ExpressVPN Review – Scam or not?
What is ExpressVPN?
ExpressVPN is a service offered by ExpressVPN International Ltd., company registered and headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, but with personnel around the world. It has been operating since 2009, when it started by offering its product to the Asian market.
These days, the number of servers surpases 1000, spread across 145 locations in 94 countries. The total number of IPs owned by ExpressVPN is unknown, but thousands of them are said to be available on each server. Naturally, the target market of ExpressVPN has also broadened, aiming today to the entire globe.
Pricing and Plans
Prices start at $12.95 per month, but you can get better quotes by purchasing a longer subscription. The lowest that the monthly price can get is $8.32, if you go for one year of service. An intermediate price / duration deal is available at $9.99 per month, for six months.
Trial access is granted to the press in a case by case basis, and it can be solicited by just tweeting or mailing the team. A free trial by itself is not publicly offered, but the 30-day money back guarantee is more or less the same. In fact, it is promoted as so by ExpressVPN.
The list of accepted payment methods is extensive, and includes credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin and a large selection of other methods such as WebMoney, Alipay, Yandex Money, UnionPay, iDeal, Sofort, Interac, GiroPay, Minc, FanaPay and OneCard.
ExpressVPN supports only four protocols: OpenVPN (both through TCP and UDP), SSTP, L2TP/IPsec and PPTP. While customers are free to set up the VPN by themselves, applications are offered for most of the major operating systems, which by default will select the best protocol to connect.
An account is allowed to be active simultaneously in no more than 3 devices, but a router can be configured to be used as an access point to the VPN. ExpressVPN particularly supports a broad range of wireless routers, which complements the already vast catalog of computers, mobile devices and media consoles where it can be set.
The service provided comes with unlimited bandwidth, strong anonymity and security, P2P file sharing, satisfactory speeds and a lot of nice tools. There is also a comprehensive knowledge base on their website, with very specific guides such as one teaching how to share the contents of a USB to the LAN using a router.
ExpressVPN is concerned about the privacy of its customers, and it starts with not saving logs of their activity. the option to send automatic reports to the web is ticked by default after installing the client, but a note is included clarifying that not identifiable information is submitted along.
No dedicated IPs are offered, and those available are rotated dynamically to improve the customers’ anonymity. Being based on the British Virgin Islands is also a pro when it comes to privacy, since the territory is known as the land of secrecy.
ExpressVPN uses TLS to ensure that the data traveling from a device to the VPN (or viceversa) is not altered by a malicious third party (man-in-the-middle attack). For the purpose, a key 4096-bit long is used, identified by the SHA-512 algorithm.
HMAC authentication is also enforced, to protect the data from being altered. The control-channel uses AES-256, and the data-channel a symmetric encryption scheme (with ECDH).
Secret keys are negotiated between the VPN server and the client at most every 60 minutes, which means that if one of the ends would be compromised, no more than an hour of activity could be retrieved. The key is also renewed every time a new connection is set.
The security configuration of ExpressVPN can be found more in detail here.
The website is beautiful, responsive and intuitive to browse. The color scheme and fonts used are appropriate, and they make the reading process easier.
The mobile experience is excellent and the portal is appropriately secured. SEO and overall performance are also good, even though they are slightly worse than the other two areas.
ExpressVPN aims big, offering a translation of their website into 17 languages. From what we could check, the different versions are kept up-to-date and the quality of the text is very professional.
The information is carefully organized, including a tour through the key aspects of VPNs and the service offered. There is also a comprehensive blog, with all kind of interesting readings, classified in categories.
Within the blog and the site itself there are also giveaways and contests that are held to prize loyal followers of ExpressVPN. Their commitment with online privacy and anonymity is clear and celebrated all over the site, as their contribution to nonprofits and their “Future of Privacy” scholarship prove.
There is a page on the site dedicated to listing the support alternatives. Three of them allow direct interaction with an agent, in real time with the live chat and in a matter of hours via the contact form or by emailing them.
You can also search their knowledge base for tutorials and troubleshooting guides using the search bar located below the options mentioned above. A FAQ is available as well, with concise answers to simple but common questions.
In order to create an account you are required to purchase a subscription to the service. First, you have to select the plan that matches your needs, then you enter a valid email address and proceed to the checkout by choosing a payment method and authorizing it.
For alternatives such as Paypal a recurring payment will be created, so, you will probably want to go and turn it off. You will be notified of both movements, of course, so the process is transparent to you.
A default password will be generated, and you will be given the opportunity to either keep and write it down, or set your own. Anyway, if you ever forget your credentials, regaining access is as simple as filling a field with your registered email address.
The ExpressVPN Client
ExpressVPN has one of the most complete set of clients, including one for Linux systems (an operative system where many VPN providers still require manual configuration). Naturally, the usually supported OSes and devices are there: Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android.
Unlike other VPN software, ExpressVPN uses an activation code to track the devices where you have installed the client. The code is unique to your account and will never change.
The interface is simple, with a big button in the middle to connect / disconnect. You are given the freedom to choose a location by yourself (either at the country or city level, the latter for countries with more than one server), but you can also let the app decide for you with the auto-select option.
Additional tools bundled with the client include a speed test that ranks the servers according to latency and download speed, a help menu with links to some useful resources, more in-depth configurations under the “options” menu, a convenient one-click log saver to make things easier when contacting customer support due to technical issues and, a list of server locations.
Manual setup is also possible, in case an advanced user wants to go on with it. Guides are offered both for installing the existing apps and to configure the VPN by yourself.
Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 Tests)
We chose four of their servers, all of them geographically apart, and tested the upload and download speed for each using the popular speedtest service.
The results were good, ranging from 3Mbps for those farther of our physical location to more than 15mbps for a server less than a few kilometers away from us. Pings were also right, never going beyond 350 ms, and as low as 11 ms for the closest network.
Some evidence of leaking exists and the app guard exhibited some flaws, but the overall experience was good and it successfully allowed us to unblock geographically restricted sites.
Extensions are offered for the dominant Google Chrome, the Mac-favorite Safari and the addon-rich Mozilla Firefox. Instructions on how to set them up are found in their guide, which includes a description of its features as well.
All of them are available through the site and require an active account to be downloaded. It is also stated that the latest version of the full client is required in order to the extensions to work.
Two Blackberry devices are supported: BlackBerry Priv and DTEK50. According to the setup instructions, you should download and install the Android APK, we could not test since we did not have one of the supported BlackBerries at hand.
Of course ExpressVPN can still be manually configured in devices that allow so (such as Windows phones), by finding and following the relevant instructions here.
What are people saying about ExpressVPN?
The overall reputation of the site is positive, with average ratings ranging between 3.5 and 4.5. Its score on Sitejabber, for example, is 3.9, strongly influenced by a few 1-star reviews mostly complaining about slow speeds and problematic refund requests.
On Amazon, 45% of the reviews are 5-star, but also one fourth of the total are on the bottom side. This platform shows an average 3.6 for ExpressVPN.
- Clients available for major operating systems (including Linux-based)
- Solid reputation.
- Strong security.
- Unlimited bandwidth.
- World-class customer support.
- No dedicated IPs.
- Only 3 devices at once.
- More expensive than other VPN providers.
ExpressVPN Review Conclusion
ExpressVPN is expensive, but the experience is worth the extra cost. The number of devices is also a strong limitation, since no more than 3 sessions may be active at the same time.
The number of servers available is OK, and the speed is fair even for those far from our physical location. The client comes with a handy speed test that ranks the VPNs using three different criteria, making it easier for the user to choose where to connect. One of the only few drawbacks on this matter in the absence of dedicated IPs.
The website and the apps are both newbie-friendly, but there are also more advanced settings easily accessible to those interested in playing around with them. There are plenty of guides and how-tos published on their site, making it easy to go beyond with the software.
Customer support is good, with a fast turnaround time and an efficient way to handle issues. The money back guarantee is honored, with no questions asked as they state.Go to expressvpn.com