ExpressVPN Review

For the last decade, ExpressVPN has become one of the largest VPN services on the market. Founded back in 2009, they continued to gain popularity over the years thanks to having a hands-on approach to their network infrastructure, all while keeping a very simple interface that even grandma can use. Their service is well rounded in terms of speed and global coverage, and includes additional functionality from Smart DNS servers to custom network router firmware allowing you to connect an unlimited amount of devices. ExpressVPN is not the cheapest subscription available, but they have excellent security. Their customer service and refund policy is also stellar. In this review, I will dig into the pros and cons of this provider, and how well it performs in 2019.

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Security and Privacy

Very few VPN companies can claim to add security to the actual infrastructure of their servers. Every step of the way, ExpressVPN has employed proper layers of security to ensure that every connection made between their client and servers remain secure. This includes symmetric data-channel encryption between the app and the servers, perfect forward secrecy, and HMAC authentication. These protocols provide a premium level of security when using a VPN. ExpressVPN also notably patches all their servers within 24 hours of any CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) to have been found. Taking it yet a step further, every server can only be used for a maximum of 24 hours before being formatted by ExpressVPN’s automated system. The OS and patches are re-installed before being placed back in service, essentially rebuilding every server once a day. This limits the amount of time any attacker or hacker can try to breach a given server. The company operates their own server hardware infrastructure, but to make the automation possible, and although not consumer facing, their web tools are run on AWS, Amazon’s cloud hosting.  Overall, these features alone elevate the security available, as most VPN services currently rent out third-party VPN and DNS servers. For ExpressVPN, the whole service is designed to reduce all risks, including possible breaches and exploits on the servers themselves by limiting the amount of time and data available to attackers.

Having strategically registered their headquarters in the British Virgin Islands, the company does not have any data retention laws to follow. More importantly, ExpressVPN does not keep any activity or connection logs whatsoever. They stand-by not retaining any activity, DNS queries, or user logs of any sort, and have setup their servers to delete any sensitive data related to queries, metadata, IPs, and websites visited. Beyond the minimal crash logs used for troubleshooting and debugging, you can rest assured that none of your activity is logged when using this VPN. Although you need an email address to signup to the service, you can pay using Bitcoin for better billing privacy.

The service offers encryption through the standard protocols ranging from the best option. OpenVPN over UDP or TCP, to SSTP as well as much less secure L2TP and PPTP protocols in case that’s all your device can use. When using the recommended OpenVPN protocol, ExpressVPN employs up-to-date AES-256-bit CBC encryption matched with SHA-514 RSA 4096-bit keys. As mentioned, additional perfect forward secrecy changes keys every time you connect, and symmetric encryption is used to ensure that all connections made between the client and servers also remain encrypted against attackers.

The company also runs their own DNS servers to eliminate the risk of third-party data leaks. The client provides DNS and IPv6 leak protection that is turned on by default.  Also turned on by default is a kill switch that can be found under the ‘General’ menu, and is referred to as ‘Network Lock’. A kill switch is an important feature to avoid having your real IP or DNS leak if your VPN server happens to disconnect. This could also lead to having online services detect the usage of a VPN and block you. I like the fact that all leak protection features are on by default, eliminating the risk for new or beginner VPN users.

IP and DNS Leak Test

Together, the team at VPNPick tested and re-tested over 60 different server locations since 2019, and not once did we detect any kind of leak. Over the years, the service continues to pass all data leak testing we throw at it. No matter what service provider I might be using, I regularly run IP, DNS and WebRTC leak tests to make sure the VPN is working the way it should. Therefore even when using a premium service like ExpressVPN, I still test it as soon as I connect to a new server, and I have yet to be disappointed. Great overall security offered through all of their apps. And since IP and DNS leak protection is on by default, new users don’t have to be concerned with turning them on before use.

Features

At this time, ExpressVPN’s network counts more than 3000 servers across some 160 cities in 94 different countries. It’s safe to say they now truly serve a global subscriber base. No matter where you are located, or where you want to connect to, the selection will likely have you covered. Matched with good speeds, you can find a server in the location of your choice and use it for every imaginable application. Streaming Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now using US based servers, or BBC One on UK based servers. Downloading P2P torrents with fast speeds and no bandwidth limits. Or you can simply browse privately with no restrictions. The ExpressVPN app is simple and stripped down to essentials, making it more accessible to all users, newbie and veteran alike. Selecting a server is done through the ‘Recommended’ list for the fastest and most popular options, or you can drill down by continent under the ‘All’ tab. A Split tunneling option is available under the General settings. The Split tunneling allows you to create a list of apps that by-passes the VPN and uses your public internet IP when needed.

The app can be installed on every platform. Client software is available for Windows, Mac, Linux,  iOS, Android, Blackberry, and even Amazon Fire TV and Kindle Fire devices. Browser extension tools are also available for Chrome and Firefox, and have been externally audited to better ensure they are safe to use. All versions are quick to install and the interface is simple to use. You can get connected in a matter of seconds from launch. For everything else, a complimentary and very fast Smart DNS service is provided through the website. Simply select the type of device you need to setup, such as an Xbox, Playstation, or Apple TV, and you’re quickly presented with a DNS server IP and a step-by-step graphical tutorial to guide your setup as easily as possible. Smart DNS does not encrypt your traffic, and is not an option for privacy, but if all you need is to unblock geographically restricted content like Hulu or Netflix, the solution is possibly better for you since you don’t loose any bandwidth speed, whereas encrypted servers will reduce your speeds to different degrees.

But what if you want privacy and security across all your devices? In most cases, the only solution is to run a VPN router, but purchasing a pre-configured router from existing options is quite an expensive, and arguably complex process. For beginners who are not familiar with Wi-Fi router firmware modifications, or the firmware options themselves, the learning process to successfully modify and configure your own VPN router can be very daunting. This is why some companies offer pre-configured routers at a cost. Firmware is essentially the software that runs the a piece of hardware, in our case, a Wi-Fi router. This software needs to be changed from the original manufacturer option because they almost always lack the ability to add VPN configurations. However once changed, custom firmware allows you to connect to a VPN server directly at the router level, essentially encrypting all of your internet devices, hard wired, or Wi-Fi connected.

ExpressVPN offers their own custom OpenWRT router firmware for quite a few different Wi-Fi router models. What this means is that you can easily download and update the firmware on your router to ExpressVPN’s custom dashboard, and without having to do any additional configuration, all of the servers will be available for you to use directly on the router, which is accessible through your web browser. The end result is that you can have every single device on your network pass through an encrypted VPN server at the router level, instead of having to use individual apps on your devices. This also allows gaming consoles or non-supported devices to now pass through the VPN server connection as well. And the final advantage, is that you no longer have to worry about any limits on simultaneous devices, since all the devices are simply using a single user slot. Of course, ExpressVPN provides handy tutorials and guides on how to access your router dashboard, install the firmware, and connect to servers of your choice.  They even make it easy to access your router, by re-directing expressvpnrouter.com to your local device IP. The biggest advantage is arguably not having to configure the firmware after installing it. It’s all ready to use, and very easy to learn.

Beyond all the security features already covered, the client also provides a built in Speed Test which allows you to test a large number of servers at once. Since the server lists do not provide any additional data, this tool becomes useful to quickly pull average ping times and download speeds. The results provide an excellent reference point for quickly finding the servers that are likely to give you the best speeds. You can choose to test all the available servers, a single continent, or only the recommended server list. Beyond this tool, the app remains very basic, and does not have any additional bells and whistles, however, because all servers act as general purpose, there is no need to have any specific lists or features that would rather be useless to the user. Keep it simple stupid is a good strategy to better cater to wide adoption.  Typically, I rather have ping times automatically display without having to run a speed test, but at least the tool works quickly, and I could run through all the servers in the matter of a couple of minutes. It’s also possible to favorite servers to quickly access them later.

Overall speeds remain some of the best available under adequate levels of encryption on OpenVPN. I often found myself attaining better speeds than those shown on the Speed Test tool. For example, in the image above, the fastest servers capped at around 40 Mbps, but when I manually selected servers on speedtest.net, I was able to achieve speeds as high as 70 to 80 Mbps on the same servers. It’s good to remember that all speed tests are relative to the servers available, and you might get better or worse speeds depending on the applications and websites you end up using. Results and mileage will vary depending on your own location, internet connection, as well as server location you will be opting to use, but when comparing ExpressVPN, it remains one of the fastest VPN services I have tested.

Netflix and Streaming Test

ExpressVPN was tested successfully to unblock Netflix US, UK, as well as a multitude of other platforms including Hulu, HBO, BBC One and Sky TV. The unlimited bandwidth matched with excellent speeds make this VPN a good choice for streaming high definition content. The company regularly cycles their IP addresses, making it near impossible for websites to permanently block the service. However, keep in mind that some websites also use cookies to track your real location, therefore if you still find yourself being blocked, it is important to log off public email services like gmail, and clear your cache and cookies before attempting to connect once more. ExpressVPN does not label any of their servers for specific uses such as Netflix. Since all the servers are considered premium and optimized, you can select any server for your region that is closest or fastest to your location for best results, regardless if it’s for streaming, downloading or gaming.

Pricing

If you compare the cost of subscription for ExpressVPN with other competitors, you’ll likely quickly notice that the service costs a few dollars more than most.  For starters, a single month costs $12.95, and the yearly typically provide a savings of 35%, bringing the monthly cost down to $8.32. However, VPNPick visitors can benefit from a special offer on the yearly plan by using any of the links on this page or website. An additional 3 monthpnoffer.php”>a special offer on the yearly plan by using any of the links on this page or website. An additional 3 months will be added to the yearly subscription, bringing cost down by 49% for an equivalent monthly fee of $6.67.  At this rate, the cost most certainly becomes competitive, but best of all, if for any reason you are not satisfied, ExpressVPN has a no questions asked 30-day money back satisfaction guarantee refund policy. This is ample time to test the service for a couple weeks or more, and really determine if it meets your needs before having to commit your hard earned money. Every plan allows up to 5 simultaneous connections, and with the available router firmware, you can use an unlimited number of devices by running a single VPN connection through a compatible network router at no extra cost.

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Customer Support

expressvpn-supportA common denominator for a legitimate service, is great customer support. Available 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week, ExpressVPN support is available to help assist in setting up your devices, or troubleshooting any issue you might encounter when using their service. Support is accessed through a live chat, providing a much faster response than traditional ticketing systems. The website includes a wealth of informative setup guides and tutorials which include images for every step, making the process simpler, even for beginners. The response time for tickets and live chat remains impressive. Along with the company’s strong infrastructure maintenance, you can expect some of the best service possible from the support team. It’s worth saying that the 30-day money back guarantee can be considered stamp of trust and confidence in the service. Most providers have opted to shorten the refund period to 7 days or less. Regardless of your experience, you can always opt out before the end of your first month.

Conclusion

There are over 100 active VPN service providers to choose from at  this time, but not many come close to providing a truly secure solution. Although ExpressVPN’s app design is simple, the work the company puts under the hood, running their own servers with tight security is something only the best premium VPNs offer. A solid no log policy, 24 hour server cycles, and regularly patched infrastructure provides some of the best security you can hope for. Complimentary Smart DNS servers for streaming devices like gaming consoles or Apple TV make it possible to unblock geographically restricted content, regardless of what device you use. And if you rather have a VPN on every device, you can try out their own router firmware that makes it easy to connect and change servers directly from your browser. The support team is available at all hours to assist in answering questions you might face with using the service. ExpressVPN also has one of the largest selections of countries and cities all around the world, and with a 30-day no questions asked refund policy, you can test this VPN without risking wasting a single dollar. If you’re looking for the cheapest VPN, there are other choices, but if you want a premium quality service, I highly recommend at least trying ExpressVPN for a few weeks.

79 Comments

  1. California Girl
    All I can say is all of you companies promoting apps and programs such as these are missing the MOTHER LODE of target areas. I am a former Baby Boomer (68), and have only a clue of what you are talking about. HOWEVER, I was NOT born in a cave, nor reared by an animal . . . I have SO MUCH trouble with SECURITY in general that I have an adware virus, compliments of Comcast.Xfinity computer rep, and I use the term loosely, who ACTUALLY gave a fake Microsoft scam company remote access to my computer! Since then i have been living in HELL and Comcast wants NOTHING TO DO with trying to fix the problem they created. So, I am back to school, online. I know I need one of these and will get one. But SOMEONE needs to EDUCATE the Boomers on all this. YOU COULD MAKE A FORTUNE! The companies themselves cannot be bothered!
    Hope I get the right one that works with Comcast AFTER I get this virus blown away. Be good all you young people, and have FUN, this is your time!

  2. Signed up for Netflix. I was miffed at first but after spending a few mins with their support I was able to find the right servers to stream. So glad it works.

  3. Switched over from IPVanish and Im so glad I did because ExpressVPN is probably the only VPN that still unblocks Netflix. Never looking back.

  4. Opted for the 6-months subscription thinking I was going to need it only for a semester I was studying abroad but decided to save some money every month and put towards it. Really worth it.

  5. I’m not paranoid or anything, but I really don’t like the idea of all these companies ( public or private ) being able to follow my steps online, so a VPN is a must-have for me. Been using it for a few months now and haven’t had any problems

  6. Very excellent service. Works great with streaming sites and also helps me torrent files faster. I have it installed on both my home and work computers. Couldnt ask for a better service.

  7. Great, … except ExpressVPN blocks port 25 , & using ports 465 & 587 or smtp.gmail.com do not work
    so can only send emails via a web browser service like gmail or outlook express
    + can’t setup either of these up into a dedicated email client

  8. Needed a vpn for my trip to china so i downloaded this one. Was very pleased with it and will continue with a year subscription.

  9. Works really well in china. I’ve noticed the Tokyo servers are better than the rest. Worthwhile app for expats and travellers.

  10. This is the first vpn service Ive actually paid for and so far it’s been great. I keep checking my ip address just to make sure it’s always working-no problems yet.

  11. New versions are better than ever. The company consistently offers newr versions, and everytime I update the app I see a slight increase in browsing speeds.

  12. Glad you guys added the network lock to Windows. Next do you think you can add it to my Android? Keep up the great work.

  13. Works most of the time. I’ve only had a few experiences where the app wasn’t working, and even then it would seem to fix itself within a few mins. Overall I’ve been very happy with it.

  14. Works on my school’s stupid network. My friends still don’t know how I’m able to watch HBO in class. My best kept secret.

  15. Switched over from Cyberghost a few months ago. Really glad I did. They have more servers options and the speeds are considerably greater.

  16. Using this VPN on my PS4 lets me access the PS Store in the US. Totally wicked. Also noticed is slight in speeds when I play online.

  17. Jerome is a hero, he helped me set up exxpressvpn at my new house when I was on verge of crying becasue i didn’t access the most bacis websites from back home ( gmail, ig, etc )

  18. Solid service. Connections are reliable, fast and protected with 256-bit encryption. I’ve used the live chat service a few times and each time they’ve been able to address and fix the issues I have in a friendly, timely manner. Definitely recommend.

  19. Once you get tired of targeted ads, do the following: 1. Delete your social media accounts 2. Start using duckduckgo 3. Download Expressvpn. Thank me later!

  20. I’ve chosen this app over cometition because they don’t keep logs and encrypt my data, don’t sell it. Free vpns sell your data and worse. If you’re looking for a vpn, this is the one.

  21. Thanks for keep them corporations away from my searches! I had already taken action towards keeping my navigation private, such as only using duck duck go and deleting social media profiles, but this makes me feel more secure. Will keep on fighting!

  22. Beautiful, simple layout, very intuitive and and easy to operate. I used to have fun exploring the different netflix liberties, now i just pick the one good server and keep it on all the time.

  23. I have tried 5 other VPN service before, ExpressVPN has the fastest and the only VPN service that can unblock consistently my favourite streaming service. Last summer during the Olympics I was having some problem watching due to geo restrictions, so I sent an email for support and it was resolved within 24 hours. Very good customer support whether by email or chat.

  24. i found this to be a horrible service. Yes it unblocked what I wanted but throughput speeds varied wildly on OpenVPN protocol. Support guy tried to convince me that this was “beyond their control.”

    Also, servers randomly go offline or stop functioning causing unnecessary wasted time on my end chatting with support and troubleshooting.

    Spent more time supporting than using this service.

  25. Those little VPNs can’t be trusted they’ll sell you out in a second no matter what their privacy policy says. Go with big guys like ExpressVPN if you want somebody that will really protect your privacy.

  26. Most, if not all, of these positive comments regarding LiquidVPN were either made by LiquidVPN itself, or were paid for by the company to VPN Pick. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that all of them sound like something you’d see out of a commercial, rather than actual customer reviews. In addition, for the most part all of them were posted exactly one week apart. As such, if this comment does not in fact go up, I will be advocating that you, VPN Pick are sellouts and will post screenshots as proof that you allowed this to happen and have likely been paid off. Additionally, does anyone actually ever believe the whole “5 stars, 1 review” anymore? If you want it to be believable, at least have a few more reviews up here.

    1. All comments are moderated for obvious spam, but if a bot is leaving automatic comments, it’s not possible for us to tell unless there are obvious signs like identical users or multiple posts in a short period. This is not a liquidvpn review either.

      We do not accept any type or form of payment for accepting wordpress comments. The only compensation we receive is from affiliate commissions when a sale is confirmed with some VPN providers listed. Just like your comment has been allowed, anyone can comment with their experience on the given service. Be it positive or negative it will not be moderated unless it contains spammy or dangerous links.

      As for why there is only one submitted review is because the site was changed and we were unable to carry over old votes. We will not put up any bogus numbers, so at a minimum, all new votes will reflect what users think today and not 2 years ago.

  27. ExpressVPN is a big company which means they can probably afford lawyers, unlike these small supposedly “under the radar” guys that would sell out their customers in a second.

  28. At our office in Beijing all my coworkers have their own VPNs and I can say ExpressVPN is almost always more reliable

  29. I wish I had known about VPNs sooner when I first started going aboard for business trip. Now a loyal Express customer. Works on both perosnal and work phones.

  30. got expressVPN planning to use the 30-day guarantee to get my money back, but loved it so much i bought a one year subscription!

  31. the more servers locations a VPN has, the less likely China is to block all of them. Express has more than most and they are all pretty fast in my experience.

  32. So even Pornhub has started collecting my data and recommending videos…never turning off my expressvpn

  33. just swapped from private internet to express, and the results are great! a lot more consistent and a smoother connecting process!

  34. I stay in a lot of hotels around the world, so I need a good VPN to protect my sensitive data over the the public wifi I need to use. ExpressVPN is the most robust and speediest I have found.

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