In-Depth Comparison Between ExpressVPN vs NordVPN

Last updated on September 11, 2019 Views: 547 Comments: 10

Virtual private networks are essential if you need completely unrestricted access to the internet and want total protection. Most VPNs can accomplish as much, but it takes some effort to find a VPN that best suits your unique browsing habits, and offers a wide array of benefits at the same time. It often helps to narrow your list to the top entries and compare them, judging each on a feature-by-feature basis.

Today, we are looking at two of the top VPN providers on the market, ExpressVPN and NordVPN, to see how they stack up against each other.

Our overall winner is ExpressVPN. Read on to see the breakdown of how each provider measures up.

 visit expressvpn
Visite nordvpn Site
PerformanceWinner
Loser
FeaturesWinner
Loser
Security & PrivacyWinner
Loser
Customer Support
Tie
Tie
PricingLoser
Winner
In this article

Performance

NordVPN Servers

Performance is a key indicator of the quality of any VPN. To review a VPN’s performance means rating how well a VPN provider allows a user to access any content on the internet. This access needs to come with a connection speed that behaves as it would without the added layer of a VPN in place.

For browsing the web, watching videos, and more, a VPN provider’s performance is heavily reliant on how many servers there are in the world and the strength of the connection between them. Quite simply, the more servers a VPN provider has, the better. Plus the more locations that those servers are in, the better.

 visit expressvpn
Visite nordvpn Site
Number of Countries94
62
Number of Servers+2000
5244

ExpressVPN has over +2000 servers for customers to connect to in over 94 countries. NordVPN has more servers at around 5244
but these are within a smaller number of jurisdictions—only 62 countries. Both companies therefore have a large server network and importantly, neither ExpressVPN nor NordVPN throttles or limits user connection speed. Additionally, users with mobile devices can also enjoy both ExpressVPN and NordVPN. However, while ExpressVPN allows 3 simultaneous connections, NordVPN generously offers 6.

However, in terms of bandwidth speed on the two large private networks, ExpressVPN emerged as the winner by a slight margin.

Overall Winner: ExpressVPN

Features

Both VPN providers are highly capable and offer a broad range of features. However, when a deep investigation into the advanced features of both providers is considered, ExpressVPN comes out on top. Here’s why:

 Winner
Available Streaming ServicesExpressVPN
Mobile AppsExpressVPN
ProtocolsExpressVPN
Split TunnelingExpressVPN
Kill SwitchExpressVPN
Multi-HopNordVPN

Available Streaming Services

One of the main reasons that anyone uses a VPN is to access TV shows, movies, and music offered by streaming services that restrict customers based on their location. The best streaming platforms are often inaccessible to subscribers who are abroad, and the full selection of content is limited by geography. Accordingly, people look to quality VPN services like ExpressVPN and NordVPN to unblock geo-restricted access. ExpressVPN is the better at doing so with confirmed access to the following streaming services  Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, HBO Go, BBC’s iPlayer and more.

ExpressVPN Unblock

NordVPN also skirts the restrictions that these services have installed but suffered from a few minor hiccups during our extensive trials. For watching single episodes of TV shows, occasional server interruptions are not too frustrating. However, in the day and age where users binge-watch box sets or view an entire film, buffering and freezing is the ultimate annoyance.
Winner: ExpressVPN

Mobile Apps

It’s important to be protected by your VPN no matter where you are, or which device you’re using. Roaming around and using notoriously unsecure public Wi-Fi networks gives you even greater exposure to risk, so this becomes even more crucial. Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN provide mobile VPN applications for customers whose phones are central to their browsing experience, no matter if they’re iOS or Android. ExpressVPN’s is slightly easier and quicker to use, however, regardless of which software you employ it on.
Winner: ExpressVPN

Protocols

The best VPNs allow advanced users who want more control to customize and choose how they use their VPN software. This means using a variety of different access and protection protocols that can alter one’s level of encryption or optimize an internet connection.

ExpressVPN customers can use the OpenVPN, IPSec/L2TP, and PPTP protocols, while NordVPN adds IPSec/IKEv2 functionality on top of the others. Base level users need not fret over the negligible differences between the two as it’s only the most tech-savvy that will make use of this distinction. However, expert users tend to choose OpenVPN protocols over all others, making ExpressVPN the winner in this case
Winner: ExpressVPN

Split Tunneling

Being able to use your VPN with multiple devices is a must-have with any modern service, because almost everyone has more than one place that they do their browsing. But what about managing multiple connections on a single device? While browsing on your laptop at home, you might want to maintain an uninterrupted local network connection while also browsing other content from safety. This is widely known as split tunneling.

ExpressVPN grants their subscribers the ability to “split tunnel” their traffic, effectively separating which portions of their traffic they want routed and which they don’t. Unfortunately, however, NordVPN does not offer such capabilities.
Winner: ExpressVPN

Kill Switch

If for any reason VPN coverage should momentarily waver, a kill switch feature is useful for ensuring that the applications you’re using don’t reveal your IP or other sensitive information.

While both ExpressVPN and NordVPN have kill switches, ExpressVPN’s is slightly more convenient and protective. It blocks internet traffic entirely if the VPN goes down while NordVPN does not block traffic but instead closes applications that were using previously using the VPN. The distinction is small but can make a difference.

Effective as both methods are, in the case of consecutive outages, it might be frustrating for your applications to close multiple times instead of the internet simply going down.
Winner: ExpressVPN

Multi-Hop

For users that want an extra layer of privacy or have specific geolocation preferences, the ability to multi-hop, or route traffic through a chain of two (or more) servers, is quite useful. It might not be a deal breaker for most, but it can come in handy for specialized customers. ExpressVPN doesn’t offer this feature but NordVPN does.
Winner: ExpressVPN

Security & Privacy

ExpressVPN DNS Leak

One major reason people turn to VPNs is to increase their security and privacy while online. Thus, a high degree of protection while browsing is required from the best VPN services.

To protect against unwarranted exposure of your personal browsing data, and to get uninterrupted access to content, ExpressVPN and NordVPN both encompass some of the most important security features. For instance, both include kill switches and AES 256-bit encryption while maintaining no logs of user activity. We like to see all of these security features offered as standard, yet not all VPN providers do.

In terms of NordVPN versus ExpressVPN, NordVPN initially seems more secure. However, due to the presence of multi-hop functionality and VPN over TOR, its kill switch is not quite as efficient as ExpressVPN’s. This is because, by shutting down active applications instead of blocking internet traffic when you lose VPN service, it leaves room for error. This method is ultimately somewhat inconvenient, as a user must reopen all their lost windows.
Overall Winner: ExpressVPN

Customer Support

A quality VPN’s customer service representatives should be available, knowledgeable, and friendly. As to be expected from two of the best VPN providers on the market, those working in customer service at ExpressVPN and NordVPN are all of these things.

If you need assistance learning a new feature or are having trouble setting up your VPN just right, ExpressVPN and NordVPN representatives are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We appreciate that one can start a conversation immediately via live chat with either service although email is always an option as well. Moreover, those with basic questions can simply refer to the knowledge base or FAQ sections on both websites.
Overall Winner: Tie

Unlocking Capabilities

When it comes to accessing all your favorite streaming platforms, the question on everyone’s lips when it comes to ExpressVPN VS NordVPN is who does it better? The answer is that they’re pretty much on the same page, with ExpressVPN just taking the win due to it having more options in terms of Netflix. Let’s take a closer look.

ExpressVPN has access to the following:

  • Netflix: US, Canada, UK, Australia, India, France, Germany, Hong Kong and more
  • Hulu: the US and Japan
  • Sky Go
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • BBC iPlayer
  • ABC
  • CBS
  • NBC
  • ITV
  • Channel 4

NordVPN has access to the following:

  • Netflix: US, Canada, UK, Australia, the Netherlands, and Japan
  • Hulu: the US and Japan
  • Sky Go
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • BBC iPlayer
  • ABC
  • CBS
  • NBC
  • ITV
  • Channel 4

As you can see they’re very close in terms of who has better access, but those who wish to access a wider variety of international Netflix libraries will want to choose ExpressVPN.

Overall Winner: ExpressVPN

Setup and Interface

ExpressVPN Setup

When it comes to setting up your VPN, both of these options will be very simple in terms of getting the ball rolling. Just by heading over to the ExpressVPN or NordVPN website, you will find the various plans available and from there you can fill out your billing information and download the software.

When it comes to the interface the two couldn’t be more different, with ExpressVPN going for a more minimalist design while NordVPN has a cool control-style feel to it with a map of the world taking up a majority of the interface. It’s hard to pick a winner in this section of the ExpressVPN VS NordVPN battle as it all depends on user preference.

If you are a beginner or not too familiar with VPN services in general, ExpressVPN will probably be the better option for you. On the other hand, if you fancy yourself somewhat of a technical expert you will enjoy all the bells and whistles that come with NordVPN. They’re there with ExpressVPN too, but just not in your face as much.

Overall Winner: ExpressVPN

Configuration

In terms of configuration both NordVPN and ExpressVPN have military grade OpenVPN encryption, but when it comes to cloaking technology ExpressVPN utilizes cipher block chaining whilst NordVPN uses Obsfproxy.

Encryption is slightly better from ExpressVPN because it uses a longer key. Both of these services have the same security features found within their respective apps which will keep your IP address from being discoverable and both also have a kill switch which will stop your internet connection as soon as your VPN connection fails.

In saying that, NordVPN offers users an overall kill switch as well as a selective kill switch which works on a per-app basis. Whilst ExpressVPN doesn’t have this, it does offer split tunneling which lets you choose which apps will use VPN protection and which can bypass it altogether.

Those in need of a private or static IP address for a website, cloud storage system or gaming server will be able to purchase one for an added fee from NordVPN, but ExpressVPN doesn’t offer one at all. These IP addresses are located in various countries around the world including the Netherlands, UK, USA or Germany.

If you believe you need extra DDoS protection you can get that from NordVPN, but once again ExpressVPN will not be able to provide that for its users. When it comes to ExpressVPN VS NordVPN for configuration, NordVPN slightly takes the lead.

Overall Winner: NordVPN

Speed Test    

ExpressVPN Speed Test

 

If we’re talking speed it should be noted that both of these options are considered fast and speed tests will vary on your internet connection, router, computer as well as your location. On the ExpressVPN website, you can find out everything you need to know about speed tests and how to launch them. It also explains there that the higher your speed index as well as your download speed and the lower your latency, the better. There are ways to improve your VPN connection speed which are discussed on both websites, but when it comes to speed in general, ExpressVPN takes the cake.

Overall Winner: ExpressVPN

Pricing

While it’s possible to find free VPN services on the internet, these are often the most bare-bones services. Ultimately, they’re not worth using as they often put users at risk by leaving out important features.

At first glance, the price between ExpressVPN and NordVPN leave no doubts about which is more economical. ExpressVPN is pricier at $12.95 for a single month of service, $9.99 per month for 6 months of service (total $59.95), or $8.32 per month for a full year’s subscription (total $99.95). Their current popular offer saves you 49% off their regular monthly price at $6.67/mo for 12 months + 3 months FREE of charge.

By contrast, a single month with NordVPN comes with a price tag of $11.95, $6.99 per month for a 1-year plan (total $83.88), and $3.99 for a 2-year plan (total $95.75). In fact, users can even gain access to NordVPN through a three year plan that costs $2.99 a month or $107.55 every three years.

Pricing Summary:

  • ExpressVPN: As low as $6.67
  • NordVPN: As low as $2.99

Both services offer a 30-day money-back guarantee and the ability to pay in bitcoin, so one can effectively try out the full array of features and still receive a rebate if they aren’t satisfied.
Overall Winner: NordVPN

The Winner: ExpressVPN

It’s possible to argue for either service in the battle of NordVPN vs ExpressVPN, as they both have a strong selection of features with pros and cons in different areas. Despite the tough choice, ExpressVPN emerges ahead due to the greater value it delivers per dollar. For a little more money, customers will enjoy a lightning fast connection and fewer interruptions. Plus its technology in key areas is better. Its kill switch is a prime example as it blocks an internet connection instead of applications and multi-hop functionality.

All that being said, NordVPN has its strengths as well and it may well suit some people better. For example, there is no denying it is still extremely strong in the security department thanks to its many features that offer protection and convenience. Plus, it is ultimately that little bit cheaper, which may appeal to the savings-oriented web browser.

Article comments

10 comments
Paul says:

I’m totally agree that expressvpn is a 100% winner when it comes to streaming, features, servers (though nord has now more than 5000) in comparison with nordvpn but I still see complaints from time to time regarding netflix issues on different forums. Some say that it is weird due to the wrong setup of expressvpn. I contacted expressvpn support and they admit that the issue can take place if you are trying to connect to servers different from US location. If you face a similar issue I may recommend you to check Google, there are plenty workarounds and tips why you can face and resolve this issue, one really helpful I have found https://www.vpnhint.com/blog/expressvpn-netflix-not-working/

Lola Olsen says:

Hi Paul,
Thanks so much for reading and for the helpful information about ExpressVPN.

Andy C says:

Need to give ExpressVPN a try, I keep hearing good things about their speeds.

Brian Farmer says:

Used ExpressVPN for years with no problems. Good speeds and very very reliable. Split tunnel is very useful for work projects and surfing the net at home & customer service is always helpful with config questions. However, I am interested in the NordVPN multi-hop feature. After reading some very positive reviews about Tor, I wonder why you have still deemed ExpressVPN better? Is it worth switching or should I just stay with my current VPN plan?

Thanks,
Brian

ST Editor says:

Hi, and thanks for the thoughtful question! We recommend ExpressVPN as our top choice because of the overall combination of security, browsing speeds, and features it offers. However, we do understand that different users have different requirements, and VPNs provide unique tools that make them more appealing to you. In the end, we feel that ExpressVPN provides better security and speeds for most users, as well as a broad selection of servers and locations. However, NordVPN is a great provider if you are more concerned with your privacy and anonymity, especially when combined with Tor. If you are looking to enhance your privacy and customizability, NordVPN may be an intriguing option. Let us know which route you end up taking!

Michelle says:

I have NordVPN right now and I’m not entirely happy. The main reason I chose it was the ‘no log’ policy beat ExpressVPNs connection logs. But, speed is really an issue with Nord, and I’ve been experiencing issues with Nord not giving me access to sites I thought I’d have. Unfortunately, I’m in a contract but when it’s up, ExpressVPN is worth the extra money.

Christopher says:

I use ExpressVPN even though of price because protections are more stronger than others I see. I think better because turn off when connection go away I feel good and more safer to. I hope are agreeing others! Thanks for informations!

Simon says:

I think the informations you have on NordVPN are not entirely up to date because Nord VPN does have a kill switch that shuts down internet and not only applications. They improved their service a lot in 2017, they have onion over vpn and with the 6 simultaneous devices, i think it has more to offer than expressVPN. And in addition to that it’s a lot cheaper, 2,75$ US with a 3 years plan.

ST Editor says:

Hi Simon, Thanks for your comment. On NordVPN’s website, they currently say they are working on updating the VPN. It says: “However, we are on the way to improve our Kill Switch feature, so it could terminate the Internet connection on the system level instead of shutting down the apps.” Once their kill switch is updated, we will update this as well as their review on the site. We are excited to see what NordVPN comes up with in 2018.

Michelle Catnip says:

good review, I am glad I already have one. I am using public wifi very often so it is must have in my case. I was surprised with cyber sec it seems to be better than ad block itself.