ExpressVPN Review: Quick Expert Summary
ExpressVPN has 3,000+ servers located in 94 countries, provides excellent speeds, and has top-notch security features. ExpressVPN lets you connect up to 5 devices at the same time, including Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux devices, smart TVs, gaming consoles, smart home devices, and routers.
In my tests, ExpressVPN was consistently able to unblock popular streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and many others — and there were no interruptions, lag, or buffering as I streamed content. ExpressVPN also supports torrenting on all of its servers, and I’ve confirmed that ExpressVPN works in countries that censor the internet (like China, Iran, and Russia).
On top of standard security features like 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and secure protocols, ExpressVPN also offers:
- No-logs policy — ExpressVPN says it keeps no logs of user data (which has been independently audited and confirmed).
- Split-tunneling — Lets you choose which data gets routed through the VPN server and which data gets routed through your local network.
- Obfuscation — Hides your VPN traffic, making it seem like you’re browsing the web without a VPN, allowing you to bypass restrictions and censorship.
- Tor support — Adds another layer of security to the Tor network (making it impossible for any Tor node to see your IP address).
- And more…
I love almost everything about ExpressVPN, but I’m not a huge fan of its iOS app — it doesn’t have a kill switch, it doesn’t support ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol, and it doesn’t have split-tunneling (but I don’t know of any VPN that offers split-tunneling on iOS). Another minor complaint is that ExpressVPN doesn’t have an ad blocker, which is something that many top VPN competitors offer.
Overall, ExpressVPN is my favorite VPN service in 2021 — it’s secure, fast, feature-rich, reliable, and very intuitive across all apps.
ExpressVPN has a 1-month, 6-month, and 12-month plan. The best-value plan is the 12-month plan, as it includes an excellent first-year discount as well as an additional 3 months for free. And all subscriptions are covered by a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
|Overall Rank||#1 out of 50 VPNs|
|Number of Servers||3,000+|
|Number of Devices||5|
|Starting Price||per month|
|Money-Back Guarantee||30 days|
ExpressVPN Full Review
I spent a few weeks testing, researching, and getting to know ExpressVPN, and I can safely say that it’s the best VPN on the market.
A few years ago, ExpressVPN had a lot of other top VPN competitors, and ExpressVPN wasn’t really the best VPN out there. But that’s all changed in 2021.
Nowadays, ExpressVPN comes packaged with a lot of really useful features, high security, a strict no-logs policy, and some of the fastest speeds in the entire VPN industry.
ExpressVPN has the following security features:
- 256-bit AES encryption. End-to-end military-grade encryption to make internet traffic 100% unreadable.
- No-logs policy. ExpressVPN doesn’t log personal information, internet traffic, or what files you download. ExpressVPN has undergone a third-party audit to verify this no-logs policy.
- Kill switch (Network Lock). This feature shuts down your internet traffic if you’re disconnected from the VPN server, protecting you from accidental data leaks.
One thing I really like about ExpressVPN is that its servers run on RAM memory, which means nothing is stored on a physical hard drive. All of the data on the server is wiped clean each time the server gets rebooted.
I also like that ExpressVPN provides its own DNS on every server, encrypting all DNS requests automatically, meaning that DNS queries won’t be visible to third parties and the server’s response times will be quicker.
In addition to preventing DNS leaks, ExpressVPN also offers built-in protection against WebRTC and IPv6 leaks. ExpressVPN lets you completely disable WebRTC in its desktop apps and browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. It also automatically blocks IPv6 traffic (this is way better than competitors like Surfshark and TunnelBear that require you to manually disable IPv6 on your device).
ExpressVPN offers 4 protocols — OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, and Lightway. Lightway is ExpressVPN’s proprietary protocol, which has much better speeds than the other 3 protocols (and ExpressVPN also claims that Lightways is more secure). While I’d recommend most people use Lightway whenever possible, it’s important to keep in mind that this protocol isn’t available for iOS yet. Also, IKEv2 and L2TP/IPSec aren’t available on Android.
ExpressVPN also offers perfect forward secrecy, which changes the encryption keys used to encrypt and decrypt your internet traffic every 15 minutes or whenever you disconnect from the VPN. This ensures the security of your sensitive data even if the most recently generated encryption key gets hacked (the hacker would only be able to see the traffic encrypted with the hacked encryption key, but any past or future traffic wouldn’t be compromised).
Besides these standard security features, ExpressVPN also offers a few extra security features.
ExpressVPN’s split-tunneling tool is really good — and it’s available on Android, Windows, and macOS. While most premium VPNs offer split-tunneling for Windows and/or Android, there aren’t many competitors that support this feature on macOS — in fact, ExpressVPN is one of the rare VPNs to provide split-tunneling for Mac users. This feature is available for macOS 10.15 or below, and ExpressVPN is currently developing support for macOS 11.
I tested ExpressVPN’s split-tunneling on several occasions, while downloading torrents, making VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls, and accessing websites that are geo-blocked in my country — and the feature worked seamlessly every time. Plus, when I routed torrenting traffic through an ExpressVPN server and browsed the internet on my local network, I was able to get faster download speeds than when all of my traffic was routed through the VPN.
ExpressVPN’s split-tunneling feature worked really well for me, and I also found it very easy to use on my Samsung Galaxy, Windows PC, and MacBook Pro. The only minor drawback is that ExpressVPN doesn’t let you exclude specific websites or IP addresses from the VPN tunnel — for example, competitors like ProtonVPN let you exclude IP addresses and Surfshark offers the option to exclude websites.
Overall, ExpressVPN’s split-tunneling feature is a great way to send traffic through the VPN and your local network simultaneously. I’d like to see ExpressVPN’s split-tunneling tool offer more customization options, but including or excluding specific apps is good enough for most users. Plus, this feature works really well, is very easy to use, and is even available for Mac.
Built-in Speed Test
ExpressVPN’s built-in speed test feature lets you quickly test ExpressVPN servers to find the fastest one for your location. This tool ranks the servers by latency (how long it takes for your device to communicate with the VPN server) and download speed — and it’s available on Windows and macOS.
ExpressVPN’s speed test was extremely accurate in my testing. I tested ExpressVPN’s top recommended server against the lower-ranking servers, and the top recommended server was always the fastest.
I really like this feature because it allows you to select the fastest server every time you use the VPN. Plus, most competitors don’t offer in-app speed tests like this (the closest is CyberGhost VPN, letting you see the amount of load on each server).
Overall, ExpressVPN’s speed test feature is helpful. It’s easy to run the tests, you don’t need to use a third-party to get speed test results, it’s accurate, and it’s not something offered by other VPN services.
Support for Tor Traffic
All ExpressVPN servers support traffic from The Onion Router (Tor). You don’t need to turn on any option — you can start using the Tor browser after you connect to an ExpressVPN server.
A lot of VPNs that support Tor over VPN provide dedicated servers for Tor traffic, including ProtonVPN, so it’s nice to see that ExpressVPN lets you use Tor on any server you want.
Also, I really like that ExpressVPN has an .onion version of its official site, which makes it much easier to stay anonymous while purchasing a subscription. This also enables users in countries with heavy internet censorship to purchase ExpressVPN.
But keep in mind that using a VPN with Tor may result in particularly slow speeds — the Tor network is already slow because it encrypts your traffic multiple times, and adding another layer of encryption through the VPN makes the connection even slower. When I tested this feature, sites took much longer to load (over 10-15 seconds), and I experienced a 70-80% slowdown when compared to my regular internet speed.
But if you regularly use .onion sites and want to avoid leaks while using the Tor network, I definitely recommend ExpressVPN. That said, you’ll still need to download and use the Tor browser to access the Tor network — competitors like ProtonVPN let you browse .onion domains in browsers like Opera or Chrome, which could be more convenient for some users.
ExpressVPN Privacy & Security
ExpressVPN is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). This is good because the BVI doesn’t have mandatory data retention laws and only the BVI High Court can order ExpressVPN to share user data — but because ExpressVPN doesn’t log data, there would be no information to turn over! Also, the BVI is not part of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances (a group of countries that share intelligence data).
Overall, ExpressVPN has a transparent no-logs policy that was independently verified, and it’s headquartered in a privacy-friendly country that’s not part of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances.
ExpressVPN Speed & Performance
I ran dozens of speed tests while connected to ExpressVPN’s servers to find the average VPN speed. I had the fastest speeds while using a local VPN server (in Romania), but my VPN speeds were also great while using distant servers in the US and Australia.
I started my speed tests without being connected to an ExpressVPN server so that I could get a baseline for my speeds:
Next, I used ExpressVPN’s Smart Location feature to connect to the fastest VPN server (I was connected to a server in Romania). My speed loss was minimal, and I was able to surf sites and watch content without any delays.
Then, I connected to a US server. I had a slower download speed, but I expected that to happen since the distance between me and the server was 4,786 miles (7,703 kilometers). However, the slowdown hardly impacted my online experience — Netflix TV shows and movies quickly loaded, and I played online video games without much lag (although websites took an extra 2-3 seconds to load).
Finally, I tested an Australian server. The download and upload speeds were faster than on the US server, which was surprising considering the Australian server was farther away than the US server. While I was able to watch HD content on Amazon Prime, it sometimes defaulted to SD quality for 4-5 seconds before switching back to HD. My 1080p videos loaded instantly on YouTube, but 4K videos took a few seconds to start. I also downloaded a 70 GB torrent file in around 2 hours, which is very fast.
I conducted my speed tests with both OpenVPN and Lightway to see which protocol offers the fastest speeds, and Lightway is no doubt the faster option. I tested the protocols on a Romanian and Australian server. On the Romanian server, the OpenVPN speeds were 53% slower than when I used Lightway. And on the Australian server, the OpenVPN speeds were 75% slower.
But because Romania has really fast internet speed, it’s not fair to compare my results to what people from other countries might get. So I asked my colleague in the US to run some speed tests, too.
First, he conducted a speed test while not connected to an ExpressVPN server.
Next, my colleague used Smart Location and was connected to a server located in New York. Just like my experience being connected to a local ExpressVPN server, he didn’t notice a difference when he browsed the internet or streamed content.
Then, he connected to a server in the UK. While his ping increased significantly, his download speed only dropped by 15%, which is really good. He reported fast download speeds when torrenting and didn’t experience any glitches during two different VoIP calls.
For his final speed test, my colleague connected to a server in Australia (one of the most distant servers from his location). He was surprised at how little his speed was affected when he browsed the internet (websites only took an extra 2-3 seconds to load) and streamed content (HD video loaded in less than 5 seconds and remained in HD).
Overall, ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs around — during my tests, connection speeds were excellent on both local and distant servers, I was able to stream content on multiple sites in HD quality, I maintained fast speeds for torrenting, and it took only a few seconds for shows and movies to load while connected to distant servers.
ExpressVPN Servers & IP Addresses
ExpressVPN has more than 3,000 servers in 160 locations in 94 countries. This is a really large server network that will enable you to easily find a nearby server no matter where you live. However, I’d like to see ExpressVPN display server load percentages like CyberGhost VPN does, allowing you to see how many users are on a server before you connect to it. And while this is a lot of servers, it’s nothing compared to Private Internet Access’s 35,000+ servers.
One thing I really like is that all ExpressVPN servers support P2P traffic, making it easier to find a nearby server to get faster downloads (many VPNs like ProtonVPN only allow P2P on special servers). I’m also happy that all of ExpressVPN servers support obfuscation — this is definitely more convenient than having to pick one from a small list of supported servers.
Most of ExpressVPN’s servers are physical servers (they’re physically located in the country that you connect to and typically provide better speeds), but ExpressVPN also uses virtual servers (which are located in a different country than the one you connect to). I like that ExpressVPN discloses where its virtual servers are actually located — virtual servers are routed through the Netherlands, Brazil, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the UK.
ExpressVPN’s servers use shared IP addresses, meaning you share the same IP with multiple users. That’s good for your privacy because your traffic gets mixed in with a lot of other users’ data. Unfortunately, ExpressVPN doesn’t currently offer dedicated IP addresses. Private Internet Access and CyberGhost VPN have dedicated IPs for an additional cost, and PrivateVPN includes dedicated IPs with certain protocols.
Overall, ExpressVPN has many servers located all around the world, and they all support P2P traffic and have obfuscation. ExpressVPN uses physical servers in the majority of locations and assigns users one of many shared IP addresses.
ExpressVPN Streaming & Torrenting
ExpressVPN unblocks all popular streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer — and it also works on lesser-known platforms like RaiPlay, Crackle, Sling TV, and USA Network.
During my tests, I always had fast streaming speeds, HD content loaded instantly, and I was even able to watch 4K videos on my PS4 without experiencing any buffering.
ExpressVPN is particularly great for torrenting because it allows P2P traffic on all 3,000+ of its servers. And I’ve confirmed that ExpressVPN allows seeding on all of its servers. While ExpressVPN works with all torrenting clients, I had the fastest download speeds with qBittorrent.
ExpressVPN protects against IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leaks. Before I began to torrent, I ran 10 tests using ExpressVPN’s built-in leak testing tool and with a third-party service, and I experienced no leaks both times.
Overall, ExpressVPN is great at unblocking geo-restricted content, and it supports torrenting on all of its servers. I was able to access popular streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer, and I was able to use multiple torrent clients for my P2P traffic.
ExpressVPN Government Bypassing
ExpressVPN uses obfuscation to hide your VPN traffic and enable you to bypass geo-blocks in countries that censor the internet. Obfuscation is automatically enabled when you use the Automatic protocol setting.
ExpressVPN’s obfuscation tool is similar to VyprVPN’s obfuscation tool — but I much prefer ExpressVPN because its obfuscation feature provides faster speeds.
I asked my colleagues in China, Iran, Russia, and Indonesia to test ExpressVPN in their locations. They all confirmed ExpressVPN can circumvent VPN blocks and bypass government firewalls.
ExpressVPN Plans & Pricing
ExpressVPN is one of the more expensive VPN services on the market. It has a subscription-based model with a 1-month, 6-month, and 12-month plan (that comes with an additional 3 months free). The 12-month plan provides the best value, but it’s more expensive than other competitor’s 12-month plans, like CyberGhost VPN. All ExpressVPN plans give you access to the same features.
ExpressVPN allows up to 5 simultaneous connections with 1 subscription, which is about the average for a top VPN. But this number of connections is still fewer than CyberGhost (7 connections) and IPVanish (allows unlimited connections).
ExpressVPN accepts credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and Paymentwall (which supports 11 payment options like Mint, Giropay, and UnionPay). Every plan is covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Overall, ExpressVPN is more expensive than many other top VPNs, but it still offers a great value due to its extremely fast speeds, strong security and privacy features, and near-perfect functionality.
ExpressVPN Ease of Use: Mobile & Desktop Apps
ExpressVPN has apps for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook, Kindle Fire, and Wi-Fi routers. Installing ExpressVPN is very simple. It took me just 1-2 minutes to download and install ExpressVPN on my Samsung Galaxy, iPhone X, Windows 10 PC, and MacBook Pro.
ExpressVPN’s Android app is feature-rich and easy to use. I installed it on my Samsung Galaxy without any problems, and I instantly found the design of the app highly intuitive.
The app’s home screen lets you quickly connect to a VPN server using the Smart Location tool or you can choose to connect to your two most recent locations. Tap on Smart Location, and you’ll see a short list of recommended locations and the option to view the full list of servers.
If you tap the icon with three little lines in the top left corner of the app, it will open up the ExpressVPN app menu. Under Settings, you can enable auto-connect, use split-tunneling, customize network settings, and manually choose your protocol — ExpressVPN’s Android app includes Lightway and OpenVPN (but I recommend sticking with whichever protocol ExpressVPN defaults to so you get the best connection speed and security).
Another convenient feature I like is Shortcuts, which allows you to create 1-click shortcuts to your favorite apps (like Netflix or Facebook) that appear on your screen immediately after you connect to ExpressVPN. This way, you don’t have to find the app on your device.
Under the Privacy & Security Tools tab, you’ll find IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks tests.
ExpressVPN’s Android app doesn’t include the Network Lock, but you can still enable “Block internet when unable to connect or reconnect to VPN”, which functions in a similar way. The Android app also doesn’t include the ExpressVPN speed test tool or Tor support, but these aren’t major drawbacks for most Android users (ExpressVPN has really fast speed for most of its servers anyway, and only very privacy-conscious users will need Tor).
Overall, ExpressVPN has one of the best Android apps on the market. It’s very user-friendly, has quick and easy connection options, great security features, and fast speeds.
ExpressVPN’s iOS app is very similar to the Android app. However, the iOS app doesn’t have split-tunneling (I don’t know that any VPN has split-tunneling for iOS) and the Lightway protocol — but it does come with the IKEv2 and L2TP protocols.
ExpressVPN’s iOS app also lacks a kill switch or the “Block internet when unable to connect or reconnect to the VPN” option. The best alternative is an auto-reconnect setting that connects your device to the VPN if you lose your connection.
Overall, ExpressVPN has a well-designed iOS app, but I don’t like that the app lacks a kill switch. However, even with this drawback, I still think ExpressVPN’s iOS app is a good option because it has really good security features and is fast and easy to use.
I installed ExpressVPN’s app on my Windows 10 PC and MacBook Pro. Like with the mobile apps, you can connect to the Smart Location or your most recent servers.
If you click on the menu icon, you can view all server locations, access the Options menu, run ExpressVPN’s Speed Test, and contact support.
The Options menu is where you’ll find security features (like the kill switch and split-tunneling), protocol options, and advanced settings. While you can customize the VPN to your needs, I really like that ExpressVPN sets all of the important functions to recommended default settings so you don’t have to manually enable or disable them.
It’s also important to keep in mind that ExpressVPN is one of the few VPNs that has split-tunneling for macOS, but it’s only on macOS 10.15 or below (the feature is not yet available on macOS 11.0).
Overall, ExpressVPN has great desktop apps. The Windows and macOS apps are mostly the same, and ExpressVPN even has split-tunneling for macOS 10.15 and below (unlike most of its competitors).
ExpressVPN Apps: Is ExpressVPN Easy to Use?
All ExpressVPN apps are really easy to use. The apps include most of the same features with only a few exceptions. The iOS app is missing a kill switch, split-tunneling, and Lightway, the Android app is missing the IKEv2 and L2TP protocols, and the macOS only supports split-tunneling for version 10.15 and below. But other than this, the apps are nearly identical, and they all work exactly as promised.
ExpressVPN Customer Support
ExpressVPN has extensive troubleshooting guides, video tutorials, 24/7 live chat, and email support. There’s no phone support, but I don’t think this is a problem since ExpressVPN provides a wide range of really good customer service channels.
ExpressVPN’s troubleshooting guides and tutorials are very well structured and informative. I especially like that ExpressVPN offers video tutorials that cover how to install ExpressVPN’s apps and how to sign in and set up ExpressVPN on your device. They are great tools, especially for users who are new to VPNs (competitors like IPVanish also provide video tutorials).
I tested ExpressVPN’s live chat feature twice — once on the weekend and once during the week. Each time, I was connected to a support rep in less than 15 seconds, and the customer support representative provided me with very helpful information. ExpressVPN only offers support in English, but it offers a translation tool to communicate with you in different languages. I tested the tool by speaking in Romanian, and the support rep was able to understand me (and solve my issue).
I also sent ExpressVPN 3 emails to see how fast it would take to get a response. I got a response within 6-7 hours, which is pretty good, and the answers were very detailed.
Overall, ExpressVPN has excellent customer support. I really like the helpful support guides and 24/7 live chat. Email support is available too, but I recommend using live chat because it’s much faster.
Is ExpressVPN Really the Best VPN in 2021?
ExpressVPN has fast speeds, excellent security features, allows up to 5 simultaneous connections, works on all major platforms, unblocks tons of streaming sites, and is very user-friendly. All ExpressVPN servers support P2P traffic, and ExpressVPN works in countries that censor the internet like China and Iran.
I always had fast speeds while using ExpressVPN — even while I was connected to servers that were far from my location — this allowed me to browse the internet, stream content (in HD quality), and download large files. In fact, ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol outperformed other popular VPN protocols like OpenVPN and WireGuard in all of my tests.
ExpressVPN keeps user data safe with 256-bit AES encryption, a no-logs policy (audited and confirmed), a kill switch, and full leak protection. Its servers only run on RAM memory, so all data is wiped with every reboot. And if you ever experience a problem, ExpressVPN’s support reps are available 24/7 through live chat and email.
Overall, ExpressVPN is my #1 VPN in 2021. It’s fast, secure, and very easy to use. ExpressVPN is more expensive than most top VPNs, but it provides a really good value, and it covers each plan with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
ExpressVPN — Frequently Asked Questions
Is ExpressVPN free?
No, ExpressVPN doesn’t have a free plan. However, it has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test the product risk-free for a month (and I got my refund back into my account 4 days after requesting it).
There are free VPNs out there, but I don’t recommend using most of them — the majority of free VPNs lack basic security features, have slow speeds, place a limit on your data, spam you with ads, and/or monitor your traffic. On the other hand, using a premium VPN gives you excellent security, top-notch privacy, and ultra-fast connection speeds for all of your online activity (ExpressVPN can do all of this and more).
Does ExpressVPN work in China?
Yes, ExpressVPN is able to overcome internet blocks in China — and it also works in other countries with heavy internet censorship. My colleagues in China confirmed ExpressVPN’s obfuscation tools can bypass the Great Firewall. My colleagues in restrictive countries like Russia, Iran, and Indonesia also tested ExpressVPN and reported that the VPN allowed them to freely access the internet, too.
Does ExpressVPN work With Netflix?
Yes, ExpressVPN works with Netflix. I was able to access Netflix in over 10 different countries (including the US, Germany, and Brazil). ExpressVPN has fast speeds so I watched Netflix TV shows and movies in HD (and 4K) without long load times and buffering. I really like how ExpressVPN supports streaming on all of its servers — unlike some competitors that only have dedicated streaming servers.
ExpressVPN also unblocks other popular streaming apps, including BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and FuboTV.
Is ExpressVPN safe?
Yes, ExpressVPN is one of the safest VPNs on the market. It uses 256-bit AES encryption, has a kill switch, and maintains a strict no-logs policy (that has been independently audited and confirmed). ExpressVPN’s servers only run on RAM (all data is wiped each time the server is rebooted), and ExpressVPN also offers complete leak protection for WebRTC, DNS, and IPv6 (I ran several leak tests and had 0 leaks).