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In our handy ExpressVPN video review, we take a look at some of their pros and cons.
An In-Depth ExpressVPN Review🚅December 2020💰Worth The Price Tag?...
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So, how much does ExpressVPN cost?
ExpressVPN has three subscription plans to choose from, which are all listed below. The best value can be found in its 12-month plan, which comes with 3-months free if you follow the link on this page. That yearly subscription works out at $6.67 a month (paid $99.95 in advance). It is worth noting that the contract will automatically renew onto a cost of $8.33 per month after the first year (paid in a single installment of $99.95).
ExpressVPN does not offer all users a free trial*. However, it does provide an extremely generous 30-day money-back guarantee. And, it will give you a refund no matter what your reason is for asking; there are no catches. Cancel any time within 30 days and you will get your money back.
It is also worth mentioning that ExpressVPN offers quite a nice referral program. Convince a friend to sign up and you both get 30 days free.
Supported Payment Platforms
ExpressVPN accepts payment via credit/debit card, PayPal, and Bitcoin. It has also partnered with Paymentwall to accept several, more obscure, international payment options.
Speed and Performance
Please see VPN Speed Testing Done Right for an overview of our scientific speed test system. At the time of writing, ExpressVPN tops our weighted speed test chart with fantastic average download speed performance and solid max burst speed results.
Our results reveal that ExpressVPN is consistently one of the fastest VPN services in the world when connecting using the secure OpenVPN protocol. Average download speeds over the last three months were 60.3 Mbps, which is faster than most of its close competitors. This certainly makes it a good option for anybody wanting to torrent or stream HD content.
In addition, ExpressVPN has just released a new encryption protocol - Lightway - which is designed to provide both high levels of security and improved speeds for its users.
Admittedly, Lightway has yet to be verified by third-party auditors, which makes it hard to recommend for purposes of privacy and security. On the other hand, Lightway is said to make use of already tried and tested primitives such as wolfSSL (a small, portable, embedded SSL/TLS library). This should mean that it is indeed secure. On top of this, ExpressVPN has promised to open-source the entire proprietary protocol soon; which means that it should eventually have been verified by independent auditors.
Overall this new protocol sounds great, and it could help you to get even faster speeds from this already super-fast service. Whether you choose to use Lightway right now is up to you, but for those who prefer tried and tested OpenVPN - there is no doubt that ExpressVPN still provides some of the best speeds you will ever encounter.
And, if all you need is privacy from your ISP or a local network administrator (rather than from an oppressive government) Lightway protocol seems worth giving a try. As mentioned, Lightway is still in Beta. However, it is an interesting addition to ExpressVPN's service that we will keep monitoring as time passes; so watch this space.
|ProPrivacy.com SpeedTest (average)||60.3|
|ProPrivacy.com SpeedTest (max/burst)||565.7|
|IPv6 leak detected?|
|WebRTC leak detected?|
|IPv4 leak detected?|
We did not detect regular DNS leaks, but our IPv6 address was leaked via WebRTC in both Windows and macOS. If you are lucky enough to use an ISP that offers IPv6 connectivity then you should either disable IPv6 on your system (see the optional section for each OS listed in How to Change your DNS Settings) or disable WebRTC in your browser. Alternatively, the ExpressVPN browser add-ons for Chrome and Firefox also fix the problem.
Please note that Private Use RFC IPs are local IPs only. They cannot be used to identify an individual, and so do not constitute an IP leak.
Does ExpressVPN unblock Netflix?
Yes. ExpressVPN is a provider that does everything it can to help its users access streaming services like Netflix US. To ensure constant availability, ExpressVPN throws in a free Smart DNS feature, which ensures that users can unblock streams even if a VPN server is temporarily blocked by the streaming provider.
With that said, for most people, it is always easier to simply turn on the VPN to access foreign streams. And, the good news is that Express VPN successfully unblock all of the most popular streaming platforms simply by connecting using its apps.
Unblocking streaming services is always a cat-and-mouse game, and readers do occasionally report not being able to access them using ExpressVPN. In this case, the Smart DNS service makes a great fallback, and ExpressVPN always resolves the issue within a day or two at most.
If you do experience issues please tell us in the comments section below, and contact ExpressVPN's 24/7 live chat support because they will be able to recommend which server is currently working.
Ease of Use
Custom VPN apps are available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. A custom Linux VPN app is also available. This is terminal command-line only, but does include DNS leak protection.
The website features a ton of setup guides for a wide range of devices and platforms. In addition to this, pre-configured ExpressVPN routers are available from FlashRouters. These use custom firmware developed by ExpressVPN, and feature DNS leak protection and split tunneling for connected devices.
New additions to the ExpressVPN app lineup are browser add-ons for Chrome and Firefox (Windows and macOS only).
Registering with ExpressVPN is easy enough. Other than payment details, the only information you are asked for is a valid email address. There is nothing to prevent you from using a disposable email address. And because ExpressVPN accepts payment in bitcoins, if care is taken, it is possible to register anonymously. Do please remember, though, that however you register and pay, ExpressVPN will know your real IP address.
Once signed up, you will receive a welcome email which includes some useful links for setting up the service.
The ExpressVPN Windows Client
ExpressVPN specializes in making its service easy-to-use and as layman-friendly as possible. One wrinkle is that you need to enter a unique activation code. This is available via your subscription page on the ExpressVPN website.
Once installed, all you need do is select a location and hit the big friendly Connect button!
If you wish to delve deeper, the ExpressVPN client contains some powerful features. This includes a firewall-based kill switch and DNS leak protection. It is worth noting that the basic client does not protect against IPv6 WebRTC leaks, but this is easily fixed by also installing the browser extension (or by disabling IPv6 on your machine which only takes a minute).
Various VPN protocols are provided in its apps, including OpenVPN (our recommended protocol). We feel it would be better to cease offering PPTP, which is now considered deprecated – but at least ExpressVPN does clearly warns you about the issue – and it may useful for some users who need location spoofing without strong privacy levels.
Overall, the Windows VPN client is very easy to use and is packed with powerful features that are useful for gaining both online security and added freedom.
Mac OS X/Mac OS client
Recent changes to the Windows client mean that it now matches how the Mac VPN client in looks.
Both clients offer the same functionality, and the Mac client specifically is available in over 17 different languages, including Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and, of course, English. This is great, as Mac users often get the short end of the stick when it comes to features.
The Android App
This VPN is available for Android 4.2+, and can be installed from the Google Play store or downloaded directly as an .apk file. This is great news for anti-Google privacy heads.
The app has the same aesthetic as its desktop siblings and is similarly easy to use.
This reviewer does not use iOS, but the app looks to be more or less identical to the Android one. And unlike many custom iOS VPN apps, OpenVPN is fully supported.
Unlike most such extensions, these are not browser-only proxies. They are instead a front-end to the full desktop software, which must also be installed.
This means that when the VPN is turned on with the browser extension, your entire computer is protected by the VPN. The primary advantages of using the browser extensions over just using the full VPN client are convenience and that they provide full WebRTC protection. To find out more about this topic, check out our VPN browser extensions page.
|Money-back guarantee length||30|
ExpressVPN is well known because of its incredible attention to detail when it comes to support. Its instant 24/7/365 support is available via live chat or a ticketed email system, and is a feature that has been copied by just about every leading VPN out there.
As is to be expected, front-line staff are not all technical whizz-kids. However, even with more difficult questions they always managed to point me to relevant resources or answer my questions knowledgeably after a quick consultation with other staff members.
This sets ExpressVPN apart from many of its competitors for whom the support staff are just glorified sales representatives there to encourage people to buy a subscription; rather than to deal with problems.
On March 17, 2020, ExpressVPN did temporarily suspend its live chat due to staffing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company apologized profusely for any inconvenience this might have caused, but it is understandably doing what is necessary during the crisis.
The good news is that the live chat is fully operational again (07/09/2020), and we can only hope that there aren't any further problems due to the pandemic.
Privacy and Security
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which is a British overseas territory. The BVI regulates its own internal affairs and has no mandatory data retention laws.
However, since it lies under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the UK government, it seems reasonable to assume that the UK could put pressure on the BVI government and businesses. So (and this is something of a guess, as the legal situation is very murky), being based in the BVI is probably safer than being based in a Fourteen Eyes country, but is not ideal.
ExpressVPN keeps no usage logs; however, it does keep some (fairly minimal) connection logs:
For the purpose of improving network resource allocation, we record aggregate data-transfer amounts and choice of server location, neither of which are data points that can identify a specific user as part of an investigation. We may collect the following information: dates (not times) when connected to our service, choice of server location, and the total amount of data transferred per day.
Our software may send diagnostic data to a third party analytics provider for the purpose of identifying connection errors and possible bugs in our application. The information collected is generic in nature and does not contain personally-identifying information.
This last part is important. ExpressVPN only keeps logs in aggregate form. This means that the minimal amount of information collected for troubleshooting purposes is not associated with the IP addresses of individual customers. For more information about VPN logs, check out our no-logs VPN page.
In a highly innovative move, ExpressVPN's servers run entirely in RAM to ensure that data does not persist on hard drives when a server is rebooted. This also prevents potential intruders from persisting on the machine. Each time a server is started, it boots from a read-only hard disk containing a static image of the software used which is loaded as a single block. This mitigates against any form of data leak or tampering and ensures consistency across the network as each machine is always running the same software.
This consistency improves security because ExpressVPN can be confident that all of its servers are running the most up-to-date software when powered on, thus minimizing the risk of vulnerabilities or misconfiguration.
Protocols and Encryption
ExpressVPN supports most VPN protocols, including OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), SSTP, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP. For OpenVPN (our recommended protocol) it uses the following encryption settings:
Data channel: An AES-256-CBC cipher with HMAC SHA-256 data authentication.
Control channel: An AES-256-GCM cipher with RSA-384 handshake encryption and HMAC SHA-256 data authentication. Perfect Forward secrecy is provided by a DH-2048 Diffie-Hellman key exchange.
This is a very strong OpenVPN setup.
Or just take a look at this interesting graphic on the ExpressVPN review over at Comparitech.com which explains exactly how long it would take to break their encryption.
Both the Windows and macOS and clients feature IPv4 and IPv6 leak protection, although as we have seen, IPv6 users should take additional steps to prevent IPv6 WebRTC leaks. Such as installing ExpessVPN's browser add-ons. DNS requests are handled by ExpressVPN's self-hosted servers for maximum privacy. The desktop clients also include a firewall-based kill switch to ensure your IP address is not exposed in the case of a VPN drop-out.
ExpressVPN offers "stealth-servers" located in Hong Kong. These are specially designed to defeat censorship in mainland China but should be useful wherever VPNs are blocked. ExpressVPN is understandably cagey about how these servers actually work, but from the reports we receive they work well. Just remember that nothing can be 100% guaranteed when a powerful government is actively working to counter technologies such as this.
After several major companies have been observed releasing software and hardware infected with malware, ExpressVPN has even taken the time to lock down its development and distribution process – preventing unauthorized third-party intervention. These safeguarding measures have already been put in place and independently verified by CyberSec firm, PwC Switzerland.
In this section, we will look more closely at what you get with ExpressVPN in comparison to other VPNs on the market.
Firstly, customers are now allowed to connect up to five devices at the same time, which should give users more than enough connections; and makes it good for families and households who all need a VPN.
In terms of support, ExpressVPN pioneered the concept of 24/7 live chat using expert agents that know how to solve common issues. This is a feature that has been copied industry-wide, however, ExpressVPN still leads the was due to its extremely capable support agents.
For users who want to download, torrenting is permitted on all of Express' VPN servers, though, admittedly, hardcore downloaders may miss the ability to port forward through the VPN NAT firewall which is not available with this provider - a minor quibble - that is nonetheless worth noting.
As is common with larger providers who offer a great many server locations, ExpressVPN uses a mix of bare metal and virtual servers. For the vast majority of users, virtual servers are a non-issue, and ExpressVPN is now clearly explaining which servers are on its website (but not in the apps). Revealing which servers are virtual in the app would allow customers to make an informed decision about which servers to use, and we would like to see this added in the future.
In addition to supporting a wide range of routers, ExpressVPN offers a range of pre-configured ExpressVPN routers via FlashRouters. These use custom firmware and feature DNS leak protection and split tunneling for connected devices.
In addition to the above standard features, ExpressVPN offers some useful non-standard ones that add great value to its already fully-featured service...
Smart DNS is a technology used for geo-spoofing your location. This very useful for accessing streaming services such as US Netflix and BBC iPlayer, which are geo-blocked. It works by resolving your DNS requests at a specified location, and has the following advantages over using a VPN:
- It is must faster, as no encryption/decryption is required. This means fewer buffering issues.
- It can be used with any internet-capable device, including many that cannot run VPN software. For example, smart TVs, games consoles, and Roku devices.
- It is less likely to be blocked by services that try to ban VPN users (although this cannot be guaranteed).
On the flip side, Smart DNS does nothing to improve your privacy or security.
All ExpressVPN customers gain full access to both its VPN and Smart DNS services.
ExpressVPN Smart DNS unblocked both US Netflix and BBC iPlayer for us when performing this review.
A .onion Tor Web Address
Sometimes the most difficult thing about defeating censorship with a VPN is getting onto a VPN provider’s website so you can sign up for the service and download its software. ExpressVPN has a solution for this!
Just type http://expressobutiolem.onion into the URL bar of the Tor Browser to visit a Tor Hidden Services dark web mirror of the ExpressVPN website. Using a .onion address makes it more or less impossible to censor the website.
Bundled with HP laptops
As of September 2019, ExpressVPN is very pleased to announce that it has struck a deal with HP to offer new buyers of HP laptops, including the flagship Spectre x360 13, a 30-day free trial of the service.
ExpressVPN is particularly pleased to note that the deal includes "deep product integration," which as far as we can determine means the app is pinned to the Task Bar.
This is undoubtedly a marketing coup for ExpressVPN, and maybe a welcome introduction to the world of VPNs for some new HP customers.
ExpressVPN has recently released a brand new encryption protocol called Lightway. According to ExpressVPN, this protocol has been designed with both privacy and connection speeds in mind, and early indications are that this protocol is excellent for VPN users looking for the fastest possible speed available!
So far, Lightway has not been audited by independent security auditors; which makes it impossible to recommend in terms of security and privacy. However, this protocol (which is still in Beta) is an interesting addition to the service and is something we will keep monitoring as time passes.
Bundled with Dynabook PCs
A year from unveiling its rebrand from Toshiba Client Solutions, Dynabook has jointly announced a partnership with ExpressVPN in January 2020 – a first for the PC manufacturer.
Dynabook products will now be shipped with a free 30-day trial to the VPN service in hopes of making privacy mainstream, starting with the new Satellite Pro L50 and eventually expanding to all future models.
Much like ExpressVPN’s partnership with HP, this is a double-edged sword. While it will introduce the uninitiated to the world of VPNs, it walks the fine line of becoming bloatware for those that aren’t interested. Plus, the company already offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, meaning that there is little that makes this offer stand out to those already aware of the service.
ExpressVPN offers a fully featured and highly polished service that oozes professionalism. Its superb customer service, easy-to-use software, and a generous 30-day money-back guarantee are all reasons to give this service a try.
ExpressVPN’s technical security easily matches the professionalism it shows in making the service as user-friendly as possible. Encryption is extremely robust, which makes ExpressVPN’s impressive connection speeds all the more remarkable.
The minimal aggregated connection logs kept by ExpressVPN do not affect user privacy, and allow the VPN to ensure its service is always running at full steam. This is a credit to the reliability provided by the platform.
Throw in its excellent, free Smart DNS service, anti-censorship stealth servers, and a very generous referral program, and it seems fair to say that ExpressVPN is a market-leading VPN service that is at the very top of its game.
So, is this service worth the slightly higher cost? We think so - yes! If you take your privacy seriously, and you want free access to the world wide web (as it was intended!), we believe that $7 a month is a fair price to pay!