ExpressVPN review: This stellar Virtual Private Network is definitely worth the cost

ExpressVPN review: It might be a little more expensive, but can it justify the extra cost? (Image: EXPRESSVPN • GETTY)

ExpressVPN is one of the most dependable, well-rounded VPNs around. It might be a little more expensive than rivals …but for our money, it easily justifies those extra pennies

What we love

  • Reliable Connection
  • Small Impact On Download Speeds
  • Huge Number Of Server Locations
  • Unmatched Streaming Experience
  • Beautiful Apps For All Devices
  • Split-Tunnelling Included

What we don’t

  • Just 5 Logins Per Subscription
  • No Password Manager Included
  • Pricier Than Some Rivals

When searching around for the , it’s never long before ExpressVPN comes into the conversation. And there’s a very good reason for that. ExpressVPN is one of the most dependable, well-rounded Virtual Private Networks available. Even with the best VPN deal, ExpressVPN is more expensive than its closest rivals …but for our money, this stellar VPN definitely manages to justify those extra pennies.

With only a marginal impact on download speeds – even when connected to server locations on the other side of the planet, ExpressVPN is the . And that’s before you account for the service’s unparalleled efforts to ensure its servers work with Netflix, despite the recent VPN crackdown from the streamer.

ExpressVPN comes packed with advanced features, like split-tunnelling, a kill switch, a private DNS, and a built-in speed test.

• For a limited time, new customers get 3 months FREE + 49% off subscription cost

Privacy is one of the core appeals of a Virtual Private Network and ExpressVPN really walks the walk. It’s based in the British Virgin Islands because there it has no data retention laws, so ExpressVPN doesn’t need to keep any records on its customers for law enforcement. Countries around the globe, like the United Kingdom and the United States, do not have jurisdiction to compel a company headquartered in the British Virgin Islands to produce any records relating to its customers.

If you’re concerned about the security of your online activity …ExpressVPN is a brilliant choice.

There are a few nitpicks with ExpressVPN – you can only sign in to five devices simultaneously, which isn’t as generous as comparably priced VPN services. Not only that, but rivals like NordVPN also offer features like a meshnet to secure IoT gadgets and a service that automatically scans Dark Web leaks for your login credentials to warn you about any compromised passwords.

That said, unless any of these features especially call to you, ExpressVPN will be perfectly suited to your needs. This Virtual Private Network is one of the most popular on the market, and in our testing, we’ve seen exactly why it deserves that prestigious podium position. Highly recommended.

ExpressVPN review

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) used to be niche apps for enterprise users. But with the dramatic increase in hacks, the unstoppable rise in popularity for streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max, and concerns about privacy ….VPNs have been catapulted into the mainstream.

For those who missed the memos, a VPN creates an encrypted tunnel for all of your web traffic whenever you head online. If you’re using a busy public Wi-Fi network, like those in coffee shops and airports, a VPN will shield all of your online activity and prevent bad actors from intercepting your data. Back at home, a VPN will also stop your broadband supplier and advertisers from keeping tabs on your online activity too.

Think of it as a supercharged version of the Incognito Mode found in the Google Chrome web browser. This is why VPNs are so important for whistleblowers and sources helping journalists uncover wrongdoing – who don’t want their Government keeping detailed notes on their every move online.

But that’s not all.

expressvpn review screenshot iphone

ExpressVPN has a beautifully designed app on iPhone, although it is missing a few advanced features (Image: EXPRESSVPN • EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS • APPLE )

That encrypted tunnel can be routed to a number of server locations around the world, masking your IP address and the location data that can be gleaned from it. As far as everyone online is concerned, you’re based in whatever server location you’ve chosen. ExpressVPN subscribers get the choice of 94 countries around the globe, opening a vast number of streaming services and websites that might not be available in your current location.

Anyone who has logged into their Netflix account when abroad on holiday will be aware of what an incredible superpower this is. Streaming services place geographic restrictions on their content, usually due to different licensing agreements and historic deals with local broadcasters in each country. While anything produced by the streamer – like Netflix’s blockbuster shows Stranger Things, Squid Game, and Bridgerton – will be available anywhere in the world in dozens of languages, the library of syndicated shows varies between regions.

For example, while Tina Fey’s seminal sit-com 30 Rock is available to watch in its entirety on Netflix in the United States …however, the show is only available via Sky Comedy in the UK due to a previous agreement with the broadcaster. Supernatural – from The Boys showrunner Eric Kripke – is available in its entirety on Netflix US, but is unavailable to stream anywhere in the UK. Instead, you’ll need to buy individual episodes on Amazon’s Prime Video or iTunes, which seems a little unfair if you already pay for a Netflix subscription.

Meanwhile, Hulu is unavailable in the UK and Europe. While some of the biggest shows from this streaming platform – Only Murders In The Building – arrive on Disney+ in the UK, that’s not always the case. For access to the complete library, you’ll need to use a VPN. Likewise, HBO Max – which exclusively streams the latest Warners Bros blockbusters, like The Batman and Dune – isn’t available in the UK, but can be accessed in much of mainland Europe and North America.

Enter, ExpressVPN.

ExpressVPN – In Numbers

Platforms

Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Linux, Fire TV Stick, Wi-Fi routers, Web browsers

Total Number Of Servers Worldwide

3,000

Customer Support

24/7 Live chat

Trial Period

30-day money back guarantee / 7-day free trial from iOS and Android app

Maximum Number Of Devices Signed-In At The Same Time

5

Split-Tunnelling Included?

Yes

Password Manager Included?

No

ExpressVPN enables you to travel abroad – without moving a muscle – so you can unlock a completely new catalogue of TV shows and movies

In our testing, ExpressVPN had no trouble unlocking different catalogues in the most popular streaming services. If you’re an ex-pat, Brit on holiday abroad, or an Anglophile looking to access must-see British telly like Peep Show, The Inbetweeners, The Great British Bake-Off, Love Island, People Just Do Nothing, The Office, Peter Kay’s Car Share, and more …ExpressVPN will spoof your IP address so that it appears like you’re sitting on the sofa in Blighty and unlock all of these shows and more.

Likewise, if you’re struggling to find something to watch in the UK catalogue on Netflix or Prime Video, ExpressVPN enables you to travel abroad – without moving a muscle – so you can unlock a completely different new catalogue of TV shows and movies (all included as part of your existing Netflix subscription fee). It’s worth digging into the small print of your chosen streaming service as not all are happy for subscribers to use a VPN to unlock boxsets from across the globe.

It doesn’t matter whether you prefer streaming Netflix, HBO Max, Prime Video or Disney+ on your iPhone, Android, tablet, laptop or Smart TV …ExpressVPN will have a dedicated app. And even in the rare instances where it doesn’t have a standalone app, the Virtual Private Network offers software for your Wi-Fi router, so that every device on your network enjoys an encrypted connection. Downloading and installing ExpressVPN to an iPhone, iPad, Windows PC and Fire TV Stick during our test was a breeze.

expressvpn review screenshots settings

ExpressVPN will need to install a configuration before you can secure your internet connection (Image: EXPRESSVPN • EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS • APPLE)

Each of these applications is beautifully designed, with a prominent On/Off button to establish or cut your VPN connection. By default, ExpressVPN will use the last server location that you selected, so if you’re always switching your IP address to the United States to improve streaming – you won’t need to worry about hunting across a map of the globe.

To make things even easier, ExpressVPN lets you automatically establish a VPN connection each time your device connects to the internet. If you’re the forgetful type, this feature is an absolute must.

Without thinking, each time you connect to a publicly available Wi-Fi network – like those available in coffee shop chains, airports and the London Underground – your online traffic will be shielded with AES-256 encryption. That’s the same level of encryption adopted by the US government when transmitting its sensitive data. This dramatically reduces the chance of being compromised in a man-in-the-middle attack (when a bad actor intercepts the communications between your device and online services – stealing payment information, sensitive messages, and login credentials as they’re sent over the Wi-Fi network) as everything being transmitted from your gadget will be automatically encrypted.

Of course, you might not want everything you do to be routed via a server on the other side of the globe. While the impact on internet speeds from ExpressVPN is marginal, there is still an impact

To put that impact into context, without a VPN, our home broadband offers download speeds of roughly 219Mbps, with an upload speed of 37.3Mbps, and ping of 220ms. When connected to ExpressVPN and routing our web traffic through a server on the other side of the planet, our download speeds dropped to just 203Mbps, with our upload speed hitting 32.9Mbps and ping almost untouched at 255ms. That’s a 16Mbps difference …or the equivalent of someone in your household watching Netflix in another room.

For those on slower broadband connections at home – and therefore with less overall bandwidth to spare – ExpressVPN is a brilliant choice as you can really maximise what download speeds you have. The VPN comfortably offers the fastest connection speeds we’ve seen from any of its closest rivals.

Of course, those with slower download speeds might still want to avoid using a VPN at all when it’s not needed to really maximise the amount of bandwidth available. Plus, if you want to be able to map out directions with Google Maps from your current location, find the nearest Starbucks, or check local traffic conditions …you want your device to have an approximate idea of where on the planet you’re located. That’s where split-tunnelling comes in.

expressvpn review speed test results

ExpressVPN does impact on download speeds, but not enough to make a difference to your experience (Image: EXPRESSVPN • EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS )

For those who don’t know, split-tunnelling allows you to pick multiple servers for your online traffic. So, while it might be an advantage for certain devices, like an Amazon Fire TV Stick, to think that it’s in the United States to unlock more boxsets, sports, and movies on streaming services …you might not want that for your iPhone, which needs to know your approximate location for Google Maps, for example. Picking a server closer to home should also reduce the impact on your download speeds. So, it’s possible to stay connected via a Virtual Private Network in the UK, without sacrificing any download speed on devices where you don’t need to appear abroad.

ExpressVPN makes it incredibly easy to access split-tunnelling from within its app, so you can choose on a per-app basis where your traffic is routed. It’s worth noting that split-tunnelling isn’t available on iOS or iPadOS, with Android users the only smartphone owners who can currently take advantage of this advanced feature. It would be great to see that feature roll out to iPhone owners in the coming months and years.