ProtonVPN vs ExpressVPN

ProtonVPN and ExpressVPN are right at the top of the VPN market. They both use advanced cybersecurity technology to keep their users' data safe. They both promise high-speed steaming and safe P2P sharing. And they both claim to be totally anonymous services that keep their users' online activity 100% private. 

They're both excellent VPN services. But which one is right for your needs? We’re putting ProtonVPN and ExpressVPN head-to-head to see how they match up.

Pricing

ProtonVPN Plus

ExpressVPN

1-month plan

$10 per month

$12.95 per month

6-month plan

N/A

$59.99 (equivalent to $9.99 per month)

1-year plan

$96 (equivalent to $8 per month)

$99.95 (equivalent to $8.32 per month)

Refund period

30 days

30 days

First, note that ProtonVPN has a number of different pricing plans available. We’re reviewing ProtonVPN Plus as it’s the best comparison to ExpressVPN. However, there are two cheaper options — ProtonVPN’s Basic plan and Free plan — which come with major restrictions. There’s also a more expensive option — ProtonVPN’s Visionary plan — which includes a ProtonMail account.

ProtonVPN and ExpressVPN are both quite expensive. There are plenty of cheaper VPNs, including Private Internet Access and PureVPN. However, ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN are both top-quality products.

ProtonVPN Premium is cheaper than ExpressVPN across both its monthly and one-year plans. ExpressVPN also offers a six-month plan, but ProtonVPN does not.

Both brands offer a 30-day money-back guarantee period, so you can try either of them with no risks attached.

ProtonVPN


Although it’s one of the more expensive VPNs on the market, ProtonVPN is cheaper than ExpressVPN, so it wins this round.

Features

ProtonVPN Plus

ExpressVPN

Simultaneous connections                                  

5

5

VPN apps — operating systems                                           

Windows, macOS, iOS, Android

Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire, various routers including ASUS, Linksys, and Netgear models

Browser extensions

None

Chrome, Firefox, Safari

Split tunneling

Windows and Android only                                                                        

Desktop only

ExpressVPN


ExpressVPN wins this round because it provides apps and browser extension that make using the product a much more user-friendly experience.

Security

ProtonVPN

ExpressVPN

Protocols

OpenVPN with TCP/UDP,

OpenVPN with TCP/UDP, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP.

Data/control-channel encryption

AES-256-CBC, RSA-2048

AES-256-CBC, RSA-4096

Killswitch

Yes (except iOS)

Yes

ProtonVPN only provides access to the OpenVPN protocol. This is the best protocol for most purposes, but it’s unusual for a VPN provider to be restrictive in this way. ExpressVPN allows several alternative protocols, such as IKEv2, L2TP, and PPTP.

Security is one of ProtonVPN’s main selling points. It’s an extremely strong brand, created by a team of Swiss cybersecurity experts working at CERN in Switzerland. However, it’s worth noting that ProtonVPN doesn’t have any obvious security advantages over ExpressVPN. 

For example, both brands use “military-grade” 256-bit encryption to keep their users’ data secure. And in fact, ExpressVPN actually uses a higher-grade of control channel encryption.

One interesting security feature of ProtonVPN is its “Secure Core” technology, which repeatedly passes network traffic through several VPN servers. Each time user data passes through a server it goes through another round of encryption and becomes more secure.

Both VPNs feature a “killswitch.” This protects you from accidentally revealing your IP address or browsing activity if your VPN connection fails. ProtonVPN’s killswitch doesn’t work on its iOS app.

Tie


ExpressVPN has super-high grade control channel encryption, ProtonVPN has its “Secure Core” VPN technology — both of these VPNs offer cast-iron security.

Speed & servers

ProtonVPN

ExpressVPN

Servers

Over 630

Over 3000

Countries

44

94

It’s really hard to judge a VPN provider’s “overall” speed because it varies so much depending on the location of the user, the VPN server, and the internet resource that the user wants to access. 

But when we look at the number of servers a VPN has, and where those servers are located, this can give us an idea of how likely it is that the average person will get a fast, reliable connection.

ProtonVPN has very few servers compared to most VPN providers, located across a small variety of countries. ExpressVPN has nearly 5x more servers across more than double the number of countries.

Now, like some other smaller providers, ProtonVPN can provide pretty good connection speeds even with relatively few server locations. However, the difference here is particularly stark, and we’ve found that ExpressVPN does outperform ProtonVPN in most circumstances.

To be fair to ProtonVPN — it is still fast, and it’s adding more servers all the time. However, it can’t beat ExpressVPN on speed and server availability.

ExpressVPN


Express VPN has more servers in more places. This translates into faster connections speeds for the majority of users, so ExpressVPN beats ProtonVPN in this round.

Privacy

ProtonVPN

ExpressVPN

                    Logging policy                                                        

                            No logs                                                                   

Logs certain data about the apps you use and the servers you connect to

User info required

          Email address            

Email address

Anonymous payment options

Bitcoin

Cryptocurrencies, gift cards

Home jurisdiction

Switzerland

British Virgin Islands (BVI)

Privacy is another one of ProtonVPN’s big marketing angles. The company behind ProtonVPN also has an email product, ProtonMail, which was created to provide anonymity and privacy for journalists and political activists. 

It’s very important for many VPN users that their identity and internet activity will never be revealed. Certain VPNs, such as Hotspot Shield and PureVPN, have been accused of logging their users’ data and sharing it with third parties.

Both ProtonVPN and ExpressVPN are truly private VPN providers. ExpressVPN does log certain aggregate data for debugging purposes. However, both VPN providers have no-log policies that appear to be watertight.

It’s also possible to sign up to both VPN services anonymously by paying via Bitcoin rather than using a credit card or PayPal. ExpressVPN also accepts several other cryptocurrencies and gift cards for some popular stores.

Tie


Against virtually any other VPN provider, ProtonVPN would probably win our “Privacy” round. However, ExpressVPN’s superb privacy practices easily match up to those of ProtonVPN.

Content unblocking

ProtonVPN

ExpressVPN

Netflix

Yes

Yes

BBC

No

Yes

Amazon Prime Video

No

Yes

Hulu

Yes

Yes

You may know that VPNs can be used to bypass internet censorship and access online content that is blocked in your home country. This might mean getting around China’s “Great Firewall” — or it might simply mean watching US Netflix from Australia.

When it comes to unblocking geo-restricted content, not all VPN providers are created equal. ProtonVPN can unblock Netflix and Hulu in several regions, but that’s pretty much it.

ExpressVPN is easily one of the best VPN services for unblocking content. It breaks through Netflix and Hulu’s defenses across numerous countries, plus Amazon Prime video and even the tougher-to-crack streaming services such as BBC iPlayer.

ExpressVPN


ExpressVPN wins hands down for content-unblocking. It’s easily one of the best VPNs available for watching geographically-restricted streaming services and viewing censored web content

Our pick

ExpressVPN


ExpressVPN emerges as the clear winner of its side-by-side comparison with ProtonVPN.


ProtonVPN is still a great project, and its dedication to privacy and security is admirable. These are extremely important qualities for a VPN, and it’s shocking how certain other VPN providers neglect them. However, ExpressVPN is great on these fronts, too — and it combines its secure, private technology with an extremely fast, user-friendly experience. In some ways, such as control channel encryption, ExpressVPN is even more secure than ProtonVPN.


But please remember — different VPN providers serve different needs. If you want to try ExpressVPN and/or ProtonVPN, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee available on both products.
Alex Grant
 

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