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ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: Which provider is best?

nordvpn vs expressvpn
(Image credit: Future)

Even though the basic feature set between many of the best VPN providers is undoubtedly similar, there are distinct differences.

Some of the key differences can be the number of servers available in the app, extra features to protect your privacy, and also the type of servers used for the VPN, which can determine the overall speed of your connection.

And since not all VPN clients are the same, it’s important to compare exactly what you are signing up for when you choose a VPN. Two of the most popular VPN clients are ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

Both of these excellent providers serve the same purpose - protecting your internet access and getting around blocked websites. And they both work in roughly the same way, letting you download a client on a desktop or mobile device. However, you might find that one meets your needs better due to their unique features and perks. Here’s a comparison.


What give ExpressVPN the edge?

It's worth getting this straight immediately...ExpressVPN is Tom's Guide's number one VPN. It does pretty much everything superbly and it's hard to really find fault with it.

ExpressVPN works in a whopping 96 countries in 160 different locations. The main distinction with this service is that few VPN clients can boast such a robust network that can keep you safe and secure (and anonymous) with so many servers in so many locations. There are over 3,000 servers available to help you connect.

expressvpn

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

Another unique feature with ExpressVPN of note is its feature to pick a server based on running a speed test, so you can always maintain the fastest connection. It should be noted that you may not need this for either product if you have an extremely fast connection and you are worried by a slight ding. Some users may never notice the difference at all.

Another differentiator with ExpressVPN is that you can use it on some unusual devices. While NordVPN does work on smart televisions and you can install it on a router, only ExpressVPN works on a game console as an app you can download and install.

For more in-depth analysis, you can read our entire ExpressVPN review here.


Why should you choose NordVPN?

NordVPN offers several perks that you might consider as you choose your client. One is that it uses a security service called CyberSec that is part ad-blocker and part malware detector. It runs in the background and looks for sites that are known for phishing scams, malware, spam, and viruses so that you won’t ever even connect to the site through the VPN.

What else should you think about? One claim worth noting has to do with logging online activity. The company claims they have been audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG in Zurich, Switzerland to make sure the company does not log user activity. 

This provides some extra peace of mind as you visit sites and connect to servers securely. The client itself isn’t recording what you do and can’t turn over logs to anyone - such as an employer or the authorities.

NordVPN

(Image credit: NordVPN)

NordVPN offers a few unusual connection options. Double VPN and Onion over VPN both provide added security and encryption beyond what you might expect. 

Not all VPN clients offer this, although it is also not something every user needs. Another perk is that you can sign-up for a dedicated IP address if you want even more assurances about security.

The number of servers offered is important if you require an extremely reliable connection from anywhere, but it’s not exactly something that most users will encounter. In a test of both services, there were never any issues with connecting or finding a server. While NordVPN has 5,600 servers and ExpressVPN has over 3,000, it’s not going to impact most users trying to download large files or stream a movie using your VPN for Netflix.

Get a fuller picture by tuning in to our NordVPN review.


Where are they similar

In most other areas, to be frank. Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer 24-hour online chat, split tunneling, a network killswitch (if the VPN fails, all traffic will be blocked), IP address masking (to hide your location), and AES-256 encryption. 

Both services can prevent an ISP from throttling your connection speed for movies and other media since the ISP doesn’t know what you are downloading or from where. This is an important feature since you may see a speed increase even though you are adding encryption to the connection (which can add about 10-15% hit on bandwidth with the added overhead).

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