Honest Review of ExpressVPN (2022)

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Over 31% of internet users use a VPN to protect themselves, especially remote workers and business owners.

Impressive, right?

If you find yourself part of the 31%, you’ll want to ensure that you use the best VPN.

Summary:

  • Over 160 servers spread throughout more than 93 countries
  • Split tunneling
  • It doesn’t keep connection or activity logs
  • It supports a lot of devices

Of all of the virtual private networks (VPN) that I tested, ExpressVPN is one of my most recommended services.

Before throwing any money at ExpressVPN, you should know what you’re getting into and whether the service is suitable for you.

First off, if you’re a remote worker, traveler, or a digital nomad who uses various devices other VPN providers may not support, you’ll want ExpressVPN. That’s because you can use Express on uncommon devices like the Nintendo Switch. I’ll dive into this area later.

As you dive into this ExpressVPN review, you will learn all of this VPN provider’s features, pricing, and frequently asked questions. Afterward, you will have all the information you need to help you make an informed purchasing decision.

Explore a guide I wrote a while back if you want more information on virtual private networks.

How Did I Rate ExpressVPN?

To test ExpressVPN’s virtual private network service, I subscribed to the service for a couple of months. Next, I tried each feature, how it performed, and observed whether it followed my criteria.

How To Choose a VPN: 6 Tips to Follow

When shopping for a virtual private network, you’ll want to create criteria for yourself. That’s because you’ll likely need it for different scenarios than others who would consider a VPN service.

But, you will still need a starting point to create your checklist. The following factors are ones that most of you will want to consider before subscribing to any VPN:

  1. VPN server locations: no matter where you are, you’ll want to ensure that a VPN service has servers nearby. That way, you can use a VPN without losing too much speed.
  2. Login and encryption security: see what encryption methods the company offers. Also, while not likely, see if they also provide 2FA logins to their websites.
  3. Where they’re based: this makes a difference because local laws can affect how they handle your data.
  4. Anonymous payments: if they offer cryptocurrency payments, you can pay anonymously.
  5. No-log policy: this ensures that VPN providers don’t keep logs on your browsing activities.

Encryption algorithms: not all encryption types are the same. Some offer more speed while others enhance your privacy.

ExpressVPN Review

ExpressVPN offers a fair number of features for what you’re purchasing. It can get a little pricey depending on what plan you choose. However, due to their wide selection of servers, the subscription price is worth it.

If you’re overseas, you’ll want this virtual private network service.

Tee the Nomad

Encryption
Data security
User Experience
Value

Summary

4.9

ExpressVPN Features

Regarding features, Express provides plenty of them. Most VPNs usually offer a VPN service and provide “features” you could find for free using other web applications.

Encryption Methods

ExpressVPN doesn’t offer WireGuard, which was disappointing. However, they built Lightway, which appears to offer decent protection. Anyway, ExpressVPN’s other encryption algorithms include:

  • IKEv2: works best on mobile
  • OpenVPN (UDP & TCP) UDP offers better speeds while TCP offers reliability
  • L2TP: best for staying anonymous and not security
  • Lightway: it connects better on specific networks
  • Automatic: selects what they recommend based on your connection

Stealth Servers

While there isn’t much information on what stealth servers are, from what I could find, these servers, or Stealth VPNs, helps bypass strict internet regulations such as China’s Great Firewall. Moreover, Stealth Servers make your activities appear normal in the eyes of internet moderators.

Express doesn’t specify how a Stealth VPN bypasses censorship technology. But all that matters is that it works.

Please note that I haven’t been able to use Stealth Servers personally. So you’ll want to explore the web and search for perspectives of those in countries with strict censorship. If they use this technology, they may let you know whether Stealth VPNs work.

Router App

ExpressVPN’s router app bypasses installing apps on your devices because they will secure your router’s internet connection using Lightway encryption algorithms. Moreover, there’s no limit as to how many devices you can connect to your VPN-protected router.

Split Tunneling

Express’ split tunneling enables you to let some of your devices and applications go through encrypted tunnels while others don’t. It’s a helpful feature if you need to do tasks like use a network printer, download files, and more.

MediaStreamer

ExpressVPNs media streamer serves as a tool for you who want to stream media from another country but don’t want to suffer from the slow speeds that encryption comes with.

User Interface and Experience

There’s no dark mode, nor a mode that adapts to your operating system’s theme. However, ExpressVPN makes up for its lack of customizability with accessibility features such as support for over 17 languages.

Moreover, their options offer many ways to tinker with your VPN and test whether you’re secure.

Some of these features include:

  • Speed test: tests the internet speed of different ExpressVPN servers
  • IP address checker: it notifies you whether you have a protected IP
  • DNS leak test: checks whether whoever runs your DNS can log every website that you visit
  • WebRTC leak test: lets you know whether your browser is exposing your IP to visited websites
  • Protocol: the type of encryption algorithm to use—it’s set to automatic by default

ExpressVPN Speed

The server you choose and the encryption algorithm you go with will differentiate your speed when using ExpressVPN.

For example, if you were in Taiwan and used IKEv2—their fastest encryption—on their Taiwanese server, you would experience 18 MBPS download speeds and 38 ms latency. 

Conversely, if you chose a server in South Africa and you’re in Taiwan, you would have a latency of 406 ms and a download speed of 2 MBPS.

How Private Is ExpressVPN?

Like many VPNs, ExpressVPN uses the AES-256 encryption standard. However, they add more features to protect your privacy, such as split tunneling, stealth servers, and various VPN encryption algorithms to choose from.

Express also doesn’t keep any logs of your browsing history and activity.

ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Isles, out of reach of various data-sharing alliances such as the Five Eyes.

My Recommendations To Fix Lack of Login Security

My biggest gripe with their privacy, and security, is that they don’t have 2-Factor Authentication or security keys to bolster your account’s security. If you make an account with Express, make sure you use a password manager and use the most complex password possible.

As for the best free password managers, I recommend using the open-source software Bitwarden.

Also, to further safeguard your information, I believe using an anonymous email alias solution like SimpleLogin is another excellent way to protect yourself. That way, if your email’s exposed on one platform, someone couldn’t attempt to use it to log into ExpressVPN’s website.

ExpressVPN Customer Support

ExpressVPN offers email and live chat customer support. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for me to get someone on the line in their live chat when I had a question.

If you pursue this route, they will ask what email you’re using to contact them through live chat. However, you can still access live chat without an ExpressVPN account.

How Good Is ExpressVPN Mobile App

They have a feature on their mobile app that tells you what days and how long ExpressVPN has protected your device.

Moreover, it offers some quality of life features like auto-connecting when joining a network that’s not listed as trusted and when you start your phone. It’ll prevent you from not accidentally connecting to unprotected WiFi.

expressvpn mobile application mockup

To further protect yourself from attackers, you can also block internet usage on your device when you’re not connected to your VPN.

Earlier, I mentioned split tunneling; you can select which apps use the VPN and bypass encryptions on the app. Otherwise, there aren’t many differences among the ExpressVPN mobile apps and their counterparts on other devices.

Do you need to know a country’s most popular messaging app? Then, check out this piece to prepare yourself for your next trip.

ExpressVPN’s Browser Extension

Express’ browser add-on is excellent for you who want to remotely control a device’s ExpressVPN application or need HTTPS everywhere. Keep in mind that many browsers offer lightweight extensions for HTTPS Everywhere or have the feature built-in.

Contrary to what I said, it also includes the ability to block WebRTC, which blocks websites’ abilities to find out your IP address or where you’re located while connected to a VPN. Moreover, it blocks HTML5 geolocation.

However, with some tweaks to a browser’s settings, you can also disable WebRTC without ExpressVPN’s add-on.

The extension’s file size is 7.7Mb, so if you’re a stickler for file size, that isn’t too bad.

How Easy Is It To Install ExpressVPN?

First, log into your account on their website, copy the activation code, download ExpressVPN for one of many devices, and enter the activation code when the installation prompts you to do so.

ExpressVPN Plans and Pricing

ExpressVPN offers three plans: monthly, annually, and a payment every six months. If you want to save money on ExpressVPN, I’d recommend going for the 12-month plan. While you have to pay upfront, they give you a decent discount if you pay everything upfront.

expressvpn_pricing

Regarding payment options, you can pay for Express anonymously by using Bitcoin. Unfortunately, they don’t accept Ethereum or Ripple like other VPN providers.

Also, you can pay using PayPal, various debit and credit cards, and online transfers. If you don’t want to use Bitcoin for anonymous transactions, you will want to consider using a virtual debit card service to disguise your card number. I use Privacy.com for more privacy when using debit cards.

ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, if you’re not satisfied with your service, you’ll have to contact Express’ support to request reimbursement.

Also read: Privacy.com burner debit card service review

Alternatives to ExpressVPN

Before subscribing to ExpressVPN, you may want to consider researching their competitors. Below are a few options to start your journey. There are a couple of paid options and a way to create a VPN for free.

1. Surfshark VPN

surfshark vpn logo

Quick facts:

  • 3200 servers throughout 65 countries
  • OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2/IPsec encryption
  • RAM-based servers
  • Secure browser extension
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

If you’re not a fan of Express, you may want to consider Surfshark. Despite where they’re located, which you’ll see in a second, they’re a great company. Fantastic customer service, decent server speed, and many privacy features.

For instance, Surfshark VPN accepts Ripple, Ethereum, and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies. Also, this VPN service provider offers GPS spoofing, among other features.

They also run off RAM-based servers, which means you don’t have to worry about how difficult it is for the staff to wipe your data. Also, they run off a no-log policy despite their location. Surfshark achieves this feat by spreading its technologies around the globe.

The biggest downside is the features you get for the subscription price you pay. However, the monthly fee isn’t too bad, so I still believe you get a decent deal for what you’re subscribing to.

I wrote an in-depth review on Surfshark VPN based on my experience with the service.

Pros

  • Great customer service
  • It runs on a no-log policy
  • Many available servers
  • Secure browser add-on

Cons

  • Based in the Netherlands, a country in the Nine-eyes alliance
  • Not too many features

2. ProtonVPN

Quick facts:

  • Switzerland-based
  • Up to 1556 servers spread throughout 61 countries
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2
  • Can combine ProtonVPN and ProtonMail into one plan

ProtonVPN is made by the same company that brought us ProtonMail. If you haven’t heard of ProtonMail, it’s an encrypted email service with paid and free plans. I recommend it as an alternative to Gmail.

Anyway, ProtonVPN. It’s based in Switzerland, which isn’t a part of the Fourteen, Nine, and Five Eyes agreements. So if you’re someone who needs to connect ten devices simultaneously and have a lot of speed, you’ll love this VPN.

While it’s more affordable than most VPNs, if you don’t need it for the features that I mentioned above, you experience the most value. Also, another factor to keep in mind is that you’ll likely need the Plus plan. Otherwise, you won’t be able to experience much with this service.

Pros

  • Open-source software
  • High-speeds
  • Highest-strength encryption
  • No-logs policy

Cons

  • Must pay extra to have streaming service support
  • Can only contact support through email

3. Create A VPN

Fortunately, there’s a way to create a free VPN. At least free for up to a year. Is taking the free route reliable? Who knows. I know for sure that using a free VPN won’t help you bypass content restrictions. But it’s best to have an IP address in the U.S.

To create a free VPN, you’ll need an Amazon Web Services (AWS) account. Also, you’ll need a debit card on file. If you don’t want your debit card number on Amazon, you can create a free or paid virtual debit card with Privacy. I wrote a review on the service to give you more information on this software.

I already linked a tutorial to the tutorial on how to create a free VPN with AWS on my Surfshark review. However, I’ll post it again here:

I followed this video and created my free and functioning VPN service. I don’t still use my free VPN due to it not being too useful. However, it’s still an option some of y’all may find helpful.

Final Verdict on ExpressVPN

While Express is more expensive than most of its virtual private network competitors, and while Express’ recent buyout from Kapa Technologies may raise questions, ExpressVPN still offers one of the most secure VPN options for travelers, digital nomads, and anyone wanting to get the benefits of having a VPN.

If you’re traveling to another country and decide to save money by only using free WiFi, you’ll need this kind of VPN to add a layer of protection to your data.

Pros

  • Decent features
  • Offers many servers throughout most of the world
  • Based in the British Virgin Isles
  • Pretty fast: depending on encryption and server choice

Cons

  • Lack of anonymous payment options
  • Owned by Kape Technologies

ExpressVPN Frequently Asked Questions

Save time from scouring ExpressVPNs support pages and Google while you can find your answers here. Keep reading to explore some commonly asked questions about ExpressVPN.

Is ExpressVPN Illegal?

ExpressVPN is legal to use—unless you use it for illegal activities or use it in a country where VPNs are regulated or banned.

Some countries that enforce bans or regulations on VPNs like ExpressVPN include:
Uganda: banned
– United Arab Emirates: regulated
– Russia: regulated
– Turkey: regulated
– Oman: regulated
– North Korea: regulated
– Iraq: banned
– People’s Republic of China: banned
– Belarus: banned

Where Is ExpressVPN Based?

ExpressVPN’s parent company, Kape Technologies, is based in the United Kingdom, while ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

BVI doesn’t have any data retention requirements and isn’t a part of any organizations where countries have to share data; however, the UK is. Fortunately, ExpressVPN claims that it will remain a separate service from Kape, which means their data protection won’t change.

Is ExpressVPN in the 5 Eyes?

Since ExpressVPN based its operations in the British Virgin Islands, they are not within the 5 Eyes jurisdiction.

How Many Countries Does ExpressVPN Have Servers In?

ExpressVPN hosts over 160 servers in 94 countries.

Should You Buy ExpressVPN?

If you want a virtual private network that won’t share any of your data, offers a myriad of features, provides top-notch security and isn’t vague about its details, and allows you to pay for your services with crypto, you’ll love ExpressVPN.

Yes, VPNs can add quite a bit to your budget. But I believe with this product that you get what you pay for. However, if you’re still hesitant about this VPN service provider, I recommend trying ExpressVPN for one month.

If you don’t like it, let them know, and you’ll get your money back.

While you’re here, discover more ways you can protect yourself while working remotely or traveling: