ExpressVPN review: T3’s choice for the best overall VPN

ExpressVPN continues its reign as top dog in the VPN wars with user-friendly clients across an array of devices, top-notch security, and the ability to bypass geo-restrictions across your favorite platforms

T3 Platinum Award
ExpressVPN Hompage
(Image credit: ExpressVPN)
T3 Verdict

Perfect for novices and experts alike, ExpressVPN offers an intuitive, clean interface with a selection of useful features offering security, and an overall great performance.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Fantastic clients for most devices

  • +

    Unblocks Netflix, Prime, iPlayer and Disney Plus

  • +

    Great online support

  • +

    Amazing performance and features

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Sits on the pricier side compared to competitors

ExpressVPN has done it again, sitting as T3's choice in 2021 for the go-to VPN of choice. Whether you're here for a short and sweet overview, or you want an in-depth look at this fantastic piece of software, you'll find both right here. Keep scrolling to read about ExpressVPN's cost, payment plans, geo-unblocking qualities, security, and other features.

One minute ExpressVPN review

ExpressVPN consistently finds itself at the top of our VPN buying guides, maintaining its status in the VPN market as one of the strongest, fully-fledged products with a list of features and measures that promise to protect you against the uglies of the internet. It does this with its intuitive and sleek interface, offering a clean integration across a number of devices, including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and many other go-to operating systems.

With its Lightway protocol at the helm, offering speed and security, ExpressVPN also ticks off more exciting tasks with ease, including unblocking Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and BBC iPlayer with few niggles. Security is certainly not forgotten, though, with transparency in its logging policy, detailing to customers what information is and isn’t retained on their part. You’ll also find the usual suspects in terms of features, including a nifty kill switch for when connection drops and leaves you vulnerable, as well as DNS servers for optimum security.

Offering a scope of over 3,000 servers across 94 countries in many more specific locations, ExpressVPN’s only real downfall is it’s not the cheapest. That said, offering a 30-day money back guarantee in which new customers can try it out before fully committing, you’ve got the time to find out if it’s the service for you. What’s more, it’s fair to say the security of your personal and sensitive information is priceless.

The stats:

  • Servers: 3,000+
  • Locations: 160 cities across 94 countries
  • Devices: 5 simultaneous connections
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, router, Chromebook, Kindle Fire, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku, Chromecast, gaming consoles
  • Protocols: ExpressVPN’s Lightway, OpenVPN UDP or TCP, IKEv2, and L2TP
  • Top features: Kill switch, split tunneling, DNS leak test

ExpressVPN review: How much does ExpressVPN cost? Is there a free trial?

Admittedly ExpressVPN is not a cheap VPN. It finds itself sitting on the higher end of the spectrum with many more affordable services finding themselves sub the $3 mark, including Surfshark at $2.49/£1.76/AU$3.19 a month for its 2-year plan and CyberGhost for $2.25/£1.99/AU$3.11 a month when you commit to 3 years. Like with any VPN, though, ExpressVPN’s cost becomes more affordable the longer you’re prepared to commit.

  • 1 month plan: $12.95/£9.68/AU$16.75 a month
  • 6-month plan: $9.99/£7.47/AU$12.95 a month (billed $59.95/£44.04/AU$77.55 every 6 months)
  • 12-month plan: $8.32/£6.11/AU$10.75 a month (billed $99.95/£73.43/AU$129.30 every 12 months)

However, if you subscribe directly through T3 to its 12-month plan, you can save 49%, coming to just $6.67/£4.99/AU$8.65 a month with an additional 3 months added for free, extending it to a 15-month plan. 

The best value for money, through T3 you can also benefit from a free 1-year subscription to Backblaze, too. This is a cloud storage service, allowing you to backup important files, including photos, videos, and other documents with unlimited storage, usually setting you back $60/approx. AU$77 if purchased directly with Backblaze.

But does ExpressVPN come with a free trial? Strictly speaking, no. If you decide to get the iOS or Android client directly through their respective app stores, you can get a 7-day free trial - however, you won’t benefit from T3’s exclusive deal. As previously mentioned, though, ExpressVPN offers all new customers a 30-day money back guarantee, functioning much the same as a free trial period with the option to get a complete refund if you decide the service isn’t for you within that 30-day timeframe. 

Does ExpressVPN work on Netflix? What other streaming services can it unblock?

Let’s face it, while of course security on your device is of the utmost importance, many are after a VPN for its geo-unblocking properties, especially when it comes to a streaming VPN. Great if your office or school blocks the use of certain websites or social media apps, hop on a server and access the likes of WhatsApp and Spotify with ease.

For many, though, it’s all about Netflix and other streaming services. Unfortunately many are locked to the country your account is set to, meaning the service is almost completely redundant if you’re abroad for work or leisure. However, with ExpressVPN, we were able to bypass geo-restrictions across all the key players in the streaming platform warms, including Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and BBC iPlayer without issue.

ExpressVPN is pretty upfront about its claims, listing on its website the access its tool can give you to over 25 different services. While ExpressVPN is happy to talk-the-talk, we put it through the ringer, trying out through US servers to access Netflix’s US library, putting the same trial into place for Amazon Prime Video. All three attempts were met with success.

ExpressVPN service access

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

BBC iPlayer has always been one to put up a bit of a fight, with stronger VPN detection in place. That said, two out of the four ExpressVPN servers based in the UK allowed us to stream iPlayer content. Comparing that to NordVPN, where iPlayer unblocking was far more inconsistent, this is a definite win for ExpressVPN.

Disney Plus saw similar results as Netflix and Prime Video. Of course, this isn’t the reality every time, but we’ve found incredible support from ExpressVPN when, on the rare occasion, we’ve found its service not to do the trick. Offering advice on troubleshooting and alternative server locations to try, ExpressVPN is then quick to log the issue and resolve it always appearing to have a quick turnaround for a fix.

ExpressVPN review: What features can you expect and how do they boost security?

Allowing its long list of features to do the talking in terms of the kind of privacy and security ExpressVPN offers users, it’s good news from here on out. ExpressVPN is transparent, with the facts to back up any claims. In terms of logging, you can easily find their ‘Policy towards logs’, detailing exactly what information it does and doesn’t log. This is further supported by its frequent system audits carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

If that wasn’t enough, ExpressVPN now has ioXt Alliance certification for its Android client. This certificate looks at the company’s network security, software building, updates, and cryptography.

In terms of features, ExpressVPN offers a dedicated kill switch, which automatically kicks in when your connection is lost, ensuring your information isn’t vulnerable in these critical seconds. You’ll also find a whole host of protocols available, giving you freedom to choose based on your task. Select between ExpressVPN’s Lightway, OpenVPN UDP or TCP, IKEv2, and L2TP, with each offering perks whether speed, security, or a combination of the two.

When it comes to encryption, ExpressVPN comes out all guns blazing here, too, using AES-256 encryption with a 4096-bit SHA-512 RSA certificate and HMAC (Hash Message Authentication Code) to protect from real-time data alterations. DNS support also boosts ExpressVPN’s privacy, with its zero-knowledge, 256-bit encrypted DNS working on all its own servers.

The same versatility can be seen when it comes to ExpressVPN and torrenting. ExpressVPN has no need to talk about its torrenting specific servers, because all 3,000 of its servers are available for those who want torrent, complete with no transfer or bandwidth catches. This makes ExpressVPN a service with few - if any - limitations.

ExpressVPN review of speed and overall performance

When putting ExpressVPN through its paces, we ensured a thorough test that trialled servers both near and at longer distances to get a more rounded idea of ExpressVPN's performance. We did this using ExpressVPN's Windows 10 client on a 1GBps connection, and connecting to each of ExpressVPN's protocols to get an array of results.

Based in UK, trialling US servers

OpenVPN: 270-280Mbps

IKEv2: 300-310Mbps

Lightway: - 490-630Mbps

US servers offered outright impressive figures, with ExpressVPN's very own Lightway protocol beaten only by StrongVPN on its WireGuard protocol with 590-600Mbps results. Simultaenously, it beat NordVPN's NordLynx 240-280Mbps, and even Hotspot Shield's 360-380Mbps result, usually seen at the top of our best fast VPN guide.

Of course, it wouldn't be fair to take these speed tests of the US servers as the face value of ExpressVPN's peak performance. That's why we then continued our speed tests, hopping on servers further away from our UK base to see what ExpressVPN has to offer elsewhere around the globe.

Based in UK, trialling long distance servers

Malaysia: 68Mbps

Brazil: 69Mbps

Nepal: 64Mbps

Kenya: 42Mbps

Here the figures are far lower, though still impressive when you consider the larger distance between countries. What's more, even the lowest result - Nepal at 42MBps - is more than enough for casual browsing and streaming in HD, meaning anything above, really, is just a bonus.

For all locations in between, then, we expect a competent performance that won't reduce our download speeds by too much when connecting to ExpressVPN. This makes it a great shout for a number of tasks, including streaming in 4K, gaming online, and torrenting large files with little risk in seeing a massive drop in bandwidth.

Client set-up and available support from ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN makes the set-up of its variety of clients a straight-foward task no matter which device you wish to make the most of your five connections on. Simply log in to your account on a web browser to access the dashboard. ‘Set up your devices’ appears in a big square at the top on the right with a list of devices, as well as the option to click ‘More’ if you need to take a deeper dive into their selection of apps.

Better still, if you’re on your smartphone, console, or other device, ExpressVPN can usually detect the device, directing you to download this specific client.

Whichever device you click on, ExpressVPN offers the download link, as well as step-by-step instructions to help you get it installed and working on your chosen gadget. The likes of the Android or iOS app will direct you straight to the Google Play Store and App Store (alternatively you can scan a QR code on the dashboard), while setting up a router will ask you to select the model of your modem in order to download the right firmware.

ExpressVPN app screen

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

In terms of design, ExpressVPN holds on to its uniform across the board no matter what device you download it on. From Windows to Android, Mac to iOS, you’ll open a familiar interface that is sleek and smooth-sailing to use, offering a big, obvious ‘on’ button, as well as the location you’ve currently selected, a ‘Smart Location’ which detects the server nearest you, and ‘Recent Location’ for the last server you joined.

Need any help along the way? ExpressVPN’s supporting material is incredible. Alongside a number of lengthy and detailed troubleshooting guides available across all ExpressVPN’s compatible devices, there are also set-up guides for each gadget, too. In fact, with over 250 articles, you’ll be hard pressed not to find the answer you were looking for.

In the event that you don’t, ExpressVPN have a 24/7 support team on hand, with the option to email or talk over live chat, with responses to emails promised within 24 hours, though we found responses to be far more prompt.

ExpressVPN support

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

ExpressVPN review: Our final verdict

Whether you’re new to VPN or a veteran user, ExpressVPN ticks all the boxes and packages its service in an accessible and brilliantly vast piece of software. Everything from speed to security to streaming is catered for here, making it easy to recommend as the top VPN on the market. 

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Alice Marshall
Alice Marshall

Alice is the resident eCommerce Staff Writer at Future, with a focus on VPN and streaming services. She oversees all T3 VPN buying guides and deals, as well as how to watch content.