What is the best VPN service?

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Matthew Wilhelm Kapell
@matthewwilhelmkapell
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While other VPNs have sought to strike a balance between value, affordability, and speed, ExpressVPN has done a great job positioning itself as a “premium” VPN. Although not advertised as such on its website, the lack of a free trial (substituted with a "money back guarantee"), feature list, and high prices make it overwhelmingly obvious that ExpressVPN is in a different class from its competitors. But is this a bad thing? Well, based on our experience testing ExpressVPN, we'd say that's not the case. With a few features and tools included, ExpressVPN is a great choice, as long as you can justify its asking price.



Main characteristics

Like its competitors, ExpressVPN has an impressive list of specs, touting impressive data speeds (as we saw above) and security protection. With its unique subscription plan, the company offers unlimited speed, bandwidth, and server switches while using the app. Like the other VPNs on this list, ExpressVPN touts its ability to watch content from other countries without having to worry about content blocks. However, services like Netflix are becoming more aware of which IP addresses belong to popular VPNs, and ExpressVPN is no different. Not all servers will allow you to bypass Netflix IP blocks; however, ExpressVPN customer service will usually do everything in their power to help users find a correct Netflix unblocked IP address. We'll discuss Netflix in more detail below, but rest assured that ExpressVPN does a great job of handling the streaming of shows from other countries.

Streaming support

As always, we'll start by talking about Netflix, one of the most important tests you can give to any VPN on the market today. Netflix is ​​constantly trying to track IP addresses that aren't from a real user, making it an essential part of any VPN's toolset. This is all the more important as Netflix is ​​one of the most popular ways to use VPNs, allowing connections to new countries in order to access Netflix content libraries normally blocked in our region.



Although most users try to access content from Canada or the UK, accessing content from any region outside of the US via Netflix is ​​a must for any top VPN, especially in because of the difficulty with which Netflix works to block this activity. and luckily we can say that ExpressVPN passes with flying colors. Here's the good news: ExpressVPN truly excelled in every test we ran. First, we connected to a Toronto-based server, the same one we later used for our speed tests below, then loaded Netflix onto our laptop. We were able to watch out-of-region movies like Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Fifty Shades Darker on both Toronto servers and a UK-based server without any errors or increased load times. It just worked.

Of course, streaming on a desktop is one thing. The toughest challenge comes when trying to stream on a mobile phone or on a device like Amazon's Fire Stick for that. NordVPN, for example, allowed us to stream to both our Windows laptop and our iPhone 11, but failed to stream to our Fire Stick without Netflix detecting a VPN in the background. To our surprise, ExpressVPN passed both tests, streaming Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to both iOS and our Amazon Fire Stick in crystal clear HD without any issues.

This is by far one of the most impressive things about ExpressVPN, marking it out as a strong contender for one of the best VPNs on the market today. As for non-Netflix apps, we see no reason why other platforms wouldn't be fooled by ExpressVPN's IP rerouting. We tried both a hit video not available in our country and tried watching a BBC video via iPlayer (a streaming site which is equally difficult to crack) and both played without issue. We also had no problems loading sites when connected to a VPN, including Amazon, which we had experienced usage issues with NordVPN.



Security and confidentiality

ExpressVPN offers the same level of security as nearly every other popular VPN on the market, with full AES-256-bit security, no traffic logs, OpenVPN protocol support, and unlimited bandwidth when using your account. It's not a perfect system, but it's a solid offering for sure, and we're happy to see it used here. Along with that, a 24-hour online live support chat service and private DNS on every server help ensure you're always protected online. This helps you browse anonymously without tracking, as does some cool built-in tools, like a built-in speed test for each server which we'll talk about in more detail below.

As with our other VPN tests, we ran standard IP address tests with ExpressVPN, as well as a WebRTC test to make sure our identity didn't leak. Once we made sure our IP address had changed, we activated a WebRTC test to verify our public IP address. Luckily, ExpressVPN had no problem hiding our IP address from prying eyes, and without needing an additional browser extension to secure our platform. In our tests, ExpressVPN was as secure as any other VPN on the market today, although the lack of additional security options like dual IP addresses was a little disappointing. ExpressVPN has a few unique features that may catch the eye.

The app has a built-in speed test feature designed to help you choose the fastest server for your location, making it easier to be safe online while ensuring you're getting the fastest speeds available. ExpressVPN also uses split tunneling VPN which allows you to route your device traffic through Express's servers while forwarding the rest of your traffic directly to the internet through your ISP, which should, in theory, protect the data you need. you need while giving you the best data. speeds you could possibly achieve. Perhaps most importantly, ExpressVPN offers 24/24 support for its customers, available through both live chat and email, which means you should be able to resolve your internet issues. , regardless of the time of day. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjBZvTlVvjc



Compatible peripherals

Like most popular VPNs on the market, ExpressVPN supports a host of different platforms to protect your browsing data. We don't live in a single-device world in 2022, and ExpressVPN makes sure you're covered no matter what device you're using. Dedicated apps exist for iOS and Android on the App Store and Play Store, respectively, allowing you to activate your VPN on your phone whenever you need to secure your internet. The usual desktop apps are here, with support for Windows, Mac, and Linux, making it an option no matter what platform you use for your day-to-day computing.

The device support doesn't stop there. After protecting your computer and smartphone while browsing, you can also install ExpressVPN on a number of other platforms, perhaps the most we've seen to date. Express has apps for Amazon's Fire Stick and Fire Tablet, Google's Chrome OS, extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, and even tutorials for setting up a VPN on your PlayStation, Xbox, Apple TV, or Nintendo Switch. Being able to use a VPN on a smart streaming device isn't something that all VPNs support, so it's great to see the app offering support for users on those platforms.

Likewise, you can follow the instructions on Nord's website to get the VPN up and running on your router to protect all traffic in and out of your home. ExpressVPN only supported three devices at a time, but with an update in 2022 they extended that limit to five, matching most VPNs on the market today while delivering the same speeds we've come to expect. of their software. . Speaking of which, let's take a closer look at ExpressVPN's performance.

speeds

For our speed test, we tested four different ExpressVPN servers using Ookla's Speedtest.net to see how our speeds compared to unprotected browsing. VPNs will always add some slowdown to your internet connection, so your client will usually choose a server close to your location to avoid any slowdowns along the way. First, we tested our internet speeds without ExpressVPN enabled to establish a baseline for our web speeds. After that, we test four of the most popular servers: Suggested Smart Location US Server, Random US Server, UK Based Server and Canada Based Server. Unlike some of the other tests we've run for VPNs like NordVPN, ExpressVPN keeps their system simple with fast connection options for most countries. There is no dedicated P2P server to connect to here. Here are the results of our five tests.

  1. Normal unprotected connection: 285,81 Mbps down, 22,92 Mbps up, ping 40 ms
  2. Quick Connect, Smart Location (New York based server): 111,41 Mbps down, 20,09 Mbps up, 27ms ping
  3. Random connection to US-based server (Los Angeles-based server): 110,62 Mbps down, 18,48 Mbps up, ping 81 ms
  4. Server Canada, any region, fastest (server based in Toronto): 67,36 Mbps down, 12,11 Mbps up, 44ms ping
  5. UK server, any region, fastest (Docklands based server): 114,85 Mbps down, 16,45 Mbps up, ping 104 ms

Truth be told, this is one of our craziest speed tests yet for our VPN tests, thanks in large part to two factors. First, the Quick Connection Test reduced our speeds as expected (all VPNs have lower speeds), but actually increased our ping. This may not be the case for everyone trying to connect to ExpressVPN, as it largely depends on how close the server you connected to is to your actual location. Still, the ping boost was nice and can actually help with some features like gaming. The second interesting note of these tests is the drop in speed when connected to Canada.

Our other three tests, which took place while tethered in New York, Los Angeles and London's Docklands, all delivered similar speeds, with room for error. However, the Canadian test slowed both our download speed and upload speed to their lowest points in the tests, an odd spot in our data. A test six hours after our initial tests brought Canada's results to 117 Mbps down and 19 Mbps up, putting it right in line with the other results. It's unclear what caused such a drop on the first try, and despite picking up speeds afterwards, we felt it was still worth noting.

Servers and prices

In terms of numbers and specs, this is what ExpressVPN looks like: the service has over 3000 VPN servers located in 160 different locations across 94 countries, making it one of the largest VPN server networks today. The platform's simple and intuitive interface makes it easy to quickly select from dozens of servers around the world, without thinking too much about the required end user. If you want to make sure that the selected server and location supports a specific security protocol, however, you can use the server list provided by the ExpressVPN website, which makes it easy to find specific servers.

Unfortunately, while ExpressVPN is packed with features and security, it doesn't come cheap. It's an expensive product, even more so than we've seen in other products on this list. The cheapest way to access ExpressVPN is to purchase their one-year subscription, which costs you $99,95 upfront. It's much more expensive than other apps like Private Internet Access, NordVPN, and IPVanish, and it only gets more expensive from…

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