ExpressVPN offers the best VPN service for 2020 suitable for a whole host of purposes with an extensive range of features.
- Tested no-log policy.
- Apps for all devices.
- High levels of encryption.
- Fast speeds across their network.
- Huge range of server locations.
- Unblocks most TV services.
- Expensive monthly price.
- Lesser RSA-key than claimed.
ExpressVPN is a massive name in the VPN industry and they have cemented themselves into the public consciousness when it comes to online privacy protection.
They’ve offered up an outstanding VPN service in recent years but do they still deserve their reputation in 2020?
We’ve tested them to find out.
Over the last year there has been some noticeable increases in both speed and the reliability of the ExpressVPN servers.
Through continued usage and research, we discovered that they are one of the most reliable with very few (if any) random drops or disconnects.
But how does that translate into speeds?
Through some extensive speed testing over the past few months, it’s evident that the service offers some of the fastest download speeds available.
We put ExpressVPN through their paces by downloading a test file on a UK residential connection. Our regular connection speed was 63.42 Mbps.
We tested a selection of ExpressVPN’s servers with the following results:
- UK – 57.42 Mbps
- Netherlands – 56.40 Mbps
- Switzerland – 56.64 Mbps
- Sweden – 56.07 Mbps
- France – 57.04 Mbps
- New York, US – 56.35 Mbps
- Australia – 50.69 Mbps
Using the service for a variety of purposes such as web browsing right through to video streaming caused no issue on the range of servers within our location.
We also tested this across various devices from a Windows desktop to an Android phone and even the Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Even unblocking overseas video from the US and Australia back to us in the UK worked like a charm and we had no trouble streaming HD quality video.
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Speed when using VPN services can vary greatly between one user and another.
A lot depends on your location, the reliability and quality of your internet connection and hundreds of other minor factors that all collectively play a part in your achievable speed.
This is where ExpressVPN’s ‘Smart Location’ feature comes into play.
Whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned pro, it can be difficult only by sight alone to pick the ‘best’ server.
Often this is down to metrics such as distance, latency, speed and individual server utilisation.
Smart Location checks all of these available factors and calculates which is the best for you in your current location. We love this feature because it took out any of the guesswork of where to connect.
In testing we found that in more cases than not the recommended server it connected us to performed much more reliably than merely choosing a server ourselves.
It’s a nice feature and worth checking out.
ExpressVPN claims they are a no-log VPN service. This means they don’t retain any records of what you do while connected.
The service does log some minor connection details but ExpressVPN claim this can’t link you to your activity due to them using Shared IP Addresses. Many users utilise these at the same time.
It’s a bonus that they use Shared IP Addresses because even minimal connection data could finger you for your actions.
Last year ExpressVPN carried out a full audit of their service with PricewaterhouseCoopers which confirmed their no-logging claims. This backs up their claims which were tested some years ago in a high profile assassination case in Turkey.
The audit plus the high-profile case should reassure you that ExpressVPN is keeping to their word.
Express VPN increased their offering from 3 concurrent connections to a reasonable 5 simultaneous connections.
The service has been screaming out for an increase as they were in danger of being left behind.
This now means you can connect multiple devices at the same time with just one account making it an even more cost-effective service.
While it’s still at the lowest end of the scale, for the majority of users, it will be enough.
It’s worth remembering that this limit is devices connected at the same time. There are no limits on the number of devices you can connect the app or activate the service as long as no more than five are connected concurrently.
ExpressVPN is registered in the British Virgin Islands. This means they have no requirements to store any of your details.
While their no-log claims have been audited, it also means there are no local government requirements for them to record or store any such logs.
The BVI is not part of either the 5-eyes surveillance network or the 14-eyes larger group of countries that share intelligence.
If you care about privacy, this is a massive advantage because it means ExpressVPN as a company can’t be obliged by local laws and regulations to share data about the clients or their activity.
ExpressVPN offers customer support via three main methods:
- Live Chat
- Support Ticket
- Direct Email
If you need a quick answer then the live support option is the best route. In our tests we found them to be knowledgeable and able to help with all the regular types of queries you may have.
With a more in-depth question it appeared to be better sending in a support ticket or using their direct email service.
This allows you to explain issues in long-form and ensure they’re being answered by someone with the correct knowledge to assist you.
Overall we found ExpressVPN’s customer service to be helpful and resolved all of the queries we had quickly. A couple of emails did take an hour or so to get a reply but we weren’t waiting overly long periods.
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ExpressVPN offer VPN connection points in 94 countries across the world.
This number hasn’t changed since our last review but offering more server locations than most they haven’t needed to expand on locations.
Servers are available in North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia & Australasia and a small number in the Middle East and Africa.
They’re one of the few services that offer connection points in almost all locations.
Servers are made up of a mixture of physical servers and virtual locations.
These are listed on their website if you’re interested to know the differences. There are however more physical servers than virtual ones.
Does ExpressVPN use Virtual Servers?
Yes, ExpressVPN does use some Virtual Locations, also known as Virtual Servers.
However, this only represents a tiny percentage of their entire network, just 3% in fact.
Their website is completely open about this fact and even lists the handful of locations that are ‘Virtual’.
Some countries such as India have both physical servers in the country and virtual locations. For example, they also have a server located in the UK which when connected to will make it appear like you’re in India.
This is great if you want to access Indian services like TV network, Hotstar for example and get the speed advantage of using a server nearby.
There is nothing inherently wrong with Virtual Locations but it pays to take note of which are virtual versus physical. This enables you to get the best possible speeds and in certain circumstances ensure you’re not connecting via a location you would avoid.
Does ExpressVPN work in China?
Yes, ExpressVPN works in China.
In fact, not only does it work well in China but it’s been one of the most reliable for a several years.
While many VPN services have struggled to keep their service operating in China, apart from a minor issue here and there ExpressVPN has surpassed almost all the competition and their service continues to work well.
In our monthly Chinese speed tests on the ground, we found ExpressVPN to offer some of the fastest speeds.
Not only that but they also offered one of the most reliable connections too.
When it comes to VPN use in China much depends on the network you’re using, the political landscape at the time and even which way the wind is blowing. Our tests have proven that ExpressVPN outperforms most of the competition.
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Does ExpressVPN offer Dedicated IP Addresses?
No, ExpressVPN does not offer Dedicated or Static IP Addresses.
The service has a vast bank of IP Addresses which are rotated. You can on occasion be assigned the same IP Address when connecting to the same location but this isn’t guaranteed and you’re likely to receive a different address each time.
There is also no way to purchase a dedicated IP address for yourself from ExpressVPN even though one or two other competitors like NordVPN do offer this feature.
ExpressVPN does make use of Shared IP Addresses which means when you connect you’ll be assigned an IP Address that is likely in use by other users at the same time.
This is beneficial because it means access from that IP Address is mingled with other user’s activity making it extremely difficult if not impossible to tie any one activity to any user.
Does ExpressVPN provide Double-Hop servers?
No, ExpressVPN does not offer any kind of Double-Hop servers.
Some VPN services like VPN.ac and NordVPN offer servers that push your connection through two locations by merely connecting to one.
This is thought to add an extra layer of security, although it will often have a drastic impact on speed. It usually isn’t suitable for streaming video or downloading at fast speeds.
Unfortunately, ExpressVPN doesn’t offer this feature.
Security & Safety
Protocols & Encryption
ExpressVPN offers access to the OpenVPN (UDP/TCP) and L2TP/IPSec protocols giving you a secure internet connection.
They’ve mainly dropped SSTP support in favour of IKEv2 which you’ll find available across most of their apps.
While they’ve removed SSTP and PPTP in most of their apps, there are a few servers that will still support the latter, although these are very limited.
They do note in some of their apps that using L2TP is a weaker security choice which is a good reminder if you’re new to VPN use.
For protecting your privacy, OpenVPN is what you want to be using.
ExpressVPN uses AES 256-bit encryption here which is an industry standard and is about as high as you’re going to get.
To authenticate your connection (that’s the bit when you’re connecting) an RSA 2048-bit key is used.
They have continued to claim for many years to use a 4096-bit key but through our testing, we’ve discovered this isn’t the case.
It also hasn’t been resolved since we noted this well over two years ago.
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DNS Leak Testing
In testing ExpressVPN for ‘DNS Leaks’, we found that there were no such leaks.
Using the three most popular DNS leak testing services, DNSLeakTest.com, DNSLeak.com and IPX.ac the results were unanimous, ExpressVPN does not leak.
DNS leaks are a serious issue because although it doesn’t allow anyone to discover what you’ve been doing at a particular site, it would allow someone (usually your ISP) to record the websites you visit.
While this isn’t a huge issue visiting Google.com, Facebook.com or Instagram.com for instance.
It becomes more of an problem if you’re visiting sexual health sites, niche sexual interest sites or other websites by name, for example, that you wouldn’t want anyone else knowing.
Are there any ExpressVPN security incidents?
ExpressVPN is one of the few services that hasn’t suffered any known security breaches.
The nearest ExpressVPN came to a security issue which proved their credibility was back in 2017.
A Russian diplomat was assassinated in Turkey. It transpired that an unknown person had deleted evidence that could have helped with the investigation and had used the ExpressVPN service to cover their tracks.
While ExpressVPN clearly distanced themselves from the incident and did not condone the user’s actions they informed Turkish authorities that there was nothing they could provide to assist as they do not keep logs on their user activity.
This alone coupled with a full service audit in 2019, reaffirms their position of protecting their user’s privacy.
Is ExpressVPN safe for Torrenting?
Yes, ExpressVPN allows Torrenting across their entire network.
There are no restrictions on which servers you can use, which means there are no special ‘P2P’ servers that you need to stick to.
- IP Address Masking
When using Torrents, your real IP Address is exposed.
An IP Address is a unique string of numbers linked to your internet connection. Anything you do while online can be attributed to you, including downloading files from Torrent services.
ExpressVPN alters your IP Address, replacing it with one of their secure ones. This means your actions aren’t linked to you, but instead to ExpressVPN’s secure servers.
Here’s what our internet connection reported before and after connecting to ExpressVPN, quite a stark difference:
- No Logs of your Activity
You also have the added advantage that ExpressVPN keeps no-logs of your activity which we touched upon earlier. This means there’s no record of what you download which is extra useful for torrenting.
- Network Lock
VPNs like anything tech are not infallible and anything from an internet connection issue to a wrong button click could lead to disconnection.
When torrenting this means your activity could end up leaking outside the secure VPN connection.
Thankfully ExpressVPN has the useful Kill Switch which cuts your internet connection. This worked well in our tests and on the odd occasion our connection dropped, the ExpressVPN app cut the internet connection instantly until reconnection was established.
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In light of recent incidents from multiple VPN services (ExpressVPN not included), it’s worth considering the security of your VPN service’s servers.
ExpressVPN operates what they call ‘TrustedServer‘.
Basically, this comes down to two main features. All of their servers are run from RAM.
RAM is essentially memory and not a hard-drive like you’re used to on a traditional computer. The difference between RAM and a hard-drive is no data is retained when the system is rebooted.
The usage of RAM is as a memory that is wiped whereas a hard drive is meant to retain data.
While there are one or two other providers operating servers this way, it’s not common and ExpressVPN is essentially the first big VPN service to offer this added security.
Even in the unlikely case that someone was able to breach one of their servers, the next time the server is rebooted, it would be like a completely fresh install and any back doors an intruder had placed would no longer exist.
ExpressVPN offers apps for Android devices, Apple iOS, Windows, Mac and more.
So basically if you’ve got any kind of modern device, you’ll be able to make use of the service.
The design of the Android apps changed a few years back and while functionality has improved over the past year, the redesign has remained.
From the home screen of the app, you can simply connect without doing anything else. If you’re a new user or just need quick one-click protection, you’ll love this feature.
We really like the new ‘Recent Location’ options that adorn the home screen and let you connect quickly to your previous two used locations.
If you need more server choice, a quick click to a second menu reveals ExpressVPN’s ‘Recommended’ locations and their ‘All Locations’ list, both of which are self-explanatory.
There’s a new ‘Shortcuts’ option which allows you to tag apps to the ExpressVPN screen enabling you to launch them quickly after connection without navigating around your phone.
We found this useful for quickly accessing our most-used apps without the need to navigate back to the homepage. So if you want to quickly access social media, your bank or any other type of app you can do so all within the ExpressVPN Android app.
Behind the scenes, there was always very little to get excited about.
While this is still much the case in the protocol area which only allows you to switch between UDP and TCP, there have been some new additions.
Namely, the ‘Split Tunneling’ feature that allows you to set specific apps to fall outside the VPN connection (when connected) and a new ‘Network Protection’ feature that acts as a Kill Switch and allows you to remain connected to your local networks.
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If you’re a user of either the iPhone or iPad, then you’re also catered for.
The app sports a much similar layout to their Android counterpart and also looks visually identical to their desktop apps.
We especially like this because it allows you to move seamlessly between devices. Some other providers have different designs for each device type which can become confusing.
Again, connect was easy to make by clicking the large ‘Power Button’ which connects you to the nearest and most efficient server.
Selecting a different country is also straightforward and each country is split into various locations or you can use their ‘Recommended’ list.
A neat feature that stood out is you can take advantage of a 7-day free trial which isn’t available on other platforms. You’ll need to cancel before the 7-days elapses. Otherwise you’ll be charged but it’s a great way to try the service without payment.
The iOS apps make use of the IKEv2 protocol only so if you need access to another type of protocol you’ll need to set it up manually. However, this is more a limitation of iOS rather than the ExpressVPN app.
Desktop apps are available for Windows and Mac OS systems so just like mobile devices you’re covered with almost all traditional computers.
Both Windows and Mac apps also sport the new interface from a couple of years back and like the mobile apps, nothing in the visual sense has changed since our review last year.
Just like the mobile apps, a connection can be made quickly from the main screen of the app. You can access all the locations simply by clicking a button which opens a new screen giving you a breakdown of continent and country.
The desktop apps are feature rich and include 4 VPN protocols, a Kill Switch, DNS Leak Protection, and IPv6 Leak Protection.
We liked the ‘Split Tunnelling’ option which allows you to select individual apps to fall outside the VPN connection.
Overall the desktop apps are straightforward to use and feature rich.
In comparison to the competition, their desktop apps are not only easier to use but in our tests we found them to connect faster. Definitely one to add to your desktop security arsenal.
ExpressVPN also offers apps for Linux, the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, certain types of Routers plus browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
As with their mobile and desktop counterparts, they’re all simple to use and offer quick connection.
We found the ExpressVPN app for Fire TV to be one of the best.
A standout feature is the app launch bar which is displayed after connection.
Here you can configure a couple of your most commonly used apps to be available within one-click, a blessing on the Fire TV interface.
ExpressVPN’s range of apps all come with the ability to protect your DNS requests through their encrypted servers. What this means in layman’s terms is any web addresses you enter will be sent through ExpressVPN rather than your ISP.
This ensures that the names of the websites you visit do not leak outside the VPN connection. Depending on the names and types of websites you’re visiting this is a significant feature to ensure your privacy is retained.
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Does ExpressVPN support browser extensions?
ExpressVPN supports both Chrome and Firefox with browser extensions.
If you’re after lightweight protection then a browser extension can come in useful and thankfully ExpressVPN offers support for two of the most commonly used browsers.
This allows you to disguise your location in your browser while the rest of your device uses your regular internet connection.
What we like specifically when using the extensions is there are a host of additional features built-in.
- WebRTC Blocking
WebRTC is a feature of most modern web-browsers but unfortunately, it has also been known to leak details of your real location and IP address even when connected to a VPN service.
Both the Firefox and Chrome extensions have built-in support to block such leaks keeping you protected.
- HTTPS Everywhere
HTTPS Everywhere is a browser extension that forces all websites to use the secure HTTPS protocol where possible.
The renowned Electronic Frontier Foundation produced it. Working with the EFF, ExpressVPN has incorporated it into their browser-extensions, making your web connections extra secure by pushing HTTPS when available.
- Location Spoofing
Both the Firefox and Chrome extensions allow you to spoof your web-browsers location on top of changing your actual location via your IP.
This ensures that no outside location data leaks which can in some circumstances stop you from accessing geo-restricted websites, for example.
Does ExpressVPN support VPN Routers?
If you’re after protecting your entire network such as home or small office, then you’ll be pleased to know ExpressVPN supports routers to quite a high-level.
They have set-up guides for all popular models including Asus, Linksys, D-Link, Netgear, TP-Link, Sabai and a handful of others.
There’s also a dedicated app available for some router types.
ExpressVPN link through to their recommended routers available to purchase on Amazon and other third-party companies such as FlashRouters, Sabai Technology and InvizBox will all configure their products for you to work with ExpressVPN.
Does ExpressVPN have an ad blocker?
ExpressVPN does not feature an ad blocker either on their desktop apps, mobile apps or apps for any other kind of devices.
This is a little disappointing as other providers like NordVPN do feature these within their apps.
However, it’s not such as colossal loss because there are already more reliable advertisement blockers available for free such as Adblock Plus.
While it would be a nice addition, it’s not really a feature you need from your VPN service. However, it pays to note you’ll need a separate ad-blocking solution if it’s a feature you’re interested in.
How do the apps compare?
In our tests, we found ExpressVPN’s apps to connect much faster than much of the competition.
While the design is nothing to shout home about the basic layout allows connection without confusion.
We like how you can automatically launch other apps once connected which is uniform across every device from desktop to mobile and even the Amazon Fire TV which comes in useful.
The settings area could use a little tidy up making it easier to enable/disable the options you require and we would love to see a few additional features on the mobile apps.
Overall the apps are functional, have most of the features you’ll require and ultimately allow you to make quick connection with minimal fuss.
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Does ExpressVPN work with Netflix?
One of the standout features of ExpressVPN is their ability to unblock and allow you to stream all the most popular services from across the world.
Netflix is no exception to this and for the past few years there have been no issues watching different regions of Netflix.
It works best with the American Netflix service but also works well with others like the UK and Canadian versions.
In our testing, we had no trouble connecting to any of the supported locations and streaming on devices like desktops, phones and tablets.
You may struggle a little to unblock different regions on the Amazon Fire TV devices as Netflix requires a ‘reset’ before displaying the new countries catalogue.
It may also work with some other regions too but your mileage will vary for these.
Does ExpressVPN work with BBC iPlayer?
As with Netflix, we had no issues watching BBC iPlayer using the ExpressVPN service.
You can connect to any of their UK locations and stream iPlayer. It works well for both live streaming or using the catch-up service.
It’s also possible to watch BBC iPlayer via the TVPlayer website as this also works with ExpressVPN.
Does ExpressVPN work with Disney+?
Yes, ExpressVPN works well with Disney+.
ExpressVPN even claims they are the “best VPN for streaming Disney+” so you can be sure they support accessing the service.
Sometimes internet providers across the world slow down connections that are streaming high-quality video, especially at peak times. By using ExpressVPN with Disney+, you may even notice enhanced performance.
Does ExpressVPN work with Amazon Prime?
Yes, ExpressVPN works with both the US and UK edition of Amazon Prime.
You will need to connect to either their United States or United Kingdom location to stream the relevant catalogue.
In testing, we found there to be no issues when using a desktop but you may have more trouble when using a phone or tablet. We weren’t successful when using the Amazon Fire TV Stick, so bear this in mind.
In our continual tests, ExpressVPN outperforms most providers when it comes to unblocking content from across the world.
They work best with services from North America, Europe and Australia.
Our tests saw them work with Hulu, YouTube TV, NBC Sports, Sky Go, BT Sport, ITV Hub, TenPlay, 7Plus and more.
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Prices and Plans
ExpressVPN follows the industry standard when it comes to the packages they offer. While many VPN services have started to provide more extended subscription periods, ExpressVPN has stuck to the classic 1-month, 6-months and 12-months packages.
Current prices on the ExpressVPN website at the time of writing are:
- 1-month – $12.95 p/m (~£9.85)
- 6-months – $9.99 p/m (~£7.60)
- 12-months – $6.67 p/m (~£5.07)
The 1-month package from ExpressVPN is the least cost-effective and in all honesty, a little expensive.
It’s also marginally more expensive than other providers.
You should opt for the 12-month package because it’s nearly half the price of paying monthly. They also throw in 3-months completely free, which means you essentially get 15 months for the price of 12.
However, like many VPN services, Express VPN is offering huge discounts on a year’s worth of privacy protection. It’s where you’ll find the highest value.
There’s a full 30-day money back guarantee available allowing you to test the service risk-free and see if it’s suitable for you.
You can make payment using a huge range of payment types including Credit / Debit card, Paypal, Bitcoin, AliPay, UnionPay, iDeal, Klarna, WebMoney, GiroPay, Interac, Mint, Fantapay, OneCard and a few others.
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How does the price compare?
It goes without saying that ExpressVPN is one of the more expensive VPN services.
If you’re looking for cheap for ‘cheap’s sake’ then it’s probably not the provider for you.
However, in our opinion, you pay for what you get and with the added features, quality of service and multitude of services that ExpressVPN works with, it’s well worth the money.
But how does that compare to the competition?
Well, closest competitor NordVPN is $1 cheaper when paying monthly (ExpressVPN being $12.95 with NordVPN being $11.95).
There is no six-month option from NordVPN so ExpressVPN wins here if you only need a bi-yearly subscription.
ExpressVPN’s yearly price works out at $6.67 a month compared to NordVPN, which is $6.99, so a marginal saving.
After this NordVPN has some even more cost effective two and three year packages. Subscription lengths of this type aren’t available from ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN is the best VPN this year and stands out amongst the competition.
They offer one of the best all-round VPN services we’ve seen and are excellent for a variety of uses.
Their tested and audited no-log policy, high encryption levels and being registered off-shore will satisfy your needs if you’re privacy-conscious and looking for a service to keep you secure.
Coupled with their massive range of apps that cover all the most popular devices and an enormous range of servers and you’ve got plenty of choices.
Download speeds are above average and apart from the minor speed loss which is to be expected by any VPN due to encryption, there is little else to complain about here.
We like that the service works with and unblocks most popular streaming services from around the world and we found they worked with more TV services than most of the competitors.
The monthly price of the service is expensive and we wouldn’t recommend paying monthly.
It’s a better option to take their yearly package which will keep the costs down as it works out nearly 50% cheaper. They’ve also got a promotion right now giving you three months free.
Add in their 30-day money back guarantee and you can test the service risk-free for an entire month. If you don’t agree with our assessment, then just get yourself a refund question free.
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What do users’ think?
ExpressVPN has a TrustScore of 4.7 / 5 on review website TrustPilot.
Peter McNabb said “ExpressVPN is an excellent product with great support to back it up. Whether you are looking for anonymous browsing, bypassing Geo-restrictions, or P2P sharing, ExpressVPN is a great choice.”
René Schulz said “I have cancelled automatic renewel two times, but they still keep charging me. Not recommended.”
Oleg G said “Very fast and reliable. I’ve tried several VPNs before ExpressVPN, on my opinion it is the best one.”
Ben Graham said “The service is excellent for the price and offers much more than other VPN hosts“.