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ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which One of These VPN-Titans is Better?

Last edited: October 19, 2020
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Summary: ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which Comes Out Better in the Test?

To help you choose between ExpressVPN and NordVPN, we conducted a thorough comparison of these two providers based on various categories. These categories were speed, security, privacy, price, ease of use and customer service. The list below provides the winner for each category:

  • Security: NordVPN
  • Speed: ExpressVPN
  • Privacy: ExpressVPN
  • Price: NordVPN
  • Ease of use: A Tie
  • Customer Service: ExpressVPN

As you can see, the two providers are neck-and-neck, although ExpressVPN only just comes out on top.

Keep on reading for more specific information on the two providers.

We decided to compare NordVPN and ExpressVPN because they are two of the most popular VPN providers. In which categories does ExpressVPN come out in front, as per usual, and in which categories is NordVPN outperforming ExpressVPN? Below you will find our comparison of these two providers’ security, speed, user-friendliness, privacy policies (e.g. keeping of logs) and functionality. We will also explain specific features of both VPNs, such as the ability to access movies from the American Netflix library or the use of VPNs in countries with repressive regimes.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Functionality, Features and Other Options

Before we delve deeper into the VPNs’ specific features, the table below provides an overview of the features offered by both providers.

ExpressVPN Surfshark
Servers 3,000+ servers in 94 countries 5,400+ servers in 59 countries
Torrents/P2P-Support
Netflix
Simultaneous connections 5 6
Operating systems Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux
Protocols OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, L2TP/IPsec OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, NordLynx (WireGuard)
Price From $6.67 per month From $3.71 per month
Log policy No logs No logs
Money-back-guarantee 30 days 30 days
DNS Leak Test
Tor over VPN
Obfuscated servers
Double VPN
Dedicated IP
Kill switch
Split tunneling
Adblocker
Diskless servers
Malicious website blocker
Custom DNS option
Link to website Go to ExpressVPN Go to NordVPN

Below you will find a brief explanation of all the above-mentioned features:

  • Servers: Shows how many servers each VPN provider has at its disposal. An advantage of having many servers is that the provider can guarantee you better stability and speed since the number of users can be better distributed.
  • Torrents/P2P support: Specifies whether torrents can be downloaded/exchanged using the particular provider’s VPN network.
  • Netflix/Streaming: Indicates whether you can access Netflix with the specific VPN provider (especially American Netflix).
  • Simultaneous connections: Specifies how many simultaneous VPN connections you can have per subscription.
  • Operating system: Indicates with which operating system(s) the specific VPN is compatible.
  • Protocols: Shows which VPN encryption protocols are supported by each VPN. You can find out more about encryption protocols here.
  • Price: Provides information regarding each VPN’s cheapest monthly subscription costs.
  • Log policy: Indicates whether a particular VPN keeps track of your privacy-sensitive data.
  • Money-back guarantee: States the period within which you can request your money back from a particular VPN provider. This period may differ for a VPN provider’s single monthly subscriptions.
  • DNS Leak test: Indicates whether the specific VPN provides a separate DNS leak test.
  • Tor over VPN: Specifies whether the Tor browser works well on the specific VPN provider’s servers. This browser can be used to access the dark web.
  • Obfuscated servers: Indicates whether each VPN provider has obfuscated servers. These are servers that can be used to access the Internet even from countries with the most repressive regimes.
  • Double VPN: Indicates whether a VPN has “Double VPN” servers. These are servers that connect not to one but to two VPN servers at the same time.
  • Dedicated IP: Specifies whether the VPN in question offers dedicated IP addresses. You can read more about dedicated IP addresses here.
  • Kill switch: Indicates whether a particular VPN has a kill switch. This is an emergency switch that stops your internet traffic if the VPN malfunctions while you are using it.
  • Split tunneling: Indicates whether a VPN allows split tunneling. This is an option that allows you to specify which traffic you want to run through the VPN and which not.
  • Adblocker: Allows you to determine whether a VPN has its own adblocker.
  • Diskless servers: Indicates whether the specific VPN uses diskless servers, i.e. servers on which no data can be stored. This is a particularly good method for protecting a server from hackers.
  • Malicious website blocker: Specifies whether a VPN offers the additional function to block dangerous websites.
  • Custom DNS option: Indicates whether the VPN allows you to set up your own DNS records (this is especially interesting to advanced users).

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which Provider Is Safer?

The amount of security a provider can deliver depends on a combination of various features, i.e. the protocols offered, the type of servers used, and whether it provides any additional functions such as blocking online trackers and the like.

  • ExpressVPN supports OpenVPN with UDP or TCP, as well as L2TP/IPSec and PPTP protocols. We do not recommend using the latter two protocols. Even ExpressVPN itself recommends only using these last two protocols to change your location (for example, to watch the US Netflix library). The safety benefits of these last two protocols are very limited. NordVPN is a little more forward-looking than ExpressVPN as in addition to OpenVPN, NordVPN also has a variant of the WireGuard protocol, namely NordLynx. WireGuard is the newest and potentially the most secure protocol available today. WireGuard (and therefore NordLynx) is still in its early stages of development.
  • Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN use 256-bit encryption and they both have a kill switch in case the VPN connection unexpectedly drops. However, NordVPN uses one additional NAT firewall on their servers than ExpressVPN, which is a definite bonus. ExpressVPN does not use this, or at least it does not appear to do so from what we could deduce by looking through their website and the VPN application itself.
  • NordVPN also offers Onion over VPN (i.e. a connection via the Tor network), a dedicated IP, and a double VPN, which simply means that you are redirected via two servers. Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN have the option of split tunneling, which is the selective use of VPN connections for certain applications.
  • Furthermore, both VPNs support obfsproxy, which is a Tor technique that can prevent Deep Packet Inspection. Obfsproxy hides the fact that you are using a VPN connection, which means that you can use such VPNs in countries where VPN use is blocked, such as China and Turkey. In addition, NordVPN offers extra protection against IP address leaks. In short, NordVPN wins over ExpressVPN, because it offers additional security functions.

Below you can find an overview of the additional security features of both providers.

Safest VPN: NordVPN

VPN Provider vs Provider Winner Safety Banner NordVPN


ExpressVPN or NordVPN: Which VPN is Faster?

To compare the speed of these two VPNs, we conducted speed tests for them both. However, first, we tested our own internet connection without a VPN to set the speed baseline. The results are provided in the following screenshot.

Speedtest no VPN

We then tested international and local servers belonging to both NordVPN and ExpressVPN. The results are provided in the table below, with the “winning” speeds entered in bold.

ExpressVPN CyberGhost
Download speed local server (Mbps) 322.38 257.20
Upload speed local server (in Mbps) 171.11 388.64
Ping local server 8 ms 9 ms
Download speed international server (in Mbps) 139.68 146.64
Upload speed international server (in Mbps) 26.97 27.24
Ping international server 114 ms 78 ms

Test results show that during daily use both providers’ VPNs run smoothly without any problems. Therefore, it does not matter which provider you choose when it comes to daily use, both their speeds are good. However, if you are connected to a local VPN server and regularly run intensive downloads, or want to stream without any buffering, ExpressVPN comes out on top, which clearly performs better when connected to the local server. When connecting to the international server, the difference in download speed is negligible between the two providers.

Fastest VPN: ExpressVPN

VPN Provider vs Provider Winner Speed Banner ExpressVPN


How do ExpressVPN and NordVPN Handle your Data?

In addition to third-party data security, the VPN provider’s internal policy is of course also of importance. If a provider keeps logs, the VPN connection is likely to be very secure, but your data could still end up in the hands of others. How do ExpressVPN and NordVPN manage data?

ExpressVPN

  • It is immediately clear that ExpressVPN does not keep logs. The company operates out of the British Virgin Islands, where they have extremely strict privacy laws.
  • Uses TrustedServers, which are servers on which no data is permanently stored as they are “diskless” servers. Even if the provider would like to keep logs, this is not possible with these types of servers.

NordVPN

  • In principle, the same applies to NordVPN as with ExpressVPN, except that NordVPN operates out of Panama instead of the British Virgin Islands. Otherwise, NordVPN is comparable to ExpressVPN.
  • NordVPN is actively trying to overcome past bad press. For example, in 2018 stories circulated that VPNs often engaged in data mining, so NordVPN carried out an independent audit of its systems to disprove this rumor with regards to itself. The audit once again showed that the company does not keep user logs.
  • In 2018, NordVPN’s logging policy was also subjected to a real-life test, when one of its Finnish servers was hacked. The server in question is now no longer in use and NordVPN no longer collaborates with the data center that held the hacked server.
  • NordVPN also uses diskless RAM servers. Such servers need to retrieve any required information from the secured central infrastructure. Therefore, the diskless VPN servers only act as a kind of conduit.

On the one hand, you could argue that ExpressVPN has better privacy out of the two providers, as they have never had to contend with a scandal like NordVPN has. On the other hand, you could also argue that ExpressVPN has just never “really” been tested by hackers. Consequently, in principle, we cannot categorically state whether ExpressVPN keeps logs or not. However, we at VPNOverview still give ExpressVPN the advantage, because NordVPN has had to deal with a server hack and ExpressVPN has not.

Privacy winner: ExpressVPN

VPN Provider vs Provider Winner Privacy Banner ExpressVPN


ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which Provider is Easier on your Pocket?

As can be seen from the table below, the cost of a monthly NordVPN subscription is cheaper than a monthly ExpressVPN subscription. Furthermore, discounts are offered almost continuously at both providers, probably for marketing purposes.

However, there is a caveat on the prices quoted below. NordVPN’s cheapest monthly subscription price is only available if you take out a two-year subscription, which is a fairly long time.

Subscription ExpressVPN NordVPN
1 month $12.95 $11.95
6 months $9.99
1-year plan $4.92
1.25-year plan (15 months) $6.67
2-year plan $3.71

The winner on price: NordVPN

VPN Provider vs Provider Winner Price Banner NordVPN


Ease of Use: Installation and Appearance

Our previous reviews of NordVPN and ExpressVPN showed that both providers have found a good balance between user-friendliness and the number of options provided to users. Furthermore, both the website and the software of the two providers are clear and do not add unnecessary complexity. Nevertheless, there are some differences in ease of use that we would like to cover in more detail below.

Installation process

When we test a VPN application, we always look at the installation process. In the case of ExpressVPN and NordVPN, the only thing that can be said is that both providers are very easy to install. After you have downloaded the apps, the installation process is self-explanatory.

Would you like to know exactly how the installation process works for both providers? Then be sure to read our extensive reviews for both ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

Layout and intuitiveness

As soon as you open the VPN software, you can immediately see a clear difference between the two start screen layouts. NordVPN shows more information on the screen, while ExpressVPN opts for a simpler display with a connect button as the central element.

Both start screens have their advantages and disadvantages. With NordVPN, it might seem a bit confusing that a map of Europe is shown on which you can choose servers, while you can also choose servers from a list on the left-hand side of the screen. In our opinion, ExpressVPN has a clearer overview of the servers with which you can quickly make a connection.

In contrast, NordVPN’s software provides a more contemporary look and feel. Also, the available server options are at your fingertips. Finally, with NordVPN, the most used servers are listed on the left-hand side of the screen, while ExpressVPN only displays the location of the most recently used server.

Screenshots of ExpressVPN’s and NordVPN’s start screens are provided below.

Screenshots ExpressVPN and NordVPN Software

Ease of Use Winner: A Tie

VPN Provider vs Provider Ease of Use Banner Tie


Customer Service: How Well are Users Supported?

In addition to the providers’ websites and software’s ease of use, customer service is also an important factor in this neck-and-neck race. The results of our findings are provided below:

  • At both ExpressVPN and NordVPN, we had a human respond to our questions and not an automated bot.
  • Getting answers to questions in a language other than English is not possible with either provider.
  • NordVPN only connects you to an employee after you have first asked the question to a bot. At ExpressVPN, the chat immediately connected us to an employee.
  • At NordVPN, at first, it seemed that we had been referred to a generic blog post. This turned out to be additional information, however, the information was not very helpful.
  • Both NordVPN’s and ExpressVPN’s websites have a support center that can answer many of your questions fairly quickly.

In short, ExpressVPN has an advantage thanks to their live chat. NordVPN is still doing well, but slightly less so than ExpressVPN.

Customer service winner: ExpressVPN

VPN Provider vs Provider Winner Ease of Use Banner ExpressVPN


Our Final Verdict: Will ExpressVPN or NordVPN Win?

In this article, we have compared a list of features, the results from which mainly show that ExpressVPN and NordVPN are two very good providers that do not differ much one from the other. Yet one provider was always just that little bit ahead in each category, which can make an important difference to some users.

The following list provides an overview that shows at a glance which provider came out best in each category:

  • Security: NordVPN
  • Speed: ExpressVPN
  • Privacy: ExpressVPN
  • Price: NordVPN
  • Ease of use: A Tie
  • Customer Service: ExpressVPN

As far as we are concerned, ExpressVPN remains the number one provider out of the VPNs we have tested thus far. This is not because NordVPN is greatly inferior to ExpressVPN, but simply because ExpressVPN is ideal for the average user. This is a different story for advanced users. True security devotees will feel more at home with NordVPN, as this provider offers more security options. If you are interested in one of these two providers, then use the appropriate box below to go to that provider’s website.

ExpressVPN
Our pick
Our pick
Deal:
3 months for free with a one-year subscription
9.5
  • Very easy to use VPN
  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Visit ExpressVPN
NordVPN
Deal:
Only $3,71 a month for a 2-year subscription
9.1
  • Excellent protection and a large network of servers
  • Nice and pleasing application
  • No logs
Visit NordVPN

Curious about other VPN comparisons? Have a look at the articles below:

IT communication specialist
Sandra has many years of experience in the IT and tech sector as a communication specialist. She's also been co-director of a company specializing in IT, editorial services and communications project management. For VPNoverview.com she follows relevant cybercrime and online privacy developments.

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