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ExpressVPN Review

Donna Fuscaldo
Donna Fuscaldo

For some small business owners, speedy internet and a secure network connection trump everything else. They need VPNs that won't slow down their internet but still don't compromise any security or privacy. The best VPNs for performance are designed to diminish network lags as data travels through the encrypted VPN. They combine VPN software and hardware spread across the globe to provide high performance. You may pay more, but if your business can't afford slower connections and requires advanced security, it's worth it. ExpressVPN stands out in both areas, thanks to its vast network of servers, Smart Location technology, and in-house VPN protocol, which is why it's our best pick for performance.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

The Verdict

Business owners shouldn't have to choose between performance and security; the best VPNs give you both at an affordable price. With more than 3,000 servers across the globe, ExpressVPN checks off both boxes, earning our best pick for performance.

ExpressVPN Editor's Score: 8.4/10

Dedicated IP 7/10
Device connections 7.5/10
No-logging policy 9.2/10
Server network 9/10
Customer support 9.3/10

Why ExpressVPN Is Best for Performance

ExpressVPN is among the fastest VPNs on the market, with industry tests consistently showing that it only slows down internet connections by an undetectable amount. But a few other factors play into performance too. Let's start with ExpressVPN's 3,000-plus servers in 160 locations across 94 countries. That is important to performance, because the closer your business is to the VPN server, the faster the internet connection. ExpressVPN also offers Smart Location technology, which automatically chooses the best VPN server location for you based on download speed, latency and distance.

ExpressVPN's Smart Location technology takes the guesswork out of selecting the right server for the best performance.

ExpressVPN is innovating on the VPN protocol front as well, speeding up connections with its Lightway protocol. Built for an always-connected world, Lightway boasts speeds of more than 500 Mbps. ExpressVPN's ability to develop its own VPN protocol stood out to us, as most VPN providers use industry protocols and do not engineer their own.

What We Like About ExpressVPN

  • Performance isn't an afterthought with ExpressVPN. It relies on technology to connect you to the best server automatically.
  • ExpressVPN has a network of more than 3,200 servers across the globe. That pretty much ensures speedy connections for your business.
  • This VPN has created its own protocol to give customers even faster connections.

What We Don't Like About ExpressVPN

  • ExpressVPN isn't the cheapest VPN on the market, largely because it has a lot of bells and whistles.
  • This VPN caps the number of simultaneous connections at five. If you need more, it can get expensive.

Features

Speed alone isn't why we chose ExpressVPN as the best for performance. We also considered security and ease of use. It doesn't matter how fast a VPN is if it doesn't protect your data or is hard to implement on your network. With that in mind, here are some of the other features that make ExpressVPN the total package.

Support for Several VPN Protocols

VPN protocols are important to speed and security, acting as the instructions for your data to follow as it flows between devices and the VPN server. VPN providers rely on several protocols to ensure your connection is reliable, secure and speedy. These protocols decide which encryption algorithms to apply, which encryption keys to establish, and what to do when errors arise. They are also designed to route some or all your traffic through the VPN.

ExpressVPN supports all the industry standards, including L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN, IKEv2, PPTP, WireGuard and SSPT. On top of that, it has its in-house Lightway protocol to enhance performance. We like that it takes the guesswork out of the equation by automatically selecting the protocols to provide the best internet connection for you. Of course, you have the option to turn off this automatic feature and select your protocols manually.

Server Locations

The performance of the VPN is only as good as the number of servers it operates and the diversity of their locations. The closer you are to a VPN server, the faster your internet connection. ExpressVPN has more than 3,000 servers in 160 locations across 94 countries. While some of its rivals have more, this is a huge network that should give you more than enough options. In addition to a big footprint in the U.K. and the U.S., it has servers in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

TipTip: If speed is of the essence for your business, it pays to choose a VPN provider that has thousands of servers like ExpressVPN does. That increases the chances a server will be near you. The closer your business is to the server, the better the connection.

Split Tunneling

ExpressVPN offers split tunneling, which is another effective way to improve internet connections. Not all your business's data needs to be protected online. With split tunneling, confidential company data can be sent through a secure channel while other internet activities aren't. That reduces the load on the network, improving performance.

Server load can also impact performance. If a VPN provider only operates a few servers, it can quickly get overloaded. ExpressVPN doesn't have that issue with its 160 server locations.

ExpressVPN has servers in 94 countries all around the world.

Encryption

Top-notch security is another attribute we looked for when choosing the best VPN for performance. ExpressVPN stands out in this area as well. Like other VPN providers, it hides your IP address and mixes your traffic with other customers' traffic. It also encrypts traffic between secure VPNs and the computers on your business's network. That means your internet service provider or Wi-Fi operator won't have access to your confidential data. ExpressVPN uses the AES 256-bit encryption standard, which is the same one the U.S. government and security experts around the world use.

Logging and Privacy

The whole idea behind a VPN is to protect users as they surf the internet and keep their activities private. When it comes to privacy, though, not all VPNs are created equal. Some log your activity and sell it to third parties. ExpressVPN is not one of those vendors. It takes privacy seriously, which is another reason we bestowed a best pick upon it. Being speedy and secure without protecting customer privacy would be a dealbreaker for us. ExpressVPN's no-logging policy covers IP addresses, browsing history, traffic destinations and metadata, and DNS queries. The VPN provider doesn't see, record, or store the websites you visit or the content of your internet traffic. It also doesn't log your internet connection timestamps, session lengths, IP address, or the ExpressVPN IP address that your device assumes to connect to the internet.

Did you know?Did you know? ExpressVPN purposely built its VPN to know nothing about its customers. That way, if it is ever asked which users were connected to an IP address at a specific time or which user accessed a certain website, it can't answer those questions.

Kill Switch

Another important feature of top-rated VPNs is the kill switch. This automatically stops your device from sending data if the VPN stops working. ExpressVPN's Network Lock kill switch automatically activates when you connect to the VPN and stays ready on standby until you disconnect.

Pricing

ExpressVPN is not the cheapest VPN provider on the market, but if you care most about speed and performance, it is worth it. It offers three pricing plans based on how long you want protection.

  • It costs $12.95 per month if you pay as you go.
  • If you pay for 12 months in advance, it is $99.95 a year, or $8.32 a month, saving you 35%.
  • Don't want to commit to a year? ExpressVPN also lets you pay for six months, which costs $59.95 in all or $9.99 per month.

All the pricing plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee. Some of ExpressVPN's rivals charge less, but they don't have ExpressVPN's network coverage and thus its performance. Take IPVanish, our best pick for value: It has around 1,800 servers to ExpressVPN's 3,000-plus. You can read more about that option in our full IPVanish review.

ExpressVPN may not be the cheapest VPN, but it is affordable, especially considering the performance you get.

Implementation

ExpressVPN supports several operating systems and devices, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS and routers. Installation of the VPN varies by OS, but it only requires a few clicks in most instances. There is no free trial for this VPN software, but you can get your money back within the first 30 days if you're unsatisfied.

Once you sign up, you'll receive a link to your account dashboard, where you will be prompted to sign in by providing your ExpressVPN credentials. After you enter your verification that you received by email, you'll be prompted to download the app. Once the app is installed for your OS, you can either follow the in-app setup instructions or set it up manually. ExpressVPN provides online guides for each OS.

You can manage the VPN through the router administrator dashboard. To connect to a VPN server, you click the On button. ExpressVPN automatically suggests the server location that will give you the best performance. We like that feature – it takes the guesswork out of choosing your VPN server, which can be time-consuming or end up hurting performance if you unwittingly connect to a slower one.

Once the "connected" message pops up on the screen, you are securely surfing. You and your team can use ExpressVPN on computers, iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, Kindle Fire tablets, routers, and other devices. You can also manually choose a server to connect to through the dashboard if you prefer.

ExpressVPN makes it easy to configure your VPN with dropdown menus and clear navigation.

It's also easy to switch to a different protocol through the options on the dashboard. We like that the dashboard is easy to maneuver, and the dropdown menus make it simple to choose the best protocol and server options. You can also configure ExpressVPN to automatically connect when your PC starts up. That is a bonus, as it is one less thing you and employees have to remember to do.

Performance is a big focus of ExpressVPN. To back up the speeds it boasts, it offers speed tests for customers. These tests ensure you are getting the best possible speed out of your VPN server. By running your device through the test, ExpressVPN looks at your latency and download speed to give you a number on the Speed Index. A server with a higher Speed Index number has better performance.

Bottom LineBottom line: ExpressVPN takes the guesswork out of choosing your VPN server and protocols by automatically selecting the ones that will give you the best performance.

Customer Support

ExpressVPN provides several ways for customers to reach out, including phone, email, social media and live chat. You can also search its online database of help articles on your own before contacting support. ExpressVPN has a ton of step-by-step tutorials and videos on its website to help you install and configure its VPN software.

The live chat feature is available 24/7. We tested it during off-peak hours and received answers to our questions immediately. Other vendors took a couple minutes to respond to us.

ExpressVPN supports several devices and runs on various operating systems.

Limitations

ExpressVPN gives small business owners high performance and security, but you need to consider some potential drawbacks. For starters, it's more expensive than other paid VPN offerings on the market. Then there's the fact that you can only have five devices connected to the VPN at one time. That won't work for large companies or businesses with a lot of remote workers. You can pay more if you want more simultaneous connections, but it maxes out at 25.

ExpressVPN definitely isn't the cheapest provider, but if you care most about security, privacy, and internet speed, it is a standout. After all, performance alone doesn't make a VPN provider great. It's the features, security, performance, and price combined that make ExpressVPN a top pick.

What Is a VPN?

A virtual private network, or VPN, is an extra layer of privacy and protection that sits on a business's network. It sends your company's internet traffic through a secure network that encrypts your data and masks your IP addresses. It also enables your employees to securely connect to the company's network remotely.  

Methodology

When evaluating VPN providers' performance, we looked for vendors that have large server networks and have demonstrated top speeds in industry tests. After coming up with our list of VPNs that don't slow down internet connections, we looked at what other features they offered to enhance performance. For instance, do they automatically select the best server for a business to connect to? Do they use the latest VPN protocols to reduce latency and lag times? We also considered each vendor's encryption and other security features and its reputation in the marketplace. After all, speed alone doesn't make a top-performing VPN provider.

ExpressVPN FAQs

Does a VPN affect performance?

A VPN will slow down your internet somewhat because it's another step your connection has to go through to access the remote server. You won't notice any downtime with high-end VPNs, though, as they are developed with reduced latency in mind.

How is ExpressVPN able to offer fast internet connections?

Speed tests of ExpressVPN have consistently shown it's a top performer. Behind its speed is a network of more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries. It also applies advanced technology, including its Lightway protocol, which enhances performance, and its Smart Location function, which automatically connects you to the best server to give you speedy internet and secure surfing.    

How does ExpressVPN's split-tunneling feature improve internet performance?

ExpressVPN is one of the handful of VPN providers to offer split tunneling, which speeds up performance. With this feature, you can send confidential data through the VPN and leave the other data to flow through your local network. That reduces the load on the network, which means higher connection speeds.  

Bottom Line

We recommend ExpressVPN for …

  • Small businesses that care most about fast internet connections with no downtime or buffering.
  • Those who don't mind paying more to get cutting-edge technology.

We don't recommend ExpressVPN for ...

  • Business owners on a tight budget.
  • Small business owners who aren't primarily concerned with speed and don't require features such as split tunneling.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

The Verdict

Business owners shouldn't have to choose between performance and security; the best VPNs give you both at an affordable price. With more than 3,000 servers across the globe, ExpressVPN checks off both boxes, earning our best pick for performance.

Donna Fuscaldo
Donna Fuscaldo
business.com Staff
Donna Fuscaldo is a senior finance writer at business.com and has more than two decades of experience writing about business borrowing, funding, and investing for publications including the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, Bankrate, Investopedia, Motley Fool, and Foxbusiness.com. Most recently she was a senior contributor at Forbes covering the intersection of money and technology before joining business.com. Donna has carved out a name for herself in the finance and small business markets, writing hundreds of business articles offering advice, insightful analysis, and groundbreaking coverage. Her areas of focus at business.com include business loans, accounting, and retirement benefits.