ExpressVPN Review – gHacks Tech News
ExpressVPN is a VPN service by Express VPN International Ltd. It is available as desktop program for Windows, Mac and Linux devices, as a mobile application for Android and iOS, and for other devices, including routers and consoles.
ExpressVPN at a glance
- Over 3000 Servers in 94 countries and 160 locations
- no bandwidth restrictions
- limited logging used for technical reasons
- has created its own protocol Lightway
- P2P support
- most streaming sites may be unlocked
- Mediastreamer feature
- excellent performance test results
- lag-free gaming
- advanced security and privacy features
- Only Live Chat and Email support
ExpressVPN plans offer the same functionality to users. The only differentiating factor is price; the longer you subscribe, the less you pay for the account. A one month subscription is available for $12.95, a 12-month subscription for $8.32 per month.
Customers may use up to five devices simultaneously, e.g. a mix of computers and mobile devices.
The service is a bit light on extra features. MediaStreamer sticks out:
- MediaStreamer – SmartDNS is a feature that all users get access to. It may be used to unlock geographically locked content without connecting to the company’s VPN. It is a good option for devices that don’t support VPN, e.g. a Smart TV.
Privacy and security features
ExpressVPN does not record user activities when its service is used. The company admits to collecting technical information about app activations, connection dates, VPN server choices and transferred Megabytes per day for troubleshooting purposes.
ExpressVPN runs its servers in RAM memory and not on hard drives; this is called TrustedServer. The main advantage of this is that records exist only in RAM. A reboot of the server wipes all data and the software stack is reinstalled on server start automatically.
The company has created its own protocol, called Lightway. It is not the same as WireGuard, which companies like NordVPN have modified and renamed. Lightway has about 1000 lines of code and uses the cryptographic library wolfSSL. Lightway code is available as a preview on GitHub
The company operates its own leak-proof encrypted DNS servers to protect user connections against DNS leaks.
- Kill Switch – The kill switch will block all Internet traffic if the VPN disconnects unexpectedly: this avoids that the device’s IP address is leaked online. It is available in the desktop apps and mobile applications.
- Split Tunneling – Split tunneling allows you to run the traffic of some apps through the VPN or through your local connection. ExpressVPN supports the three modes “all apps use the VPN”, “do not allow select apps to use the VPN” and “only allow selected apps to use the VPN”.
ExpressPN Speed Test
We ran several tests to determine ExpressVPN’s performance. The system we used was connected to a 50/20 Mbit connection to the Internet from a location in Germany.
Note that the tests were conducted using a wireless connection, and that the connection quality may have resulted in lower than usual scores.
We used Speedtest.net for the test, and ran three tests for two different servers to test a local NordVPN server and a server in the United States.
Local Server results:
- Download Speed: 48.2 Mbps
- Upload Speed: 18.5 Mbps
- Ping: 19ms
United States Server results:
- Download Speed: 37.7 Mbps
- Upload Speed: 17.8 Mbps
- Ping: 115ms
Performance was likely affected by the wireless connection, but most users may experience speed drops when connecting to wireless locations.. Mileage may vary depending on the server or servers, and the Internet speed as well as connection quality on the user’s end.
Some servers far away did not offer as good a performance as others. Especially upload speed dropped on some to a low level (around 2Mbps).
ExpressPN privacy test
A VPN should not leak the local device’s IP address, as it would not be all that great for privacy. Good news is that ExpressVPN passed all leak tests that we ran:
DNS Leak Test: passed (https://www.dnsleaktest.com/)
IP Leak Test: passed (https://ipleak.net/)
Unblock streaming platforms test
ExpressVPN works well with the streaming services we tested. You may use the service to unblock Netflix, Amazon Prime or Disney+, e.g. when you are on vacation abroad and want to view the latest episode of your favorite show that is only available in your home country.
We tested the unblocking of Netflix and Amazon Prime using ExpressVPN, and both services unlocked fine and without any issues. We could not access some of the other regional offerings of Netflix, however.
Note that some servers may be blocked, as streaming companies may block IP addresses of known servers.
The company behind ExpressVPN
Express VPN International Ltd is a privately held company that is headquartered on the British Virgin Islands. It was established in 2009. The company states on its website that its owner and leadership team are not involved “in any other VPN company/brand” and that it does not own VPN review sites.
In 2019, ExpressVPN became one of the founding members of the VPN Trust Initiative (next to NordVPN, VyprVPN, SurfShark and NetProtect).
ExpressVPN is a premium VPN service that has a lot to offer. Besides clients for all major operating systems, it can also be used on other devices such as routers or Smart TVs. The performance offered is excellent and security is top notch. The service’s customer support, while only available via chat, is responsive and well trained.
The two main downsides when it comes to ExpressVPN are price and features that it offers. The subscription price is high compared to other services, even if you subscribe for a year. Feature-wise, ExpressVPN lacks support for some of the advanced features that other VPN services offer, including support for chaining VPN connections, malware blocking functionality, or server obfuscations to use the VPN in jurisdictions that block regular VPN connections.