The VPN industry is loaded with competition, but not all services are worth your money.If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could accidentally sign up for a terrible service, an overpriced VPN, or a disguised security tool that is really a proxy tunnel masquerading as a VPN.
To help you make the most informed decision before committing to a service, I’m going to analyze and compare two leading VPN services: IPVanish VPN vs NordVPN.
Before we begin, let it be known that there is no such thing as a “perfect service.” Most services have pros and cons, making them ideally suited for different market segments. What one person thinks is a good quality, another might detest.
For instance, someone looking for the absolute cheapest VPN tunnel may not care about the highest quality features.
On the other end of the spectrum, a user looking for a VPN with the greatest number of hosting locations may not care if it’s the cheapest.
|Global Connection Options||Servers in 60+ countries||Servers in 62+ countries|
|Protocols||PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)||OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec|
|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, Capable Routers|
Overall Winner = NordVPN
Pricing and Plans:
Now it’s time to make a detailed pricing comparison, and the first thing I’d like to point out is that neither provider is, overall, near the expensive end of the spectrum.
I would say that, because of special savings, NordVPN is clearly cheaper, but to get the cheaper rate, a user must commit to a three-year subscription.
On the other hand, IPVanish has a standard pricing model, and bills in one-month, six-month, and annual increments, which is much more common than three-year terms.
IPVanish VPN has typical mid-tier pricing and is neither extremely cheap nor expensive. Additionally, neither service has a genuine free trial or a free version of VPN service. In lieu of a free trial, each provider offers a money back guarantee.
IPVanish VPN only offers a seven-day money back guarantee, compared with NordVPN’s 30-day money back guarantee.
The following outlines IPVanish VPN’s pricing model:
- Monthly subscription – $10.00
- Six-month subscription – $8.99
- Annual subscription – $6.49
The following outlines NordVPN’s pricing model:
- Monthly subscription – $11.95
- Annual subscription – $5.75
- Three-year subscription – $2.75
As you can see, IPVanish VPN is almost $2.00 per month cheaper with the monthly subscription, but I don’t generally see a lot of value in the monthly subscription options because there are no discounts.
The annual and three-year subscriptions with NordVPN are significantly cheaper, too.
In fact, for the same price of one month of IPVanish’s monthly subscription, you could get 3.63 months worth of service with NordVPN’s three-year subscription. The savings NordVPN offers aren’t exactly peanuts!
IPVanish and NordVPN DNS and IPv6 tests:
Now it’s time to see how each service stacks up against each other in terms of speed and leak tests.
Before we dig into the speed test data, note that the test was initiated in the US Midwest and that both services passed the DNS leak test and IPv6 leak tests. I did have an issue with WebRTC leak tests, and both providers failed.
However, the providers cannot be blamed. I had simply failed to disable WebRTC in my browser, which is a massive security oversight.
After disabling WebRTC in my browser, both providers passed the test. As for the speed tests, both providers performed admirably, though there was a clear winner.
IPVanish vs NordVPN WebRTC test:
The following outlines the speed test results for IPVanish VPN:
- Hong Kong – Latency: 203ms Download: 3.33Mbps Upload: 0.86Mbps
- London – Latency: 224ms Download: 1.77Mbps Upload: 0.71Mbps
The following outlines the speed test results for NordVPN:
- Hong Kong – Latency: 202ms Download: 4.72Mbps Upload: 0.91Mbps
- London – Latency: 117ms Download: 4.25Mbps Upload: 0.95Mbps
I tested each service with popular server destinations that were intentionally far away from my physical location. In all instances, NordVPN had a higher download rate, upload rate, and superior latency.
IPVanish VPN did a good job of matching the latency in the Hong Kong tests, but the latency was almost double for the Hong Kong test.
That’s not to say that IPVanish VPN did a bad job at all. Typically for the most demanding traffic, such as VoIP and other forms of voice data, you ideally want round-trip latency of 300ms or less for good call quality.
As for browsing websites or streaming audio/video, the demands are much lower. IPVanish VPN was well under the 300ms rule-of-thumb for a quality connection.
However, some intense applications, such as competitive gaming, may desire the lower latency of NordVPN’s connection.
Features & Benefits
IPVanish VPN has a comprehensive set of features designed to keep users’ personal data secure while simultaneously providing a variety of connection options.
The first feature I want to discuss is the fact that IPVanish VPN apps are available on all the major operating system platforms, including Windows, Mac OSX, iOS, Android, and VPN capable routers.
Furthermore, you’ll find that any VPN provider that hosts OpenVPN connections is going to be available on Linux too.
Also, note that IPVanish VPN claims it’s the “fastest VPN service available” as one of its features, but you should hold little stock in this claim.
Additionally, IPVanish VPN lists as one of its features the lack of bandwidth throttling and monthly data caps. Again, I’m not too impressed with providers who make these claims for a couple of reasons.
First off, the majority of VPN services all claim that they’re the fastest, and they can’t all be right.
Secondly, I see a lot of providers advertise a lack of bandwidth throttling and data caps, seemingly as a way to pad their features list with extra benefits.
The reality is that if you’re paying for any quality VPN service, none of them are going to limit your bandwidth or data.
In fact, the only VPN services I’ve seen with monthly data caps and bandwidth throttling were completely free services, whereby the service provider was trying to protect server bandwidth for paid users.
However, I was pleased to see that IPVanish VPN hosts servers in more countries than the average provider.
Typically, I see the average VPN service host servers in 40-50 countries. IPVanish VPN has over 40,000 IP addresses on 1000+ servers hosted in more than 60 countries, so you won’t lack flexible server location options.
As far as encryption is concerned, IPVanish VPN offers industry standard AES-256 encryption, which still cannot be cracked and is frequently used in highly demanding environments such as military applications.
I would also point out that IPVanish VPN specifically allows for P2P traffic and BitTorrent usage. This feature is fairly hit-or-miss among the competition because some providers explicitly deny P2P usage to avoid legal troubles because P2P and BitTorrent laws vary widely from region to region.
Furthermore, I was thrilled to see that IPVanish VPN offers OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec connections, though it does also offer PPTP.
Yet again, IPVanish VPN boasts a couple features that really aren’t all that impressive because they are expected.
The overwhelming majority of services have 24/7 support, and as for unlimited server switching…well, if a service charged me to switch servers, I wouldn’t ever sign up in the first place.
The last feature worth noting is that IPVanish VPN allows up to five simultaneous connections, which is much more common than it once was.
It seems free market competition is causing more and more providers to allow five (or more) simultaneous connections to keep up with the other services.
The following outlines IPVanish VPN’s features and benefits:
- User-friendly apps for all the major OS platforms
- “Fastest” VPN service available
- No bandwidth throttling or monthly data caps
- Over 40,000 shared IP addresses hosted on 1000+ servers in 60+ countries
- AES-256-bit encryption
- BitTorrent friendly, unlimited P2P traffic
- SOCKS5 web proxy (which does not provide inherent encryption)
- OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec connections
- Unlimited server switching and 24/7 support
- Five simultaneous connections per account
NordVPN has many of the same features as IPVanish VPN, but NordVPN expounds upon those features with an emphasis on extra layers of security.
For starters, note that like IPVanish, NordVPN allows unlimited server switching, no bandwidth throttling or monthly data caps, availability on all the major platforms (Windows, Mac, OSX, Linux, Android, and iOS), allows BitTorrent, offers AES-256-bit encryption, and the size of its network of VPN servers is almost exactly the same as well.
NordVPN hosts 1800+ servers in 62+ countries. Technically, NordVPN hosts servers in two more countries than IPVanish VPN, which isn’t a significant factor for me personally, because it feels like splitting hairs.
For practical reasons, I would say that the network size between these two competitors is the same, though I would recommend checking the entire server list if you need access to a country that isn’t typically popular (i.e. USA, Canada, Hong Kong, UK, Switzerland, Japan, etc.).
What really sets NordVPN apart from IPVanish VPN, in my opinion, is its extra security features.
I absolutely adore any tool that will keep my data safe and private – as it should be – and NordVPN has three special security features IPVanish VPN lacks. Firstly, NordVPN has a CyberSec feature that can be enabled or disabled with a single checkbox, which serves as an ad tracking blocker as well as a way to ward off bad websites and malicious scripts.
Do note, however, I could never recommend NordVPN as a substitute for a fully-fledged antivirus software suite. You’ll still need antivirus protection, but NordVPN offers some extra layers of protection.
Secondly, NordVPN developed a feature called Double VPN. As the name suggests, it allows a user to combine two VPN tunnels together like a daisy chain, which adds an extra layer of protection, not unlike an onion.
Speaking of onions, the third security feature that NordVPN offers, which IPVanish VPN lacks, is Onion Over VPN. Anyone familiar with Tor (The Onion Router) knows that it provides anonymity, but doesn’t offer the best security.
Onion Over VPN provides the best of both worlds, so your data is not only protected with VPN tunnel encryption but also with Tor obfuscation methods.
Furthermore, NordVPN offers one more simultaneous connection per account than its competitor, allowing for six concurrent active VPN connections at a time. If you’re a technology junkie or you have a family, six simultaneous connections will go a long way.
And last but not least, NordVPN does include web browser extensions for simplified management and control of VPN features directly from your browser.
In summary, the following provides an outline of NordVPN’s main features:
- AES-256-bit encryption
- Available on Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, Android, and iOS
- BitTorrent friendly, unlimited P2P traffic
- Over 1800 servers in 62+ countries
- Double VPN (a.k.a. VPN chaining)
- OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec
- Onion over VPN
- Browser proxy extensions for Chrome and Firefox
- Six simultaneous connections
As expected, both providers offer several forms of customer support. I often see knowledgebases and online help articles lumped in with the support page of a website, so we’ll factor those components into our analysis too. However, I’m of the opinion that NordVPN has superior customer service. Why? I’ve got two words for you: live chat.
I think live chat is superior to more archaic methods like email because you can get a response in seconds. Sure, due to support ticket triage, sometimes you may be getting answers from a live chat bot without evening knowing it before being transferred (behind the scenes, without your knowledge) to a real human being.
But email tickets and the infamous phone queues, which do little more than increase your blood pressure, are too old and too slow.
I will say, however, that both providers have a fairly well filled out knowledgebase and FAQ pages with detailed steps to all the most common problems.
If you just have a small question, I’d recommend starting at the knowledgebase for either provider because you might get a quick answer without having to contact support at all.
At any rate, the guides from either provider are high quality and filled with detailed steps and highlighted images that show you exactly where to click and type.
In the end, though, NordVPN wins with regards to its support department because NordVPN conveniently offers more ways to open a ticket and contact support than IPVanish.
Between the IPVanish vs NordVPN, certainly, IPVanish VPN has a lot of fantastic features, and it has a strict no-logging policy that prevents the logging of online user activity through the VPN tunnel. But what’s the catch, you ask? For me, there’s one hideous shortcoming of this service, which is a real shame, because I love its features and the design of the client’s interface.
The worst part about IPVanish VPN is that it’s based in the United States, which is an undesirable headquarters for a VPN service for a couple of reasons.
Unfortunately, because of the Patriot Act, the government has authority in certain situations to subpoena domestic firms to coerce a business to forfeit sensitive customer records.
No, IPVanish VPN doesn’t log user activities, so there wouldn’t be any activity information to hand over the government in such a situation, but it’s still a frightening prospective scenario.
The government would be able to access payment records and see if a user had signed up for the service. Furthermore, the US government might wiretap a domestic US firm’s servers; in the case of a VPN server, if the government controlled one end-point of the VPN tunnel, it would be able to plainly see all of your data as it is decrypted.
Do you think that sounds a bit far-fetched? Well, the US government has been caught in wiretapping scandals in the past already.
Just look at the spectacularly ridiculous scandals uncovered by Edward Snowden, such as the PRISM scandal by the NSA, whereby the agency wiretapped numerous domestic US firms including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and many, many others.
And note that the PRISM program is just one example, albeit a massive scandal, of the US government, spying on domestic entities. For these reasons, most people seeking the security of a VPN tunnel avoid any service based on US soil.
It’s just too much of a security threat. To make matters worse, IPVanish VPN doesn’t have a warrant canary in place.
A warrant canary, if you weren’t aware, is a way for a business to communicate to the public that it hasn’t been slapped with a subpoena or warrant.
You see, a subpoena prohibits an entity from revealing the existence of the subpoena, a concept that is not so dissimilar from a non-disclosure agreement. To circumvent such a prohibition, a warrant canary policy updates an audience (typically via a blog) that no subpoenas have been issued with unrelenting regularity.
That way, if the company fails to “sing” to its audience like a canary and communicate no subpoena has been issued, the audience knows that it is prohibited from doing so due to a fresh subpoena.
Because IPVanish VPN is based in the United States, and because IPVanish VPN lacks a warrant canary policy, I am skeptical to use its service.
On the other hand, NordVPN, which also has a no-logging policy, is fortunately not based in the United States. Instead, it’s based in Panama, which is a much more favorable location for a technology firm’s headquarters due to drastically laxer data retention laws.
Oh, and guess what? Not only is NordVPN based in a favorable location, it has a warrant canary policy too! With respect to privacy, simply because of warrant canary policies, no-logging policies, and company headquarters locations, NordVPN crushes the meager competition of IPVanish VPN.
Conclusion & Editors Opinion
To sum things up rather bluntly, NordVPN has more security features, it isn’t based in the US, and it’s even cheaper than IPVanish VPN! What’s to not like about it?
Clearly, there are many advantages that NordVPN has over IPVanish VPN, and because NordVPN is cheaper, it also offers a better value.
Some people do like IPVanish VPN however, though I would like to impart upon you a word of caution: think hard before using IPVanish VPN.
Is it a well-rounded VPN service at a decent price with strong AES-256 encryption? Sure it is, but the biggest problem with IPVanish VPN is where the company chose to locate its headquarters due to past wiretapping scandals.
Lastly, I know it may sound like some crackpot conspiracy theory, but consider that it pays to be averse to risk with regards to your most sensitive personal information.
Because I wouldn’t want to risk my personal data ending up on some invasive governmental database, I err on the side of caution by using a service based outside the United States.