NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN
Comparison & Test Results 2018
NordVPN could be attractive to users looking for a torrent-friendly VPN provider that offers top-notch customer support and privacy protections. While the provider’s global coverage could be better, NordVPN’s simple-to-use VPN service is reasonably priced and provides a good value.
While the provider’s global coverage could be better, NordVPN’s simple-to-use VPN service is reasonably priced and provides a good value.
ExpressVPN is a good option to users looking for comprehensive global server coverage and fast international connection speeds. P2P file sharing users will appreciate the service’s fast speeds and global support for the activity.
While ExpressVPN is one of the most expensive VPN services around, the provider offers great bang for the buck.
How to Choose a VPN
When researching various VPN providers in your search for the right one for your needs, there are a huge number of factors and features to list and rank.
This article will feature a head-to-head comparison of the popular VPN providers NordVPN and ExpressVPN. I’ll cover the most important factors in any VPN-buying decision and take a look at how well both providers perform in that specific category.
I will declare a “winner” for each category and use the providers’ rank in each category to declare an overall winner at the end of this article. At that point, readers should have enough information about both services to decide which one is the best fit for their needs.
You’re always connected. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in front of your computer, watching a show on Netflix or walking down the street, you’re always connected to the internet. Today’s “always-online” world means a high-speed VPN provider is more important than ever.
I conduct my VPN provider connection speed tests as follows:
- I test my connection speeds from my Internet Service Provider (ISP). (I live in the United States.)
- I then test each provider’s connection speed while connected to VPN servers located in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
- Finally, I use the difference between the measured ISP speeds and the VPN-provided speeds and calculate the speed percentages listed in the tables.
Local Connection Speeds (U.S.)
NordVPN’s U.S. connection speeds showed excellent performance, coming in at just under 91% of my ISP-only speeds. ExpressVPN is just over 6 percentage points slower, coming in at 83.8% of my unprotected speeds.
International Connection Speeds (U.S. to U.K.)
Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN continue to supply high-speed connections when routed through their United Kingdom servers. ExpressVPN measured in at 81.2% of my ISP-only speeds, and while NordVPN performed significantly slower, its 75.6% percentage still offers connection speeds fast enough for most online activities.
While neither of our head-to-head combatants can be considered a low-price leader, both providers offer a good bang for your hard-earned buck.
ExpressVPN is the high-priced spread of VPN providers, at least among the services I’ve used. While NordVPN is priced almost as dearly when looking at month-to-month pricing, their pricing becomes much more reasonable when you sign up for a year of service.
NordVPN goes for $11.95 if you opt for the month-to-month option, while ExpressVPN will take a $12.95 month-to-month chunk out of your credit or debit card. Opting for annual service takes NordVPN’s price down to $5.75 per month ($60.00 per year), and ExpressVPN’s tariff drops to $8.32 per month ($99.95 per year).
Money-Back Guarantee Period
Internet privacy is more important today than it has ever been. Users want to make sure any VPN provider that they consider does a good job of protecting any record of their online travels from outside parties and that their payment information is also kept under wraps.
While researching any VPN provider, consider if they are based in a privacy-friendly country like Panama or Switzerland. Does the provider retain any logs recording your online activities? Do they accept privacy-enhancing payment options, like Bitcoin or merchant gift cards?
NordVPN is based in Panama, which does not require VPN companies to keep any types of logs related to their customers’ online antics. As a result, NordVPN follows a strict “no logs” policy. The provider accepts Bitcoin as payment for their services.
ExpressVPN is located in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), where the government does not require providers to retain user logs of any kind, allowing this provider to follow a strict “no logs” policy. ExpressVPN also accepts Bitcoin as payment for subscriptions.
Never concentrate on just one or two categories when researching VPN providers. Instead, be sure to consider a VPN’s performance across all of the important categories before laying your money down for a provider.
In this section, I’ll be taking a close look at the various features supplied by our competitors. I’ll explain each provider’s offerings in the category and then announce my decision as to which provider performs best in that particular area of service.
ExpressVPN features AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with 256-bit keys protection for its connections (AES-256). Protocols used in the provider’s apps include OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP/IPSec.
NordVPN also offers AES-256 protection via the OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP/IPSec protocols, providing the same type of protection to its users.
Encryption Winner: Tied
AES-256 encryption, using OpenVPN with TCP/UDP, PPTP, SSTP and L2TP/IPSec
AES-256 encryption, using OpenVPN with TCP/UDP, IKEv2/IPsec, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP and SSTP
Always make sure any VPN provider you’re considering allows more than one connection per account at a time. The more simultaneous connections a provider allows, the more family members or employees who can use it at once, increasing the value of your VPN protection.
ExpressVPN limits users to 3 connections at once. Meanwhile, NordVPN allows up to 6 concurrent connections, but each connection to a single server must use different protocols. This could complicate things if your users are out and about and are not in constant communication to allow for group protocol decisions.
Depending on who you’re talking to, BitTorrent/P2P file sharing is either a great way to share content or is the downfall of the movie and music industries. In any case, a VPN makes an excellent tool for protecting your file sharing activities from the prying eyes of your ISP, as well as movie and music company lawyers.
ExpressVPN is completely file-sharing-friendly, allowing such activity on all of its servers, and even provides helpful instructions on how to best use their service with P2P app uTorrent. NordVPN, while allowing P2P activity, restricts it to servers located in 37 countries.
Neither service keeps logs of their customers’ online activities, so you don’t have to worry about that download of “A Madea Christmas” appearing in any subpoenaed logs at a later date.
# of Countries Where VPN Allows BitTorrent
94 (All Countries)
Global Server Coverage
Global server coverage is an important category to investigate when making a VPN decision. Comprehensive global server coverage ensures you will have access to gaming servers, music and video streaming content, and other services that might normally be blocked from access in your area.
ExpressVPN provides 1,500+ servers to its users, well spread out in 94 countries around the globe. This means the provider’s users will have open access to content and services that might normally be blocked by geographical restrictions.
NordVPN, while offering a larger number of servers than its face-off foe (2,129), covers fewer countries around the globe, with 61 countries serving as a home for NordVPN’s server farms. While this provider’s server location numbers might mean you’ll have fewer countries to choose from, you’ll still enjoy a decent chance to unblock content.
If you’re like me, you own multiple computers, mobile devices and other connected devices. That makes good multi-platform support by your VPN provider more important than ever.
NordVPN offers native VPN apps for various versions of Windows (Windows XP through Windows 10), macOS, iOS and Android. Linux, Chrome OS, Windows Phone, Raspberry Pi and router setup instructions are also available on the NordVPN website.
ExpressVPN features native apps for the Windows, macOS, Android, iOS and Linux platforms. Browser extensions are also available for the Chrome, Firefox and Safari platforms. Setup instructions for popular routers are available on the ExpressVPN website.
Ready-to-go plug-and-play routers are available for both VPN services through the FlashRouters.com website.
Features Star Ratings
Both of the VPN providers facing off in this article provide easy-to-use apps and services, but the odds are that you’ll need to contact your provider’s customer support department with an occasional question about your service. When that time comes, you’ll want to feel secure that information about your issue(s) will be readily available.
ExpressVPN offers online support chat, a trouble ticket submission form and a searchable knowledge base. All 3 support options provided solutions for my support inquiries.
NordVPN provides similar support options, including live support chat, an email-based trouble ticket submission system and an easy-to-use support library. All of the support options proved to be an excellent way to resolve any issues I experienced while using the provider’s services.
Customer Support Winner: Tied
And The Winner Is...
While I always strive to announce a clear winner in these head-to-head VPN contests, I’m actually pleased when two providers prove to be well matched, as this means no matter which provider my readers decide to go with, they’ll be well served.
NordVPN is the winner in this face-off, providing fast domestic VPN connections, great multi-platform and customer support, as well as competent global server coverage. All of this is provided at a reasonable price.
ExpressVPN may have been the also-ran in this race, but it still offers fast international connection speeds, as well as good multi-platform support and global server coverage. The provider’s high price, despite allowing fewer concurrent device connections, led to its second-place finish.