This ExpressVPN Review is an update to our original that was published approximately on year ago. We’re revisiting this ExpressVPN review due to their newly added features and updated geo-blocking circumvention technology.
ExpressVPN is considered the best of the best when it comes to VPN services. Yes, it’s more expensive than most other VPNs but its faithful users will tell you that you get what you pay for.
In this review, I will be using the most popular streaming device to date which is a Fire TV Stick 4K Max. I will also cover important features offered on both Windows and Mac systems since most people run a VPN on those devices as well. Keep in mind that ExpressVPN offers applications for all popular devices such as Fire TV, Android TV, Windows, Mac, Linux, Routers, iOS, Android phones and tablets.
You can find our setup guide for Fire TV Stick/Fire TV and Android TV devices via link below.
This ExpressVPN review will cover its important features and lack thereof.
You may find additional information by exploring further on the ExpressVPN Website via link below.
160 ExpressVPN Locations
ExpressVPN offers over 160 VPN server locations in 94 countries.
No matter where you are in the world, you will be able to connect to one of their fast VPN servers.
When I say fast, I mean fast! See my speed tests below.
ExpressVPN also offers Virtual Server Locations to ensure a fast, secure, and reliable connection.
When you connect to a virtual location, your traffic will come from an IP address registered in the country of your choice while being routed through a server in a country with a better (faster) connection.
The existence of virtual servers is the main reason why ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs available today.
I put this to the test and did notice faster speeds (compared to other VPNs) when connecting to servers outside of the United States.
Why would you connect to a server outside of your country? Some people do this to circumvent geo-blocks implemented by popular streaming services such as Netflix. ExpressVPN is one of the few VPNs that can still unblock popular streaming services that open up additional catalogs of media. You can literally double your streaming service catalogs in some cases by simply connecting to a VPN server in a different country.
ExpressVPN makes it simple to connect to the VPN by providing Smart Location feature.
Smart Location is the recommended server that will provide the best download speeds based on your location.
This is usually going to be the server closest to your physical location.
Yes, you can still choose if you would like to connect to a different VPN server but most people will use the Smart Location setting.
ExpressVPN Kill Switch
ExpressVPN is one of the few services that provide a working kill switch on Fire TV and Android TV systems. For some reason, getting the kill switch to work properly on these devices is difficult but ExpressVPN has figured out how to do this.
If your ExpressVPN service is ever disconnected, Network Lock will immediately stop traffic from entering or leaving your device for maximum protection.
If you’ve been a TROYPOINT fan for any length of time you know my thoughts on a working kill switch! What good is a VPN if there’s no kill switch?
The Network Lock Kill Switch is included in Fire TV, Android TV, Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and router applications.
Split tunneling allows you to deactivate the VPN connection for specific applications that might not play well with ExpressVPN.
This is popular among Firestick and Android TV/Google TV device users. Some services such as Amazon Prime Video might not work when a VPN is active and split tunneling allows the user to bypass the VPN tunnel for those applications. By doing this, the VPN doesn’t need to be deactivated on the device whenever that specific app is used.
Split tunneling works in two different ways with ExpressVPN.
- Split Tunneling: Protect all connected devices or applications except for those specifically excluded.
- Inverse Split Tunneling: Protect only selected devices or applications. Everything else flows outside the VPN.
Thankfully, both Prime Video and Netflix work with ExpressVPN active when connecting through a United States server. More on that below when we get into circumventing geo-blocking.
New ExpressVPN Threat Manager
Threat Manager is a new feature that’s been implemented since our last review of ExpressVPN.
Threat Manager prevents all apps and websites on your device from communicating with a set of third parties known to track activity or engage in malicious behavior. This gives you more control over your online privacy and how your data is being used.
Threat Manager prevents any part of your device from communicating with servers that are listed on ExpressVPN’s “blocklist” of trackers and malicious sites. They update this blocklist regularly with each new app version.
Best In-Class Encryption
Besides hiding your IP address and mixing your traffic with that of other users, ExpressVPN also encrypts your traffic between secure VPN servers and your computer, so that it can’t be read by third parties in between, such as your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or your local Wi-Fi operator.
This is the primary reason why we use a VPN in the first place!
ExpressVPN uses AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with 256-bit keys—also known as AES-256. It’s the same encryption standard adopted by the U.S. government and used by security experts worldwide to protect classified information.
ExpressVPN does a great job of offering access to the most popular VPN protocols available today.
On Fire TV and Android TV/Google TV systems, you will find the following VPN Protocols.
- Automatic: ExpressVPN will automatically pick the protocol most appropriate for your network.
- Lightway – UDP: ExpressVPN’s next-generation protocol, optimized for speed, security, and reliability.
- Lightway – TCP: May be slower than Lightway – UDP but connects better on certain networks.
- OpenVPN – UDP: Good combination of speed and security, but may not work on all networks.
- OpenVPN – TCP: Likely to function on all types of networks, but might be slower than OpenVPN – UDP.
The Lightway VPN Protocol was developed by ExpressVPN and is touted as the fastest protocol in their arsenal, however that’s not the case for my network.
I get better speeds on all of my devices when connecting to Lightway – TCP so I suggest testing speeds with each protocol on your different devices.
The following information regarding Lightway was pulled directly from the ExpressVPN website.
Built from the ground up by ExpressVPN, Lightway is created for the modern world, forgoing features that are no longer needed from a VPN and implementing those that provide a smooth, secure experience. Establishing a VPN connection might take only a fraction of a second, depending on your network, and you’ll stay connected to the VPN even when your device switches networks. Lightway does the minimum needed to get you connected quickly and securely, so you might even notice less battery usage.
When it comes to security, Lightway uses wolfSSL, whose well-established cryptography library has been extensively vetted by third parties, including against the FIPS 140-2 standard. We’ve published the source code of Lightway on GitHub under an open-source license, ensuring transparency to our users.
In addition to running on the UDP protocol, Lightway also supports TCP, which can be slower than UDP but connects better on certain networks. This allows Lightway to be used in a wide range of scenarios.
It’s important to point out that if you’ve enabled Threat Manager in ExpressVPN, you won’t have access to all supported VPN Protocols.
One popular new VPN Protocol not supported by ExpressVPN is WireGuard.
ExpressVPN points out a major concern of WireGuard which is to ensure anonymity for VPNs. ExpressVPN believes that no single user should be statically allocated a single IP Address, neither on a public nor a virtual network.
They will continue to review and audit the WireGuard code.
ExpressVPN promotes their TrustedServer Technology that provides key innovations not found in competing VPN services.
ExpressVPN often independently audits their server technology to confirm essential privacy protections.
Here are some important server features offered by ExpressVPN.
- All data wiped with every reboot, as VPN servers run on RAM only
- Servers never write to the hard drive, further minimizing data risk
- The entire software stack is reinstalled on every server at startup
- We know what’s running on every server, with no inconsistencies
With TrustedServer, ExpressVPN prevents the operating system and apps from ever writing to the hard drive. Instead, the server is run entirely on volatile memory, or RAM. Since RAM requires power to store data, all information on a server is wiped every time it is powered off and on again—stopping both data and potential intruders from persisting on the machine.
Private DNS on Every Server
ExpressVPN runs its own encrypted DNS on every VPN server.
Here are the benefits of doing this.
- No activity logs and no connection logs
- No DNS blocking, filtering, or hijacking
- Faster DNS queries
- 256-bit encryption
Most VPN services don’t offer a private DNS system. And, if you want to use a different DNS provider, you must manually set that up on your device or router.
When you use ExpressVPN, your DNS requests are handled directly by ExpressVPN, with no exposure to third parties. You don’t need to opt in to use ExpressVPN’s private DNS. The ExpressVPN app protects all DNS requests automatically, with the same encryption and tunneling protocols as all your other online activity.
No Activity or Connection Logs
ExpressVPN states the following on their website.
ExpressVPN does NOT and WILL NEVER log
- IP addresses (source or VPN)
- Browsing history
- Traffic destination or metadata
- DNS queries
Here is what ExpressVPN collects and why
- Apps and app versions successfully activated
- Dates (not times) when connected to the VPN service
- Choice of VPN server location
- Total amount (in MB) of data transferred per day
According to ExpressVPN, none of the above data enables ExpressVPN or anyone else to match and individual to specific network activity or behavior. They are unable to answer questions about data that they do not possess.
The reason they collect the data above is for the following reasons
- To troubleshoot technical issues related to ExpressVPN apps
- To provide technical support to customers, identify connection problems, and give country-specific advice on how to use our service
- To enable ExpressVPN engineers to identify and fix network issues
ExpressVPN Based in British Virgin Islands
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands as their laws afford more privacy and anonymity than U.S. or European law.
ExpressVPN offers their customers the following handy tools.
IP Address Checker
This is a quick way to determine whether your VPN is assigning a new IP address to you.
DNS Leak Tester
Many VPNs fail to protect DNS queries when the rest of the traffic is protected by the VPN tunnel. This is called a DNS leak.
This tester will ensure that there are no DNS leaks.
WebRTC Leak Tester
WebRTC uses techniques to discover your IP addresses that are more advanced that those that use standard IP detection.
This WebRTC leak tester will ensure that there are no leaks through the Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE) protocol.
ExpressVPN provides a tool that will generate random and strong passwords.
You can then use these strong passwords in any service or app that requires them.
ExpressVPN provides browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.
The extensions allow you to spoof your location and control the ExpressVPN application within your browser.
I’ve found these extensions extremely handy when browsing the Internet. If I come across a site that doesn’t work properly with ExpressVPN activated, I can quickly click the extension in the browser and temporarily disable the VPN.
Fortunately, I haven’t come across too many Websites that don’t play well with this popular VPN service which is great to see.
ExpressVPN provides applications for the following systems.
- Fire TV Tablet (Kindle Fire)
ExpressVPN Download Speeds
All VPNs reduce download speed due to the encryption being performed and your traffic being tunneled through a secure server. So, naturally download speed is one of the main features that needs to be examined with any type of VPN.
I will be testing download speeds on my Fire TV Stick 4K Max and Windows 10 PC.
I have 1GB fiber download speed maximum provided by my ISP.
I’m using the Lightway – TCP VPN Protocol on my devices as this is the fastest for me.
When testing wireless speeds, I am connecting to my Asus ROG Rapture WiFi 6 Router (GT-AX11000).
Fire TV Stick 4K Max Download Speeds
Download: 123 Mbps
Upload: 88 Mbps
Windows 10 PC Download Speeds
Download: 604 Mbps
Upload: 113 Mbps
Download: 264 Mbps
Upload: 109 Mbps
VPN Speed Test on Windows & Mac Software
ExpressVPN has a speed test built directly into Windows and Mac applications!
Users can access the speed test by clicking the menu icon in the upper left corner of the app.
You must be disconnected from the VPN app to use this tool.
The speed test tool will examine the VPN servers and list them fastest to slowest for your connection. You can also filter depending on location you’re looking to connect to.
This is a nice feature to see which servers are currently performing the fastest.
Yes, many times the Smart Location will automatically pick the fastest speed but you may have reasons for connecting to a different location and it’s handy seeing how fast the others are performing.
New Geo-Block Circumvention Technology
Some people use VPN services to retrieve geo-blocked content. Example: someone in the United States wants to view the United Kingdom Netflix catalog so they would connect to a United States Server in ExpressVPN to view that catalog.
Many VPN services don’t work with Amazon Prime Video or Netflix. These two streaming services try to block VPNs so people can’t access content outside of their region.
So, naturally I used both Amazon Prime and Netflix for my testing on a Fire TV Stick 4K Max.
Both worked perfectly well during this test. The last time that I reviewed ExpressVPN, it was having problems unblocking Netflix but it works now!
I connected to a UK server and was able to watch The Office episodes that aren’t available within the United States catalog.
Here are the streaming services that ExpressVPN can unblock which may open up thousands of additional TV episodes, movies, songs, etc.
Netflix, Hulu, BBC, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, Disney+, FuboTV, ITV, DAZN, HotStar, SKY, Showtime, Apple TV+, Spotify, Hallmark, Sling TV, Discovery+, bein Sports, DirecTV Stream, philo, Pluto TV, Crackle, britbox, Crunchyroll, Viki, STARZ, VUDU, ACORN TV, freevee, and tubi.
ExpressVPN is Real-Debrid Friendly
Many TROYPOINT fans use Real-Debrid, which is an unrestricted downloader that provides access to buffer-free media streams.
Real-Debrid does not work well with all VPN providers but thankfully it is on their Cooperative VPN Providers list.
No Socks5 Proxy Support
ExpressVPN does not provide Socks5 Proxy support.
This technology provides an extra layer of protection for those who download torrents.
This isn’t a deal-breaker for most people because they are now streaming instead of downloading through torrent sites.
Here’s ExpressVPN’s comment about SOCKS5
ExpressVPN does not offer a SOCKS5 proxy on its servers or applications; in fact, it does not make a lot of sense to do so. While both SOCKS5 and a VPN can give you a different IP address to conceal your location and hide your identity, only a VPN offers online security by protecting your data. Your ExpressVPN app routes all traffic from your device through its secure, encrypted tunnel to the VPN server, from where it reaches its final destination.
5 Devices Per Account
ExpressVPN allows customers to use their service on up to 5 different devices at the same time.
It’s important to point out that you can install this on as many devices as you would like but you can only use 5 simultaneous VPN connections at once.
Due to the number of Internet-connected devices that we use on a daily basis, this is definitely a negative in my opinion.
I would like to see this bumped to at least 10 devices per account.
ExpressVPN Aircove Router
One way around ExpressVPN’s 5-device limit is to use their new Aircove Router. By doing this, any device that connects to this router within your home/business will be protected by ExpressVPN.
The router counts as only one of your five devices yet there could be dozens of Internet connected devices connected to the Aircove router.
VPN Router Firmware
We don’t see this one quite often or frankly at all from other VPN providers.
ExpressVPN has created their own router firmware that can be installed on specific models indicated on their Website. This appears to be the same firmware that comes loaded on their new Aircove Router.
By doing this, you can protect your entire home network without the need for the VPN app on each device.
Again, as with their Aircove Router, this only counts as one device out of five, yet it will be protecting dozens of devices on your network. So, if you want to protect more than five devices on your home network, install their firmware on a compatible router!
This is also their solution for protecting devices that they don’t provide applications for such as Roku and game consoles.
We will be providing a tutorial on how to install ExpressVPN on a compatible router in the near future.
Receive the TROYPOINT Advisor and be informed when the new ExpressVPN Router tutorial is available.
As of this ExpressVPN Review new customers can get three months for free if they choose the 12 Months Option at $99.95.
So, you will be billed $99.95 and that will cover you for the first 15 months. After that, you will be charged $99.95 every 12 months.
You will also see that they have a 1 Month option at $12.95 and 6 Months for $9.99 per month.
ExpressVPN does offer a no-risk 30-day money-back guarantee.
ExpressVPN does cost more than most of its competitors but their faithful users will tell you that, “You get what you pay for.”
What I Like
- New: Threat Manager
- New: Unblocks Netflix & Other Streaming Services Successfully
- New: Aircove ExpressVPN Router
- Blazing fast download speeds
- Lightway VPN Protocol developed by ExpressVPN
- Uses shared IP addresses for 100% anonymity
- TrustedServer Technology writes to RAM instead of hard drive
- Supports all popular devices including Windows, Mac, Firestick, Android TV, phones, tablets, iOS, and more
- Supports all popular VPN protocols
- Friendly user interface in all applications
- Works well with most streaming services
- Real-Debrid friendly
- ExpressVPN Router Firmware available
- Not being prompted with CAPTCHA to verify human interaction
- ExpressVPN Based in British Virgin Islands
What I Dislike
- 5 device limit
- No Socks5 proxy support
ExpressVPN Review Final Thoughts
There’s no doubt that ExpressVPN is at the top if you’re looking for a secure, fast, and reliable VPN service.
It’s nice seeing a VPN company continually release new features to its users. ExpressVPN is constantly innovating.
The addition of Threat Manager is a welcome addition along with a new VPN router and new geo-block circumvention technology.
ExpressVPN’s new Aircove Router is a nice addition that allows subscribers to protect unlimited devices within their home or business. Or, users can install the ExpressVPN router firmware onto an existing router and enjoy the same new technology.
If you’ve had problems with slow download speeds on other VPNs in the past, I would strongly suggest trying ExpressVPN. If you’re looking for a VPN service to get around various streaming geo-locks, this is great for that as well.
Keep in mind that ExpressVPN offers a no-risk 30-day money-back guarantee so if it doesn’t work properly for you, get a refund and try something else.
For our overall ExpressVPN Review, TROYPOINT has upgraded our rating for this VPN service from 4.5/5 stars to 4.7/5 stars.
Attention Firestick and Android TV Users! Get our free ExpressVPN Setup Tutorial via link below.
This page includes affiliate links where TROYPOINT may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Many times, you will receive a discount due to the special arrangements made for our visitors. I will never promote something that I personally don’t use or recommend. Purchasing through my links directly supports TROYPOINT which keeps the content and tools coming. Thank you!