ExpressVPN fast facts

Our rating: 4.4 stars out of 5
Pricing: Starts at $6.67/mo (annual)
Key features:
  • Easy-to-use, well-designed app interface.
  • RAM-only server technology.
  • Servers spread across 94 countries.

ExpressVPN is one of the most well-known VPN providers today. It offers a straightforward and intuitive interface, great speed and performance, and servers in more than 90 countries. It also has strong security features and an impressive portfolio of third-party security audits.

While it is on the pricier side, its mix of features and ease of use make it a strong contender amongst other VPNs.

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ExpressVPN Pricing

DurationPrice
1 year$6.67 per month
6 months$9.99 per month
1 month$12.95 per month
7-day free trialFree on mobile only

ExpressVPN’s pricing across the board is on the pricier end. Its 1-year, 6-month, and monthly plans are all a bit more expensive compared to the same plans from other VPN providers.

The steeper price doesn’t make it an outright bad service, though, as ExpressVPN offers quality features to justify the price. Express also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if it doesn’t suit your needs. An ExpressVPN subscription also nets you their password manager, ExpressVPN Keys, at no additional cost—an interesting value-add that may help alleviate the overall expense.

However, I would like to see ExpressVPN have lower prices overall. If not, having at least a 2-year or 3-year plan with a more affordable asking price would be ideal.

There is a 7-day free trial, but this is only available for ExpressVPN’s mobile apps on iOS and Android.

Is ExpressVPN secure?

ExpressVPN comes with the longtime industry-standard security protocol OpenVPN. It also has ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol designed to be optimized for speed, reliability and security. These two protocols give users a good choice between security (OpenVPN) and fast performance (Lightway).

Unfortunately, ExpressVPN doesn’t carry the newer, speed-oriented WireGuard protocol. This is perhaps to push more people to use Lightway. While Lightway is fast and reliable, I wish that ExpressVPN still included WireGuard, especially considering how it has become a standard protocol offering found in other VPN services.

In addition, ExpressVPN has all the expected security features built-in: AES-256 encryption, a kill switch (called Network Lock), DNS leak protection and split tunneling.

There is controversy, however, regarding ExpressVPN’s ownership. Back in 2021, ExpressVPN was purchased by Kape Technologies—formerly known as Crossrider, a company heavily associated with adware and malware. Kape has since moved into the cybersecurity space and acquired other popular VPNs like Private Internet Access and CyberGhost.

ExpressVPN has reiterated that it continues to operate as an independent service despite the controversial acquisition. Furthermore, ExpressVPN has a no-logs policy backed by an impressive portfolio of independent audits. ExpressVPN claims to not collect logs of user activity such as browsing history, IP addresses, session durations and DNS queries.

As of October 2023, ExpressVPN has a total of 16 third-party audits on their lineup of apps and services dating back to 2018 (with a 2022 audit of Lightway being the most recent). The company also utilizes its own TrustedServer RAM-only technology that wipes all data within its servers with every reboot.

While ExpressVPN’s ownership is a valid concern, I feel that the VPN company has done enough to show that it is a secure and safe product to use this year.

ExpressVPN Key Features

ExpressVPN includes features that may make it worth the spend; I’ve listed three in the section below.

Easy-to-use interface

Figure A

ExpressVPN’s main dashboard.
ExpressVPN’s main dashboard. Image: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN has a clean and modern user interface that’s easy on the eyes and performs really well. While VPNs are primarily security products, I believe that they must be balanced with an interface that elevates—not hinders—a user’s experience.

Figure B

ExpressVPN dashboard with server list.
ExpressVPN dashboard with server list. Image: ExpressVPN

Its desktop interface is pleasant and simple. Each feature and menu is placed intuitively, with no important option or switch hidden or obscured. ExpressVPN’s user-friendly design and UI is definitely one of its strongest features.

TrustedServer technology

Figure C

ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology.
ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology. Image: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology employs and runs on RAM-only servers, and all data is wiped with every reboot. With more traditional server setups that run on hard drives, data is stored unless it’s manually overwritten.

A RAM-only server setup grants an additional layer of security against data breaches or even physical intruders that gain access to server hardware. This is a valuable safety net that many privacy enthusiasts will appreciate.

Up to 8 device connections

ExpressVPN allows for up to eight device connections with one subscription. This is a noteworthy feature, especially since ExpressVPN previously only allowed five simultaneous connections. With ExpressVPN’s pricier plans compared to other VPNs, I’m happy to see that customers receive more device connections.

ExpressVPN Speed and Performance

During my testing, ExpressVPN had great speed and stability. In particular, I used ExpressVPN’s desktop app while doing work on Google Workspace apps such as Drive and Docs, attending online meetings, having multiple tabs open for research and browsing social media. Changing menus and activating features felt snappy, while establishing connections and switching servers happened almost instantly. I had zero noticeable drops in speed and found that each site I visited loaded quickly. I also had no problem streaming a 4K YouTube video while connected to an ExpressVPN server.

For upload and download speeds, ExpressVPN produced great results. It had a 25.57% drop in download speed and a 27.96% drop in upload speed; these were excellent results considering slower speeds are expected once connected to a VPN. In particular, the upload speed was one of the fastest I’ve recorded compared to other VPNs I’ve tested.

I also tested ExpressVPN for DNS leaks using a public DNS leak tool. Throughout multiple tests using different servers, ExpressVPN held up and didn’t have any leaks whatsoever.

ExpressVPN’s Windows app is also well-designed and easy to navigate.

ExpressVPN Servers and Locations

ExpressVPN has servers spread out across 94 countries — one of the best country spreads from a VPN service I’ve used so far. ExpressVPN doesn’t explicitly state how many servers it has in its fleet, but for context, it has been reported to have around 3,000 servers.

Figure D

ExpressVPN servers and locations.
ExpressVPN servers and locations. Image: ExpressVPN

It has servers in the Asia Pacific, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. ExpressVPN looks to be a good option if you want a diverse server suite that includes a broad range of countries and locations.

ExpressVPN also says that almost 80% of their global bandwidth runs on 10Gbps servers. While I don’t know for sure if the servers I tested were 10Gbps, I can say speed performance on ExpressVPN was very fast and reliable.

I would have preferred if ExpressVPN categorized their servers in terms of which ones are best for P2P torrenting or streaming, but that may be a choice they made to prioritize simplicity.

ExpressVPN Browser Extensions

Aside from being available on Windows, macOS and Linux, ExpressVPN also has browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave and Vivaldi. The browser extension serves as a remote control for the desktop app and protects the whole machine, not just the browser.

Figure E

ExpressVPN browser extension.
ExpressVPN browser extension. Image: ExpressVPN

I used their browser extension on my Google Chrome account and it worked as advertised. Like the desktop app, the ExpressVPN browser extension was fast, easy-to-use and reliable.

ExpressVPN Pros

  • Easy-to-use, well-designed app interface
  • Great speeds and performance
  • RAM-only server technology
  • Up to eight simultaneous device connections
  • Servers spread across 94 countries

Express VPN Cons

  • On the more expensive side
  • Lacks a 2-year or 3-year subscription option
  • Owned by controversial Kape Technologies

Who is ExpressVPN best for?

ExpressVPN is best for users who want a no-nonsense VPN service that offers fast speeds and top security. Its well-designed desktop application is among the best I’ve used, and it has an extensive server suite that spans 94 countries.

It is more expensive than other VPNs, and its controversial parent company may turn away some people, but those who end up purchasing ExpressVPN will definitely get their money’s worth.

ExpressVPN alternatives

While ExpressVPN is a good option for those who prioritize having an easy-to-use interface, I’ve listed possible alternatives.

NordVPN

The NordVPN logo.
Image: NordVPN

NordVPN is one of the most popular VPN solutions out there—and for good reason. It offers around 5,800 servers across 60+ countries, threat protection against malware and trackers and a unique meshnet secure file-sharing system. Nord also offers services such as NordPass and NordLocker for enhanced security.

CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN icon.
Image: CyberGhost VPN

If you’re specifically looking for a large server suite, CyberGhost is another top pick. It offers more than 9,700 servers from over 100 countries—one of the broadest server offerings available. It also has a generous 24-hour free trial that doesn’t require any payment or credit card information.

Private Internet Access VPN

The Private Internet Access logo.
Image: Private Internet Access

For prospective users looking to connect multiple devices, Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN should be on your list. It allows users to simultaneously connect an unlimited number of devices—a meaningful value proposition if you’re on a tighter budget. While PIA doesn’t explicitly advertise its server count, it reportedly has between 10,000 and 35,000 servers to choose from.

 

How we evaluated ExpressVPN

My review of ExpressVPN involved a comprehensive assessment of its key features and real-world performance. I had hands-on experience with ExpressVPN on my Windows laptop for extensive testing.

To test for download and upload speeds, I used Ookla’s public Speedtest. For DNS leak protection, I ran ExpressVPN multiple times (with different servers) using DNSLeakTest.

Finally, I scored ExpressVPN on various attributes, including its security protocols and price, based on an internal algorithm to get a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. I looked at ExpressVPN both on its own and in relation to other VPN providers available.

This review was an update to an earlier version written by Franklin Okeke.

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