ExpressVPN vs. IPVanish: Which is Better? | #linux | #linuxsecurity | #education | #technology | #infosec


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This is an unbiased review of ExpressVPN and IPVanish — two of the most popular virtual private network (VPN) services available today.

Connecting to a public Wi-Fi hotspot such as those in airports, cafés, libraries and shopping centers comes with a lot of risk. That’s because hackers can easily position themselves between you and the unsecured connection point. You’ll be surprised to know that all your personal data such as credit card information and even account passwords have been accessed by unauthorized users. Worse, your device might have been infected by malware.

A VPN service or virtual private network can help keep your private information and browsing activity from being exposed. Online users can secure their connection to the internet via a tunnel between two or multiple devices. By being proactive when it comes to malicious cyber-attacks from hackers, not only do you secure all your personal information but also prevent your device from being corrupted by malware, spyware, viruses and worms or suffer from Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) or Denial-of-Service (DOS) attacks. 

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But here’s the catch: you’ll be overwhelmed by the choices of VPN when you search for service providers online. The truth is, VPN services are not the same, especially in the level of security against online threats and breaches. Investing in the wrong VPN service is just the same as not securing your connection at all.

ExpressVPN and IPVanish are two of the most popular VPN service providers each boasting millions of subscribers. If you can’t decide which of these two VPN services provides better service, here’s our objective review to get you all the information you need when deciding which to sign up for.

How We Compared ExpressVPN vs. IPVanish

Before we dissect all the features, advantages and disadvantages of these VPN providers, here are the aspects of each service that we considered to provide a comprehensive assessment.

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  1. Features – Does the VPN provider cover all of the bases needed to secure a user’s connection? Does it follow industry standards?
  2. Compatibility – Does it work with different operating systems (OS) and devices? 
  3. Download Speeds – Will it not compromise speed when connected?
  4. Geo-blocking – Can it route your traffic through another server in a different country to bypass geo-blocked websites?
  5. Devices per Account – How many devices can simultaneously use the service?
  6. Pricing – How much is the cost of service? Does it offer a money-back guarantee? What about discounts and additional free months? Overall, is it worth the price?
  7. Payment Methods – Does it offer alternative payment channels to cater to more types of subscribers? Does it offer a convenient payment process?

What is ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a consistent favorite among the Best VPN lists by product reviewers. This British Virgin Islands-based VPN provider began its operations in 2009. With its jurisdiction prohibiting any form of data retention, it has complete assurance to its clients that the company does not keep records of users’ activities or connection logs.

Many analysts and product reviewers agree that ExpressVPN is unparalleled when it comes to its strong privacy and security measures, a global presence of servers, and excellent split tunneling capability. 

What is IPVanish

IPVanish (also known as IPVanish VPN) is a Florida-based service that was initially released in 2012 and offers high-speed support and advanced security features. IPVanish also sought an independent verification of its no-logs policy so that users can be assured that it does not view, store or share any online activity. In addition, it has ceased its server operations in Russia and Hong Kong for alleged conflicts with the company’s data retention and privacy policies.

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Comparing ExpressVPN and IPVanish

Let’s take a more in-depth look at what each of these VPN services have to offer to its customers.

  • Features
  • Applications
  • Download Speeds
  • Geo-blocking
  • Security and Data Protection
  • Devices per Account
  • Pricing
  • Payment Methods
  • Customer Support

Features

In this section, we’ll look into the features of each service and inspect if each of them lives up to the hype.

Servers

What’s great about ExpressVPN is it lets users browse from 160 locations with more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries. They can select any virtual server location, gain a proxy IP address that is registered in their chosen country, and the traffic will be routed to another country with faster connection. 

For example, if they choose to connect to the Netherlands, their network traffic will be routed through another server such as Montenegro, while the IP address will appear to come from the Netherlands. ExpressVPN also emphasizes that all server locations are located within the country it is specified.

On the other hand, IPVanish has more than 2,000 servers in over 75 locations with more than 40,000 IP addresses. Majority of its servers are concentrated in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. If users want to connect to a specific country, city or server, but aren’t sure which option can best optimize their connection, IPVanish can select for them when they click the “Best Available City” or “Best Available Server” options. This feature automatically connects them to the fastest server in the country or city. For users in need of a proxy server, they can access a SOCKS5 proxy, which comes with every IPVanish subscription.

Kill Switch

Both VPN services offer kill switch. ExpressVPN calls its version “Network Lock,” which automatically stops traffic from going in and out of your device when you lose connection. It is available on Windows, Mac, Linux and router apps.

On the other hand, IPVanish offers kill switch to macOS, Android Mobile, and Windows clients only as of this writing.

Split Tunneling

ExpressVPN allows two types of split tunneling: 

  • Traditional split tunneling – protects all connected devices and apps but not those excluded by the user
  • Inverse split tunneling – protects selected devices and apps while those that are not part of the list are not covered.

ExpressVPN also offers split tunneling for routers through Device Groups that allows Wi-Fi connected devices to be grouped together and then have each cluster connected to a different VPN server location. Take note that the split tunneling feature is not available for macOS 11 and above.

For IPVanish, split tunneling is only available for Android and Fire Stick/Fire TV as of this writing.

Best-in-class Encryption

Both VPN services use Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with 256-bit yes or more commonly referred to as AES-256. This is the standard for encryption used by the United States government and top companies when securing their private information, since it is more difficult to crack compared to other types of encryption.

Private DNS

Both services provide private Domain Name System (DNS) to its customers. This eliminates the risk of public DNS servers from being recorded by internet service providers (ISPs), advertisers and content delivery networks each time a user makes a query. ExpressVPN handles DNS requests automatically using the same tunneling protocols and encryption, so response times are faster. The company also emphasizes that it does not share DNS requests to any third party.

IPVanish, on the other hand, uses its private DNS servers that can only be accessed when connected to the VPN. This makes it more secure when accessing content from any site. In addition, the service provider’s app automatically switches the user’s DNS setting to the private DNS server when the device is still connecting to a VPN server. 

No Activity or Connection Logs

All VPN vendors promise a no-logs policy, otherwise, they won’t gain their customers’ trust. In the case of ExpressVPN, it explicitly states that it does not record IP addresses, browsing histories, traffic destinations, metadata, time of VPN connection and DNS queries. However, in order to troubleshoot some technical issues on its apps as well as resolve network problems, it records the following: users’ activated apps and its versions, selected VPN server location, dates connected to the service and total data transferred. Other than these, it does not intend to broaden its scope of data gathering.

Likewise, IPVanish claims that its no-logs policy covers content, traffic destination, IP addresses, connection time stamps, DNS inquiries, search histories, running apps, streaming, among others. It has also secured the approval of a cybersecurity consulting firm to certify its security and privacy practices. The audit results revealed that content, destination of customer sessions and other data were not recorded, stored or shared.

Tools

ExpressVPN boasts of a number of tools for free regardless if you are a subscriber or not. These include:

  • What is my IP? – allows users to verify their current assigned IP address, location and ISP
  • DNS Leak Test – checks if the DNS servers are being logged on every website that is visited
  • WebRTC Leak Test – identifies any instances of leaking private information and exposed IP addresses
  • Password Generator – provides securely generated passwords that takes thousands of years to crack

IPVanish, on the other hand,  offers a free IP lookup tool (similar to ExpressVPN’s What is my IP? tool) and a password generator.

Speed Test Tool

Only ExpressVPN offers its own version of a speed test tool embedded directly into the app. Users can identify how fast their connection is before and during connection with VPN. IPVanish, on the other hand, recommends a third-party speed tester for users to carry out a test.

Browser Extensions

ExpressVPN has available browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge. For IPVanish, it offers an IPVanish Chrome app instead of an extension for better security.

Protocols

ExpressVPN uses protocols such as Lightway – UDP, Lightway – TCP, OpenVPN – UDP, OpenVPN – TC, L2TP/IPSec (for Windows apps) and IKEv2 (for Mac, Windows, iOS and router apps). 

Lightway – UDP, in particular, was developed in-house and is ideal for those who want to optimize speed but the TCP version connects better on selected networks although it’s a bit slower. When set to automatic, ExpressVPN selects the protocol that is most appropriate for the user’s network.

IPVanish supports WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN, L2TP, IPSEC and PPTP. According to the company, WireGuard is superior to other protocols because of its faster speed and better encryption capabilities compared to IKEv2 (although the latter is better for online obfuscation). As of this writing, ExpressVPN does not still support WireGuard since it does not want to assign a static single IP address on a public or virtual network to any of its users. However, Lightway is more dependable in terms of encryption architecture, has fewer lines of code compared to OpenVPN, and can offer more stable connection.

Compatibility

ExpressVPN and IPVanish offer applications that are compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS operating systems. You can also use them on all connected devices such as Chromebook, Fire TV Tablet (or Kindle Fire) and routers. For a list of specific computers (laptops and desktops), mobile devices including smartphones and tablets, wireless routers and streaming media consoles supported by ExpressVPN, click here. For IPVanish, click here for a list of compatible software and here for supported routers.

Download Speeds

We tested both VPN services and found out that in terms of speed and reliability, ExpressVPN offers better results.

ExpressVPN and IPVanish speed test results:

  ExpressVPN IPVanish ExpressVPN IPVanish
Protocol Lightway – TCP Lightway – TCP WireGuard WireGuard
Device used Windows 10 PC Mac Windows 10 PC Mac
Ethernet 620 Mbps 612 Mbps 618 Mbps 600 Mbps
Wireless 110 Mbps 104 Mbps 108 Mbps 111 Mbps

Geo-blocking

ExpressVPN now has expanded its access to many streaming sites, which include Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, Showtime, and Sling TV. For a list of supported sites, click here.

IPVanish works best with Kodi, especially when it comes to privacy and security solutions that come with using a VPN in tandem with the streaming app.

Security and Data Protection

ExpressVPN features TrustedServer technology that prohibits its servers from recording any information on the hard drive as every data is cleared upon rebooting because it runs on RAM.

IPVanish, on the other hand, boasts of its security tools such as threat detection and removal, virus and malware scanning and Windows-only security features such as network firewall defense, automatic app patching, and email threat protection.

Devices per Account

ExpressVPN allows up to five devices to use each single subscription at the same time. IPVanish, however, does not limit the number of simultaneous users. This means you can use one account to secure any number of devices.

Pricing

ExpressVPN offers the following pricing plans*:

Plan 1 year 6 months 1 month
Monthly Payment $6.67 $9.99 $12.95
Discount 49% none none
Remarks Includes 3 free months then billed every 12 months billed every 6 months billed every month

There’s no free trial available for ExpressVPN, but you’ll get a 30-day money-back guarantee plus a 1-year unlimited cloud backup (for the 12-month package that comes with three months of free service). No other VPN comes close with such a premium VPN, which is why we voted it as our Best VPN Service for 2022.

IPVanish offers the following pricing packages*:

Plan Annual Quarterly Monthly
Monthly Payment $3.99 $5.32 $10.99
Discount 63% 51% none
Remarks $47.89 first year; $89.99 each year thereafter $15.96 first quarter; $29.99 each quarter thereafter $10.99 billed every month

The Annual Plan comes with IPVanish’s Ransomware and Malware Protection bundle. All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

*Pricing packages as of April 2022.

Payment Methods

Express VPN accepts major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, and Diners Club International), PayPal, Bitcoin and other payment channels such as UnionPay, iDEAL, QIWI Wallet, SOFORT, giro pay, PIX, SEPA, Mint Payments, Mercado Pago and EPS Überweisung, among others.

IPVanish, on the other hand, accepts major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover and JCB), some debit cards and PayPal. 

Customer Support

ExpressVPN offers a variety of ways that subscribers can access customer support. This includes video tutorials, knowledge base articles on troubleshooting, and step-by-step guides. There’s also a 24/7 live chat available to entertain your questions.

On the other hand, IPVanish has a Support Center (which includes FAQ articles, billing inquiries, setup guides, etc.), live chat, and a system status page.

Final Verdict

Below is a summary of the findings in this VPN service comparison:

Criteria ExpressVPN IPVanish
Features    
     Servers >3,000 servers in 160 locations and 94 countries >2,000 servers in more than 75 locations
     Kill Switch Available Available (for macOS, Android Mobile, and Windows clients only)
     Split Tunneling Available Available (for Android and Fire Stick/Fire TV)
     Best-in-class Encryption AES-256 AES-256
     Private DNS Available Available
     No Logs Yes Yes
     Tools What is my IP? (free)
DNS Leak Test (free)
WebRTC Leak Test (free)
Password Generator (free)
IP lookup tool (free)
Password generator (free)
     Speed Test Tool Available none
     Browser Extensions Google Chrome
Mozilla Firefox
Microsoft Edge
none
     Protocols Lightway – UDP
Lightway – TCP
OpenVPN – UDP
OpenVPN – TC
L2TP/IPSec (for Windows apps)
IKEv2 (for Mac, Windows, iOS and router apps)
WireGuard
IKEv2
OpenVPN
L2TP IPSEC
PPTP
Compatibility Windows
macOS
Linux
Android
iOS
Many devices
Windows
macOS
Linux
Android
iOS
Many devices
Download Speeds Faster Fast
Geo-blocking Yes Yes
Security and Data Protection Strong Strong
Devices per Account 5 Unlimited
Pricing $6.67 / month (1-year plan)*
*includes 3 free months
$3.99 / month for the first three months
(1-year plan)
Payment Methods Credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, etc. Credit cards, debit cards, PayPal
Customer Support Excellent Excellent

Based on the criteria above, there’s no doubt that ExpressVPN is better than IPVanish when it comes to performance, features, security and support. Although IPVanish has no user cap for simultaneous connections using a single account, ExpressVPN offers better performance, speed and security in comparison.

Related articles:

Does Using A VPN Hide Your IP Address? Yes

How To Change Your IP Address On Any Device [It’s Not Hard]

How To Change Netflix Region And Watch Any Netflix Country (Every Device)



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