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Online security has become a great concern to people around the globe. With more and more people joining the online community, new hacking systems and ways to trace your location and track your online activities are quickly being introduced. The need for a VPN service to secure your connections is undeniable for both individuals and companies.
When it comes to VPNs, NordVPN and ExpressVPN are two of the most popular options available in the market. We found it pretty hard to choose between the two in our review since both are closely matched in their features. However, we will dwell on each attribute of these leading VPNs and examine which is best suited for specific tasks.
For those who cannot find the time to read through the detailed comparison, we can disclose that our full review found Express VPN to be the stronger of the two. That is mainly due to its excellent security features, high speeds, and user-friendly apps supported by a range of platforms
NordVPN may, however, be the better option if you are on a budget or are looking for convenient security features such as a double-hop VPN or automatic Wi-Fi protection.
Here is a comparison summary of what we gathered from our attribute-by-attribute analysis of ExpressVPN and NordVPN:
Both VPNs offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, which we can attest to the authenticity in each firm, having tested both of the firms. Both companies do not pester you with questions on why you do not approve of the service whenever you want the money back.
ExpressVPN offers you three months for free every time you subscribe to their one-year term. If you are considering making annual VPN subscriptions, ExpressVPN provides a better deal.
On the other hand, NordVPN offers mouth-watering discounts for longer-term subscriptions. For instance, they offer you a $2.99 monthly subscription rate if you are willing to pay for three years subscription upfront. If you do the math, this sums up to an astounding 75% discount on the three-year plan.
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NordVPN and ExpressVPN are among the handful of VPN firms that offer their users command-line utilities for easier installations on Linux-based devices. Both VPNs also offer apps supporting Windows, iOS, macOS, Android, and Amazon Fire operating systems.
Here are of some of the features you can expect to access each VPN.
ExpressVPN tramples NordVPN on router stakes since it features its own user-friendly custom firmware that is supported by select routers. Manual setup is possible on both devices with routers configured with compatible software. Both of the VPNs also offer extensive tutorials that make it easier for you to install the VPNs on the various supported router types.
NordVPN tramples ExpressVPN on connection allowance stakes since it offers double the connection allowance of the latter. However, for both routers, the installation of the VPNs on a router just counts as one connection from your allowed limit.
NordVPN also features CyberSec, an ad blocker, and a malware protection system that can be turned on in the app. Though it is not a ground-breaking feature, Express VPN fails to match its competitor in this respect.
Both VPNs are well programmed to unblock geo-restricted streaming sites. There is not much you cannot access from the internet while using either of the two services.
Express VPN has the edge over its rival in unblocking restricted sites since it can unblock more Netflix collections than NordVPN. You may need to contact the ExpressVPN's customer support team to find out which server to use since the VPN does not guarantee to unblock all streaming sites from your server's region.
Related: How to Change Region in Netflix
When it comes to NordVPN, every server we tested unblocked Netflix libraries successfully. NordVPN also redirects your connection to the US Netflix library automatically in case the library corresponding to your server location cannot be unblocked.
If you are using a Kodi box, both VPNs will work to get you around TV service restrictions. Neither of the VPN giants has created an app for the Kodi box, but the wide range of VPN protocol options that both features give you plenty of alternatives.
If Kodi is installed on your PC, you can manage your Geo-location using the NordVPN or ExpressVPN apps installed on your device.
While the main ExpressVPN website was blocked by the Chinese government, the company provides an alternate address for the VPN users in China. Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are reputable VPN service providers in China.
Despite the challenges the company faces to keep its services accessible in China, ExpressVPN is reputed for being China’s best VPN. NordVPN also has a reputable performance in the Chinese market.
ExpressVPN features a miniature app that maintains a user-friendly interface even when used on Windows, smartphones, or Mac.
NordVPN features a start screen that shows blue markers on a map to signify where the company’s servers are situated. The map doesn’t lose its appeal even on smaller smartphone screens.
The NordVPN interface is much more appealing though it is not as sufficiently spaced as on the ExpressVPN design. ExpressVPN provides a dropdown menu from which you can select your preferred server location instead of just country names.
With NordVPN, you can also opt to use a dropdown list to select your preferred server. The selection list on NordVPN provides you with more details than the map on its main screen. NordVPN provides you with three connection options; DDoS protection, a double-hop route choice, and a secure connection to the Tor network through the VPN.
Extra security options and operating settings are easily accessible on both VPN apps. In each of the apps, these options are availed on a separate page leaving the apps’ main screen tidy and user-friendly.
Overall, NordVPN appears slightly more user-friendly than ExpressVPN, while the latter features a neat and professional look that is very efficient.
Before the ExpressVPN can work, you will have to log into your account on the company’s website and get an activation code. The security feature is a bit cumbersome for new users, but it ensures that no cyber criminals are able to access the services of the app illegally.
You can easily purchase a router through both VPNs’ websites since both of the firms have association agreements with major Wi-Fi router vendors. What’s more, you get a combo VPN service package from either company after purchasing a router through the VPN company website.
Related: Best VPN Services of the year
Though ExpressVPN boasts running servers in more countries, NordVPN has a larger pool of servers of the two.
Unlike with the Express VPN, NordVPN features VPN chaining, which is also known as double-hop or multi-hop VPN. That means that there are a number of NordVPN servers that offer double encryption of your data packets. That is achieved by routing your traffic through two different servers.
While this security feature can make sure that no entity on the internet can track your packets, it can slow down your connection. NordVPN also offers another security routing option that involves routing your connection through one of its servers to the Tor network.
Both VPNs offer high-speed services and are among the five fastest VPN service providers across the globe. Both of them should be comfortably fast enough to stream both HD and live HD videos. However, based on our latest tests on speed, NordVPN has a bit of an upper hand.
Though some protocols are slower than others, you can access multiple VPN protocols on both the NordVPN and the ExpressVPN. One of the best protocols offered by both VPNs is OpenVPN, which is a top-level security system that you should consider using. OpenVPN can, however, be slightly slower than other lighter options on both VPNs.
If you need a faster option, NordVPN offers you an IKEv2 protocol that is often supported on mobile devices, while ExressVPN offers an L2TP protocol. Both of these protocols will provide you with substantially higher connection speeds for activities such as online gaming.
ExpressVPN offers both PPTP and SSTP protocols, although the latter is a more secure alternative to the PPTP protocol.
Overall, both VPN providers offer robust options for VPN protocols. However, NordVPN has the upper hand over its rival since it provides the IKEV2 protocol that is fast and can be used on mobile devices.
ExpressVPN offers a slightly better encryption standard as compared to NordVPN. Both providers provide AES encryption and a 256-bit key as their encryption standard. Since the cipher cannot be cracked, it provides you with solid security for your online activities.
ExpressVPN has the edge over NordVPN in the security that it provides for the control channel. The cipher is used to establish online sessions and protect the distribution of AES keys. Though both providers use an RSA encryption for the control channel, ExpressVPN has designed a longer key 4,096 bits compared to Nord's 2,048-bit key.
ExpressVPN has gone to extreme encryption lengths and over-engineered its security protocol to make sure that it is totally secure. The high security level is especially important if you reside in China. The Chinese authorities are said to have successfully cracked the 1,024-bit key on the RSA encryption protocol and are now working to break the crucial 2,048-bit version. Though it might take a while to get there, NordVPN stands the risk of being utterly insecure in China.
Both firms scramble the encrypted data packets to prevent any recurring patterns that could be cracked to give away the users’ details during transmission. They then force all DNS references to be routed through their encrypted tunnels to prevent any third party from getting access to your information on the web.
If a VPN fails to tunnel your DNS references through a secure channel, all the sites you click through could be seen by hackers or government spooks that tapping the line. Fortunately, this is not the case with ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
Both the ExpressVPN and NordVPN apps feature a kill switch option that, if turned on, will prevent any application on the device from accessing the internet without the services of the VPN being activated. NordVPN features an overall kill switch that allows you to restrict internet access for specific apps selectively.
While the per-app killer is not featured in ExpressVPN, it offers split tunneling. Split tunneling gives you the authority to select which apps can access the internet without the VPN's protocol and which ones will stay protected.
You could set the app to start at boot time, which means you do not have to configure the VPNs every time you want to access the internet.
While NordVPN is still acclaimed for its high-end VPN services, the company recently suffered an isolated data breach, which is quite a detrimental flaw given the firm’s strong track record.
Neither of these two VPN giants is obligated to disclose user details to the government or any security or corporate agencies. They are neither required to cooperate with any US or UK court orders to provide information on a user or trace them.
The ExpressVPN headquarters are in the British Virgin Islands. There are no laws on data retention in the Virgin Islands. On the other hand, NordVPN is based in Panama, which may seem safer than it actually is. Panama has some draconian copyright laws. The country has, in fact, been forced to cooperate with US authorities on several occasions. However, NordVPN has not established any servers in its home nation. This allows it to avoid pressure from the government to disclose client information.
Every action of the user, while connected to the VPN servers, is recorded in the activity log. Unfortunately, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors can find their way to your doorstep by tracing your connection backward from its destination. Although a VPN breaks this traceable chain, connection logs can easily be used to locate a user through the VPN.
NordVPN keeps no connection logs, but unlike their fierce competitors, ExpressVPN does. The records that ExpressVPN keeps include the server you are connected to, your account ID, the date, and the amount of data packets that you have transferred. It should be impossible to track you without your IP address, and ExpressVPN does not record it.
While it might be impossible to track your location without your IP address, your identity can be traced through your email account or credit card. That brings the question; is it possible to open an account with the VPN services anonymously?
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer you the option to pay using cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency transactions are practically impossible to trace, which means the law enforcement agencies cannot trace you through your banking activities.
ExpressVPN also offers you the option to pay through Mint, a prepaid card that allows you to load it with cash in stores without the need to identify yourself. You will also need to provide both services with your email address, but you can just use a burner email address instead. It is, therefore, possible to create an anonymous account with both providers and leave anyone with the intention of tracking you down with no leads.
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer excellent privacy levels. This is one of the main reasons the two VPN services are favorites for people who use torrents to download videos and music. Copyright infringement is a serious offense, and you will require the best identity protection service while you download entertainment through torrents.
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN have been open about their support for people who download through torrents, and hence there is no need for their subscribers to be timid about your online activities with their protection services.
There are various methods that VPNs use to mask the identity of your IP address. Both the NordVPN and ExpressVPN utilize the shared address method. This method involves labeling all outgoing traffic with the VPN server IP address. Anyone tracing your online activities from a target website will end up at the VPN server unable to tell which VPN customer made the request.
Both VPN service providers offer you NAT firewall protection. While you might have read something about NAT firewalls on some VPNs, it is actually PAT (Port Address Mapping). Thanks to the address translation system, it is virtually impossible to identify any IP addresses behind the gateway, which automatically creates a firewall.
You might need a private address in some instances. Having your own individual IP address is especially essential when accepting incoming connections. NAT firewall will not map your address during these instances. You will need to have a static or private IP address when setting up your own server. It might be a gaming server, your own website, or your own cloud system.
While ExpressVPN cannot create a static IP for you, for an extra fee, NordVPN can provide the service to you. You have the freedom to choose from IP addresses from the USA, the UK, Germany, or the Netherlands. It does not matter where you actually reside.
There is always a degree of DDoS protection offered by all VPNs because criminals will need to have your IP address before launching a DDoS attack on you. With a quality VPN service such as the one provided by ExpressVPN and NordVPN, anyone trying to start a DDoS attack on you would actually be attacking the server. VPN servers can easily absorb these attacks since they are much more powerful than your PC.
If you need extra DDoS protection, NordVPN offers better protection if you are a likely target of frequent or large DDoS attacks. Unfortunately, ExpressVPN does not provide the service.
It is important for any modern company to interact with its customers and help them resolve common problems. It is particularly important when dealing with VPNs. Since your security and privacy will solely depend on the ability of your VPN to protect your data continually, it is imperative that VPN problems are resolved as fast as possible.
When it comes to customer support, both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are highly acclaimed in the VPN service industry. Both feature live chat facilities on their sites with knowledgeable and friendly experts at the other end of the line. In our tests, we found the ExpressVPN chat system to be quicker to connect to after regular visits. Their average response time on the online chat facility is also better than that of NordVPN.
We also carried out tests for email response times and their ability to resolve common and complex issues alike. We found that both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer speedy and thorough responses to email queries. ExpressVPN boasts the best average email response time, taking only one hour and forty minutes to reply as compared to three hours and twenty-four minutes by NordVPN.
While some VPNs do not send replies to all email queries, we have to give credit to both service providers for answering all questions thoroughly. Though some queries seemed to have had long response times, they are, in fact, among the fastest responses from top VPN service providers.
ExpressVPN and NordVPN are both highly acclaimed. Server locations that are not available in NordVPN are often available with ExpressVPN since they have included a more comprehensive selection of server locations. If your preferred server is not on the NordVPN list, it is then wise to invest in ExpressVPN.
If you are looking for a dedicated, static IP address or extra DDoS protection, NordVPN would be a better option for you than ExpressVPN since the latter does not provide these services.
ExpressVPN is slightly better in the strength of security since it features a more robust control channel encryption. It is, therefore, preferable to use ExpressVPN if security is of at most importance to you or your business. NordVPN, however, tramples its rival in terms of privacy for its no-logs policy.
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer quality VPN services in China and other authoritarian administrations such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. According to our speed tests, NordVPN is slightly better than its bitter rival.
For HD or live video streaming, ExpressVPN provides the better service of the two VPN giants. Despite NordVPN's ability to access Netflix libraries, it does not allow you to obtain as many Netflix libraries as ExpressVPN, which makes the latter one of the most acclaimed VPN services in the world.
NordVPN has designed slightly more user-friendly applications for several operating systems. However, ExpressVPN has the upper hand for availing its own custom firmware, which makes it easier for users to set up the VPN on compatible routers.
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer a 30-day money-back guarantee that gives you the chance to test the efficiency of both VPN services yourself. You do not have to be timid of either company denying you the money-back offer if you are unsatisfied with their services. Whichever VPN you decide to install into your system will offer you advanced protection against trackers and hackers.
Overall, ExpressVPN is slightly ahead of NordVPN for its heightened security protocol and more extensive server base. Their best deal is also a little more convenient for people who prefer shorter subscriptions. However, NordVPN offers a generally more affordable set of subscription options. It is, therefore, wise to invest in NordVPN if you are working on a budget or just need to secure your gaming experience.
If you experience any problems while using either of these VPN service providers, their customer care professionals are fast in response and thorough to resolve your issue quickly.
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