ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN: Which of these two titans is better?

ExpressVPN NordVPN comparison

To help you choose between ExpressVPN and NordVPN, we’ve done an in-depth 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 shows you the winner for each category:

  • Security: NordVPN
  • Speed: ExpressVPN
  • Privacy: ExpressVPN
  • Price: NordVPN
  • Ease of use: Tie
  • User Support: ExpressVPN

As you can see, the two providers are on par, although ExpressVPN ends up standing out.

Read on for more specific information on these two providers.

We have decided to compare NordVPN and ExpressVPN as they are two of the most popular VPN providers. In which categories are ExpressVPN ahead, typically, and in which categories are NordVPN beating ExpressVPN? Below you will find our comparison of these two providers regarding their security, speed, ease of use, privacy policies (e.g. if they keep logs) and functionality. 

We will also discuss the specific characteristics of both VPNs, such as the ability to access movies from the library of the North American version of Netflix or the use of VPN in countries with repressive regimes.

ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN: Functionality, Features, and Other Options

We will dive into the specifics of VPNs below, the table below provides a summary of the features offered by both providers.

CHARACTERISTICEXPRESSVPNNORDVPN
Servers+3,000 servers in 94 countries+5,500 servers in 59 countries
Torrents / P2P Support
Netflix
Simultaneous connections56
Operating systemsWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, LinuxWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux
ProtocolsOpenVPN, IKEv2 / IPsec, L2TP / IPsec, Lightway (beta)OpenVPN, IKEv2 / IPsec, NordLynx (WireGuard)
PriceFrom $ 6.67 per monthFrom $ 3.71 a month
Records PolicyNo logsNo logs
Money back guarantee30 days30 days
DNS leak test
Tor over VPN
Obfuscated servers
Double VPN
Dedicated IP
Emergency button
Split tunneling
Ad blocker
Diskless servers
Malicious website blocker
Custom DNS option
Link to the webGo to ExpressVPNGo to NordVPN

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

  • Servers: Shows how many servers each VPN provider has at their disposal. An advantage of having many servers is that the provider can guarantee better stability and speed, as the number of users can be better distributed.
  • Support for Torrents / P2P: Specify if torrents can be downloaded / exchanged using the particular network of the VPN provider.
  • Netflix / Streaming: Indicates if you can access Netflix with the specified VPN provider (especially Netflix America).
  • Simultaneous connections: Specify how many simultaneous VPN connections you can have per subscription.
  • Operating systems: Indicates which operating systems the VPN is compatible with.
  • Protocols: Shows which encryption protocols each VPN supports. You can learn more about the encryption protocols here.
  • Price: Provides information regarding the cheapest price for a monthly subscription for each VPN.
  • Logs policy: Indicates if a specific VPN keeps track of your sensitive / private data.
  • Money-back guarantee: Shows the period within which you can request a refund from the VPN provider. This period may differ for a single month subscription from the VPN provider.
  • DNS leak test: Indicates whether the VPN provider provides a separate DNS leak test.
  • Tor on VPN: Specifies whether the Tor browser works properly on the VPN provider’s servers. This browser can be used to access the dark web.
  • Obfuscated Servers: Indicates whether each VPN provider provides obfuscated servers. These are servers that can be used to access the Internet even from countries with the most repressive regimes.
  • Double VPN: Indicates if a VPN has “Double VPN” servers. These are servers that connect to not one but two VPN servers at the same time.
  • Dedicated IP: Specifies if the VPN in question offers dedicated IP addresses. You can read more about dedicated IPs here.
  • Emergency button: indicates if a specific VPN has an emergency button. It stops your internet traffic if the VPN stops working while you are using it.
  • Split Tunneling: Indicates whether a VPN allows split tunnelling. This is an option that allows you to specify what traffic you want to go through the VPN and what not.
  • Ad blocker : Allows you to determine if a VPN has its own ad blocker.
  • Diskless Servers: Indicates whether the VPN uses diskless servers, for example servers that do not store data. This is a good and particular method to protect a server from hackers.
  • Malicious website blocker: Specifies if the VPN offers the additional feature of blocking dangerous websites.
  • Custom DNS option: Indicates if the VPN allows you to configure your own DNS records (this is especially interesting for advanced users).

ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN: Which is more secure?

The security that a provider can provide depends on a combination of several features, for example the protocols it offers, the type of servers used, and whether it provides any additional functions such as online follower blocking and the like. Below you will find a summary of the additional security features of both providers.

  • ExpressVPN supports the OpenVPN protocols with UDP or TCP, as well as L2TP / IPSec and PPTP. We don’t recommend using L2TP, but. Even ExpressVPN recommends only using this protocol to change your location (for example, to view Netflix America’s library). The security benefits of this protocol are very limited. NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer a protocol that is still in the testing phase: NordLynx (NordVPN) and Lightway (ExpressVPN). In the future, these protocols may replace OpenVPN, but for now, we recommend continuing with OpenVPN.
  • Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN use 256-bit encryption and both have an emergency button in case the VPN connection unexpectedly drops. However, NordVPN uses an additional NAT firewall on their servers, which is definitely a bonus. ExpressVPN doesn’t use this, or at least it doesn’t seem like it does, from what we can tell by looking through their website and their own VPN app.
  • NordVPN also offers Onion for VPN (e.g. a connection via the Tor network), dedicated IP, and a double VPN, which simply means that you are redirected through two servers. Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN have the option of split tunnelling, which is the selective use of VPN connections for certain applications.
  • Also, both VPNs support obfsproxy, which is a Tor technique that prevents deep packet inspection. Obfsproxy hides the fact that you are using a VPN connection, which means that you can use that VPN in countries where VPN use is blocked, such as China and Turkey. Additionally, NordVPN offers extra protection against IP address leaks. In short, NordVPN beats ExpressVPN, due to the additional security features it offers.

Most secure VPN: NordVPN

VPN Provider vs Provider Winner Safety Banner NordVPN

ExpressVPN or NordVPN: Which is the fastest?

To compare the speed of these two VPNs, we have run speed tests on both VPNs. However, first, we have tested our own internet connection without a VPN to establish a base speed. The results can be seen in the following screenshot.

IMAGE SPEED TEST WITHOUT VPN

Then we have tried local and international servers belonging to NordVPN and ExpressVPN. The results can be seen in the table below, with the “winning” speed in bold.

SPEED ​​METRICEXPRESSVPNNORDVPN
Download speed on local server (in Mbps)322.38257.20
Upload speed on local server (in Mbps)171.11388.64
Ping on local server8 ms9 ms
Download speed in international server (in Mbps)139.68146.64
Upload speed on international server (in Mbps)26.9727.24
Ping on international server114 ms78 ms

The test results show that during daily use both VPN providers work flawlessly. So, no matter which provider you choose in terms of daily use, their speeds, in both cases, are good. 

However, if you are connected to a local VPN server and regularly download intensive, or want to stream content without waiting, ExpressVPN tops the list, as it clearly works best when connecting to a local server. When connecting to international servers, the difference in download speed is negligible between the two providers.

Fastest VPN: ExpressVPN

WINNER >

VPN Provider vs Provider Winner Speed Banner ExpressVPN

How do ExpressVPN and NordVPN handle your data?

In addition to the security of third-party data, the internal policy of the VPN provider is of course also important. If the provider keeps logs, the VPN connection is probably very secure, but your data could end up in the hands of others. How do ExpressVPN and NordVPN handle data?

ExpressVPN

  • It is immediately clear that ExpressVPN does not keep logs. The company operates from the British Virgin Islands, where they have extremely strict privacy laws.
  • It uses TrustedServers, which are servers where data is not permanently stored as it is on “diskless” servers. Even if the provider wanted to keep records, this is not possible with these types of servers.

NordVPN

  • In principle, the same applies to NordVPN as it does to ExpressVPN, except that NordVPN operates from Panama rather than the British Virgin Islands. For the rest, NordVPN is comparable to ExpressVPN.
  • NordVPN is actively trying to get over the bad old press. For example, in 2018 the story circulated that the VPN used to be involved with data mining, so NordVPN conducted an independent audit of their systems to disprove that rumour that they were plaguing them. Once again, the audit 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 no longer in use, and NordVPN no longer collaborates with the data centre that contained the hacked server.
  • NordVPN also uses diskless RAM servers. These servers need to retrieve any required information from a secure central infrastructure. Therefore, diskless VPN servers only act as a kind of conduit.

On the one hand, we can argue that ExpressVPN is the one with the better privacy of the two, as they have never had to grapple with a scandal the way NordVPN has. On the other hand, it could also be argued that ExpressVPN has never been “really” tested by hackers. 

Consequently, theoretically, we cannot categorically say that ExpressVPN keeps logs or not. However, at AllThingsVPN we continue to give ExpressVPN the upper hand, as NordVPN has had to deal with a hacked server, whereas ExpressVPN has not.

Privacy winner : ExpressVPN

VPN Provider vs Provider Winner Privacy Banner ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN: Which provider will do the least damage to your piggy bank?

As we can see from the table below, the cost of a monthly NordVPN subscription is cheaper than that of ExpressVPN. Also, both providers offer discounts almost continuously, probably for marketing reasons.

However, there is something to note about the prices listed below. The monthly price of the cheapest NordVPN subscription is only available if you choose a two-year subscription, which is quite a long time.

SUBSCRIPTIONEXPRESSVPNNORDVPN
1 month$ 12.95$ 11.95
6 months$ 9.99
Annual plan$ 4.92
15 month plan$ 6.67
2 year plan$ 3.71

Please note : We try to keep this table up to date, but actual prices may vary from day to day. Always visit the VPN’s website to find out the current price of a subscription.

The Price Winner: 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 strike a good balance between ease of use and the number of options they provide to users. What’s more, both the web and the software of the two providers are clean and do not add unnecessary complexity. Still, there are a few differences in usability that we’d like to discuss in more detail below.

Installation process

When we test VPN apps, we always look at the installation process. Concerning ExpressVPN and NordVPN, the only thing that can be said is that both providers are easy to install. After you download the apps, the installation process is self-explanatory.

Do you want to know exactly how the installation processes of both providers work? Well, be sure to read our extensive reviews of ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

Design and intuitiveness

As soon as you open the VPN software, you can immediately see clear differences between the layout of the two home screens. NordVPN displays more information on the screen, while ExpressVPN opts for something more minimalist by displaying a connect button as the central element.

Both home screens have their advantages and disadvantages. It may seem a bit confusing for NordVPN to show us a map of Europe where we can choose servers, while you can also choose servers from a list on the left side of the screen. In our opinion, ExpressVPN has a clearer overview of the servers that you can connect to, quickly.

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

Below, you can see screenshots of the ExpressVPN and NordVPN home screens.

Screenshots ExpressVPN and NordVPN Software

Ease of Use Winner : Tie

VPN Provider vs Provider Ease of Use Banner Tie

User support: How is the customer support?

In addition to the ease of use of the providers’ websites and software, customer service is also an important factor in this tight race. The results of what we have found can be seen below:

  • ExpressVPN and NordVPN have a human answering your questions and not an automated bot.
  • Getting answers to questions in a language other than English is not possible at either provider.
  • NordVPN only connects you to an employee after you’ve first asked a bot the question. At ExpressVPN, the chat immediately connected us with an employee.
  • On NordVPN, at first, it seemed like they were referring us to a generic blog post. This ended up getting additional information. However, the information was not very helpful.
  • Both the NordVPN and ExpressVPN websites have a support centre that can answer many of your questions more or less quickly.

In short, ExpressVPN has an advantage thanks to its live chat. NordVPN still does well, but slightly less than ExpressVPN.

Customer Support Winner: ExpressVPN

VPN Provider vs Provider Winner Customer Service Banner ExpressVPN

Our Final Verdict: Will ExpressVPN or NordVPN Win?

In this article, we have compared a list of features, which have turned out to show that ExpressVPN and NordVPN are two excellent providers that do not differ much from each other. But one provider was always a little ahead in each category, which can make a significant difference for some users.

The following list provides a summary that shows at a glance which vendor has won in each category:

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

As far as we’re concerned, ExpressVPN remains the number one provider out of all the VPNs we’ve tested so far. This is not because NordVPN is so inferior to ExpressVPN, but simply because ExpressVPN is ideal for the average user. 

For advanced users it is another story. Security devotees will feel more comfortable with NordVPN, as this provider offers greater security options. If you are interested in one of these two providers, then use the appropriate box that you can find below to go to the provider’s website.

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