ExpressVPN vs IPVanish: which VPN is worth your money?
If you’re looking for a fast VPN for streaming and torrenting, your choices might have come down to IPVanish and ExpressVPN. And now you’re stuck wondering which VPN service to go for.
Luckily, I’m here to help you make an informed decision. I compared IPVanish to ExpressVPN in terms of speed, security, logging, streaming capabilities, prices, ease of use, and customer support. This will allow you to see which VPN is better for your personal needs.
Editor's disclosure: We are aware of and concerned about the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) recently released by the US Department of Justice. It names Express VPN’s CIO Daniel Gericke among the persons who received monetary penalties and agreed to “full cooperation with the relevant Department and FBI components” due to their past misuse of covert surveillance tools, targeting US citizens, as well as journalists and political parties.
At the moment, there are no direct connections established between the misuse of such tools and ExpressVPN. To stay informed on the issue, we suggest reading our full story about the agreement here.
ExpressVPN vs IPVanish
|Country:||US||British Virgin Islands|
|Locations:||52 countries||94 countries|
|Pricing:||From $3.20/month||From $8.32/month|
|Current deal:||70% OFF the IPVanish 1-year plan||12 Months + 3 Months FREE!|
|VPN protocols:||WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN (UDP/TCP), L2TP, PPTP||Lightway, IKEv2, OpenVPN (UDP/TCP)|
|Logging:||No logs||No logs|
|Support:||Knowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chat||Knowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chat|
|Platforms:||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
Speed comparison: IPVanish vs ExpressVPN
It used to be unfair to compare speeds of these two platforms because of ExpressVPN’s in-house tunneling protocol Lightway, allowing for much more superior speeds.
Now, with IPVanish adopting a high-speed WireGuard protocol, both of them are very similar – and playing on the same field. With the upgraded speeds IPVanish is better than ever before, rendering ExpressVPN to a shrinking image in its rearview mirror.
This round goes to IPVanish.
Speed test results
Both IPVanish and ExpressVPN support OpenVPN UDP, which is a protocol that combines great security with a high level of speed. When it comes to IPVanish vs ExpressVPN, it is clear that the latter wins: on average, it decreased my original download speed by 45% while IPVanish reduced it by 55%.
- Baseline: 1 ms, 300 Mbps download, 300 Mbps upload
|Download average||137 Mbps||165 Mbps|
|Upload average||55 Mbps||110 Mbps|
OpenVPN TCP is considered to be the slower version of OpenVPN that provides more stability than UDP. Interestingly enough, IPVanish managed to show better results with this protocol than with its faster counterpart. The download speed was reduced by only 45%, while the upload speed decreased by 65%.
When it came to ExpressVPN, the download speed fell by 65% while the upload speed decreased by 67%. In this case, IPVanish is clearly at an advantage.
|Download average||163 Mbps||103 Mbps|
|Upload average||135 Mbps||97 Mbps|
IKEv2 is a really fast protocol that’s also very secure, creating a perfect combination for most VPN users. As you can see from the table below, both IPVanish and ExpressVPN offer similar download speeds with IKEv2.
When using IPVanish, my download speed decreased by only 21% on average, while ExpressVPN decreased the download speed by 30%. Interestingly, both VPN services showed much worse results with the upload speed.
|Download average||237 Mbps||211 Mbps|
|Upload average||32 Mbps||9.5 Mbps|
And here comes the main event – the high-speed protocols for both of the VPNs. IPVanish's WireGuard and ExpressVPN's Lightway are very comparable in how they work, but IPVanish offers considerably better download speeds, making this the faster overall VPN of the two.
|Download average||239 Mbps||196 Mbps|
|Upload average||130 Mbps||130 Mbps|
At the end of the day, IPVanish keeps up with ExpressVPN on the older protocols and overtakes it thanks to the newest WireGuard addition. IPVanish is a faster VPN than ExpressVPN.
Both IPVanish and ExpressVPN have the essential VPN features like a kill switch and split tunneling. However, there are some differences too: IPVanish also offers a SOCKS5 proxy while ExpressVPN supports smart DNS.
What I like about ExpressVPN more is the fact that it supports split tunneling on multiple devices, not only Android smartphones. This VPN also offers RAM-only servers, stealth servers, and supports port forwarding, which makes it the winner in this category.
This is another feature available for ExpressVPN and IPVanish users. Split tunneling gives you the freedom to choose the specific apps that should use the VPN connection. When using ExpressVPN, you can either include or exclude the applications of your choice.
Only the Android app of IPVanish supports split tunneling. On the other hand, ExpressVPN lets you use it with its Windows, macOS, and Android applications.
One feature offered by ExpressVPN (but not IPVanish) is smart DNS, or MediaStreamer. It helps you watch geo-blocked content on devices that don’t support VPN, like some smart TVs. However, keep in mind that at the moment it only allows you to access US libraries.
Unlike ExpressVPN, IPVanish gives you a free SOCKS5 proxy. It’s a great feature for torrenting. Even though it hides your real IP address, it doesn’t encrypt the data itself, allowing you to have better speeds.
Stealth servers are arguably the best feature of ExpressVPN. These servers disguise VPN traffic, making it appear as regular internet traffic. In this way, it’s impossible to detect that you’re using a VPN even with the help of deep packet inspection by a firewall or your network admin.
You don’t need to do anything to activate this feature - ExpressVPN will simply switch you to a stealth server when deep packet inspection is detected.
It’s important to note that the presence of stealth servers imply that ExpressVPN has a high chance of working in China and other countries that track the usage of VPNs.
Once again, ExpressVPN offers a feature not present in IPVanish - RAM-only servers (called TrustedServer technology on the official page of the VPN). Basically, it means that all of your data is regularly deleted with every server reboot, as the servers of ExpressVPN are incapable of storing any data logs.
IPVanish vs ExpressVPN: which offers better protection?
IPVanish and ExpressVPN are pretty similar when it comes to security. For starters, both services use the military-grade AES-256 encryption, which is the current industry standard. No brute-force attack has been able to break it, as it would potentially take millions of years to do so.
Secondly, both VPN services use the SHA-512 hash function for authentication. This goes a bit above most other VPNs of the industry, as most VPN tools are still using SHA-256.
It’s also important to note that IPVanish and ExpressVPN support perfect forward secrecy. This means that a portion of the encryption keys constantly changes, making your past data inaccessible in case of a security breach. However, one thing causing problems to ExpressVPN is the report on Daniel Gericke, the Chief Information Officer of the company. He was revealed to be an ex-member of Project Raven, known for building hacking and cyber-espionage tools used by the UAE to target journalists, political opponents, and rival governments. However, has been no direct connection found between ExpressVPN and Project Raven itself.
Moving back to the technical differences, another thing in this IPVanish vs ExpressVPN battle is the fact that ExpressVPN lets you choose ChaCha20/Poly1305 encryption when using the Lightway protocol. This type of encryption works better with weaker devices than AES-256.
Also, it’s worth noting that ExpressVPN’s stealth servers double down on your privacy by not letting anyone detect that you’re using a VPN at all. Overall, it's up to you to choose which of the options you find more trustworthy.
When it comes to jurisdiction, ExpressVPN is the clear winner. That’s because this VPN service is based in the British Virgin Islands while IPVanish is located in the United States.
What’s the difference? Well, the US doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to privacy. Its government is known for spying on companies, requesting access to private user data, and other nefarious practices. The US also belongs to the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.
Meanwhile, the British Virgin Islands is a territory with a much more privacy-friendly atmosphere.
There are significant differences between IPVanish and ExpressVPN in terms of logging. For instance, ExpressVPN uses RAM-only servers, wiping out data every time the server is rebooted. While no guarantees of privacy on their own, ExpressVPN still has a more secure server option of the two.
However, both services have solid privacy policies. IPVanish and ExpressVPN state that they don’t keep logs including activity logs, browsing history, connection logs, and similar data. However, both VPNs collect your email address and payment method.
Sadly, it isn't just technicalities: both companies have stains on their reputation that might people reconsider purchasing them.
Both companies also have some question marks concerning their past behavior. IPVanish was involved in a privacy scandal, handing over some criminal data to the FBI. Since then, it's been purchased by a different company.
In 2021, ExpressVPN's CIO Daniel Gericke was reported as one of the people with ties to Project Raven, which helped the UAE target political opponents, journalists, and US citizens.
We have discovered no connections between these events and existing problems of the VPNs – so the difference between the two options here falls to your personal preference.
Both ExpressVPN and IPVanish offer a kill switch, which is an important security feature to any VPN service. It automatically disconnects your device from the internet if the VPN connection is disrupted, not letting your real IP address be detected.
Aside from blocking the internet, the kill switch of IPVanish also allows you to block LAN traffic in case of VPN failure.
The kill switch of ExpressVPN is called Network Lock. Just like IPVanish, ExpressVPN lets you deny or allow access to other devices from the same LAN when the VPN connection is down.
Netflix and streaming performance
The ability to unblock streaming services is a huge deal when choosing a VPN service. After all, this is what pops into most people’s minds when they hear the word “VPN”.
When I tested it, IPVanish managed to unblock US Netflix without any glitches or changes in video quality. In addition, the VPN had no trouble unblocking various Youtube videos that are blocked in my country.
However, not everything was perfect: when I tried accessing the BBC iPlayer, I got an error saying that I’m using a proxy. I had no luck with DAZN either, so sports fans might want to use ExpressVPN instead.
Why? Well, because ExpressVPN managed to unblock all the content I wanted, including DAZN. In addition, it worked smoothly with Netflix US, BBC iPlayer, and, of course, Youtube. It’s also worth mentioning that ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer feature is of great use when you want to watch geo-blocked content on smart TVs or gaming consoles.
As you can see, even though IPVanish is able to unblock certain sites, ExpressVPN is a better alternative in terms of streaming VPNs. I didn’t even need to use its specialized streaming servers because the regular servers did the job flawlessly.
If you want a safe VPN for torrenting, it won’t matter that much whether you use IPVanish or ExpressVPN because both services offer great torrent support.
Let’s take a look at IPVanish first. As it doesn’t have specialized torrenting servers, simply use one of its regular servers that allow torrenting (Switzerland, for example) - the speed won’t be disappointing. In my case, it steadily stayed at 7-8MB/s, which is higher than many other VPN providers can offer.
As for ExpressVPN, it supports torrenting on all of its servers. However, during my tests, the speed was a bit less stable than in the case of IPVanish: it constantly fluctuated between 6 and 15 MB/s. Keep in mind that these speeds depend on a number of factors and will likely be different for you.
All in all, I can’t declare a true winner in this category because, while ExpressVPN can provide better speeds, they might be highly inconsistent.
Even though both VPN services offer you a really broad coverage of servers, ExpressVPN has almost double the count of what IPVanish currently provides.
In addition, ExpressVPN gives you more freedom to pick the country that you need, because it offers a bigger number of countries across various continents.
|Middle East and Africa||2||5|
While IPVanish owns all of its servers, ExpressVPN doesn’t. This puts a slight advantage on IPVanish because owning your own network (thus not relying on third parties) benefits overall security.
On the other hand, all the servers of ExpressVPN are RAM-only, which means they are incapable of storing data anyway.
Plans and pricing
When it comes to the battle of IPvanish vs ExpressVPN, pricing is an important factor to consider. As none of the VPN services have a free version, a price too high can be a dealbreaker for people who are on a budget.
|1-year plan||$38.38 ($3.20/month) the first year, after that - $89.99 a year||$99.95 + 3 months free|
|2-year plan||$76.76 ($3.20/month) first 2 years, then $89.99/year thereafter||-|
|Check Pricing||Check Pricing|
The pricing of IPVanish
As seen in the table, you get a different first-year price on the yearly subscription plans. If you buy a one-month plan, you get to pay $10.99 monthly.
The one-year plan is much cheaper. You’ll spend $38.38 the first year (or $3.20 a month) and $89.99 a year ($7.45 a month) afterwards. The 2-year plan offers the same monthly price ($3.20 a month) for two years and then $89.99/year thereafter.
Alternatively, you can get one of the SugarSync bundles of IPVanish, which will also give you 500 GB of cloud storage for secure backup and cost an additional dollar a month.
While all the plans of IPVanish offer unlimited connections, only the long-term subscriptions let you use the money-back guarantee. Keep this in mind before making a purchase.
The prices of ExpressVPN
Now, the different subscription plans for ExpressVPN are much more straightforward. You can buy a one-month plan for $12.95, a 6-month plan for $59.95 ($9.99 a month), or a 1-year plan for $99.95 ($8.32 a month).
Currently, the one-year plan gives you three months for free, which reduces the monthly price to $6.67. It’s also important to note that ExpressVPN supports 5 simultaneous connections and allows you to pay with Bitcoin. All its plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Which is cheaper?
It’s difficult to determine which VPN gives you a better deal. On the one hand, the current special offer of ExpressVPN (that grants you three months for free when you buy the one-year subscription) costs you $6.67 a month, which is cheaper than the price of the second year of IPVanish.
On the other hand, IPVanish offers you the extra cheap option of $2.62 a month for the first year of the subscription. However, after the first year, the price goes up to $7.45 a month.
However, I pick IPVanish as the winner simply because $2.62 is cheaper than what most VPNs on the market can offer.
Interface and ease of use
|Supported OS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|Other software and devices||Android TV, Fire devices, routers||Android TV, Fire devices, routers|
|Browser extensions||None||Chrome, Firefox|
No matter what kind of device you use, you should find the IPVanish or ExpressVPN app you need. Both services provide a huge selection of applications and supported devices.
IPVanish doesn't offer any browser extensions – meanwhile, ExpressVPN does. However, with unlimited connections, it takes a solid advantage. 5 connections on ExpressVPN is below the business standard, and often wouldn't be enough to connect all the household's devices to a different network.
Overall, I'm picking IPVanish as the winner. Features-wise, both are very similar options, but unlimited connections is a much biggest addition than any browser extension could ever be.
Just take a look at the main screen of the Windows and macOS apps of IPVanish and you’ll find everything you need in one place. There’s the map (you can also choose the list view), the settings tab, and all sorts of info about the connection. On the other hand, some users might find the application a bit clunky.
Differently from IPVanish, ExpressVPN took a minimalistic approach. The main window of both Windows and Mac applications is rather tiny, with a huge button taking up the majority of the space. If you want to tweak a feature or two, you have to open the Settings window, which, in turn, looks a bit outdated to me.
There’s also no map, however, this doesn’t cause too much trouble because there’s a convenient country filter that lets you browse through servers with ease. Also, I like that the ExpressVPN Windows and Mac apps offer the split tunneling feature, which is available only on the Android app of IPVanish.
Both IPVanish and ExpressVPN have no graphical client for Linux users - you have to do everything through the Command Line Interface.
The mobile version of IPVanish looks different from its desktop counterparts. As it’s made to fit a mobile screen, it’s much more compact and less cluttered. Keep in mind that the Android app of IPVanish is superior to the iOS application, as it has more features like split tunneling and obfuscation toggle.
Now, the mobile version of ExpressVPN looks almost identical to the desktop version. As with IPVanish, the Android app of ExpressVPN is the superior one, offering more features that include split tunneling and a kill switch.
No matter whether you use IPVanish or ExpressVPN, your customer support options will be pretty similar. Both services offer a knowledge center (with FAQs sections and lots of different topics), email tickets, and live chat support.
ExpressVPN vs IPVanish: Which should I get?
|Ease of use||✔️||❌|
The duel between ExpressVPN vs. IPVanish ends with IPVanish being the winner.
Both VPNs are good services that are worth your time. However, IPVanish is faster and much cheaper than ExpressVPN – and that's a one-two punch that's very difficult to beat.
ExpressVPN is still the superior option to IPVanish due to certain privacy features, server locations, and streaming possibilities.
But if you're not looking for DAZN or BBC iPlayer and just want an affordable VPN that works (and works quickly!), IPVanish is an option I recommend wholeheartedly.
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