Many consumers concerned about the privacy and anonymity of their online connections have been turning to virtual private network (VPN) services. These companies provide a cut-out between you and both your ISP and destination servers that you might visit. There are a number of benefits to VPN services, including security, anonymity, privacy, content access, and peace of mind, among others. Effectively, your IP address is obscured by the VPN, and not visible to the outside world, or even your ISP – they merely see encrypted traffic between you and your VPN provider.
What is ExpressVPN?
ExpressVPN (sometimes erroneously written as Express VPN or VPN Express) is a popular VPN provider offering consumer-grade VPN services in a majority of countries around the world. Founded in 2009 and based in the British Virgin Islands, they’ve expanded to 94 countries, with over 2,000 servers, and 148 server locations in recent years. They have also gained a reputation in the industry for excellence, offering many premium-grade features at competitive, consumer-friendly prices. We’ll explore some of those features and related pricing information in our ExpressVPN review below.
Any VPN provider is only as good as the features it offers. Critical areas for comparison between different VPN providers include basic specifications about the company and what their policies are for consumers, privacy practices and data encryption, the interface of the service, performance and speed, how easy it is to use the service, and the back-end or customer support available. Let’s look at how ExpressVPN compares on those points.
ExpressVPN has over 2,000 servers, based in 94 countries, with 148 access locations, meaning it’s very likely there are one or more good, local servers near you. They offer no data caps or throttling on all of their accounts. A single account can be used on an unlimited number of devices – the only restriction is a maximum of 3 devices can be connected to the VPN service at any one time. All connection types are supported, including Wi-Fi, wired, and cellular connections. Additionally, a wide array of operating systems are supported, covering the vast majority of the OSes in use today – Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, most routers, and Linux systems.
Privacy & Encryption – Is ExpressVPN Safe?
As many ExpressVPN reviews point out, the service is notable for their commitment to customer privacy and protection. Whereas many other VPNs record varying degrees of information logs, ExpressVPN takes a minimalist approach – with only internal records for service status and quality, that in no way link to your IP or account. They use industry-standard AES-256 256-bit encryption, which is extremely secure (some papers on the subject suggest that with current technology, it would take approximately 10^38 of the most advanced supercomputers in the world working for the entirety of the universe’s existence thus far to even get through half of the potential key combinations to brute-force a single encryption key). Further, they offer a number of standard protocols, including OpenVPN UDP, TCP, L2TP/IPsec, SSTP, and PPTP. So, is ExpressVPN safe? Absolutely!
The online account management interface for ExpressVPN is pretty standard – if you have any experience with managing online accounts for almost any service, retailer, etc., this will all be familiar to you. In terms of the service itself, it couldn’t be a simpler or more straightforward interface – you just choose the ExpressVPN download package for your OS, install the app, and click connect. There are, of course, tweaks and settings/configurations that can be made by advanced users. They provide a number of tools to help you choose the best/closest server to your location and do other security benchmarking as well as an added bonus.
The difference between a free VPN and a paid VPN provider like ExpressVPN is often most evident in performance. Free services tend to be very slow, unreliable, and cause frequent disconnections. ExpressVPN, as a pay service, could be somewhere in between a free option and a business or professional-grade VPN provider – they’ve chosen to be pretty much spot-on with a top-tier business provider. They use high-quality fiber networks from providers around the world to connect to the internet backbone, along with top-speed servers, switches, and equipment. This ensures that the extra stops for your connection between your computer and a destinations servers don’t add much delay at all – for most people, there is no noticeable speed decrease using a VPN, and access speeds to specific services, which your ISP may be otherwise throttling, can actually improve.
Ease of Use
As we briefly touched on in the Interface section above, ExpressVPN offers tweakable advanced options for experts but was designed to be as simple as possible to use, regardless of your level of technological expertise. It’s truly ‘click, download, install, and click connect’ – that’s it (after setting up your account and paying for the service, of course). If you can buy things on Amazon or access a Netflix account, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to set up and use ExpressVPN in no time at all.
Another area where many VPN services fall short is customer service and support. If something does go wrong, consumers need to know that there are people and resources to help them make things right. Fortunately, from our experience, as well as third-party ExpressVPN reviews by major news publications, it is clear that ExpressVPN takes customer support very seriously. They offer a number of ways to contact support, including 24/7 live chat, direct e-mail support, a support ticket system, and an online knowledge base for self-directed help.
ExpressVPN Prices and Packages
All of the features and quality services of ExpressVPN come at a cost – there is no ExpressVPN free option for users. However, all accounts come with a 30-day money-back guarantee on the service, something many other companies do not provide. They currently accept a wide variety of payment methods, including Credit Cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and many other alternative payment forms, including Mint, WebMoney, UnionPay, and about a dozen others.
In terms of the ExpressVPN price, it’s certainly higher than a free service or other low-quality, slow and unreliable provider. It’s nowhere near the cost of a business or professional-grade provider, however, despite that being primarily the level of service you get. Additionally, you can get up to 1 month free with their referral program for each friend who you refer and signs up for the service. The different packages currently available are listed below, with more details on each.
The monthly plan is the most expensive option, a pay-as-you-go plan essentially. All plans, including the monthly plan, come with the 30-day money-back guarantee and include full access, and full speed, to all of ExpressVPN’s services. There is no tiered system here, and no restrictions based on subscription package. This works out to $155.40 a year, or $0.43 per day.
The twice-annual plan offers substantial savings over the monthly plan option. It too includes access to all features. This plan is billed every 6 months, in the amount of $59.95. This works out to $119.90 annually or $0.33 per day. This is a 23% savings over the monthly plan.
The annual plan is the most cost-effective option if you can afford the once-annual $99.95 billing. Like all other plans, it includes full access to all features. It’s billed once yearly at $99.95, which works out to only $0.27 per day. This is over 35% savings over the monthly plan, and more than 16% savings over the twice-annual plan.
There’s no denying that ExpressVPN offers a lot of great features and value. They have high-speed, easy-to-use VPN services, with excellent encryption and privacy, great customer support, and all the trappings of a business or professional-grade VPN, at an affordable, consumer-grade price. With servers all around the globe, and nearly 10 years of experience, coupled with the legal protections of being an offshore-based company, AND a 30-day money-back guarantee, there’s no risk to trying ExpressVPN. You can see for yourself, like so many others, why ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN choices available today.
Pros and Cons
- Speed and latency, a common issue for VPN services, do not suffer here at all
- Company commitment to customer privacy and security includes not keeping logs
- Incredibly easy-to-use, even for tech novices
- 2,000+ servers in 148 locations in 94 countries around the globe
- No phone-based customer support available, though many other support options
- More expensive than some competitors, though commensurate with the higher quality service they provide