NordVPN is one of our go-to providers when making virtual private network recommendations. It held multiple spots in our best VPN guide and beat the competition in our NordVPN vs. CyberGhost and NordVPN vs. PIA comparisons. Though it fell short in our ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN guide, it’s superior to almost any other provider.
IPVanish, on the other hand, is a middle-of-the-road provider that would be good if it wasn’t for questionable business practices. In this comparison of NordVPN vs. IPVanish, we’re going to pit the providers against each other to see which is the better pick.
Though we’ll pull in other providers for the sake of comparison, this guide is focused on NordVPN and IPVanish. If you want to see how they perform against the wider VPN market, read our NordVPN review and IPVanish review.
Setting Up a Fight: NordVPN vs IPVanish
We pulled from the criteria in our VPN reviews to create this comparison. Instead of comparing the providers across nine rounds, though, we’ve condensed it to only five. We’ll still cover everything, but some rounds will talk about multiple topics.
For example, round one will talk about features and streaming performance and round two will address pricing and the number of simultaneous connections. Condensing it that way not only makes for a more straightforward comparison, but it also allows us to make sure the comparison is fair. A win in server locations isn’t as important as a win in privacy.
With that, here are our five rounds: features, pricing, ease of use, speed and security. We’ll start each round discussing what we’re looking for from the competitors, go over how well each provider satisfies our criteria, give our thoughts on how the two compare and declare a winner. Whichever takes the crown in three or more rounds will be our champion.
A quick glance at our VPN reviews shows that NordVPN is rated much higher than IPVanish, and though it is the superior service, IPVanish has its strong points. As you go through the comparison, we urge you to read sections in their entirety rather than skimming for the winners. That way, you can see our logic and arrive at your own conclusions.
There’s no shortage of VPNs that will secure your connection with the best in VPN security, so features make the difference when choosing a provider. NordVPN and IPVanish include a lot of toys to tinker with, but all that glitters isn’t gold. We’re not only looking at features, but also how useful they are to the average user.
In this section, we’ll also talk about streaming performance. Both providers work well when it comes to streaming, so if you want specifics, read our reviews of each.
NordVPN has an impressive set of features, not only because of the sheer number of them, but also because of the quality. Across the board, its features are unusual and useful, setting it apart from other VPNs.
Included free with your subscription is CyberSec, which is a surprisingly good malware and ad blocking tool — read our CyberGhost review to see one at its worst. Though there are plenty of ad blockers — our 99 free tools to protect your privacy guide has about 10 — and CyberSec doesn’t hold a candle to the best antivirus software, there’s no downside to using it.
A killswitch is included, too, but NordVPN’s has a rare feature. It allows for “app kill,” which lets you only use the killswitch on particular applications. A setup like that would allow you to protect your torrenting without interrupting your browsing if the VPN fails. You can use the killswitch in a standard configuration, too.
NordVPN’s best feature is its specialty servers. There are four types to choose from, each improving an aspect of security or reliability. The P2P servers, in particular, earned NordVPN first place in our best VPN for torrenting guide.
The only feature NordVPN is missing is split tunneling. That allows you to send some traffic through the VPN tunnel while other traffic is omitted. Even mediocre providers, such as PureVPN (read our PureVPN review), have it, so NordVPN opting to skip it is strange. To be clear, any VPN can be setup for it, but NordVPN doesn’t offer a simple way to do it in the app.
As far as streaming performance goes, there isn’t much to say. NordVPN is among the best VPNs for streaming and even earned a spot in our best VPN for Netflix and best VPN for BBC iPlayer guides. If you’re looking to stream, it can handle any workload.
IPVanish doesn’t have the unusual features that NordVPN does, but it isn’t barren, either. Most are buried in the settings for advanced users to change different aspects of security.
Recently, IPVanish removed the fan-favorite IP cycling feature that allowed you to change IP addresses after a specified amount of time. It still cycles IP addresses, but there’s no way to change the duration or turn off the feature in the settings.
There are start-up settings that allow you to connect to the last server you used, the fastest one available or the fastest one in a particular country. You can configure it to start-up automatically in the event of a failure, too.
There’s a killswitch, but not one with settings like NordVPN’s, as well as the option to obfuscate your packets to bypass deep packet inspection. Overall, though, IPVanish feels mild when it comes to features. The only unusual offering is IP cycling, which is no longer controllable in the interface.
Its streaming performance doesn’t help. After testing Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video across multiple locations, we were left with nothing but a handful of proxy errors. That isn’t to say streaming is impossible with IPVanish, but our most recent testing doesn’t vouch for it.
Round 1 Thoughts
With its unusual features and streaming performance, the winner for this round is clear. NordVPN not only packs in a lot of features, but it also makes them feel useful. Plus, it’s a rockstar when it comes to streaming, while IPVanish feels more like a roadie who’s had a few too many.
Price is important when choosing a VPN. Like any subscription-based service, the goal is to be subscribed for a long time, so a VPN that runs your wallet dry doesn’t make sense. That isn’t to say we’re against high prices, as long as the service isn’t overpriced (read our Hide.me review to see the epitome of that). If the service can justify a high price tag, we’re content.
In addition to pricing, we’re going to look at simultaneous connections, refund policies and payment options in this round.
NordVPN is around a dollar cheaper than most top-shelf providers. ExpressVPN, which makes the most obvious comparison, is $13 per month instead of the $12 that NordVPN charges (read our ExpressVPN review). We’re not splitting hairs over a buck. NordVPN is just as much month-to-month as any other top-tier provider.
1-year plan $ 6.99 / month
$83.88 billed every year
Save 42 %
2-year plan $ 3.99 / month
$95.75 billed every 2 years
Save 67 %
3-year plan $ 2.99 / month
$107.55 billed every 3 years
Save 75 %
That said, it excels in multi-year contracts. Though its month-to-month rate provides little value, you can get NordVPN for as little as $3 per month if you purchase a long enough subscription. Because of that, long-time patrons of the software will be able to get an excellent deal, while newbies can sign on for no more than any other provider.
That comes with issues, though. NordVPN’s long-term subscriptions have a lot of value, but its monthly and annual plans leave much to be desired. For example, Private Internet Access charges half as much month-to-month and a third for a year (read our PIA review). NordVPN isn’t more expensive than most top-shelf providers, but there are cheaper options.
NordVPN’s pricing structure incentivizes you to purchase a multi-year plan. We expect monthly rates to be bad, but the annual rate is what hurts it. PIA, CyberGhost and TorGuard have cheaper annual rates while providing excellent service (read our TorGuard review).
You get a lot for your money, though. NordVPN includes six simultaneous connections, which is one less than CyberGhost and three more than ExpressVPN. There’s a week-long free trial and 30-day refund window, too, so there’s no harm in trying it.
Payment methods are standard, NordVPN accepting bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple, as well as most major credit cards. For the sake of security, it doesn’t accept PayPal anymore.
IPVanish is cheaper than most top-tier providers, with the monthly rate clocking in at only $10. That said, it doesn’t share the pricing mentality of NordVPN. Though shorter plans are cheaper, there isn’t a long-term subscription to reward loyal patrons.
3-months plan $ 8.99 / month
$26.97 billed every 3 month
1-year plan $ 6.49 / month
$77.88 billed every year
Instead of the semi-annual option that’s usually found between monthly and annual plans, IPVanish offers a three-month plan. It’s the worst option out of the lineup, too. Compared to the monthly plan, you’ll save $3. A six-month plan around $50 would provide much more value.
IPVanish’s annual plan is cheaper than NordVPN’s, but only by a little bit. Opting for IPVanish will save you $6 over NordVPN, which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t a big deal. Considering NordVPN’s long-term options, IPVanish will always be more expensive if you break it down month by month.
There isn’t a free plan or free trial, which is typical of VPNs, but the refund period is also short. IPVanish only gives you a week to try the service. Though it honored its refund policy during testing, you’ll still have to pay upfront.
The negatives are somewhat outweighed by the number of simultaneous connections IPVanish offers. All plans come with 10 simultaneous connections as long as only one of them uses PPTP or LT2P. That’s a strange limitation, but you could use OpenVPN on 10 devices and be just fine.
Alternatively, you could install IPVanish on your router and get unlimited simultaneous connections.
The payment options aren’t bad, with IPVanish accepting major credit cards and PayPal, but there isn’t support for cryptocurrency, so you’ll have to reveal your identity during checkout. As we’ll see in round four, though, that should be the least of your concerns when it comes to privacy.
Round 2 Thoughts
This round is harder to judge because the better provider is largely based on your needs. If you’re looking for short-term commitments, IPVanish will save you the most money, but those looking to set their flag with one provider should stick with NordVPN.
The number of simultaneous connections is different, but the fact that both providers support installation on routers mitigates the issue.
We’re of the mind that a VPN should offer a generous amount of time to try the service, and if you like it, you should stick with it for as long as possible. Keeping with that mentality, NordVPN is the better provider because it offers a free trial, longer refund window and high-value, long term subscriptions.
Ease of Use
When it comes to ease of use, NordVPN and IPVanish sit in the “commercial” category of VPNs. In other words, they’re easy to use. That said, though both offer a streamlined approach to the VPN experience, NordVPN’s impressive server map is a difficult feature to contend with.
We’re going to judge the providers from sign-up to connection to see which offers the better user experience.
NordVPN has a streamlined sign-up that, though similar to other providers, feels more fluid than the competition’s. After you choose a plan, select a payment method and enter your email address, NordVPN will ask you to verify your email address and set a password. Once you’ve done so, the application will begin downloading.
The local app takes a few minutes to install and only uses about 50MB of space. Once the installation is complete, NordVPN boots and asks you to log in. Logging in is a small annoyance, especially when ExpressVPN proves device activation tokens work fine for authentication. Still, once you’ve signed in the first time, you shouldn’t need to again unless you reboot.
In the main window, you’ll see NordVPN’s trademark feature: its location map. The map takes most of the resizable window and shows the countries where NordVPN has presence. Clicking one of the markers will connect you to the fastest server in that location or at least the fastest server NordVPN detects. As we’ll see, the recommendation system is far from perfect.
Alternatively, you can use the sidebar menu to find a location. As with the map, clicking a country will automatically connect you to NordVPN’s recommended server there. If you’d rather select your own server, you can do so by clicking the three dots next to the server location.
Instead of data centers, NordVPN lets you select any of its over 5,000 servers. In countries such as Taiwan, where there’s only eight options, that isn’t a problem. In the U.S., though, there’s almost 2,000 servers, so finding the best one can be a chore. Because NordVPN’s recommendation system doesn’t always hit the mark, you may do this more than you’d like.
We commend NordVPN for the attempt at streamlining its massive network, but the recommendation system seems to hurt more than it helps. In some cases, it will quickly connect to the fastest server at a particular location, while the connection will fail outright in others.
As for the rest of the interface, NordVPN doesn’t mess around. There’s only one menu and it houses toggle switches for NordVPN’s settings. Despite having so many features, NordVPN manages to make them coexist without usability woes.
Outside of the desktop app, there’s a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox that offers a stripped-back way of connecting to NordVPN’s network. Installing it also allows you to use CyberSec when browsing and block WebRTC information from transferring, which are important steps in warding off cybercrime.
Signing up for IPVanish is a similar affair. It requires you choose a plan, enter your email address and select a payment method. You’ll also set your password, and IPVanish will auto-detect your operating system and recommend an installer. When it’s all said and done, signing up only takes a few minutes.
Opening the interface has the same awe-inspiring effect as opening NordVPN’s, but in a different way. Instead of opening with a massive map, IPVanish opens with a massive speed chart. IPVanish will show the amount of data you’re uploading and downloading simultaneously in real time as long as you’re connected.
If you’re only concerned with securing your connection, simply tick the “on” switch at the top of the window. IPVanish’s recommendation system isn’t perfect, either, but it gets closer than NordVPN. There are settings in the bottom right corner for tweaking how it selects servers.
You can tell IPVanish what country and city you want to connect to, as well as what server it should look for in that country. For example, you could tell IPVanish to connect to your last used server in the U.S. or the fastest server in Amsterdam. Those settings carry across sessions, too, meaning you can tweak the quick connect button to always find the server you want.
If you’d rather browse the full list of locations, you can do so using the “server list” tab. You can browse locations in a list or use a map similar to NordVPN’s. IPVanish shows the countries and regions where it has servers but not the individual servers. For example, Amsterdam has almost 100 servers, but you can only choose to connect to Amsterdam as a whole.
After our battle in server selection with NordVPN, this looks like a huge upside. IPVanish finds the server for you and does so without failing to connect multiple times. Traversing the network is much simpler, too, with IPVanish offering multiple ways to browse its locations. That is the streamlined approach that we’d like to see from NordVPN.
On the left-side menu, there are three other tabs, but the only one of note is the “settings” tab. In the settings, you can turn on the killswitch, change your protocol, verify your IP address and configure the DNS servers you want to use. The list seems shallow, especially compared to NordVPN, but it doesn’t feel like anything is absent.
Out of the settings, the start-up settings are the most interesting. IPVanish allows you to not connect on start-up, connect to a previously connected server, connect to the fastest server or connect to the fastest server in a particular region. Like the quick connect settings, the start-up settings provide a set it and forget it way to always use the server you want.
Round 3 Thoughts
We like NordVPN’s server map a lot, but the recommendation system leaves a lot to be desired. IPVanish, on the other hand, provides a similar experience, albeit with a few more buttons and tabs, and does so without failing to connect. The recommendation system makes the difference here, and because of that, IPVanish secures its first win.
NordVPN and IPVanish were included in our fastest VPN guide, but for the wrong reasons. They made the list of our dishonorable mentions, not because the speeds were bad, but because certain locations gave us bad or questionable results. NordVPN and IPVanish are capable of quick speeds, but that comes at the cost of consistency.
Unfortunately, the winner here will be determined by whether you’re a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty type of person. Consistency isn’t either provider’s strong suit, but if you’re willing to be optimistic, one provider is capable of faster top speed.
In our fastest VPN guide, NordVPN had the fastest weighted average. It didn’t make the list of providers, though. We reran speed tests multiple times, throwing out results that we decided were outliers — less than 10 percent of the unprotected speed — and NordVPN had performance issues across the board.
|Location:||Ping (ms)||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)|
|United Kingdom #201||153||34.78||6.06|
|Double VPN (U.S. to Canada #4)||79||20.48||8.64|
When we were able to pin down locations that would give us decent speed — or function, for that matter — NordVPN was a dream. Finding those locations wasn’t, though. We were forced to change locations multiple times to find a server that worked, and change them again to find ones with decent speed.
If you can find the right server, NordVPN is, hands-down, the fastest VPN around. Finding those mythical servers is a chore, though. That is where the optimists come in. NordVPN’s highs are truly high, but its lows are low, too. If you’re willing to see the good beneath the rubbish, it will reward you, but we suspect most won’t want to dig around.
Despite its inconsistency in download and upload speed, NordVPN is resilient when it comes to latency. It earned second place in our best VPN for gaming guide. Even when it took what seemed like an eternity to load a page, the ping time stayed low, making it an excellent choice for going head-to-head online.
IPVanish has much more consistent results, but there are a few bad apples in its network. During our speed testing, most locations returned the majority of our unprotected speed. Some locations provided unusable results, though. For example, in our review, Glasgow only returned 2 megabits per second of our 60 Mbps unprotected download speed.
|Location:||Ping (ms):||Download (Mbps):||Upload (Mbps):|
|Unprotected (St. Louis, MO)||10||59.13||11.55|
|Los Angeles, CA||96||53.59||8.21|
In a separate batch of testing, we found similar results. You can see the full table in our testing spreadsheet, but, in summary, IPVanish performed as well as AirVPN (read our AirVPN review) in the U.S. and the Netherlands but terribly in Japan, bringing its weighted average down.
The bad apples seem to be few and far between, though. As mentioned in round three, IPVanish’s recommendation system is better at finding fast, functional servers than NordVPN’s. Because of that, you’re more likely to find a location that works for you instead of having to hunt for one.
Round 4 Thoughts
Neither IPVanish nor NordVPN has the consistent speeds of ExpressVPN or even Astrill (read our Astrill review). If you’re looking for the fastest possible speeds, NordVPN will get you there, but not without a few headaches. IPVanish, on the other hand, is slower overall, but comes with a higher level of consistency.
For us, consistency is key, earning IPVanish a win in this round.
Security & Privacy
Security and privacy are the main concerns when it comes to using a VPN. One of our competitors understands that, while the other doesn’t. In this final, definitive round, we’re going to judge the security features of each provider, as well as compare their stances on privacy.
NordVPN doesn’t mess around when it comes to security. Your connection is secured with AES 256-bit using OpenVPN. On desktop, there are no other protocols, which is more of a pro than a con, as you can see in our VPN protocol breakdown. IKEv2 is used on mobile, which is why NordVPN made our best VPN for iPhone and best VPN for Android guides.
The encryption is top-notch — our description of encryption proves that much — but NordVPN didn’t rank well in security for adhering to standard security measures. What sets it apart is its specialty servers.
Between connecting to Tor over your VPN and securing your torrenting, NordVPN provides multiple ways to secure your connection depending on your needs. In lieu of a proprietary protocol like VyprVPN has (read our VyprVPN review), NordVPN gives you the option to obfuscate your packets, building on the open source nature that OpenVPN allows.
As for privacy, NordVPN is excellent. It earned a perfect score for privacy in our review, and for good reason. The only things on record are your email address and payment method, and NordVPN makes it clear that’s all it collects. Besides anonymous load information on servers, it doesn’t monitor or log anything.
It operates under the jurisdiction of Panama, which has some of the best privacy laws in the world. Multiple laws there dictate that users have rights to obtain access to their files and, under Law 6 of the judicial code, no personal information can be shared. What little of your data NordVPN has is in good hands.
IPVanish is a pickle when it comes to privacy. Before getting into the details on why no one concerned with their personal information should use it, let’s look at the positives. By default, your connection is secured with AES 256-bit on OpenVPN. You can also choose to use L2TP, SSTP, IKEv2 or PPTP.
OpenVPN should be the only protocol you use, but IKEv2 has its purposes for low-risk connections. PPTP, L2TP and SSTP should be avoided, but IPVanish still allows you to use them if you want.
That said, in 2018, a reddit post broke a story about data collection at IPVanish in 2016. A U.S. resident using IPVanish was suspected of distributing child pornography and, after it received a summons from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, IPVanish coughed up the user’s records.
At some point, IPVanish was logging user information, but StackPath CEO Lance Crosby said in a 2018 interview with TechRadar that it is “a completely different company, with a new executive and legal team.”
There’s no way to be certain if IPVanish is still collecting data like it was a few years ago, but one slip on this front doesn’t give us a lot of confidence. If Crosby’s word is enough for you, be our guest. For us, it simply isn’t enough.
Round 5 Thoughts
Though IPVanish and NordVPN are equals in encryption and protocols, NordVPN pulls ahead with its strict stance on privacy. Even if we believed that IPVanish doesn’t log user data, NordVPN would still have a better set of security features and a location that gives us comfort on the privacy front.
NordVPN is rated second in our VPN reviews, so it shouldn’t come as a shock that it won this battle. The rounds it lost were based on preference, too. IPVanish may be better when it comes to user-friendliness and speed, but its past logging practices and total lack of features make it a subpar choice.
Though we normally wrap up our comparisons by saying you can’t go wrong with either provider, that isn’t the case here. IPVanish, even if it doesn’t log anymore, has tainted its name, and we have no problem recommending NordVPN over it. You can try NordVPN for 30 days to see if you agree.
Do you think NordVPN should have won? What do you think about IPVanish logging? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.