Is ExpressVPN or NordVPN better? Here at Comparitech, we have compared the two services and we help you decide which one is right for you. Both VPNs are highly rated, but there are some key differences that may make one better for your needs in 2022, than the other. We’ll examine factors such as price, security features, speed, and customer support to help you make an informed decision. So, let’s get started!
If you can’t pick between ExpressVPN and NordVPN, we recommend NordVPN. Its current discount makes it a great low-cost option with some of the fastest speeds we’ve seen. NordVPN offers top-notch security features and a no-logs policy. ExpressVPN is still a great choice in 2022, though. It’s a little more pricey but also offers a hefty discount when on promotion and works especially well with services like Netflix.
By using meticulous attribute-by-attribute analysis, we can accurately compare these two services. Here’s what we found in our NordVPN vs ExpressVPN comparison:
Summary: ExpressVPN vs NordVPN
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: VPN price comparison
|Subscription periods||1 month||1 month|
|6 months||1 year|
|1 year||2 years|
|Special offer||Three months free with a 1 year subscription||60% discount on the 2-year plan|
|Highest price per month||$12.95||$11.99|
|Lowest price per month||$6.67||$3.29|
|One year price||$99.95 (actually for 15 months)||$59.88|
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||30 days|
Both companies offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. We have tested these and can testify that both providers honor this pledge without asking you to provide a reason or prove why the service doesn’t work for you.
ExpressVPN gives you three months extra free with a one-year term, making it a better deal if you’re looking for an annual plan. NordVPN offers steep discounts on longer subscriptions too. In fact, you can cut the cost to just $3.99 per month if you’re willing to commit to two years of service upfront.
|Operating system apps||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire, select routers||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire|
|Manual install devices||Set-top boxes and certain routers||Certain routers and set-top boxes|
|Split Tunneling||Yes||Windows and Android only|
|Free extras||Smart DNS service. Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari||Smart DNS service. Browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Ad and malware blocker|
ExpressVPN and NordVPN are two of the few VPN services to offer command-line utilities for easy installation on Linux. Both providers also offer native apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire devices.
When it comes to router installation, ExpressVPN beats NordVPN because it has its own easy-to-use custom firmware that greatly simplifies the setup process. That said, NordVPN can be manually installed on a wide range of routers too. It even provides an extensive library of tutorials that explain how to install the VPN on a variety of different firmware.
NordVPN allows one more simultaneous connection than ExpressVPN (six versus five). It’s worth noting that if you install the VPN on a router, this counts as just one connection from your allowance.
NordVPN has an ad-blocker and malware-protection system called CyberSec. This helps keep you safe while browsing and bridges the gap slightly between your VPN and desktop antivirus program. Each service comes with a Smart DNS service too: these allow you to access a handful of streaming services on devices that don’t normally support VPN apps (like games consoles or older Smart TVs).
Streaming & Netflix comparison
|Netflix||Over a dozen libraries including the US, Australia, Japan, and Canada||Over a dozen libraries including the US, the UK, Japan, and Canada|
|Hulu||US, Japan||US, Japan|
When it comes to streaming, both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are certainly up to the challenge. There really aren’t many streaming platforms you can’t securely access with either service, although ExpressVPN has been a little less consistent with BBC iPlayer recently.
Both of these providers work very well with Netflix, and in NordVPN’s case, every server we’ve tested works. However, if your chosen server can’t access a specific library, it will automatically redirect you to the US Netflix library.
If you have a Kodi box, you can use either of these VPNs to get around regional restrictions on TV services. Neither ExpressVPN nor NordVPN has an app that can be installed on a Kodi box, however, they do have setup guides for sharing the VPN connection from a PC or a VPN router.
Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are open about their support for torrenters, so you don’t need to be coy about your activities if you contact customer support with questions about optimizing your setup for P2P traffic.
Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN perform well in China. The main ExpressVPN website is actually blocked by the Chinese government, but the company provides an alternative address for users in China. Just be sure to ask for the addresss before you leave.
ExpressVPN is very aware of the challenges of keeping its service available in China. Although the service works in the People’s Republic, there are sometimes service outages. However, both of these services have a solid record when it comes to getting around newly introduced blocks from the Chinese government.
Setup and interface
|Automatic setup wizard||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Tomato and DD-WRT routers||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux|
|Main location selection||List based||Map based/List-based|
|Extra settings pages||Yes||Yes|
The ExpressVPN app is small and keeps mobile-friendly proportions even when it is used on a PC or Mac. Everything is neatly organized, with the settings and servers each having their own screen. We liked that your most-recently-used server was easily accessible from the main page too, since this saves the hassle of trying to remember, for instance, which server was able to access a particular Netflix library.
The NordVPN main screen shows a map of the world with a marker in each country where the company operates servers. There’s also a list view on the left (or at the bottom of the screen on mobile devices). The server list separates general-purpose servers from those designed for P2P traffic or Tor over VPN connections, so it’s always easy to find exactly what you need.
Servers and performance
Although ExpressVPN has more server locations, NordVPN has the larger network overall. It currently has around 5,000 servers in 60 countries worldwide, whereas ExpressVPN has roughly 3,000 servers in 94 countries.
NordVPN has a server feature that ExpressVPN doesn’t offer, which is VPN chaining (also known as multi-hop VPN or double-hop VPN). This routes your traffic through two servers, encrypting packets twice over. This is an interesting security feature, but it will slow down your connection somewhat. Alternatively, NordVPN allows you to route your data through its servers before passing it through the Tor network.
Here are the countries in which each VPN provider has servers:
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||✔||✔|
|Isle of Man||✔|
|United Arab Emirates||✔|
Based on our latest speed test results, both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are among the top ten fastest providers. There is a pretty substantial difference between the two, though. ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol gave it an average download speed of 135 Mbps. NordVPN was even faster, averaging 369 Mbps thanks to its speedy new NordLynx protocol.
|Website||www.NordVPN.com||Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||460 Mbps||Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||349 Mbps||Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||299 Mbps|
|Best deal (per month)||$3.29|
SAVE 60% + FREE Malware Protection
|Website||www.ExpressVPN.com||Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||472 Mbps||Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||499 Mbps||Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||453 Mbps|
|Best deal (per month)||$6.67|
SAVE: 49% on the annual plan
|VPN protocols||OpenVPN, Lightway, L2TP, IKEv2||OpenVPN, NordLynx|
|OpenVPN data encryption||AES-256||AES-256|
|OpenVPN control channel encryption||RSA-4096||RSA-2048|
|Cloaking technology||Cipher block chaining||Obsfproxy|
|Extra transmission protection||Undisclosed||Double-hop routes|
|Leak protection||DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6||DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6|
|App security||Kill switch (desktop), Threat manager, local traffic blocker, parallel connections feature||Kill switch (desktop and iOS), automatic wifi protection, ad-blocking, malware-scanning|
|DNS status||Private DNS||Private DNS|
Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer multiple VPN protocols to secure your internet traffic. ExpressVPN allows OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP connections, plus it has its own proprietary protocol, Lightway, that blends speed and security. It’s also more lightweight, meaning it should be less taxing on your device’s battery.
NordVPN too, has its own protocol. It’s named NordLynx, and is based on WireGuard, considered by many the next big thing in digital security. NordLynx is easier to audit than OpenVPN and boasts higher speeds, especially if your chosen server is a long distance away.
Both companies use AES encryption with a 256-bit key. This provides cast-iron online security because the cipher is uncrackable. ExpressVPN has a slight advantage in the security that it offers for the control channel. This cipher is used for session establishment and to protect the distribution of AES keys. Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN use RSA encryption for this channel, but ExpressVPN uses a longer key — 4,096 bits against the 2,048-bit key used by NordVPN.
DNS calls are unencrypted, so if a VPN lets your computer carry on using the default DNS service nominated by your Internet Service Provider (ISP), then all of the websites that you visit could be logged by your ISP, hackers, or government spooks tapping the line. Fortunately, both ExpressVPN and NordVPN force all DNS references to travel down their encrypted tunnels, preventing any outsiders from seeing your activity on the web.
Both apps include a kill switch option. This prevents you from accidentally browsing with the VPN disconnected. NordVPN allows you to either use a regular kill switch or one that only affects specific apps. ExpressVPN doesn’t have that per-app option, but it does offer split tunneling across all of its apps. This allows you to nominate apps to bypass the VPN and keep all others protected.
Additionally, You can instruct both apps to start when the operating system boots up, which means that you can set them to run on your computer all of the time. Both companies also scramble the encrypted content of packets to prevent any repeated data creating patterns in the encrypted transmission.
ExpressVPN has recently added two new tools. These are a threat manager, which prevents your other apps from communicating with known tracker sites, and a parallel connections feature that works in the background to get you connected as quickly as possible.
|HQ base||British Virgin Islands||Panama|
|Connection logs||Some aggregated data||No|
|User details for sign up||Email address||Email address|
|Anonymous payment options||Bitcoin||Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple|
Most VPNs say they don’t keep any logs. However, when you dig a little deeper, what they often mean is that they don’t keep any activity logs. An activity log would record every action performed by the user, including websites visited and data downloads. Unfortunately, by tracing a connection from its destination back through to its originator, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies can track you to your door. A VPN makes this more difficult, but if your provider hands over detailed connection logs, it really hasn’t provided you any protection at all.
ExpressVPN stores some aggregated connection logs, but goes out of its way to avoid storing any data that could identify you. Its logs include your account ID, the date (not time) of connections, the location connected to and from, and the total amount of data transferred. The fact that the company does not record your real IP address should make it near-impossible to trace you
NordVPN doesn’t keep any VPN usage logs or connection logs that would identify what the user does while connected however it does collect advertising IDs on mobile for its own use. These can quickly and easily be reset, though, and aren’t a deal-breaker.
This brings up the question of whether it is possible to open an account anonymously. After all, if you need a credit card to open an account, it’s easy to trace you. Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN allow you to pay with cryptocurrencies or a variety of prepaid cards, making it effectively impossible to link your account to you.
|Static IP address possible||No||In France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, or the US|
ExpressVPN and NordVPN use shared address systems. In this scenario, all of your outgoing traffic is labeled with the VPN server’s IP address. Every other user connected to that server at the same time also get represented by the same IP address. Anyone trying to trace activity from the target website back to the originator will arrive at the VPN server and will not be able to tell which VPN customer originated that request.
Shared IP address systems are managed by a system called “port address mapping” (PAT). You may have read about the protection that some VPNs offer with a NAT firewall. This is actually PAT. The address translation system makes it impossible to identify an IP address behind the gateway and this automatically creates a firewall. NordVPN uses a NAT firewall while ExpressVPN uses a port-blocking method to provide similar protection.
In some circumstances, you may need your own private IP address. This is particularly important if you want to accept incoming connections. In this instance, the NAT firewall will not apply to your connection. You would need a private, or ‘static,’ IP address if you want to set up your own server. This might be for your own website, for a gaming server, or to create your own cloud data storage system.
You can’t get a static IP address from ExpressVPN. However, NordVPN offers these for an extra $70 USD per year. You can choose to have an IP address from the UK, the USA, the Netherlands, France, or Germany. It doesn’t matter where you live or where you actually are.
|Average email support response time||49 mins||3 hours, 45 mins|
|Searchable Knowledge Base||Yes||Yes|
ExpressVPN and NordVPN are industry leaders in customer support. Both have a live chat facility on their websites staffed with knowledgeable experts. There’s also a searchable knowledge base, ticket systems, and a dedicated support email address.
So how responsive are these providers? ExpressVPN and NordVPN both replied to emails quickly. ExpressVPN did fumble a bit on one seemingly straightforward question about DNS leaks by providing a lot of information about the topic without actually answering our question. However, upon follow-up, the question was answered promptly.
On this occasion, ExpressVPN had the best average response time (1 hour 40 mins compared to NordVPN’s 3 hours, 24 mins). Here are the results from asking each team three questions.
|Question||Initial response time||Number of emails||Question answered|
|Does ExpressVPN unblock Netflix UK?||1 hour 24 mins||1||Yes|
|Is there protection against DNS leaks?||2 hours 29 mins||2||Yes|
|If I pay with bitcoin, will I be billed automatically at the end of a cycle?||1 hour 8 mins||1||Yes|
|Question||Initial response time||Number of emails||Question answered|
|Can NordVPN unblock Netflix UK?||1 hour 24 mins||1||Yes|
|Is there protection against DNS leaks?||3 hour 49 mins||1||Yes|
|If I pay with bitcoin, will I be billed automatically at the end of a cycle?||4 hours 59 mins||1||Yes|
The winner: NordVPN
ExpressVPN is a fantastically versatile service that outperforms most of its rivals when it comes to speed and accessing regional Netflix libraries. It’s strong on privacy too, and we still think it’s an excellent choice for those who don’t mind spending a little more each month.
Ultimately, though, NordVPN is the better option. It’s almost as fast, has more servers to choose from, and provides more control over your security setup than ExpressVPN does. It’s a solid choice for streaming too, thanks to its strong unblocking ability and dedicated IP address option.
Comparing ExpressVPN and NordVPN: our methodology
As two of our top-ranking VPNs, ExpressVPN and NordVPN both have plenty to offer. However, in order to help you make a decision, we had to compare and contrast these two services in multiple areas. Below, you can read a little more about the methodology we used:
- Server networks: One of the first things we look at is a VPN’s server network. ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer thousands of servers that are spread across dozens of countries. The larger the server network, the more content you’ll be able to access and the more likely you’ll find a server close to your physical location.
- Speed: We know that you may wish to use your VPN for streaming and torrenting. With this in mind, we carry out speed tests on VPN servers across various locations. This provides us with a better picture of a VPN’s speeds. In the case of ExpressVPN and NordVPN, they’re among the fastest VPNs we’ve tested.
- Unblocking: Not all VPNs are adept at bypassing restrictions. To assess the unblocking abilities of ExpressVPN and NordVPN, we test them against a wide range of websites and services. This includes popular streaming services including Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+.
- Security: It’s only by using a VPN for ourselves that we can get a good sense of the kind of security it provides (this must include high-end encryption!). This hands-on experience combined with DNS and IP leak tests ensures we only recommend those VPNs which will keep you safe online.
- Privacy: Any reputable VPN provider will operate a strict no-logs policy to protect your privacy. This is certainly the case for ExpressVPN and NordVPN. Having looked at over 140 VPN logging policies, we know how they compare. We also look for other privacy features such as the option to pay in Bitcoin.
- Ease of use: We have reviewed dozens of VPNs and tested their apps for ourselves. The good news is that ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer particularly user-friendly apps for a wide range of operating systems. Our tests even include contacting live chat and email support to measure response times and quality of replies.
- Value for money: It’s important to take all of the above into consideration when looking at a VPN’s subscription plans and pricing. There should be a money-back guarantee of at least 30 days (we test this for ourselves to ensure it’s truly risk-free). Last but not least, discount coupons are provided so you can save a little extra.
If you’d like to know more about the specific tests we run on VPNs like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, take a look at our VPN testing methodology which goes into further detail.
NordVPN or ExpressVPN FAQs
Does NordVPN run obfuscated servers?
NordVPN allows its users to access special obfuscated servers for even greater online anonymity. Better still, this functionality is built into all of its apps, so you can browse safely regardless of which device you’re using. If you’d like to start using these obfuscated servers, you can find setup guides for each operating system in NordVPN’s knowledge base.
What works better on a game console - NordVPN or ExpressVPN?
First things first: since Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch and the other major games consoles don't currently offer a NordVPN or ExpressVPN app, you’ll have to install the VPN directly on your router. ExpressVPN offers custom firmware for this exact purpose that greatly simplifies the process. Alternatively, if you just want to unblock geo-restricted apps and services, you can take advantage of either VPN’s Smart DNS feature.
There’s no definitive answer to which is better; it all depends on your needs. Both providers put your security and privacy first, so whichever you choose, you can game and stream with total peace of mind.
Has ExpressVPN ever been hacked?
Theoretically, any piece of software can be hacked if the attacker is determined enough. That said, ExpressVPN hasn’t had any data breaches, leaks, or privacy scandals. Here’s something that might reassure you: this VPN doesn’t log any identifiable data. This means that even if it was hacked, your privacy would remain intact since there’d be no way to tell which user accessed which site.
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN, which one is winning more customers?
This is difficult to accurately say, since neither provider publishes user data. However, ExpressVPN has around 260,000 downloads on the Google Play Store, plus a further 188,000 on the Apple Store. Meanwhile, NordVPN has closer to 560,000 on Google Play, and signficantly fewer in the Apple Store.
There are a couple of problems with this method. First, it doesn’t account for Windows, MacOS, or Linux users. Second, it’s possible some users are installing the service multiple times across all of their devices. However, NordVPN only allows one more simultaneous connection than ExpressVPN, so this is unlikely to be solely responsible for the higher number of installs. In other words, it appears that on mobile devices at least, NordVPN is more popular.
Which one has the easiest to use VPN apps?
Here’s the good news: whether you choose ExpressVPN or NordVPN, you’ll be presented with a neat, easy to use app. Neither is especially difficult to use, and each has its advantages over the other. For instance, ExpressVPN has browser extensions that let you control the main app right from your browser. NordVPN, on the other hand, lets you connect to any server (including its special, privacy-optimized ones) without ever leaving the main screen. Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference, but there’s really no wrong choice.
Which is better for Android TV, ExpressVPN or NordVPN?
Realistically, both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are solid choices for Android TV. Which is better really depends on your needs. Are you on a slow connection and looking for a VPN that has minimal impact? If so, ExpressVPN might be the better option. On the other hand, if you’re interested in unblocking geo-restricted streaming services, NordVPN works more consistently.
Still having trouble deciding? Don’t worry: both services offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. This means you can try them for yourself before committing to one or the other.
Which VPN is better for the dark web NordVPN or ExpressVPN?
ExpressVPN is an excellent choice for day-to-day browsing but if you’re thinking about dipping a toe into the dark web, we’d recommend using NordVPN instead. This service is almost as fast as its rival, plus it has a better selection of privacy features.
NordVPN’s star feature is its specially-optimized Onion over VPN servers. These remove the need for you to use the Tor browser at all, and they encrypt your traffic, adding another layer of protection on top.
How well do NordVPN and ExpressVPN handle your data?
It’s often difficult to tell whether a VPN is true to its word when it claims that it keeps no logs. However, NordVPN seems to be in the clear, since it’s regularly audited by an independent third party to prove this. The only data this service stores is your email address and payment information, and none of this can be linked to your online activities (unless you enter it into one of the websites you’re visiting).
ExpressVPN offers a similar level of privacy, although it does log some data for troubleshooting and optimization purposes. This includes the date (but not time) you connect, the server you use, total bandwidth used in a 24-hour period, and the country you’re in when you connect. By itself, this data can’t identify you.
Additionally, both providers accept Bitcoin and use RAM-only servers. This gives you a way to sign up anonymously and ensures that all saved information is deleted whenever the servers are rebooted. In short, whichever of the two you end up using, you’ll be able to browse safe in the knowledge that nobody will be able to see what you get up to online.
Which is better for torrenting: ExpressVPN Or NordVPN?
The best VPN for torrenting is NordVPN although ExpressVPN isn’t far behind! Both VPNs are P2P-friendly although our speed tests indicate that NordVPN is the faster of the two. Furthermore, NordVPN is the only one of the two to provide specialty servers optimized for P2P. However, ExpressVPN and NordVPN both include unlimited bandwidth and, as such, you should be able to torrent as much as you like without interruption.
Which is more affordable long term, ExpressVPN or NordVPN?
First, it’s important to observe that VPN subscription prices change fairly regularly, particularly because special deals are common. At the time of writing, NordVPN is the more affordable long-term. While ExpressVPN’s one-year plan is 49% off and includes three months free, it works out at $6.67 (USD) a month. In comparison, NordVPN’s one-year subscription works out at $4.99 a month while its two-year plan is even more affordable at $3.99 monthly.
Which is better for India, ExpressVPN or NordVPN?
While NordVPN and ExpressVPN are among our top-ranking VPNs for India, NordVPN is the narrow winner. It has the most servers in India (roughly 30 in total), all of which are located in Mumbai. However, it should be said that ExpressVPN has servers in both Mumbai and Chennai. Of the two, NordVPN is the fastest VPN with an average global download speed of 369 Mbps to the 135 Mbps of ExpressVPN.
Which VPN is more secure, ExpressVPN or NordVPN?
These services are actually pretty well-matched as far as security is concerned. They both feature 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch and IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection. Neither service keeps any logs that can identify you. Additionally, both NordVPN and ExpressVPN work in China and accept Bitcoin payments.
If we had to choose, we'd give NordVPN a slight edge because it has special obfuscated servers that are designed to provide as much privacy as possible. That said, ExpressVPN is still well worthy of your consideration.
Does ExpressVPN or NordVPN have better apps?
There isn't a clear winner here. NordVPN and ExpressVPN actually have quite similar apps, with well-organized menus and intuitive user interfaces, These are available for a variety of operating systems (including Linux), and the only real difference being that NordVPN lets you select a location on a map as well as a list.
If you're looking to install a VPN on your router, ExpressVPN is the better option, though. It has custom firmware and its own router app that makes managing your connection as simple as possible. NordVPN, meanwhile, has to be configured via your router's regular configuration panel.