ExpressVPN
Visit ExpressVPN
Overall Rating 91%Excellent
Features
90%Excellent
Pricing
75%Good
Ease of Use
96%Excellent
Supported Devices
88%Very Good
Server Locations
100%Excellent
Speed
95%Excellent
Security & Privacy
94%Excellent
Customer Service
92%Excellent

Browse a few VPN forums and you’ll quickly discover that ExpressVPN is one of the most talked-about services today. Most of what you’ll hear is pretty good, too.

Here at Cloudwards.net we think ExpressVPN is the best VPN service out there, thanks to its combination of security, speed, server locations and support. The downside? It doesn’t come nearly as cheap as another forum favorite, Private Internet Access, as you can read in our PIA review.

Should you go cheap or splurge? During this updated ExpressVPN review, we’ll be taking a revised look at the service to determine if its still the best way to protect your anonymity while browsing online. We’ll detail its feature set, server options and show you why it’s our top choice in our VPN comparison chart.

If you’re ready to give it a test run, you can sign up for service at ExpressVPN and nab a full refund within 30 days if you decide it doesn’t meet your needs.

Alternatives for ExpressVPN

Starts from
$ 5.00 per month
VyprVPN Review
  • Easy to use
  • Great security
  • Up to 5 connections
  • Clients for most OSes
  • No refund after 3 days
  • Some logging
  • No encryption on basic plan
VyprVPN
Starts from
$ 6.95 per month
Private Internet Access Review
  • Solid speeds
  • 3,193+ servers across the globe
  • Clients for all major platforms
  • Zero logging policy
  • Built-in blocker for adware & malware
  • No trial version (PIA offers a 7-day refund policy)
  • Doesn’t work with Netflix
  • Can only select servers by region
Private Internet Access
Starts from
$ 5.75 per month
NordVPN Review
  • No-fuss installation
  • 821 servers in 57 countries
  • Gets into Netflix
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • Killswitch
  • IP leak protection
  • Wi-Fi protection
  • Not very fast
  • No native Linux app
  • Manual setup for Linux and routers
NordVPN

Strengths & Weaknesses

ExpressVPN has an impressive set of strengths that cements its place atop the VPN food chain. That includes a better combination of server locations and security options than any other VPN service we’ve tested. While a bit expensive and limited to just three device connections at a time, there’s really not much to dissuade a strong recommendation. 

Features

90% – Excellent

ExpressVPN comes with all the features required for a safe, anonymous browsing experience.

That includes access to over 1500 servers around the world and even more IP addresses. When it comes to connection options, no other VPN service currently matches the bar set by ExpressVPN (read our TorGuard review for the only service that comes close).

Better yet, there are no limits on how often you can switch IP addresses. You can automatically connect to a recommended server, select one manually and perform speed tests to optimal connections. We’ll talk more about these options when we discuss locations later on in this review.

We’ll also be delving into deep into the various security features that come with a subscription. Briefly, however, these include OpenVPN tunneling, a killswitch, DNS and IPv6 leak protection and automatic connectivity.

ExpressVPN clients are available for desktop and smartphone operating systems and up the three simultaneous connections can be maintained at once. You can also install ExpressVPN on your home router to protect your entire WiFi network.

That way, you can extend protection to your game consoles, smart TVs and other devices.

ExpressVPN lets you set up split tunneling on your router so that some devices are VPN protected and others aren’t. That way, if you don’t want to run things like network printers or IoT devices through a VPN server, you don’t have too. The company also recently launched a split tunneling feature for its Mac client that lets you control which apps are protected.

As far as circumventing the Netflix VPN ban goes, ExpressVPN is our top pick for the best VPN for Netflix; the only downside is that you may have to switch servers every few weeks or so to stay ahead of the streaming giant. Fans of British TV will be happy to know ExpressVPN is also the best VPN for BBC iPlayer.

We didn’t have the same luck with Amazon Video or Hulu, however, so If there’s a particular streaming service that you want to use, it’s best to test that service as soon as you sign up to ExpressVPN. That way, if it doesn’t work, you can take advantage of the service’s 30-day refund policy.

ExpressVPN also gives you access to a Smart DNS service. As a DNS proxy, Smart DNS can obscure both your IP address and location. It does so by redirecting web activity through a remote server; anyone monitoring your activity will think its server IP address doing the browsing.

In that regard, Smart DNS acts very much like a VPN tunnel. The difference is that routing data packets through a proxy server is faster because there’s no encryption involved. That means more nimble P2P connections and better VOIP quality.

What’s missing with ExpressVPN? Not much. We’d like to see a tracker for Internet connection speed while VPN tunneling is on and the ability to set automatic connections for specific WiFi networks.

Both of those features are pretty rare, however; check out our VyprVPN review if that’s something that interests you. Another miss is automatic IP switches based on a set timer, like you can read about in our IPVanish review.

Pricing

75% – Good

ExpressVPN has three different price points depending on the length of your subscription: one month, 12 months and six months.


PlanMonthlySemi-AnnuallyAnnually
Price Plan
$ 12 95monthly
$ 59 956 months
$ 99 95yearly
Bandwidth Unlimited GB Unlimited GB Unlimited GB
Included Devices 3 3 3
Bitcoin

Even at 12 months, ExpressVPN isn’t exactly cheap. In fact, its one of the more expensive VPN services. Private Internet Access (PIA) costs just $39.95 a year. However, while PIA is a great service in its own right, it doesn’t have the feature set and server selection of ExpressVPN.

There’s no question ExpressVPN isn’t catering to bargain shoppers; it’s target demographic are technophiles who desire extensive global reach, strong security and no sacrifice in speed. Picking between PIA and ExpressVPN is kind of like choosing between a Prius and a Tesla Model X.

ExpressVPN doesn’t offer a trial, however, it does have one of the most generous money-back guarantees of any VPN service we’ve reviewed at 30 days. Payments can be made with credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin and several other options.

Ease of Use

96% – Excellent

Once you paid for your ExpressVPN subscription, you’ll receive an email with the subject line “get started with ExpressVPN.” That email will have a link which will redirect you to the ExpressVPN website to get you set up.

There, you’ll find client download links and an activation code.

Once you download and install the desired client, you’ll need the activation code to actually sign into it.

Logged in, you’re ready to start tunneling.

You can either pick a server location to route through, or you can let ExpressVPN automatically pick a “smart location.” The client uses anonymized data to pick this location, including download speed, latency and distance. This option is best if you all you care about is anonymity and speed.

If searching for a specific server, clicking “choose location” will open a search window.

You can search for cities or countries, browse recommended servers or browse by geographic region. You can also tag favorite locations for faster connections later.

Once you made your choice, just click the power button to connect. The client will go through a connection process and turn green once connected. We found this process took around 30 seconds to complete, which is a little longer than we’ve experienced with other VPNs.

Once connected, you can verify that you’re safe by clicking the “check my IP” button below where it shows your connection location.

To disconnect, just click the power button again. ExpressVPN also creates a taskbar icon for quick connects and disconnects so you don’t even have to use the client.

In the summer of 2017, the company also launched a nifty Chrome add-on to simplify things even more for its users.

The ExpressVPN mobile app looks and operates almost identically to the desktop client, which we appreciate because it doesn’t require any process adjustments. Consistency is very important when it comes to a seamless user experience.

That’s all there is to it; ExpressVPN should be easy enough for any user to get running in relatively short order and has one of the more streamlined interfaces of any service we’ve reviewed, without being too bare bones.

While simple on the surface, it also packs many features which are accessible through the hamburger menu located on the top-left side of the desktop client.

We mentioned some of these settings when discussing features earlier, and will talk more about them in the sections to come, so we’re not going bother diving into them here.

Supported Devices

88% – Very Good

ExpressVPN clients are available for multiple different operating systems. This includes the usual suspects, Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. However, it also includes Amazon Kindle, several versions of Linux and extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari.

Manual setup can also be performed for smart TVs, Apple TV, Playstation and Xbox.

A single ExpressVPN subscription can be used to maintain three simultaneous connections. That’s not bad, though many other VPN services offer more. For example, Private Internet Access and IPVanish both allow five simultaneous connections. NordVPN allows six (read more about that in our NordVPN review).

If you need to protect more than three devices, you can install ExpressVPN on your home WiFi router so long as it’s supported. ExpressVPN has router clients for several Linksys router types. Alternatively, several routers brands have firmware that support VPN configuration.

If your router doesn’t have supporting firmware, you can flash it with DD-WRT or Tomato. That process can be a little bit tricky. If you decide to flash your router, be sure and follow the appropriate ExpressVPN installation tutorial so as not to damage it.

Server Locations

100% – Excellent

ExpressVPN has the most extensive and diverse server network of any VPN service that we’ve reviewed, allowing users to virtually appear just about anywhere in the world. That includes over 1500 servers in 94 countries and 145 cities.

You find locations on every major continent and can quickly search for locations based on region from the desktop client.

Each server location has many IP addresses associated with it; every time you connect you’re randomly assigned one.

Speed

95% – Excellent

One of the most important aspects of selecting a VPN is finding one that doesn’t dramatically reduce your connection speeds. Given that you’re rerouting your Internet traffic through a server that could be potentially hundreds or even thousands of miles away, you can expect some slowdown. However, the best services minimize this impact with good infrastructure.

To find out how well ExpressVPN performs, we conducted several speed tests from a location just outside of Boston, MA. These tests were conducted over a WiFi network with download speeds of approximately 214 Mbps and 12 Mbps.

We conducted tests tunneling through ExpressVPN’s recommended server location of New York, in addition to tunneling through London and Hong Kong.

Here are the results:


Speeds:Download:
Upload:
VPN Off:214 Mbps12 Mbps
New York:135.47 Mbps10.89 Mbps
London:20.12 Mbps10.00 Mbps
Hong Kong:14.35 Mbps
1.58 Mbps

The drops appear rather larger, although generally speaking the percentage of drop is always larger for faster connections. A WiFi connection of 30 Mbps would show a smaller drop.

ExpressVPN vs PIA

For a little perspective, let’s compare to Private Internet Access, which is often lauded for its excellent speeds. When routing through the U.S. East server network using PIA, here are the speeds we saw:

That’s 64.69 Mbps down and 11.35 Mbps up, meaning download speeds were over 100 percent faster routing through ExpressVPN’s New York server. ExpressVPN’s download speeds, meanwhile, were about 10 percent slower. Advantage, ExpressVPN.

One issue we did notice is that ExpressVPN seems to take quite a bit of time initializing connections, often taking 30 to 60 seconds to connect regardless of how close the server is. PIA, meanwhile, connects in just a few seconds.

On a side note, ExpressVPN has an great speed test feature built into its client to help you check server speeds around the work. There are a lot of connects to test, but you can save the results when it completes for faster reference later.

According to ExpressVPN, it does not artificially limit or throttle bandwidth and based on our tests, that seems to be the truth.

Security & Privacy

94% – Excellent

The goal of a VPN service is to spoof your identity and location to ensure your anonymity. As such, there are no more fundamentally important attributes to evaluate than a service’s approaches to security and privacy. Happily, these are two more areas where ExpressVPN really shines.

ExpressVPN has range security features to help keep your identity safe, starting with the ability to choose between multiple different encryption protocols. These include OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP and SSTP.

You can choose your protocol by clicking “options” in the client menu and selecting the “protocol” tab of the settings window that opens.

Many VPNs today stick with OpenVPN, which is considered the best VPN protocol to use thanks to its combination of security and speed. ExpressVPN uses 256-bit AES as its OpenVPN cipher, which would theoretically take a supercomputer several billion years to brute-force crack.

ExpressVPN also gives you the option to use either TCP or UDP for your OpenVPN connection. Generally you’ll want to opt for TCP because it’s the more reliable of the two thanks to algorithms that perform packet verification; if you require a little extra speed, then try UDP.

The inclusion of SSTP as a protocol option by ExpressVPN is interesting, and not something you’ll find with most VPNs. SSTP is proprietary protocol engineered by Microsoft and many security experts claim it’s as secure than OpenVPN for Windows machines. However, since it isn’t open source, that’s a difficult claim to validate.

We’d recommend staying away from using the other protocols with ExpressVPN. PPTP is fast, but widely rumored to be have been cracked by the NSA. L2TP/IPSec is safer, but slow.

Secure Connections

During our time playing with ExpressVPN, we didn’t experience any connection issues. However, any VPN connection can fail, and should that happen your activity could be left exposed to ISPs, hackers and others. To make sure that doesn’t happen, ExpressVPN has taken the step of adding a network locking “killswitch.”

Should your VPN connection drop, this kill switch will also immediately halt your Internet connection to keep you activity shielded.

ExpressVPN also has DNS and IPv6 leak protection in place, which works by forcing all traffic through the VPN tunnel without exception.

DNS and IPv6 leaks occur when an operating system sends requests to your ISP’s DNS server to translate website URLs into IP addresses. These leaks shouldn’t happen often with a VPN tunnel active, but sometimes do unless preventive measures are built in.

ExpressVPN also lets you automatically connect to the last server used when the app launches. If you also have ExpressVPN configured to start automatically when your computer boots, you’ll always be protected.

ExpressVPN Privacy

In terms of privacy, users of ExpressVPN are assured of completely anonymous browsing thanks to a strong no-logging policy. As per the its privacy policy, the company will not track your browser history, traffic content, IP addresses used or DNS queries. By no logging this information, ExpressVPN can never be compelled to report specific user activity that data data does not exist.

Server IP addresses are shared between users, making it even harder for anyone to track your usage.

The company also tracks some minor aggregate information about your usage, including the total amount of data you consume, as well as information on about which VPN locations you’ve connected and on which days. This information is gathered for technical support and the company does not log what IP addresses you use or what time of day your connections occurred.

ExpressVPN also logs a minimal amount of additional non-identifying data in order to improve its network. You can opt out of having even anonymized data logged by unchecking the option send that data to the company before logging in.

In addition to a solid privacy policy, ExpressVPN supports several non-profit digital rights groups, including:

Finally, ExpressVPN is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, where privacy laws are generally stronger compared to the United States.

Customer Service

92% – Excellent

ExpressVPN provides 24/7 help desk support, which is uncommon for a VPN service. Telephone support isn’t an option, but you can contact the company via live chat.

We found support technicians to be friendly, knowledgeable and articulate.

While live chat is the way to go for a fast a response, there’s someone always answering emails, too. We send a few test questions to ExpressVPN during the evening hours and received responses back within two hours.

ExpressVPN also maintains a nice support page. There, you’ll find both tutorials and troubleshooting guides. While not exactly support, ExpressVPN also keeps a regular blog to help users keep abreast of new product features, tips and other news.

Overall, VPN support doesn’t get much stronger than ExpressVPN, which is likely a big reason it’s earned such a strong reputation among consumers.

The Verdict

ExpressVPN is a snappy service that lives up to its name by blowing most VPN services away in the speed department.

Of course, VPN services are about much more than just speed. They’re also about protecting user privacy, and in that regard, ExpressVPN again earns top marks among our VPN reviews thanks to OpenVPN encryption and excellent supplemental security features.

No, it isn’t cheap, but ExpressVPN pays dividends in user experience. A minimalistic interface means you’ll spend minutes (instead of hours) becoming VPN-literate. When you do run into trouble, ExpressVPN’s customer support network offers 24/7 live chat support and a vast library of tutorials and troubleshooting guides.

If you want to save a buck, there are numerous free options available — provided you don’t mind congested networks and the possibility of having your data sold to the highest bidder.

ExpressVPN retains our regard as the best VPN service that money can buy. Of course, we’re open to other thoughts on that subject, so feel free to hit us up in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.

ExpressVPN Review

Fast and easy to use, ExpressVPN is a great service

ExpressVPN is a fast, friendly and easy-to-use service that time and again gets the top spot in our ranking; read our review to find out why.
Starts from
$ 8.33 per month
Visit ExpressVPN
Starts from
$ 8.33 per month
Visit ExpressVPN
  • Fast tunneling speeds
  • Kill switch
  • Servers in 94 countries
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • Only three simultaneous connections
  • Slow initial server connection
  • No automatic IP switching
ExpressVPN