Express VPN Review

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Founded in 2009, Express VPN is originated from Tortola, British Virgin Islands and still performing under the same administration and is a non-member of the 5,9 or 14- Eyes agreement.

Let’s have a look at 256-bit AES encryption and an alternative of OpenVPN, SSTP, L2Tp/IPsec, and PPTP protocols along with zero logging policy on more than 2,000 servers.

Express VPN seems like a winner on paper, but take a look at how does this VPN performs in the real world? Let us see:

PROS

  • Minimal Interface
  • Running under the same jurisdiction
  • Amazing server speeds
  • Lots of countries and servers
  • Fitting all the major devices and applications
  • Strong security and encryption values
  • Zero virus or malware
  • Strict Zero-logging policy
  • Enables Torrenting
  • Kill-switch feature
  • Offers 24/7 live chat support

CONS

  • Doesn’t support Hulu or Netflix
  • Restricted to 3 devices
  • Phone not supported
  • Lacks in public information about the company
  • A bit expensive

Speed & Expectations

You must remember that you will experience speed reduction with almost all the VPN providers since you’re inevitably including more layers between your local machine and the information source.

The amount of speed reduction you can expect to face is largely depended on your physical proximity to the VPN server along with level of encryption, protocols, server load and ISP speed limitations.

So while a increase in speed is possible with the help of VPN like this one, the result is still very rare and only happen while using a poor internet service provider.

Speed Test Results

To achieve a fair overall rating for any VPN speed test, we measure the following factors in aggregate:

  1. Download speed: It’s the data transferring rate from the server to your device. This is evaluated in megabytes per second (Mbps), and the higher number is better.
  2. Upload speed: The data transferring rate from your device to the server. This is also calculated in megabytes per second (Mbps) and again, the higher the number, the better it is.
  3. Ping (or latency): Latency is tested by “pinging” the server, it’s the period the VPN takes to receive and process your request. This is evaluated in milliseconds (ms), and a lower number is better.

However, before making any comparison, we were required to evaluate the baseline score for the same metrics without the use of a VPN.
We got the following results

The totals and averages were as follows:

Now, with the use of Express VPN, we tested all three metrics throughout various countries to collect the accurate data of the overall speed.

For the United States, we ran 5 tests using ExpressVPN and got the following

Performance & Features

When it comes over VPN speed is one of the major decisive factors. A slow provider is considered a wrong provider.

Though, some other specs and features play an essential role in maximum utility, correctly, when privacy and security are not the primary features you’re looking in a VPN.

The following aspects in particular:

1.    Number of servers: 2000+ servers are available across the world to connect to, not concerning their physical locations.

2.    Number of countries: Servers covered 94 countries regardless of how many of them were located in a single country.

3.    Number of connections allowed: 3 devices can be connected on a server (or number of servers) depended on a separate VPN account or subscription.

4.    Torrenting allowed: Yes, it enables torrenting. You can share files on a peer-to-peer or P2P network as compared to a single server.

5.    Kill switch available: The VPN software will disable your connections to the network the moment you disconnect from the VPN server. This protects your IP address from getting exposed.

Performance & Features (Summary)

FEATURE GRADE
Server count 2,000+ servers (excellent)
Countries supported 94 countries (good)
Connections allowed 3 connections (okay)
Torrenting allowed Yes (good)
Kill switch available Yes (good)

Express VPN is a strong service provider with as many as 2,000 servers across a huge spread of 94 countries. You will not easily get numbers like this out there in the multi-verse of VPN providers.

When it comes over your connection (or device) limit, you’ll be allowed up to 3 real-time connections which is pretty standard and kind of a very basic feature. They could’ve done some better here considering the cheaper options already providing large number of connections like Avast offering up to 5 connections.

If you want a P2P file sharing and torrents in particular, you’ll not be disappointed by Express VPN, and the company openly supports uTorrent on their website.

On top of that, the much liked kill-switch feature is also available on all versions of Express VPN which includes desktop and mobile.

Privacy & Security

It is the basic reason why people buy access to a virtual private network. Everyone wants to keep their online privacy and sensitive data secured and away from the reach of cyberpunks.

Otherwise, whether you’re browsing from public hotspots like railway stations, airports, and hotels, or even just using your Wi-Fi at home, it’s a no brainer for the hackers and other unscrupulous professionals to get access to your personal information.

A VPN will protect your network by masking your IP address and encrypting all of your data on it. So, if they’re not able to see you, they won’t be able to steal anything. Right?

Of course, nothing is 100% unbreakable, and there are VPN’s who are defenseless in protecting your sensitive data.

We looked at the following:

  • DNS leaks: We didn’t find anything like network’s DNS (domain name system) on your ISP which is a common phenomenon while using a VPN service. Such kind of leaks is very detrimental to your online anonymity.
  • IP leaks: Just like your DNS leaks, this exposes your real IP address on the network which enables third parties to get access to your confidential information.
  • WebRTC leaks: Web Real-Time Communication is a protocol used by modern browsers that supports peer-to-peer applications. It can also show your true IP address over the network although you’re using a VPN.
  • Chrome extension leaks: DNS pre-fetching is a chrome feature that serves to decrease latency by pre-resolving domains that you’re going to visit. It can introduce a possible DNS leak while working on a VPN browser extension.
  • Encryption: Open VPN, L2Tp/IPsec, PPTP, and SSTP when connected to a VPN server, secures, and encrypts all the data that passes through. Many encryption methods and protocols are used, and some combinations are comparatively safer.
  • Logging policy: Zero logging. Most VPN companies track server activity having data like your name and email along with the usage time and bandwidth information. It’s ideal to ignore these VPN’s for online anonymity.
  • Viruses/Malware: We didn’t find any. Most viruses and malware infections can target poorly guarded servers, potentially impacting anyone’s security connecting to that same server. A great VPN must include solid server security.

Privacy & Security (Summary)

VULNERABILITY RESULT
DNS leaks None found
IP leaks None found
WebRTC leaks None found
Chrome extension leaks None found
Encryption used OpenVPN, SSTP, L2Tp/IPsec, PPTP
Logging policy No IP addresses (source or VPN), Browsing history, Traffic destination or metadata, DNS queries
Viruses/malware None detected

 

On testing DNS, IP, Web RTC, and Chrome extensions leaks but didn’t find any vulnerability on all three factors in Express VPN.

We’ve checked AES 256 encryption along with Open VPN, SSTP, L2Tp/IPsec, PPTP protocols to judge the level of security. Apart from L2TP/IPsec, which is supposed to be used in particular situations; it will be considered the gold standard by most experts in terms of specs.

Usability

Till now, we got to know that privacy and security is the biggest aspect of this VPN, now let’s have a closer look at the usability aspects of this VPN software, something that’s overlooked while comparing the options.

Namely, we’ll be diving into the following:

  1. Streaming/Geo-spoofing
  2. Compatibility
  3. Overall UI/UX

Streaming/Geo-spoofing

Whether you’ve gone on a vacation, you live abroad, or you just like watching shows from other countries, using a VPN is the right way of going through geographic streaming restrictions by hiding your IP address.

This is also known as “geo-spoofing” and most online streaming content providers like Netflix or Hulu defend themselves by constantly blocking IP’s linked with VPN’s. That’s why only strong VPNs can provide this perk.

We also tested the software using servers from the US, Singapore, Europe and Africa just to see how Express VPN performs against all the main streaming services.

 

  • Netflix: We found usual Netflix “Streaming Error” on every server location that we tested which means they got aware of us using a VPN server.
  • Hulu: One more time, we were thrown with “Video not available in this location” error on every server location that we checked.
  • YouTube: No, it was not detected this time. We successfully managed to stream region-locked YouTube content with help of Express VPN.
  • Kodi: We were also able to stream video with Kodi, a solid outcome considering some load delay and pixilation issues with prior VPN assessments.

 

Streaming/Geo-spoofing (Summary)

SERVICE US EUROPE ASIA SOUTH AMERICA AFRICA
Netflix No No No No No
Hulu No No No No No
YouTube Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Kodi Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Skype
Facetime

Taking price-point in the account, including no support for both Netflix and Hulu which we tested from every location is a large drawback, particularly seeing how well Express VPN has run so far.

Overall, it’s completely fair to say we’re not much impressed with the performance, and if streaming is what you’re looking for in a VPN, Express VPN is going to disappoint you in that case.

Compatibility

Each device that you access and use regularly depend on different operating systems, and also you use various programs to navigate the web, which is why it becomes challenging to remember the range of devices you access.

You should identify any incompatibilities which might make you vulnerable when switching devices, or even just switching browsers. Taking calculated decisions on which VPN to choose will save you from many cyber hazards.

We tested Express VPN with Tor browser, iOS devices, Android devices, Smart TV’s, Amazon Firestick, Mac, Windows, and routers to see how well the software performs.

The outcomes are as follows:

  • Tor browser: Express VPN performs well in combination with Tor (also called “Tor over VPN”) to deliver the highest level of security and anonymity.
  • iOS (iPad, iPhone): Express VPN supports and runs smoothly on all tested iOS Apple devices like the latest versions of iPad and iPhone.
  • Android: Express VPN also performs perfectly well with Google’s Android OS such as all smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even TV media sticks.
  • Smart TV’s: Yes, the software worked well with all the tested operating systems.
  • Amazon Firestick: Though a lot of VPN providers struggle to work with Amazon Firestick, this one worked in our test without any complications.
  • Mac: Mac users can take a breath of relief as our testing shows that Express VPN performs smoothly on the latest version of MacOS.
  • Windows: Microsoft Windows can use this VPN easily as the software has also got you covered.
  • Routers: The Express VPN app can perform on the network layer as well and is compatible with most routers.
  • Windows: Microsoft Windows can use this VPN easily as the software has also got you covered.
  • Routers: The Express VPN app can perform on the network layer as well and is compatible with most routers.

 

Compatibility (Summary)

ENVIRONMENT RESULT
Tor browser Supported
iOS (iPad, iPhone) Supported
Android Supported
Smart TV’s Supported
Amazon Firestick Supported
Mac Supported
Windows Supported
Routers Supported

We tried our luck in finding some sort of incompatibility between Express VPN and mainstream devices, browsers and operating systems. But the software stands out in this test too.

Apart from covering all the usual aspects like Android, iOS, Mac and Windows, it also worked well on other, often forgotten devices such as your TV and media stick.

It’s also noteworthy that it can also operate this software on the network level through router to automatically secure any device that links to it – something that majority of VPN service providers can’t ensure.

Overall UI/UX

You must not get caught up by the fancy features and specifications which can make you underestimate the entire experience of using that software.

So lets us walk you through the process of establishing and using Express VPN:

Beginning with the download screen, Express VPN identifies your device – let’s say Mac device – and provides you the best-fit download link as well as your unique activation code. You must not get caught up by the fancy features and specifications which can make you underestimate the entire experience of using that software.

So lets us walk you through the process of establishing and using Express VPN:

Beginning with the download screen, Express VPN identifies your device – let’s say Mac device – and provides you the best-fit download link as well as your unique activation code.