While VPNs perform the same basic function, they are not all created equal. Here's how NordVPN and ExpressVPN stack up to each other.
By Sean Bradley
At a Glance
There is very little to separate NordVPN and ExpressVPN as they’re both excellent services. NordVPN does represent a better-value deal though, so unless ExpressVPN has that one specific feature that you really need, such as split tunneling, NordVPN will provide you with a great service and protection at a cheaper price.
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So you’re trying to decide which VPN service to sign up to, and you’ve narrowed your shortlist to
VPNs are more popular than ever.
Virtual private networks, or VPNs, have become a vital part of your online presence. While many people use them to access location-restricted content, they’re also recommended in a situation involving sensitive information online.
When deciding with VPN to go for, it’s highly likely that NordVPN and ExpressVPN will be among your choices. They have occupied the top spots in our best VPN chart for some time, and both received 9/10 in our reviews.
The decision between them will likely come down to whether it’s worth spending the extra money on Express, or whether Nord will provide everything you’re looking for.
We’ll compare the two in terms of:
Ease of use
If you want a more in-depth look at each service read our full reviews of
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Price
As with all VPN providers, Nord and Express have several different plans which – unsurprisingly – get cheaper when you commit for longer. They’re both pretty expensive if you sign up for only one month at a time, but this plan is really intended so you can try each service out before you subscribe for a longer period.
One month plan – £9.20/$11.95
One year plan – £5.38/$6.99 per month (£64.58/$83.88 in total)
Two year plan – £3.84/$3.99 per month (£92.21/$95.76 in total)
Three year plan – £2.68/$2.99 per month (£96.74/$107.64 in total)
The big difference here, then, is that ExpressVPN is more expensive than Nord across the board, and doesn’t offer two- or three-year deals like Nord does. The longest is a one-year deal, which gives you three months free, but even this works out at £6.38/ $6.67 per month. But with Nord’s two year plan, the monthly cost is just £3.84/ $3.99, and it gets even more affordable if you’re happy to commit to three years.
Both companies are so confident you’ll like the service that they give you a 30-day money-back guarantee. This essentially makes it a month-long free trial, which is great if you’re on the fence or want to try them both for yourself.
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Ease of use
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are extremely easy to use, with no technical knowledge required to use them. You’ll find it intuitive to navigate your way through menus and options, regardless of your level of expertise.
All of the apps offer a ‘one-click-connect’ option that allows you to connect and disconnect to the VPN at the click of a button.
The above image shows the NordVPN Windows interface for selecting the server you wish to route your connection through. Just below you can see ExpressVPN’s mobile interface.
Here are the apps and extensions available for each service
iOS (iPhone / iPad)
Amazon Fire TV
Both services also have step-by-step guides which show you how to get the VPN working on lots of other devices including
NAS drives, RaspberryPi and more.
All the apps have a simple, clean design, allowing you to choose a country or server and get connected quickly.
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Security & privacy
VPN providers live and die by the security they offer and you can be sure that both NordVPN and ExpressVPN take this very seriously.
They offer the most secure protocols on each operating system, ensuring the connection is virtually unbreakable. And if the VPN tunnel does collapse – which means the connection loses its encryption, both services have a kill switch that immediately stops any data being sent or received until the VPN connection is re-established.
There are slight differences to the kill switch depending on which device and which encryption protocol are being used, though. Plus, note that ExpressVPN’s kill switch (called Network Lock) isn’t available on iOS or Android, whereas NordVPN’s iOS and Android apps do have a kill switch.
In terms of privacy, which is a key factor for any VPN, neither NordVPN nor ExpressVPN keep any logs. This means they do not store the following data about you:
Your IP address
Put simply, it means that there is no record of when you used the service, how long you used it for, or what you did online while you used it: your activity is private. Your ISP, your government and any other third parties will not be able to see or find out what you have been doing.
However, do bear in mind that your activity can be logged and stored by any websites you log into. So if you’re connected to a VPN, but you browse to Amazon.com and login with your usual details, Amazon will know who you are and what you’re browsing and / or buying. A VPN can’t make you anonymous when you hand over your login details to websites.
Location / jurisdiction
NordVPN is based in Panama and ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands. Both locations are outside of the “14-Eyes” group of countries which share intelligence and neither require the storage of data by law.
Either way, with the no-logs policies you’re going to be extremely safe with either of these providers.
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: Features
Both companies offer a similar service so far. But there are a few differences in the features on offer and their network coverage.
For example, here are a few features that NordVPN has that ExpressVPN does not:
Double VPN Encryption
5500+ servers (ExpressVPN has 3000+)
Up to 6 connections at once, compared to 5 on ExpressVPN
Cyber security features that help keep you safe from ads and malware
NordVPN also offers a Warrant Canary, which updates daily to let users know if the service has been issued with a National Security letter, gag order or any warrant from another organization. You can find this at the very bottom of its About Us page.
ExpressVPN has the following features that NordVPN doesn’t have:
In case you’re wondering, split-tunnelling is where you can pick which apps are routed via the VPN and which aren’t. It’s a little like when you use a VPN web browser extension: only the web browser uses the VPN, but any other apps you’re running connect to the internet as normal without the protection (or possible slow-down) that a VPN brings.
Split tunnelling is a feature in Express VPN’s Windows, macOS, Android and router apps. Nord offers apps on all these platforms, although it does miss out on Amazon Fire and Linux apps.
Don’t get too caught up in network coverage: just because Nord has more servers or ExpressVPN covers more countries doesn’t really matter. So long as there is a server near you (for the best speeds for normal use) and a server in the country where you want to unblock content, that’s all that really matters.
And both services have servers in the UK, US and other key countries and, yes, they both unblock Netflix and BBC iPlayer. Of course, there’s a few more steps to go through if you want to
get Disney+ in the UK before 24 March 2020.
Both companies claim to have fast networks, and while it is very difficult indeed to test a VPN provider’s speed – because it varies all the time – we have used both services extensively for a couple of years and can say they are both very good indeed.
Neither is noticeably better or worse than the other: connections are generally reliable and plenty fast enough to stream HD video.
When you run into a problem or have a question, both providers have 24/7 live chat. This is excellent because it means you can speak to someone at any time and typically they’ll be able to help there and then without referring your question to someone else (and then you’ll probably have to wait for an email reply).
They also offer email support if you prefer that, and a ticketed system to ensure queries are answered in order. Both sites have good support pages with lots of information, step-by-step guides and troubleshooting articles which answer a lot of common questions and problems.
Both Nord and Express are excellent VPN choices, and you’re likely to be satisfied whichever one you choose.
Their level of security is unrivalled, while there is a wide range of features on offer. ExpressVPN has the edge in this regard, offering split tunnellling and servers in more countries around the world.
However, you will pay extra for this privilege. For most people, Nord offers everything you are looking for in a VPN, while Express will get you the most complete service on the market. With recent price drops, both providers are affordable for anyone looking to upgrade their online security.
While both offer a similar list of features some are exclusive to one or the other, but that is the only place where they tend to differ. NordVPN is unquestionably cheaper, so unless ExpressVPN has that one feature you really can’t live without – vote with your wallet and head over to pick up NordVPN’s three year deal.