OpenVPN vs. ExpressVPN Face-to-Face Comparison Review
To the main business of the day, how does OpenVPN compare to ExpressVPN? To help you settle on the best VPN, we have compared the two based on essential factors considered when selecting the best VPN, from reputation to features and pricing considerations. Without further ado, let's get into it.
There are many VPN providers and brands today. While most are worth the money, some are run by bogus providers and don't guarantee security and privacy. That said, it is vital to assess the brand trust of the VPN provider on your wishlist. We took it upon ourselves to do the heavy lifting by assessing the company background of the two providers. Our emphasis was on VPNs that have been in business for the longest time. We were also concerned with what cybersecurity experts and users think of the two. We checked different VPN platforms, forums, and consumer review websites to determine how they are rated.
Started in 2001, OpenVPN is not a VPN provider but a VPN system that creates point-to-point and site-to-site connections via the OpenVPN protocol.
The protocol is considered the industry standard and is known for its airtight security. OpenVPN’s focus is security; it doesn’t offer good speeds and won’t facilitate content access like your typical VPN. After checking VPN forums, we are glad it is known for banking-grade security.
At the time of writing, OpenVPN commands a Trustpilot Trustscore of 3.5 after 3 reviews. This tells you it is not popular among consumers.
When it comes to brand trust, ExpressVPN is the winner. The VPN is a household name in the industry. ExpressVPN was started in 2009 byExpressVPN International Ltd., which today is part of Kape Technologies, the same venture that owns other reputable VPNs, including Zenmate, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access.
It is an award-winning company known for excellent security and privacy and offers many other applications, including content access. We checked Reddit threads and other VPN platforms. It has good reviews.
At the time of writing, ExpressVPN boasts a Trustpilot Trustscore of 4.7 after over 13500 reviews.
Device compatibility is another important consideration. This is because some VPNs work with specific devices only, while others are all-rounders that work with all devices you can think of. Definitely, you want a versatile VPN that will protect your mobile, PC, router, and other devices. Besides the supported devices, it's also essential to assess the allowed simultaneous connections on a single license, bearing in mind some VPNs allow for unlimited connections while others have limits. So, which devices do OpenVPN and ExpresssVPN work with? How many devices can you connect at a go?
One of the shortcomings of OpenVPN is that it’s not versatile. It works with PCs running on Windows, macOS, and Linux. There are also apps for iOS and Android devices.
Unfortunately, these are the only devices it works with. There are no apps or compatibility for routers, Smart TVs and other streaming devices, or gaming consoles.
The only good thing about OpenVPN as far as compatibility is concerned is the fact that it allows for unlimited simultaneous connections.
ExpressVPN is a versatile VPN that works with a range of devices for all-round protection. There are apps for Windows, Linux, and macOS PCs, as well as Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox browser extensions.
ExpressVPN also has mobile apps for iOS and Android alongside support for routers, Roku, Smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, PlayStation, Xbox, Nvidia Shield, and Nintendo Switch, among others.
The only shortcoming here is that it allows a maximum of 5 simultaneous connections on a single license. But you can always add more devices via an already-protected router.
Next, we wanted to find out how user-friendly the two VPNs are. Whether an expert or a beginner, you want a VPN with an easy registration process. Some VPNs have short and precise registration processes, while others require loads of information to get started. Definitely, you want a VPN that you can get started with within minutes. We also assessed the user interface, with our goal being a VPN with a clean user interface and straightforward navigation. So, which brand wins this round?
Another reason we don’t like OpenVPN is that it is not user-friendly. As mentioned earlier, this is not a VPN per se but a protocol.
You have to manually configure OpenVPN, something that is a tall order for beginners. You need to download, install and launch the client software to get started. The next step is importing your profile and connecting to a server.
For the record, OpenVPN doesn’t have servers, so you will have to get a 3rd party service provider. On our usability scale, OpenVPN scores a paltry 2/5.
ExpressVPN is a user-friendly VPN that is easy to get started with. The first step is clicking the Get ExpressVPN button redirecting to the plans page.
Here, select the preferred plan key in your payment details and checkout to complete the order. Now that you have a subscription, create an account, download ExpressVPN, install the software, launch it, and log in. You are now ready to go.
ExpressVPN has a clean and intuitive interface with straightforward navigation and menu. On our usability scale, we give it a 4.5/5.
A core tenet of a VPN's security is the encryption technology employed. VPNs secure your data by encrypting it into an unreadable format. Without the decryption keys, it's impossible to decipher the data. There are several encryption technologies today, with AES 128-bit and AES 256-bit as the popular encryption technologies. However, considering AES 256-bit is the industry standard, experts recommend going for VPNs that encrypt data using AES 256-bit encryption as it is impenetrable even when you perform a brute force attack using the world's most powerful computers.
OpenVPN is a secure VPN that deploys 256-bit OpenSSL encryption and supports multiple levels of encryption, including AES, Camelia, Blowfish, and CAST-128.
With AES 256-bit, you are guaranteed that no one will decipher your data as it is encrypted using an encryption method considered the safest and virtually impenetrable.
It would take millions of years to decrypt data secured by AES 256-bit keys.
ExpressVPN is just as secure as OpenVPN as it also deploys AES 256-bit encryption for airtight security.
With AES 256-bit keys, it is impossible to decipher the encrypted data.
ExpressVPN takes security a notch higher courtesy of RSA-4096 keys and SHA-512 hashing for authentication.
Another important aspect is the VPN protocols, also known as tunneling methods. VPN protocols are a set of rules that dictate how your traffic is routed via the VPN servers. Protocols are highly specialized. Some offer airtight security, while others are engineered to offer speeds. Some are meant for specific devices. The rule of thumb here is to use a VPN that supports multiple protocols for versatility. So, how does OpenVPN compare to ExpressVPN?
OpenVPN supports just one protocol; OpenVPN on TCP and UDP as well. The VPN deploys custom-tailored protocols based on SSL and TLS.
If you are in it for security, use TCP, while those who want speed should switch to UDP. This is one of the factors that make OpenVPN unpopular amongst VPN users.
On the other hand, ExpressVPN supports multiple protocols, 8 to be precise. These are PPTP, SSTP, L2TP, IKEv2, OpenVPN, WireGuard, IPSec, and Lightway. PPTP, SSTP, IPSec, L2TP, and IKEv2 are less popular today but still have diverse applications.
OpenVPN is considered the industry standard and is known for uptight security despite slow speeds. There’s also WireGuard which strikes a balance between speeds and security.
Last is Lightway, a proprietary protocol that works just like NordVPN’s NordLynx. It offers excellent security and blazingly fast speeds, making it the best for speed-intensive tasks such as streaming, torrenting, and gaming.
Security is not just about encryption technology and protocols. Several must-have security extras, such as a network kill switch, split tunneling, and IP/DNS leak protection, enhance security. These are basic features that any worthy VPN should have. Besides, there are several other extras to be on the lookout for. In this segment, we have assessed all the security extras that the two VPNs have.
OpenVPN has some basic security extras. First is IP and DNS Leak Protection, which prevents your IP and DNS queries from leaking. Another feature worth mentioning is the DNS fallback that activates when the VPN doesn’t define its servers.
OpenVPN also includes a network kill switch that prevents your traffic from getting exposed when the VPN connection drops, as it automatically drops the internet connection immediately after the VPN connection drops.
You can modify your 1PV6 preferences to handle packets more efficiently and improve performance and security. Last is Auto Connect, which automatically turns on the VPN when you power your device.
ExpressVPN, on the other hand, packs lots of security extras. First is IP, WebRTC, and DNS Leak Prevention, so you can be sure your IP and DNS queries remain intact.
A network kill switch also springs into action when the VPN connection drops inadvertently. It kills the internet connection, so your traffic won’t be exposed. Another feature is Split Tunnelling which allows you to decide apps whose traffic can be routed via the VPN and traffic that can connect directly to the internet resource.
ExpressVPN also comes with Encrypted Private DNS that bolsters the security of DNS requests and a password manager for your passwords’ security. Last is port forwarding for routers, enhancing network efficiency, speeds, and security.
7. Privacy & Confidentiality (Jurisdiction)
When it comes to privacy, the VPN's jurisdiction really matters. The best VPN should be based in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction that can't coerce the provider to share users' data. Unfortunately, some VPNs are based in countries with no respect for privacy; worse, others are part of global surveillance organizations such as the 5-Eyes, 9-Eyes, and 14-Eyes. VPNs in such countries should be used with caution as there are chances of your privacy being compromised. So, where are OpenVPN and ExpressVPN based?
OpenVPN is based in the United States, a founding member of the 5 Eyes alliance. Besides, the United States is known for its prying eyes on its citizens’ digital activity.
But it’s worth mentioning that OpenVPN doesn’t have servers, so it’s not responsible for users’ privacy. It all depends on the servers you will work with.
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a privacy-friendly jurisdiction not part of any global surveillance organizations.
You can be sure that your data is safe with ExpressVPN.
8. Privacy & Confidentiality (Log Policy)
The logging policy should also be on your checklist. While most VPNs are marketed as no-log VPNs, some have been caught logging crucial data that can be used to track or profile users. That said, it's imperative to assess a VPN's logging policy. Some questions to ask yourself include, what information is logged, if any? How is the information collected and stored? Has the logging policy been audited? Well, let's find out what OpenVPN and ExpressVPN have in store.
As mentioned earlier, OpenVPN doesn’t have its own servers. You will have to get servers from 3rd party providers. Considering it has no servers, it has nothing to do with log policies. You should ensure the servers you use have a no-log policy, and the logging policy should have been audited.
On the other hand, ExpressVPN is a no-log VPN. The company doesn’t keep logs of personally identifiable information such as your browsing activity, original and assigned IP address, bandwidth, timestamps, etc. Interestingly, it deploys RAM-only servers, which delete all data after every reboot alongside Encrypted DNS on all servers, which enhances privacy. The VPN’s log policy has also been audited.
9. Server Network and Distribution
The kind of servers a VPN deploys can be the deal maker or breaker, as servers are critical to the reliability and performance of a VPN. Go for a VPN that uses the latest servers with top-of-the-line hardware. Server specialization should also be a top priority. The best VPNs have servers optimized for speed, security, privacy, and activities such as torrenting and P2P sharing. In addition to server specialization, check the number of servers available and their distribution. Go for a VPN with the highest number of servers distributed across the globe for reliability and unrestricted content access.
OpenVPN, as mentioned earlier, doesn’t have its own servers as it’s not a fully-fledged VPN provider. Instead, you have to get your own servers.
You can use servers offered by the OpenVPN community or servers from other providers that support OpenVPN protocol, for example, ExpressVPN.
Another area where ExpressVPN beats OpenVPN is server network and distribution. While OpenVPN doesn’t have its own servers, ExpressVPN boasts over 3000 highly specialized servers in 94 countries. All these servers run on TrustedServer Technology, which deploys RAM-only servers for efficiency and privacy.
You can use the Smart Location feature to find the best servers for you in any of the 5 regions; Americas, Oceania, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. ExpressVPN’s servers are streaming and P2P-friendly courtesy of the top-of-the-line hardware that offers ultrafast speeds. Just to note, 70%of the servers have 10Gbps ports.
10. Streaming, Torrenting, and Gaming
VPNs do more than just offer online security and privacy. They also facilitate safe and secure content access. There are VPNs for streaming that unblock streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer, which restrict content based on geolocation. There are also torrenting and P2P VPNs that facilitate safe torrenting, doing away with the risks of bandwidth throttling, IP bans, and copyright infringement. Last, we have VPNs for gaming that improve overall gaming performance, keep threats at bay, and allow gamers to access geo-restricted gaming content, such as new maps and heroes and discounts. But not all VPNs are up to the task when it comes to content access. So, which VPN wins this round?
OpenVPN doesn’t have its own servers, so we can’t say it can unblock or not unblock streaming sites. The success of unblocking streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, DAZN, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and the rest depends on the servers you go for. We tried unblocking Netflix and Hulu using ExpressVPN servers, and it was exceptional.
When it comes to torrenting and P2P sharing, OpenVPN is still up to the task, but here again, it depends on the servers you have opted for. Using ExpressVPN P2P servers, we downloaded huge files without any bandwidth throttling or IP bans.
Last, in gaming, it is not the best because of the slow speeds. However, it is perfect for preventing DDoS attacks and other threats and accessing geo-restricted gaming content and discounts.
If you are into streaming, ExpressVPN is the best choice. The VPN has plenty of servers optimized for streaming, so whether you want to catch the latest TV show on Netflix, Japan, or HBO, it has got you covered.
In our tests, it unblocked several Netflix libraries, including Netflix UK, Japan, and Canada, alongside other streaming sites with geo-restricted content, for example, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, Crunchyroll, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer, among others.
Regarding torrenting, ExpressVPN is also a cut above the rest. It offers decent speeds that allowed us to download torrents without any bandwidth throttling or IP bans. Last, ExpressVPN is a good VPN for gaming, especially with WireGuard or Lightway. The speeds were exceptional, and the pings were low for seamless gaming. ExpressVPN is also secure, so gamers can keep DDoS attacks at bay and access geo-restricted content.
Support should also be a consideration when selecting the best VPN. This is because, from time to time, you may encounter technical issues that require the provider's intervention. As far as customer support is concerned, go for a provider with multichannel support. You don't want to get stuck along the way because of glitches or problems with billing. 24/7 live chat should b a priority here, alongside other channels such as telephone, email, and resources such as guides, tutorials, and FAQ sections.
OpenVPN understands that the customer is king. The company has reliable multichannel support. The best option is the live chat that offers instant feedback.
There’s also an AI-assisted chatbot that offers solutions to users’ common problems. Besides the AI chatbot and live chat, OpenVPN has guides, tutorials, and an FAQ section.
You can also get help from the OpenVPN community.
ExpressVPN is also a great deal when it comes to customer support. The company also has a multichannel support infrastructure with 24/7 live chat as the best channel, as it offers immediate feedback.
ExpressVPN also has an email ticketing system, but you can’t rely on it if you want instant feedback. Response takes some minutes and even hours at times.
Other options to explore include guides, tutorials, and the detailed FAQ section.
12. Plans, Pricing, Payment Options
In this last round of this OpenVPN vs. ExpressVPN comparison review, we want to find out which of the two providers offers the best bang for the buck. We will assess the available plans and their pricing. Other aspects we will consider include the availability of free trials, free versions of the software, money-back guarantees, and payment methods.
OpenVPN is a free, open-source platform. The company also has enterprise products which are purely paid plans. These are Access Server and OpenVPN Cloud.
One shortcoming of ExpressVPN is that there is no free version of the software or a free trial. Instead, the company offers a generous 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can claim your money within 30 days of purchase if you think it doesn’t meet your needs.
There are 3 paid plans; a 1-month plan at $12.95 a month, a 6-months plan at $9.99 billed every 6 months, and an annual plan at $8.32 billed yearly.
The available payment methods include Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, JCB, UnionPay, PayPal, GiroPay, iDEAL, QIWI, and Sofort Banking. Bitcoin payments are also accepted if you want to pay anonymously.