Cord Cutting Guides, News, and Reviews
NordVPN vs IPVanish
February 4, 2021
Choosing a VPN is not an easy process. You need an option that is secure, private, and usable. You need a VPN that works with everything you do on the internet — whether you stream, use P2P file-sharing, or just want to browse the web safely.
If you are deciding between NordVPN vs. IPVanish, you’ve already come a long way. You’ve weeded out all the lowest-quality VPNs, but you still need to find an answer in this final head-to-head challenge. That’s why we are here. After spending many hours reviewing IPVanish and NordVPN, we are ready to help you find the VPN you are looking for.
NordVPN has 5,000+ servers available across 59 countries. IPVanish, on the other hand, has just over 1,700 servers spread across 55 countries. When in doubt, you should always prefer that your VPN provider has as many servers as possible. A single server can easily get clogged by too many users, slowing it down to a crawl. As a VPN provider adds more servers, each one is less likely to get slowed down — making it easier to find servers that are operating at full speed. As a bonus for cord cutters, streaming providers have a harder time blocking VPNs that have lots of servers.
NordVPN works with Netflix and the other streaming providers that we tested. In our trials, it was even able to unlock much of Netflix’s international content. Our testing found that IPVanish worked with Netflix, although it did have some issues during the login process. IPVanish didn’t work at all with Amazon Prime Video. It couldn’t unlock any region-locked content either. In short, NordVPN has a clear advantage over IPVanish for streaming video fans.
NordVPN allows the use of three VPN protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard, all of which are very secure options. IPVanish uses IKEv2 by default on most devices, but the secondary options such as IPSec are sometimes less secure. If you stick with the basics, either of these services is fine, but NordVPN does a much better job of providing alternative options that don’t lower your overall security.
NordVPN is located in Panama, a country with no real data oversight laws. IPVanish, on the other hand, is in one of the founding Five Eyes Alliance member countries: the United States. As such, IPVanish could be required to hand over user data upon government request, whereas such an issue is unlikely with NordVPN.
Both NordVPN and IPVanish have strict no-logging policies for user data. In the summer of 2020, NordVPN put their privacy standards through a rigorous third-party audit. IPVanish has submitted to no such audit. These audits are not yet standard in the industry, but they are the best way to ensure that a company is properly adhering to its no-logging policies and other privacy standards.
When your VPN program fails for any reason, your internet connection leaks outside of the VPN, losing its privacy and security. Some VPNs prevent these leaks by installing a kill switch that stops all internet traffic when the VPN fails. NordVPN has such a kill switch available on all their apps. IPVanish includes a kill switch, but it doesn’t work with all of their VPN protocols.
NordVPN did experience some slowdown during our internet speed tests, but it wasn’t significant. IPVanish has some servers that cause slowdown, but you can find faster servers if you look for them. Either of these options is faster than the average VPN. We praised IPVanish’s speed in our IPVanish review, and we did the same thing for NordVPN in our NordVPN review.
NordVPN allows six simultaneous devices, whereas IPVanish has no device limit. Either of these is better than the five-device limit that many VPN providers have, but IPVanish’s support for unlimited devices is clearly the winner here.
Both work with PC, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Android TV, and some routers. Additionally, IPVanish has an app for Fire TV. If you need to cover other streaming devices, smart TVs, or video game systems with either provider, you can only do so by installing the VPN on your router instead of on the individual devices.
IPVanish has split tunneling on Fire TV and Android devices. Split tunneling allows you to run some apps through the VPN while other apps run through your standard internet connection. NordVPN has browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox that offer a limited version of this same capability.
Neither service has an option for a “stealth” VPN — a feature that hides the VPN use itself in order to evade VPN blocks like those imposed by some governments. NordVPN does offer obfuscated servers that serve the same basic purpose, allowing you to use your VPN with countries and ISPs that block most VPN services. This feature is not as easy to use as a standard stealth VPN, but it does make NordVPN the only viable option between these two if you deal with ISPs or countries that don’t agree with VPN usage.
NordVPN allows P2P file sharing on select servers, and IPVanish allows it on all servers. In either case, you shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding a P2P server, but IPVanish is clearly the easier option for this use case.
Overall, both services are very usable, although NordVPN is the better-looking of the two apps. IPVanish has a usage graph that takes up a large amount of real estate in the app interface, whereas NordVPN’s interface is heavily focused on helping you find available servers through a map and searchable server list.
The best VPN will depend on your specific needs. Instead of trying to answer this question broadly, what we can do is provide you with a rundown of the key differences that you should consider when making your choice — giving you the power to make an informed decision.
The single biggest advantage of IPVanish is its support for unlimited simultaneous connections. If you have a large number of supported devices that you want to cover, IPVanish is one of the few providers that will let you do that on a single plan. If you use a Fire TV device, you’ll want to take a good look at IPVanish — it’s the only one of these two providers that has an app for Fire TV.
NordVPN works better with most streaming services, especially if you want to unlock international content. This is not surprising since it has three times as many servers as IPVanish. For the security or privacy conscious, NordVPN has significant advantages — particularly due to the location of their headquarters, their third-party audits, and the wide range of high-quality VPN protocols that they allow. It also aced our NordVPN review. Overall, NordVPN is one of the most security- and privacy-centric VPNs on the market.
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