NordVPN vs ExpressVPN – Which Reigns Supreme?
In our world today, so much is done via the internet. We are constantly online browsing the web or checking our social media sites. There are few times throughout the day that we are not on a computer, tablet, phone, gaming system, or just streaming shows on our TV.
With this obsession of technology and staying connected, we are putting a lot of information out into the cybersphere. So have you ever wondered what is happening to that information, who has access to it, or how you can better protect yourself? If so, then you may be in the market for a VPN, or virtual private network.
Protect Your Privacy
When you log onto the internet, you are able to connect through your ISP, or internet service provider. It is through one of their servers that you are able to be directed to a website of your choosing. However, having everything go through your ISP, not only exposes your IP address (and location), but gives them access to all of your browsing history.
With a VPN, on the other hand, you reroute your internet through a VPN server prior to searching the web. The VPN not only hides your original IP address, but it encrypts your data, making it unreadable to your ISP, or a potential hacker. Now you can browse, download, and input information freely, without an invasion of your privacy.
What Makes One VPN Better Than Another?
What makes one VPN stand out from another is really about personal preference and what you are wanting to use a VPN for. If you are wanting it solely for the protection of your private information, you will want to look for a VPN with an excellent encryption. Industry standard, and the most secure encryption, is the AES-256 bit encryption; but, not all VPNs will come with this level of safety.
Additional security features that are highly recommended include a kill switch, VPN-owned DNS servers, and leak and IP address protection. Finding a VPN with most of these features will certainly make that VPN stand apart.
For Streaming or Gaming
If you are looking to use a VPN for streaming entertainment sites like Netflix, or for gaming, you may want to look at its server count, server location, and speed. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting for a site to buffer, so if a VPN you are looking at is not known for speed, you may want to reconsider. In addition, not all servers will stream certain sites, so the more servers a VPN has, the more likely you will be able to access the site you are looking for.
Lastly, if there are several VPNs that have the features you are after, it could all come down to the price. If there is one that is offering a lower price than the other, why not go with the one that will save you money. In addition, most VPNs offer a money-back guarantee, so if you find you are not happy with their service, you can always cancel and request a refund.
Comparing NordVPN and ExpressVPN
In researching VPNs, two that are consistently at the top of the list for being the best are NordVPN and ExpressVPN. To truly see which one was better, I decided to dig in deeper and take a look at all of their features. Below is a comparison of what these VPNs have to offer.
As mentioned previously, one of the primary reasons for a VPN, and an increasingly necessary one, is privacy and the protection of your information. Most good VPNs have several security features, including those that will protect you even if the connection is lost. Below are the security features that NordVPN and ExpressVPN use to keep you safe.
One of the best encryptions you can use, as it is also employed by several government agencies, is the AES 256-bit encryption. Fortunately, that encryption is employed by both NordVPN and ExpressVPN. While this is industry standard, it’s still reassuring to know that when using these VPNs, you are getting the best.
NordVPN and ExpressVPN also offer customers various VPN protocols. These allow for a strong encryption to be established between the device and a specific server. If you are unsure of which protocol to use, these services have the ability to choose the best one based on use and efficiency.
Another important and necessary feature of NordVPN and ExpressVPN is a kill switch. A kill switch “kills” the traffic coming to and from your device in the event you were to lose your connection with the VPN server. When a connection is lost, your device may try to default to the ISP server, exposing your IP address and information – a kill switch prevents this.
While it’s nice to feel protected from my ISP and other prying eyes by using a VPN, what happens to the information my VPN has access to? Since you are using the servers provided by the VPN, they, in theory, can view your connection and disconnection times, browsing history, and download history. So how does that information stay protected?
This is where a “No Logging Policy” comes into play. It’s important that when searching for a VPN, you find one that commits to keeping no records of your information. With NordVPN and ExpressVPN, you can rest assured, you are getting extremely strict “No Logging” policies.
One factor most people don’t consider is where the VPN company is located. Location can impact privacy and whether or not there are data retention laws. This, in turn, affects the policies a VPN can put into place.
These companies, however, are in ideal spots for running and maintaining a VPN. NordVPN is based out of Panama, providing them with a safe jurisdiction that does not have data retention or logging laws. ExpressVPN is located in the British Virgin Islands, which also has no data retention laws, making it a safe choice, as well.
When it comes to the number of servers a VPN has, you can find a broad spectrum. Some VPNs have close to 50, while others have server numbers in the thousands. With NordVPN and ExpressVPN, you will find their server numbers in the latter.
NordVPN boasts over 5,000 servers in 60 countries, while ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers in 94 countries. When a VPN has more servers, that VPN typically has greater speeds and is less likely to get bogged down by an excessive amount of users. In addition, with coverage in several countries, subscribers are able to access more content.
While both NordVPN and ExpressVPN performed similarly on speed tests, ExpressVPN had the edge. NordVPN reached download speeds of 74 Mbps, while ExpressVPN was able to obtain download speeds of 83 Mbps! Even though both of these speeds are impressive for VPNs, it’s clear ExpressVPN is going to give you better results.
Why the Difference?
With NordVPN having fewer servers than ExpressVPN, why wouldn’t it be faster? One reason could be the number of customers they have. Since NordVPN has slightly lower costs, they could have more customers using their servers and slowing their speeds. Regardless, these are both great options for speed.
When looking at a service, it is best to get a comprehensive view, exploring all of the features and added value. Though protection, streaming, and torrenting may be your top priorities, it’s the additional features that can often push you in one direction over another. The following are some of the features offered by NordVPN and ExpressVPN.
Regardless of what operating system you use, it is likely that NordVPN and ExpressVPN are going to cover it. Their VPNs offer protection for Mac, Windows, Android, Linux, iOS, and many more.
Additionally, if you have more than one device, which most of us do, that you would like protection on, these subscriptions allow for that. With NordVPN, you can have protection on up to six different devices simultaneously. With ExpressVPN, you can have up to five connections.
Another major security feature relates to DNS servers. Some VPNs choose to run their DNS requests through third party DNS servers. This is extremely dangerous as it can expose or leak your information to these third parties.
With NordVPN and ExpressVPN, however, this is not an issue. Both of these VPNs own and operate their own DNS servers to make sure your requests are subject to the same privacy as outlined in their privacy policies. NordVPN also offers DNS leak protection for additional security.
Unlike most ISPs, both NordVPN and ExpressVPN won’t subject you to bandwidth limits. You are able to search, download, and stream with no restrictions. They also don’t believe in throttling your bandwidth with heavier traffic and greater use.
The Onion Router (TOR)
If you like to visit the dark web, NordVPN and ExpressVPN have thought through that as well. Both allow you to first route your traffic through their VPN and then through TOR. This provides additional protection and complete anonymity.
When accessing any service, especially one that you are paying for, it’s important to know that you will have the support that you need. Both of these VPNs offer a live chat feature in addition to the traditional method of emailing your questions. If you are a researcher, NordVPN and ExpressVPN have guides and tutorials to learn on your own or find answers apart from contacting the company.
Putting Them to the Test
Though it is nice to know these VPNs have several outlets for support, how efficient are they? When putting the live chat feature to the test, both VPNs were extremely fast at responding with helpful answers. So if you are looking for a VPN that is going to give you adequate support with set-up and use, you can’t go wrong with NordVPN or ExpressVPN.
Apart from protecting your information, another major factor in buying a VPN service is the ability to stream from sites like Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora. Many countries don’t allow access to these entertainment sites, so finding a VPN that can unblock them is important. Additionally, many of these sites are cracking down on VPNs, making it increasingly harder for VPNs to get to them.
Despite this, when tested, NordVPN was still able to access Netflix on five out of six servers, making them one of the best VPNs for media streaming. Furthermore, NordVPN has a feature called SmartPlay, specifically designed to help you stream content from around the world. SmartPlay provides users with over 400 streaming services that may not be easily accessed otherwise, giving this VPN a great streaming feature.
While ExpressVPN broadcasts their ability to stream sites like Netflix, I was skeptical. However, it too had great success on six different servers. This makes ExpressVPN another a great option if looking for a VPN to meet your entertainment streaming needs.
ExpressVPN also puts a lot of emphasis on streaming sports. Subscribers have the unique ability to access live sports from around the world, they wouldn’t necessarily be able to see otherwise. ExpressVPN even sets up a calendar to show what will be streaming so subscribers don’t miss a thing.
When searching for the best gaming VPN, you will consistently find NordVPN and ExpressVPN at the top of the list. Though using a VPN for gaming is not a necessity, it is beneficial. Not only will you have access to games and tournaments that may be restricted in your country, but you will have protection while playing with others.
Due to their excellent protection and great speeds, it is a really close call on which VPN is better for gaming; but NordVPN may have a slight advantage. Because NordVPN has so many servers, gamers are often able to connect to the servers closest to them. This delivers a slightly lower ping and less packet loss, making for a more enjoyable game.
Another major reason for choosing to use a VPN is for downloading torrents and P2P, or peer-to-peer, sharing. While it’s not always encouraged on some VPNs, NordVPN and ExpressVPN seem to be fine with it. Between the no logging policies and high level of security, both of these VPNs make great options for torrenting.
In addition, NordVPN even has P2P servers that were specifically designed for torrenting and peer-to-peer sharing. They work to provide additional privacy and security and can be accessed using their server list.
If you are money-conscience like me, price always plays a major role when deciding on a service. When choosing a VPN, it is no different. With NordVPN and ExpressVPN being so similar in privacy protection, speed, streaming, and their additional features, a lot of the decision does come down to cost.
As with most VPNs, the greater discounts for NordVPN come with longer subscriptions. If you are looking at a monthly subscription, expect to shell out close to $12 per month. However, if you are looking to subscribe for a year or more, you can find prices as low as $6.99/month for one year, $3.99/month for two years and $2.99/month for three years.
If you want to try NordVPN’s service, but are afraid of a long commitment, they offer a 30-day, money-back guarantee. This means you are able to fully explore this software, test it out on your devices, and make sure it is the best option for you within a 30-day period. If you are not fully satisfied, cancel your subscription and request a refund.
ExpressVPN provides you with slightly higher prices, but is similar in the sense that the longer the subscription, the more money you will save. If you want to try it out on a month-to-month basis, expect to pay close to $13/month. At a six-month subscription, you will pay $9.99/month and a one-year plan will cost you $8.32/month.
Again, similar to NordVPN, if you simply want to try the service, ExpressVPN offers a 30-day, money-back guarantee. This allows you to really get a feel for what this VPN offers and if it will work for you and your needs. ExpressVPN commits that if you are not satisfied, they will refund your money with no hassle.
With NordVPN and ExpressVPN, you couldn’t ask for better, more comprehensive VPNs. They offer all of the features you could want while supplying first-class protection and security of your information. With both VPNs being so similar, it’s challenging to sort through which is truly the better option.
Breaking It Down
Because NordVPN and ExpressVPN are so similar, it’s really only beneficial to look at what makes them different. First, while NordVPN had more servers, ExpressVPN had a slightly greater speed. ExpressVPN offered great streaming features including an emphasis on sports and streaming them live for customers.
On the other hand, NordVPN has a SmartPlay feature which provides access to over 400 streaming services. While slightly slower, this did not affect streaming or gaming abilities. NordVPN also allows for one additional device connection over ExpressVPN.
Another difference between NordVPN and ExpressVPN is the cost. On average, subscribers will pay about a dollar more if they choose to go with ExpressVPN over NordVPN. While this doesn’t seem like much, it can add up, especially if foregoing the even greater savings of NordVPN’s two- and three-year subscriptions.
Because these two VPNs are so similar, it really came down to price and device connections. With a cheaper cost and the allowance of an additional device connection, I had to give this one to NordVPN. However, with their 30-day, money-back guarantee, it can’t hurt to try them both and decide for yourself.
While maybe not deciding factors when choosing a VPN, there are typically questions that pop up during your research. Apart from the basic benefits and features, the following are some of the most commonly asked questions:
Will NordVPN or Express Circumvent the Great Firewall of China?
It is no secret that China is a country that heavily censors material on the internet. Their censorship system, which happens to be known as the “Great Firewall,” is constantly being upgraded, oftentimes affecting VPNs. So how well does NordVPN and ExpressVPN stack up to others in their ability to circumvent the “Great Firewall?”
While most VPNs you try will fail in China, NordVPN and ExpressVPN actually worked. In one experiment, these VPNs were able to connect in at least six out of seven rounds of testing. Both worked well with streaming, even providing access to Netflix.
So if you find yourself living or traveling to China, these VPNs are both worth looking into. If traveling there, it is always best to download the VPN prior to landing in China. You never know what you may face online when you get there, so it is best to be proactive.
What Is a DNS Leak and How Does My VPN Protect Me?
While researching VPNs, you may also come across a lot of information on DNS leaks and leak protection. So what is that exactly? For a full understanding, you first need to know what a DNS server is.
When most of us get online, we simply type in an address, or URL, and the website we are trying to access appears. However, behind the scenes, there is a DNS (data name system) server converting your URL into an IP address, or numeric name for that site. Once converted, you are taken to the website you were searching for.
While your VPN should protect you from DNS leaks, leaks can still occasionally occur. This may happen if your VPN uses DNS servers run by a third party that can access your information. It can also happen with a VPN if you are running Windows, have set up the VPN manually, or have reset the preferences on your system.
To combat DNS leaks, there are two major things to look for when it comes to a VPN. First, you want to make sure the VPN owns and operates all of their own DNS servers; therefore, subjecting them to the same level of privacy and protection. Secondly, it’s great to have a VPN that has leak protection so you can catch any leaks as they occur and address them quickly.