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ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN [2022]: Which VPN Is Better?

Tim Mocan Tim Mocan
Updated on: September 1, 2022

Short on time? Here’s the final verdict:

  • 🥇 ExpressVPN 🥇 — Winner in Speed, Servers & Performance, Streaming & Torrenting, Gaming, Bypassing Internet Restrictions, and Customer Support. ExpressVPN maintains blazing-fast speeds, works with Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and 65+ other popular streaming apps, allows torrenting on all of its servers, provides excellent gaming support, is able to overcome firewalls in restrictive countries like China, and offers industry-leading customer support.
  • 🥈 ProtonVPN 🥈 — Winner in Privacy, Extra Features, and Plans & Pricing. ProtonVPN has a strict no-logs policy that’s been independently audited and issues an annual transparency report that proves it doesn’t hand over user data to law enforcement. It also has Secure Core servers that route your traffic through two servers instead of one, open-source apps, and an ad and malware blocker. And it offers slightly cheaper pricing plans and has the best free plan on the market.

ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN are two of my favorite VPNs on the market — they both have top-notch security and privacy features, maintain fast speeds, work with streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, and provide user-friendly apps for all of the major platforms.

In addition to industry-standard VPN security features like 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and a strict no-logs policy, ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN both have a range of additional and advanced features, such as:

  • Split-tunneling.
  • Perfect forward secrecy.
  • Full leak protection.
  • Protection against malicious sites.
  • The Onion Router (Tor) support.

But ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN differ in some areas. ExpressVPN has 3,000+ servers in 94 countries, whereas ProtonVPN has only 1,700+ in 60+ countries. ExpressVPN also has its own proprietary protocol Lightway, works in countries that restrict access to the internet, and allows torrenting on all of its servers. ProtonVPN doesn’t have Lightway, can’t bypass internet firewalls and restrictions in countries with online censorship, and has dedicated torrenting servers. But ProtonVPN also has some important advantages — it comes with advanced server architecture and provides an ad blocker. Also, all of ProtonVPN’s apps are open-source, meaning anyone can inspect them for cracks in security.

I compared ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN for security features, extra features, privacy, speeds, streaming and torrenting, gaming, bypassing internet firewalls and restrictions, ease of use, plans and pricing, and customer service. After spending a couple of weeks testing and researching both providers, I finally settled on a winner — in my opinion, ExpressVPN is better than ProtonVPN, but it wasn’t an easy decision, so I recommend that you read the entire comparison and decide which VPN is better for your needs and budget in 2022.

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ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Security

ExpressVPN: Security

ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Security

ExpressVPN comes with industry-standard VPN security features such as:

  • 256-bit AES encryption. This type of encryption is also used in banks and militaries around the world to protect their data.
  • Kill switch. This feature ensures that your data doesn’t accidentally leak in case the VPN connection fails for whatever reason.
  • No-logs policy. ExpressVPN’s no-logs policy was independently audited and verified in 2018 and 2019.

ExpressVPN has TrustedServer Technology, which means it stores all data on RAM memory instead of on a hard drive. TrustedServer Technology ensures that all of your data on the server is erased every time the server is turned on and off. And like the no-logs policy, ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology was also audited.

ExpressVPN also comes with perfect forward secrecy that changes the encryption keys used to encrypt and decrypt your internet traffic each time you disconnect from the server. This is a great feature because if an encryption key got compromised, a third-party would only gain access to the data that is on the hacked encryption key — not a past or future encryption key.

In addition, this provider has a proprietary protocol called Lightway, which is designed to provide high-end security and lightning-fast speeds thanks to a light codebase. It also resists network changes, meaning your VPN connection won’t drop (which could expose your data) when you switch from Wi-Fi to mobile data or vice versa.

ExpressVPN provides built-in leak protection against DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks (I had 0 leaks in my leak tests on 10+ servers), and you get 4 secure and fast protocols, including OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), IKEv2/IPSec, L2TP/IPSec, and Lightway.

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ProtonVPN: Security

ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Security

Like ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN comes with essential VPN security features such as 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and a strict no-logs policy (that has been confirmed in an independent audit). It also provides access to perfect forward secrecy.

Plus, all of ProtonVPN’s apps are open-source, meaning virtually anyone can inspect them for security flaws. But since most users don’t have the technical background to perform such a test, ProtonVPN hired a cybersecurity company to perform an independent audit that verified all of the platforms are secure.

ProtonVPN also has full-disk encryption, which encrypts all of the data on a server, preventing a third-party from being able to access any of the data.

ProtonVPN offers WireGuard, IKEv2/IPSec and OpenVPN — all 3 are very good protocols, but none of them can match the fast speeds that ExpressVPN’s Lightway provides for browsing, streaming, torrenting, and gaming.

Like ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN also has built-in leak protection for DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6. I tested ProtonVPN for leaks while connected to 10+ servers, and there were no reported leaks.

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Winner (Security): It’s a tie.

It’s too difficult to pick which VPN provides better security because both ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN offer robust security features. Each provider comes with industry-standard security features, full leak protection, perfect forward secrecy, and excellent server technology to protect your data and your privacy. So, this one’s a tie.

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ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Extra Features

ExpressVPN: Extra Features

ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Extra Features

ExpressVPN has a lot of additional features, and all of its extras are really good:

  • Split-tunneling — Allows you to choose which data travels through the VPN tunnel and which data travels through your local network.
  • Built-in speed test — Enables you to find the fastest server without using a third-party speed test website.
  • Obfuscation — ExpressVPN supports obfuscation across all of its servers, which hides your connection to the VPN server. If someone were to monitor your VPN traffic, they wouldn’t see a VPN connection, but a regular internet connection.
  • Support for Tor traffic — All of ExpressVPN’s servers support Tor traffic, providing you with an extra layer of protection so you can surf the dark web with added anonymity.
  • Threat Manager — Blocks trackers and connections to malicious websites.
  • Password Manager — This free feature stores all of your passwords in an encrypted vault and auto-fills them with one click.
  • Port forwarding — Allows you to connect to more peers while torrenting, which can increase your download speeds.
  • MediaStreamer — This is ExpressVPN’s smart DNS tool, which helps you access streaming services from the US (and potentially other countries) on devices that don’t natively support VPNs, such as gaming consoles.
  • Shortcuts — Allows you to create 1-click shortcuts for specific sites and apps, which show up on your screen after you connect to a VPN server.

ExpressVPN’s split-tunneling feature works on Android, Windows, and even on macOS (most VPNs don’t have split-tunneling for Macs), and it’s easy to use and works as promised. In my tests, I downloaded a large P2P file while connected to an ExpressVPN server and watched a movie on Netflix through my local network to get the fastest download and streaming speeds.

ExpressVPN’s speed test (only available on desktop apps) is a great and convenient tool that displays the fastest ExpressVPN servers — this is better than using a third-party website that would require you to connect to several different servers to test the speed of each server.

I think it’s really great that ExpressVPN provides obfuscation on all of its servers. This allows people in restrictive countries like China and Russia to get access to an uncensored internet.

I like that ExpressVPN allows you to browse Tor websites on any of its 3,000+ servers. Unlike many VPNs, ExpressVPN has an .onion site to help people in countries that restrict access to the internet buy an ExpressVPN subscription.

Threat Manager prevents companies and other websites from tracking your online behavior — saving you from seeing targeted ads as you browse and provides extra privacy on the web. It also blocks you from visiting websites that contain malware. Threat Manager is available on iOS, macOS, and Linux.

The password manager, called ExpressVPN Keys, generates, stores, and fills all of your passwords. This way, you’ll never have to create or have to remember another password ever again! ExpressVPN Keys is available in the iOS and Android apps, plus on Windows, macOS, and Linux via Chrome browser extensions.

Port forwarding is available only via ExpressVPN’s router app — fortunately, helpful tutorials are available so the setup process is simple (it only took me 7 minutes to configure the app on my router), and the router app is also very easy to use. When I used port forwarding, my P2P speeds increased by about 10%, which is pretty good.

I think MediaStreamer is pretty convenient for streaming. It requires a manual setup, but tutorials are available, so it won’t take you more than 5 minutes to configure this feature on your device. MediaStreamer doesn’t change your IP address or encrypt your traffic, so it can’t provide privacy — but it does provide much faster streaming speeds because there’s no encryption. I used MediaStreamer on my last trip abroad, and it allowed me to access Netflix US and Hulu without any issues.

Finally, the Shortcuts feature is great for ease of use — you can use it to get instant access to your favorite apps and sites after you connect to ExpressVPN. The Shortcuts feature is available on Android, Windows, and macOS.

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Read more about all of ExpressVPN’s features on the full ExpressVPN review

ProtonVPN: Extra Features

ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Extra Features

Like ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN also has split-tunneling, port forwarding, and Tor support, but ProtonVPN also features Secure Core server architecture, an ad and malware blocker, VPN Accelerator, and Profiles.

ProtonVPN’s split-tunneling is better than ExpressVPN’s split-tunneling feature — while ExpressVPN allows you only to redirect apps from the VPN tunnel, ProtonVPN lets you exclude apps and IP addresses. For example, I routed my bank’s IP address through my local network (most banking sites block VPN traffic) and browsed the internet via a ProtonVPN server. Split-tunneling is available on Android and Windows.

I think ProtonVPN’s port forwarding is a little better than ExpressVPN’s port forwarding because it’s available on its Windows app (ExpressVPN only has port forwarding on its router app). You can easily enable port forwarding with just 1 click, which is very convenient.

ProtonVPN supports Tor traffic only on dedicated servers located in 5+ countries (unlike ExpressVPN, which allows Tor traffic on all servers). But when you connect to one of those dedicated Tor servers, you’re able to browse the Tor network with Chrome, Firefox, and Opera rather than with the Tor browser.

ProtonVPN’s Secure Core server feature routes your traffic through two servers before it exits ProtonVPN’s network. The really cool part of Secure Core servers is that the servers are housed in bunkers located in Switzerland and Sweden (two countries with strict data privacy laws), and also on a former military base in Iceland. Secure Core is an excellent tool for people who want more anonymity while they’re online. The feature is also available on iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux.

ProtonVPN’s ad blocker (called NetShield) is an excellent tool that blocks ads and prevents you from visiting malicious and phishing websites. I tested NetShield by visiting sites that usually contain a ton of ads like social media and news outlets, and NetShield blocked all of the ads (including those annoying pop-up ads) on each site — the pages loaded quicker and looked much cleaner. NetShield is available on iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux.

VPN Accelerator is a cool feature that boosts your speeds on distant servers. It uses state-of-the-art server technology that reduces latency and other speed-enhancing techniques to ensure you get the fastest speeds on any server. VPN Accelerator is available on iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux.

And I’m really happy with the Profiles feature — it lets you set up your own connection preferences. For example, you can create a profile that automatically connects you to a specific P2P server via the VPN protocol you choose. I also like that you can name and color-code your profiles, so that it’s easier to keep track of them.

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Read more about all of ProtonVPN’s features on the full ProtonVPN review

Winner (Extra Features): ProtonVPN

It was also difficult to pick a winner for this round because both ProtonVPN and ExpressVPN offer excellent extra features.

ProtonVPN has Secure Core servers, which provide an extra layer of security, an excellent ad blocker, split-tunneling, Tor support, port forwarding, Profiles, and VPN Accelerator. ExpressVPN has a built-in speed test that lets you easily find the fastest server for your location, and it also has split-tunneling, a tracker and malware blocker, a free password manager, port forwarding, obfuscation, MediaStreamer, Shortcuts, and it allows Tor traffic.

However, ProtonVPN’s split-tunneling is better because you can exclude IP addresses and apps, whereas ExpressVPN only lets you exclude apps. Plus, ProtonVPN blocks trackers, malware, and ads with its ad blocker. Also, ProtonVPN makes it easier and more convenient to surf the Tor network by letting you use your own browser instead of having to download the Tor browser. What’s more, it allows port forwarding on Windows, and its Profiles feature is very convenient.

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ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Privacy

ExpressVPN: Privacy

ExpressVPN has a transparent no-logs policy that’s been audited and confirmed multiple times by different cybersecurity companies in 2018 and 2019. Also, Turkish authorities seized one of its servers in 2017 but weren’t able to find any user data on them, further proving this provider’s no-logs claims to be true.

The provider also has its own protocol called Lightway, which provides really strong security and very fast speeds, is open-source, and has also passed an independent security audit in 2021.

In addition, ExpressVPN had an independent security firm audit its Windows app in 2021. The same firm performed a retest in 2022 as well. Only minor issues were found on both occasions, and they were quickly fixed.

ExpressVPN is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which doesn’t have mandatory data retention laws and isn’t part of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances (a group of countries that share intelligence data). Moreover, ExpressVPN only collects email addresses (for communication purposes) and payment information, but users who want to remain more anonymous can pay with Bitcoin.

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ProtonVPN: Privacy

Like ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN has a strict no-logs policy and retains only your email address, payment information, and a timestamp of your last login attempt — but it doesn’t collect any identifiable information. Users who want to stay as anonymous as possible can pay for the service with Bitcoin or even cash. ProtonVPN’s no-logs policy has also been audited in 2022.

Also, ProtonVPN regularly publishes transparency reports that show all of the requests it receives for user information from law enforcement and proves that it doesn’t comply with the requests. Plus, all of ProtonVPN’s apps are open-source, meaning virtually anyone can inspect them for security flaws. But since most users don’t have the technical background to perform such a test, ProtonVPN hired a cybersecurity company to perform an independent audit that verified all of the platforms are secure.

ProtonVPN is headquartered in Switzerland, which doesn’t have mandatory data retention laws and isn’t included in the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances.

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Winner (Privacy): ProtonVPN

ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN both have strict no-logs policies, are based in countries that have user-friendly data privacy laws, and neither one is part of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances. While ExpressVPN has a proprietary open-source protocol and has conducted multiple independent audits to confirm that it doesn’t store user data, its no-logs policy hasn’t undergone a more recent audit, like ProtonVPN’s no-logs policy did. Plus, ProtonVPN publishes a transparency report once a year that verifies that the provider is not logging user information or sharing it with the authorities, and all of its apps are open-source and audited.

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ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Speed, Servers & Performance

ExpressVPN: Speed, Servers & Performance

ExpressVPN has 3,000+ servers located in 90+ countries — and it supports torrenting, streaming, Tor traffic, and obfuscation on all of its servers, so you can easily find a nearby server for the best download, streaming, and browsing speeds.

No matter where you’re located or what server you connect to, ExpressVPN provides blazing-fast speeds — which is not surprising considering it’s the fastest VPNs on the market. In my speed tests, I connected to an ExpressVPN server in every country to determine the average speed. Overall, I had a decrease in download speed of just 15% percent, which is pretty amazing. My fastest speeds were on local servers (I’m based in the US), but I also maintained really fast speeds on servers in Brazil, Europe, Japan, and even Australia!

You can read more about ExpressVPN’s speed test results in our full ExpressVPN review here.

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ProtonVPN: Speed, Servers & Performance

ProtonVPN has 1,700+ servers located in 60+ countries — but unlike ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN supports torrenting only on dedicated servers, and it doesn’t offer obfuscation. ProtonVPN has multiple Plus servers, which are optimized for streaming, it supports P2P traffic on 300+ optimized P2P servers located in 16+ countries, and it also has 5+ designated servers for surfing the Tor network. Secure Core servers are also available in 60+ countries, and they provide more security by routing your data through 2 servers, one of which is in a privacy-friendly country.

All servers display the server load, which shows how many active users are connected to a server — you can use that metric to find fast servers (I always had faster speeds when using servers with low load than servers with high load). You also get access to VPN Accelerator, which uses speed-enhancing technologies to increase VPN speeds on distant servers.

Even so, ProtonVPN isn’t as fast as ExpressVPN. But I still had really good speeds in my tests and was able to browse, stream, torrent, and play video games on most servers without any significant delays — my slowest speeds were in Australia where websites loaded in 3-4 seconds and it took some streaming content up to 30 seconds to begin (but the content played uninterrupted once it started).

Overall, ProtonVPN reduced my speed by about 20%, which is pretty good. Like ExpressVPN, I had great speeds on local servers, but my download speeds dropped a lot on distant servers — though my internet activities were hardly affected.

You can read more about ProtonVPN’s speed test results in our full ProtonVPN review here.

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Winner (Speed, Servers, and Performance): ExpressVPN

It’s safe to say that it’s hard for any VPN to beat ExpressVPN when it comes to speed and performance since this is the fastest VPN on the market. In my tests, ExpressVPN’s speed was lightning quick on all servers, and it supports torrenting, streaming, browsing the Tor network, and obfuscation on all of its servers. Unlike ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN has dedicated torrenting and Tor servers. While ProtonVPN isn’t as fast as ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN still maintains very fast speeds for browsing, torrenting, streaming, and gaming.

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ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Streaming & Torrenting

ExpressVPN: Streaming & Torrenting

ExpressVPN is one of the best streaming VPNs out there, as it can access 65+ streaming apps — in my tests, I was able to watch TV shows and movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, HBO Max, and even lesser-known apps like Sling TV, DAZN, and USA Network.

It’s also really cool that ExpressVPN’s DNS service (called MediaStreamer) lets you watch streaming content on devices that normally don’t support VPN connections, like gaming consoles and AppleTV.

ExpressVPN is also an excellent choice for torrenting thanks to its lightning-fast download speeds and P2P support on every one of its 3,000+ servers. ExpressVPN also works with all of the top torrenting clients like Deluge, BitTorrent, and uTorrent (BitTorrent provided the fastest speeds in my tests).

What’s more, it comes with port forwarding via its router app, and provides great security while torrenting thanks to its kill switch, full leak protection, audited no-logs policy, and Threat Manager, which can block malicious P2P sites.

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ProtonVPN: Streaming & Torrenting

ProtonVPN is great for accessing streaming services since it works with 30+ streaming platforms. Like ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN had no problem accessing Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, and many other streaming apps in my tests (but ProtonVPN doesn’t support streaming on the Free plan).

But unlike ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN lacks a smart DNS. So, if you need to access streaming services on devices that don’t support VPNs, you’ll need to manually set up ProtonVPN on your router. Helpful setup tutorials are available, but configuring this VPN on your router still takes longer than setting up ExpressVPN’s smart DNS feature — not to mention the smart DNS provides faster streaming speeds since it doesn’t use encryption like the VPN does.

And I think ProtonVPN has a pretty good P2P server network, as it allows torrenting on 300+ dedicated torrenting servers that are located in 16+ countries, like the US, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Singapore — however, this is not available on its free plan. Also, ProtonVPN is compatible with popular torrenting clients (like ExpressVPN).

It also comes with port forwarding on its Windows app, and provides strong security via its kill switch, audited no-logs policy, full leak protection and NetShield, which protects you from shady torrent sites and malicious ads on P2P platforms.

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Winner (Streaming & Torrenting): ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN are both excellent choices for streaming and torrenting. But ExpressVPN works with 65+ streaming platforms, while ProtonVPN only works with 30+ streaming services. Also, unlike ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN doesn’t have a smart DNS, which would allow you to access streaming sites on devices that don’t support VPN apps. And torrenting-wise, ExpressVPN allows P2P traffic on all of its 3,000+ servers that are located in 90+ countries, which is much more convenient than ProtonVPN’s 300+ P2P servers that are located in 16+ countries.

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ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Gaming

ExpressVPN: Gaming

ExpressVPN provides an excellent gaming experience — and is in fact the best gaming VPN on the market. It has blazing-fast speeds while gaming — I had average ping when playing on distant servers in Germany and Australia, and I didn’t experience lag or random disconnects.

In addition, ExpressVPN is able to protect you from Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks, which can force you offline. Plus, I really like how all of its servers come with anti-DDoS protection — so even if someone were to try to DDoS the server you’re connected to, they wouldn’t be able to do it.

And since this VPN has a dedicated router app, you can easily install it on your router in about 8 minutes, so that you can use it to game on devices that don’t support VPN apps, like PlayStation or Nintendo Switch.

Also, I really like how ExpressVPN has support for cloud gaming platforms, which stream video games to portable devices like laptops and smartphones. I tested the VPN with popular services like Google Stadia and GeForce Now, and I never experienced any issues.

ProtonVPN: Gaming

ProtonVPN is also good for gaming, but it’s mostly suitable for basic gaming. In my tests, I had pretty fast and stable connections while gaming on ProtonVPN’s servers. That said, I did experience some lag when playing on distant servers — it wasn’t game-breaking, but I didn’t experience any lag when I tested the same distant server locations with ExpressVPN.

ProtonVPN can also protect you from DDoS attacks, and it’s compatible with multiple router models, so you can manually configure it on your router to use it to game on devices like PlayStation and Xbox consoles. Unfortunately, this provider doesn’t have a router app like ExpressVPN does, so the setup process is a little more time-consuming — for example, it took me about 11–12 minutes to configure ProtonVPN on my router.

Also, unlike ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN doesn’t mention if it has cloud gaming support, and the support reps told me they can’t guarantee that the VPN will work with cloud gaming platforms. While it worked with services like Google Stadia in my tests, I can’t guarantee that you’ll experience the same results.

Winner (Gaming): ExpressVPN

Both ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN are good for gaming, but ExpressVPN comes out on top. It provides stable ping and fast gaming sessions across all of its servers, comes with anti-DDoS protection, has a dedicated router app, and even has support for cloud gaming platforms. ProtonVPN has good speeds, but you might experience some lag on distant servers — also, it lacks a router app, and its reps can’t guarantee that it works with cloud gaming services.

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ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Bypassing Censorship

ExpressVPN: Bypassing Censorship

ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs for overcoming firewalls in countries that restrict access to the internet. It uses obfuscated servers to mask your VPN traffic and allows you to freely browse the internet in censor-heavy locations. Plus, ExpressVPN has servers in 90+ countries, which allows users in restrictive countries to easily connect to a nearby server to get fast speeds. What’s more, this VPN is really easy to use — just click on the Automatic protocol to automatically enable obfuscation.

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ProtonVPN: Bypassing Censorship

ProtonVPN doesn’t have an obfuscation tool to get around internet firewalls and doesn’t work in China and most other restrictive countries.

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Winner (Government Bypassing): ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN includes a sophisticated obfuscation protocol that is able to mask VPN traffic in countries with heavy internet restrictions. Plus, it’s fast, secure, and user-friendly. Unfortunately, ProtonVPN doesn’t work in countries that restrict access to the internet.

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ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Ease of Use — Mobile & Desktop Apps

ExpressVPN: Ease of Use

ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Ease of Use — Mobile & Desktop Apps

ExpressVPN has user-friendly apps for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook, Kindle Fire, Android TV, Fire TV, and Wi-Fi routers. I installed its mobile and desktop apps in less than two minutes on my Galaxy smartphone, iPhone, Windows 10 PC, and MacBook Pro. All of the apps have the same intuitive design, are easy to navigate, feature-rich, and have a one-click connection tool.

ExpressVPN has an excellent Android app — it includes Lightway and OpenVPN, built-in leak protection, split-tunneling, a password manager, auto-connect options, and a feature that lets you create a shortcut to your favorite apps and sites. The app doesn’t have a kill switch, but there’s a similar feature that disconnects you from the internet if the VPN connection drops.

The iOS app is secure and fast — it comes with a kill switch, Lightway, Threat Manager, and a password manager. But it’s missing split-tunneling, though most VPNs don’t have this feature for iOS).

The Windows and macOS apps are very good and similar in design. They both have Lightway, a kill switch, the built-in speed test, the Shortcuts feature, and split-tunneling (it’s rare for a VPN to include split-tunneling on macOS). The Windows app is missing Threat Manager, but the macOS app has it. Also, both apps don’t provide in-app access to the password manager — instead, you can access it on desktop via dedicated browser extensions.

I’m also really impressed with ExpressVPN’s router app — it’s one of the only VPNs on the market that has this, as other VPNs (including ProtonVPN) require you to manually set up the VPN on your router. The router app works on top router brands like Netgear, Linksys, and Asus, and it’s pretty easy to install thanks to ExpressVPN’s helpful tutorials. And it’s also easy to use, as the dashboard is similar to the mobile and desktop apps.

The router app also supports Lightway and port forwarding. Plus, it has Device Groups, a feature that lets you create up to 5 separate groups for each device — for example, you can have a group for your smart TVs, a group for your mobile devices, and even a group that doesn’t use the VPN. Also, Device Groups allows you to connect your devices up to 5 locations (most VPNs only allow you to connect your devices to 1 location on a router).

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ProtonVPN: Ease of Use

ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Ease of Use — Mobile & Desktop Apps

ProtonVPN also offers excellent apps for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook, Android TV, and Fire TV. I installed most of ProtonVPN’s apps on my devices in just a couple of minutes and I found it very easy to use all of them.

The Android app makes it very simple to find the best server for your location — there are 3 tabs at the top of the screen for Countries, Map, and Profiles. The Settings tab lets you enable the kill switch, NetShield, split-tunneling, and leak protection. The app also includes access to WireGuard, IKEv2/IPSec, and OpenVPN.

The iOS app looks exactly like the Android app and includes almost all of the same features — the only difference is that it doesn’t support split-tunneling.

I really like the sleek interface of ProtonVPN’s Windows and macOS apps. In addition to the Quick Connect tool, a list of servers, and the map, ProtonVPN displays a bunch of connection facts (your server name, IP address, protocol, etc.) at the top of the page as well as “Session Traffic” metrics at the bottom of the page. It’s also convenient that you are able to enable Secure Core, NetShield, and the kill switch right from the main window. The Windows app is slightly better than the macOS app because it also comes with split-tunneling — however, most VPNs don’t include split-tunneling on macOS (ExpressVPN is one of the few providers that does).

ProtonVPN doesn’t have a router app like ExpressVPN, but you can manually set it up on many router models. And its helpful tutorials make the setup process pretty simple. If you pay extra, you can even get an open-source router that’s tested and configured to work with ProtonVPN — the setup is easier with this router, and you can even quickly change the VPN server location, VPN server, and VPN protocol (IKEv2/IPSec and OpenVPN) using dropdown menus inside the router’s dashboard.

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Winner (Ease of Use): It’s a tie.

Both ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN have extremely easy-to-use apps for mobile and desktop devices. ExpressVPN’s apps are slightly easier to use but that’s only because they have fewer options than ProtonVPN. It also has the advantage of a dedicated router app. But other than that, each provider has an intuitive interface for every app, includes a quick-connect tool, excellent security features, and fast speeds. When it comes to ease of use, honestly you can’t go wrong with either ExpressVPN or ProtonVPN.

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ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Plans & Pricing

ExpressVPN: Plans & Pricing

ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Plans & Pricing

ExpressVPN offers 3 payment plans — a 1-month, 6-month, and 12-month plan (the 12-month plan comes with an extra 3 months free). Even though ExpressVPN’s 12-month plan provides the best value, it’s still on the pricey side compared to other VPNs. But you can use our exclusive 49% discount to get ExpressVPN for $6.67 / month.

ExpressVPN provides 5 simultaneous connections, which is on the low end of the industry average. But it’s nice that ExpressVPN has an easy-to-install router app, which allows you to connect all the devices in your home with 1 connection.

ExpressVPN accepts 7 credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, JCB, Visa, and Diners Club International), PayPal, Bitcoin, and other payment methods like Giropay, UnionPay, WebMoney, and more. ExpressVPN backs each plan with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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ProtonVPN: Plans & Pricing

ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Plans & Pricing

ProtonVPN offers the best free plan out there, as well as monthly and yearly premium plans.

ProtonVPN Free has unlimited data (which is very rare for a free plan), provides “medium” speeds, has strong security and privacy, allows you to connect 1 device, and gives you access to 3 server locations in the US, Japan, and the Netherlands. But ProtonVPN Free doesn’t include access to streaming or torrenting support, Secure Core servers, or NetShield.

ProtonVPN’s Plus plan allows 10 simultaneous connections, access to all 1,700+ servers in 60+ countries, includes the “highest” speeds, and also adds access to streaming and P2P support, Secure Core servers, Tor servers, and NetShield. Starting at $4.99 / month, the Plus plan is available for a 1-month, 1-year, and 2-year subscription.

ProtonVPN accepts credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and even cash for added anonymity. Each premium plan is covered by a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee, which means that you’re billed for every day that you use ProtonVPN up until the 30-day deadline (unlike most VPNs that provide a full refund).

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Winner (Plans & Pricing): ProtonVPN

ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN both offer really good value.

All of ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN’s plans include access to every feature and the only difference between each plan is the length of the subscription. All of ProtonVPN’s plans are priced cheaper than ExpressVPN’s plans, ProtonVPN has the best free plan on the market, and you also get up to 10 connections, whereas ExpressVPN only allows 5 connections. The only minor drawback is that ProtonVPN only comes with a prorated refund, while ExpressVPN covers each plan with a full 30-day money-back guarantee.

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ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Customer Support

ExpressVPN: Customer Support

ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Customer Support

ExpressVPN has really impressive customer support — it offers a thorough library of troubleshooting guides, easy-to-follow setup tutorials that include screenshots and even videos, tons of detailed frequently asked questions (FAQs), 24/7 live chat, and email support.

The 24/7 live chat is excellent — I was always connected to a support representative in less than 10 seconds, and every rep was responsive, knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly. I tested the email support a couple of times and received a reply within a couple of hours each time, which is a pretty standard response time for a VPN.

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ProtonVPN: Customer Support

ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Customer Support

ProtonVPN has good customer support, but it’s not as good as ExpressVPN. ProtonVPN provides really good support guides (like ExpressVPN) that are broken down nicely by categories and offer in-depth details. Unfortunately, it lacks live chat. Also, the email support is so-so (I had to wait almost 24 hours for a response — though the reply was informative) and there’s no live chat.

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Winner (Customer Support): ExpressVPN

This one wasn’t even close — ExpressVPN’s customer support is clearly superior to ProtonVPN. While each VPN provides an impressive library of support guides, ExpressVPN also has video tutorials, 24/7 live chat (with really helpful support reps), and answers emails much faster than ProtonVPN.

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ExpressVPN vs. ProtonVPN: Overall Winner

ExpressVPN is secure, extremely fast, includes extra features like split-tunneling and a built-in speed test, accesses all of the most popular streaming apps 100% of the time, allows torrenting on all of its 3,000+ servers, provides an excellent gaming experience, and works in censor-heavy nations like China and Iran. ExpressVPN provides easy-to-use apps for all popular platforms (even routers), offers excellent customer support, and backs each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

ProtonVPN has great security features, top-notch privacy tools, and a bunch of really cool extra features like Secure Core servers, an ad and malware blocker, Tor support, and one of the best split-tunneling features out there. ProtonVPN also has fast speeds, is able to access the top streaming services, and offers intuitive apps — plus ProtonVPN is one of the few VPNs with fully open-source apps. ProtonVPN covers each plan with a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.

Overall, I have no reservations recommending ExpressVPN or ProtonVPN. They’re both extremely secure, fast, come with impressive privacy features, can access my favorite streaming apps, and are very easy to use. But ExpressVPN is my favorite VPN in 2022 — it has better speeds, allows streaming and torrenting on every server, it’s much better for gaming, works in countries that restrict access to the internet, has better customer support, and offers an overall better value.

Overall Winner: ExpressVPN

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Is ExpressVPN better than ProtonVPN?

Yes, after careful consideration and dozens of hours of testing each VPN, I can honestly say that ExpressVPN is better than ProtonVPN.

ExpressVPN outperforms ProtonVPN in speed, streaming and torrenting, gaming, bypassing censorship, and customer support.

However, ProtonVPN is still one of the best VPNs on the market. ProtonVPN beats ExpressVPN in extra features, plans and pricing, and privacy.

Also, I couldn’t pick a winner between ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN in security and ease of use — the two providers finished in a tie for each of these categories.

Which one is better for streaming — ExpressVPN or ProtonVPN?

While ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN are both really good VPNs for streaming TV shows and movies, ExpressVPN is better — in my tests, it worked with all of the top streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and many others. It also works with 65+ other streaming apps. And thanks to ExpressVPN’s blazing-fast speeds, I was able to watch content in HD quality and without any buffering. I also like how ExpressVPN’s DNS service (called MediaStreamer) allows you to watch streaming content on gaming consoles and AppleTV.

ProtonVPN is able to access many of the same streaming services as ExpressVPN, but it only works with 30+ streaming services. Also, it’s missing a smart DNS.

Do ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN have free plans?

ProtonVPN has the best free plan out there, but ExpressVPN doesn’t have one.

ProtonVPN’s free plan is one of the only free VPN plans that includes unlimited data. It also has pretty good speeds for a free VPN plan, and it provides strong security and privacy. But it limits you to 1 VPN connection, servers in 3 countries (the US, Japan, and the Netherlands). Also, you don’t get streaming and torrenting support or the ad blocker.

Upgrading to 1 of ProtonVPN’s paid plans gets you the fastest speeds, access to 60+ server locations, access to streaming support and torrenting servers, an ad blocker, and up to 10 simultaneous connections.

While ExpressVPN doesn’t offer a free plan, it backs each paid plan with a 30-day money-back guarantee. This allows you to test out the product risk-free.

Which one is more secure — ExpressVPN or ProtonVPN?

ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN both have top-notch security features.

And in fact, I couldn’t choose a winner (it was a tie).

ExpressVPN includes industry-standard VPN security features like 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, a strict no-logs policy (that’s been audited and confirmed), and extra features like perfect forward secrecy and TrustedServer Technology. Plus, ExpressVPN comes with DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leak protection and secure protocols, including its own proprietary protocol called Lightway.

ProtonVPN also has all of the industry-standard security features, including a no-logs policy that has been independently audited. And it provides full-disk encryption, an ad and malware blocker, and built-in leak protection for DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6.

Which one is faster — ExpressVPN or ProtonVPN?

Both ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN provide really fast speeds, but ExpressVPN comes out on top — which is hardly surprising seeing how this is the fastest VPN on the market.

In my tests, ExpressVPN always provided me with lightning-fast speeds for browsing, torrenting, streaming, and gaming on both nearby and distant servers. I had fast speeds with ProtonVPN too, but I did experience some minor slowdowns on distant servers.

Which one is better for torrenting — ExpressVPN or ProtonVPN?

Both VPNs have good P2P support, as they come with port forwarding (lets you connect to more peers for faster speeds), strong security, and good download speeds.

That said, ExpressVPN is much better for torrenting than ProtonVPN (it’s also the #1 P2P VPN in 2022) because it allows P2P traffic across all 3,000+ of its servers that are located in 90+ countries — ProtonVPN only allows torrenting on 300+ dedicated servers in 16+ countries, so it’s harder to find a nearby server to get fast speeds.

Is ExpressVPN better than ProtonVPN for gaming?

Yes — while Proton is good for gaming, ExpressVPN is the best gaming VPN on the market. It maintains stable ping and fast connections even on distant servers, all of its servers have anti-DDoS protection, it has a router app so that you can easily install the VPN on your router to use it on gaming consoles, and it has support for cloud gaming platforms like Google Stadia and GeForce Now.

ProtonVPN, on the other hand, might cause minor lag on distant servers, and doesn’t have a router app. Also, there’s no guarantee that it will work with cloud gaming services.

Read more about the best VPNs in 2022

About the Author

Tim Mocan
Tim Mocan
Lead Contributor
Updated on: September 1, 2022

About the Author

Tim Mocan is a cybersecurity journalist who has been writing about the VPN industry for the past 5 years. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, eating good food, video games, using VPNs (yes, really!), and watching anime.