ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN providers that has provided strong internet privacy and security for the last ten years. But as it was recently acquired by Kape Technologies, a company that has faced significant criticism due to its shady background. However, despite this turnover, ExpressVPN is still a VPN provider that belongs to a safe jurisdiction, uses strong encryption, and provides a range of security and privacy-boosting features.
So has this change in parent companies even brought a significant impact on ExpressVPN? This review sheds light on all the relevant details, but before proceeding with that, here is a quick overview of the VPN provider:
Security and Privacy:
Streaming and Torrenting
- Amazon Prime
- BBC iPlayer
- Disney Plus
- HBO Max
- Split tunneling
- Torrent IP leak protection
- 3000 servers in 94 countries
- $12.95/m on a 1-month plan
- $8.32/m on a 1-year plan
- $9.99/m on 6 months plan
- Gaming consoles
- Streaming devices
While from the upfront ExpressVPN does seem like a reliable and trustworthy VPN provider, however, a deep review might reveal something much more.
Security and Privacy
A VPN is an online privacy and security tool, and therefore, it is liable for every VPN to provide internet security to its users. However, unfortunately, many VPN providers might promise the utmost privacy and security. Still, their promises are mostly empty, so it is crucial to look into the three main things that shed light on how the VPN treats user security and privacy: jurisdiction, log policy, and encryption.
ExpressVPN’s turnover to Kape Technologies has become crucial more than ever to have a deep look into these matters since the company has a shady background.
– What Type Of Encryption does ExpressVPN Use?
ExpressVPN uses military-grade encryption to safeguard the users’ data from prying eyes that is:
- AES-256 bit encryption
- 4096-bit RSA key
- SHA-512 authentication key
Moreover, ExpressVPN also uses perfect forward secrecy. It creates a new encryption key for every session and leaves no room for hackers or snoopers to decrypt your data and learn about your online activities.
The encryption standard used by ExpressVPN is the same as suggested by banks and government officials, so by no means can anyone intercept your data traffic.
– Jurisdiction of ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN has its headquarters in a safe jurisdiction of the British Virgin Island. It is a privacy-friendly jurisdiction that is not a part of the five eyes, nine eyes, and 14 eyes alliance. Your browsing data won’t be recorded or shared with government agencies or international surveillance agencies. The country also doesn’t impose any data retention laws. So, ExpressVPN is safe to use because its business location doesn’t interfere in providing a protected user experience.
– Logging Policy – Does it Keep Logs?
- IP address
- DNS queries
- Browsing history
- Traffic destination or metadata
- Choice of the VPN server
- Apps version successfully activated
- Date when you connected to the VPN service
- Amount of data transferred per day in MB
Besides this, the VPN also collects anonymized data like speed test data, crash reports, and connection failures. But none of the data collected enables ExpressVPN to match individual behavior and network activity.
ExpressVPN has no data to show because the VPN provider uses the trusted server technology. The VPN servers run on the RAM-only servers that temporarily store the data and delete them when the app is rebooted.
Moreover, ExpressVPN has undergone an independent log audit process, through a PwC audit firm that tested the VPN code and also interviewed team members. The audit report confirms that ExpressVPN doesn’t log and share users’ data logs with anyone. However, this log audit is somewhat outdated, since it happened back in 2019 when ExpressVPN was owned by a different name. Ever since ExpressVPN has been bought by Kape Technologies, it has yet to undergo a log-audit that could prove its stance on being a no-log VPN and shed off the suspicions many users have regarding it.
– Which Tunneling Protocols Does it offer?
ExpressVPN offers a range of popular tunneling protocols that helps in a secure connection. The VPN provider uses:
- Lightway Protocol.
The Lightway protocol is ExpressVPN’s proprietary protocol, optimized for reliability, speed, and security. It’s an open-source and lightweight protocol, meaning it won’t consume much of your bandwidth or battery. In addition, it enables users to pick up between the AES and ChaCha20/Poly 1305 encryption ciphers. What makes using this protocol trustworthy is the fact that it has undergone an independent security audit and is open-source code with its code available on GitHub for anyone to view. The proprietary protocol is now compatible with all ExpressVPN apps and is the most preferred choice.
Besides this, you can also use the OpenVPN protocol. It comes with two ports; one favors speed, and the other one is best for security. It also shows impressive speed and is available on all ExpressVPN clients.
The VPN also supports the IKEV2 and L2TP protocols. You can use these protocols, but it’s better to avoid them since they don’t work on all devices, and the speeds are not as competitive as the other protocols.
If you need maximum speed and reliability, then it is best to use the Lightway or OpenVPN protocol. While the VPN app automatically connects you with the best protocol, you can also manually choose a protocol.
– How good is ExpressVPN in bypassing Censorships?
ExpressVPN is among the few best VPN providers that help users bypass censorship. It has a worldwide server network and the fastest connection speed to access the blocked content anywhere. With ExpressVPN, you can use any popular blocked social media platforms like Skype or Twitter and read the news from any restricted news website.
Moreover, you can access the blocked streaming content on Netflix or Hulu. The VPN also offers specialized stealth servers that mask your VPN traffic as the regular HTTPS traffic. Since this encryption is commonly used by banks or online shopping platforms, VPN block filters don’t block it.
You can use ExpressVPN in authoritarian countries like China, UAE, and Turkey by connecting to the stealth servers. Though the VPN doesn’t offer servers in China, you can connect to the nearby servers located in Hong Kong and Singapore and browse the web freely.
Past History of the ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN started its services in 2009, and at the time, ExpressVPN International Limited owned it. The VPN provider set a quality standard to educate the people and was an active member of the VPN Trust Initiative.
But in September 2021, Daniel Gericke, the CEO of ExpressVPN was named among the three former US intelligence and military personnel who got a lawsuit for $1.6 million. They were building spying tools to help the UAE government target human rights activists, journalists, and rival governments.
The revelation of the company’s CEO’s involvement in the spy program surfaced a day after Kape Technologies bought ExpressVPN for $936 million. Kape Technologies also owns other VPN providers, such as CyberGhost, PIA, and Zenmate VPN. But, as it has a shady history of spreading adware on users’ devices, this raises questions about ExpressVPN’s credibility.
After this event, the company released an official statement; “there’s no report of the VPN undergoing a security or log audit process that can further prove its stance.”
It was not the first time that ExpressVPN had experienced such an incident. In 2017, the Turkish police captured one of ExpressVPN’s servers. The Turkish police were investigating the death of the Russian ambassador in Turkey. They had information that the accused accessed his Gmail account via a VPN, so they seized ExpressVPN’s server to confirm the connections’ logs.
But since ExpressVPN uses RAM-only servers that delete the data after every session, they found nothing. After this incident, ExpressVPN audited its log policy and proved that the VPN doesn’t collect or store any activity and connection logs.
Any Extra Privacy and Security Features by ExpressVPN?
A VPN’s popularity is also stemmed from the extra features it offers. These features increase your online security and privacy and ensure an excellent user experience. ExpressVPN offers basic security and privacy-enhancing features like:
– Network Lock
ExpressVPN uses a network lock feature to keep your data safe even when the VPN connection drops or gets interrupted. Network lock is another name for ExpressVPN’s VPN kill switch. It ensures that the VPN won’t leak your IP address, location, or any data unencrypted until the connection has resorted. By doing so, it protects your data from getting intercepted by hackers and other snoopers.
This feature is enabled by default and hence you don’t have to navigate through the settings options. It is available in Windows, iOS, and MacOS apps while in Android apps you can find it by the name “Network Protection.“
– Private DNS
Many VPN providers protect your internet traffic but expose your DNS requests to privacy invaders. However, ExpressVPN has a solution and uses its own encrypted and private DNS on each VPN server. When you use ExpressVPN, it automatically handles your DNS requests without exposing them to third parties. Each VPN server is protected with robust encryption and tunneling protocols and assures that no one can spoof or intercept your communication. This way, the private and encrypted DNS safeguards your DNS requests and internet traffic and ensures a top-notch level of privacy and security.
– Split Tunneling
A VPN’s split tunneling is an advanced feature that secures your sensitive data. ExpressVPN also offers this feature to route some of your app or device traffic via the encrypted VPN tunnel while other devices and apps access the web directly. The ExpressVPN’s split tunneling works in two different ways, i.e., it either protects all the apps and connected devices except for the excluded ones. It might also cover only the selected apps and devices while everything else flows without the cover of the VPN.
It is a handy feature that enables you to watch foreign movies and download safely without slowing down your other activities. This feature is available for Android, Mac, Windows, and routers. If you’re using this feature on a router, it comes in device groups that allow you to sort out devices connected to your Wi-Fi groups and then connect each group to a different VPN server location. While on other platforms, you can directly select the apps you want to encrypt via the VPN.
– Trusted Server Technology
Most VPN providers use servers that rely on hard drives and record all data until they are deleted. This raises risk as the servers can be hacked by a third party or hacker to take control of users’ data. ExpressVPN solves this problem by introducing trusted server technology. The ExpressVPN’s servers run on RAM or volatile memory that prevents privacy intruders from getting hold of your data and deleting the user’s data every time it is powered off.
Moreover, a trusted server ensures that every ExpressVPN server runs on the most updated software, and the VPN knows what’s running on each server. This way, it reduces the security risks and misconfigurations that improve VPN security.
– Tor Over VPN
Tor is an online privacy tool but over time it has gained various vulnerabilities. Therefore, it is best to use it with a VPN to boost your digital privacy. ExpressVPN allows users to access the Tor browser without being tracked by ISP or other prying eyes.
The VPN has launched a hidden service in the Tor network that offers greater privacy to Tor users. Also, it becomes easy for people living and working in highly restrictive regions to access any website. To access the onion service via ExpressVPN, download the Tor browser on any compatible device > navigate to http://expressobutiolem.onion > and browse safely and anonymously.
– Threat Manager
ExpressVPN has recently introduced a threat manager feature that gives you more control over your online privacy and how your data is being used. The threat manager blocks websites and apps from sharing your data with trackers or malicious sites. Also, it uses a blocklist to prevent your device from communicating with servers known to be malicious like trackers and malicious websites. The list is automatically updated to include new threats.
This feature is only available on Apple and Linux devices and will be enabled only when you’re using the Lightway protocol. To turn on the feature on Apple devices go to Options > Settings/Preferences > Threat manager.
ExpressVPN provides limited features, unlike other top-quality VPN providers. You won’t find a dedicated IP address, double VPN, and ad blocker feature in ExpressVPN.
Streaming and Torrenting
While streaming and torrenting are often done merely for entertainment purposes, they come with a hoard of issues such as ISP throttling and online restrictions. With torrenting, things notch up a bit further as the activity also results in privacy issues. While torrenting without a VPN, users have their IP address exposed within the torrent swarm, compromising their privacy. Therefore, to have a safe, secure, and reliable streaming and torrenting experience, it is best to use a VPN compatible with both activities.
– Compatible Streaming Platforms
ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs for streaming. Its extensive server network and fast speed make it an excellent option to access blocked streaming content from all popular streaming platforms. The VPN provider worked well in unblocking more than 10 Netflix libraries. You can watch your favorite content from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, and Germany libraries. Moreover, it also helps access the blocked streaming content from Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and Disney Plus.
Since the VPN provider offers servers in 94 countries, speeds are never an issue with ExpressVPN users. You can stream at a consistently fast speed without any connection lags and buffering.
However, like NordVPN, ExpressVPN doesn’t offer any dedicated streaming servers. But it does have the SmartDNS technology known as the MediaStreamer feature. With this feature, you can access the geo-blocked content by spoofing your IP address on any streaming device and gaming console.
As a whole, ExpressVPN works on all major streaming platforms and enables you to stream your favorite content in HD and 4K quality.
– Is ExpressVPN Good For Torrenting?
ExpressVPN is an excellent choice for torrenting. It comes with dedicated P2P servers, torrent-specific features, and fast downloading that ensures a secure and hassle-free downloading experience.
The VPN provider offers 150+ P2P-optimized servers that allow you to download large torrent files in less time. In addition, it has an advanced split tunneling feature that lets you encrypt your torrent activities while directly connecting to the web with the regular web.
Moreover, ExpressVPN also works well on all popular torrent clients like BitTorrent and uTorrent. Also, it doesn’t leak your IP address and DNS credentials.
The VPN provider uses strong encryption combined with secure protocols. This guarantees that none of your torrent-related activities are tracked and recorded and makes ExpressVPN an ideal choice for torrenting.
– How Fast Is ExpressVPN?
ExpressVPN is one of the fastest and most reliable VPN providers available in the market. It offers super-fast speeds on local and international servers with minimum connection drops.
The VPN offers consistently fast speed on short and long-distance connections. Moreover, since it has 3000 servers in 94 countries covering almost half of the world, the ping time is less. Because of its low ping time, ExpressVPN is the ideal option to play online games.
When you select an ExpressVPN server, the apps allow you to conduct a speed test first. You can decide if the selected server offers good enough speed for your preferred activity.
ExpressVPN proprietary Lightway protocol also offers instant connection time. While torrenting and streaming, it’s better to use the Lightway protocol for improved speed. The OpenVPN (UDP) protocol also provides fast and reliable speed; meanwhile, IKEv2 offers impressive connection speed.
Overall, ExpressVPN provides super-fast connection speeds and is best to use for streaming, gaming, and downloading torrents.
Online privacy and security is a basic human right which is why every VPN should be user-friendly. It is crucial that the VPN provider is compatible with all major devices and operating systems through dedicated apps. Moreover, these apps should be easy to navigate and download. Along with that, VPN providers should have actively working customer support.
– The Number of Servers ExpressVPN Provides
ExpressVPN has a vast server network that consists of 3000 servers in 94 countries. You can find multiple ExpressVPN servers in all major countries like Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the UK, and the US. Moreover, it also offers specialty servers that include:
- P2P Servers: These servers help in the fast torrent downloading process.
- Stealth Servers: You can connect to these servers to bypass internet censorship and access the internet freely.
- Virtual Servers: To enjoy a better connection, you can connect to a virtual location. Your internet traffic will come from an IP address in the country of your choice while being routed via a server in a country with improved internet speed.
All the servers mentioned above come free in the premium plan. But, you can also request a virtual server by contacting the customer support team.
– How Good is expressVPN Customer Support?
ExpressVPN has a responsive customer support team that assists the users via their email and 24/7 live chat support service. You can use the live chat option if you’re looking for a quick answer. But if your query is a bit technical, your live chat query is converted into an email ticket. But you don’t have to wait long, and your query will be addressed promptly.
The VPN has a resourceful website that includes many guides, videos, and blog posts to make the users aware. The best part of ExpressVPN’s online support is that it’s available in 17 languages, including English.
Overall, ExpressVPN’s customer support is exemplary. With the live chat feature, the support team is always there to help you without any delay. Moreover, the website has vast knowledgeable material that educates the users from beginner to advanced levels.
– What Devices Is expressVPN Compatible With?
ExpressVPN is compatible with all popular devices and operating systems. You can download and use ExpressVPN on the following devices:
- Android TV
- Amazon Firestick TV
- Apple TV
- Gaming consoles (PS4, PS5, and Xbox)
Remember that you won’t find all the ExpressVPN features in the apps listed above.
Instead of offering a free trial period, ExpressVPN offers a risk-free money-back guarantee. You have to buy ExpressVPN’s premium subscription plan, and if you’re not satisfied with their performance, you can ask for a refund during the initial 30 days of the purchase. You can request a refund by contacting their support team via email or live chat. But remember, if you have bought the VPN via iTunes, you have to contact Apple support.
ExpressVPN allows up to five simultaneous device connections with a single subscription account.
ExpressVPN offers browser extensions for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox. However, using a browser extension is not very secure because it won’t protect the traffic or activities outside the browser. A VPN extension can only protect your browser traffic and not any other activities.
ExpressVPN accepts payments through all popular conventional payment methods like:
– Debit/Credit card
– Web Money
– Yoo Money
Moreover, if you want to keep your identity hidden while purchasing the VPN, ExpressVPN allows you to pay via bitcoins.
ExpressVPN’s extensive server network and fast streaming speed make it a good option to unblock Netflix. With ExpressVPN, you can unblock more than 10 Netflix libraries, including the most popular US Netflix, and enjoy streaming your favorite content without any frequent buffering and connection lags.
ExpressVPN consists of stealth servers that disguise your traffic as regular internet traffic and helps in bypassing censorship. Moreover, ExpressVPN has a couple of servers in Hong Kong and Singapore. You can connect to them and surf the web with fast speed and maintain a top-notch level of online security.
NordVPN and ExpressVPN provide a top-notch level of online security to the users. They use strong encryption, secure tunneling protocols, and various security and privacy-boosting features. But, when compared, NordVPN has the edge over ExpressVPN. The VPN provider offers more special servers and advanced extra features that improve security, privacy, and the overall user experience.
NordVPN has a more transparent logging policy and has undergone more audits than ExpressVPN. Moreover, since Kape Technologies, which has a bad record of data mining, has acquired ExpressVPN, this further raises doubts over ExpressVPN’s credibility.
ExpressVPN ranks among the top-rated VPN providers in 2022. It is a safe and secure VPN because it uses robust encryption combined with secure tunneling protocols. Moreover, it also maintains your online security by not leaking your IP and DNS requests. The VPN uses a kill switch to protect your data when an accidental connection drops.
Besides this, the VPN belongs to a safe jurisdiction, offers user-friendly apps, and allows unlimited streaming and downloading. Furthermore, the VPN follows a zero-logging policy and has undergone a log audit process. But the VPN’s recent association with Kape Technologies and high prices are something that users don’t really like about ExpressVPN.
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