ExpressVPN review

A reassuringly expensive VPN?

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

A well-crafted client and ample choice of servers are definite boons, but other VPN tools offer better value for money than ExpressVPN.

For

  • 30 day refund
  • Well-designed client
  • Wide choice of servers and locations

Against

  • Expensive
  • Only three simultaneous connections
  • Average performance

ExpressVPN is a small British Virgin Islands-based provider of VPN services.

The company's products are eye-wateringly expensive, from the $12.95 (£9.96, AU$17.43) for a one-off month option to the $99.95 (£77, AU$135) plan for annual payments.

We browsed the feature list looking for an explanation, but couldn't really find one. Sure, the 130+ servers in 87 countries is welcome, and there's a Linux client as well as Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, along with 24/7 live chat support if you have problems. But ExpressVPN also limits you to three connections rather than the five you'll often get elsewhere, and overall there are better specified (and cheaper) products around.

There's no free plan or trial, either, although ExpressVPN does provide a "no-hassle money-back guarantee" – you can cancel your order within 30 days and you'll get a full refund.

The company also has a simple referral scheme which can help reduce costs. If you get a friend to sign up, and they give your email address during the order process, you both get a free month.

Privacy

As with many other VPNs, ExpressVPN places a limit on the number of simultaneous connections it allows: only three (desktop PC, tablet and phone, two tablets and a desktop, or whatever).

The company also explicitly points out that its licences are for a single user only. In particular, the terms of service say: "If you require access for multiple users, you should purchase a new license for each additional user"; and: "Simultaneous logins from a single license by more than one individual user are prohibited". We're not sure how the company would know this, but it does mean this isn't a product for family use.

Elsewhere, the company explains reassuringly that it doesn't collect or log traffic data or browsing data from users.

There is some general meta-logging, with the company recording the days when you access its service, the server locations and the total amount of data transferred per day. But this is standard practice and certainly not a deal-breaker.

Performance

ExpressVPN does its very best to get you set up correctly, with easy-to-use apps for all your main devices, and an array of setup instructions for everything else (Apple TV, Kindle Fire, PlayStation, Xbox, MediaStreamer, and more).

Our PC client provided several ways to help choose a location. A Recommended tab highlights local and fast servers; the Favourites tab lists recently-connected servers and any you've set as favourites, and the Location Picker organises servers by continent, region and country.

This is all very simple and straightforward, but there are also a few extras hidden away, including a Speed Test module, diagnostics report, kill switch, and manual or automatic selection of protocol (OpenVPN, L2TP – IPSEC, PPTP, SSTP).

Our privacy tests showed good results, with specific DNS leak protection ensuring our identity was protected at all times.

ExpressVPN achieved mixed results in our performance tests*. Latency was up by 75% when using the service, and upload speeds were only 20% of our regular rates, but downloads hit a very usable 91% of normal speeds, good enough for streaming, downloads or simple browsing.

You might expect more than "good enough" at this price, of course.

Final verdict

ExpressVPN has a great client and a wide choice of locations, and if that's important, take advantage of the free trial to check it out for yourself. But if it's value for money you're after there are significantly better deals elsewhere.

*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we've reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.

Tags