This post was made possible by ExpressVPN. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author, who maintains editorial independence, even when a post is sponsored. For more details, please read our disclaimer.
Want to maintain a degree of privacy over your online activity? Perhaps you want to access an overseas version of Netflix?
Or more simply, perhaps you want an easy-to-use VPN service that can establish a secure connection through public Wi-Fi.
There are dozens of virtual private network providers offering their services. Why should you choose ExpressVPN over any of these? Well, we’ve given it a try, and quite like what we’ve seen so far. We think you will, too.
Securing your browsing with ExpressVPN, gives you access to 1,000 physical servers in 136 geographical locations across 87 countries. That’s impressive, and should practically deal with the clear majority of VPN scenarios.
ExpressVPN also offers a choice of desktop and mobile apps, and the ability to set up the service on devices such as e-readers, game consoles and media streamers, and even NAS boxes.
Details for setting these up can be found on the ExpressVPN website. We’ll look at the various mobile and desktop apps below. But first…
What About Anonymous Logging?
One of the key requirements of VPN software is anonymity. This is generally understood to be achieved via anonymous payment options (see below) and a logless server. So, does ExpressVPN keep logs?
Happily, ExpressVPN has a customer-friendly attitude towards logs and data retention, which is why we added the service to our round up of VPNs that take privacy seriously. They run a logless DNS on each VPN server, and operate under the jurisdiction of the British Virgin Islands. Consequently, there are no data retention laws with which ExpressVPN must comply.
Pricing and Payment
ExpressVPN offers plenty of features, but are they worth the price?
For just $12.95 a month (monthly billing), you’ll get a high speed, unlimited bandwidth VPN account with the features outlined above. Alternatively, you can pay $99.95 every 12 months (which amounts to $8.32 per month) or $59.95 for a 6-month subscription (this works out to $9.99 a month).
With a subscription set up, you’ll have access to ExpressVPN across all platforms, although you’ll be limited to three devices per subscription. Live support is available 24/7, and there’s a 100% money back guarantee for the first 30 days, should you change your mind.
We know that ExpressVPN has a no logging policy, but what about payment? Could you be traced? Well, it depends on what method of payment you use. ExpressVPN accepts credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and many other payment types (including Alipay and Webmoney).
You probably have more than just a desktop PC or laptop. If so, there’s an ExpressVPN app for you.
Windows, Mac, and Linux computers all have ExpressVPN apps available. Similarly, so do Android, iOS and Blackberry.
As if that wasn’t enough, you also have the option of ExpressVPN for your wireless modem/router. Whatever the platform, you’ll have software running on your system that is capable of 256-bit military-grade encryption, with the choice of 130 VPN locations at your fingertips.
If you have several devices on your home network, the ExpressVPN App for Routers is a good option. Rather than install ExpressVPN on your PCs, smartphones and tablets — thus quickly using up the three-device limit — installing the VPN software on your router (ExpressVPN is available for the Linksys WRT1200AC, WRT1900ACS, and WRT AC3200 routers) automatically means that every connection you make through your router is via the VPN!
If you don’t own a compatible router, however, do not worry. Manual configuration of your router is possible, with steps provided on the ExpressVPN website.
Ease of Setup
How easy is ExpressVPN to set up and get started with? Installation is pretty painless. You’ll need to login to the website after signing up to download your preferred desktop app. Mobile apps can be downloaded from the usual stores.
To review ExpressVPN, we looked at the Windows and Android versions, and attempted to connect to a region-blocked service.
ExpressVPN on Windows
Setting up ExpressVPN on Windows is remarkably simple. After installation, all you need to do is input the Activation Code, which you’ll find in the ExpressVPN account page after you begin a subscription.
It’s a small app window, but then, you don’t really need it to be big. Like the mobile phone UI, there’s a large button to connect and disconnect from the chosen server, a link to select a server, and a menu in the top-right corner, where you’ll find the VPN settings.
Simplicity is the watchword. It won’t take you more than a few seconds to find, and connect to, an ExpressVPN server.
ExpressVPN on Android
Unlike the desktop version, your mobile app doesn’t require the activation code. Instead, you just need to sign in with the credentials you specified when you subscribed.
With a more polished version of the desktop client UI, ExpressVPN on Android offers a connection button, a server selection screen, and a menu, through which you can select your preferred VPN protocol (or opt for the default option).
Trying Out ExpressVPN
With a VPN, you can overcome geographic restrictions to access overseas versions of Netflix, BBC iPlayer, or other such services. To try out ExpressVPN’s ability in this area, I attempted to connect to Pandora.com, the online music player that’s blocked outside of North America.
Initially, things weren’t too good. Although I had switched the ExpressVPN settings so that a server based in the appropriate country was used, I couldn’t get Pandora to recognize me as anything but a web surfer from the U.K.
So, I headed to ExpressVPN’s comprehensive support pages for a solution. Within five minutes I had flushed the DNS (a command line instruction in Windows) and made some changes to the ExpressVPN client via the Options menu. While this probably should have worked, I had another fly in the ointment — the Hola VPN add-on for the Chrome browser. Once disabled, ExpressVPN successfully connected me to Pandora, enabling me to enjoy the service after a long break.
ExpressVPN and TOR
Here, you’ll find an alternative version of the ExpressVPN website, which exists in the almost complete anonymous space of the Deep Web. If you’re using Tor, then having a secure VPN like ExpressVPN is a good idea.
Our guide on how to find .onion sites should tell you all you need to know about this infamous online zone.
Speed, Data, and Encryption
By giving you the tools to create a virtual private network via its servers, ExpressVPN enables 256-bit encryption. This is implemented by a range of VPN protocols, from OpenVPN to L2TP, PPTP, and SSTP. While you have the option of setting your own protocol, it’s best to let the ExpressVPN make your choice for you. This enables you to get the optimal settings for your selected speed and security level.
DNS leaking is a problem for many VPNs, but we’re pleased to say that ExpressVPN is not susceptible to this weakness, in which browsers ignore the VPN. You can be certain that your data will remain secure, and your actions private while using ExpressVPN.
Need a VPN that you can use for peer to peer networking like Bittorrent (lightweight Bittorrent clients are always recommended)? ExpressVPN supports this on all servers.
All in all, ExpressVPN is a solid, secure, speedy VPN service, with a good bunch of features available along a standard price band. If you’re looking for a VPN with multi-platform support and logless servers, then you won’t find a better place to start than with ExpressVPN. We’re so impressed, we’ll shortly be adding it to our list of the Best VPN Services.
Have you used ExpressVPN? Do you find it fast and secure? Tell us about your experiences with this VPN service in the comments.