ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: which VPN should you get?

The logo of ExpressVPN vs NordVPN logo
(Image credit: Future)

VPN is a term that gets bandied about a lot these days in articles, videos, sponsor segments and more. But perhaps you’re new to the world of online security and privacy and don’t really know what a VPN is, why you might want one, or which one to pick from the dozens that are out there.

A VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network, is a security tool that protects your internet usage from cybercriminals and can be used to unblock streaming content and websites around the world. If you would like a more in-depth answer, you can check out our What is a VPN article for more details.

But with so many different providers to pick from, how can you pick the one that’s right for you? Here at Techradar we’ve had two companies that have been the cream of the crop for quite some time now. Our top two picks - NordVPN and ExpressVPN.  Today we’re going to go through the details of each VPN and lay out exactly what you’ll be getting if you sign up with them and why we believe they’re the best two choices out there.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Specs

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: specs comparison

Lowest monthly cost:
NordVPN: $3.09 (two years) | ExpressVPN: $6.67 (one year)

Number of servers:
NordVPN: 6,000+ | ExpressVPN: 3,000+

Server countries:
NordVPN: 110 | ExpressVPN: 105

Maximum simultaneous connections:
NordVPN: 10 | ExpressVPN: 8

Money back guarantee:
NordVPN: 30 days | ExpressVPN: 30 days

Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer easy-to-use apps that feel polished, responsive, and cater to both beginners who just want to get online and more experienced users who want to tailor their specific privacy and connection settings.

While ExpressVPN offers a more streamlined, minimalist app, the map layout in the NordVPN app can be easier for beginners to understand, allowing users to directly click on the country they’d like to connect to rather than picking a server from a list that can include dozens of options.

As you can see from the table above, both companies offer servers all across the world, but NordVPN has around double the number of servers that ExpressVPN has. The larger number of servers means you’re less likely to have issues with overloaded servers slowing your connection down. It also  makes it more likely you’ll be able to find one that works with your streaming service of choice More locations means you’re more likely to find one in the country you need, or one close to you to guarantee a fast connection.

NordVPN also edges ahead in terms of numbers of devices you can use. While ExpressVPN offers a quite generous 8 simultaneous connections, NordVPN pips it to the post by offering a 10 device limit, which should be enough for even the busiest of households.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Plans, pricing and trials

Where NordVPN is the clear winner is in the subscription costs. ExpressVPN starts with a one-month plan that will cost you $12.95 per month. Opt for a 6 month subscription (paid in one lump sum) and the cost drops to $9.99 a month and if you’re willing to sign up for a one year subscription all at once, the cost drops all the way down to $6.67 a month, nearly half the cost of paying month-by-month. 

NordVPN offers a monthly, 1-year and 2-year plans. For the monthly plan the cost ranges from $12.99 a month to $15.99 a month depending on the tier you pick. The real savings are to be found when you sign up for a longer-term subscription. For a 1-year plan, the costs run from $4.59 a month to $7.49 depending on tier, and for a 2-year plan it’s even cheaper, with the cheapest tier costing only $3.09 a month and the most expensive 2-year plan is still cheaper than ExpressVPN, clocking in at $5.99 a month.

Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to check out their service without worrying about being left out of pocket if you find they’re not right for you.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Security and privacy

NordVPN and ExpressVPN are broadly similar when it comes to the security features they have in place to protect their users.

Both products use the strongest AES-256 encryption as well as Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS). You can learn more about PFS by following the link, but in short it minimizes the risk posed to your personal data in case of any sort of breach by regularly changing the encryption keys. So even if your current session is compromised, your next will be protected as a new key will be used that the attacker doesn’t have access to.

Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN claim to block IP and DNS leaks (more on this in a little bit) and both of them sport their own encrypted DNS on all its servers.

NordVPN offers some excellent additional features like 1 TB of cloud storage, a data breach scanner, Onion over VPN for access to the Tor network, its double VPN system and even cyber insurance to protect against scams and fraud, showing it takes the security of its users very seriously.

ExpressVPN offers it own suite of features which, while not as extensive as NordVPN’s, includes an ad blocker and a password manager as well as its proprietary Lightway protocol to guarantee a fast connection, though it’s not as extensive an offering as NordVPN.

That all said, we can’t ignore the fact that everything hasn’t always been perfect. NordVPN suffered a data breach in 2018, but they bounced back strong from this setback, and even brought in bring in PricewaterhouseCoopers to verify its no-logging policy. 

ExpressVPN isn’t without its issues as well, ones that we think are enough to dethrone it from our number one spot in our list of the best VPNs. One of our biggest concerns is that it’s now owned by Kape Technologies Plc (formerly known as Crossrider). Kape is a company with a somewhat checkered past involving ad-injectors and malware in web browsers, There’s also the fact that its CIO was implicated in a spying probe and, most concerningly of all, the recent discovery by CNET that ExpressVPN has been leaking DNS requests when users were connected through its split-tunneling feature. 

While this issue was fixed quickly, the fact it went unnoticed for what could potentially have been years, coupled with Kape’s recent decision to lay-off around 200 staff, leaves us with concerns about the level of quality at the company 

While ExpressVPN offers a solid core of features and a reliable VPN service, we feel that NordVPN is the better complete package.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Logging and privacy

Whether or not a VPN logs data about its users is an important selling point for the privacy-conscious and we can confirm that both NordVPN and ExpressVPN’s privacy claims have been checked and verified by multiple independent audits.

NordVPN logs a minimal amount of data when you use its service. They log the date of connection and the choice of server. On its own, that information doesn’t put users at risk in any way. As no other data is stored there is no way of tracing anything back to a specific user.

ExpressVPN similarly offers a no-logs claim, and according to the privacy policy they log the day you’ve connected to one of their servers (not the time) and which server you’ve connected to. They also log which location you’ve connected to as well as from which country/ISP (but not the specific IP address)

In both cases, the logging policies are clear and easy to understand. It’s always a good sign when everything is laid out in a clear, easy-to-understand format.

ExpressVPN on PC and Windows 10 devices

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Performance

When connecting to servers around the world, both services did well, but NordVPN is just that bit more more reliable and very definitely the faster of the two. You can check out our full list of the fastest VPNS in our Fastest VPN List.

The performance of a VPN is crucial for day-to-day internet use. If using a VPN means your connection is reduced to a crawl then there’s there’s not much point in using it.

This isn’t something you need to worry about with either NordVPN or ExpressVPN. In part this is thanks to each using their own specific VPN protocols, whether it be Express's open-source Lightway and NordVPN's version of WireGuard called NordLynx.

In our most recent round of speed tests NordVPN has been the clear winner over ExpressVPN when using WireGuard (or Lightway/NordLynx), with our testing returning a download speed of over 950Mbps compared to Express's 410Mbps. 

Even using the older OpenVPN protocol, the speeds were still more than enough for day-to-day use though here  it was ExpressVPN that came out on top, averaging around 210 Mbps, while NordVPN peaked at a somewhat less impressive 110Mbps.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Streaming

One of the biggest use-case for VPNs is to access geo-locked streaming services, and there’s a constant battle between streaming providers and VPNs when it comes to accessing content in other countries. 

On its website ExpressVPN openly states which services it can unblock, which is something of a gutsy move as these services are constantly working to block VPN access. However, ExpressVPN walks the walk as well as talking the talk, our testing showing it can reliably unblock Disney+, YouTube and the BBC iPlayer. 

NordVPN is no slouch in this department either, and even with companies like Netflix stepping up their efforts to lock out VPNs it was still able to reliably unblock the overseas catalogs of all the popular major streaming services as well as some more niche ones such as Australian services 9Now and 10 Play, which are only available down-under.

That makes this another category where the two are difficult to separate.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Torrents

If you torrent without using a VPN, you’re exposing your IP address to everyone you’re sharing files with and a VPN is an indispensable safety tool to keep you anonymous. We think both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer excellent P2P functionality.

ExpressVPN is more open to torrenting than some other providers, with P2P supported on all of its servers. The company also states there are no bandwidth restrictions and no data cap. It's a refreshingly hassle-free experience.

NordVPN also supports P2P on all its  servers, as well as offering  servers specifically optimized for P2P. As with ExpressVPN there’s no restrictions or data cap and there’s a kill-switch to keep your traffic private in case of a loss of VPN connection.

NordVPN being used on a smartphone

(Image credit: Future)

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Mobile apps

Staying safe when you’re out and about and want to use a public Wi-Fi hotspot is a big concern, especially for those who like to work in cafes or use public transport frequently. This is why secure, reliable and easy to use mobile apps are an essential feature of any VPN.

Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN have two of the best best Android VPN apps around, and both are certified by the ioXt Alliance - a cybersecurity watchdog. Another sign that these two VPNs really take security seriously.

NordVPN’s mobile apps are powerful and easy to use, as you’d expect from such a full-featured VPN. It includes Threat Protection Lite, which is DNS blocking for ads, trackers, and malicious websites, but only when the VPN is connected. Protocol options on Android devices include NordVPN's speedy NordLynx, along with OpenVPN. iOS devices get slightly more options with the inclusion of IKEv2.

ExpressVPN’s apps are also full-featured, with a selection of protocols (including its own Lightway) available and a clean layout that beginners will find easy to get to grips with. It’s as eas

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Support 

While we would certainly hope that you won’t have problems with your VPN, the inescapable fact of our modern world is that sometimes technology goes wrong! Having an easy-to-use support service can mean the difference between a quick fix and hours of frustration.

NordVPN sports a comprehensive support database that covers pretty much everything you might need to know about its products, from basic installation questions to getting started with streaming or troubleshooting connectivity issues. It also offers email and live chat options if you can’t find what you’re looking for in the support site. There’s no phone number, which is a bit of a shame, but we imagine these days most people will be happy with the options on offer.

ExpressVPN is much the same, with an in-depth support database supplemented by email and live chat if you find you can’t locate the specific issue you’re facing.  Both services offer 24/7 live chat, so if you find yourself stuck you can reach out and talk to a real person.

Both support sites are laid out in much the same way, and both have plenty of useful information,  though NordVPNs is a little more sleek and polished.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: which is better?

Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN remain our top two picks and we think they’re both a great choice, but in our opinion NordVPN is the clear leader in 2024 and the best VPN around right now. Head over here to sign up and try it out for yourself.

NordVPN and ExpressVPN have been the industry leaders for years now, and their reputations are rightly deserved.  ExpressVPN has been our top pick for a number of years here at Techradar but it’s difficult to ignore the gap between it and NordVPN in terms of price and included features, to say nothing of ExpressVPN’s new owner.

How do we test VPNs?

With there being so many VPNs to choose from, it’s important to know which ones are worth your time, which ones live up to the claims they make in their adverts, and which really should be avoided. 

Here at Techradar we’ve been putting VPNs through their paces for years now, and in fact we conduct an in-depth analysis of the top 30 VPN services every 6 months to ensure they’re still providing the quality of service they claim.

We make sure it lives up to the marketing. Whether it’s a free VPN or a paid one, it must provide the service it advertises, otherwise you’re just wasting your money. With our top recommendations like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, we make sure customers are getting their money's worth. We test the claimed connection speeds and the ability to unlock streaming services around the world of every VPN we recommend by checking with multiple shows to see if the VPN can access and play them all or if it struggles with some of them.

We make sure that it’s something users will find easy to live with in the day-to-day. We look at points such as how easy it is to get the VPN app installed and set up,  how much attention to detail has been paid in is in the design and whether a beginner will be able to get to grips with it or if it requires specialist knowledge that limits the appeal.

We also look at what security tools each provider offers. Does it include other features and functionality to keep its users safe? But more than that, we check to see if there’s any sneaky things hiding where the average user might not look. Does the privacy policy clearly state how your data will be handled? 

Are there any sneaky little gotchas hiding buried deep in the Terms of Service? Is the pricing open and honest or does it use dark patterns or deceptive wording to trick you into paying more than you need to? The ultimate point of all our testing is not just to look at what a provider says it gives you, but what it really gives, and whether you can trust it with your data and your wallet.


We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:

1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).

2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.

We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.

Olivia Powell
Commissioning Editor for Tech Software

Olivia joined TechRadar in October 2023 as part of the core Future Tech Software team, and is the Commissioning Editor for Tech Software. With a background in cybersecurity, Olivia stays up-to-date with all things cyber and creates content across sites including TechRadar Pro, TechRadar, Tom’s Guide, iMore, Windows Central, PC Gamer and Games Radar. She is particularly interested in threat intelligence, detection and response, data security, fraud prevention and the ever-evolving threat landscape.

With contributions from