In today’s world the VPN gives us a luxury of getting access to any previously blocked content while staying anonymous on the web. Hundreds of VPN providers offer their services, but how can one choose the best option with such a variety? This is where I will come to the rescue. I compared two pinnacles of the VPN industry – ExpressVPN and NordVPN – to determine the ultimate winner. So, let’s take a closer look at our ExpressVPN vs NordVPN head-to head.
What You Should Consider When Choosing a VPN
First of all, I would like to say a couple of words about how I am going to determine a winner. I came up with a universal list of criteria that any reputable VPN provider must meet. So, I will compare our contestants in the context of the following indicators:
Features. Many VPN users would like to configure a service to their liking. The lack of functionality can become a serious drawback for many clients.
Price. How much you have to fork out for a particular set of functions and what additional possibilities you get for your money.
Server count. The more servers VPN provides and the more geographically diverse they are, the more successfully users can bypass geo-blocking. Also, the number of servers and their quality affect the connection speed.
Security. VPN service should cater for the privacy of its users. Therefore, a trustworthy provider will not track logs of users’ activity and ensure full anonymity in the network.
Speed of work. It’s all obvious – VPN shouldn’t significantly reduce the connection speed compared to your regular Internet connection.
Software. VPN apps should have an intuitive and easy to use interface and work without interruptions.
Technical support. Here I will check what options to contact support team users have and how useful were their answers.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which is the Best?
Now that the comparison criteria are clear, we can proceed to the battle of the VPN industry titans. There will be only one victor. But whoever wins, both services are well-known for catering for their users’ needs. So, regardless of your personal preferences, you are in good hands.
ExpressVPN is a premium VPN provider that promises one of the highest connection speeds in the industry. This is no surprise considering that its servers are located in 94 countries. Among other strong suits of the service is clear and convenient software and good technical support.
The service offers a basic set of security features to satisfy the needs of most users. Thanks to the split-tunnel, emergency disconnection switch and 4 VPN Protocols (OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, SSTP) you can safely browse the net from anywhere in the world.
All ExpressVPN servers have their own Domain Name Service (DNS), which means that you can forget about occasional DNS request leaks.
ExpressVPN will lend its helping hand to anyone who wants to access blocked content. ExpressVPN easily bypasses geo-blocking at streaming platforms (such as Netflix, Hulu, etc.) and various services (for example, to Sling, WhatsApp, Google).
Finally, ExpressVPN offers a very useful feature that NordVPN doesn’t have – a built-in speed test that allows checking the download speed and ping latency for available servers.
- 1700+ servers in 94 countries
- 2048-bit SSL encryption;
- No logs policy;
- Unlimited network bandwidth;
- You can simultaneously connect 3 devices;
- Split-tunneling function
- Embedded speed test
NordVPN is one of the few VPNs that places a heavy emphasis on user security. Therefore, along with a standard set of features, the service offers some advanced functions for ultra-security of your online activity. At the same time, you can forget about a significant drop in the connection speed (this is a known problem for some VPN providers that focus on security). NordVPN has an extensive global server network that guarantees high-speed connection. This enables users to get access to blocked content and enjoy streaming video without lags.
The uniqueness of the service is in the robust package of features. Here are a few of them:
Dual Data Encryption. NordVPN provides Double VPN technology, which encrypts data twice. Currently, only NordVPN offers this dual security feature to protect your Internet activity.
High-speed connection. NordVPN improves connection speed due to a great selection of specialized servers. Now you have a trouble-proof access to streaming videos and your favorite online games.
With a temporary VPN connection shutdown, the Kill switch function instantly stops data transfer. Thanks to this feature you can stop worrying about the accidental exposure of your personal data
Tor over VPN and confidentiality. NordVPN does not collect information about your Internet activity. Your data is protected by the Tor so there is no risk of tracing.
CyberSec will protect you against annoying advertising and malicious soft.
- 3600+ servers in more than 60 countries
- 2048-bit SSL encryption;
- No logs policy;
- Unlimited network bandwidth;
- You can connect up to six devices;
- A great variety of functions;
- Multiple server types available
Features Winner: Tied
Payment and Prices
Compared to many other VPN providers, ExpressVPN is quite a pricey service that will cost you up to $ 12.95 per month. However, the company offers a transparent discount system when acquiring long-term subscriptions:
- 1 Month plan- $ 12.95 per month;
- 6 months plan – $ 9.99 per month ($ 59.95 per year);
- 1 Year plan – $ 8.32 per month ($ 99.95 per year).
For this money, you can simultaneously connect up to three devices. ExpressVPN provides 30 days refund window if you are not satisfied with the service.
You can pay for the subscription using a credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, Webmoney, and other payment systems.
The annual NordVPN subscription costs $69, which is only $5.75 per month. This is one of the best offers on the market, especially taking into account robust security features. If you choose a month-to-month subscription you will have to pay $11.95 per month. In general, the longer the subscription plan, the more attractive the price it offers:
- 1 Month plan- $11.95 per month;
- 1 Year plan – $5.75 per month ($69 per year).
- 2 Years plan – $3.29 per month ($79 per year).
- 3 Years plan – $2.75 per month ($99 per year).
All plans provide unlimited bandwidth with a simultaneous connection of up to six devices, including smartphones, tablets and even routers.
You can pay for a subscription with credit cards, PayPal, Cryptocurrencies, and Alipay. If you are not satisfied with the work of the service within 30 days, you can request a refund.
Payment and Prices Winner: NordVPN
ExpressVPN is a company registered in the British Virgin Islands. Such a country of registration was not chosen by chance. The government of the BVI does not require the retention and provision of information about users. This means that ExpressVPN does not store any data about online activities of its clients.
The service can not be used for sending spam, transmitting or downloading illegal or counterfeit content, hacker activities, etc. For violation of the user agreement, the service deletes an account without refund. If ExpressVPN will suffer damage because of your actions, then you will be responsible for them as well.
ExpressVPN does not store logs of user activity but it can track the time of your VPN connection, the choice of a specific server, and the amount of transferred data. Your registration information (email, name) can be sent to third-party servers and pass through their analytics.
ExpressVPN offers a wide range of security protocols among which you will find UDP, TCP, L2TP, PPTP, and SSTP. Each protocol has its own combination of speed and safety. For example, if you want to view video content at high speed or unlock sites you can opt for PPTP protocol. However, if your confidentiality is of paramount importance, in this case, you can choose UDP or L2TP protocols.
NordVPN pays great attention to user safety.With that being said, for registration, the company has chosen a country without data retention laws. Since Panama is not a part of any intelligence alliances, the government can’t demand to yield any data regarding users. This allows NordVPN to implement a no-logs policy that implies removing information on their client’s online activities.
The only data regarding users that NordVPN stores are e-mail addresses, user names, and payment information. But if you do not want NordVPN to know this data you can always use anonymous mail service and payment systems such as Bitcoin.
For those who are particularly interested in security, NordVPN recommends using OpenVPN and IKEv2 / IPsec encryption protocols. The OpenVPN protocol, which uses 2048-bit SSL encryption, is installed by default in applications for Windows and Android. IKEv2 / IPsec protocol is a default option for iOS and Mac OS apps. It uses 3072-bit encryption and a Perfect Forward Secrecy system, which generates a unique secret encryption key for each session.
Security Winner: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN is a breeze to use. It only takes a few minutes to sign up for the service. All you need to do is select a subscription plan, enter your e-mail, add payment information, and you are ready to go.
ExpressVPN is compatible with most operating systems. You can set up VPN connection at the majority of devices including computers, smartphones, tablets, smartTV, PlayStation, etc.
ExpressVPN applications have one of the most convenient interfaces on both Android and iOS. You can quickly determine the best server for your needs in any country. You are also able to view the lists of selected and recommended servers. In the settings, you will find VPN protocol options (UDP, TCP, IPSec). Finally, you can enable and disable the function of anonymous statistics sending.
Once you have created an account with NoedVPN all you need to do is download and install an application. The company’s website has all the necessary links and step-by-step illustrated setup instructions for all supported operating systems and devices.
The NordVPN client for Windows is an easy and elegant application where you are able to select servers by country or by their type (Double VPN, anti DDoS, TOR, P2P, and dedicated IP servers). After picking an appropriate server all you need to do is to click on the connection button. In general, this is an excellent app for those who want security and anonymity but do no desire to figure out complex settings and configurations.
Software Winner: ExpressVPN
As for the reliability of work, ExpressVPN is second to none. Regardless of which server you are connecting to, the provider demonstrates a fast connection and consistent performance. The work of applications does not cause any complaints either. Tests conducted with the apps on Windows, Mac OS, and Android showed no performance or reliability issues. Everything was up to scratch.
NordVPN, on the other hand, did not demonstrate smooth work. Sometimes users can experience significant speed fluctuations depending on the server type, its remoteness, and time of day. Also, some users lament about occasional disconnects and server connection errors.
Another weakness of the service is the kill switch function. In theory, it must stop the traffic when connection with a VPN server is lost. In practice, when a connection is dropped, the kill switch closes the application but does not completely freeze traffic. Thus, unencrypted data can get into the network and you can expose your real IP address.
Reliability Winner: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN offers a large selection of servers located in various geographical areas. Currently, the service provides more than 1700 servers spread around 94 countries and 138 locations. Although the server count is not the best in the industry, the geographic diversity of the server location allows users to access geo-blocked content from anywhere in the world. Also, according to the company, such an extensive server network provides one of the fastest VPN connections in the industry.
On the down side, the company does not provide a chance to connect to servers of different types.
The servers owned by NordVPN are located in 61 countries around the world. To date, the network includes more than 3600 servers of various types.
Depending on your needs, you can choose ultra-fast servers for watching video content or use peer-to-peer networks. You are also able to enjoy all the benefits of Double VPN servers or Tor Over VPN option for better anonymity. Finally, you can connect to Anti DDoS servers that prevent connection drops or just opt for regular servers for masking your IP address, data encryption, and protection against online activity tracking.
Servers Winner: Tied
The company claims to provide the highest connection speed. My test showed that this is not just a pure allegation. When I connected to one of the local servers, I did not notice a significant change in the data transfer speed. Even when watching a video on Netflix, there were no lags – the video downloaded instantly as if without a VPN connection. In general, the speed of connection through a local ExpressVPN server was about 95% of the baseline connection speed.
When routing through international servers, the speed can drop to 80% of the normal unencrypted connection speed, which is also a very decent indicator.
To check NordVPN I also connected to a geographically closest server. I noted a rather small drop in speed which was equivalent to ExpressVPN indicators.
Then I experimented with several remote servers and got a variety of results. With some servers, the speed dropped dozens of times from the basic connection speed, while with other servers the speed was even higher than with a local connection. In general, when connecting to servers in geographically remote regions, the speed drops below 80% of the original connection speed.
On the bright side, NordVPN provides an option to connect to fast servers optimized for streaming. If you just surf the net, you’ll notice only a slight speed reduction.
Connection Speed Winner: ExpressVPN
As for the tech support, only a few VPNs can compare with ExpressVPN in this respect. You can ask your questions in live chat, by email, through a contact form or via Facebook and Twitter. In any case, you will quickly receive a detailed answer. When sending a query through the chat, the support team responses within 10-15 minutes, but in some cases, the answers can come in only one minute.
Offline support is presented in the form of useful guides to how to install and configure applications. The apps have a built-in test of connection speed. This is very handy if you want to find the fastest server without contacting tech support
The NordVPN customer support is also up to par. If you have any questions, you can turn to the 24/7 live support chat or submit an email based trouble ticket. You can ask a question in the chat even if you are not a service subscriber. In any case, the responses came very fast and were useful.
Additionally, you can find answers to your questions in an extensive knowledge library.
Customer Support Winner: ExpressVPN
And the Victory Goes to: ExpressVPN
It’s time to take stock of our Express VPN vs NordVPN confrontation. Both services are great from different points of view, but there can be only one winner. Thanks to unrivaled connection speed, unparalleled server coverage, amazing user experience, and excellent reliability on top of that, the victory goes to ExpressVPN. Although the service may seem a little bit pricey, it’s worth every cent.
NordVPN, in its turn, is an excellent provider from the security perspective. Robust security functions, extensive server network, and decent connection speeds make it an excellent second choice. Unfortunately, reliability issues and variable speeds with some servers did not allow NordVPN to take the first place. But if you decide to go with this provider, your online security will be in good hands.