We decided to compare IPVanish vs ExpressVPN and see which one is better. They are two forerunners in the VPN industry with widely recognized brand names.
And I think they each did a great job with branding but is either service to be trusted with your most valuable and sensitive personal data?
While ExpressVPN and IPVanish may look like any other leading service, we’re going to take a deeper look at each service to see if there are any risks associated with either service to discover which one suits you best.
After all, signing up with the wrong service could be disastrous. Sure, it’s always tedious reclaiming your payment from a money back guarantee or signing up for a service that’s far too slow.
But these risks pale in comparison to the risk of a data breach. In this day and age, it pays to look before you leap, and any online cloud or security service should be heavily vetted before trusting it with your information.
To that end, let’s get a big picture of the core components of each service to see how well they stack up against each other.
|Jurisdiction||United States||British Virgin Islands|
|Global Connection Options||Servers in 60+ countries||Servers in 90+ countries|
|Protocols||PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)||PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, SSTP, OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)|
|Logs||No user activity logs||No user activity logs|
|Refund Period||7-day money back guarantee||30-day money back guarantee|
|Support||24/7 customer support||24/7 live chat|
|Supported Platforms||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Capable Routers||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Routers|
Overall Winner = ExpressVPN
Pricing and Plans
Whether you want a monthly plan, six-month subscription, or annual payment terms, IPVanish VPN offers reduced pricing when compared with ExpressVPN.
The following outlines ExpressVPN’s pricing model:
- Monthly subscription – $12.95
- Six-month subscription – $9.99
- Annual subscription – $8.32
The following outlines IPVanish VPN’s pricing model:
- Monthly subscription – $10.00
- Annual subscription – $8.99
- Three-year subscription – $6.49
ExpressVPN offers 30-days risk-free, while IPVanish VPN has a much shorter, yet still adequate, seven-day money back guarantee.
IPVanish and ExpressVPN DNS, IPv6 and WebRTC tests:
With regards to security performance, I was delighted to see that both providers passed all the security tests, including a DNS leak test, a WebRTC test, and IPv6 leak tests as well.
As for the speed tests, they mostly ran smoothly, with exception to one deplorable connection. Before we dig into the results of the speed test, I wanted to define a few parameters of the test.
I tested each provider’s connections via VPN servers located in New York and Hong Kong from an Internet connection in the central United States. Furthermore, while the speed test was running, there was no other network activity on my connection.
For example, there were no file downloads running or any cloud storage uploads. The entirety of the connection was reserved for the speed test, so let’s see how each provider ranked.
The following outlines the speed test results for IPVanish VPN:
- New York – Latency: 66ms Download: 2.97Mbps Upload: 0.92Mbps
- Hong Kong – Latency: 208ms Download: 0.37Mbps Upload: 0.45Mbps
The following outlines the speed test results for NordVPN:
- New York – Latency: 47ms Download: 3.93Mbps Upload: 0.92Mbps
- Hong Kong – Latency: 206ms Download: 4.60Mbps Upload: 0.91Mbps
Why did the speed tests perform as they did? Well, I can honestly say that the speed tests aren’t necessarily fully attributable to the VPN service providers.
There are a thousand factors at play, including physical distance (which affects latency), server load, intermediary ISP and Internet backbone performance, autonomous routing decisions, and QoS policies (Quality of Service), to name a few – reasons that are outside the control of a VPN service provider.
Countries employ numerous network connectivity policies derived from laws and the shifting sands of international relations. For example, country A might choose to impose bandwidth throttling on connections from country B.
The reasons for limitations could be matters of national security, foreign policy, licensing and trade agreements, and other similar reasons.
Both providers performed admirably when connected to a server from the same country in which the speed tests were initiated.
Nevertheless, my connection to Hong Kong with IPVanish VPN was downright abysmal. And ExpressVPN outperformed IPVanish VPN in both tests, despite each provider claiming they have the “fastest VPN.”
With that said, I must award ExpressVPN the victory in the speed test comparison, since all other things were equal with regards to DNS leaks, IPv6 leaks, and WebRTC tests.
Features and Benefits
Both ExpressVPN and IPVanish VPN have long lists of advanced features and are extremely competitive. Let’s first take a look at ExpressVPN’s features before taking a look at IPVanish VPN.
First off, note that ExpressVPN offers four VPN protocols: PPTP, SSTP, L2TP/IPsec, and OpenVPN. The three most common protocols offered by any provider are PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN, though I would caution you to use OpenVPN as your default connection protocol because it offers the greatest security.
Additionally, I would caution you against using PPTP at all, since the protocol was cracked years ago and the protocol is now essentially worthless. Hackers can break PPTP encryption to see your personal data.
However, OpenVPN will provide AES-256 encryption, which is still so strong it’s frequently used in mission-critical applications and highly demanding environments, such as numerous countries’ militaries.
And as one would expect, ExpressVPN does not impose irksome encumbrances like monthly data caps, server switching limitations or bandwidth throttling. But having said that, note that no other quality service imposes such limitations on paid users, so it’s really nothing special.
Also, ExpressVPN is available on all the major platforms, including Windows, Mac OSX, iOS, Android, and Linux. One thing that sets ExpressVPN apart from the competition, however, is that it has an incredibly handy router setup app which simplifies the process of connecting your router to a VPN tunnel.
I also appreciated that ExpressVPN created browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, so a user can conveniently control VPN tunnel operation from a web browser.
Next up, we need to discuss the relative size of ExpressVPN’s network of service with that of the average provider. ExpressVPN offers global connection options in over 90 countries, which is actually pretty darn good.
Currently, the average provider seems to host servers in 40-50 countries, and every quality provider hosts servers in the most popular geographic areas.
Given that ExpressVPN hosts servers in approximately 40 more countries than the average provider, some of the locations seem a little obscure.
Nevertheless, with over 90 countries to choose from, I would never have a practical reason to connect to every locale. Also, note that it’s uncommon to see a provider hosting servers in more than 100 countries.
HMA VPN is the only exception that comes to mind, which hosts servers in approximately 200 countries, and is subject to fluctuation over time as new servers come online. So kudos to ExpressVPN for having an expansive network loaded with tons of connection options.
Additionally, I was impressed that the client had both a kill-switch feature as well as split-tunneling. Split tunneling allows a user to selectively route traffic out different network interfaces, thus allowing a user to be connected to two different VPNs simultaneously.
For instance, a user could route personal data through ExpressVPN, while sending specified traffic through a VPN tunnel to connect to work or business resources.
The kill-switch, on the other hand, will automatically halt VPN traffic if the tunnel should disconnect for any reason.
This feature is especially useful for torrent downloads since your downloads could be seen by governmental institutions and ISPs if the download persisted without encryption after a tunnel failure.
The last noteworthy feature of ExpressVPN is its allowance for three simultaneous connections per account, which isn’t terrible, but not the best either. It’s becoming more common for providers to offer at least five simultaneous connections.
The following provides an outline of ExpressVPN’s main features:
- PPTP, SSTP, L2TP/IPsec, and OpenVPN
- AES-256-bit encryption
- Available on Linux, Windows, Mac OSX, Android, iOS, and capable routers
- 2000+ servers located in 145+ cities in 90+ countries
- Unlimited server switching, and no bandwidth throttling or monthly data caps
- Kill-switch and split-tunneling capabilities
- Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari
- 24/7 customer support
- Three simultaneous connections per account
Allows P2P and BitTorrent trafficIPVanish VPN also has a robust set of features, and although it provides military-grade encryption using AES-256, it offers one fewer connection protocol than ExpressVPN.
IPVanish VPN lacks SSTP, which is a bit of a moot point when considering that OpenVPN is available. And like ExpressVPN, IPVanish has a kill-switch feature built into its client, although there is no native split-tunneling feature.
The lack of a split-tunneling feature can, however, be remedied with third-party software or advanced routing configurations that aren’t for the faint of heart. Also, IPVanish is disadvantaged with regards to the size of its network, since it hosts servers in almost 30 fewer countries than ExpressVPN.
Currently, IPVanish has about 40,000 shared IP addresses, and 1000+ servers distributed throughout 60+ countries.
I don’t think the size of its network is anything to scoff at, however, for two reasons. Firstly, it hosts servers in all the major hotspots of VPN activity, including the US, Hong Kong, Switzerland, UK, Australia, Brazil, and more.
Secondly, it has more servers and countries to choose from than the average provider. It seems that IPVanish chooses to distribute the majority of its servers in Europe (402 servers) and North America (469 servers). I was impressed with IPVanish VPN’s European coverage, which is very thorough.
Of course, like every other quality VPN provider, you can switch servers as many times as you would like, and there are no monthly data caps or bandwidth limitations.
There is, however, one significant improvement over ExpressVPN’s features. IPVanish VPN allows up to five simultaneous connections per account, which is two more than ExprsesVPN.
Lastly, one final feature of IPVanish VPN is its inclusion of SOCKS5 web proxy server connections. SOCKS5 does not, by itself, provide encryption, but as a proxy server, it has much less overhead than encrypted connections which allows for a swifter connection.
The following outlines IPVanish VPN’s features and benefits:
- OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP/IPsec connections
- Military grade AES-256-bit encryption
- Over 40,000 shared IP addresses hosted on 1000+ servers in 60+ countries
- Unlimited server switching, bandwidth, and data
- Kill-switch (no split-tunneling features)
- User-friendly apps for all the major OS platforms (Windows, Mac OSX, iOS, Android) and OpenVPN functionality on Linux
- Five simultaneous connections per account
- “Fastest” VPN service available
- 24/7 customer support
- BitTorrent friendly, unlimited P2P traffic
SOCKS5 web proxy (encryption not provided by SOCKS5)PrivacyBoth ExpressVPN and IPVanish VPN abstain from logging their users’ online browsing activities. After all, doing so would completely defeat the purpose of using a VPN in the first place.
That is not to say, however, that they don’t log any data at all. Some data is necessary to log, such as aggregate (and anonymous) bandwidth statistics to monitor server load.
Both providers also record your email address and payment card data for billing purposes.
Recording these types of data is actually commonplace among VPN competitors. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a consumer grade VPN service that doesn’t log a single iota of data.
The key takeaway here is that neither provider tracks what you do online. Nevertheless, that’s not the same as saying that each provider offers the same level of privacy.
Company headquarters is a crucial factor to consider in the wake of scandalous wiretapping initiatives such as the NSA’s ludicrous wiretapping scandal called PRISM, which was revealed by Edward Snowden.
Unbeknown to US citizens prior to Edward Snowden’s jaw-dropping revelations, the NSA had been collecting unfathomably large amounts of citizens’, including personal photos, emails, phone call data, and other forms of sensitive information by installing backdoors into popular domestic technology services like Google, Yahoo, Windows, and loads of other technology firms.
Naturally, prudent security and privacy purists want to avoid using a US-based service to avoid being victimized by the US government.
For that matter, many even want to avoid using a VPN service in a FiveEyes country (US, Canada, UK, New Zealand, and Australia). Fortunately, ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, which does have significant autonomy from the UK, and its data retention laws are favorable for privacy.
So if you plan on sending any data through a VPN tunnel that you wouldn’t want winding up on a governmental server (selfies, wedding photos, complete backups of your hard drive, etc.), I would recommend using a service that is not based in the US.
Customer support, while perhaps not the sexiest of a VPN service’s qualities, must still be examined. After all, if you run into technical difficulties or seek a refund, you’re going to need to contact customer support…whether you want to or not!
The good news is that both IPVanish VPN and ExpressVPN offer 24/7 customer service and additional support options, though not in the same manner.
IPVanish VPN only offers one contact method to open a ticket with the support department, and that’s email. I usually don’t like email (though it’s preferable to the heinous and antiquated phone queue support systems) because you don’t know when you’ll get a response.
The support department often quotes an average response time based on load, but the support department’s load fluctuates. I would have much preferred a live chat system since you can get nearly instantaneous answers to simple questions.
That said, I was impressed with IPVanish VPN’s online help articles, setup guides, and troubleshooting guides. The guides are high enough quality that even a technical novice wouldn’t have any problem following the steps.
They’re chock full of high-quality images that have been highlighted for the sake of simplicity.
However, I think that ExpressVPN has a superior support department. ExpressVPN can match IPVanish VPN’s setup guides in both quantity and quality.
But ExpressVPN beats IPVanish since it has a live chat feature. I pinged the support department with a question regarding PPTP’s lack of security and got a response in approximately 11 seconds, which isn’t too bad at all.
Conclusion & Editors Opinion
So, which VPN provider takes the cake? After analyzing each component of both services, I have to award ExpressVPN the victory, despite the fact that it’s more expensive.
Hats off to IPVanish VPN for having so many great features and an affordable price. However, ExpressVPN is certainly a higher quality option because the software has more features and it’s more secure.
The fact that its based in the British Virgin Islands, far from US soil, was a significant factor in this decision. I also like the fact it has more connection protocols (e.g. SSTP) and has a superior support department too.
On the whole, I thought IPVanish VPN had great software features and low prices, but I personally can’t get over the fact it’s based in the US.
Every time I connected to a server, I would wonder whether or not the NSA was looking over my shoulder. If that’s not a problem for you, then IPVanish might be a suitable alternative.
After all, some people use VPN tunnels exclusively for the task of unblocking geo-restricted streaming content like music and videos. If you’re transmitting sensitive personal information, however, you will want to opt for ExpressVPN instead.