ExpressVPN vs Norton Secure VPN

In theory, VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are fairly straightforward—just open the app, click a button, and protect your internet traffic from snoopers. However, the reality is quite different. Providers love to talk about how advanced their services are, which often means they’ll throw out technical terms without fully explaining what they mean. Less scrupulous services may even over-emphasize how secure they are. In either case, the buyer isn’t fully informed about what they’re paying for.

This just isn’t good enough. To help you out, we’ve spent hours testing ExpressVPN and Norton Secure VPN, figuring out what they’re good at and identifying areas where they might be a little lacking. Below, you’ll find a complete breakdown of every tool and feature these VPNs include, as well as an easy-to-understand explanation of what they actually do. If neither service stands out to you, that’s fine too; the information below will teach you which features are worth looking out for when shopping for VPNs in the future.

ExpressVPN

  • Servers in 90+ countries
  • Puts your privacy and security first
  • Fast enough for 4K streaming
  • Easy to install on Linux and routers

Norton Secure VPN

  • Very impressive speeds
  • Highly affordable
  • Decent streaming performance
  • Good customer support system

ExpressVPN vs Norton Secure VPN pricing

 ExpressVPNNorton Secure VPN
Subscription periodsOne monthOne month
Six monthsOne year
One year
Special offerCut the cost by almost half and get three months free with a one-year planSave 40% by choosing an annual plan
Highest price per month$12.95$9.99
Lowest price per month$6.67$2.50
One-year price$99.95Depends on the number of devices covered. Between $29.99 and $59.99
Money-back guarantee30 days60 days

There’s a clear price discrepancy between these two services. At $12.95 USD (GBP £9.89) per month, ExpressVPN is one of the more expensive providers, at least for short-term coverage. Norton Secure VPN has a different pricing scheme, deciding its price based on how many devices you’d like to connect. Users can secure one, five, or 10 devices for $4.99 (£3.81), $7.99 (£6.11), and $9.99 (£7.63) per month, respectively.

To get ExpressVPN down to a similar price, you’ll have to sign up for its six-month plan. This costs $59.95 (£45.81), effectively cutting its monthly cost to $9.99. For the lowest possible price, you’ll need an annual plan. This costs $99.95 (£76.36), which is 49 percent off, plus you get an extra three months of coverage for free. This works out at $6.67 (£5.10) per month.

Norton Secure VPN offers discounts for annual subscribers too. Users can cover one device for $29.99 (£22.92), five for $39.99 (£30.57), or 10 for $59.99 (£45.86). These are some of the lowest prices we’ve seen for a year of coverage, though the pricing scheme is a little more complex than it necessarily needs to be.

Both providers include a money-back guarantee that lets you try the service risk-free. ExpressVPN’s lasts for 30 days, while Norton Secure VPN’s lasts for 60. Additionally, Norton’s VPN is included in a package called Norton 360, which comes with a 14-day free trial. You will have to provide payment info, but can easily cancel to avoid being charged.

BEST DEAL FOR EXPRESSVPN:Save almost 50 percent with ExpressVPN’s annual plan.

BEST DEAL FOR NORTON SECRURE VPN:Get 40 percent off the price of Norton Secure VPN by signing up for a year.

ExpressVPN vs Norton Secure VPN features

 ExpressVPNNorton Secure VPN
Simultaneous connections51, 5, or 10, depending on plan
Operating system appsWindows, Linux, MacOS, Android, iOS, Amazon Firestick, routersWindows, MacOS, Android, iOS
Manual install devicesSome Linux systemsNone
Split tunnelingWindows, MacOS, Android, routersWindows and Android
Free extrasMediastreamer Smart DNS service, extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, and VivaldiNone

Norton Secure VPN can potentially protect up to 10 of your devices simultaneously. However, it only supports the main operating systems: Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS. There is no way to use this service on Linux systems or your router. ExpressVPN, on the other hand, provides a variety of browser extensions, a command-line based installer for Linux, and its own router firmware that simplifies the process of protecting your entire home network.

Both services allow you to let certain apps through the VPN, a feature that’s called split tunneling. This might be helpful in cases where you just want to download large files or updates as quickly as possible, and don’t necessarily need that traffic to be encrypted. ExpressVPN provides this functionality on all platforms except iOS, whereas Norton Secure VPN only has it on Windows and Android.

ExpressVPN also comes with a Smart DNS service called Mediastreamer. This isn’t included in the app, but can be configured from your account page on the ExpressVPN website. Essentially, Mediastreamer lets you reroute traffic from devices that don’t support standalone VPN apps. You could use it to access US-only streaming services on your Smart TV or Xbox, for instance.

 ExpressVPNNorton Secure VPN
Streaming service
Netflix10+ libraries including Netflix US, UK, Japan, and CanadaNo
HuluYesYes
HBO MaxYesYes
Amazon Prime VideoYes (11 regional libraries)Yes (UK and US)
BBC iPlayerYesYes
ABCYesNo
CBSNoYes
NBCYesYes
ITVYesNo
Channel 4YesYes

Most streaming services these days are geo-blocked, meaning they change their content based on your location. Some, like Hulu, only allow you to watch from certain countries. Despite this, ExpressVPN was able to securely access every service we tested except for CBS. Notably, it even worked with multiple Netflix libraries; for context, most VPNs struggle to access even one.

Norton Secure VPN put up a good fight on this front too. It was able to access several major platforms including Amazon Prime Video and NBC, but failed on ABC, ITV, and Netflix. Of course, due to the ever-evolving nature of VPN-detection, these results are subject to change.

Which of these VPNs work in China?

The Chinese government blocks access to all kinds of content, from messaging apps to streaming services. These restrictions (known collectively as the Great Firewall) can be beaten with a VPN, but unfortunately, most providers’ websites are now blocked in China. Additionally, because the Great Firewall blocks VPN traffic by default, you’ll need a service capable of flying under the radar.

ExpressVPN is one such service. Users don’t have to change any settings or use specific servers, and can just use the app as normal. There is a version of the site that works in China, but you’ll have to ask support staff for the URL before you arrive. We’d also encourage you to install the app ahead of time and copy down the manual setup instructions, just in case. Norton Secure VPN does not work in China and should not be relied upon.

Setup and interface

 ExpressVPNNorton Secure VPN
Automatic setup wizardWindows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android, routersWindows, MacOS, Android, iOS
Main location selectionList-basedList-based
Extra settings pagesYesYes
Mobile-friendlyYesYes

ExpressVPN offers user-friendly apps for a variety of platforms, and these maintain a consistent design no matter whether you choose the mobile or desktop versions. The main screen features a quick-connect button along with your most recently-used server. Every option in the settings menu comes with a short explanation of what it does, which helps keep things nice and simple. Interestingly, ExpressVPN lets you run a speed test, see your current IP address, and check for data leaks without having to rely on any other services.

ExpressVPN desktop screenshot v10.11

Norton Secure VPN has three different looks: one for Norton 360 subscribers, one for standalone VPN customers, and one for mobile users. If you have Norton 360, you’ll control the VPN via a couple of very barebones menus, whereas if you signed up for the VPN on its own, you’ll have access to a traditional VPN app. The functionality is the same, in any case.

Norton VPN app

On mobile devices, Norton Secure VPN uses a standard multi-screen layout, with separate pages for settings and server selection. There is also an IP address checker right there on the home screen, along with a button that’ll get you connected in a single click.

Norton Secure on Mobile

Servers and performance

 ExpressVPNNorton Secure VPN
Server countries9430+
Total number of serversAround 3,0001,500+

ExpressVPN has a significant advantage when it comes to network scale and spread. To be fair, this service covers more countries than any other major provider, but it’s rare to see one VPN triple the number of locations offered by a rival. Not only that, but ExpressVPN has roughly twice as many servers, which theoretically should help provide a more stable experience during peak times. Norton, meanwhile, covers all of the most in-demand locations, although we’d have preferred a few more to choose from.

Norton Secure VPN is the faster of the two services, however. In our latest speed tests, it delivered an average speed of 317 Mbps on a 5 Gbps connection. ExpressVPN fared well too, averaging 135 Mbps. In other words, both VPNs are fast enough for whatever you have in mind, whether it’s torrenting, video calling, live streaming, or gaming.

Here’s are all the locations where ExpressVPN and Norton Secure VPN have servers:

 ExpressVPNNorton Secure VPN
Albania
Algeria
Andorra
Argentina
Armenia
Australia
Austria
Bahamas
Bangladesh
Belarus
Belgium
Bhutan
Bolivia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Brazil
Brunei Darussalam
Bulgaria
Cambodia
Canada
Chile
Colombia
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Ecuador
Egypt
Estonia
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Greece
Guatemala
Hong Kong
Hungary
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Ireland
Isle of Man
Israel
Italy
Japan
Jersey
Kazakhstan
Kenya
Kyrgyzstan
Laos
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Macau
Malaysia
Malta
Mexico
Moldova
Monaco
Mongolia
Montenegro
Myanmar
Nepal
Netherlands
New Zealand
North Macedonia
Norway
Panama
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Serbia
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
South Korea
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sweden
Switzerland
Taiwan
Thailand
Turkey
Ukraine
United Kingdom
United States
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Venezuela
Vietnam

ExpressVPN is the only major provider that supports locations like Laos, Brunei, and Myanmar. The odds of you having to use these specific servers are low, but it’s nice to have the option, especially considering how difficult it usually is to find servers in Southeast Asia. Norton Secure VPN, meanwhile, has focused on providing servers in the most in-demand locations like the US, the UK, and Japan.

Security

 ExpressVPNNorton Secure VPN
VPN protocolsOpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP, LightwayOpenVPN (IPsec on iOS)
OpenVPN data encryptionAES-256AES-256
OpenVPN control channel encryptionRSA-4096Undisclosed
Cloaking technologyUndisclosedNone
App securityThreat manager, local traffic blocker, parallel connections feature, kill switchKill switch, automatic wi-fi protection, ad and tracker blocking
DNS statusPrivate DNSPrivate DNS

Both ExpressVPN and Norton Secure VPN use 256-bit AES encryption, which is currently considered uncrackable. Additionally, they both use their own DNS servers to prevent third parties from ever having access to your requests, and both VPNs support the OpenVPN protocol, which is robust, reasonably quick, and time-tested. Finally, both providers offer a kill switch that stops sending data in the event that your connection drops suddenly.

However, that’s where these services begin to diverge. Norton Secure VPN users are locked into OpenVPN unless they’re on iOS, when their only option is IPsec. ExpressVPN freely allows users to switch between OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP, or its own proprietary protocol, Lightway. This last option can even keep your data safe during the moment when you switch networks.

ExpressVPN includes a threat manager feature that prevents your other apps from sending data to known trackers. It can also block access to other devices on the network, like printers, and connect you as quickly as possible by using whichever protocol is fastest. Norton Secure VPN, meanwhile, is able to block ads and trackers automatically.

Privacy

 ExpressVPNNorton Secure VPN
HQ baseBritish Virgin IslandsUnited States
Connection logsSome analytical data storedIP address, license identifier, device information, assorted analytical data
Activity logsNoneNone
User details for signupEmail addressEmail address
Anonymous payment optionsBitcoin, various prepaid cardsNone

ExpressVPN operates out of the British Virgin Islands, a location with no mandatory data-retention laws. Accordingly, this service follows a no-logs policy, meaning it doesn’t store any information that could personally identify you. It does keep a record of your total bandwidth used in a session, the server you chose, and the date you connected, but this is just to help with troubleshooting problems. Users have several ways to pay anonymously, including with Bitcoin.

Unfortunately, Norton Secure VPN doesn’t fare quite so well. For a start, it’s based in the US, which is a member of the Fourteen Eyes intelligence alliance. In short, this means that your online activities could theoretically be surveilled and shared with authorities in over a dozen other countries. There’s also no way to sign up anonymously, since you have to use either a credit card or PayPal account, both of which are linked directly to you.

Norton also keeps quite a bit of information. Its privacy policy states that it logs original IP addresses, device data (such as your PC’s name), a unique install identifier, and usage data. Further, each installation is linked to a license, which can be traced directly back to your account.

Configuration

 ExpressVPNNorton Secure VPN
Address allocationSharedShared
Dedicated IP address possibleNoNo

ExpressVPN and Norton Secure VPN use something called shared address allocation to provide an extra layer of privacy. Essentially, this means that every user on the same server shares one IP address. As you might expect, with dozens or even hundreds of people browsing simultaneously, this makes it extremely difficult to tell who visited a particular website. Neither VPN actually keeps traffic logs, but of nothing else, this setup offers a little extra peace of mind.

You may have noticed VPNs offering dedicated IP addresses for an additional fee. These are IP addresses that only you can access, and that never change. This can be helpful for using services that pay close attention to your location (such as online banking platforms). However, you will be giving up the privacy advantages that shared address allocation provides, which makes it easier for someone to track your activities. Neither of the VPNs we’re discussing offers dedicated IP addresses, with ExpressVPN citing privacy as the main reason why.

Customer service

 ExpressVPNNorton Secure VPN
Live chatYesYes
Ticket supportYesCombined with live chat system
Email supportYesNo
Phone supportNoYes
Searchable knowledge baseYesYes
Video guidesYesYes

The quickest way to get help with any issues is usually via live chat, which is why leading VPN providers prioritize this service to such a high degree. ExpressVPN and Norton Secure VPN both offer 24/7 live chat, and Norton’s actually has a ticket system built-in. ExpressVPN allows you to submit tickets separately, and also offers a dedicated support email address. Norton SecureVPN, on the other hand, has phone support, with local agents in multiple countries.

Both providers have extensive knowledge bases where you can search for help with some of the most common problems. They each have their own YouTube channel with short video guides too, although Norton’s are buried under guides for all of its other software.

The winner: ExpressVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Norton Secure VPN is a solid performer, with a low cost, great customer support, and speeds well above the industry average. However, there are a couple of areas where it could use some work, namely server scale and privacy. We’d also prefer a more streamlined onboarding process since having a connections-based pricing model and three separate versions of the app only makes things more confusing than they really need to be.

ExpressVPN, on the other hand, is quick, easy to use, and privacy-conscious. It has apps for all major platforms and can even help you browse safely in places like China. With a vastly larger network and strong streaming abilities, there isn’t much it can’t do. Although this service might cost a little more, it’s well-regarded, particularly versatile, and won’t let you down.

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