ExpressVPN Review 2020: Does It Really Work to Protect your Privacy?

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ExpressVPN Review

ExpressVPN is a premium Virtual Private Network (VPN) service provider based in the British Virgin Islands. It was founded in 2009 and has had enormous growth to become among the leading VPNs in the market. In this ExpressVPN review, we will look at all its essential security and privacy features to help us to find out just how ExpressVPN protects your privacy. But, before then, it helps to start with the basics and understand what a VPN is.

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What Is a VPN?

A virtual private network is an online privacy and security tool that creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and the server of a VPN service. The VPN gives your device a new IP address and routes your traffic through this server, making it impossible for any other entity to see your data. That way, you can browse the internet without worrying about hackers, government, and ISP spying.

PROS:

  • Easy to use
  • 3000+ VPN servers in 94 countries and 160 cities
  • Privacy audit for no-logging claims
  • Unblocks Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime
  • Split Tunneling
  • Allows up to 5 simultaneous connections
  • Network lock (ExpressVPN Kill Switch)
  • Blocks malware. Phishing, and ads
  • Speedy live chat support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

CONS:

  • A bit expensive

Want to try ExpressVPN? Proceed to their website here.

ExpressVPN Pricing & Plans

ExpressVPN Pricing and Plans

ExpressVPN offers three straight-forward pricing plans. Its subscriptions cost $12.95 per month for one month plan, $9.99 per month for its six-month plan, and $8.32 per month for the 12-month plan. All its pricing plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

The pricing is structured so that you save lots as you subscribe to a more extended period, i.e., its 12-months plan.

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Compatibility

ExpressVPN supports a wide range of OS and devices, including

  • Windows
  • Android
  • macOS
  • iOS
  • Android TV
  • Linux
  • Firefox
  • Chrome, and
  • routers.

How many devices can I connect with ExpressVPN?

ExpressVPN allows simultaneous connection up to 5 devices using a single subscription.

However, you can get an unlimited device connection by installing the app to your router. With a router, you can access all your WiFi connected devices in your home.

ExpressVPN Number of Servers and Server Locations

ExpressVPN Servers

The number of servers and their locations a VPN provides should be among the considerations when you decide to purchase a VPN. A huge server location provides you with a great chance of getting a nearby server, which tremendously improves our VPN speeds and overall performance. Also, it offers you the ability to spoof your location and unblock websites by fooling them into thinking you are accessing them from their home region. That way, you can unblock lots of geo-locked streaming services. You can also get the region with the best prices when shopping online or purchasing air tickets.

ExpressVPN has more than 3000 servers in 94 countries across 160 cities. That’s wide coverage, which could also reveal its popularity because most VPN services only spin servers when a need arises. With extensive coverage like ExpressVPN’s, you can get a lot of benefits, including being able to unblock any website worldwide regardless of your location, and getting the most suitable nearby server for fast speeds. The chances are that you won’t find an overloaded server.

ExpressVPN Smart Location feature will automatically pick the fastest VPN server for your network. The Smart Location algorithm ranks VPN server locations based on key metrics such as download speed, latency, and distance. The VPN provides tools to check your connection. The Online Privacy and Security Checker will help you to find out whether the websites that you visit can see your IP address and location. The VPN speed test feature will show you the best VPN servers by measuring the latency and download speeds.

Virtual Server locations

ExpressVPN also has Virtual servers. According to them, in some regions, it is difficult to get servers that meet their standards in terms of speed, security, and reliability. In such cases, they use servers in nearby countries. For instance, if you decide to connect to Indonesia, your network traffic will be routed through Singapore and assigned an Indonesian IP to make your traffic appear as if it’s originating from Indonesia.

Some of its notable virtual server locations include:

  • Algeria, Andorra, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Isle of Man, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Turkey, Uzbekistan (via the Netherlands)
  • Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, Uruguay, Venezuela (via Brazil)
  • Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, Macau, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam (via Singapore)
  • India (via the UK)
  • Taiwan (via Hong Kong)

How does ExpressVPN Protect Your Privacy?

Many people who use VPNs aim at protecting their online privacy. That’s why before investing in a VPN, its vital to know how it protects your privacy. You also want to see whether you can trust the service. Just like your ISP, when you use a VPN, it gains access to your online activities. If its rogue, it could track your online activities and even identify you to a third party. So how does ExpressVPN protect your privacy?

To begin with, ExpressVPN operates under the legal jurisdiction of the British Virgin Island, where no metadata laws are requiring a company to retain its user’s data for a specified time. It means that ExpressVPN can only respond to a court order or subpoena issued by a British Virgin Islands court.

Secondly, ExpressVPN embraces a strictly no-logs policy. Meaning it keeps no records of its user’s online activities. Hence, even if it were to be slumped with a court order, it won’t have any data to give.

Thirdly, ExpressVPN redirects your internet traffic to disguise where your device is where it makes contact with other websites. Also, the VPN uses AES 256-bit encryption to make sure that all the information you send across the internet is unreadable to anyone who may intercept your traffic. Even your Internet service provider can’t see your online activities.

VPN Protocols

VPN protocols are crucial as they determine how data is routed through a device. It essentially is a method by which your device connects to VPNs secure servers.

By default, ExpressVPN will automatically connect you to the VPN protocol most suitable to your network. However, you can configure your VPN to use any of their available protocols, including PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, and Open VPN.

1. PPTP

The Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) has been around since Windows 95; hence it’s one of the oldest protocols. It is easiest to set up and happens to be very fast. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to crack and has no meaningful security benefits. So why is it still in use? The PPTP is mainly used on slower devices like routers when security is not a priority. It is also essential for applications that require speed like audio or video streaming. Its authentication protocols, especially MS-CHAP-v1/v2 is highly unsecured and have been repeatedly hacked. Hence, the PPT Protocol is an absolute no when security is a priority.

2. OpenVPN (With TCP/UDP)

OpenVPN is a highly secure protocol that ExpressVPN offers its users. It runs on either TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) or UDP (User Datagram Protocol) Internet protocols. The TCP internet protocol is excellent at bypassing firewalls, while the UDP internet protocol offers fast speeds. ExpressVPN lets you choose from the two, but it uses the UDP protocol as the default unless it is blocked.

The pros of OpenVPN are many, including the fact that it is open-source, and its code is available for anybody to check for any hidden vulnerabilities that could compromise your VPN’s security. The protocol is versatile, very secure, and can bypass most firewalls.

On the downside, it has a complicated setup, more so if you try to set up your own OpenVPN.

3. L2TP/IPSec

The Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol does not provide encryption; that’s the reason behind its pairing with IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) (L2TP). The combination of the two protocols offers better security compared to PPTP. However, its security features are not robust and so you can only use it for anonymization or for changing VPN locations.

Other Important Security features include:

  • Automatic Kill Switch

ExpressVPN has the network lock feature that will automatically block all internet traffic in case your internet disconnects. With the network lock, you need not worry even if your power flickers or your device is on sleep mode, or you change WiFi networks.

  • Zero-Knowledge DNS

ExpressVPN runs its private encrypted DNS on every server, which makes your connection not only secure but faster.

  • TrustedServer technology

ExpressVPN runs its servers in a way that no data is ever written on its hard drive, which makes you safer.

  • DNS leak protection

ExpressVPN protects you against DNS leaks because its app blocks DNS requests to any other DNS server other than its own. It also ensures that all its user’s DNS requests are encrypted and routed through the VPN tunnel.

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ExpressVPN Speeds and Performance

The speed of a VPN can have a lot of consequences for its users. Some activities, like streaming, do require fast speeds. We tested ExpressVPN speeds by using the Ookla speed test. We experienced a little dip in both the download and upload speeds. However, the connections were fast, allowing us to stream content in HD. The connection was fast for most of the servers we tested. Using geolocation, we established that the servers were where it claimed they were.

Speed Without VPN

ExpressVPN Speed Test Without VPN

Speed Test With ExpressVPN

Speed Test with ExpressVPN

We were also able to test speeds for some of the VPNs virtual servers in Indonesia, India, Belarus, Philipines, Cambodia, Jersey, Montenegro, Argentina, Guatemala, Chile, Andora, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. The connection speeds for its virtual servers were fast and reliable.

Does ExpressVPN Unblock Streaming Websites like Netflix?

Most popular streaming websites like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer are geo-locked; hence you cannot access them from specific regions. That’s why you need a VPN that that has unblocking capabilities. ExpressVPN allowed us to access Netflix from many areas, including the USA, UK, and Canada. ExpressVPN unblocks many more streaming websites including

  • Hulu
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Sound Club
  • Hotstar India
  • HBO GO
  • Showtime
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • YouTube, and
  • ESPN.

Does Express VPN allow Torrenting?

ExpressVPN works with BitTorrent to help you share large files quickly and efficiently. It’s crucial to use a VPN when torrenting because it replaces your IP address and an IP address of a secure VPN server in another region. This IP address is usually shared by many mother users, making it impossible for your online activities to be tracked back to you individually.

ExpressVPN does not keep your connection logs as well as activity logs that could be used to reveal your identity. It also helps that ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, which is a privacy haven devoid of government ‘spying and metadata laws. The fact that the VPN runs its servers and its TrustedServer technology means that it’s an excellent choice for torrenting.

Does ExpressVPN Circumvent The Great Firewall of China?

ExpressVPN is among a handful of VPNs that bypass the notorious Great Firewall of China. It does not have servers in China; hence it’s not subject to the countries data retention laws. However, you need to download and install the ExpressVPN app before you enter China. This is because China blocks the ExpressVPN website. You need to make sure that ExpressVPN is automatically enabled on your Windows or Mac device. Also, make sure to allow the internet kill switch to stop all internet traffic should the VPN disconnect unexpectedly.

Split Tunneling

ExpressVPN is among the few VPNs that provide the Split tunneling technology that allows you to decide which of your traffic should pass through its encryption tunnel and which should pass through your ISP.

Final Verdict

ExpressVPN has excellent security and anonymity features that will help protect your privacy. It uses military-grade encryption to secure your data from hackers. The VPN can unblock websites across the globe, including Netflix USA. It has the qualities and features you would want from a VPN service. It’s among the fastest VPNs and embraces a strictly no-logs policy and protects its users against all VPN leaks, making it excellent for torrenting. It competes with NordVPN for the best VPN in 2020.

We recommend ExpressVPN to our readers.

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