ExpressVPN is often found on the lists and overviews of the best VPNs worldwide. Thanks to a clever combination of ingenious marketing techniques and raving reviews that you can find online, ExpressVPN does seem like the best VPN you can get in 2020. However, we are going to test this VPN service for ourselves and check all those claims. We’ll see whether ExpressVPN can truly unblock websites, stream the American version of Netflix, access other streaming platforms, and if it really brings such amazing speeds and security-related features, as advertised. With this said, welcome to our hands-on ExpressVPN review!
First and foremost, let’s take a look at the basic set of information regarding this VPN service. The following table will give you a glimpse of what to expect, and it can be a good starting point for comparing this VPN service to its competitors.
|Jurisdiction||The British Virgin Islands.|
|Logs||No logs – independently audited.|
|Number of Servers||94 countries, 3,000+ servers.|
|Encryption Standards||AES-256; OpenVPN (UDP/TCP), L2TP/IPSec, PPTP.|
|Average Speeds||110 to 170 Mbps|
|Live Chat Support||YES|
|Supported Platforms||Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Web browsers, routers, and media streaming devices.|
|Price||Starts at $6.67/month.|
One of the most popular reasons why many individuals use VPNs is to unblock media streaming websites. As we understand that this might be important, we’ll tell you what to expect from the get-go.
Media Streaming Support
|Amazon Prime Video||YES|
And also, we’re sure that some of you don’t have the time to read this entire article. So, we’re going to present our findings in a convenient matter.
The Bottom Line
|Pros||Incredibly simple to set up; Intuitive interface; Strong security features; No activity logs; Unblocks websites; Allows torrenting; Helpful customer support.|
|Cons||Not the fastest VPN out there (still very fast, though).|
|The Final Verdict||If your goal is to be completely anonymous online, unblock websites, and download torrents, you won’t find a better option than ExpressVPN right now.|
Finally, we are ready to present our hands-on review, where we’ll talk about the most important aspects of this VPN provider. So, keep on reading to learn all you need to know about ExpressVPN in 2020.
ExpressVPN Complete Review (2020) – Just How Good Is It?
What follows is our hands-on review of this popular VPN provider, based on our extensive testing that benchmark the service according to our uniform set of criteria. To learn more about how we review VPNs, please use the provided link.
And also, we’d like to add that we’ve tested ExpressVPN on a macOS computer. However, everything said below applies to any other version of this VPN service – as it brings the same set of features across the board.
Table of Contents
Background, Jurisdiction & Reputation
ExpressVPN is out of the jurisdiction of the ’14 Eyes’ Alliance and comes with an impeccable reputation for not storing any personal files, whatsoever. Our Score: 10/10.
The main purpose of any VPN is to hide your real location and help you preserve your online anonymity. However, this also means that not every VPN will do the job in the best way possible. More precisely, you need to be very careful when letting someone access your private data – and making sure no one takes advantage of that access.
Jurisdiction & Applicable Laws
As you already know, every company needs to regulate its operations as per their home country’s laws. And this is where the story about the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance comes into play. These countries have aggressive data logging laws and they work together on exchanging data and information. This automatically puts VPNs from the USA, UK, and Australia (among other countries) in a problematic position.
First of all, you should know that ExpressVPN comes from the British Virgin Islands. This exotic location is a good choice since this is a territory of the United Kingdom with self-governing laws. As this territory doesn’t have any laws connecting it to the UK, legislature and courts are completely independent. To put this in a different way – ExpressVPN is out of any surveillance agreements.
If you set out to find ExpressVPN’s real address or telephone number, you’ll be out of luck. There’s no easy way of knowing where this company is actually located, or from where it operates. However, this is something to expect from a VPN provider – where secrecy is imperative. Knowing that it’s registered in the BVI should be enough to keep you at ease.
Previous Data Leaks
ExpressVPN came under the spotlight in January 2017, when its Turkey-based servers were seized. This was an opportunity for the company to truly prove its claims that it doesn’t collect any data. As it turned out, these claims were true. The authorities were not able to extract any information from the seized servers. This has also proven the fact that ExpressVPN doesn’t have any backdoors built into their applications.
In December 2017, ExpressVPN launched a project called ‘Privacy Research Lab’. The main goal of this action was to provide online tools for checking data leaks. In the latest version of this VPN application, you can find three useful tools that are the result of this initiative. You can check your real IP address, DNS and WebRTC leaks.
Supported Platforms & Devices
ExpressVPN has done a fantastic job of offering apps for desktop and mobile platforms. Furthermore, you can use it on up to 5 devices at the same time. Our Score: 10/10.
Every reliable and capable VPN provider has a range of native apps for currently popular platforms and devices. After all, you want to protect all your devices – since even a single unprotected device can reduce your efforts of keeping your private data to yourself.
|Desktop Platforms||Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebooks.|
|Mobile Platforms||Android, iOS, Amazon Kindle Fire, Nook HD.|
|Web Browsers||Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox|
|Routers||DD-WRT and Tomato-compatible routers.|
|Other Devices||Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, PlayStation 3 & 4, Roku, Xbox One & 360, Boxee Box, and WD TV Live.|
What needs to be highlighted is that ExpressVPN comes without complicated manual configuration. This especially applies to desktop and mobile platforms. Some devices, such as gaming consoles, are supported by ExpressVPN via different workarounds. In this case, your best bet is to install ExpressVPN on a router and keep all your Web-connected devices in your household protected at once.
We’d also like to note that ExpressVPN has entered partnerships with multiple companies, bringing its VPN as the default option on a number of notebooks. Thanks to a partnership with HP, this company’s Spectre x360 laptops now come with ExpressVPN preinstalled. In addition, there’s a deal with Dynabook (formerly Toshiba) whose range of laptops comes with ExpressVPN’s 30-day trial.
And finally, it’s important to note that ExpressVPN has increased the limit of simultaneous devices in 2019 (which was previously the biggest obstacle to using this VPN). You can now connect up to 5 devices at the same time, which seems like a generous offer.
Installation & Initial Configuration
This VPN service has come up with an effortless installation method. Even complete beginners won’t have problems installing and configuring this VPN. Our Score: 10/10.
You can get started with using this VPN by visiting its official website. First and foremost, you need to get your ExpressVPN subscription before you do anything else. You can choose a suitable subscription plan, and you’ll get your username and password afterward. Once you log in using your new credentials, ExpressVPN will offer assistance by detecting your system and offering a suitable application.
As you can see, downloading ExpressVPN’s installer is simple – as the VPN’s website detects your operating system automatically. Of course, you can also go with ‘Set Up on All Your Devices’ (found once you log-in to your account on the ExpressVPN website) and from there download different versions of this VPN. When it comes to mobile apps, all you need to do is to download them from their respective app stores.
The actual process of installing this VPN is very simple. There aren’t any unusual offers or bundled software. After a few steps, ExpressVPN will install and launch. At this moment, you will see a handy trick. Instead of using your username and password, you can easily copy an activation link from your ExpressVPN account dashboard (on the official website).
Before you can start using the software, you will be asked to allow ExpressVPN to be launched during startup, and you can decide to send anonymous analytic data. It’s up to you to enable or disable these options (and the same can be done later).
ExpressVPN caters to both beginners and experienced users – and it brings an incredibly powerful arsenal of tools aimed at protecting your digital privacy. Our Score: 9.5/10.
To make it easy for you to compare different VPNs, here’s a table of some useful features and whether you’ll find them incorporated into ExpressVPN.
VPN Features Checklist
|DNS Leak Protection||YES|
|IPv6 Leak Protection||YES|
|Unlimited Server Switches||YES|
As you can see, ExpressVPN covers the basics quite well. Once you get a subscription, there are no limitations imposed on the VPN’s functionalities. The only thing that’s missing is a built-in ad blocker, which would improve the overall experience of browsing the Web (and eliminating ads that track you online). However, this isn’t really a setback, as you can find a huge range of powerful ad-blockers online, for free.
It’s also worth noting that ExpressVPN comes with a powerful kill switch – which means that you’re safe even if your VPN connection drops. And there’s split tunneling support. This means that you can set certain apps to use your VPN connection, while others will use your regular Web connection.
Let’s also not forget to mention another interesting feature. Called TrustedServer, this technology has eliminated the use of hard drives from ExpressVPN’s data centers. Instead of handing your data via hard drives, this VPN now uses RAM memory. Each time a server is restarted, all your personal data is wiped. This means that even if this VPN’s servers get seized, no one will be able to retrieve your data.
Also, let’s not forget to add that ExpressVPN has a built-in speed tester. This allows you to easily test all of its servers and predict their behavior on time. This is also the reason why ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs for gaming – as you can predict each server’s behavior before securing your Web connection.
With 3,000+ servers available, you can connect to any part of the world. However, you should know that some VPNs come with up to 7,000+ servers. Our Score: 8.5/10.
In general, you need a VPN with plenty of servers. On the one hand, this lets you connect to a large number of countries and get a wide range of IP addresses. On the other hand, VPNs can achieve fast performance by offering plenty of servers for all of their customers.
Server Count Info
|Number of Servers||3,000+|
|Number of Locations||160|
|Number of Countries||94|
|Specific Cities Selection||YES|
You should know that this VPN service is on our list of VPNs with the highest server count in 2020. However, some of its direct competitors offer over 7,000 servers. This sounds amazing in theory, but this doesn’t have to mean that you’ll get better performance by choosing a VPN with a larger number of servers.
By default, ExpressVPN will present you with an ‘optimal’ server that should bring the best possible performance. In general, this is a nearby server that might even be located in your country. However, you have full freedom to connect to any of the 3,000 servers offered by this VPN. There’s a search option letting you find a specific country or even a city.
As noted earlier, ExpressVPN doesn’t impose any restrictions. This means that you’re free to switch between servers as many times as you’d like. Disconnecting and connecting to another server takes only a few seconds, and the overall experience is quite fluid.
Ease of Use
ExpressVPN comes with a simple UI. Even if this is your first time encountering a VPN application, you shouldn’t have any problems using it. Our Score: 10/10.
To explain what to expect from this VPN service, we’ll give you a brief tour of its UI design. So, we’ll start with the main screen where the biggest portion is reserved for a prominent ON/OFF button. When you connect to a secure server, it will go green – clearly indicating that the VPN is running. Underneath this button, you’ll see your currently selected server. To pick another, click on ‘Selected Location’. And then, you will also see two additional server suggestions – a recommended server (based on your physical location), as well as your previously used server.
In the top-left corner, there’s a simple ‘hamburger’ button (three vertical lines). The first option here is called ‘VPN Locations’ and as you can expect, this is where you can check out the available servers. If you click on a server once, it will instruct ExpressVPN to connect to it the next time you enable this VPN. If you double-click on any server, the application will automatically connect straight away.
The next item in the ‘hamburger’ menu is called ‘Speed Test’. Using this tool, you can let ExpressVPN test its servers (based on your location). This way, you will get three pieces of information: speed index, latency, and download speed. In case you find a highly suitable server, you can always mark it as your favorite by clicking on the star-shaped icon.
Now, we’ll check another item from this menu, called ‘Preferences’. This is where you’ll find six tabs, each bringing a distinct set of options. Here’s a quick overview:
- General: This tab lets you set ExpressVPN to launch every time you power on your computer, and you can set the VPN to automatically connect to a server. Then, you can decide whether you’d like to use a ‘Network Lock’ which is another name for this VPN’s kill-switch. And lastly, you can fine-tune your split-tunneling options.
- Protocol: ExpressVPN supports a nice range of protocols, where each comes with its own set of benefits and downsides. So, this is where you can easily choose which one to use. On macOS, we get to choose from OpenVPN (UDP/TCP), IKEv2, and L2TP/IPsec.
- Account: This tab lets you check the status of your account. You can see when it’s due to expire and you can refer friends to get 30 additional days of use, free of charge.
- Shortcuts: Once you connect to a secure server, ExpressVPN will provide a series of shortcuts to various apps on your computer/smartphone. So, let’s say that you use Netflix often. This means that you can set a shortcut to Netflix here, so you can easily access this streaming platform right from ExpressVPN’s UI.
- Browsers: In case you’d like to find out how to install Web browser extensions, this is where you can take a look. However, using a native app will protect all your incoming and outgoing traffic using the highest possible encryption, which beats any Web browser extension with ease.
- Advanced: The final tab lets you fine-tune some advanced options that seem to be optimized by default. You can prevent IPv6 detection, enroll in sending anonymous usage data back to ExpressVPN, and more.
The rest of the options in the ‘hamburger’ menu are pretty self-explanatory. You can find support documentation, see how to install ExpressVPN on other devices, refer friends, and more. All of these options are actually links to the VPN’s official website.
Finally, we’d like to note that ExpressVPN has once again proven that it follows the latest UI trends by implementing the dark mode across its Web browser extensions. This welcome feature is now available for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox users. The rest of the VPN’s applications are expected to follow this trend.
Media Streaming & Torrenting Support
ExpressVPN can easily unblock a huge number of media streaming services, with Netflix US included. Plus, it fully supports P2P traffic, with no limitations involved. Our Score: 10/10.
We’ve checked whether ExpressVPN unblocks popular media streaming platforms, and you’ll find the results of our testing in the following table.
Media Streaming & Torrenting Support
|Amazon Prime Video||YES|
|Torrenting (P2P) Support||YES|
We have tested ExpressVPN with Netflix US, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. The application fully supports all of those, and you can use these services without any restrictions. Simply connect to a server in a country of your choosing, and then open your favorite media streaming app – and that’s pretty much it.
It’s also worth noting that you can unblock some country-specific versions of Netflix (Canada, Japan, and the UK). The same could be said about Amazon Prime Video. Connect to a server in India, and you’ll get a whole slate of Bollywood movies and TV shows.
When it comes to other websites that work with ExpressVPN, you can count on Disney+, ITV, ESPN, HBO GO, and more. Then, ExpressVPN also unblocks Facebook, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, Wikipedia, Google, and Skype – in those countries where these Web apps aren’t available.
Lastly, let’s not forget about fans of torrenting. ExpressVPN fully supports torrenting and it doesn’t come with any bandwidth limitations or data caps. However, keep in mind that connecting to a server that’s near you should get you the best possible download speeds. This means that you can anonymously download torrents and even fight against ISP-imposed throttling.
Security & Privacy
To find out if you should really trust ExpressVPN with your data, we will take a look at three aspects: encryption standards, logging policy, and DNS leaks. This should give us plenty of information about the way your personal data is used.
Supported Encryption Protocols
Depending on your needs, you can choose from several VPN protocols. The most secure one is OpenVPN, and ExpressVPN lets you choose between two variants of OpenVPN – TCP or UDP. Combined with the company’s AES-256 encryption – you can rest assured that your private information will never leave ExpressVPN’s secure tunnel.
Then, protocols such as L2TP/IPSec and PPTP are included as well. These aren’t as secure as OpenVPN, but they usually work with minimal throttling of your Web speed. In other words, you can use them if you want to unblock websites and if you don’t care about someone seeing what you do online.
After taking a very close look at ExpressVPN’s logging policy, we can say that this provider doesn’t collect your personally identifiable information. However, you should know that ExpressVPN does collect some information. We are talking about the timestamps of each VPN connection, the server used, as well as the amount of data transferred. However, this information can’t be connected to your name and it’s used for diagnostic purposes.
Then, we already told you about ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology. By having data centers not relying on hard drives – the VPN avoids logging any information. We’re talking about RAM memory in this case, which means that even anonymized data is perfectly safe.
ExpressVPN also went through an independent audit in 2019 – further proving that it doesn’t collect your personal data. With all of this said, we conclude that ExpressVPN is one of the safest VPNs out there, capable of handling your sensitive data in the best way possible.
DNS Leak Test
Next, we have tested ExpressVPN for DNS leaks. This test is the best way to show if this provider can truly safeguard your real identity online. So, let’s take a look at the results.
As you can see, our real identity remains hidden. ExpressVPN doesn’t allow websites to see our real IP and address, as it instead shows our virtual IP and a fake address (based on the server we’re connected to). With this said, we can conclude that ExpressVPN is airtight when it comes to keeping private data from leaking in any form.
Speed & Performance
ExpressVPN provides reliable performance with small slowdowns. It’s not one of the fastest VPNs but it also doesn’t disappoint. Our Score: 8/10.
Finally, it’s time to check this VPN’s performance. First, we are going to check the speed of our ‘naked’ connection, without using ExpressVPN. Then, we’ll proceed to connect to the nearest server, then a nearby location and finally a remote server.
So, here are our original ISP speeds:
Our ‘naked’ web connection is 466.52 Mbps for downloads and 215.11 Mbps for uploads. This gives us the baseline data that we’ll use to check how smooth ExpressVPN is.
Let’s connect to a server that’s in the same country as our tester now (Romania). Here are the results we got with that connection:
We got 170.00 Mbps download speeds and 195.96 Mbps upload speeds. Not bad at all. It might seem like a big slowdown, but it’s really not. 170 Mbps speeds are more than enough for downloading large files and streaming HD content.
Next, we used ExpressVPN’s optimal server recommendation, which connected us to a nearby server in Germany. According to Ookla’s Speedtest, these were our speeds:
164.24 Mbps for downloads and 204.21 Mbps for uploads. Not bad. Almost no slowdown when we used a server that’s a bit further from us.
Finally, we’ve tried a remote server in the US. This server is quite far from us, geographically, so we expect a noticeable slowdown to happen. According to our tests, we got 113.17 Mbps for downloads and 66.89 Mbps for uploads. Our speeds went down a bit, but they’re still pretty decent.
|Download Speed||Upload Speed|
|Baseline Speed||466.52 Mbps||215.11 Mbps|
|Nearest Servers||170.00 Mbps||195.97 Mbps|
|Nearby Servers||164.24 Mbps||204.21 Mbps|
|Remote Servers||113.17 Mbps||66.89 Mbps|
On average, ExpressVPN offered us download speeds hovering around 110 and 170 Mbps. Pretty smooth (and stable!) results.
IMPORTANT: Don’t forget that original slow ISP speeds automatically translate to slow VPN speeds. So you won’t get 110 Mbps average speeds with ExpressVPN if your original speeds are around 30 Mbps. Instead, you’ll likely get 10-15 Mbps average speeds or so.
ExpressVPN offers a comprehensive support section, with plenty of useful material. At any moment, you’ll find someone from the company to assist you. Our Score: 10/10.
There really are numerous ways to get help with ExpressVPN. So, let’s give you an overview of what to expect if you decide to become an ExpressVPN subscriber:
- Live Chat Support: First and foremost, there’s a live chat option on the website, open for anyone who visits it. We’ve contacted the support via live-chat several times now, and we managed to get a response within seconds. This means that there were no long queues and you can get help around the clock.
- Setup Instructions: ExpressVPN offers comprehensive setup instructions for each of the devices that it supports. There are also in-depth guides on how to get the most out of this VPN for watching videos, using it with NAS setups, and more.
- Troubleshooting Guides: In case of technical questions, you can find troubleshooting guides related to your account information and payments, connectivity problems, different kind of log file errors, and more.
- Email & Support Ticket: In case you’d like to ask for help directly from ExpressVPN, there’s a convenient way to open a support ticket or send an email. However, we suggest you go with the live chat option first.
ExpressVPN has been on the market for a while now, and it knows how to create a useful support system. There are multiple communication channels you can use, and plenty of support documentation.
We strongly believe that ExpressVPN is worth its price – especially if you decide to get its annual subscription. Our Score: 9/10.
ExpressVPN currently offers three subscription plans. As you can expect, you can save quite a lot if you go for one of its long-term plans. So, here’s a handy overview of ExpressVPN’s current pricing structure.
|Total Price||Per Month||Savings|
|12 (+3) Months||$99.95||$6.67||49%|
As you can see, the biggest savings can be found in ExpressVPN’s annual plan (where you also get three additional months of use). This is where you can find the price of $6.67 per month, which seems like an amazing deal considering the value this VPN brings. As such, we highly recommend it as this VPN has a proven track record of offering a reliable service, which makes investing in its long-term plan a good idea. Make sure to keep that mind when subscribing to ExpressVPN.
Next, you also need to know that ExpressVPN supports the following payment options: various credit cards (including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, and more), PayPal, Bitcoin, as well as other payment methods including Alipay, UnionPay, Yandex Money, and more.
All of ExpressVPN’s subscription plans include 30-day money-back guarantees. If you change your mind for some reason, you can expect your money to be returned with no questions asked.
Do We Recommend ExpressVPN?
Without any doubt, ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN services today (if not the best). It’s very easy to use, it’s present on numerous devices, is one of the few VPNs that works in China, and makes sure you’re 100% safe on the Web. On top of that, it unblocks websites and even allows torrenting. So, what’s not to like here, right?
- PROS: Wide platform/device compatibility; Easy to install; Fully automated solution; Doesn’t collect activity logs; High-end encryption; Supports numerous VPN protocols; Amazing support.
- CONS: Not the fastest VPN out there.
- OUR SCORE: 9.5 out of 10!
The bottom line is that ExpressVPN could be the perfect choice for the majority of users in 2020. So, make sure to get your ExpressVPN subscription today and browse the Web without any worries!