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ExpressVPN vs NordVPN

There is so much to love about both ExpressVPN and NordVPN, but what sets them apart? We’ll help you find the best VPN for you

If you’re looking for a first-rate VPN then you might find it hard to choose between NordVPN and ExpressVPN. The two services lead our best VPN rankings with just a nose-length between them, and there are plenty of positives to each. In this article, we’ll compare the two so you can make an informed choice and pick the right VPN for you.

That’s not to say there’s a wrong choice here, as such. Both contenders are excellent VPNs that can do everything you need a VPN to do. They’ll hide your digital tracks while also allowing you to access different streaming services’ libraries.

The decision therefore largely comes down to the details, and some of these may not matter all that much to you. But let’s start with an area where the two packages differ significantly: the price.

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The bottom line

Though the features and abilities of these two VPNs are roughly similar – read our full ExpressVPN review and NordVPN review for the details – their pricing models are quite different. For first-time users, NordVPN costs roughly half as much as ExpressVPN over a two-year period, and for many readers this may well settle the debate.

At current rates, signing up to ExpressVPN will cost you £67 per year (although you get an extra three months if you’re signing up for the first time), while NordVPN will cost you just under £60 for the first two years. After that the annual price goes up to a level that’s roughly similar to ExpressVPN, but for first-time users who don’t want to splash out there’s no contest: it’s NordVPN all the way.

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Which is faster?

Along with price, performance is a key consideration when it comes to VPNs. No matter how good a VPN is, you’re going to lose some speed when using one; the trick is to find a VPN that slows you down as little as possible.

In our in-house tests we’ve found that NordVPN has performed better on the whole than ExpressVPN – by a large margin in some cases. Though ExpressVPN is far from slow, NordVPN did a better job overall of maintaining decent speeds.

On the face of it

User interfaces can be a matter of personal taste, but for what it’s worth we prefer NordVPN’s front end. The ExpressVPN desktop app is a little too minimalistic for our taste: in essence you control it using just three buttons, one that turns the VPN connection on and off, one that lets you pick servers and a third that opens the settings menu. 

While you may appreciate the simplicity of this, we find NordVPN more pleasant to use thanks to its more interactive interface. Instead of solely selecting servers through a menu, you get the option to use a map of the world. This gives a better feel of what you’re doing, and a real sense of travelling the world.

Then again, ExpressVPN does have built-in speed and security-testing tools, which NordVPN lacks. If that’s a plus point for you, ExpressVPN may well be the better option.

Security and privacy

When it comes to the vital question of security, you’ll be happy to know that both services have you covered. ExpressVPN defaults to a proprietary protocol called Lightway, which is fast and secure, while NordVPN uses its own NordLynx, based on the respected WireGuard protocol. We’ve no complaints about the reliability of either.

As for data privacy, both services have no-log policies in place, meaning that they claim not to store your browsing data. There’s no good way to check these claims for yourself, but neither service has ever been caught doing anything untoward with user data.

Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN also bank hard on being out of reach of most authorities, with headquarters in the British Virgin Islands and Panama respectively. This means it’s extremely unlikely that they’ll ever be legally compelled to expose your private activity: it’s not impossible, but that’s much more likely to happen to a VPN located in the UK or the USA.

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Going with the stream

There’s one important way in which ExpressVPN beats NordVPN, and for some it may be enough to justify the cost: we’ve found it’s much better at getting through to US Netflix, along with other streaming services. 

This isn’t to say that NordVPN doesn’t do a good job, but ExpressVPN more consistently got us access to several countries’ Netflix libraries in just a handful of tries. It also managed to get past Hulu’s VPN detection system, and unblocked the US Disney+ catalogue, which NordVPN couldn’t manage.

If your priority in signing up with a VPN is to make the most out of your streaming subscriptions by hopping between countries’ libraries, then ExpressVPN is the way to go.

NordVPN or ExpressVPN?

For everyday VPN duties, NordVPN just edges out ExpressVPN as our top pick, thanks to its better speeds and much better pricing – at least for the first two years. ExpressVPN still has a lot going for it, however, especially when it comes to video-on-demand services. If you’re still not sure, why not try both? Each comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk in giving both of these superb VPN services a spin.

Buy ExpressVPN now

Buy NordVPN now

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