itself.
Just about every aspect of ExpressVPN impresses, with simple apps that make it easy to access all the expert-level features on offer – and we’d hope so. Any less than that would draw our attention even more towards the hefty price tag, but as it stands, it’s thoroughly worth the extra expenditure to access what’s quite possibly the most polished and usable VPN service on the market today.