ExpressVPN – Robust, Secure And So Very Easy To Use

in Security

Five years ago virtual private networks were almost an arcane black art, tantamount to throwing chicken giblets at the wall and interpreting the patterns. Nowadays, they are as important to online security and privacy as anti-virus programs. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, online hacking has become an almost daily risk. OK, most of the publicised hacks are large corporations, but small businesses and individuals are as much at risk with password and credit card details being collected by

First, online hacking has become an almost daily risk. OK, most of the publicised hacks are large corporations, but small businesses and individuals are as much at risk with password and credit card details being collected by cyber gangs and sold on the dark web.  Second, even in the neoliberal west, our online privacy and freedoms are being eroded by governments in the name of stopping terrorism.

I have been using VPNs for two or three years and my current service of choice is ExpressVPN. Here’s why.

Previous VPNs

In the past, I have made use of Tunnelbear and, more recently NordVPN. Tunnelbear I raved about because it was so easy to use but as I became more aware of what I needed from a VPN it seemed too simple with little ability to tweak, etc. NordVPN was great until the latest update. For some reason, the connection to the Internet kept cutting out two or three times which required a disconnect and reconnect or, at times, a reboot of the PC. To be fair, tech support have tried their best to resolve this, to no avail.

So, I went sniffing around for a new VPN and, after reading a lot of reviews I put my money on ExpressVPN.

ExpressVPN was formed in 2009 and is one of the largest reputable VPN services in the world and has 145 servers – and counting – across 94 countries.  The service is available on a wide range of platforms including Windows, Mac, IoS, Android and Linux, plus routers and consoles.

ExpressVPN Features

As you would expect from one of the leading providers, the service lists an impressive list of features, including:

  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Unlimited server switches
  • Unlimited speed 99.9% uptime
  • OpenVPN (TCP, UDP), L2TP-IPsec, SSTP, and PPTP protocols
  • Strong encryption
  • Zero logging of your network traffic
  • Servers in more than 94 countries
  • Simultaneous connections on up to 3 devices
  • Round-the-clock customer support by chat or email

If, like me, encryption is a major reason to go down the VPN route, the company’s site states: “ExpressVPN uses AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with 256-bit keys — also known as AES-256. It’s the same encryption standard adopted by the U.S. government and used by security experts worldwide to protect classified information. 256-bit keys means 2256 or 1.1 x 1077 possible combinations. That’s 115, 792, 089, 237, 316, 195, 423, 570, 985, 008, 687, 907, 853, 269, 984, 665, 640, 560, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 combinations! A brute-force attack on a 256-bit keyspace is simply infeasible, even if all the world’s most powerful supercomputers ran for as long as the universe has existed so far, billions and billions of times over.

“That’s 115, 792, 089, 237, 316, 195, 423, 570, 985, 008, 687, 907, 853, 269, 984, 665, 640, 560, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 combinations! A brute-force attack on a 256-bit keyspace is simply infeasible, even if all the world’s most powerful supercomputers ran for as long as the universe has existed so far, billions and billions of times over.

“That’s 115, 792, 089, 237, 316, 195, 423, 570, 985, 008, 687, 907, 853, 269, 984, 665, 640, 560, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 combinations! A brute-force attack on a 256-bit keyspace is simply infeasible, even if all the world’s most powerful supercomputers ran for as long as the universe has existed so far, billions and billions of times over.”

Installation and Operation

Installation is simplicity itself. Download, hit the install button, insert the activation code you are given after you part with your Bitcoins or however you choose to pay and you are up and running. To access the servers you can either go with the Smart Location option which works out the best connection for you or you can have a gentle ramble through the list of servers and plump for the one you want.

One thing I do miss on NordVPN is the server list provides a distance and load details, but Express VPN does provide its own speed test facility which does pretty much the same thing but takes a while to run and provide the information.

ExpressVPN Payment Options

ExpressVPN certainly isn’t the cheapest VPN on the market but you get what you pay for.  You can opt for monthly, six monthly or annual payment options. The latter, as usual, offers the best value for money at just under $100 for 12 months. Importantly,  ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money back option allowing you to give it a thorough test before deciding if this is the service for you.

Installation on my Android devices was equally simple, but there is a downside. Whereas NordVPN allows you to connect six devices simultaneously, with ExpressVPN that is limited to three.  Not a game stopper in my book, but some people might find that limiting if the have a desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone etc.

Conclusion

Having paid for NordVPN I wasn’t particularly happy to have to cough up another $100 for ExpressVPN. But quality isn’t cheap and so far, as disconnects are concerned, the service has been stable and robust. Setup and operation is five star simple but, despiute this, the service is rock solid. A DNS leak test revealed nothing to worry about and an IP address check showed “me” at the other end of the country ad far away from my home IP.

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