Overall Rating for NordVPN: 4.75 out of 5
Overall Rating for ExpressVPN: 4.75 out of 5
If you are looking to add VPN software to any of your devices, you may be curious about what features and speeds you can expect from different services. NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN has been extensively compared, and both services have received high ratings by third-party tests online and real-life users, but the advantages and disadvantages of each service make them best suited for different users.
Reliability and features are also a pivotal point for NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN as each service has a different variety of features that differentiate them from the competition. Other notable features to compare include the number of servers, connection speeds, and overall security that you can reasonably expect from each service.
About VPN Services
A reliable VPN service can help keep user data private and also protect information about a user’s internet activities from being tracked. When using a VPN connection, all of the data sent from that device is encrypted before transmission over the network. A reliable VPN connection is a useful tool for accessing confidential documents and protecting your IP address.
Few people know that when they use an unsecured internet connection, they are putting their device and potentially their data at risk. Even when a user uses their home internet connection it's possible to determine their IP address, the city they live in, and who their internet service provider (ISP) is at the time.
For many people, this can be quite disturbing, but the obvious solution is to use a VPN service to help prevent your ISP or other entities from tracking your browsing habits and knowing what sites you visit online.
VPN software should be easy to install on a supported device and feature a user-friendly interface that allows for secure connections to a server. Ideally, you'll want a company that has many different servers so that you can enjoy faster speeds, and the ability to switch to another server when necessary.
Internet and Wi-Fi connections at locations such as hotels, stores, coffee shops, and libraries are almost always unsecured which means that anyone can access them and potentially manipulate them in malicious ways.
When an individual connects to one of these unsecured networks, their device becomes more at risk for hacking, malware, and other unsavory activities. A VPN connection may be able to protect your device from malware, but it primarily works by encrypting the information exchanged with your device, so it is unavailable to third parties without your consent.
The features in NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN are part of what makes both VPN services such a good value for all users looking to add a layer of protection to their device. ExpressVPN offers a unique feature called "split tunneling" which essentially allows the user to decide which applications on their device become directed through the VPN and which ones use the regular internet connection.
Allowing users to decide what applications use the VPN also helps to speed up the connection they experience by not forcing all data to be encrypted prior to leaving the device. NordVPN has taken a slightly different albeit equally useful route and developed different servers that are each specially equipped for various uses including:
Not all of these servers are going to perform equally well, and users may experience unusably slow service from one type and rapid connections from another. Onion-over-VPN servers typically show up on the slower side in third-party speed tests.
ExpressVPN servers don’t disappoint as they are reliably secure, and the VPN features obfuscation tactics to get around VPN blocks as well as self-hosted DNS that help protect users against snooping and DNS leaks.
ExpressVPN also has their own obfuscated servers specifically for when users are in restricted networks or countries where VPNs aren't allowed such as China. This VPN service has a clean and easy to use interface that is simple, and the software works on routers, Mac, Windows, and browsers like Chrome and Firefox.
A feature unique to NordVPN is their ad-blocking addition to their software called CyberSec. This add on offers a small additional layer of protection against tracking, malware, and advertising. Nord VPN also supports Android, Windows, Mac, iOS, Linux, Android TVs, and has browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
NordVPN and ExpressVPN both offer many valuable features, and in this respect, they are tied for best VPN service.
Connections and Speed Testing
NordVPN and ExpressVPN may be close competitors when it comes to the features each service offers, but when it comes to connections, NordVPN takes the lead. NordVPN boasts that they are the "best VPN for multiple devices" and their policy allows users to connect up to six devices at any given time.
NordVPN also has over 5400 servers spread across 60 countries in an effort to ensure that users get the fastest VPN connection possible. NordVPN will recommend a server to a user when they use the VPN software, but users can also manually select a server of their choice.
Express VPN only allows users to connect up to three different devices which include virtual machines. This limited number of connections makes ExpressVPN a less than ideal choice for families that are likely to connect several devices.
A trick that can be used with ExpressVPN is to use it with a VPN router which allows all of the devices that connect to that router to be protected by the VPN. The router in this instance only counts as one connection even if there are several devices connected to the router.
NordVPN may dominate when it comes to connections, but ExpressVPN is the best when it comes to testing speeds. ExpressVPN has shown countless times in third-party testing that it's the faster VPN connection which makes sense since the company prides itself on speed and performance.
ExpressVPN and Nord both offer 256-bit encryption, and even though NordVPN has added several servers, it is still slower than ExpressVPN. One way that users can improve the speeds they experience with NordVPN is by switching to different servers until they find one that is faster.
Not all NordVPN connections were slow, and some with more local servers were fast enough to compete with ExpressVPN easily.
With any VPN service, users are bound to experience some connection issues or other errors at some point, but these are almost always temporary and will resolve in a short amount of time. NordVPN has been tested by third parties who have concluded that it is very reliable, but ExpressVPN has proven to be more consistently reliable by a small margin.
Even though NordVPN has made some drastic improvements within the last year, ExpressVPN has surpassed it in terms of reliability due to how well the server network performs and how well the applications work on different devices.
It's rare for ExpressVPN to suffer from bugs, connection errors, or other failures, while there are occasionally some errors when trying to make connections using NordVPN. Characteristics that make ExpressVPN the best in terms of reliability include:
It is also worth noting that with ExpressVPN the Network Lock prevents data leaks by blocking traffic that doesn’t flow through the VPN. This feature has been extensively tested by several third parties and has been found to be consistent.
Security and Jurisdiction
Security is always a major concern when using a VPN, and both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are excellent options in this regard. Some testing may suggest that ExpressVPN is slightly more secure than NordVPN but with the recent improvements that NordVPN has made the services are now tied.
NordVPN has updated its kill-switch technology to now offer a kill switch for both desktop applications and mobile devices. Their future plans for kill switch improvements involve implementing a kill switch at the system level which would allow apps to continue to run but would block the connection to the device.
ExpressVPN already offers this type of kill switch, but its protection is limited to supported devices. Meaning if you install this onto a router it's safe to assume any device that connects to it is safe, but the router may then affect your connection speeds as it works to deal with multiple devices.
Jurisdiction is another topic that is frequently on the minds of privacy-conscious users, and it's important to note that both companies are based on good locations. NordVPN is based in Panama, and ExpressVPN is found in the Virgin Islands.
Both of these countries are independent and not part of the 5/9/14 Eyes surveillance alliance that can put user information at risk. Instead, both locations are suitable for privacy in general and are outside the reach of the US and Europe. In this respect, both companies are equally well placed despite the different geographical locations.
Logging Practices and Policies
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN have a strict no logging policy which again leaves them in very close competition with one another. Logging refers to the information that a VPN service could gather about their users as the individuals utilize the VPN service.
Most VPN companies don’t log information about their users browsing habits or devices, but some less reputable companies do log information and will even sell this information to third parties for money. This practice not only violates the trust of the users, but it leaves both the users and company more vulnerable when servers are seized.
A good example is when ExpressVPN servers were seized in Turkey, but because the company does not log any information about users the officials ultimately gained no useful information. This seizure tested the log policies put in place by the company, and they passed the test when there were no logs present.
NordVPN has a similar no logging policy, and the company has voluntarily handed over servers for third-party audits in order to verify that they follow their own policies. Most VPN services won't go as far as to submit to third-party verification and the only other company to do so aside from NordVPN is VyprVPN.
Recent improvements made to the NordVPN service have made torrenting another category where ExpressVPN and NordVPN are very closely matched. ExpressVPN comes out slightly on top given the higher speeds over the network and the kill switch design, but once NordVPN releases their new kill switch the two companies will be virtually tied.
Since it only takes one packet of information to leak an IP address and media companies are looking for IP addresses to track copyright infringements, it's essential to use a VPN service that doesn't have any leaks but also has fast enough speeds to download content quickly.
ExpressVPN may be slightly faster, but with the recent addition of many NordVPN servers, it appears that the gap is closing swiftly. Both services do an outstanding job masking IP addresses and will allow users full access to torrenting sites.
When it comes to streaming services and accessing content from various countries regardless of your current location, both NordVPN and ExpressVPN work wonderfully and allow users excellent access to the Netflix library.
Although many streaming services have cracked down on allowing VPN connections, Netflix seems to work seamlessly for countless expats who are using NordVPN or ExpressVPN. Users have tested both VPN services from all over the globe, and the access has been consistently available with the small caveat that you may need to switch servers depending on speeds.
If you experience slower speeds, Netflix may buffer irregularly, and this can be annoying when trying to watch content. To solve this issue, a user can simply switch to another server that can provide better speeds and they should be able to view their shows unhindered.
Since there are more variable speeds using NordVPN, users may need to switch servers more often with that service, but the ongoing addition of servers should help to lessen that issue significantly.
Pricing and Payment
When it comes to pricing, both VPN services offer incredible value with multiple plans. NordVPN provides the following plans to its users:
ExpressVPN pricing looks like this:
The most extended plan for NordVPN is three years and saves the user approximately 75% while the most extended ExpressVPN plan is just a single year and only saves the user 35%. This pricing makes ExpressVPN a bit more expensive than NordVPN, and also means that users will have to renew their plan more often.
Both services offer similar payment options that allow customers to remain anonymous including PayPal and various cryptocurrencies in addition to credit card payments and other money services.
ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer very comparable services in several areas which makes them close contenders. Both companies have critical features such as no logging and are safe choices for even more privacy-conscious customers.
Both companies also have a satisfying number of servers, and the speeds are the only part that set the two services apart with NordVPN lagging behind somewhat. However, the final straw is the price of the service, and that is where NordVPN becomes the much better deal for the customer.
NordVPN continues to improve its service, and with that, the speeds should increase as well. NordVPN offers customers a more significant discount for more extended subscription plans and also allows more devices to connect which makes it a better option for families.