ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: VPNs Compared

ExpressVPN and NordVPN have been around a while now. Both offer secure VPN services to help protect you online, from unscrupulous online users who are trying to see what you’re doing, through to preventing your ISP from logging your online habits.

Today, we’re doing a comparison between these two VPN providers. We’ll see what they have in common and also the differences between the two, including what each provider does better.

Let’s get the NordVPN vs ExpressVPN battle started…

ExpressVPN Top Features

  • Servers in 94 countries
  • Protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, SSTP, PPTP, IKEv2/IPSec
  • Up to 3 simultaneous connections
  • 256-bit encryption
  • Built-in speed test
  • Apps for all main operating systems
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Unlimited speed

> Go to ExpressVPN

NordVPN Top Features

  • Servers in 94 countries
  • Protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, SSTP, PPTP, IKEv2/IPsec
  • Up to 6 simultaneous connections
  • 256-bit encryption
  • 'Double' VPN
  • Apps for all main operating systems
  • 3 day free trial & 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Unlimited speed

> Go to NordVPN


ExpressVPN & NordVPN: Shared Features

No Browsing Logs

Logging is something you need to consider if you are nervous who can see the websites you’re browsing or apps and programs you use.

Some VPN providers keep logs at least to some degree. If they keep logs, then if an ISP or authorities request the logs from the VPN provider, they either have to, or may choose to hand the logs over, to avoid any kind of prosecution.

Both Nord and Express do not keep logs of browsing history or website destinations.

On top of this, Nord doesn’t keep any records of what customers connected to any of their servers, or when.

However, it must be noted that ExpressVPN do keep a record of the server the customer connected to and the date they connected (not times), as well as the amount of data transferred.

This is more so they can optimize their network of servers, rather than for logging purposes.

No Bandwidth Limits

Nice if you do a lot of downloading!

Neither provider cap your bandwidth usage or slow your data rate (throughput) at any time. The last thing you want is to have a speed cap mid-way through a month, resulting in the inability to stream videos or download in a timely fashion.

OpenVPN 256-bit Encryption

Security Button

We recommend using the OpenVPN protocol when connecting to a server. It’s often pretty fast, but is also very secure.

Both ExpressVPN and Nord offer encryption up to 256-bit (AES).

If you want to really crank up the speeds, you should opt for connecting via UDP (on OpenVPN). UDP is the protocol used for various applications, including online gaming and live voice/video. It’s totally fine to use it on these applications (and others). If you’re having issues, then switch over to TCP and connect again.

There are alternatives to OpenVPN available if needed. The full suite of VPN protocols available on both providers:

  • OpenVPN
  • SSTP
  • L2TP/IPsec
  • IKEv2/IPSec
  • PPTP

Whatever you do, avoid using PPTP wherever possible. It’s notoriously lacking in security. Unless you don’t care about privacy of course… However, if you just want to cloak your real IP to get around country-blocking - PPTP will probably do the job.

Kill Switch

If you’re online and happily using your VPN, but suddenly the VPN drops – guess what….you’re unprotected and open to the elements (ISP logging/snooping etc).

You may not even be aware that the VPN dropped, and won't realise until later in the day. You’ve been online without your VPN and basically everything you’ve been or done has potentially been logged or ‘seen’.

A ’kill switch’ instantly blocks ALL access to the internet if your VPN goes down. This stops you unknowingly connecting to the net without your VPN.


What Are The Differences Between ExpressVPN and NordVPN (and features we like)?

We've looked at the shared features. Now it's time to look at the features unique to each VPN offering...

ExpressVPN-Only Features 

ExpressVPN Home Page - Best Gaming VPN

>>> Click here to learn more at ExpressVPN <<<

Plenty Of Servers To Choose From

Depending on your needs, the amount of servers to choose from with your provider can be useful.

Some customers use a VPN to connect to maybe a country or two that hosts their favorite TV shows. But others need to connect to servers in more than several countries. And if you need to be ‘located’ in your country of origin (maybe you are traveling?) you’ll want to make sure any VPN provider you opt for has at least one server (and hopefully more) in your home country.

Speed Test

Inside the menu is the Speed Test option.

This shows all the VPN servers in a list sorted via a ‘Speed Index’. The Speed Index is weighted, from your location, to each VPN server with the metrics of latency and download speed of the server. The metrics are calculated to give the ‘Speed Index’.

Split Tunneling

Split tunnelling allows you to route some traffic via the VPN, with other traffic accessing the internet as normal (bypassing the VPN).

Why is this useful? Well, it means that you can enjoy the features of the VPN for only the traffic or data types you need. For example, you could be located in the UK and want to stream a US Netflix TV show, while also being able to view UK sites as a UK resident.

The split tunnel feature also lets you access LAN services while connected to the VPN (like your router or printers, scanners etc). Without split tunnelling, you could only access whatever the VPN can access, i.e. the internet from that location – not anything at home.

> Go to the ExpressVPN website


NordVPN-Only Features

NordVPN Home Page - Best Gaming VPN

>>> Click here to learn more at NordVPN <<<

Double VPN

This feature helps to bolster security a little further, and is unique to NordVPN.

When connecting to a VPN server, an encrypted tunnel is built to a server. From this server, a second tunnel is built to the chosen VPN server.

Free Trial

Want a 3-day free trial to see if NordVPN is for you? It’s your lucky day. Not only that, but there’s a 30-day money back guarantee available too if you do sign up.

ExpressVPN doesn’t have a free trial, rather a money-back guarantee.

Up To 6 Devices Can Use The Account Simultaneously

That’s very generous.

There is a caveat though. If connecting to the same server, only 4 can connect at the same time and they must all use different protocols.

ExpressVPN allows up to 3 at the same time. This may be enough for most people.

Proxy Server

Nord also have a SOCKS5 proxy server you can use. Not particularly secure, but if your application supports it (perhaps torrent-related?), you can easily hide your real IP. We recommend using the VPN as well.

> Take me to the NordVPN website


Server Locations

We touched on this a little earlier. ExpressVPN have the bigger pool of servers to choose from.

This may not be super-important for everyone, as a lot of users only need access to a handful of countries. However, in some cases it’s important to some users to have a VPN in a particular country.

We recommend you check with provider to see if they have a server in the particular country you need to connect to. The more servers in that country, the better.

Speed Test

This is something we may consider in the future.

For now, we think that it doesn’t serve a conclusive purpose. Yes, we could run a speed test to the ‘fastest server’ within each VPN client, but would it really be really beneficial? What may be the fastest for us in our tests at the time we conducted the tests, may be very different to a test someone else conducted in their location. In fact, even just testing from the same location at different times can cause pretty wild fluctuations in test results.

Speed Up

Not only that, but the performance of our ISP at the time of testing has a bearing on the result.

We might run some tests in the future, but for now, we don’t think it’s the best thing to do. Sorry!

However, you could take advantage of ExpressVPN and NordVPNs free trials & money-back offers and from real usage, work out what VPN is best for you speed-wise. This is the ultimate test!


Pricing & Plans

Plans

Both providers offer 3 options:

ExpressVPN:
  • 1 Month
  • 6 Months
  • Annual

ExpressVPN offer a 30-day ‘free trial’, which is pretty generous compared to the competition out there. However, it’s not really a free trial…”yes it is”, “no it isn’t”…erm…

Basically, you sign up for ExpressVPN, pay for it, and if within 30 days you are unsatisfied, you contact support and receive a full refund. So really, this is more of a 30-day money back guarantee than a free trial, which is still pretty good.

NordVPN:
  • 1 Month
  • 6 Months
  • Annual

NordVPN do offer a 3-day trial so you can test the waters before you commit to anything. Just like ExpressVPN, Nord also offer a 30-day money back guarantee.

Prices

The prices fluctuate all the time, so we’re not going to display them.

To find out the current price, you can go directly to NordVPN and ExpressVPN.


Why Do I Need A VPN, Anyway?

There are a few reasons for considering a VPN. People mostly use them to access services they otherwise couldn’t get to. Others use them for privacy. Some use them for both!

Access Geo-Blocked Content

One very useful aspect of VPNs is the ability to watch videos, or visit websites that you cannot normally view in your own country.

Take for example BBC iPlayer. Totally viewable from within the UK (you must agree that you have a TV license). It cannot be accessed from outside the UK. Why? Because the IP address that your ISP gives you is identifiable down to what country you are in. When you access the BBC website, it knows that you are not located in the UK, so it blocks you. You end up with the “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK.“ message – not cool.

When you connect with a VPN, you use the IP address of the VPN server you connect to, not the one your ISP gives you. So, if you connect to a VPN server in the UK, the BBC will think you are coming from an IP in the UK. Now you can start watching iPlayer!

It’s not just iPlayer. Think of any TV or music service that you know is enjoyed in a country, but you can’t – because you are elsewhere in the world. A VPN gets around this issue.

This is especially useful if you happen to be traveling or are on vacation in a foreign country. Or say you want to watch a sporting event, which is only shown on a TV channel in a particular country. A VPN is the way to go. There are other options..... Tor/proxy server etc. But a VPN is generally more ‘private’. 

Privacy

This is a big deal for some people.

If you don’t want your ISP to know where you are browsing, a VPN is usually the answer. A VPN encrypts your data within a tunnel from your device to the VPN server. The ISP only sees scrambled garbage. It won’t know the real IP address (site) you are visiting.

Be careful though. Some VPNs keep logs of user’s access. So, if the ISP contacts the VPN provider, they will often have to hand over the info of where you visited. Which kind of negates what you were trying to do in the first place.

A lot of VPNs do not keep logs. If privacy is a big deal to you, you might want to check this over. We've already touched on what ExpressVPN and NordVPN log (or don't log).

What Else Are VPNs Useful For?

A couple of the other bonuses of using a VPN are avoiding ISP throttling and hacking on ‘open’ networks. ISP throttling is when your ISP traffic shapes data so that certain types of traffic don’t flood the total amount of bandwidth they have rented.

They limit how much each user can do. For example, let’s say YouTube traffic is saturating the ISP’s quota on bandwidth. If they limit how much each account can stream at any one time (say 5Mbps max), it saves them bandwidth.

Buffering

If you use a VPN, the ISP can’t see that you are using YouTube, and you escape this ‘cap’.

A VPN also helps protect you from local hackers on public wifi networks. As most of these hotspots are ‘open’ they are unencrypted. This means that the bad guys can snoop on your data and get up to no good.

A VPN encrypts your traffic and helps keep you safe.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Conclusion

Both the providers offer AES 256-bit encryption which is essential for privacy. And both share a lot of other useful features, including kill switches, multi-device connectivity and no bandwidth caps.

NordVPN does a good job with its ‘Double VPN’ and free trial to tempt you to have a go.

Just remember that ExpressVPN have the money back guarantee, so you can try out both and see how they perform for you. Remember that if speed is important, try connecting with OpenVPN/UDP, and see how that goes for you. Also try lowering encryption down to 128-bit (which does slightly lower protection of course!).

Both of these VPN ‘Big Guns’ are worth checking out. If we had to pick out a winner (someone held a gun to our heads!), it would probably have to be NordVPN. The extra features and absolute ‘no logs’ policy ticks the boxes for us.

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