NordVPN and ExpressVPN are two of the world’s top virtual private network service providers. Both offer reliable VPN software packages, but which is considered the best?
We’ll address that question and much more in the following comprehensive review of both services. Let’s get into it:
Table of Contents
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: First Thing’s First
Comparing two good VPN services involves many variables, the most important of which are speed, price and security. Depending on your needs, a VPN service that’s lacking in these three areas could be a deal-breaker for you. Of course, you also have to consider that some virtual private networks can cost significantly less depending on whether you sign up for monthly packages or yearly packages.
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN is an interesting and difficult debate since both VPN services are superior to others on the market. They have maintained their position as the leading VPNs in the world because of their top-tier performance and security features.
At the same time, both services are dedicated to protecting the privacy of their customers. NordVPN and ExpressVPN operate out of countries that have relatively strict privacy laws. This benefits privacy-conscious users by shielding their data from government surveillance and security agencies in countries like the U.S. and the U.K.
NordVPN and ExpressVPN are two of the few good VPN services that offer a working kill switch feature, which has become a core utility rather than a bonus perk.
This is important:Kill switch features on their own are very important for the simple reason that you don’t want your data unprotected if your VPN connection drops for any reason.
In terms of allowing users to stream content from services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, both are great. NordVPN and ExpressVPN both allow peer-to-peer file-sharing on their servers, which is a big draw for users who enjoy torrenting.
Finally, both NordVPN and ExpressVPN provide their customers with a live chat feature, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Both also have several ways for customers to get in contact with their representatives, including email support and a standard ticketing system.
All of this should give you a pretty clear idea of the NordVPN vs ExpressVPN debate. Which one of these is best for you in the coming year? How should you weigh the pros and cons of each to come to a final conclusion? We’ll address these questions in the following sections of this post.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Speed
Speed test results vary by your location, the server you’re connected to, the time of day, your internet connection, and the VPN service itself. That is why you will see some reporting NordVPN to be faster, while others claim ExpressVPN is the faster of the two VPNs.
Both are fast in our experience, but ExpressVPN is slightly faster—especially over a long period of time. NordVPN will give you a slow performance from time to time, but ExpressVPN rarely connects you to slow servers. Of course, this is assuming you have a fast enough internet connection, to begin with. Both services prefer different protocols to provide users with the best combination of speed, convenience and security.
The company claims that it allows better speeds and more data security for users when compared to other protocols, such as OpenVPN. Since ExpressVPN is so fast, we don’t doubt that Lightway protocol has something to do with it. The only problem is that the Lightway protocol is closed source.
While WireGuard is not the most popular VPN protocol at the moment, it is gaining traction for the simple reason that it is more secure and faster than almost all other VPN protocols. The best feature of WireGuard is that it is open-source, which means that independent researchers can take apart its code and have a look inside to check for vulnerabilities. NordVPN calls its own implementation NordLynx.
In terms of actual speeds, expect NordVPN to perform better on certain servers with certain protocols. Otherwise, ExpressVPN is the faster between the two, but only marginally. ExpressVPN is faster on a more consistent basis than NordVPN, which has the tendency to present a slow server from time to time.
Pro Tip:If you want to use the OpenVPN protocol, you won’t notice much difference between NordVPN and ExpressVPN in terms of speed. Only by taking advantage of ExpressVPN’s own protocol will you be able to use the service at its maximum speed.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Reliability
In this NordVPN vs ExpressVPN debate, there is no bad VPN service. Both offer great reliability.
NordVPN has made a name for itself by coming up with great VPN apps that do not crash regularly. You will hardly find any bugs within the apps themselves. The apps are reliable enough to connect users with fast and low-ping servers quickly with very minor issues.
It may be hard to believe, but stable connections that deliver good speeds are not that common among VPN services. NordVPN is the exception, though. It is as reliable a VPN service as they come.
With ExpressVPN, you get an equally reliable VPN service with NordVPN just edging it out in the end. That is not to say there is anything lacking in ExpressVPN. It has some of the smoothest and most intuitive apps in the industry. Just like with NordVPN, ExpressVPN’s apps do not crash and don’t have any annoying bugs.
But NordVPN is just a bit ahead in terms of regular updates and connection times.
Moreover, even though ExpressVPN is the speediest VPN service overall, NordVPN is faster when you’re using OpenVPN. ExpressVPN also takes more time to form a connection than NordVPN when you’re on the OpenVPN setting.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Streaming
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are great at unblocking Netflix and other such streaming services, such as BBC iPlayer. So, if you are looking for a VPN service that can work with almost all major streaming services at all times, regardless of what your location is, then you can’t go wrong with either NordVPN or ExpressVPN.
Geo-restrictions will become a thing of the past for you when you get either ExpressVPN or NordVPN. With that said, though, we believe that ExpressVPN takes this round because it makes it easy for users to get streaming. All you need to do is install the app, pick a location and press the “Connect” button. After that, it is all a matter of going to the website or app of the streaming service in question and streaming your favorite movies, TV shows and other types of content.
And since ExpressVPN rarely connects you to a slow server, you can be sure to get a good, buffering-free streaming experience every time you use ExpressVPN for Netflix or BBC iPlayer.
This is also a good time to mention that ExpressVPN is better for streaming than NordVPN even though it has a smaller network of servers. NordVPN is the king when it comes to the sheer size of its VPN network, but it doesn’t have VPN servers in as many countries as ExpressVPN. As of January 2021, ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, while NordVPN has 5,538 servers across 59 countries.
Since ExpressVPN has more countries covered, it is more resilient in unblocking streaming services than NordVPN. If a streaming service blocks one server, you can easily connect to another server in another country. Furthermore, ExpressVPN will work with more streaming services than NordVPN since it has servers in more countries.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Apps
A VPN can be the best service of its kind in the world, but if it does not pay attention to app usability and user experience design, users will get tired of the service very quickly and move to worse alternatives with better apps.
With ExpressVPN, you have to click through a few options to get to the advanced settings and features menu. From the main menu, you just need to click a button in the top-left corner and move to another menu for more settings. Even though there is an extra step, it keeps things organized and digestible.
Users who want to change servers via the Express VPN app need to look near the bottom of the main app menu and click on server options. Alternatively, they can select the current connected-to server, which will pop up another window listing all the available servers.
NordVPN is a bit different. It gives users everything it has through the main screen of the app.
From a distance, you may find that NordVPN’s apps are not only large but also offer more options. Run the official NordVPN app on any platform and you are likely to see extra options on the left side of your screen.
NordVPN makes it easy for users to access different locations and special servers from a single screen. Not only that, it allows users to switch servers with a single click by having all server locations displayed on a world map. There are no second windows to deal with, as is the case with ExpressVPN.
Both approaches to user design have pros and cons. NordVPN, especially on the Windows platform, has a much more expansive app than ExpressVPN. With NordVPN’s desktop app, it’s easy for both new and experienced users to find server locations, features and special servers. This is just one reason why some give NordVPN the edge in the VPN app department.
Overall, we’ve found that both ExpressVPN and NordVPN have functional, well-designed and easy to use VPN apps on all major platforms.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Features
NordVPN and ExpressVPN are two unique VPN services in the sense that they try to cater to the widest range of possible VPN users. Plenty of good VPN services fail to cater to different VPN users because of their preconceived notions about what makes a good VPN service, thereby losing customers in the process.
NordVPN and ExpressVPN put the users first. And as is the case in many other categories, both do it in a different way.
ExpressVPN tries to limit the number of features it offers to users so they don’t have to research for hours to find how a particular one works. In essence, this makes ExpressVPN a slightly basic VPN service. Its apps are user friendly and get the job done.
NordVPN, on the other hand, has wide range of features—many of which some users will never use.
ExpressVPN tries to win over customers with its still-rare feature of split-tunneling, allowing users to choose which of their apps get to use the encrypted VPN connection and which don’t.
This is important:Using the split-tunneling feature, a user can protect certain apps while leaving the rest alone (and thus using an unencrypted channel).
The only other high-quality VPN that also offers this feature is ProtonVPN, as many companies continue to ignore this much-needed feature.
But then again, many feel that the split-tunneling feature is not essential and rather redundant, even though there are cases where you would want some of your apps to not use a VPN.
NordVPN, of course, offers the split-tunneling feature, even on its mobile apps.
Note:ExpressVPN gets the edge with its Lightway feature that NordVPN (which makes use of WireGuard) doesn’t have. (WireGuard is open source while Lightway is not; other VPNs are adopting WireGuard as a VPN protocol, which further helps NordVPN.)
ExpressVPN claims it runs most of its servers on RAM-disk mode and hence is the fastest VPN service. On the other hand, we have a huge list of features that every NordVPN customer gets to enjoy. We’ll start things off with all the purpose-specific VPN servers that NordVPN users can connect to and ExpressVPN users can’t.
First up is the double-VPN feature, where NordVPN uses two hops instead of just one on the user’s already-encrypted traffic. As you can imagine, this further deepens security and encryption. It may reduce speed, but for people looking for data security, NordVPN is the best of the best.
NordVPN also has the Tor-over-VPN feature, which first encrypts the user’s traffic and then passes it through the Tor network after the traffic has already passed through Nord’s own VPN servers. While this method grants the user more security and privacy, it does decrease speed quite a bit.
The company even has dedicated servers for P2P activity. And these aren’t just regular servers that NordVPN has set aside for P2P connections. These P2P servers offer high speed and other optimizations that make torrenting a breeze.
Another newly introduced type of server is the obfuscated VPN server, which allows NordVPN to conceal a given user’s encrypted VPN traffic and make it appear like regular HTTPS traffic. While there are many uses of such servers, the best use is when you want to have VPN access in China. And if a service works in China, you know that it will work in pretty much any other country or region in the world.
And then NordVPN further increases its lead over rival VPN services in the features department by offering security tools such as CyberSec.
This is important:CyberSec is a brand new feature from NordVPN that helps users block many types of phishing domains, malware, trackers and advertisements. With CyberSec enabled, none of these nasty entities can infect the user’s device and steal data.
Perhaps the most convenient part about NordVPN offering such advanced security features is that the user doesn’t need to do anything apart from downloading the NordVPN app and clicking the button for the feature.
Very few VPN services offer ad-blocking abilities in addition to the actual VPN service. Even fewer elite VPN services do so. NordVPN is one of those few elite VPN services offering a decent ad-blocking component. Of course, you can always go with a browser add-on. But NordVPN’s CyberSec blocks ads system-wide when you have turned it on.
On the other hand, ExpressVPN has none of these extra security features.
Pro Tip:We should also mention that NordLynx (Nord’s implementation of WireGuard) further distances NordVPN from the competition. The WireGuard protocol enables almost instantaneous connections and allows smooth transitions from one network type to another, such as 4G to WiFi. Moreover, it does not drain the battery life of your device if you are on mobile. Combine that with more stable connections and fewer drops, and you have a recipe for a top-notch VPN protocol.
In short, NordVPN rules in this department—not just against ExpressVPN but all other VPN service providers.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Security
All the features in the world can’t save a VPN if it is not secure. Thankfully, both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are as secure as VPNs come. But when talking NordVPN vs ExpressVPN, NordVPN takes this one too. Let’s go into the details.
ExpressVPN does it well enough by encrypting user data with AES 256-bit cipher. This is the top-of-the-line encryption standard, which is considered uncrackable. ExpressVPN uses a 4096-bit RSA key exchange and SHA 512-bit hash authentication.
NordVPN also uses an AES 256-bit cipher, along with 4096-bit key exchange and SHA 256-bit hash authentication.
In other words, both are equally good when it comes to encryption implementation. Yes, NordVPN uses a shorter key for hash authentication, but both are considered unbreakable.
As for protocols,
As mentioned throughout this comparison, WireGuard gives NordVPN the edge for a certain section of online users. These online users treasure open-source software, and WireGuard is open source. ExpressVPN Lightway, though faster, is not open source and hence the only VPN service that uses it is ExpressVPN.
So, both services tie in this area.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Servers
All ExpressVPN servers use the RAM-disk mode, which is a fancy way of saying that they don’t store any data. Some ExpressVPN locations use virtual servers, which is something that NordVPN doesn’t engage in. ExpressVPN also uses third-party companies for more servers, so that can be a problem for privacy-conscious users.
NordVPN also uses RAM-disk mode servers but doesn’t have any virtual locations, which is more optimal. NordVPN has servers in secure data centers with physical hardware and related networking, which gives it the edge over ExpressVPN. The company owns its own servers, rather than renting them.
NordVPN takes the win in this category.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Protection From LeaksExpressVPN and NordVPN protect against DNS and IP address leaks and have the kill switch in place if the user’s connection suddenly drops.
So, it is a tie here again.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Logs
Both services claim they do not keep any logs. NordVPN explicitly mentions that it doesn’t store any data related to connection timestamps, bandwidth used, information about any session, data via user traffic, IP addresses, and other types of data. In other words, even if authorities asked Nord for users’ data, it wouldn’t have anything to share with them.
NordVPN even had third-party independent auditors take a look at its servers and VPN setup to verify that the company did not keep any logs. The company passed the audit twice.
And as you would expect, Express VPN also offers a zero-logs policy and it mentions on the site that the company does not record or monitor any websites that users may visit, nor does it log content or traffic destinations.
It also mentions that the service has its own zero-knowledge, private DNS on each of its VPN servers for extra anonymity and privacy.
ExpressVPN keeps zero logs, and that includes connection logs, timestamps, session times, IP address of the user or the IP address the user has via an ExpressVPN server.
Unlike NordVPN, ExpressVPN has undergone just a single audit. So, even though both are equally matched, NordVPN is a close winner.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: JurisdictionNordVPN is based in Panama, while ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands. Both places are considered good for people who want privacy on the internet.
Panama doesn’t have any data-sharing agreements with countries like the U.S. or the U.K., and the British Virgin Islands represent a free and mostly independent country. It doesn’t come under the jurisdiction of the U.K., even though it has had connections with the U.K. in the past.
Both are great for privacy and have laws in place to protect user data. It is a tie between NordVPN and ExpressVPN again.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Price
Now, let’s compare and subscription prices:
- NordVPN’s monthly plan costs $11.95 per month, while ExpressVPN’s monthly plan costs $12.95 per month.
- NordVPN’s six-month plan brings down the cost to $9 per month, while ExpressVPN charges $9.99 per month.
- NordVPN’s two-year plan brings the cost further down to just $3.71 per month. ExpressVPN doesn’t have a two-year plan yet, but it does have a 15-month plan, which costs $6.67 per month.
If you are looking to protect your privacy for the long term, no one can beat NordVPN.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Payment Options
ExpressVPN allows you to pay via credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin and other payment options such as AliPay and UnionPay.
NordVPN supports credit cards, Bitcoin, AliPay and other minor payment services such as GiroPay. As you might have noticed, it doesn’t support PayPal.
So, ExpressVPN takes this round.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Customer SupportBoth offer live chat and email support but ExpressVPN is just a bit more reliable, useful and faster. The fact that ExpressVPN always chooses simplicity over complexity gives it the edge over NordVPN in the customer support department.
NordVPN has the better guides section, but it will take you some time to get a hang of it.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which Is Better for Torrenting?
It is easy to see why it is so hard to differentiate between ExpressVPN and NordVPN. Both are fantastic VPN services. So it should not come as a surprise that both offer a great torrenting experience. That is because both have P2P-friendly policies and fast VPN servers.
But, ExpressVPN is the better choice here, with full P2P compliant servers. This means you can connect to any ExpressVPN server and expect to download torrents without any problems. That is not the case with NordVPN.
This doesn’t mean NordVPN is lacking in any way. NordVPN is a great VPN service for torrenting, but it has torrent-specific and P2P-optimized servers that are separate from the main body of VPN servers. With NordVPN, your torrenting experience will be as painless and automated as with ExpressVPN, but sometimes you will have to connect to a P2P-enabled server just to get that extra speed.
Conclusion: ExpressVPN vs NordVPNSettling the ExpressVPN vs NordVPN debate is no easy task. But we hope by comparing features such as a 30-day money-back guarantee, live chat support, kill switch, social media features and IP address modification options, we have made the task of choosing between ExpressVPN and NordVPN slightly easier for you.
NordVPN Wins on Price
When it comes to the absolute price you will have to pay for either of these VPN services, NordVPN continues to hit hard and hence wins over ExpressVPN. Readers should understand that NordVPN is considered the best VPN for mobile and all other platforms for several reasons.
For some, the most important one is the price. NordVPN is king when we are talking about value for money. Taking into account the things NordVPN can do for such a diverse set of consumers, there is no VPN that comes close to offering that for the price at which NordVPN does it.
NordVPN is not only cheap; it is also high-value. Plenty of VPN services offer cheap packages, but they usually take out important features such as auto-start or kill switch. Some offer slower speeds, others keep logs to keep the business afloat. NordVPN doesn’t do any of this.
We should mention here, though, that NordVPN did report a security breach in October 2019. But the way the service handled that unfortunate situation not only saved its reputation but also gained the company new customers.
NordVPN can do it all and for the best price. But, it is far from a perfect VPN service. Critics feel that NordVPN can improve in the privacy department by increasing the number of servers it has all over the map. NordVPN already offers over 5,500 VPN servers located in 59 countries, in addition to a strict zero-logs policy. The fact that it operates out of Panama means it doesn’t have to worry about government and intelligence agencies asking for private information on users.
Yes, NordVPN can improve on the number of countries in which it has servers, but that would just be the cherry on the cake rather than something the service needs to fix.
In the compatibility department, NordVPN comes up with the aces again as it offers its near-to-complete VPN service on all major platforms including iOS, Android, FireStick and macOS. If you happen to own a BlackBerry or a Windows phone, NordVPN even has an app for that.
Those who want speed from their VPN service would be glad to know that NordVPN is no slouch when it comes to performance either. With a fast enough connection, you can expect NordVPN to reduce your download speeds by half. But that’s a pretty good level when we are talking about VPN service. The vast majority of the VPN services in the market today can hit your download speeds to an unbearable extent, creating endless buffering.
NordVPN was faster in the past, but even now, it is fast on top of being reliable. And this is how you judge the quality of a VPN service. Plenty of VPN services can be fast at least some of the time, but NordVPN is consistently fast. You will experience very few instances of NordVPN apps not working for you.
We’ll cover more about ExpressVPN in the next bit. For now, you just need to know that if you want to get NordVPN on your mobile device, laptop or desktop computer, you will have to pay around $3.71 per month if you sign up for the two-year plan.
Compared to ExpressVPN, NordVPN has less quantity and variety of VPN servers. ExpressVPN also has faster VPN servers thanks to its own infrastructure.
You should also note that NordVPN will charge you around $90 in a single instance. If you do not commit to the service for two users, then there are other options available, such as the yearly package, the monthly package and the bi-annual package. For the monthly package, you will have to cough up $12, which is slightly more than the industry average. For the six month package, you only pay $9 per month.
All NordVPN packages come with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you don’t have to take any risks while signing up for the service. Do take note that NordVPN does not just pay lip service to its returns policy. The company has a decent record of handling refunds properly.
If this is the first time you are signing up for a VPN service, though, maybe you need to try out NordVPN via its one-month package before committing long-term.
For the same two-year package, ExpressVPN will charge you around $7 per month—that’s double the amount that NordVPN charges you. ExpressVPN does try to make up for it by offering you three months of free VPN service.
Now, on to ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN Wins on Speed
Why would you want to go with ExpressVPN when there is NordVPN with all its features and security protocols? Well, the answer is simple: Speed. Ultimately, if a VPN service is not fast, it is not of much value.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. VPN services are built in a way that they tend to decrease your download speed. There is no avoiding that fact, so what it comes down to is which one decreases your speed the least.
This is where ExpressVPN is the best of the best. Even in the best of times, public WiFi connections are painfully slow and dangerous for exposing your privacy and data to third-party entities who can monitor the network. These are the places where you need your VPN service the most.
So if you do not have a fast VPN service on an already-slow public WiFi network, then you are asking for a lot of buffering issues and partially-loaded websites, not to mention serious security vulnerabilities. This is the reason the vast majority of online consumers of VPN services rank speed above other VPN features such as extra tools, options and companion apps.
ExpressVPN has all those features, but it also has speed. With more than 3,000 servers in its VPN network, it is right up there with the most established VPN services in the world right now. Not relying on numbers alone, ExpressVPN covers the entire globe by offering these VPN servers across more than 160 locations in over 90 countries. Almost all of these servers are fast servers.
The other great bit about having ExpressVPN as your primary VPN service is that it operates out of the British Virgin Islands. This means the company doesn’t have to answer to any western government or intelligence agencies.
Moreover, ExpressVPN’s servers are not just regular servers. In some cases, they are lightning. Even on its worst day, ExpressVPN will only reduce your internet speed by half. That is slightly better than NordVPN.
But, in the NordVPN vs ExpressVPN debate, the competition is stiff and the margins are thin.
ExpressVPN has successfully managed to stay at the top of VPN rankings for a very long time. But last year, it had to work hard to avoid falling off the rankings. The fact that it is so much faster than the average VPN service makes it difficult for competitors to get ahead.
The factor that people tend to overlook about ExpressVPN is its apps. Since it is so much faster than other VPNs, people tend to not look at other things it does tremendously well. All ExpressVPN apps are easy to use, good to look at and fast on performance. The interface is easy for new users to get comfortable with, and the fact that ExpressVPN apps are available for all major platforms further simplifies the experience, as new users can use ExpressVPN on whatever device they feel the most comfortable with.
All of these benefits should allow you to understand why ExpressVPN is slightly more expensive than the average VPN service provider in the market today. At its cheapest, you only have to pay $7 per month with an additional three months of free VPN service. Just like NordVPN, and pretty much all elite VPN service providers, ExpressVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee for those who do not want to take risks with their hard-earned money. ExpressVPN allows payments through Bitcoin, PayPal and credit cards.
When pitted against NordVPN, ExpressVPN allows only five simultaneous devices per account to the former’s six. In terms of compatibility, though, it is as established as NordVPN, offering dedicated apps for platforms such as iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, BlackBerry, Linux, PlayStation and Xbox. For some of these platforms, you may have to do a bit of manual configuration, but ExpressVPN will work on all of them—provided you follow the how-to guides available on ExpressVPN’s website.
ExpressVPN gets the slight edge over NordVPN here, as NordVPN doesn’t have apps for gaming consoles.
In the end, though, ExpressVPN positions itself in a unique situation where it offers great server speeds without compromising security or privacy. Many VPNs are able to offer high speeds but at the expense of privacy and security.
Finally, ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands. While they do form a U.K. territory, the islands aren’t obligated to follow the retention laws of the U.K., nor do they have any agreements with intelligence information-sharing programs.
In most aspects, ExpressVPN is one of the best all-around VPN services in the world.