Having been around for over 13 years, ExpressVPN is now part of the elite group of virtual private network (VPN) services that have thrived in an increasingly competitive market. Over time, its performance has improved significantly, and its user interface has been revamped to better align with current simplification standards. Here’s our take on this VPN.
Table of Contents
|Money-back guarantee||Yes, within 30 days|
|Number of servers||Not mentioned|
|Apps||PC/Mac/Linux/Android/iOS/Android TV/Fire TV/Routers|
|Access to US Netflix||Yes|
What is ExpressVPN?
One of its most prominent (and controversial) endorsements occurred in December 2017, following the assassination of a high-ranking Russian official in Turkey. This led to the seizure of an ExpressVPN server used to delete Gmail and Facebook account information. From this server, no data (logs, histories, connections, etc.) could be retrieved, proving the VPN’s effectiveness in securing user data.
The incident served as free but effective publicity. Additionally, ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, which grants it (besides significant tax reductions) exemption from user data retention obligations, as stipulated by international treaties.
However, ExpressVPN’s reputation was put at risk when Kape Technologies acquired the company in 2021. The acquisition was controversial since Kape specializes in adware software development, an industry that ExpressVPN has been fighting against since its inception. Today, ExpressVPN boasts 3 million users worldwide and has announced that it will remain a separate service from Kape’s activities.
Interface and Usability of ExpressVPN
The design of the ExpressVPN application is clearly focused on simplicity and ergonomics. Free from cluttered windows and excessive checkboxes, it gets straight to the point with a homepage that allows users to connect to a remote server with just one click.
Everything is translated into impeccable English, which is a significant advantage compared to many competitors even today. However, we would have appreciated a dark mode or even a map for server selection. This aesthetic choice results in the same interface on both PC and mobile devices, creating a consistent experience within the VPN ecosystem when using the VPN across multiple devices simultaneously.
The application also includes several handy additional features, such as the ability to check your IP address to ensure that you are indeed located in a different country than your connection, or to perform DNS leak or WebRTC tests. However, these features are accessible under the “Help and Support” tab, which can be a bit confusing.
Furthermore, the application offers direct installation of Chrome and Firefox extensions, which enable users to secure their browser session without compromising their computer’s overall connection. The mobile-exclusive password generator is convenient, but we would have preferred something more ambitious, like a Dashlane or 1Password aggregator.
Unfortunately, some advanced options, such as having a fixed IP address or using a double VPN, are not available. However, more traditional VPN features like split tunneling, local network device discovery, and a kill switch equivalent to cut the connection in case of malfunction are present.
ExpressVPN Servers and Performance
In 2023, ExpressVPN offers over 3,000 servers in 160 locations across 94 countries. From Bangladesh to the United States via Algeria, there is plenty to choose from. Some countries also have multiple servers. For example, in the United States, you can find about ten different locations allowing you to connect to either the east or west coast.
Unlike its competitors, ExpressVPN does not offer “specialized servers” for specific domains. In fact, this is an ExpressVPN promise: regardless of the server you connect to and the intended use, it generally meets performance requirements.
Whether it’s for downloading (directly or via peer-to-peer), accessing the American Netflix catalog, or simply protecting your connection, we have never encountered any issues or DNS leaks with the tested servers.
This promise holds true as, in general, ExpressVPN servers display excellent speeds, often surpassing those found with many other VPNs. Here are some speed tests we conducted on a PC with a wired fiber connection in Paris, using the Nperf platform.
DOWNLOAD (Mb/S) UPLOAD (Mb/S) PING NO VPN 85 36 712 FRENCH SERVER (AUTO) 82 85 904 FRENCH SERVER (STRASBOURG) 58 42 417 US SERVER (NEW YORK) 27 32 467 US SERVER (SAN FRANCISCO) 13 45 1151 JAPANESE SERVER (TOKYO) 90 69 367 HONG KONG SERVER 53 15 237 SOUTH AFRICAN SERVER 190.6 17.4 N/A FINNISH SERVER 31 13 246
No matter which server we connected to, the speeds consistently remained close to 200 Mbps for downloading. However, more distant servers struggled, with ping times often exceeding 200 or even 300 ms in most cases.
These impressive performances are likely due to the Lightway protocol. This is a proprietary network protocol developed by ExpressVPN, focusing on performance, reliability, and flexibility. It allows the service to move away from OpenVPN, the universal protocol used by many VPNs, which has become outdated and too complex for current standards.
Like most paid VPNs, ExpressVPN claims total privacy for its users’ sensitive information. This includes logs during usage, browsing history, and even timestamps of user sessions. While this is a common practice among VPNs, the service has always been honest about it.
Previously independent, ExpressVPN was acquired in 2021 for $936 million by Kape Technologies. This is potentially problematic because the adware software company has been subject to controversies for years, and its activities contradict what the VPN has promoted since its inception.
ExpressVPN’s Customer Service
ExpressVPN excels in customer service. Their support team is responsive, and users can quickly access an online representative through the official website’s chat feature. Additionally, they recently added an automatic translation module to facilitate communication with connected agents, regardless of language barriers.
Users also appreciate the numerous tutorials and guides in French available from the VPN support page, which can be helpful in avoiding the need for online chat assistance.
ExpressVPN Subscription Pricing
ExpressVPN is undoubtedly one of the most expensive VPN providers in the market. They offer three subscription plans, with the most popular being a one-year subscription currently priced at $6.41 per month or $96.04 per year. This is nearly twice as expensive as the annual subscription for NordVPN or the two-year subscription for CyberGhost.
ExpressVPN Coupon Offer is HERE (3 Months for FREE)
It is difficult to determine whether the service is worth the price despite its strengths. In any case, users can request a full refund within the first 30 days if they are unsatisfied.
What platforms does ExpressVPN support?
ExpressVPN supports a wide range of platforms, including PC, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Android TV, Fire TV, and routers. This allows users to secure their devices and networks, regardless of the operating system or device they are using.
How does ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol compare to OpenVPN?
Lightway is a proprietary network protocol developed by ExpressVPN, focusing on performance, reliability, and flexibility. It allows the service to move away from OpenVPN, the universal protocol used by many VPNs, which has become outdated and too complex for current standards. Lightway provides faster connection times, improved speed, and better security compared to OpenVPN.
Can ExpressVPN be used for torrenting and P2P file sharing?
Yes, ExpressVPN supports torrenting and P2P file sharing. The VPN does not offer specialized servers for specific domains, but it promises that regardless of the server you connect to and the intended use, it generally meets performance requirements.
Is there a free trial available for ExpressVPN?
ExpressVPN does not offer a free trial. However, they provide a 30-day money-back guarantee for users who are not satisfied with the service. Users can request a full refund within the first 30 days if the service does not meet their expectations.
How does ExpressVPN ensure user privacy?