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ExpressVPN review: A great, user-friendly VPN for privacy and location spoofing

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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
4.94
per month

ExpressVPN isn’t the cheapest VPN in town, nor the fastest – but it’s secure, easy to use and excellent for video streaming

Pros 
Worked with every streaming service we tried
Impeccable security
Supports wide range of platforms
Cons 
Expensive
Five simultaneous connections
Limited auto-activate on Windows
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ExpressVPN is a virtual private networking service, which encrypts your online activity and routes it through a private server via any country that you want. This prevents your ISP from monitoring what you do online, and it means that both your online activity and your location will be completely anonymous to any and everyone so long you're connected to the VPN.

The service is available as a monthly, six-monthly or annual subscription, but whichever one you choose, it’s one of the more expensive options around. Our exclusive ExpressVPN reader offer gets you 15 months for £74.03 – equivalent to £4.94 a month. Several other VPN providers charge much less, especially if you opt for their longer-term plans.

The subscription terms aren’t the most generous either. You can use the VPN on up to five different devices at the same time, which should be more than enough for most customers. However, other VPN services like Hide.me, Private Internet Access and PureVPN all allow ten simultaneous connections, while SurfShark and IPVanish don’t apply any limits at all.

Still, ExpressVPN provides apps and setup instructions for a huge range of platforms, including TV boxes and games consoles. It also supports router configurations, so if you have a VPN-compatible router you can use it to protect all the devices on your home network using just one connection.

As for what you can do, BitTorrent is fully permitted over the VPN, and you can route your connection through more than 3,000 servers in a decent 94 countries around the world. There’s no free trial, but if you’re not impressed after signing up you can avail yourself of the company’s no-quibble 30-day refund policy.

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ExpressVPN review: What’s it like to use?

As we’ve mentioned, ExpressVPN provides clients for numerous platforms. We tried the Windows and Android apps and found them both very easy to use. In both cases, the main interface is simple, showing little more than your chosen server and a big round button that activates or ends the VPN connection. An ellipsis icon takes you to the location browser, while a “hamburger” menu accesses the rest of ExpressVPN’s features.


These include a built-in speed tester, which runs ping and download speed tests across a selection of servers to help you find the fastest connection in a given region, while other tools show your remote IP address and check for DNS and WebRTC leaks.

You can also open the Options window, to enable or disable the kill switch and set up split tunnelling. Advanced users can select from an unusual six different VPN protocols, including ExpressVPN’s own Lightway technology, and enable or disable the use of IPv6 and ExpressVPN’s DNS servers.

If you don’t want the main ExpressVPN window hanging around while you surf, you can minimise or close it: a system tray icon lets you bring it back, or connect directly to recent servers. You can also use the Chrome and Firefox browser extensions to control the VPN from within your browser.

It’s a good set of features, logically laid out, and the consistency across different platforms makes it easy to navigate. The key difference is that the Windows software doesn’t have an option to automatically enable the VPN when you connect to a particular network, or to an untrusted one. The Android app can do it, but with the current Windows client the closest you get is the option to always start the VPN as soon as you log in.

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ExpressVPN review: How fast is it?

With ExpressVPN running on a Windows 10 laptop over a 200Mbits/sec Virgin fibre line, we used Google’s speed testing tool to measure download speeds when connected to various servers. We saw an average of 100.6Mbits/sec when routed via a server in London, falling to 84.8Mbits/sec in New York and 44.7Mbits/sec in Sydney.


Those aren’t spectacular numbers: rival NordVPN was significantly faster in every location, averaging 170.3Mbits/sec in the UK, 182.4Mbits/sec in the USA and 112.5Mbits/sec in Australia.

It was a similar story on Android: our Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet achieved a download speed of 61.9Mbits/sec with the VPN disconnected, but this fell to 25.4MBits/sec when connected to a server in the UK, and further dropped to 14.3MBits/sec when we switched location to the US.

Even so, ExpressVPN is fast enough for almost anything you’re likely to want to do online – and the split-tunnelling feature means that any programs that don’t need to be protected by the VPN can go at full speed through your regular connection instead.

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ExpressVPN review: Is it good for video streaming?

As we’ve noted, the ExpressVPN Windows client is more than fast enough to stream 4K video from anywhere in the world, and while the Android app was noticeably slower, there’s still enough bandwidth here for rock-solid HD content.

What’s more, ExpressVPN proved to be one of the best services around for accessing geo-blocked content. We had no problem browsing the US libraries of Disney+ and Netflix, and streaming shows that aren’t normally available in the UK to both our laptop and tablet.


Picking a UK server also enabled us to watch programmes from BBC iPlayer, Now TV and BritBox without a hitch – indicating that can use ExpressVPN to keep up with your favourite shows or sports events when you’re travelling.

The only thing you can’t do is watch Amazon Prime Video content that’s restricted to a different location, but that’s not the VPN’s fault. When Amazon detects that your location doesn’t match your billing address, it serves up a limited range of content to watch “while you’re abroad”.

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ExpressVPN review: Is it secure?

ExpressVPN is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, so it’s outside of the jurisdiction of the UK, the EU, the US and anyone else who might want to spy on your activity. Like most VPNs, it maintains a zero-log policy, and goes so far as to store session information only in RAM, so it’s never written to a hard disk. The upshot to this is that even if someone were to seize or break into its servers, there should be no record of your past online activity.

At the client end, your privacy is protected by a kill-switch feature that automatically cuts all internet access if the connection to the VPN is lost, to ensure not one bit of traffic gets accidentally routed via your ISP. It’s even possible to pay for the service with Bitcoin, so your VPN subscription can’t be linked to your bank account either.


If that’s not reassuring enough, ExpressVPN was independently audited by PwC in 2019, providing independent confirmation that its privacy policy is effective, and is implemented in practice.

We do however have a few reservations. There’s no double-VPN feature to provide an additional degree of anonymisation between you and the content you want to access – and as we’ve mentioned, auto-activation features are limited on Windows, so you’ll need to remember to turn the VPN on as needed, or keep it permanently enabled.

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ExpressVPN review: Should you buy it?

ExpressVPN might not be the ideal VPN for every scenario: rival services are faster, cheaper and let you connect more devices at once. Realistically, though, ExpressVPN is fast enough for anything you’re likely to want to do, and most customers won’t be troubled by the five-device limit.

Meanwhile, the software is a pleasure to use, it works with every major streaming service, on both computers and mobile devices, and it supports an impressively wide range of devices. Perhaps, most importantly, it comes with excellent security credentials and is a brilliant option to access geo-blocked streaming services from abroad.

So, while those focused on price will want to look elsewhere, for a few extra quid a month, ExpressVPN is a brilliant VPN service that deserves serious consideration.

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ExpressVPN review: Quick facts

DetailsExpressVPN
Based in:British Virgin Islands (safe)
Cheapest price:£4.94 per month
Money-back guarantee:Yes, 30 days no-questions-asked
Devices; Simultaneous:Unlimited; 5 simultaneous
Locations:3000+ in 90+ countries
Speed:Fast
24/7 customer support:Yes
Netflix and Disney+ allowed:Yes
BBC iPlayer allowed:Yes
Torrenting allowed:Yes
Killswitch:Yes
Multihop:No
DNS leaks:No
Activity logging:No

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