ExpressVPN is a premium high-performance VPN whose consistency outshines the competition in speed tests, across one of the biggest server networks in the market. You get very fast reliable access to Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other popular streaming services. Slick custom apps are available for many devices, including Amazon Fire TV, and are very easy to set up and use.
ExpressVPN offers strong encryption and a good range of privacy features, such as a VPN kill switch. Its logging policy is sensible, collecting only anonymous usage stats in order to maintain a large, high-performing network. It even works well in high-censorship countries, such as China. Customer service is best-in-class with 24/7 live support and friendly, helpful agents.
Pricing & Deals
ExpressVPN makes it as easy as possible to decide which plan is for you. They all offer the same features but get cheaper on a monthly basis, the longer your subscription.
A single month is quite expensive at $12.95 but ExpressVPN offers a 49% reduction to $6.67 for a 15-month package, which is great value.
ExpressVPN offers a generous 30-day money-back guarantee in place of a free trial. It’s genuinely “no questions asked” with no hidden catches or restrictions. Your card will be charged when you sign up but any refund is processed within seven days, which makes signing up risk-free and sets them apart from the competition.
You can save yourself money through the refer-a-friend scheme which grants you and your friend 30 days free when they sign up to ExpressVPN. Better still, there’s no limit to the number of friends you can refer.
ExpressVPN accepts a large range of payment options, including most major credit and debit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin and a ton of international options through its partnership with Paymentwall, such as Alipay, Mint, Fanapay, UnionPay and WebMoney.
Speed & Reliability
ExpressVPN has proved itself a truly standout VPN in our performance tests. It outshines its rivals on the sheer consistency of its ultra fast download speeds rather than just a handful of locations. Whatever server you choose, you can expect silky smooth HD streaming and fast large file download, proving that you don’t need to sacrifice performance for the sake of your privacy.
ExpressVPN Performance Data
As you can see, it really is fast. In our latest tests not only did connecting locally provide exceptional average download speeds of up to 190Mbps but you could also expect average speeds of 74Mbps connecting to the US from the UK for example. Even distant connections, such as Sydney to Toronto reached 25Mbps on average, which is excellent and easily fast enough for HD streaming.
We also logged extremely low latency of just under for 2ms users in New York, Frankfurt and Sydney, which makes it an excellent choice not just for privacy-conscious streamers but also gamers and users of P2P technology. Most other locations were well under 5ms ping, Paris being the main exception with a very laggy 160ms.
ExpressVPN connections are also notably reliable, with very little fluctuation in performance over time and negligible-to-no connection drops, assuming a stable internet connection of course.
Upload speeds are solid if less noteworthy, New York aside, which hits 146Mbps on average. On the plus side they are also very consistent, with none of the individual poor performance we have seen on some leading competitors. The average global upload speed is currently 28Mbps.
Our latest tests show that while there may be other VPN with slightly higher speeds logged on individual servers, ExpressVPN is currently unrivaled for high performance across the whole network. For that reason, it’s our pick for the top performing VPN.
ExpressVPN has one of the very largest VPN server networks in the world at close to 100 countries. Few other VPN services even come close to this scale. It also stands out for comprising 2,000+ individual servers. That is a huge number, approaching double the biggest rival network.
This helps ExpressVPN maintain its consistently high standards of performance and reliability despite the constant influx of new users to this very popular service.
The choice of 31 server locations in 20 US cities providing coast-to-coast coverage is hard to beat. The four-city choice in Australia is best-in-class, while seven ultra-fast server locations spread over four UK cities is certainly close to offering the best choice in the current market. In fact, it’s one of our Best VPNs for the UK.
The Asia Pacific region may lack China (although ExpressVPN works very well in that country to unblock censored sites), but it has some excellent other options not otherwise broadly available, such as Macau, Nepal, Laos and Myanmar, alongside more common locations.
Platforms & Devices
ExpressVPN actually offers a much larger than normal range of custom apps for various devices rather than simply providing manual workarounds. Microsoft Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and Linux are all covered but so too are some routers, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Kindle, even Blackberry. The only downside is that you are limited to three simultaneous connections, and while this will still be enough for most, there are providers out there with a more generous offering, such as CyberGhost with a seven-device limit, should you need it.
ExpressVPN has also partnered with Flashrouters to sell pre-configured routers that allow you to protect every device on your network without needing to install multiple apps. Alternatively, you can just use the set-up guides to manually configure your own router.
ExpressVPN also stands out for offering VPN browser extensions, as opposed to the more common proxy extensions that do not encrypt traffic, for not only Google Chrome but also Mozilla Firefox and Safari. These are full-featured and can be installed in two seconds flat if you already have the main app set up. They are a very convenient one-click way to browse securely and privately and notably also block WebRTC leaks, which is a browser issue that can expose your true IP address.
We love that the browser extensions offer the same premium experience as the main apps just in an even more lightweight and convenient form.
ExpressVPN’s Chrome extension has recently undergone an independent audit which concluded: “The impression gained about the ExpressVPN WebExtension is positive and the
project complies with the major security and privacy standards”.
You can also use ExpressVPN with many more devices using its MediaStreamer DNS service by following step-by-step instructions to manually change settings. This includes devices such as Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 and One, PlayStation 3 and 4, Nintendo Wii, Wii U and Switch, Windows Phone and NAS. The sheer range of supported devices exceeded our expectations.
The setup guides are really easy to follow and many include helpful videos. You do have to register your IP address with the service and your traffic is not encrypted, however the trade-off is even better download speeds. Of course you can always simply install the VPN on your router and connect that way should you wish to keep these connections private.
Streaming & Torrenting
For reliability and ease of access to Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other popular streaming services, ExpressVPN is hard to beat. Our latest tests confirmed access to Netflix on most of its US locations, so you have plenty of options to ensure best performance. The fast speeds on offer mean you can take advantage of the HD option and enjoy buffer-free streaming. Access to UK Netflix was also possible through a few of the UK servers, including the Isle of Man and Jersey.
Accessing BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN is also possible but proving to be more difficult in recent months – after speaking with customer support, it looks like you’re only able to watch the service through the VPN if you’re not physically located in the UK. However, it continues to be very popular with fans of other popular streaming services, including Hulu, HBO, Sling TV, Sky, Now TV and PlayStation Vue.
ExpressVPN is also a great choice for Kodi users and anyone who uses torrents as P2P traffic is permitted on all servers, which greatly reduces the risk of congestion and slow speeds. Upload speeds of up to 120Mbps are a plus here along with a privacy-friendly logging policy.
Encryption & Security
ExpressVPN is a market-leader and very robust in this area. You can set the app to automatically select the best performing protocol from the full list but we recommend setting it to OpenVPN, wherever possible. Encryption is via AES-256, a top cipher and considered unbreakable.
The highly effective VPN kill switch is a must-have, shutting down your internet connection should the VPN connection be interrupted for any reason. Another big selling point is that ExpressVPN operates its own zero-log DNS servers, so you can be sure your traffic won’t be routed through any less secure third-party servers. We also didn’t experience any DNS, IPv6 or WebRTC leaks in our tests, a big part of why ExpressVPN comes so highly-recommended for privacy.
Split tunneling is yet another powerful feature you won’t find everywhere, allowing you to protect your browsing without losing access to local network devices, such as printers or smart TVs.
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
- DNS Leak Blocking
- First-party DNS
- IPV6 Leak Blocking
- VPN Kill Switch
- WebRTC Leak Blocking
- Split Tunneling
ExpressVPN is one of the very few services to reliably work in China and other high-censorship countries. The automatic use of a proprietary blend of protocols to provide users with a layer of additional obfuscation helps them overcome these more aggressive blocks.
We strongly recommend ExpressVPN for use in China, as they devote significant resources to outsmarting the censors. They have told us they are absolutely committed to maintaining a reliable service in China, despite the recent major crackdown on VPN use in the country.
The huge choice of server locations is also helpful when using a VPN in high-censorship countries, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, as there will always be nearby servers available for best possible performance.
ExpressVPN has one of the best, most sensible logging policies we’ve seen, balancing privacy and performance. It does not log “browsing history, traffic destination, data content, IP addresses, or DNS queries”. All it collects are very basic usage statistics in order to maintain the high performance levels we’ve seen in our tests across its huge network.
- Dates (not specific times) when connected to the VPN service
- Choice of VPN server location
- Total amount of data transferred per day
This is about as close as you can get to a true zero-logs VPN while maintaining top-of-the-line performance. Nothing collected can be used to identify you due to the non-specific nature of using dates rather than exact times and not logging your originating IP address. If you are looking for a completely zero-logs VPN, there are a handful out there, including PrivateVPN, which doesn’t even collect basic connection metadata. Nevertheless, ExpressVPN’s policy certainly provides the level of privacy needed by most.
A recent report by the CDT (Center for Democracy & Technology) further outlines the measures ExpressVPN takes to ensure customer privacy remains intact, including making their VPN servers very difficult to compromise, minimizing the potential damage if a system were to be compromised, and minimizing the amount of time that a system can remain compromised.
ExpressVPN is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. This puts it beyond the reach of the US authorities and strict EU data regulations. The BVI has no data retention laws nor does it have any intelligence-sharing agreements with the US, UK or other privacy-unfriendly nations.
Importantly, BVI companies are only required to comply with information requests from the BVI High Court. These are only granted to foreign authorities when the alleged crime carries at least a one-year prison sentence under BVI law, had it been committed in the BVI.
Ease of Use
ExpressVPN has the easiest-to-use, best-designed set of apps we’ve tested, whose consistent experience across devices is a big plus for new users. The main screen is stripped back to essentials: a big connect button and simple location options that allow you to star your favorites for even faster access.
Advanced options are hidden behind the top-left burger menu (three horizontal lines), however the minimal, modern design means even inexperienced users are unlikely to miss them. These settings show a level of organization and user-friendliness that few other VPNs have been able to match.
New browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Safari make it even easier to enjoy safe, private browsing. The mobile apps are sleek and very simple to use, but lack some of the security extras included in the desktop apps, such as the VPN kill switch. Even when connection is manual (greatly extending device compatibility), the comprehensive tutorials keep everything user-friendly.
From purchase to connection takes a matter of minutes, which is one of the shortest, simplest set-ups we’ve seen. Whatever your device, there is a beginner-friendly set-up guide on the ExpressVPN website. The general process is to click the set-up links on your welcome email and new account area and then download the relevant software for your device. All that’s left to do after that is follow the sequence of installation prompts, entering your provided activation code when requested.
The prompts themselves are very straightforward to follow but should you somehow get stuck, the set-up guides will get you back on the right track.
- Installing software
- How to use the app
ExpressVPN is among the most customer-focused VPN services out there. It has genuinely 24/7 live chat support (English language only at this stage) as well as outstanding tutorials with videos and screenshots for just about every conceivable issue. ExpressVPN is a clear market leader in this area as the quality of the online documentation makes it a breeze to connect to its network from almost every device you could think of.
Live support is excellent: friendly, quick and very effective. Email response time is also good given the popularity of the service with personable help that deals with your issues rather than semi-automated canned responses that just go round in circles.
The Bottom Line
What we like
- Highly impressive performance – fast, reliable speeds of up to 190Mbps
- Easy access to Netflix and other popular streaming sites
- Very easy to use. Instant set-up on all devices
- Huge global network – connect securely to 94 countries
- Chrome, Firefox and Safari browser extensions are a great added bonus
What we like less
- As a premium product, it commands a premium price
- Connection metadata logging is pretty minimal but could be reduced further
- Only three simultaneous connections
In our view ExpressVPN beats the competition to be the best all-round VPN. It may not be the cheapest option but it offers a premium experience at a reasonable price on longer plans. This is a seriously fast VPN that’s unmatched for consistency and reliability not only for performance but for uninterrupted access to Netflix, iPlayer and other big streaming services. We also really enjoy using the user-friendly apps, which are just click-and-forget.
The only minor gripe is that given how well ExpressVPN supports different devices, permitting just three simultaneous connections is a bit stingy. That said, most won’t need more than that.
Hardcore users who want to manually configure a ton of settings may want to look elsewhere but they would be missing out on a very robust and powerful VPN with a smart approach to privacy that doesn’t sacrifice performance. It also still works well in China, despite being a well-known brand, during various censorship crackdowns, which says a lot about how good it is.