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ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: A Quick Overview

Need help choosing between ExpressVPN and NordVPN? We’re comparing them across all relevant fields to see which comes out on top. Our comparison circuit includes speed, security, privacy, price, ease of use, and customer support.

Here’s our winner for each category:

  • Security: NordVPN
  • Speed: ExpressVPN
  • Privacy: NordVPN
  • Price: NordVPN
  • Ease of use: NordVPN
  • Customer Service: NordVPN

As you can see, NordVPN reigns supreme in almost all categories.

Learn more about our testing process and final results in the full article below.

ExpressVPN and NordVPN have been dominating all the lists of the best VPNs for years now. They both offer stellar services and more advanced features than we can count. But which one is better for you?

We decided to run a test and compare these two VPNs to each other directly. We’re comparing their security, privacy, speed, pricing, and everything else you’ll need to make an informed choice.

However, the final selection will always hinge on your personal needs and preferences. Our tests will only help you uncover the strengths and weaknesses of both VPNs. With that in mind, let’s see how ExpressVPN and NordVPN performed when pitted against each other.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Functionality, Features, and Other Options

Here’s a quick overview of the basic features offered by both providers.

Feature ExpressVPN NordVPN
Servers 3,000+ servers in 94 countries 5,500+ servers in 60 countries
Simultaneous connections 5 6
Operating systems Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux
Protocols OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPsec, Lightway OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, NordLynx (WireGuard)
Price From $6.67 per month From $2.99 per month
Log policy No logs No logs
Money-back-guarantee 30 days 30 days
DNS Leak Test
Tor over VPN
Obfuscated servers
Double VPN
Dedicated IP
Kill switch
Split tunneling
Diskless servers
Malicious website blocker
Custom DNS option
Link to website Go to ExpressVPN Go to NordVPN

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which VPN Is More Secure?

The main role of a VPN is to protect you against hackers, spying agencies, and even your ISP. A service that fails to make you anonymous can hardly be called a VPN. With that in mind, let’s see what our contenders have to offer in terms of essential online security.

Connection protocols

ExpressVPN supports the following VPN protocols:

  • OpenVPN (TCP/UDP): The most popular tunneling option
  • L2TP/IPSec: A good alternative to OpenVPN
  • IKEv2: Best for mobile users
  • Lightway: A proprietary protocol built from the ground up

ExpressVPN offers a solid list of modern VPN protocols. They’re not wasting time with outdated technologies like PPTP or SSTP. The most interesting option, of course, is their proprietary protocol called “Lightway”. It rivals the amazing speeds of WireGuard while adding TCP support, obfuscation, and extra privacy. This makes it excellent for anything from bypassing online censorship to streaming and torrenting.

NordVPN supports:

  • OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
  • IKEv2/IPSec
  • NordLynx: A proprietary protocol based on WireGuard

As you can see, NordVPN and ExpressVPN both use OpenVPN and IKEv2. ExpressVPN has an extra tunnel option with L2TP, and then there are Lightway and NordLynx, which might just be the very best protocols out of all of their provided options.

Comparing Lightway and NordLynx is extremely difficult. They’re both extremely fast, efficient, and secure. We can see these protocols replacing OpenVPN in the future, since they’re faster and less “bloated.” Fewer lines of code translate to better security since hackers won’t have as many potential attack points.

In other words: both VPN providers offer great VPN protocols and have taken the extra mile by working on proprietary protocols.

Encryption and extra features

NordVPN and ExpressVPN both use 256-bit encryption (AES or ChaCha, depending on the protocol). They both have an automatic kill switch, which prevents data leaks when your VPN stops working properly.

Besides that, NordVPN offers Onion over VPN (a connection via the Tor network) and dedicated IPs. It also supports the so-called “double VPN” (or multi-hop), which allows you to route your traffic through multiple servers. Both providers have the option of split-tunneling, which is the selective use of VPNs for certain applications.

Lastly, both providers offer “stealth servers.” These mask your VPN traffic to look like regular browsing. Camouflage like this is a must-have in censorship-heavy countries like China and Turkey.

Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN work with high levels of security when it comes to encryption and VPN tunnels. Since NordVPN offers more options, NordVPN wins the security round over ExpressVPN.

Most secure VPN: NordVPN

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ExpressVPN or NordVPN: Which VPN Is Faster?

We tested the speed of both VPNs to see which one performs better. We started off by testing our own connection without a VPN to set the benchmark speed. You can see the results in the screenshot below.

Speedtest no VPN

We then tested international (US) and local (Dutch) servers belonging to both providers. The results are provided in the table below, with the “winning” speeds highlighted in bold.

Speed metric ExpressVPN NordVPN
Download speed local server (Mbps) 322.38 257.20
Upload speed local server (in Mbps) 171.11 388.64
Ping local server 8 ms 9 ms
Download speed international server (in Mbps) 139.68 146.64
Upload speed international server (in Mbps) 26.97 27.24
Ping international server 114 ms 78 ms

Both VPNs provide smooth day-to-day operation, so you’ll have no problems with sudden disconnects or intensive speed drops. However, ExpressVPN performed much better on local servers, which gives it a clear edge. If you can’t imagine a day without bandwidth-intensive tasks (HD streaming, online gaming, and torrenting), ExpressVPN is a better choice. On international servers, the difference in download speed is negligible.

Fastest VPN: ExpressVPN

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NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Which VPN Handles Your Data Better?

Third-party data security has to be complemented with a solid privacy policy. If your VPN keeps logs, your data could still end up in the wrong hands, despite the encryption. Let’s see how ExpressVPN and NordVPN manage your data.

ExpressVPN’s privacy details

  • ExpressVPN is a no-logging VPN service. They’ve implemented the so-called TrustedServers for OpenVPN and IKEv2, which can’t store data permanently. With these RAM-only servers, they can’t keep logs, even if they wanted to.
  • The company operates out of the British Virgin Islands, which has extremely privacy-friendly laws. Although the BVI belongs to the UK, it has its own legislation. It also doesn’t take part in any data-sharing alliances or agreements. Finally, the BVI doesn’t have mandatory data retention, which allows VPNs to provide their services without logging any data.
  • PwC has audited ExpressVPN and the results mirrored the providers’ commitment to user privacy.
  • ExpressVPN has experienced a few recent privacy issues, including their Log4Shell vulnerability.
  • The company’s executive was fined for his past role in UAE’s Project Raven, which engaged in hacking and surveillance practices.

NordVPN’s privacy details

  • NordVPN operates from Panama. This location is considered “VPN-friendly,” allowing VPN providers to implement zero-logging policies.
  • The company underwent several independent audits, including one by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG (one of the “Big 4” auditing firms). This was one of the first logging audits out there and showed that NordVPN doesn’t record any user data.
  • NordVPN uses diskless RAM servers. Such servers need to retrieve any required information from the secured central infrastructure. Therefore, the diskless VPN servers only act as a kind of conduit and can’t store information about you.
  • In 2019, one of NordVPN’s servers was hacked and leaked private keys and configuration files. Since Nord doesn’t keep logs, no user activity was leaked, and NordVPN has since been upping its security.

ExpressVPN and NordVPN are an even match when it comes to logging practices and server technology. However, the former has a lot more privacy and security scandals under its belt. With that in mind, we have to give the win to NordVPN.

Most privacy-minded VPN: NordVPN

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ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which Provider Is Cheaper?

The cost of a monthly NordVPN subscription is cheaper than its ExpressVPN counterpart. Overall, NordVPN’s subscriptions are consistently more affordable than those of ExpressVPN. A nice plus is that both providers offer great discounts if you take out longer subscriptions.

Subscription ExpressVPN NordVPN
1 month $12.95 $11.99
6 months $9.99
1-year plan $4.49
1-year plan (+ 3 free months) $6.67
2-year plan (+ 3 free months) $2.99

Please note: We try to keep this table up-to-date, but the actual prices could vary. Always visit the VPN’s website to get the actual price for a subscription.

The cheapest VPN: NordVPN

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NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Which App Is Easier to Work With?

Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN strike a fine balance between user-friendliness and useful options. Their websites and clients are clear and easy to navigate. Nevertheless, there are some differences in usability that we would like to cover in more detail.

Differences between ExpressVPN’s and NordVPN’s appearance

When you open their respective clients, you can immediately see a clear difference between the two home screens. NordVPN shows more information, while ExpressVPN opted for a simpler display with a prominent on/off button.

Both home screens have their pros and cons. NordVPN’s map might seem a bit confusing to some users. Since you can pick servers from a list on the left, we would even deem the map unnecessary. ExpressVPN’s client works well, but the design makes it look outdated at this point.

In contrast, NordVPN’s client feels more modern. NordVPN also displays shortcuts to the most used servers on the left-hand side of the screen. ExpressVPN only shows the most recently used server.

ExpressVPN and NordVPN VPN client software side by side

Installation process

ExpressVPN and NordVPN are both very easy to install. After creating a personal account, you can simply download the software and follow the instructions. You should be able to set up any of our two contenders in just a couple of minutes.

We can’t find any significant differences in their installations. If you’d like some more in-depth information on their setup, you can find it in our exhaustive ExpressVPN and NordVPN reviews.

Since NordVPN offers more easy-to-find options in its app, NordVPN takes the edge on usability — but only just.

Most user-friendly VPN: NordVPN

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Customer Service: How Well Are Users Supported?

Solid customer support is the first line of defense against potential VPN issues. That’s why it’s essential that you get help in a timely fashion. In order for that to happen, the support team has to be skilled enough to handle your problems.

Let’s see how ExpressVPN and NordVPN performed in this category:

  • We were able to speak with an actual human with both providers, not an AI-powered bot.
  • Live chat is only available in English for both services.
  • NordVPN’s employees were highly skilled and adept at finding working servers for Netflix quickly. With ExpressVPN, we’ve had an impression that their team is not well-suited for solving technical problems.
  • Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN have rich on-site knowledge bases, but Nord’s FAQ section is much better.

NordVPN gets the advantage here, thanks to the expertise of its support team.

VPN with the best customer service: NordVPN

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Our Final Verdict: Will ExpressVPN or NordVPN Win?

It’s clear that ExpressVPN and NordVPN both provide top-notch VPN services. Yet one provider was always just that little bit ahead in each category, which can make an important difference to some users.

Let’s summarize our results and see which provider won in each category:

  • Security: NordVPN
  • Speed: ExpressVPN
  • Privacy: NordVPN
  • Price: NordVPN
  • Ease of use: NordVPN
  • Customer Service: NordVPN

As far as we are concerned, NordVPN is the number one provider. Even so, ExpressVPN remains a solid choice, thanks to its incredible speed on local servers.

Interested in one of these two providers? Just click on their respective links below and take back your online freedom.

Deal Get the annual subscription for only $6.67 per month!
$ 6.67
  • Very easy-to-use VPN
  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e., Netflix)
  • 3,000+ servers in 94 countries
Visit ExpressVPN
Our choice
Deal Save big with 68% off a two-year subscription plus 3 months free!
$ 3.19
  • Fast and large worldwide network of VPN servers
  • Perfect for privacy and streaming
  • Trusted by many, with over 14 million users
Visit NordVPN

Curious about other VPN comparisons? Have a look at the articles below:

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Frequently Asked Questions

Have some additional questions about our ExpressVPN vs NordVPN comparison? Just click on one of the questions below to read the answer.

Is ExpressVPN better than NordVPN?

At the moment, we would say that NordVPN is the better choice. Both providers offer excellent speeds and security, but ExpressVPN has had to deal with more privacy scandals and vulnerabilities. You can learn all about these two providers in our direct comparison.

How much faster is ExpressVPN than NordVPN?

According to our extensive testing, ExpressVPN is only faster on local servers (meaning servers close to or in your own country). The retained download speed was around 70 MB higher than that of NordVPN. However, NordVPN was slightly faster on international servers. Its ping was also much lower (78 ms to 114 ms), which makes it excellent for online gaming. You can check our list of the fastest VPNs for more info.

Is ExpressVPN really the best VPN?

At the moment, we would have to say no. Its service remains excellent on paper, but the company has had many privacy scandals, resulting in dwindling customer trust. As it stands, we believe that NordVPN and Surfshark are better choices.

Is NordVPN really the best VPN?

Yes! NordVPN is at the top of the VPN game right now. It provides excellent speeds, top-notch security, and plenty of amazing features. You’ll have no problems with online gaming, torrenting, and unblocking Netflix anywhere in the world. It’s also a great choice for business owners who want to keep their data away from any prying eyes.

Leave a comment

  1. Gene

    Are there serious advantages to having two VPNs — not together but for alternate purposes? I am not a sophisticated computer user. But I do, so to speak, want to have the world at my fingertips and as accessible as possible. Is Express or Nord very different in regard to the number or kind of sites one can unblock after they have subscribed to them?

    • David Janssen

      They have some differences, but if it’s just for unblocking purposes, the VPN with the most servers is usually your best choice. Having two separate VPNs won’t benefit you that much on a daily basis.

  2. Kaiyote I.

    This review is biased towards ExpressVPN. NordVPN Feature Set, Price per Month, and WireGuard blows ExpressVPN out of the water. Very unobjective review.

    • David Janssen

      At the moment we do genuinely prefer ExpressVPN over NordVPN, which is supported by our tests on the various criteria we mentioned in this comparison. However, they don’t differ from each other by that much, so we do understand a lot of people would pick NordVPN over ExpressVPN, especially when it comes to the difference in price compared to the other minor differences on the various criteria.

      • Kaiyote

        I would’ve chosen ExpressVPN, but these factors were strikes for me
        – No cash purchase option
        – No support for TOR over VPN
        – No Double VPN
        – No Adblocker
        – No Malicious Website Blocker
        – Higher cost ROI for $3 more per month not there (Express $6.67 vs Nord $3.71)
        – NordVPN has nearly twice as many server
        – NordVPN WireGuard Protocol(Speed) has 16 months worth of independent audits compared the ExpressVPN’s Lightway no independent audits. On US 1Gb fiber. 878Mbps download with No VPN. 706Mbps download with NordVPN.

        ExpressVPN costs $3 dollars more at its cheapest. You get less features outside of parity and speed is plenty fast with NordVPN. I’m not seeing the value of paying $3 dollars more a month ($36 dollars more a year) to gain what?

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