NordVPN and ExpressVPN are arguably the best VPN services in the market today. Both have a long track record of offering high-quality online privacy and security services to users worldwide. ExpressVPN and NordVPN continually receive praise and positive reviews from users in equal measure. However, NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN, which is the ultimate winner? Find out in our following head-to-head battle.
Before I even begin the Faceoff, I’d like to state that I have respect for both NordVPN and ExpressVPN, and I have relied on these services for years to secure my online privacy with no hitch at all. That aside, in today’s comparison, we want to find out the best option. As you know, choosing the right Virtual Private Network is critical to protecting your online privacy and security. Hence, having the right option gives you an advantage.
To help you choose the right VPN between NordVPN and ExpressVPN, we have tested the services and done in-depth analyses of the two VPNs, and we shall take you through their similarities, primary differences, and our final verdict. We will also mention other equally good providers worth considering.
NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN Comprehensive analysis and comparison
You don’t want to feel like you’re being watched while using the internet. Your ISP saves logs of your activity online, and your data may fall into the wrong hands. While using public Wi-Fi, you risk losing your credit card info or passwords to some hacker. A VPN should shield you from all these attempts.
1. ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN privacy comparison
NordVPN logging policy
Is the claim valid? Yes, independent auditors confirmed its no-logs policy claim. Auditors from PricewaterhouseCoopers performed an audit on its service, including features and policy, and concluded that its policy description is fair and accurate.
ExpressVPN logging policy
ExpressVPN, on the other hand, embraces a no-logging policy where it claims not to keep your activity and connection logs.
Is their claim valid? Yes, security experts from PricewaterhouseCoopers examined its code, interviewed its staff, and concluded that ExpressVPN’s claim is accurate.
NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN : which has the best location?
NordVPN is based in Panama, where there are no mandatory data retention laws. Hence, the VPN is not required by the law to store logs. Equally, Panama is not a member of the Five Eyes or Fourteen Eyes Alliance which is perfect for a VPN provider.
ExpressVPN is based in BVI (the British Virgin Islands) outside of the 5 Eyes or 14 Eyes intelligence-sharing countries. Compared to countries like the US, and the United Kingdom, it isn’t straightforward to obtain a BVI court order. Hence, the British Virgin Islands is a perfect VPN location.
Anonymous Payment options
Both providers offer some form of anonymous payment. ExpressVPN allows Bitcoin use while NordVPN offers Ethereum and Ripple in addition to Bitcoin.
Summary NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN privacy
|User details for sig up||Email address||Email address|
|Anonymous Payment options||Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple||Bitcoin|
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN Privacy winner– NordVPN is the winner. It does not keep any logs and, it has done two independent security audits, while ExpressVPN only commissioned one to date.
2. Pricing and Discount comparison NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN
When it comes down to pricing, it’s about choosing the plan that gives you the most value.
|Subscription periods||1 month||1 month|
|6 months||6 months|
|1 year||1 year|
|Special offer||68% discount on the 2-year plan|| Three months free with a 1-year plan|
|Highest price per month||$12.95||$11.95|
|Lowest price per month||$6.67||$3.71|
|One year price||$99.95 (15 months)||$48.96|
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||30 days|
NordVPN has the best pricing for both monthly and longer subscriptions.
3. Security and Encryption ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN comparison
To protect users’ internet connections, VPN providers use different encryption methods that scramble user information so outsiders cannot decode the data.
- NordVPN uses AES-256 cipher (highest level of protection), with SHA-256 hash authentication, and a 4096-bit RSA key exchange
- ExpressVPN embraces the same AES-256 cipher but with SHA-512 hash authentication and a 4096-bit RSA key exchange.
Thus, they both offer the same level of protection. However, ExpressVPN has a minor edge with its SHA-512 hash authentication compared to NordVPN’s SHA-256.
VPN Protocols comparison
- NordVPN: OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IPSec/IKEv2, IPSec/L2TP, and NordLynx
- ExpressVPN: OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IPSec/IKEv2, IPSec/L2TP, and Lightway protocol (currently in BETA and closed source)
Looking at the protocols, the providers are using the same protocols except that NordVPN has its NordLynx while ExpressVPN has its proprietary Lightway protocol.
The ExpressVPN Lightway protocol offers a VPN experience that’s faster, more reliable, and secure. It uses the wolfSSL cryptography library. However, it’s not yet open-sourced. Hence it’s not transparent.
NordVPN’s NordLynx protocol makes connecting to servers faster; it improves your connection speeds and keeps your online traffic private. NordLynx is built on the WireGuard protocol, which is open-source and so transparent.
Again, NordVPN has a slight edge over EpressVPN because, unlike ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol, NordLynx is open-source, thus transparent.
NordVPN server security
NordVPN recently upgraded to RAM-based servers. Diskless servers mean that the provider has a centrally controlled network where nothing is stored locally. It also means that even if any of its 5400+ servers were to be seized, it wouldn’t have any data or configuration files.
- All servers are running in RAM-based mode. Hence, no server stored data.
- No virtual server locations. All servers run on dedicated physical hardware in secure data centers. (A significant advantage over ExpressVPN)
- Self-owned servers. NordVPN is moving away from rented servers. It already has collocated servers in a few locations and is focused on rolling out self-owned servers throughout its network.
ExpressVPN server security
ExpressVPN boasts of its proprietary TrustedServer technology. The technology prevents apps and the operating system from writing to the hard drive. Hence the servers are run entirely on volatile memory (RAM).
- All its servers run in RAM-based mode
- Rent servers from third parties
- Uses virtual servers locations, which is a drawback
Hence NordVPN is the winner on server security.
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer excellent leak protection, which includes:
- IP address leak protection (for both IPv4 and IPv6)
- DNS leak protection
- Kill switch to cut-off traffic in case the VPN connection drops
My tests for leaks for both services were satisfactory.
Overall Security winner: NordVPN
4. Performance NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN
A VPN will frustrate you if it does not provide good speeds, especially when you are into streaming, torrenting, and gaming. Buffering and lags are common occurrences when using a VPN. Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN provide speeds that support all sorts of online activities. However, NordVPN is known to provide faster speeds than ExpressVPN.
The performance of a VPN is crucial – if your connection is not fast, there’s not much point in being connected at all.
Both services have invested heavily in this sector, culminating in proprietary protocols. ExpressVPN offers the Lightway protocol NordVPN’s NordLynx based on the WireGuard.
In our tests, NordVPN outperformed ExpressVPN in our US and UK test lines. However, ExpressVPN had a slight edge on distant servers. The performances were also good on OpenVPN. Hence both services are reliable on matters speed.
5. Streaming support NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN
One of the reasons people subscribe to VPNs is to stream restricted content. Many streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video restrict their content to specific regions. Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN provide streaming support so that you can unlock geo-restricted content on the major streaming platforms regardless of your location.
NordVPN supports a massive 15 Netflix libraries, including the US, UK, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Japan, India, Brazil, Finland, and South Korea. The speeds were excellent, allowing me to stream in HD without lags.
ExpressVPN also does an excellent job of unblocking Netflix. However, it supports a few libraries compared to NordVPN, the notable ones being the US, UK, and Japan. The speeds were good but not as fast as NordVPN’s.
Other streaming services
NordVPN streaming services
|Netflix||Amazon Prime Video||MSNBC||Funimation||Peacock TV||DAZN|
|Hulu||ESPN and ESPN+||ZDF||Rai Play||TG4||RTL|
|YouTube TV||HBO Max and HBO Go||Fox Sports||Salto||Yle||TF1|
|DirecTV||Fubo TV||Paramount Plus||SBS Australia||AT&TV||ITV Hub|
ExpressVPN streaming services
|Netflix||BBC iPlayer||Prime Video||Apple TV+||Locast||DAZN|
|Hulu||HBO||beIN Sports||Showtime||M6 France||ITV Hub|
|YouTube TV||Disney+||fubo TV||SKY Go||ORF TV||Kodi|
6. Global server coverage ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN
You also want a VPN you can use in different global locations. The more global servers available, the easier you can unblock geo-restricted content and torrent.
Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN provide an extensive network of servers. NordVPN offers 5,409 servers in 59 countries, while ExpressVPN offers 3,000 servers in 160 VPN server locations in 90 countries.
7. Apps Extensions and Compatibility ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN
For users with different devices such as Android TV, smartphones, and computers, a VPN supporting multiple platforms would be the go-to option.
ExpressVPN’s multi-platform support includes Windows, Linux, Mac, Chromebook, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Android TV systems, and supported routers.
NordVPN offers apps for Android, macOS, Windows, Android TV, Linux, and iOS platforms. This includes support for different brands of routers. You can also use the VPN as a browser extension on Chrome and Firefox.
ExpressVPN offers the invaluable split-tunneling technology that allows you to choose which apps will access the internet through your primary connection and which will go through the VPN tunnel. NordVPN does not offer Split Tunneling to its users.
Hence, ExpressVPN takes this category.
8. Simultaneous Connections ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN
If you run different devices, you want a VPN service paired on all your devices at no additional cost.
ExpressVPN allows five simultaneous connections, while NordVPN allows six connections at once using the same login credentials.
Nord VPN is the winner in this category
9. Torrenting Support ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN
Torrenting (peer-to-peer file sharing – P2P) is popular on the web since it reduces the time spent downloading files. Due to copyright restrictions, some ISPs block or throttle P2P activity through their networks. A VPN can unblock torrenting and also keep you safe from detection by your ISP while torrenting.
Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN protect your torrenting activity by hiding your true IP address and replacing it with an IP of a secure VPN server. Hence strangers cannot see your torrenting activities. Also, because the VPN IP is shared with many users, it’s impossible to trace your online activity back to you.
ExpressVPN offers P2P torrenting support on its servers, and it has neither data caps nor bandwidth restrictions.
NordVPN for torrenting does not allow P2P on all its servers. However, if the VPN detects you are torrenting, it automatically switches you to a torrenting server.
So here, ExpressVPN has a slight edge.
10. NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN, which is the best for Gaming?
Finding the best gaming VPN on the market is not easy. Gaming requires a VPN that offers fast speeds, adequate privacy, and servers around the globe.
Why do gamers require VPN?
A VPN can help you to spoof your location and access games from other countries which may be denied to your location. Using a competent VPN will also protect you from distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks, which can knock you offline.
ExpressVPN for gaming
EpressVPN comes with easy-to-use apps for all your gaming devices, including gaming consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation. I also compliment your cloud-gaming experience on services such as GeForce Now and Google Stadia. The VON protects you from DDoS attacks and lags, enhancing your gaming experience. ExpressVPNs servers in 90 countries mean that you can easily connect to the nearest server to your gaming servers, thus getting fast speeds.
NordVPN for Gaming
Likewise, NordVPN offers you DDoS protection, worldwide access to games, and a secure connection. NordVPN offers fast-blazing speeds, which are a cornerstone to any gaming activity. Using NordVPN servers across the world will allow you to game on the go so that even if you are vacationing, you can still access your games without restrictions. You can also purchase games worldwide from anywhere.
11. ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN, which is the best for China?
China uses its massive censorship tool, the great firewall of China, to censor and block its citizens from accessing international content. The heavy censorship poses a significant challenge to people traveling to China and the experts who reside in China. The only way out for such people is to use a Virtual Private Network. However, China blocks VPN traffic, so not all VPNs can bypass the Great Firewall of China. In our NordVPN vs.ExpressVPN comparison, we need to know if the two contenders work in China.
NordVPN for China
NordVPN is among a few VPNs that bypass the Great Firewall of China. The provider does not have a single server in China because first, the servers in china cannot bypass the filtering prowess of the Great Firewall. Second, having servers in China could mean accepting to abide by China’s invasive cybersecurity laws.
How does NordVPN work in China?
NordVPN has obfuscated servers that camouflage the VPN traffic to appear regular traffic (popularly referred to as stealth mode). Hence when you use NordVPN, your traffic won’t be detected by the Chinese firewalls. However, you need to download NordVPN on your device before you enter China.
ExpressVPN for China
ExpressVPN is my number one recommendation for bypassing the Great Firewall of China. It has implemented several technologies that make the bypassing of the notorious Chinese censorship apparatus seamless.
How does ExpressVPN work in China?
ExpressVPN uses obfuscated servers coupled with DNS, IP leak protection, a Kill switch, and its Split tunneling technology to help you bypass the Great Firewall with much ease. All you need is to connect your VPN and set it up to start automatically. After that, enable the kill switch, DNS, and IP leak protection.
12. Customer Support NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN
When you get stuck, you want to access support as fast as possible. A reliable VPN provider should offer customer support around the clock and also offer answers to frequently asked questions on their platforms.
NordVPN user support is available 24/7 through email and live chat. The provider also offers an FAQ section and tutorials that you can use to solve different common problems, such as how to connect multiple devices.
ExpressVPN also offers customer support through live chat and email. You can also use their product guides to solve different problems, and there is an FAQ section for answers to common questions.
However, when I contacted the two services, ExpressVPN connection was fast at around 35 minutes while NordVPN took almost an hour.
The customer support winner is ExpressVPN.
Summary of key features NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN
Rating ExpressVPN VS. NordVPN
|Jurisdiction||British Virgin Islands||Panama|
|Encryption||AES 256-bit||AES 256-bit|
|Unblocks BBC iPlayer||Yes||Yes|
|Works in China||Yes||Yes|
Final Verdict: NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN
From most features highlighted above, the VPN providers score well, with only slight variances. Regardless of how minor these variances are, they are vital when distinguishing the two VPN providers.
NordVPN offered the best pricing model, extensive server coverage, and the most simultaneous connections. However, NordVPN better on privacy, security, and streaming, top priorities when looking for a VPN. ExpressVPN performed exceptionally well in the apps and compatibility category, torrenting, and customer support.
So, the winner is NordVPN.
Other VPNs to consider
Besides NordVPN and ExpressVPN, more VPN providers are worth considering. Top contenders for this list include CyberGhost VPN, Surfshark, IPVanish, and Private Internet Access. However, note that some of these VPN providers are based in jurisdictions that bind them by law to log user activity data.