ExpressVPN Review & Test 2021 (BRUTALLY Honest!)
Recently, I want to find a stable and fast VPN to unblock all sorts of region-locked content. Now, I decide to start writing down my findings of all the VPNs I have tested. First of all, I’m excited to review ExpressVPN – the leading VPN company around with a fantastic reputation.
Today, I’m going to give you a full ExpressVPN review – what is ExpressVPN, how to use it, safety and security, subscription info, customer support, and more.
Let’s dive in!
- Part 1. What Is ExpressVPN
- Part 2. How to Use ExpressVPN
- Part 3. How Fast ExpressVPN is?
- Part 4. Can ExpressVPN unblock Netflix?
- Part 5. Is ExpressVPN Safe
- Part 7. ExpressVPN Price: How Much Is ExpressVPN
- Part 8. Customer Support: Live Chat, Email, Extensive Guides
- Final Words
Part 1. What Is ExpressVPN
First of all, I want to find some basic information of ExpressVPN. For example, when is it founded? where is it located? How to contact ExpressVPN?
It comes as no surprise that most VPN providers tend to be a secretive bunch, as they operate on the premise that everyone has the right to as much personal privacy as they desire.
As expected, I cannot find the “About” page on ExpressVPN’s website. Then, I check their “Support Center” and “Contact Us” pages. I still fail to find any of their “story”. There is also no location and contact number on the website’s header or footer.
Finally, I found the basic from the “Trust” page and the “Terms of Service” page. On the pages, ExpressVPN is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, a jurisdiction where there are no mandatory data retention laws and that is outside the “14 eyes” alliance. Therefore, ExpressVPN is not owned by China.
Part 2. How to Use ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN offers easy-to-use apps for many of the most popular platforms around, including:
- Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chromebook computers
- Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Nook HD, and Surface RT mobile devices
- Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick and Android TV systems
- Supported Wi-Fi router models
You can connect up to 5 of the above devices to the VPN simultaneously, in any combination.
Here, I will test ExpressVPN on my Windows 10 computer and iPhone 11.
How to Set Up and Use ExpressVPN on Windows PC
Step 1. Subscribe to ExpressVPN on the order page.
Step 2. Download ExpressVPN and get your activation code. In order to use ExpressVPN on your Windows computer, you will need your activation code.
Step 3. Install the ExpressVPN app for Windows. When prompted, click Sign In and paste your activation code.
Step 4. Connect to any one of 160 server locations. By default, ExpressVPN will suggest the location that provides the optimal experience for you, called Smart Location.
Step 5. Use the internet the way you want to use it!
How to Set Up and Use ExpressVPN on iPhone
Step 1. Download and install the ExpressVPN app for your iOS device from the App Store. (If you live in China, you won’t find ExpressVPN app in your App Store. The only solution I can find is to use other country’s Apple ID to download it.)
Step 2. After installation, sign in using your ExpressVPN username and password. Please note: Your password is not the same as your activation code.
- You will see a statement detailing the information collected by the ExpressVPN app. Tap Agree and Continue to proceed.
- You will be invited to set up your VPN. Tap Continue to proceed with the installation.
- The app will notify you: ‘ “ExpressVPN” Would Like to Add VPN Configurations.’ Tap Allow.
- Enter your passcode to add the VPN configurations.
- ExpressVPN will ask if you’d like to be notified of important announcements and alerts. Select your preference to continue.
- Your app will ask you if you’d like to share anonymous analytics to help make ExpressVPN faster and more reliable. Select your preference to continue.
Step 3. Connect to a VPN server location.
Part 3. How Fast ExpressVPN is?
Speed is important. Whether you want to download large files or chat with friends, a speedy internet connection ensures you can do so without delay or frustration.
It’s hard to say exactly the speed of ExpressVPN or any other VPN provider without testing by yourself. However, most of the top VPN services deliver speeds with certain commonalities:
- Speeds on local servers should reach or meet your base connection speed
- Speeds on distant servers in developed countries should decrease your download speeds by no more than 50%.
Using the Ookla online speedtest, we recorded 46.40Mbps download, and 19.67 Mbps upload while not connected to ExpressVPN.
When connected to ExpressVPN, I fail to connect to the “Smart Location. Then, I choose a server base in Los Angeles, and managed a 25.12Mbps download with 17.18Mbps upload.
Actually, ExpressVPN doesn’t meets these standards.
Part 4. Can ExpressVPN unblock Netflix?
According to a recent study 30% of users buy a VPN so as to get access to entertainment content. If this is your primary motivation ExpressVPN is an excellent choice for accessing different kinds of entertainment online.
One of the first things that users want to know about Express VPN is whether it can unblock Netflix. The answer is yes it can. However, not all ExpressVPN servers are compatible with Netflix. You will only be able to stream if you are connected to servers in the US, UK, Canada and the Netherlands. Even if you’re unable to unblock the stream from the first attempt, simply try another server in that location. ExpressVPN has plenty of them, and chances are you’ll find the one that works.
More: Expect for streaming service, I tried unblocking Wikipedia with ExpressVPN in several countries across the world, and they failed when I want to edit a Wikipedia page.
Part 5. Is ExpressVPN Safe
The core of any great service, security and privacy are absolutely make or break for VPN providers. Many VPNs claim to protect you in the event of a connection failure or guarantee that your IP address always remains hidden. Researching, testing, and confirmation are the only ways to find out if the claims are true.
I use 3 sites to test for IP and DNS leaks: IPLeaks, DNS Leak Test and Browser Leak. When I tested Express VPN on each of these sites and we found no leaks on any of them.
What ExpressVPN does to protect user’s privacy and security? Let’s check them.
VPN protocols determine your VPN connection’s inner workings – the ports used for communication, the encryption types used to secure your data, and the connection’s reliability. ExpressVPN supports three main types of protocols: OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP/ IPSec.
OpenVPN is ExpressVPN’s default protocol and the one recommended for most purposes. It is an open-source protocol, meaning that the wider programming community can contribute improvements and bug fixes. It also means that anyone can view the source code, and confirm that it is highly secure, with no shady business taking place behind the scenes.
You can choose to use OpenVPN over TCP or UDP ports. ExpressVPN uses UDP by default, but the ultimate choice is yours.
- UDP (User Datagram Protocol) connections are speedy, but they are easier for network administrators to detect and block, and there may be some dropped packets since there is no error checking.
- TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) connections can be slightly lower due to the error checking processes they deploy, but they also ensure that there is no data loss or corruption, and they are far less detectable because they look like regular HTTPS traffic.
L2TP/ IPSec is supported by just about every device out there and doesn’t require any extra programs or drivers to use.
However, this protocol has two main downsides: it’s much slower and less secure than OpenVPN. ExpressVPN recommends using this only if your device doesn’t support OpenVPN, and when you aren’t doing anything that requires high security.
This type is the oldest protocol, and also the least secure. But why use it at all?
Well, the reason is simple: it’s fast, and can be used on pretty much any computer made since 1991. ExpressVPN lets Windows users use PPTP if they desire, but cautions that it should only be used for location changing purposes when maximum speeds are necessary, such as seeding large torrents, or streaming HD videos from international sites.
In addition to these protocols, ExpressVPN is developing its own protocol: Lightway. The company hopes to provide clients a faster, safer, more stable, and safer VPN experience. ExpressVPN will soon open-source the core of Lightway’s code, which will undoubtedly contribute to the protocol’s improvements.
DNS (Domain Name System) is a directory of all services and websites. If you have a URL, you can use DNS to look up its corresponding IP address.
ExpressVPN comes with its own DNS. Unlike other DNS that can censor or limit access to certain websites, this private, zero-knowledge DNS keeps no user logs and doesn’t engage in any kind of blocking or filtering.
In addition, all ExpressVPN DNS requests are fully encrypted with AES-256, the algorithm recommended by most security experts, and used by government agencies to secure confidential data. So, in case network administrators or hackers intercept them, they will be virtually useless.
When your internet connection gets interrupted, for instance, when your computer goes to sleep, when switching between WiFi networks, or during a power surge, your VPN connection drops, too. Once your base connection is back, it may take a while before your VPN reconnects. And during that time, any data you send or receive is transferred over your unsecured connection.
This is terrible news, especially when you are torrenting or uploading a file that contains sensitive information. ExpressVPN offers its Network Lock kill switch on Windows, macOS, Linux, and router apps to prevent this from happening.
Note: There is no“network lock” for iOS
RAM-Only Servers – TrustedServer Technology
ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology uses independently-audited software that runs on the RAM of its servers, rather than from the hard drive. This technology makes sure your data – together with the online information of all ExpressVPN customers – is 100% secure.
No data is stored on the server hard drive, so it can’t be stolen. On top of that, TrustedServer helps the entire ExpressVPN system keep up with the latest updates. This significantly reduces the chance of weaknesses within the system.
ExpressVPN Privacy and Policies
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, a territory of the UK. While this place is still under the British monarchy’s ultimate rule, their domestic policies are entirely their own and are enforced without any interference from overseas.
ExpressVPN states that it doesn’t log any IP addresses, DNS queries, traffic destination or metadata, browsing data, and timestamps – in general, anything that could be used to associate you with any of your online activity.
Some information may be logged for technical support purposes, including your app version, total bandwidth usage, the server locations you connect to, and the dates (not time) you connect to them. Most VPN services collect this minimal information, so ExpressVPN is not an anomaly here.
Part 7. ExpressVPN Price: How Much Is ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN has three subscription options: $12.95 billed each month, $59.95 billed every six months, and $99.95 billed annually. Like most services, the only difference is for how long you commit, and the longer you sign up for the cheaper it is. Each subscription comes with access to all ExpressVPN apps and server locations. Furthermore, all subscriptions come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means you can try us for a month with zero risk if you change your mind.
The company accepts payment by all major credit cards, PayPal, and other services such as Alipay and WebMoney.
Part 8. Customer Support: Live Chat, Email, Extensive Guides
ExpressVPN has great customer support. It will please both those who prefer dealing with issues themselves and those who would rather ask for assistance. You will find:
- 24/7 live chat
- Support tickets
- Troubleshooting guides
This ExpressVPN review shows that ExpressVPN is exceptionally powerful. It uses a clean and easy-to-use interface, provides an unusually high number of servers in hundreds of countries, and includes extra installers. Also, ExpressVPN has proved itself to be well above the competition in terms of security and privacy. Its policies are rock solid, and its features are more than enough for any sort of user who’s in need of secure Internet access.
Honestly, ExpressVPN is no perfect. However, if you are new to VPNs or if you have tried others that haven’t worked, I recommend that you give ExpressVPN a try.