Besides the well-known VPN tools such as NordVPN and CyberghostVPN, ExpressVPN is one of the VPN providers with a very high market share worldwide. ExpressVPN was not very well known a couple years ago, however from June 2015 until today in 2020 it has become one of the top players, if not the number one player in the world of VPN tools. We have taken a closer look at the VPN provider as of October 2020.
VPN is a sensitive and delicate business. The most important items are data security, data protection and legal safety. How much are VPN providers able to protect themselves from governmental investigations and inquiries? Thus, the question always arises to what extent VPN providers can protect themselves from the law, for example, if official institutions were to enforce their legal claims by forcing the VPN provider to disclose any kind of data.
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The most successful VPN providers are based in countries that leave investigators little or no legal leeway because of the country’s law structure.
It is therefore hardly surprising that ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands: An autonomous state that is not affiliated to the EU or U.S. As a member of the Caribbean Community, ExpressVPN does not operate within the legal spheres of the EU, nor is it subject to any U.S. laws. Therefore, ExpressVPN is released from the statutory data retention and from other official requirements that deals with the disclosure of user and data transfer information.
A few years ago, ExpressVPN hit the headlines, which only spurred users to rely on the VPN provider even more. In connection with the attack on the Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov, the Turkish authorities found that some servers in Turkey that belonged to ExpressVPN had been used to disguise communications.
Shortly after, the Turkish Intelligence confiscated the ExpressVPN servers. However, the investigators banged their heads against a brick wall when they found out that neither connection nor communication data was stored in any of these servers. The investigation efforts therefore were in vain.
As a result, the Turkish government vehemently criticized ExpressVPN and stressed how much the VPN tool was an obstacle to the government’s investigation in uncovering the data they needed.
The VPN tool on the other hand, was praised in the hacker community for precisely this reason: ExpressVPN had been challenged for the first time in the highest form by a government and had undoubtedly passed the test.
ExpressVPN is as of now one of the only VPN providers on the market that has been able to demonstrate its anonymity throughout a government investigation. Only a year later, TechRadar and Comparitech’s voted ExpressVPN as the most secure VPN in the world.
How Easy Is It to Install and Run ExpressVPN?
ExpressVPN is available on all platforms, such as Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux and even for routers, and manages over 160 servers worldwide.
Due to the high level of competition, the installation of VPN tools is now standardized on all platforms. We only know of rather bizarre and unknown VPN providers that would provide complicated installation processes. Reputable VPN manufacturers nowadays provide an easy installation and uninstallation.
But the question remains: Does ExpressVPN leave unnecessary files on the computer after an uninstallation, such as registry entries and services on operating systems such as Windows? While the VPN software can be removed on all platforms without leaving any file residue, the service ExpressVPN only remains in the background for Windows until it is restarted — a technical triviality that we have found with almost all VPN providers on Windows platforms. For this reason, we recommend restarting Windows after uninstallation so that all file residue can be removed successfully.
How Fast Is ExpressVPN?
ExpressVPN provides its own speed test inside the application. This allows the user to see the speed of the VPN server in a list before connecting to a disguised server location. We saw speeds between 5 and 88 Mbps, with most servers ranging up from 50 Mbps — this corresponds to a speed of 4G when compared to mobile devices. A movie in the size of about 1 GB can be downloaded in under 2 minutes.
Those who work a lot with torrent software are also in good hands with ExpressVPN. Even though ExpressVPN does not offer a separate column for torrents, our test with qBittorent showed that fast downloads were easily established.
Almost all of the server speeds listed are more than sufficient for streaming videos in 4K. And if you use ExpressVPN for browsing only, you will not feel any differences in speed compared to your home Internet provider.
We recommend CyberghostVPN to those who consider immense high speeds important: In our test and VPN comparison 2020, only CyberghostVPN is the VPN provider with the highest download speed.
How Reliable Is ExpressVPN?
How reliable is ExpressVPN?
There are a total of four important features regarding the reliability of ExpressVPN:
1. Shared IPs
This specific feature relates to traceability by government authorities or other institutions. ExpressVPN assigns the same IP to multiple users. As a result, it is not possible for authorities to find out which user accessed which connection at what time. Shared IP is an additional security that obscures connections, whilst no connection data is being stored anyway.
2. How does the Kill Switch/Network Lock work?
This feature is known as the ExpressVPN Network Lock. It is one of the most important features of a VPN tool: In the event of the VPN servers failing, it’s absolutely necessary that the user does not suddenly and automatically fall back into the home Internet connection. If that were to happen, the user’s original IP would suddenly be revealed to everyone.
Such a case can have fatal consequences, especially when downloading through the torrent network: It takes just a few seconds for the so-called monitoring tools of external authorities to reveal the identity of the user. Most organizations that monitor the torrent networks are dubious law firms working for media companies hunting for a quick buck.
This can be the case, if you for example download film, music, or software that are targeted by institutions due to copyright licensing provisions. The fact that law firms have literally built up a business model by taking advantage of the old-dated copyright laws has been the subject of news stories and online discussions all around the world.
In any case, this Kill Switch ensures that after an interruption on the VPN server, the entire Internet connection is at a standstill until the user chooses to reconnect manually.
3. How secure is ExpressVPN’s encryption method?
The VPN software uses the AES concept as encryption standard. AES offers a total of three encryption methods, the lowest of which is 128-bit. Various mathematicians such as the encryption expert Patrick Nohe are concerned with how long it would take a supercomputer to crack a 128-bit key.
According to today’s experts, it takes a supercomputer 10.3 years to crack a 128-bit key. However, the more bits are added, the security increases exponentially. ExpressVPN uses the highest encryption method of 256-bit, i.e. it would take a super computer several million years to crack the code. Long story short, the 256-bit key used by ExpressVPN is more than enough to provide a secure transfer of data between the computer and the server.
4. How reliable are ExpressVPN’s servers?
We have tested ExpressVPN intensively for 14 days. We could not observe any failures in popular servers with high utilization and high speeds. Only with remote servers from third countries such as Kazakhstan, Algeria, Sri Lanka and similar did we detect occasional server failures. However, in these cases, the kill switch mentioned above immediately ensured that no further data from the computer was transferred after the VPN server had disconnected.
How Much Does ExpressVPN Cost? Price for Value Explained
For only $8.32 ExpressVPN is one of the VPN tools in the higher price range compared to other VPN tools in 2020 but still an affordable option.
However, there are a few good reasons for this. First, the reputation and seriousness of the VPN provider are one side of the coin. Another point is the positive fact that the VPN company is based in the British Virgin Islands and is not subject to any EU or U.S. regulations and laws.
But ExpressVPN is the strongest when it comes to the Andrei Karlov case mentioned earlier. Despite the fact that the ExpressVPN servers were compromised by intelligence investigators, no data was found. ExpressVPN was one of the few companies to prove that even a government authority with all its intelligence and judicial powers was unable to obtain any data.
Therefore, anyone who places a high value on anonymity and protection from any institution is safe to travel with ExpressVPN. For the crowd of fans and supporters of ExpressVPN, these are the most important reasons to spend a few dollars more.
The 30-day money-back guarantee evokes a positive response from customers. First of all, ExpressVPN offers a trial version with no restrictions for 30 days. Only after that, you will be charged. Despite everything, if you are still not convinced of ExpressVPN, you can still cancel the contract after 30 days and get your money back. Thus, the VPN software would have been tested free for 60 days. ExpressVPN is only one of few offering such a long period of testing without any cost involved.
How Good Is ExpressVPN’s Support?
In addition to numerous help sections on the VPN provider’s website, ExpressVPN also provides a live chat under expressvpn.com/support/. The VPN provider even offers chat for non-subscribers who have specific questions in advance. The average response time in our test was under one minute.
We have furthermore inquired to support with different complicated questions. In some occasions, the support employee even forwarded us to another more technically experienced support employee. This shows that a hierarchically structured support team has been set up, which shows how professionally the help desk is structured.
How Well Does ExpressVPN Work With Streaming Services Such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Including USA and Japan?
After our direct request to support, ExpressVPN firmly claims that it is suitable for Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. In our test, we found that 30% of all servers work with the streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. This is a very high rate, considering that all streaming companies have been fighting VPN providers for years and trying to block their IPs almost on a daily basis.
With ExpressVPN, the maximum tryout is around three servers before you are connected with a VPN server that works with streaming providers. To ease up the search, some VPN providers have integrated special features that allows you to select dedicated servers that specifically work for Netflix, Hulu and Amazon in the user interface.
For example, CyberghostVPN offers a list of servers that are specifically tailored to stream service providers. NordVPN uses a unique cloud technology that recognizes within seconds whether Netflix & Co.’s IPs have been blocked, and if so, the tool automatically switches to another server.
With ExpressVPN, the slightly higher price than other VPN providers is justified by the high level of reliability and the certain legal protection from authorities. Apart from that, it is up to the users to decide which provider is more suited to their own taste.
Those who have been able to cope with NordVPN or CyberghostVPN for years might think the interface of ExpressVPN looks simplified and reduced to the most essential features. ExpressVPN places more value on simplicity than configurability. As a result, the VPN company is primarily targeting a less technical savvy customers. At the same time, they manage to offer an extraordinarily stable, fast and reliable VPN service.
But the weight of the company lies in their seriousness and professionalism: ExpressVPN is not only one of the best-known VPN services on the web, but also the one providing the highest safety in all areas: legal safe haven, data protection security and the most reliable encryption.
One thing is clear: Once you get used to ExpressVPN, you will most likely become a fan as it is quite fast and won’t be changing providers any time soon. We hope that this development trend will stay that way in 2021, and we will keep you informed by testing ExpressVPN on a continuous basis.