ExpressVPN keeps your online activity confidential, even when you’re relying on public Wi-Fi networks. The VPN service works with computers, routers, phones, web browsers, gaming consoles, smart TVs and other internet-connected devices. A network lock operates as a kill switch to keep your data safe if your VPN connection drops, and the private DNS with 256-bit encryption helps ensure your DNS requests stay out of third-party hands. ExpressVPN is headquartered in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands, which means the data transmitted through the service’s private tunnel is protected from U.S. court orders and similar requests from other security agencies.
ExpressVPN Editor’s Score: 96/100
Why ExpressVPN Is Best for Performance
ExpressVPN doesn’t make you hunt and peck for the fastest available VPN. Instead, it shows you a speed index ranking through its Speed Test feature, which includes the live latency and download speed. During our test, we found that ExpressVPN had one of the fastest download rates. The ability to use split tunneling to dictate which devices or domains use your secure private network also offers a significant performance boost to your devices. The extensive network of more than 3,000 domestic and international servers will help you find an uncrowded network near your location.
- Split tunneling helps you optimize your devices and performance.
- The Speed Test feature helps you identify the fastest servers.
- The company’s headquarters is in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands.
- ExpressVPN is among the most expensive VPN services.
- It has slower upload speeds than other VPNs we reviewed.
- Not every feature is supported on macOS 11 (Big Sur).
Most VPNs are easy to use, and ExpressVPN is no exception. Once you’ve installed the program or app, masking your identity and maximizing your security are as easy as selecting the VPN location and waiting a few seconds to connect. You’ll be automatically prompted with the recommended location based on performance, but you can also easily find and select any of the 160 locations through the search function.
In the startup section, you can toggle the options to launch your VPN upon startup and connect to the last-used location automatically. ExpressVPN utilizes a proprietary protocol called “lightway.” The company claims this lightweight codebase can help connect you to a server in a fraction of a second, protect you with a vast wolfSSL cryptography library and automatically reconnect you if your service is interrupted for any reason, including network switching.
Speed is a big factor in usability, and in our tests, we saw about a 46% reduction in our download speed (from 470.3 Mbps to 254.4 Mbps) when using ExpressVPN’s recommended server, located about 1,500 miles away. Our upload speed took a considerable hit, going from 337.9 Mbps to 11.1 Mbps, but this is where features such as split tunneling come in handy. Even when selecting a middle-of-the-road option for speed index, we didn’t have any difficulty streaming HD video that would typically be blocked based on our location.
Tip: Use ExpressVPN’s Speed Test feature to identify the best server based on speed index, latency and download speed.
|Expansive server network||Toggle between 160 server locations in 94 countries across the world with encrypted DNS.|
|Split tunneling||Allow some devices to use your VPN service while others connect directly to the internet.|
|Multidevice support||Get easy-to-use apps for all of your computers, routers and other internet-connected devices.|
Expansive Server Network
ExpressVPN offers a robust server network, with its own encrypted DNS on every one of its more than 3,000 servers located in 94 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. This means users don’t have to worry about activity or connection logs, DNS blocking, filtering or hijacking anywhere in the world. The smart location tools can automatically select the best VPN server location based on critical metrics, such as distance, latency and download speed.
This standard feature lets you route some of your internet traffic through your encrypted VPN tunnel while allowing other traffic to connect to the internet directly. Users can access foreign and local internet services simultaneously, use a network printer while browsing the web securely or download a large file safely without slowing down other internet activity. This feature works with apps for routers, Macs, Windows and Android devices.
ExpressVPN supports all major platforms and devices, including computers, phones, tablets, routers, web browsers, smart TV systems, smart home devices and gaming consoles. There are purpose-built apps for Windows or Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers and Chromebooks, as well as browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Edge. Each app includes 256-bit encryption and unlimited bandwidth, giving users the same level of ironclad privacy across devices.
ExpressVPN offers three plans that differ in subscription length.
|Month to month||$12.95 per month|
|Six months||$9.99 per month (billed as $59.95 every six months)|
|15 months||$6.66 per month for the first 15 months (billed in one $99.95 installment); the per-month price then increases to $8.33 per month (billed as $99.95 every 12 months).|
We like that all of ExpressVPN’s service plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee, which we found easy to initiate without having to justify or explain our decision.
Did you know? The money-back guarantee makes it very easy to test ExpressVPN on all of your devices before you commit to a plan.
Setting up this VPN on computers and apps is straightforward and takes only a few minutes. Router setup is a bit more complex in terms of structure but certainly no more difficult than getting your Wi-Fi up and running. If your router is supported, you’ll download the firmware from your computer and install it on the router, in a process called flashing. Alternatively, you can shop for preconfigured ExpressVPN routers from manufacturers such as Netgear, Asus and Linksys.
In our effort to troubleshoot an issue with the split tunneling feature, we reached out to ExpressVPN after normal work hours on a weekday via chat. We were quickly connected with a representative who promptly and courteously answered all of our questions. Unfortunately, we did not find a resolution, but that was because of an operating system compatibility issue and thus not the fault of the customer support team. Support is also available through email and a library of troubleshooting guides and setup tutorials.
One downside of ExpressVPN is that it’s priced higher than many of the other VPN services we reviewed. In fact, the annual rates are more than double those of some other VPNs. Although ExpressVPN offers a great value through features such as private DNS, split tunneling, and expansive server locations, if you don’t want all of those features, you might be paying more than you need to. If you are looking for a cheaper option, you may want to consider IPVanish or CyberGhost. You can learn more in our review of IPVanish and our CyberGhost review.
Another limitation is that split tunneling is not available on macOS 11 (Big Sur). When we reached out to customer service via chat, the representative told us that the feature is available on other versions of macOS and it would be added to the request list for future releases. Although the customer service staff may not have the same information as the development team, it is a bit unusual not to see support for one of ExpressVPN’s most attractive features on Apple’s current operating system.
We reviewed several of the industry’s best VPN services. Over the course of two weeks, we switched between VPN services regularly during our normal web activity across multiple computers, smartphones and other devices. For testing purposes, we most frequently utilized the free trial accounts that many VPN providers offer. In some instances, we paid for a one-month subscription and ensured the money-back guarantee worked as promised where applicable. We tested this service on a number of factors, including speed, features and pricing. When selecting our pick for the best VPN for performance, we looked for how easy it was to make quick connections, how split tunneling was utilized, and whether the company was headquartered in a privacy-friendly location.
What Is a VPN?
A VPN, or virtual private network, routes your web traffic through an encrypted virtual tunnel, keeping everything you do online anonymous. VPNs can hide your identity and allow you to project your location from physical and virtual servers around the world. A growing number of businesses utilize VPNs to provide their remote employees with secure access to company networks. Most VPNs work on computers, smartphones, web browsers, routers and other internet-connected devices.
Is ExpressVPN free?
No, ExpressVPN isn’t free. However, it does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee for all subscription plans. This essentially risk-free trial gives you plenty of time to see if ExpressVPN is the right virtual private network for your needs.
How much does ExpressVPN cost?
ExpressVPN offers three subscription options with prices ranging from $6.67 to $12.95 per month and terms ranging from one to 15 months.
We recommend ExpressVPN for …
- Businesses with international teams that find it difficult to access the same content as a result of their teams’ locations.
- Businesses that do not want to share their internet activity with their internet service provider for marketing or privacy reasons.
- Businesses that want to make it difficult for advertisers and other third parties to track their employees’ online activity.
We don’t recommend ExpressVPN for …
- Cost-conscious small businesses that don’t need robust worldwide access.
- Users who want to add layers of privacy with double or multi-hop VPN options.