ExpressVPN vs IPVanish (2020) – The Comparison You Need

ExpressVPN and IPVanish are the two most popular service provider in the VPN industry. At first glance, they look pretty much similar and choosing one for another isn’t all that easy.

In today’s guide, we will be conducting an in-depth comparison between these two VPN giants to see which comes out the best. Hopefully, our extensive testing and analysis will help you pick out the right fit.

ExpressVPN vs IPVanish Review

In our comparison today, we looked into several important aspects listed below:

  1. Servers and Network
  2. Speed
  3. Streaming
  4. Torrenting
  5. Ease of Use
  6. Compatibility
  7. Jurisdiction
  8. Privacy
  9. Security

1. Servers and Network

Number of Servers

A VPN service is really as good as the number of servers available for users to connect to. All the best VPNs can afford to maintain a huge server and IP address park. This way the users can be evenly distributed among the servers to maintain speed and stability. 

As of today, ExpressVPN is at 3,000+ and IPVanish is at 1,300. While ExpressVPN wins in this category by a huge margin, IPVanish is still one of the top VPNs in terms of number of servers.

Number of Countries

Another important aspect to take note of is the number of countries offered by the VPN service providers for their users to access the internet with. Generally, most VPN users prefer to hide their IP addresses, however, there is still a significant number of netizens that need an IP based in an “obscure” state such as in the case of accessing location restricted media content.

ExpressVPN supports 94 different countries while IPVanish has 51. While ExpressVPN wins in this category by a huge margin, IPVanish is still one of the top VPNs in terms of number of servers.

2. Speed

Both VPN service providers had decent speed test results. Just a little background info, all speed tests were conducted using OpenVPN with AES-256 encryption and my baseline speed was at approximately 160 Mbps.

I tested out the server speeds in several locations as listed below:

Comparing these two, it is clear that ExpressVPN wins in terms of speed. ExpressVPN consistently provided connection speeds close to the baseline of 160 Mbps in most of the countries I’ve tested on. While IPVanish was slower, it is still not all too bad.

3. Netflix & Streaming

If you are a major Netflix lover, you’re gonna want to find out if your VPN supports streaming. Fortunately, both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are able to access US Netflix without any issues. This is a great feat as streaming Netflix through a VPN is often hit-or-miss, there are only a handful of VPN services that unblock Netflix. 

ExpressVPN does an excellent job of opening up access to streaming a wide variety of content online in other countries. This VPN giant unblocks a large number of streaming services, both in the US and internationally such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, and others.

However, IPVanish’s unblocking feature seems rather random. While I was able to access US Netflix and other streaming services, the access seems to drop at certain times. Unfortunately, IPVanish does not work on BBC iPlayer or the UK Netflix at the moment. All-in-all, it’s not the VPN to go for if you’re looking to stream media.

4. Torrenting

BitTorrent or P2P file sharing is one of the most popular online activity, yet it is also one with the most controversy. Depending on your location and the files you’re sharing, your torrenting activity could either be legal or illegal. One way to protect yourself from your ISP and law enforcement is to use a VPN that encrypts your connection and hides your real IP address.

The great news is that both VPNs allow P2P connections on their servers. ExpressVPN is completely file-sharing friendly and allows such activities on all of its servers. If you have any questions, they even have helpful instructions on how you can best use their service with a P2P app.

ExpressVPN supports BitTorrent in all 94 countries while IPVanish also supports more than 50 different countries. On top of that, the VPN supports SOCKS5 proxies which require an extra authentication instead of just encryption. These proxies also tend to provide better speeds.

Lastly, since IPVanish is a US-based service, they are obliged to follow a strict Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) policy. This may not be the best thing if you’re a major torrenting fan. ExpressVPN, however, is based in the British Virgin Islands and is therefore not as vulnerable to DMCA notices.

5. Ease of Use

What good would a VPN be if you face a difficult time trying to use it? Both ExpressVPN and IPVanish understands this and that is why their apps have stylish and intuitive interfaces.  Both like to keep things simple with a sharp design and a one-click protection with their quick connect button.

ExpressVPN has ready-made apps specifically for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. Both apps are very minimalistic, and they offer the ability to browse through different servers in various regions seamlessly. Other than that, you also have the option to tweak security settings, such as protocols, kill-switch, and DNS settings on the VPN app.

IPVanish also has a large selection of apps for major devices and operating systems such as Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Routers, Fire TV, and Chrome OS. In terms of performance, IPVanish was a little lacking compared to ExpressVPN as it would occasionally experience a time out during connection attempts. 

6. Compatibility

As one of the best commercial VPNs available on the market, ExpressVPN and IPVanish work seamlessly on a variety of platforms. They both have dedicated apps for each major operating system, as well as specialized support for many other devices.

ExpressVPN features app support for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Nook, and Amazon Fire. They even offer browser extensions for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox platforms.

IPvanish features apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire. The VPN provides instructions for setting up its services on Linux, Windows Phone, and Chrome OS machines as well.

Lastly, Both VPNs also can be set up through a router. Clear instructions can be found on both websites to help you set up your VPN router.

7. Jurisdiction

If you’re concerned about the safety of your data, you need to take a good look at where your VPN service provider is based at. There have been many cases in the United States where government agencies have forced VPNs to handover user information. That is why it is important to look for a VPN provider that is in a “Safe” location far away from the fourteen eyes alliances.

ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands and it is located in one of the safest countries for users’ online privacy. BVI does not have any kind of data retention laws, meaning the company is legally permitted to hide your online activity from the government. 

IPVanish is headquartered in the United States and is considered as a bad privacy jurisdiction due to the country’s mass surveillance practices, data collection, and cooperation between other surveillance states.

In any case, there is no real direct evidence to prove that jurisdiction will affect the privacy of your VPN users in a bad way. Like ExpressVPN, IPVanish was never caught gathering or sharing their customers’ private data.

8. Privacy

Logging Policy

Considering the main reason people subscribe to a VPN service is for better privacy, almost every VPN claim that they do not keep any logs. However, most of the time you’ll find loopholes in the fine print or hidden behind intentionally vague statements. One way or another, VPN service providers do need to retain a certain amount of data on their users. This is where it’s critical to understand the difference between connection logs and activity logs.

ExpressVPN does not collect or log any of your activities and even accepts Bitcoin as subscription payment to ensure all your information is completely incognito.

ExpressVPN’s logging policy clearly outlines that they will never log:

  1. IP addresses
  2. Browsing history
  3. Any website you visit/Torrent you download
  4. DNS queries

Though the service does record some information when you connect, none of it is tied to your account. The information saved by the company includes login date, server location used, and the amount of data transferred.

IPVanish has a suspicious “zero log” claim as the situation with this VPN service is not as encouraging as compared to its contender. There was some news previously where the VPN provider was able to show internet logs on a suspected hacked.

However, one thing to keep in mind was that when the event happened, IPVanish was under a different team. The new management deserves some benefit of the doubt and be given a chance. But if we were to choose between ExpressVPN or IPVanish to trust our personal information with, the better choice would obviously be former.

9. Security

Both ExpressVPN and IPVanish take security functions very seriously, which is why you’ll find that they offer plenty of useful features with a lot of depth to them.

Protocols

Both ExpressVPN and IPVanish offer multiple protocols and the best among them is the OpenVPN system that you should probably use if you’re seeking top-level security. However, the encryption process of OpenVPN can be slightly slower compared to the other protocols, but it’s a small compromise compared to the amazing security it brings to the table

If you do need to squeeze a little extra speed out for certain situations like online gaming, you have the option to switch to L2TP with both VPNs. PPTP is also offered by ExpressVPN but this is an older standard that is no longer considered secure. In replacement, ExpressVPN provides SSTP protocol.

Both ExpressVPN and IPVanish include a kill switch on their desktop apps only. This means if you were to be surfing through the internet on a mobile device, you could accidentally run the risk of sharing your information when your VPN connection drops.

Encryption

Both companies use military-grade AES encryption with a 256-bit key that is currently uncrackable for cast-iron security. ExpressVPN is better in terms of security as it offers for the control channel. This cipher is used to protect the distribution of AES keys and for session establishment. While both companies use RSA encryption, ExpressVPN uses a longer 4,096-bit key against IPVanish’s 2,048-bit key.

This is particularly important if you are hoping to use a VPN in China. It is commonly believed that the Chinese authorities can now crack RSA with 1,024-bit key and is now working towards the 2,048-bit key version. When they do get there, IPVanish will no longer be secure in China. As of now, ExpressVPN has over-engineered its control channel encryption to ensure total crack-proof security.

DNS Leaks

DNS calls are actually unencrypted, so all the websites you’ve visited can be logged by your ISP, hackers, or the authorities if the VPN lets you carry on with the default DNS service nominated by your ISP. Luckily, both IPVanish and ExpressVPN force all DNS references to travel down their encrypted tunnels to prevent anyone from seeing your web activities.

Both offer the same security options in their app to help prevent your IP address from getting exposed. You can even set the apps to start immediately when the operating system boots up to ensure they run on your computer all of the time. Both apps also include a kill switch option that prevents any app on your computer from connecting to the internet without an active VPN.

Final Verdict

Both ExpressVPN and IPVanish are high-quality services. If you’re searching for an inexpensive, general-purpose VPN to install onto your devices, IPVanish would be a good choice. However, in today’s one-on-one comparison, ExpressVPN managed to come out on top. ExpressVPN is the victor due to its superior connection speeds, privacy protections, streaming support, and multi-platform compatibility.

Regardless of which VPN provider you find is best for you, it is always best to test them out first with a shorter subscription before committing to a cheaper but much longer payment plan. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is using VPN legal?

Yes, using a VPN is completely legal. It is in your right to protect and encrypt all your internet connection to protect your personal data. It is the same concept as using an envelope to cover your letters. Some information is better kept private to ensure you’re not vulnerable to all kinds of malicious cyber-attacks.

Am I anonymous when browsing through a VPN?

No, you are not anonymous when browsing through a VPN. Many providers advertise complete anonymity, but their privacy policy may suggest otherwise. Also, there is no real way of knowing how credible their zero-logs claim really is.

While a VPN greatly increases your security and privacy, it does not make you anonymous. By subscribing to their services, you essentially expose yourself and your online activities to the VPN provider.

You also need to take note of where your VPN service provider is based in. Many countries have a data retention law that compels a company to log user activity that they are required to hand over to the authorities. VPN companies that focus on privacy will accept gift cards cash, or Bitcoin as your subscription payment. You will also not be required to submit your real name, phone number, address, or banking details in order to use their services.

Am I safe when using public Wi-Fi hotspots with a VPN?

In most cases, it is safe to use public Wi-Fi hotspots with a VPN. VPN encrypts the traffic between your device and VPN servers. This way hackers won’t be able to read your data. Even if they somehow are able to intercept your traffic, all they will really see is useless encrypted gibberish.

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