ExpressVPN vs NordVPN

ExpressVPN and NordVPN are two of the best VPNs on the market, but which is best for you?

You have likely heard of ExpressVPN, thanks to its impressive server network and excellent user-friendly experience. However, NordVPN is a close rival and another renowned service with a wide range of sophisticated features.

Previously, VPNs were reserved for technology experts, but they are becoming increasingly common pieces of internet privacy software. The rise of VPN usage corresponds to a greater awareness of online security threats and the growing range of excellent, user-friendly VPN options on the market. So, in this article, we are comparing two of the best VPNs available: ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

Table of content

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN Overview

ExpressVPN and NordVPN are two of the best VPN services on the market, thanks to their user-friendly clients, excellent security features, and impressive geo-unblocking capabilities. Once you have downloaded and installed the clients, both providers offer an extensive choice of servers thanks to their eye-watering server networks.

ExpressVPN Overview

ExpressVPN provides a solid service that doesn’t fail to impress.

NordVPN Overview

NordVPN is a great service, rivaling ExpressVPN in every area.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Pricing

The British Virgin Islands-based ExpressVPN offers a simple one-month subscription plan at $12.95, which is slightly more than the industry average. This price drops to $9.99 a month if you choose the 6-month plan. With NordVPN, the monthly plan will set you back $11.95.

As with any VPN subscription plan, Express prices are considerably lower if you commit to a longer-term option. With ExpressVPN, the most cost-effective option is its one-year plan, which comes with 3 months extra free, making it just $6.67 a month for 15 months. However, NordVPN is likely the better option if you are looking for an affordable VPN provider. The NordVPN two-year plan comes in at just $3.71 a month. This is impressive value, as long as you are happy to commit to a slightly longer Nord subscription.

Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee for additional peace of mind. This means that you can try the Nord and Express products risk-free and request a full refund if you are not completely satisfied with the service on offer.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Privacy

Privacy is an important factor when comparing any VPNs, and both ExpressVPN and NordVPN services offer excellent privacy features.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN offers AES-256 bit encryption as standard, which is also used by the US government. It also provides an excellent range of secure protocols, including IKEv2, OpenVPN, and L2TP/IPsec, to ensure your private data remains secure. ExpressVPN comes with its proprietary Lightway protocol, which promises to provide faster and more reliable speeds.

ExpressVPN comes with a cryptographic key system, which encrypts and decrypts data with a unique key on every VPN server. Encryption keys are not stored on a hard drive to ensure that no third party could gain access to them.

ExpressVPN also offers TrustedServer technology that ensures all servers operate on the most up-to-date software and utilize the same code. This means that there is a reduced risk of hacking as every VPN server is using the most recent read-only image. ExpressVPN also uses RAM rather than hard drives, offering a higher level of security.

When you access a site, the DNS or Domain Name System requests your real IP address and can access and log data about your online activity. Some VPNs encrypt your web traffic data but do not offer encrypted DNS on their VPN servers. This means that your IP address may still be exposed to leaks. However, ExpressVPN comes with encrypted DNS on all servers to ensure your real IP address and private online data remain encrypted and private.

NordVPN

NordVPN also offers excellent security features, including its new proprietary NordLynx protocol that offers faster and more reliable server connection speeds.

Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN also offers OpenVPN and IKEv2, two of the most powerful protocols available. NordVPN also operates on AES-256 bit encryption by default.

With NordVPN, users can also choose to activate DoubleVPN technology to encrypt their web traffic twice rather than just once.

If you require even more protection online, NordVPN also offers the option to use Onion over VPN. This technology operates similarly to the DoubleVPN feature but sends your web traffic via the Tor network.

NordVPN also comes with a 4096-bit RSA key. This is especially useful if you access unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots or if you want to ensure complete anonymity when torrenting.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Data Logging

Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN services come with no-logging policies that have been verified by an independent audit completed by security company PricewaterhouseCooper to offer evidence to their claims.

ExpressVPN logs a minimal amount of user data, including the date of a VPN connection and the chosen VPN server. However, this information is unidentifiable and could not be used to link the user to their use of a VPN, ensuring they are not put at any risk as no other information is stored.

The only data that NordVPN stores are the VPN account username and a timestamp of the most recent NordVPN session. However, this data is deleted 15 minutes after you log out of NordVPN.

The two providers, Nord and Express, offer easy-to-read privacy policies that are simple to understand, even for a beginner VPN user. It is reassuring that both NordVPN and ExpressVPN display relevant information in a transparent manner.

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ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Servers

ExpressVPN offers fewer VPN servers than NordVPN at just over 3,000. However, regarding server locations, it comes out on top thanks to its wide range of servers across 94 different countries worldwide, including countries like the US, Venezuela, and Greece.

NordVPN offers access to over 5,300 servers across 59 countries globally. There is coverage across all continents and in popular countries like Mexico, Germany, and the Netherlands.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Server Speeds

Although internet privacy is likely your main priority when looking for VPN services, connection speed is also an important factor, especially if you are a fan of torrenting, streaming, or gaming. Without a fast server connection speed, you will be unable to watch your favorite television shows and movies in high definition without lag and buffering.

On both UK and US server connections, NordVPN averaged a download speed of about 36Mbps. On average, it takes NordVPN 6 seconds to connect to a VPN server, which is not the quickest but more than adequate. ExpressVPN takes about 4 seconds on average to connect to a VPN server. The Express connection speeds average speeds of 39Mbps.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Desktop Clients

NordVPN offers simple to use Windows and macOS desktop services. The desktop interface is clean and simple to navigate, to ensure an enjoyable user experience. The NordVPN client features a well-designed server location map, enabling you to select your desired server easily. A Quick Connect option will automatically connect you to the best available server in terms of speed and proximity. With NordVPN, there is also a simply ON/OFF button, allowing you to activate or deactivate the VPN connection with a single click.

The NordVPN app also comes with a VPN Pause button, allowing you to pause the VPN connection for a short amount of time without the need to disconnect from it completely. You can also set an automatic reconnection time which is useful if you are worried that you will forget to reconnect to NordVPN in an hour’s time.

The ExpressVPN desktop client is also straightforward to use, even if you are an inexperienced VPN user. The Express log-in process is somewhat different from other providers and requires an activation code instead of the usual username and password, which is helpful to note.

The ExpressVPN desktop client interface offers a range of user-friendly features, including a Smart Location option that allows users to connect to the best available Express server in terms of speed and location. There is an Express Speed Test option that allows users to identify the fastest available connection on the server list. These features are handy for new ExpressVPN users who are unsure how to utilize a VPN effectively.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Mobile Clients

NordVPN offers powerful mobile clients and even offers support for its proprietary NordLynx protocol on its iOS version. The ExpressVPN mobile apps also come with an excellent range of features, including a wide choice of protocols and a clean interface. The Express mobile version is almost as functional as its desktop options.

Unfortunately, NordVPN’s client lacks an easy-to-use map-based location feature. Although there is a server list if you manually search for it, the client layout is slightly awkward and difficult to use compared to ExpressVPN’s user-friendly offering. Therefore, when comparing NordVPN vs ExpressVPN in terms of mobile clients, ExpressVPN comes out on top.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Download and Installation

Downloading and installing both ExpressVPN and NordVPN services is a relatively simple process, and you will be able to enjoy a secure VPN connection in a matter of minutes.

NordVPN offers a simple installation process no matter what device you are using the VPN on. Users also have access to an extensive range of support guides and installation tutorials if they run into any issues. There are even detailed setup guides for niche devices such as routers, gaming consoles, and Smart TVs, too, to ensure all of your devices are securely protected.

ExpressVPN has simplified the setup process so that it is simple and stress-free. The setup process is slightly different from that of other providers, and it is necessary to note that you will have to sign up to ExpressVPN before you can download the applications. Once you have signed up, setting up the app is easy.

The ExpressVPN site homepage will detect the device that you are using and will offer a link to the version of the app that it thinks you require. If you do need to download a different application, you can choose from the navigation panel at the top of the page.

Alongside the simple link to download the standard client, there are also options to download an ExpressVPN APK file for Android, email yourself a download link, or use a QR code.

Once you have downloaded and installed the client on all of the devices you require, you will need to verify your account with an activation code. Thankfully, this means that you do not need to enter your username, email address, or password, which is much more secure than other sign-up processes. Once you have entered the activation code, you are ready to use the VPN.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Browser Extensions

ExpressVPN offers an excellent browser extension that is compatible with both Chrome and Firefox. Unlike many of its competitors, the extension is not a simple proxy either; it is a complete VPN for your browser. Although this means that it will be necessary to have the ExpressVPN standard client installed, it is worth it as you’ll have access to a wide range of features and excellent benefits.

The ExpressVPN browser means that you do not need to switch between windows to alter your settings. The extension ensures you are connected with HTTPS on every site and prevents HTML5 geolocation from exposing your real location. It will also serve to block WebRTC leaks.

NordVPN’s Chrome and Firefox VPN extensions offer the option to alter your virtual location quickly as well as block WebRTC leaks, annoying advertisements, cookies, and malware thanks to its CyberSec technology.

The main benefit of NordVPN’s browser extension is that you do not have to activate the complete client to access geo-restricted content or websites. With a few clicks, you can make your browsing activity appear as if it originated in a completely alternate location on the other side of the globe. However, the browser extensions do come with their own limitations. For example, you will only be able to choose servers in a limited number of countries, and it will only affect your browser activity.

Although NordVPN’s browser extension is decent, ExpressVPN’s option is arguably the best available as it is essentially a complete VPN app for your browser.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Routers

Installing one of these two VPN services on your router will ensure every device on your home Wi-Fi network is protected. Some devices, such as Smart TVs, streaming devices, and gaming consoles, do not support VPN software, so setting up a router VPN is necessary.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN offers a VPN app for routers so that you can set up an ExpressVPN router connection over Ethernet and Wi-Fi and save precious time with its always-on protection. Installing ExpressVPN on your router means you can protect all of your devices on a single subscription plan and share the VPN connection with your family members and guests too.

Users can install the ExpressVPN app on any compatible Wi-Fi router or purchase a preconfigured ExpressVPN router. The ExpressVPN router app comes with a well-designed, easy-to-use interface that ensures connecting to the VPN is quick and simple, even if you are a beginner VPN user. If you want some of your devices to bypass the Express connection, there is a handy split tunneling feature too.

NordVPN

NordVPN also offers the option to set up a VPN on your Wi-Fi network, which is useful if you have many devices that you want to protect. It is also convenient if you own devices such as a Smart TV or gaming console that does not support a standard VPN connection.

NordVPN is compatible with various routers, including ASUS WRT, ASUS Merlin, DD-WRT, Gl.iNET, Mikrotik, NetDUMA, OPNsense, OpenWRT, Padavan, Portal, Sabai, Tomato, pfSense, DrayTek, and EdgeRouter.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Streaming

Many users choose to download a VPN for the sole purpose of accessing geo-restricted content on streaming sites such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more. Therefore we considered it vital to compare ExpressVPN vs NordVPN for streaming and accessing geo-restricted streaming content.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN openly states its ability to access geo-blocked websites, which is impressive considering many streaming sites have adopted strong VPN-blocking technology. However, ExpressVPN does back its streaming claims and offers access to Netflix, YouTube, and even BBC iPlayer, which many other VPN providers struggle to access.

With ExpressVPN, users can also make use of the provider’s MediaStreamer feature. This DNS tool doesn’t provide encryption but will enable customers to bypass restrictions on almost all major streaming services.

NordVPN

NordVPN does not explicitly claim to unblock any particular streaming sites on its main site, although it does suggest that it will enable access to such content. It did gain access to a range of Netflix locations as well as YouTube. It may struggle to access BBC iPlayer on its main client; however, there is also the option to utilize its browser extension.

NordVPN also offers the option to use its SmartDNS technology that can be used to access streaming sites on Smart TVs. Although it will not offer all of the security benefits of a VPN, such as encryption, it will enable access to geo-restricted content on sites including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+.

Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer excellent connection speed levels, meaning that you can watch your favorite shows in high definition without buffering or lag. Moreover, ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer unlimited bandwidth on all servers, meaning that you can stream as much content as you like without worrying about your data consumption.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Torrenting

If you are a fan of torrenting, but you do not have a VPN installed, you are exposing your files, sharing activity, and IP address. A VPN is an important security addition to protect your torrenting activities. Here we have compared ExpressVPN vs NordVPN when it comes to P2P sharing and torrenting.

Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer excellent torrenting support thanks to privacy features, including Double VPN technology, obfuscated servers, Onion over VPN, split tunneling, and secure VPN protocols to protect your torrenting internet traffic.

ExpressVPN offers P2P torrenting support across all servers, has no bandwidth limitations, and has no data restrictions. It is an easy-to-use VPN service that also offers a reliable kill switch that will serve to cut your internet connection should your VPN fail for any reason.

Although it may not support P2P sharing across all of its servers, NordVPN does detect torrenting activities and will reconnect you to a server that does support it without you having to alter your server connection manually. There is also the option to select one of the P2P-friendly servers from the server map, and there is a kill switch.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Gaming

A gaming VPN will protect your gaming computer or console from DDoS attacks. If you become the target of a distributed denial of service (DDoS), multiple other devices will attempt to flood your IP address with data to overwhelm your network connection. A VPN server can help to prevent such attacks by absorbing much of the data.

A fast connection speed is also vital for gaming. A high-quality VPN provider will protect your web traffic without significantly affecting your connection speeds. NordVPN and ExpressVPN are two of the fastest VPNs on the market, making them great options for online gamers.

If you travel for business or leisure and want to continue to play your favorite games abroad, a VPN provider will enable you to do so. Also, some games, updates, or add-ons may not typically be available in your region. However, a VPN connection will enable you to connect to an overseas IP address, making it appear as if your activity originates in a different country, enabling access to a host of geo-restricted games, updates, new releases, and skins.

Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer excellent VPN options for gamers thanks to fast connection speeds and a wide range of secure VPN servers.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Customer Support

Even technological experts may run into issues when using VPN services since there is a lot to go awry. This means that having a reliable support service is extremely important and can be the difference between resolving a problem in a few minutes and unsubscribing from the provider.

ExpressVPN offers a long list of troubleshooting articles that are easy to navigate through. The guides themselves include little technical language, meaning they are useful even for a beginner VPN user.

Although NordVPN offers a similar list of support guides, it is not easy to access as ExpressVPN’s version. However, as soon as you have found the relevant guide, the information is structured well and helpful.

Both providers offer email and 24/7 live chat support.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which is The Best?

Although ExpressVPN and NordVPN are extremely similar VPN providers, both offer unique benefits and disadvantages. However, with everything considered, ExpressVPN does come out on top.

NordVPN remains one of the best VPN providers, and it does offer a powerful VPN an excellent user experience, but ExpressVPN is a slightly stronger choice. When it comes to its apps, privacy features, unblocking capabilities, and user experience, ExpressVPN is the complete package and worth the additional investment if you can afford to pay it.

Author Cliff Durward

Hi, I'm Cliff. I'm based in Cleveland, Ohio, with my wife and two kids. I have a keen interest in cybersecurity and have been writing about it for around a decade now. Due to my background in computer science, I am familiar ...
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PrivacySharks » Best VPN Services 2021: What You Need To Know » VPN Comparison » ExpressVPN vs NordVPN
Last updated: July 16, 2021