Proton VPN vs. ExpressVPN 2024: A Close Call

Discover the key differences between Proton VPN and ExpressVPN to determine which VPN offers the best value, features, and security for your unique needs.
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Best for Privacy-Conscious Users

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On Proton VPN's website

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Proton VPN
  • Easy to use
  • A strict no-logs policy that’s been tested in court
  • More expensive than NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost

Best for Streaming and High-Speed Connections

4.9
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On ExpressVPN's website

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ExpressVPN
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  • Hides intrusive display ads when browsing the web, improving page speed and easing data usage on mobile
  • Privacy and safety benefits of a VPN with best-in-class encryption and innovative server technology in 105 countries
  • Enjoy no activity logs, malicious sites and trackers protection, and more on up to 8 devices

Proton VPN stands out for its strong focus on privacy and security, with its privacy-friendly headquarters, audited no-logs policy, and extensive security features. It's an ideal choice if you prioritize protecting your data above all else. 

On the other hand, ExpressVPN is known for its lightning-fast speeds and unblocking capabilities, thanks to its Lightway protocol and extensive compatibility. It's perfect for streaming enthusiasts and those who demand high-performance connections.

In this comprehensive comparison, we'll examine the differences in pricing, features, speed, and more to help you make an informed decision on which VPN is best for your needs.

In this article
Overview
Prices
Which VPN is faster?
Which VPN is more secure?
Compatibility and customer support
FAQs
Is Proton VPN or ExpressVPN better?

Proton VPN vs. ExpressVPN at a glance

Proton VPN and ExpressVPN are two of the best virtual private networks (VPNs) on the market. 

  • Proton VPN: Best for privacy-conscious users
  • ExpressVPN: Best for streaming and high-speed connections

How do Proton VPN and ExpressVPN compare?

Starting price Starts at $4.49/mo (for paid plans) Starts at $6.67/mo (billed annually)
Max # of connected devices 10 8
24/7 customer support
CompatibilityWindows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and more Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and more
# of servers 5,100+ in 91 countries Servers in 105 countries
VPN protocol OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard, Stealth Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec
No-logs policy No logs No logs
Unblocks Netflix?
Get Proton VPN
Read Proton VPN Review
Get ExpressVPN
Read ExpressVPN Review

Proton VPN pros and cons

The original Proton product was Proton Mail, which is an encrypted email service to keep your communications private. From there, Proton VPN was created to further protect activists and journalists.

Proton is based in Switzerland, which isn't an Eyes Alliance country. It also actively protects user data with its legislation. And to back up Proton VPN's no-logs policy claims, it undergoes third-party security audits and it was tested by the Swiss court system in 2019.

Proton VPN also offers Stealth protcol, which is dedicated to privacy. Stealth can help you bypass internet censorship and other VPN blocks, which is useful if you're living in a country with heavy censorship. Proton also includes OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2 protocol.

Pros
  • High security standards based on privacy-friendly headquarters and audited no-logs policy
  • Offers a free plan with no bandwidth cap, no ads, and no logs
  • Includes Stealth protocol, which helps bypass geoblocks
Cons
  • 24/7 live chat is limited to paid subscribers
  • More expensive than other premium VPNs like NordVPN and Surfshark

ExpressVPN pros and cons

ExpressVPN is on the pricier side, but its dedicated to fulfilling your VPN needs. If you need a VPN for streaming, its compatible with countless streaming services from around the world, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, CBC, and others. 

ExpressVPN also offers extensive compatibility with most operating systems, smartphones, routers, and even smart devices. Plus, ExpressVPN created the Aircove router, which comes with the VPN preinstalled for ease and maximum coverage in your home.

When it comes to VPN protocols, ExpressVPN offers its proprietary Lightway protocol, which is focused on speed, reliability, and security. We're sure Lightway was the reason our internet speeds increased during testing. It also offers standard options like OpenVPN, and IKEv2/IPsec.

Pros
  • Large server network with 105 server countries
  • Compatible with lots of streaming services including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and more
  • Sped up our baseline speed with every server we tested
Cons
  • More expensive that Proton VPN
  • Doesn't specify its exact server count

Proton VPN vs. ExpressVPN: prices

Our Pick
Price range $4.99–$9.99/mo $6.67–$12.95/mo
Best value plan Proton Free for Free 12-month plan for $6.67/mo (billed annually)
Money-back guarantee Yes — 30 days Yes — 30 days
Get Proton VPN
Read Proton VPN Review
Get ExpressVPN
Read ExpressVPN Review

Proton VPN has a wider price range than ExpressVPN, starting at $4.49/mo for the two-year plan. Proton even has a free plan, with access to servers in five countries (the U.S., Netherlands, Romania, Poland, and Japan). 

If you’re looking for more extensive features, Proton VPN’s Unlimited plan ranges from $9.99-$12.99/mo. This package includes all of Proton’s services: Proton VPN, Proton Mail, Proton Calendar, and Proton Drive.

Meanwhile, ExpressVPN's best value plan starts higher than Proton’s highest at $6.67/mo (billed annually) for a one-year subscription. There’s also a plan to pay every six months, working out at about $9.99/mo (billed every six months), or you could pay month-to-month for $12.95/mo.

Both VPNs offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test the service and decide if it meets your needs before fully committing to a subscription. With these guarantees, you can confidently explore each VPN's features and capabilities.

Proton VPN vs. ExpressVPN: payment options

Both Proton VPN and ExpressVPN have various payment options, so you can pick the method that best suits you, whether it be for privacy or convenience. Anonymous payment methods, such as cryptocurrencies, can provide an added layer of privacy for users who want to keep their VPN subscription details discreet.

Proton VPN payment options:

  • Credit or debit card
  • PayPal
  • bitcoin
  • Cash

ExpressVPN payment options:

  • Credit card
  • Prepaid debit card
  • PayPal
  • bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies
  • Online transfer payments via Giropay, iDEAL, Interac, and Klarna (or SOFORT)

Winner: Proton VPN offers a more affordable entry point and a free version, making it the winner in terms of price. It also offers a greater range of pricing options compared to ExpressVPN. However, it's important to consider the trade-offs regarding features and support when comparing these two VPNs.

Which VPN is faster?

Quick and consistent internet speeds are essential for a smooth online experience, whether you're streaming, gaming, or surfing the web. We take a speed test of our baseline internet speed, then we connect to a VPN across server locations to calculate how much the service impacts our speed.

Our speed test results below reflect how much our internet speed was impacted by either Proton VPN or ExpressVPN. Note that the further your server is from your physical location, the more likely it is to decrease your internet speeds.

Proton VPN vs. ExpressVPN speed test results 

Server location
Our Pick
US 17% slower 4% faster
CA 6.5% slower 7% faster
EU 22% slower 10% faster
AU 33% slower 3% faster
Get Proton VPN
Read Proton VPN Review
Get ExpressVPN
Read ExpressVPN Review

Other than Canada, Proton VPN had an expected effect on our internet speed. Proton slowed down our speed progressively more and more with each further away server location. The Canada server actually had the smallest speed drop, but none of the servers caused our internet to lag or buffer much.

On the other hand, ExpressVPN increased our speeds with every server location by 10% or less. We anticipate VPNs to slow down our internet, especially because its routing our internet traffic through a server, so we're glad that ExpressVPN lived up to its self-defined standards.

Winner: ExpressVPN wins. It increased internet speeds with every server location, while Proton VPN decreased speeds.

Which VPN is more secure?

Feature
Number of servers 5,100+ in 91 countries Servers in 105 countries
No-logs policy No logs No logs
VPN headquarters Switzerland British Virgin Islands
Encryption AES-256 or ChaCha20 AES-256
VPN protocol OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard, Stealth Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec
Kill switch
Split tunneling
DNS leak protection
Ad blocker
Get Proton VPN
Read Proton VPN Review
Get ExpressVPN
Read ExpressVPN Review

ExpressVPN offers more server locations, with servers across 105 countries, compared to Proton VPN's servers in 91 countries. However, Proton VPN is explicit about its server count while ExpressVPN is not, so it could have more servers.

Both VPNs have a strict no-logs policy, with Proton VPN's policy being most recently audited by Securitum. ExpressVPN's policy was most recently audited by KPMG LLP. These audits help ensure the VPNs are living up to their privacy claims.

Both VPNs use AES 256-bit encryption and support OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec protocols. However, ExpressVPN also offers its proprietary Lightway protocol, which aims to provide faster connections and improved security, as well as the OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocol. 

On the other hand, ProtonVPN can also use ChaCha20 encryption and WireGuard protocol. It also offers its custom Stealth protocol, which can be used to bypass internet censorship and geoblocking. It does this by disguising your VPN connection so it can't be detected by other parties. 

Both services have a lot of features in common, including a kill switch, split tunneling, smart DNS/routing, and ad-and-tracker blocking. 

The ExpressVPN split tunneling feature allows you to require all apps to use the encrypted VPN connection or designate certain apps to not use the VPN connection.

Proton VPN stands out for offering double VPN and port forwarding. Double VPN will route your internet connection through two tunnels. Port forwarding allows remote servers and devices to connect with other services and devices over the internet.

Proton VPN's port forwarding feature allows certain apps or software to bypass the VPN firewall and connect through an open port. It could speed up your torrenting or gaming, but also poses a security risk.

Winner: It's a tie. Both VPNs excel in their feature offerings, so the choice may just depend on your personal preferences.

Proton VPN vs. ExpressVPN: compatibility and customer support

Windows
macOS
Android
iOS
Linux
Router
Smart devices
24/7 support
Support options Live chat, email, online guides Live chat, email, online guides
Get Proton VPN
Read Proton VPN Review
Get ExpressVPN
Read ExpressVPN Review

Proton VPN and ExpressVPN both offer excellent compatibility across various platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and routers. Both VPNs also support smart devices and browsers, including Chrome and Firefox. This wide range of compatibility ensures you can enjoy a secure and private browsing experience on multiple devices.

In terms of ease of use, both Proton VPN and ExpressVPN provide user-friendly interfaces, with easy-to-navigate settings and options. Their apps cater to beginners and advanced users, ensuring that everyone can find and customize their VPN experience according to their preferences.

Proton VPN dashboard is intuitive and clearly displays available servers by country and city
Proton VPN dashboard is intuitive and clearly displays available servers by country and city

Proton VPN and ExpressVPN both offer a range of customer service options to assist users with any issues or questions they may have. They both offer 24/7 live chat and email. Note that Proton VPN's live chat is only available to paid users, while ExpressVPN's live chat is available to anyone, regardless of whether they have an ExpressVPN account. 

Winner: It's a draw. Both Proton VPN and ExpressVPN excel in compatibility and offer user-friendly interfaces, as well as lots of customer support options.

FAQs


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Is Proton VPN free?

Proton VPN offers a free plan with a limited server count across five countries. If you want greater speeds, significantly more servers, and more features, then you can upgrade to one of Proton VPN’s paid plans.


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Can I use ExpressVPN for gaming?

ExpressVPN is a great choice for gaming. The service prides itself on its minimized lag and ping. 

ExpressVPN also limits internet service providers (ISPs) from slowing your connection. By using a VPN, you can grab the most recent downloadable content (DLC) and games from nations with early release dates and even play games that are censored in your location.


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Is Proton VPN good against hackers?

Proton VPN can help safeguard your data from hackers, thanks to its powerful encryption, AES 256-bit or ChaCha20, and secure VPN protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard. Furthermore, Proton VPN has a no-logs policy and is based in Switzerland, which has strict privacy laws.


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Why is ExpressVPN so expensive?

ExpressVPN is expensive because of its premium features, huge server network, consistently fast connections, and great customer service. To maintain a high degree of security and performance for its consumers, it also invests in frequent independent audits and the development of unique technologies, such as the Lightway protocol.

Which is the best VPN: Proton VPN or ExpressVPN?

Proton VPN has a robust feature set that includes double VPN and port forwarding. It also offers a free plan, making its services accessible to customers on a tight budget. However, it had slower speeds than ExpressVPN and offers less server countries.

ExpressVPN stands out for its speed, server locations, and streaming ability. It also offers a unique Lightway protocol for increased performance. However, when compared to other premium VPN providers like Proton VPN, ExpressVPN's pricing is on the higher end.

If we had to pick an overall champion, Proton VPN would win because of its faster speeds and more affordable pricing. While ExpressVPN's extensive compatibility make it a good choice those willing to invest in a premium VPN service, Proton VPN offers strong privacy features along with a free service to keep anyone safe online.

4.0
VPN
[Testing] Nord VPN
  • Loads of servers for more connection options
  • Works with popular streaming services, including Netflix
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Proton VPN vs. ExpressVPN alternatives

Proton VPN and ExpressVPN are two heavy hitters, but both services may be too expensive for VPN beginners. Below are more budget-friendly VPNs we can vouch for:

Price $2.19–$17.95/mo $2.03–$12.99/mo $3.99–$15.99/mo
Free version
Max # of connected devices Unlimited 7 10
# of servers 3,200 in 100 countries Servers in 100 countries 6,400 servers in 111 countries
VPN protocol WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2 NordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec
Encryption AES-256-GCM AES-256 AES-256-GCM
No-logs policy No logs No logs No logs
Headquarters The Netherlands Romania Panama
Netflix access
Learn more Get Surfshark Get CyberGhost Get NordVPN


5.0
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Proton VPN's website
VPN
Proton VPN
  • Easy to use
  • A strict no-logs policy that’s been tested in court
  • More expensive than NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost
Author Details
Ryan Clancy is a freelance writer and blogger. With 5+ years of mechanical engineering experience, he's passionate about all things engineering and tech. He loves bringing engineering (especially mechanical) down to a level that everyone can understand.