ExpressVPN Review (Updated April, 2017)

Whether you're looking for the best VPN for China, the best VPN for Netflix, the best VPN for torrenting, or the best VPN for just about anything else, ExpressVPN is the best choice. The superior quality apps, ease of use, 24/7 support, and high-speed servers are without compare in the VPN industry. Overall, no other VPN that I have used can match the quality, reliability, and speed of ExpressVPN. You don't need to take my word for it though, you try ExpressVPN yourself risk-free for 30 days due to their very generous 30-day no-hassle money-back guarantee. You can cancel any time for any reason within 30 days, no questions asked! As proof of how easy it is to get a refund, I am sharing the chat transcript of my friend who cancelled his service without any hassle at all.

One of my favorite features of ExpressVPN is the built-in speed testing function for the desktop applications. Unlike the speed test tools of other VPN software, this measures both latency and download speed. These measurements are combined to assign a "speed index" so you know which server locations will work the best from your location. No need to waste your time connecting to all the servers one by one to find the best one. You can see my speed test results below from my home China using China Telecom ISP.

expressvpn speed test software results

So far I have personally used the ExpressVPN apps for Windows, Android, iOS, and the new router app. They also have apps available for Mac and Linux and a smart DNS service that works for watching Netflix on Apple TV, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, etc. All of the apps I have used work extremely well and much better than the apps of any other VPN I have tested. The app that really stands out from the competition is the ExpressVPN iOS app. Many VPN providers cannot offer an iOS app that works good in China but ExpressVPN has managed to do it. The ExpressVPN iOS app supports both Cisco IPSec and OpenVPN protocols. In fact, ExpressVPN is the only VPN company I am aware of that has implemented the OpenVPN protocol within their dedicated app for iOS. Normally, it's only possible to use OpenVPN on iOS through the third party OpenVPN Connect app.

Although ExpressVPN is the best VPN, it's also one of the most expensive. For me personally, it's well worth the $8.32 a month given the high performance of the Hong Kong 3 server when connecting from my ISP, China Telecom.

Tips for using ExpressVPN for Netflix

  • Not all servers will work for Netflix, you need to contact support by live chat or email to get the right server. Currently, there are working server locations in USA, Canada, and UK. Check the latest updates for working VPNs for Netflix here.
  • If you are using the mobile apps for android or iOS, you must disable locations services to prevent the app from knowing your real location.
  • The easiest way to get American Netflix on Apple TV, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, etc is to use the MediaStreamer DNS which is included free all ExpressVPN subscriptions. Another easy option that doesn't require you to flash customer firmware on your router is to use your computer as a virtual VPN router. This will share the VPN connection from your computer with all devices wirelessly.

Tips for using ExpressVPN in China

  • Use the built-in speed test function of the desktop software to find the best servers. Run the test again if you are experiencing poor performance, if you change locations within China, or change ISPs.
  • If you don't get good speeds then try changing the port between UDP or TCP or just simply re-connect using the same port. Some server locations are hosted on more than one data center and you can get different servers by re-connecting to the same location. You can also trying PPTP and L2TP, but in my experience these protocols don't work well with ExpressVPN and several servers are missing when setting the protocol to PPTP or L2TP.
  • Keep the apps up to date, ExpressVPN releases updates very frequently and the apps keep getting better and better.

Update on the Hong Kong 3 Server

Hong Kong 3 is the best VPN server for China Telecom, no other VPN server from any VPN company can come close to matching the performance of Hong Kong 3 if you are using China Telecom.

Although this server is available on most ExpressVPN accounts, a small number of users have reported that this server was removed from their account. The reason given to affected customers is usually something like "the HK3 server is resource constrained and there are limitations from the hosting provider" or something like this.

Here my theory of what is happening with Hong Kong 3. I don't have any more information beyond the explanation given to some affected customers who have shared their experiences with me. The following is only my personal theory of what I think is happening.

Let's start with what I know. I know that the Hong Kong 3 server is hosted on Rackspace Hong Kong, which is one of the most expensive hosting providers in the entire world. They offer premium China Telecom CN2 routing, which doesn't come cheap, especially in Asia. In fact, there is no other VPN company offering a China Telecom CN2 server hosted in Asia. The astronomical cost makes these kind of servers out of reach for most companies offering a consumer VPN service.

It's impossible to know how much ExpressVPN is paying for their Hong Kong 3 server because Rackspace does not publish the rates for their dedicated bare metal servers, which ExpressVPN would be using. To get an idea, we can only look at the pricing for their cloud hosting. In addition to the minimum monthly service charge of $50 USD, data is charged at the rates shown below.

Rackspace Hong Kong Cloud Hosting Data Prices

These prices are about 50 times higher than average global bandwidth costs.

The reason I looked into this is because I was interested in hosting my own personal VPN server on Rackspace. After I saw these prices, I realized that it's a much better deal to just use ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3 for $13/month.

So that is what I know. Now, here is my theory.

I suspect that the people who are losing this server are using too much bandwidth and costing ExpressVPN more than the $13/month of their subscription. After speaking with several customers who lost this server, the one thing they all have in common is that they are all heavy downloaders.

I suspect that the only reason ExpressVPN can afford this server in the first place is because they are the biggest and most popular VPN company in the world, and can buy enough bandwidth to get the price down to a reasonable level.

ExpressVPN offers unlimited data, but it's simply not possible to offer unlimited data on Rackspace Hong Kong for $13/month. Therefore, I assume they are removing HK3 from accounts that are using too much bandwidth on that server. 

I don't disagree with this because I know it's the only way that the rest of us can enjoy this server for a reasonable price.

I don't know how much data is too much, but personally, I use around 50GB per month on average on Hong Kong 3 and the server has never been removed from my account.

Here are some tips to keep Hong Kong 3 in your account.

  • Don't use Hong Kong 3 for torrenting or other activities that use a high amount of data. If you do torrent on HK3, keep it to a minimum and do not seed.
  • Use other servers such as Taiwan 1 during the daytime and just use Hong Kong 3 at night when you need it. Taiwan 1 and other servers perform very well during the daytime.

So what can you do if Hong Kong 3 is gone from your account?

First, make sure that it really is missing. It will only show up under the "all servers" section. You won't find it in the "recommended servers" section and you will not find it anywhere if you changed the protocol to PPTP, L2TP, or SSTP. If the protocol is set to OpenVPN then you should see it as shown below. You can add it to your favorites by clicking the star as I have done.

ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3 server located in the All Locations tab

If it's really missing then run the speed test using the ExpressVPN Windows or Mac app to find out what other servers might work good for you. This test measures both latency and download speed and it's very accurate. For me the second best server is usually Taiwan 1. The speed and latency is decent, although not as good as Hong Kong 3.

If you can't find any other servers that work good for you then talk to support. ExpressVPN has very good support and they will likely give you a solution such as helping you find another good server, or even giving you a refund outside of 30 day money back guarantee period. Every case is dealt with individually, so I can't say for certain what they will do. All I can say for certain is that they will resolve your complaint one way or another.

If you lost Hong Kong 3 and you really badly want it back, then there is only one way. Sign up for a new account with a new email address. The Hong Kong 3 server is always available in all new accounts.

If you are looking for another server with comparable performance to ExpressVPN Hong Kong 3, here are the next-best options for high speed China Telecom servers.

1. Hong Kong 1

2. Taiwan

3. 12VPN China optimized 2 shadowsocks.

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