NordVPN and IPVanish are among the top names in the VPN industry. Both offer extremely competitive features and choosing between these providers can be extremely challenging.
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.
Factors to Choose a Good VPN
Below we will go through a few important considerations to take note of before deciding on which VPN service to subscribe to.
Obviously, a VPN needs to deliver lightning-fast speed that will not interrupt your online activity. It is absolutely pointless to get a VPN service that significantly slows down just when you need it.
Different tests with different services have found that a VPN generally reduces your connection speed by 5 – 20%, meaning the effects on online gaming can range from barely noticeable to barely tolerable.
The first thing you need to look at is the VPN service provider’s server proximity. You should be able to get the same level of security regardless of distance or location. On that note, you also need to decide whether you will be using the VPN from one location only or while traveling. Some VPN providers only have servers in a few countries and the internet performance will drop significantly when you’re outside of these countries.
Next, the overall speed of a VPN provider depends on the company’s technology and implementation. Not all VPN services are created equal – some work better for speed and performance while others may be slower but with a much better user experience. Ideally, you should keep in mind to look out for fast connectivity that is both reliable and consistent.
Unblocking Geo-Restricted Content
Many media content such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC, and HBO are geographically restricted due to license agreements. A good VPN is able to open up access to allow you to continue streaming your favorite movies and TV series regardless of where you are in the world.
On top of streaming Netflix, VPNs can also help you get early access to new games. Let’s say there is a particular online game that you’ve been eyeing for a long time finally drops a release date – but it’s going to be available in Japan first, hours before any other servers go live. If you hope to stay ahead of others, all you need is to connect to a Japanese IP address through a VPN and you’re all set and ready to go.
The main reason most people subscribe to a VPN is to ensure their data remains safe and secured. It is pointless to invest in a protection plan that easily leaks information to other parties.
How secure a VPN company really simply boils down to two main factors: encryption method and country of origin. Some VPNs use older or traditional encryption that is more susceptible to attacks, while only a few VPNs have proprietary encryption technology that is harder to break into.
On top of that, it is vital to know where your VPN service provider is based and what local laws might mean for your privacy. Some countries have local government laws that require companies to retain information on customers and their internet usage that needs to be handed over to the authorities as and when requested.
For a home gamer who does not need all the extra features offered by top VPN providers, you can save a lot of time and effort by choosing a user-friendly VPN that is easy to setup. In any case, customer service should always be available to help you prepare for the worst.
Many VPNs have live chat support that runs 24/7 but is difficult to reach by phone outside of their business hours. Some have phone customer service reps that run on shifts to help you out no matter the time. Others have robust tutorial videos and guides geared towards users who are more technologically proficient that only just need a leg up in resolving any issues.
Many VPNs now come with a wide range of pricing, now they’ve further complicated decision making by offering subscription period at great discounts. Some have high monthly charges billed monthly, but a much cheaper rate per month if billed annually, while some have lower monthly charges, but their annual bill remains almost the same. Newer VPN providers even offer affordable subscription plans for up to 5 years of service.
NordVPN vs IPVanish Review
In our comparison today, we looked into several important aspects listed below:
- Servers and Network
- Ease of Use
- Privacy and 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, NordVPN is packed with more than 5,600 servers while IPVanish is at 1,300. While NordVPN 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.
NordVPN supports 60 different countries while IPVanish has 51. While NordVPN wins in this category by a huge margin, IPVanish is still one of the top VPNs in terms of number of servers.
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
Overall, NordVPN offers much almost double the download speed of IPVanish across different countries. This could partly be due to NordVPN’s larger server network as compared to its contender. If performance is your top priority, NordVPN may be the better option to go for.
3. Netflix & Streaming
If you are a major Netflix lover, you’re gonna want to find out if your VPN supports streaming. Fortunately, NordVPN proves to be a better pick for Netflix fans as it works effortlessly to unblock content in the US, UK, Canada, France, Japan, and Brazil. This provider is well-equipped for consistent streaming with their great choice of servers and proprietary SmartPlay DNS feature.
Overall, NordVPN unblocks a large number of streaming services, both in the US and internationally, which includes 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.
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. With that said, NordVPN has a quality-of-life torrenting feature which is not present in IPVanish. You can find a separate tab in their app for you to choose from more than 4,400 servers to connect to. 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 NordVPN and IPVanish understands this and that is why their apps have stylish and intuitive interfaces.
NordVPN likes to keep things simple with a sharp design and a one-click protection with their quick connect button. You can also easily access their full server list presented on the main menu to quickly pick a specific location to connect to. The settings tab is easy to find with a decently long and organized list of everything you can tinker with.
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 NordVPN as it would occasionally experience a time out during connection attempts.
As one of the best commercial VPNs available on the market, NordVPN 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.
The majority of internet users prefer Windows operating system and both VPNs work impressively here. NordVPN app support starts from Windows 7 and up – similar to PIA. Although, NordVPN does have a little more flexibility with manual setups for XP and Vista versions.
Additionally, NordVPN offers native VPN apps for macOS, iOS, Linux, Android, Android TV, and Amazon Fire. There are even browser extensions available for Chrome and Firefox. platforms.
Rounding back to IPvanish, this VPN 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.
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. 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.
In terms of jurisdiction, NordVPN is based in Panama which is much better than the US-based PIA. Panama is not a member of any of the international surveillance alliances and is not obligated to submit your information to the authorities.
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.
However, there is no direct evidence to prove that jurisdiction will affect the privacy of your VPN users in a bad way. Like NordVPN, IPVanish was never caught gathering or sharing their customers’ private data. By weighing all the risks, NordVPN is still a safer option in the Jurisdiction category.
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.
While NordVPN is not subjected to any data retentions, the US-based PIA can be pressured by authorities to access user information. However, in order to get around this, Private Internet Access adopts a strict no-logs policy. You can’t give something you don’t possess.
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 NordVPN or IPVanish to trust our personal information with, the better choice would obviously be former.
Both NordVPN 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.
Both NordVPN 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
NordVPN offers OpenVPN with TCP/UDP, IKEv2/IPsec, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, and SSTP. The service provider’s app also comes with ad and malware blocking, DNS leak and IPv6 leak prevention. NordVPN also has a double VPN function to route your connection through twin VPN servers and obfuscated servers which hide your VPN activity as a regular activity.
Like NordVPN, IPVanish also provides military-grade AES-2556 encryption. IPVanish uses OpenVPN with TCP/UDP, L2TP/IPSec, and IKEv2 protocols. IPVanish’s apps offer IPv6 and DNS leak prevention. The provider also has a nifty “Scramble” protection that makes your VPN activity appear to be normal browser activity.
Both NordVPN and IPVanish include a kill switch. However, while NordVPN supports both desktop and mobile apps, IPVanish only has a kill switch on their desktop app. 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.
Overall, the choice of VPN protocols is solid for both providers though NordVPN has a slight advantage as it offers fast IKEv2 for use with mobile devices.
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 NordVPN 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.
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 comparison, NordVPN is the clear winner in this head-to-head competition. The company supplies excellent privacy protections, great multi-platform support, wide-ranging streaming support, comprehensive global server coverage, and excellent BitTorrent support.
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?
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.
As a Master Degree graduate in the Internet Technology field, Stefan is highly dedicated towards improving the overall web security so internet users can browse freely without having to be afraid of technical loopholes. With over 15 years in the internet security industry, you should definitely take his advice seriously.