People usually choose to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) for two main reasons. The first reason is to protect their online privacy by remaining anonymous while online. If you are using public wifi in a hotel or cafe, your network traffic is prone to being captured. The second reason is to bypass geo-blocks to access specific content. For example, trying to watch Netflix’s US content in another part of the world.
If you are using a VPN to bypass geo-blocks, then almost any VPN would probably work for your use. However, if you are using it to ensure privacy and security online, there are more factors to consider before deciding on a VPN service.
Let’s get into the areas you should look at picking a VPN, and how ExpressVPN compares.
ExpressVPN is slightly more pricey other VPN offerings, but their policies to protect users, strong encryption and global network, make it a simple choice. Their most popular pricing option is getting 15 months of service for the price of 12 months, which you can learn more about here.
How ExpressVPN Handles Your Records & Logs
If your first goal is to ensure your privacy and anonymity online, the first thing to look at is how your online activity and records are logged and stored by the VPN company. According to ExpressVPN’s terms, they do not store any connection or activity logs of their users. The only information that ExpressVPN collects is to address technical issues, and that information does not contain any personally identifiable information that can point back to you.
Here are items that they will never log:
- Your browsing history
- Your IP addresses (either source IPs or VPN IPs)
- Any traffic destinations or metadata details
- Any DNS queries
Say, for example, ExpressVPN is contacted by a company or government agency to disclose which user was issued a specific IP address, ExpressVPN would not be able to provide that information, as it was never logged in the first place. This cannot be said for other VPN companies. Some keep logs for specific periods of time before they are deleted. Choose wisely.
How Fast Is ExpressVPN?
When you choose to use a VPN, you are adding an additional layer or step of protection which makes browsing the web either a little slower or noticeably slower depending on the level of encryption used for security, the server locations, the number of servers available, current server load, etc.
In our tests, I experienced speed reductions in our internet connections as low as 1.7% (when connecting to a server that is geographically close), to as high as 23% (connecting to a server across the world). A 1.7% drop in connection speed is negligible. Other VPNs that I have tested resulted in much higher speed reductions.
You will experience little to no difference in speed if you are connecting to a server that is geographically close to you. For example, if you are connecting from Canada to a US server, the drop in speed should not prevent you from streaming Netflix, Hulu, etc., flawlessly and without buffering or slowing. However, if you are connecting from the US or Canada to a server in Hong Kong, you can expect more of a speed reduction.
ExpressVPN’s speeds are some of the best I have tested, and with a name like ExpressVPN, you pretty much have to deliver in that area.
You’ll be adequately covered wherever you travel to or choose to connect with a selection of over 3000 VPN servers in 160 locations spread between 94 countries.
How Secure Is ExpressVPN?
It’s secure. All ExpressVPN connections use robust AES-256 bit encryption. There are VPN services that still only offer 128-bit encryption, so if you really value security, you want to go with 256-bit encryption.
Data Transfer Limits
There are no usage limits. You can browse, download and stream to your heart’s content.
Simultaneous Device Connections
You can connect up to 5 devices at the same time with ExpressVPN. Remember, you can setup 10, 20, or as many devices as you want to use ExpressVPN, but only 5 of the devices can be simultaneously connected at any one time. This is great if you want to have VPN functionality on your computer, smart tv, phone, firestick, gaming console, etc.
If you want to connect more than 5 devices, you can manually configure your router with ExpressVPN’s settings so that any devices that connect to the router will benefit from VPN functionality. Learn more here on their website.
How Easy Is It To Get Started?
Basic setup only takes only a few minutes if you want to use the default settings. If you’re on a computer, you can download the software for Windows or Mac. If you’re on an Android phone or iPhone, you can access the respective app store to download the ExpressVPN app.
Once you have the app or software downloaded and installed, you just have to log in to your ExpressVPN account, and grab the activation code from your account dashboard to enter in the software or app. Once that is done, you hit the connect button in the software or app. It will automatically select a server near you to connect through VPN. You can manually choose your settings too, which I will get into below.
Optional Settings & Features
If you are in another country and you know that you will always want VPN access when you browse the internet, you can set the software to start when you log into your computer automatically.
Set A Default Or Favorite Server
If you know which server you would like to connect to on a regular basis, you can enable the option to connect to the last used location when you start the program.
Built-in Fail-Safe For Anonymity
If your main reason for VPN use is to maintain anonymity, then you’ll want to make sure that your connection will get killed if there are any software issues with your VPN. Luckily, ExpressVPN has this option. If you are just using a VPN for streaming, then you won’t need this option.
Split Tunneling Feature
One issue that you may run into with any VPN is having trouble logging into or accessing certain websites in your country while using a VPN server that is located in another country. For example, you may connect to a USA server or Japanese server to watch geo-blocked content. However, if you try to log into your bank account, you may get a message that you are accessing the site from outside the country, and you may be blocked access.
This is where Split Tunneling can help. With Split tunneling, you can specify which apps will route their network traffic through a VPN, and which will access the internet regularly without a VPN. So you could set one browser to access the internet directly without VPN and set another browser to access Netflix or Hulu through VPN.
Selectable Network Protocols
If you want to set your network protocol manually, you can do so as well in the options menu.
If you want to be able to access software options right in your browser, you can download the optional browser extensions.
Using ExpressVPN In China
While most of our readers will not need to know how ExpressVPN works in China, for those who travel there or plan to work there, it is good to know that ExpressVPN actively updates their software and issues workarounds to help you get connected while in China. China’s great firewall is tough to get past and is updated frequently to block most VPN servers. You may encounter connectivity issues temporarily sometimes while in China, but they are usually resolved within a day or two by the ExpressVPN team. They even have a dedicated page that is updated regularly to address connectivity issues related to China here.
When I was in China last year, I was able to connect using ExpressVPN over 90% of the time without issue. Protip: be sure to download and set up ExpressVPN before entering China, as you will not be able to access the ExpressVPN site to download the setup file while in China.
With strict policies against logging user activity and a host of useful features to ensure 100% anonymity online, you can trust ExpressVPN with your web activity. Since they also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, you can always try it out first to see how to suits your needs and compares to the competition.
You can also be assured that this is not a company that is going to fold up and go anywhere. They have been operating since 2009, and are the largest premium VPN service provider.
If you’d like to try or sign up for ExpressVPN’s service, use this link ExpressVPN. Right now, you will receive 3 months of service for free when you sign-up and pay for the 1 year plan. (I earn a small fee if you use my link).