ExpressVPN for Torrenting

ExpressVPN started in 2009, with the objective of keeping their users anonymous from intelligence agencies, governments, hackers and Internet Service Providers. It didn’t take them a long time to be on the top of the market.

But what caught our attention was the fact that many users consider it a great VPN for torrenting. So we took a deep look, tested it several times and we made a review with all the security and speed details this VPN offers.

Safety and Privacy

The fact that they are based outside the US and the European Union is very important, as these are considered the big monitoring sharks. Because of their location in the British Virgin Islands, the USA data retention and EU DRD laws are not applicable. That way, even if a government agency asks for user information, they don't have to obey.

ExpressVPN has a zero log policy. This is the most important thing to look for in a VPN service, especially if your objective is to download torrents anonymously. For obvious reasons, you don’t want your activity logs saved, it would kill the whole principle of being anonymous. As every provider that we recommend, this VPN service does not keep your logs and they are very clear about this in their Terms of Use. As we mentioned before, they don't have to comply with any government. But even if they had to obey, they wouldn't have anything to show them, as they don't keep user logs.

They use the highest level of encryption available, a 256-bit encryption. And they allow the main protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP and SSTP. By default, the protocol is OpenVPN and it’s the one we recommend because it’s the safest. With this protocol, you can choose between UDP and TCP, which is useful in case you are being blocked.

Another important detail is the fact they use shared IPs. This means that the same IP addresses are shared between thousands of users, so one IP cannot be traced back to one individual user.

The User Interface

The fact that the software is so easy to use is a big plus for them. VPN beginners will have no problem managing all the options. From the main window, the user can connect/disconnect and also access all the settings.

Connecting to a Server

Users can select a server in different ways: Recommended, Favorite servers, and from a list of all locations. All of these options are useful, but we liked the Smart Location the most. It's located inside the recommended servers area, as it's showed on the image below. This is one of the new features in the last update, and now it's really easy to select the best server available. It only takes a single click.

When you select the smart location, the software suggests the best server, depending on the latency, download speed and distance of each user. As you can see, in our case it recommended the Netherlands, and it was indeed the fastest server available, considering our connection. Keep in mind that this server suggestion will be different for each user, depending on their connection and location.

Features and Settings

One of the things that separate this VPN from many others is the fact that they listen to their users. They update the software regularly with new features that can have a huge impact on the user experience. To give you an example, until the beginning of 2016, there were many online complaints stating that ExpressVPN was missing a Kill Switch. This was actually true, this option is extremely important, especially for torrenting. Well, guess what happened… Yep, they heard it, and they introduced a Kill Switch in their software.

But there's more, let's have a look at the most important features of ExpressVPN, and how to use them:

The Kill Switch

As we mentioned, this tool as one of the most important things in a VPN software. If something goes wrong and the VPN disconnects and stops working, the Kill Switch stops your Internet connection. This avoids that your real IP is exposed and your data visible while the VPN is not working. We recommend having this feature always turned on.

The DNS Leak Prevention

This tool is very important to prevent DNS leaks that can compromise the user anonymity. The objective is simple, it basically prevents the DNS requests to be made through the ISP servers. To accomplish that, top VPN providers, like ExpressVPN, made sure that those requests are made through their own private DNS servers. This option can be found in the Advanced tab.

Windows users often have this issue, and most of the times they don't even realize it. The problem is that Windows uses the default settings and send the DNS requests through the ISP servers, even when using a VPN. Therefore, we advise to always keep this useful feature turned on, in order to avoid any risks of leaking your real IP.

The built-in Speed Test

Another interesting tool is the built-in speed test. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a speed test of every server, so you can see which ones are the best for you at that precise moment. It shows you the download speeds, the ping latency, and the Speed Index. This last one is the score of the ping latency and the download speed combined, the balance between these two speeds. The highest the Speed Index, the better connection you will have.

This feature can be very useful for the old school VPN users who don't want any automatic selection of the server. This option allows you to see the speed of each server individually and select your favorite.

Server locations

There are more than 1000 servers, in 145 cities, in 94 countries (and they add new ones frequently). It's also important to mention that ExpressVPN allows torrenting in every server. This makes it very easy for users to find servers nearby. You can see the full list of ExpressVPN servers here.

It's usually better to choose a server in a different country from the one where you are. The reason for that is that if someone tries to follow your activity, they would have to go through jurisdictions of two different countries. This adds an extra layer of security to a VPN connection that is already very safe. 

Compatibility

Their software has a high device compatibility when compared to many providers. It is compatible with the main platforms, like Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux. We tested the mobile apps, and they were efficient and straight forward. You can check more info on both Android and iOS apps.

The number of connected devices allowed is not the highest, but it’s still not bad. You can have 3 connected devices to your account at the same time.

Security Tests

DNS Leak Test: ExpressVPN passed every DNS test. We didn’t register a single leak.

IP Test: Our real IP was always hidden in our tests. The detection tools we used saw the IP that the VPN assigned to our connection.

Torrent address detection test: When we downloaded torrent test files, there was no leak of our IP address. The country and IP detected were the ones provided by the VPN.

Speed tests

We were impressed with the speed we got. ExpressVPN was one of the fastest VPNs we tested. Here are our results:

speed without a vpn connection
Without VPN
download speed test with ExpressVPN
Connected to ExpressVPN (OpenVPN protocol)

Torrent Speed Test

torrenting test without a vpn
Without VPN
torrent speed test with ExpressVPN
Connected to ExpressVPN (OpenVPN protocol)Connected to ExpressVPN (OpenVPN protocol)

Every VPN reduces the speed of your connection, but only a few can reduce it minimally. As we expected, ExpressVPN achieved great speeds. It’s also important to mention that we saw good speeds on many servers, located in different countries. 

Price

Like the majority of VPNs, the 1 year subscription package is cheaper. But unlike the majority, they have a money back guarantee policy of 30 days, with no questions asked. This means that from the moment of buying the VPN, the users have 30 days to decide if they want their money back or to continue with the service.

In our opinion, the 1 year subscription has a fair price. Considering the quality of the service, $8.32 per month is not expensive. There are several payment methods available, including Bitcoin, PayPal and credit card.

What we like about ExpressVPN

  • No logs are kept
  • Location in the British Virgin Islands (outside US and EU)
  • Great 256-bit encryption
  • Kill Switch
  • Impressive number of server locations
  • Speed Test feature
  • Shared IPs
  • Smart location feature
  • The software is very easy to use
  • 30 days money back guarantee

What could be improved

  • Although it's simple to avoid IPv6 leaks by manually disabling IPv6 in any Operation System, it would be nice to have an IPv6 leak prevention included in ExpressVPN.
  • It would be convenient to have a "check for updates" button to have the most recent versions of the software right away. That way we wouldn't have to go to their website from time to time to check if there is an available update.

Conclusion

This service includes every detail that a good VPN should provide: no logging, unbreakable encryption and great speeds. Besides that, they have the highest number of server locations we saw in a VPN, and some must have features, such as a Kill Switch. After reviewing ExpressVPN in detail, there were no doubts in considering them an excellent choice to download torrent files with peace of mind.