ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN are two of the most popular, well-respected VPNs in the world. So, choosing between them can be a struggle for even the most experienced VPN users.
We’ve been testing and reviewing ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN for years, finding their flaws, figuring out their strengths, and verifying every claim they make in their sales pitches.
So, we decided to finally put them side-by-side and see which is the better VPN. As you’ll see, they both offer excellent security, privacy, speeds, and much more. But they also differ significantly – especially when it comes to pricing and server networks.
ExpressVPN vs PrivateVPN – Which is best?
ExpressVPN is far superior to PrivateVPN in almost every aspect.
It's the fastest VPN in the world, with industry-best security, state-of-the-art privacy tools, and over 3,000 servers in 90+ countries. Wherever you’re based, ExpressVPN will deliver lightning-fast, secure connections.
In contrast, PrivateVPN has only 200 servers in 63+ countries. While they provide secure, reliable connections, they’re much slower than ExpressVPN. PrivateVPN is also much more basic in its security features and built-in privacy tools.
Admittedly, ExpressVPN is much more expensive than PrivateVPN. But if you sign up for a long-term plan, it's worth the investment.
|Money-back guarantee length||30 days||30 days|
Okay, let’s get this out of the way now: ExpressVPN is significantly more expensive than PrivateVPN.
ExpressVPN’s annual plan costs just under $100 per year (but includes three extreme months free). The cheapest monthly price works out at $6.67, while a one-month subscription costs $12.95.
In comparison, PrivateVPN costs just $72 per year – basically 30% less. After discounts and special offers, you’ll pay $2 per month on its best plan.
Why is ExpressVPN so much more expensive? Because it's the fastest, most secure VPN in the world, and far superior to PrivateVPN.
If you need a simple, low-cost VPN, stick with PrivateVPN. But if you want a powerful, fast VPN that guarantees uninterrupted, secure connections, ExpressVPN is worth the investment.
Both VPNs offer 30-day money-back guarantees, so you can try them out risk-free and see the difference.
Winner: PrivateVPN (kind of)
Which has better features?
You’ll first notice that PrivateVPN offers double the simultaneous device connections compared to ExpressVPN. This means you can install it on more devices with a single subscription.
However, on every other front, ExpressVPN packs many more and much better features.
You can install ExpressVPN on many more types of devices, including game consoles and Smart TVs. ExpressVPN also has browser extensions, which are entirely missing from PrivateVPN. And while you can install both VPNs on routers (allowing you to protect your entire home Wi-Fi network in one go), it's much easier to do so with ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN’s server network is much more impressive than PrivateVPN – 3,000 servers vs. 200. A larger server network means you’re guaranteed much faster, more reliable internet connections anywhere in the world. Throughout our tests, ExpressVPN was significantly faster than PrivateVPN in basically every activity (streaming, gaming, downloading, etc.).
Streaming, in particular, is much faster and buffer-free on ExpressVPN, thanks to its MediaStreamer SmartDNS tool. PrivateVPN has nothing similar, so streaming is much slower – especially if you’re connected to a faraway server.
Are routers supported?
Installing your VPN directly on your Wi-Fi router is a handy way to protect your entire home network, and every device within it, in one go.
But it's more complicated than downloading the VPN onto your phone or laptop.
So, it's good to know that ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN have dedicated support for various routers.
Both VPNs offer step-by-step guides to installing their apps on your router and live chat support to guide you through the process in real time.
However, in our tests, we found ExpressVPN both easier to install and manage once it was on the router.
What services do they unblock?
ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN are both safe choices for streaming. They can access popular US and British TV platforms (including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and HBO Max), as well as regional European streaming sites.
We tested both VPNs on live streaming events, and found them reliable – although ExpressVPN is much faster.
While both VPNs can access content, ExpressVPN wins out again for a few reasons. Its much bigger global server network means it works more reliably with regional streamers. And, as we’ll continuously highlight throughout this review, it's much faster than PrivateVPN.
ExpressVPN will deliver a faster, smoother, and more enjoyable viewing experience.
Both ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN offer server locations in the USA, UK, Canada, Japan, France, and Germany, which have the most popular Netflix libraries.
However, in total, ExpressVPN works with almost twice as many Netflix libraries as PrivateVPN. With ExpressVPN, you can reliably access 24 Netflix libraries around the world. In our tests, PrivateVPN only accessed 13 without difficulty.
ExpressVPN’s larger server network (3,000+) means you also have many more options for finding a fast server that hasn’t been blocked by streaming sites or crowded with other users trying to access content.
With only 200 servers worldwide, PrivateVPN’s network is more likely to get saturated with users competing for bandwidth. It’s also easier for Netflix to identify and block PrivateVPN servers from its platform.
ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN allow torrenting. However, there are some differences to keep in mind.
Both VPNs include an automatic kill-switch, which blocks your internet connection in case of any disruption, even for less than a second. This guarantees that nothing you’re doing gets leaked to your internet service provider, potentially exposing any torrenting you have running on your device and getting you flagged for surveillance or investigation.
Both VPNs support torrenting on their entire network, but only PrivateVPN includes dedicated torrenting servers. These servers are optimized for torrenting, both in terms of anonymity and download/upload speed. It's a shame ExpressVPN doesn’t offer this, but its servers are so fast and secure, it shouldn’t be an issue.
ExpressVPN offers split tunneling, which allows you to feed some websites and apps through your VPN, while keeping others on your local network. This is handy if, for example, you want to torrent privately on a server outside your country, while still using local services like your online banking or meal delivery.
PrivateVPN also offers port forwarding (which ExpressVPN does not). Port forwarding is a complicated technology setup that lets you connect to numerous peers in a P2P network to speed up your torrenting. However, it also reduces your security by potentially exposing your IP address within the network, so make sure you understand how it works before turning it on.
While PrivateVPN has more P2P-dedicated features, ExpressVPN is fast and secure enough for torrenting in its default settings. But we still prefer ExpressVPN, as it's the better all-around VPN.
Winner: It's a tie!
Setup & usability
Installing ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN on your devices is quick and easy.
The installation process is straightforward for both, and only takes a couple of minutes. Once you’ve installed ExpressVPN or PrivateVPN’s apps, you’ll be guided through the setup and initial configuration with simple instructions.
Navigating between servers on either VPN is simple; even total newbies will quickly get used to the apps. You can also find all the built-in features easily within the apps, toggling them on and off depending on your needs without impacting your security or user experience.
So, when it comes to ease of use, between ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN, it’s a draw.
However, we like that ExpressVPN has apps for more devices, browser extensions, and advanced (but easy-to-use) features missing from PrivateVPN. This means it wins this round!
Both ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN offer mobile apps for Android and iOS devices. They’re easy to use, and include most of the features you’ll find on the desktop apps.
ExpressVPN offers split tunneling on Android, so you can choose which apps use the VPN, while others bypass it. However, it’s not available on ExpressVPN’s iOS app due to iOS privacy settings. PrivateVPN doesn’t offer any split tunneling on any device.
PrivateVPN offers automatic server selection on mobile if you want the most convenient option. In contrast, ExpressVPN requires manual selection (which only takes a few seconds).
When it comes to security, both VPNs include the same features on mobile as any other device, including 256-bit AES encryption, automatic kill-switches, and VPN multiple protocols (including OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP/IPsec).
While ExpressVPN offers in-app 24/7 live chat support on mobile, PrivateVPN features remote control support.
So, it’s close. But, while their mobile apps are both impressive, ExpressVPN beats PrivateVPN in this round for the superior overall experience, speed, features, etc., on offer.
Performance & speed
|ProPrivacy.com SpeedTest (average)||100 Mbps||55.5 Mbps|
Across our tests, ExpressVPN was, on average, 2.5x faster than PrivateVPN. There are a few reasons for this.
ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers in 90+ countries. In comparison, PrivateVPN has only 200 servers in roughly 60 countries. A larger server network means ExpressVPN avoids congestion and slow speeds from too many users connecting to a single server at once.
It also means you’re more likely to find a server closer to you, especially if you’re in a small country PrivateVPN has decided not to host any servers.
But most importantly, ExpressVPN has built its own proprietary VPN protocol: Lightway.
Lightway was built using lightweight code optimized to deliver fast, reliable connections without compromising security. Based on our extensive testing, it's the fastest VPN protocol in the world. It’s also backed up by a suite of industry-best security tools built on the most lightweight, modern code.
When it comes to speed and reliability, between ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN, there’s no competition: ExpressVPN beats PRivateVPN every time.
|IPv6 leak protection|
|WebRTC leak protection|
ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN are both highly advanced VPNs with some of the best security in the industry.
They both offer 256-bit AES encryption, automatic kill-switches, DNS/IPv6 leak protection, and numerous VPN protocols to keep your data, location, identity, and online activities completely hidden from snoopers and surveillance.
PrivateVPN offers three industry-standard VPN protocols: IKEv2, OpenVPN, and WireGuard. Each protocol provides a slightly different balance between security and speed, depending on your needs. However, ExpressVPN has gone the extra mile and developed its own exclusive protocol, Lightway, that offers an unrivaled combination of speed, reliability, and security.
PrivateVPN also offers the PPTP protocol, but this isn’t actually a positive in our view. PPTP is an old VPN protocol and much less secure than newer protocols likeLightway. It’s also slower. So, really, there’s no situation in which we recommend you use it.
Also, PrivateVPN doesn’t have WireGuard built-in natively on its apps – you must use a third party. While this will change soon, and WireGuard will be available within PrivateVPN’s apps, it's an unnecessary annoyance that could have been solved long ago.
Finally, ExpressVPN offers a whole suite of additional security tools, including malware detection and filtering and ad tracking blockers.
So, without a doubt, ExpressVPN offers a much more secure experience online.
|Jurisdiction||British Virgin Islands||Sweden|
|Anonymous payment options?|
If you’re concerned about privacy, pay close attention to where your VPN’s HQ is located. While we only recommend VPNs with strict privacy policies that mean they can never share your data, we still prefer VPNs in privacy-friendly jurisdictions.
ExpressVPN is located in the British Virgin Islands, one of the most (in)famously private places on earth, far away from intrusive governments known for snooping on their citizens. In contrast, PrivateVPN is located in Sweden, which is part of the 14 Eyes surveillance alliance.
Both VPNs follow strict "no-logs” policies, which means they never record any usage data connected to your account. But ExpressVPN is even more thorough. Its network comprises RAM-only servers that are automatically wiped regularly. So there’s never any risk of residual user data lingering. To our knowledge, PrivateVPN does not use RAM-only servers.
Both ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN offer anonymous payment options, such as pre-paid cards or Bitcoin. You can sign up using a pseudonym and a burner email address, with no record of the transaction tied to your identity.
While we trust PrivateVPN, and have no reason to suspect it of anything dodgy, between its location and lack of independent auditing, it can’t live up to ExpressVPn’s much more robust privacy practices.
|Free trial||No||Yes - 7 days|
|Money-back guarantee length||30 days||30 days|
ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN are almost neck-and-neck when it comes to customer support, which we like to see.
Both offer live chat support with real humans. However, while ExpressVPN’s live chat is 24/7, PrivateVPN’s is only available 18-20 hours per day. It wasn’t clear to us what timezone it operates in, so this may be an issue if you have an urgent problem and you’re in a different part of the world to its support team.
PrivateVPN redeems itself slightly with two cool support options not offered by ExpressVPN. First, it has a dedicated YouTube channel with short tutorials and troubleshooting videos. For visual learners, this is a fantastic resource.
You can also grant PrivateVPN’s support agents remote access to your device so they can get a direct look at your VPN apps and how they’re set up. This may raise some privacy concerns, but don’t worry, we tested this service and checked after for anything suspicious. It's perfectly safe.
Both VPNs include setup guides, FAQS, blogs, knowledge bases, and similar written support resources. Neither offer phone support. Both have email support, but with live chat available, you probably won’t use it.
Winner: It's a tie!
Methodology: how we compare VPNs
We use a long list of strict criteria and metrics when testing and reviewing every VPN. Of the hundreds of VPNs we’ve tested over the years, only a small number ever get recommended – including ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN.
Here’s a quick sample of the criteria we use in every VPN test:
- Global server network: The best VPNs have thousands of speed-optimized, secure servers in dozens of countries that deliver fast connections to users anywhere.
- Fast connections: A VPN doesn’t have to slow your internet down. The top VPNs have almost no noticeable impact on your connection.
- Excellent security: At a minimum, your VPN should include 256-bit AES encryption, DNS/IPv6 leak protections, automatic kill-switches, and other state-of-the-art tools.
- Privacy tools: Look for additional features like stealth modes, built-in ad blockers, and IP address rotators that add additional layers of anonymity and privacy.
- Access content: We only recommend VPNs that work with the most popular global and local streaming sites, banking and money apps, and other restricted content and services.
- Good value: VPNs don’t have to be expensive. Look for providers with simple, low-cost subscription plans and generous money-back guarantees.
- Easy to use: The best VPNs also have the simplest apps (on any device). Even the least tech-savvy users should be able to set one up without difficulty.
- Customer support: Our top VPNs offer 24/7 live support (with human agents), extensive knowledge bases, forums, and more.
- Transparent privacy policies: Look for VPNs with strict "no-logs” policies and RAM-only servers based in privacy-friendly locations like Panama.
Thinking about running your own tests? You can follow our complete VPN review process as a guide. Or skip that altogether, and download ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN might be two of the most popular VPNs in the world. But when it comes to speed, performance, security, and overall user experience, there’s no comparison – ExpressVPN is #1.
If you want a basic, easy-to-use, cheap VPN that delivers fast torrenting, PrivateVPN is a good choice.
But for every other user, we recommend ExpressVPN. It’s the world's fastest, most secure VPN, with 3,000+ secure, speed-optimized servers located in 90 countries. You’ll enjoy buffer-free, uninterrupted streaming, video calls, downloading, and browsing with the peace of mind that your data, location, identity, and activities are completely hidden.
Thinking about another VPN? Check out our side-by-side reviews of the most popular providers: