IPVanish vs. ExpressVPN

We compared two of the most popular VPNs on the market and put them through our rigorous testing.

By
&
Aliza VigdermanGabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on Oct 5, 2020
By
&
Aliza VigdermanGabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on Oct 5, 2020

IPVanish

  • Access to ESPN, HBO, MLB TV, NBC Sports, and other streaming services
  • Dynamic IP addresses
  • Unlimited server switches and devices per subscription
Editor's Rating
9.0
/10

ExpressVPN

  • Based in British Virgin Islands, so not subject to international surveillance alliances’ jurisdiction
  • Over 2,000 servers in 148 locations
  • Split tunneling available
Editor's Rating
9.5
/10

IPVanish and ExpressVPN are two of our favorite VPNs. With so many features and details to keep track of, we wanted to match these two crowd pleasers up to really see which is superior. We’ll start off looking at the two companies from a bird’s eye view, and then get down and dirty in the details. Here we go!

IPVanish vs. ExpressVPN: Similarities and Differences

IPVanish and ExpressVPN are two top VPNs, so they have a lot of similar features. We’ll get more in-depth later on in this article, but here’s a quick, high-level overview of the main features and how each service performed. For more in-the-weeds information, you can also check out our full IPVanish Review and our ExpressVPN review.

FeatureIPVanishExpressVPN
Kill Switch
Split Tunneling
NetflixX
Torrenting
Five Eyes,1 Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes MemberX
IP AddressesDynamicAnonymous, regularly rotated

Similarities

First, we’ll go through the commonalities of these two high-performing VPNs.

Kill switch

This is a pretty common feature for VPNs, but we were glad to know that both companies checked the box. A kill switch is like a fail-safe: if our VPN cut out for a moment, the kill switch would shut down all of our current activity. This is great because if we were browsing or downloading without a VPN connected, our activity would have been exposed.

ExpressVPN Kill Switch
ExpressVPN Kill Switch

Split tunneling

Both VPNs allowed us to do split tunneling. That means that we can use both a private server as well as a public Wi-Fi network, like the one at our favorite coffee shop, at the exact same time.

Torrenting

Both VPNs allow torrenting through uTorrent, so we were able to upload, download, and share files with our co-workers directly without getting blocked or slowed down.

IP Addresses

IPVanish and ExpressVPN both make use of dynamic IP addresses. That means that our IP address shuffled each time we logged on to use the VPNs. This made it even harder for us to be tracked by government entities who might have wanted to know what we were up to.

Encryption

Both services use 256-bit AES encryption,2 the highest standard on the market today.

ExpressVPN DNS Leak Test
ExpressVPN DNS Leak Test

Leak Tests

Both VPNs passed our DNS leak test and WebRTC test. These tests let us know that our IP addresses and web browsing activity were never exposed when the VPNs were connected.

Differences

Both VPNs cover our reasons for why we’d get a VPN in the first place, which is, to browse the Internet safely and privately. However, we know that you need to make a choice, so we’ll go through what really sets these two options apart.

Netflix

If you love to binge (we sure do), this is important. ExpressVPN works with Netflix and other streaming services while we couldn’t watch our favorite Netflix specials while using IPVanish. However, we will say that we streamed on Crunchyroll, ESPN and HBO while using IPVanish, so we weren’t entirely out of luck on a rainy day.

Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes Membership

Where a VPN company is headquartered might not seem like a big deal, but trust us, it matters a lot. This is mainly because where a company is based dictates whether or not it’s part of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes, which are surveillance alliances. If a company participates in such a jurisdiction, it means that they could be forced to surrender our data to the government, which we are definitely not okay with. While ExpressVPN is headquartered in the Virgin Islands, outside of these alliances, IPVanish is based in the United States, meaning that they do fall under such jurisdiction. That’s a huge deal to us because it could mean they could be forced, legally, to give our data to the feds, so the privacy-minded should definitely choose ExpressVPN over IPVanish.

Speed

Using a VPN can sometimes significantly reduce our system’s speed. While VPNs have a lot of great benefits, we want to make sure that upload and download speed aren’t suffering too much. We put ExpressVPN and IPVanish through speed tests on our different devices to make sure they wouldn’t slow us down.

TestsIPVanishExpressVPN
MacBook Air- High Sierra Version 10.13.6
Ping without VPN (in ms)1414
Ping with VPN (in ms)1620
Ping Difference (avg-32%)14%43%
Macbook Download Speed without VPN (in mbps)37.0537.05
Download Speed with VPN (in mbps)31.5722.7
Download difference avg- -26.77%-14.80%-38.73%
Upload Speed without VPN (in mbps)25.925.9
Upload Speed with VPN (in mbps)21.1322.19
Upload difference avg-16.01%-17.70%-14.32%
VivoBook (Windows)
Ping without VPN (in ms)1414
Ping with VPN (in ms)1519
Ping Difference7.10%35.70%
Macbook Download Speed without VPN (in mbps)69.9262.88
Download Speed with VPN (in mbps)26.3139.77
Download difference avg-49.56%-62.37%-36.75%
Upload Speed without VPN (in mbps)41.5140.61
Upload Speed with VPN (in mbps)30.9830.95
Upload difference avg-24.58%-25.37%-23.79%

When using ExpressVPN on our Mac, we experienced significantly slower downloads, while the VPN didn’t have such a severe impact on speed when we tested on our Windows device. On the other hand, IPVanish was faster for downloads on our Mac. For our other speed tests, the two VPNs performed comparably, so overall we’d recommend ExpressVPN to Windows-users and IPVanish to Mac-users.

Number of servers

IPVanish has more than 1,500 servers in over 75 locations. On the other hand, ExpressVPN boasts 2,000 servers in 148 countries, giving it the edge when it comes to scaling. The closer we are to a server, the faster our Internet connection will be. Additionally, if a VPN has servers in multiple locations that we can connect to, we can experience the Internet as if we were physically in that location, giving us access to a different browsing experience entirely, as we can access other country’s servers and do things like watch Netflix Canada while in NYC.

Customer service

Both companies offer 24/7 customer support live chats, email support systems, and a compilation of users’ past questions that we could search that came in handy when finding out about IP addresses. However, IPVanish wins this round, as they offer a phone line. While it might be a bit old school, it’s a real differentiator for a VPN company and lets us know that they’re willing to go the extra mile for us if we ever need to speak to a human directly.

IPVanish Data Logging Policy
IPVanish Data Logging Policy

Logging policies

Going through privacy policies is no fun, so we summarized what we found below.

Data They LogIPVanishExpressVPN
Name
Email address
Payment information
Web trafficXX
DNS queriesXX
Device modelXX
Device identifiersXX
Browser Type✓* anonymizedX
Operating System and Version✓* anonymizedX
IP addressesXX
Crash reports✓* anonymized✓* anonymized
Page requests✓* anonymizedX
Bounce Rate✓* anonymizedX
Usability diagnosticsX✓* anonymized
VPN connection diagnosticsX✓* anonymized
Application diagnosticsXX
App and app versions
Days connected to VPNX
Timestamps of session✓* anonymizedX
VPN server usedX
CountryX
Internet Service ProviderX
Total sum of data transferred in MBX
Correspondence with site or services
Email optimization data
Cookies
Server performance in cpu, ram and servers net usageXX
IPVanish App
IPVanish App

Both VPNs logged a fair amount of data, with a couple of slight differences. IPVanish collected more information on how we navigated their site, but this is mostly used to inform their customer experience. In contrast, ExpressVPN logged information about what server we used in what country and our Internet Service Provider. The rest of the logged data was pretty par for the course, and didn’t raise any alarms for us. That said, less is always more when it comes to keeping our data on record, so IPVanish wins this round.

Pro Tip: Lots of VPN companies will boast about a “zero log policy,” but the reality is, every VPN company logs some of our data. While things like email addresses and payment information are generally okay, go through each privacy policy to make sure nothing is hidden in the fine-print about logging our originating IP address or domain names.

ExpressVPN Privacy Policy
ExpressVPN Privacy Policy

Number of devices

While we only needed to get one subscription to a VPN, we could connect several of our devices at one time. We’re constantly switching from our phones to our tablets to our laptops, so we wanted to make sure that our VPN wouldn’t get overloaded. IPVanish allowed us to connect six of our devices simultaneously, while ExpressVPN capped us at five.

Cost

IPVanish edged out ExpressVPN when it came to price. IPVanish’s monthly rate was $10, while ExpressVPN’s monthly rate costs about 30 percent more at $12.95. Both companies will cut users a deal for signing onto a longer contract, and we were glad to see that we got some bang for our buck by signing on for a year, although ExpressVPN is more expensive in any case.

ExpressVPN App
ExpressVPN App
Contract LengthIPVanishExpressVPN
One Month$10.00$12.95
Three Months$8.99n/a
Six Monthsn/a$9.99
One Year$6.49$8.32

Fallback Plan: While both companies have varied pricing structures, they also both offer 30-day money-back guarantees, where we could back out for whatever reason we weren’t satisfied with our services within that time period.

Which Is Better, IPVanish or ExpressVPN?

Both VPNs are solid options, so we had to go deep into the details to split them apart. Ultimately, choosing a VPN depends on what matters most to you, and what your particular motivations are for signing up for a VPN in the first place. That being said, while these VPNs are pretty neck and neck, ExpressVPN slightly edges out IPVanish. ExpressVPN’s Panama headquarters was a major perk, since we didn’t have to worry about our data making its way to the government. Combined with an expansive global network and our ability to stream our favorites on Netflix, it was hard for us to turn down. That being said, IPVanish has its perks as well like cost, the ability to connect more devices and grade A customer service.

IPVanish Desktop App
IPVanish Desktop App
We recommend IPVanish if you want…
  • The budget-friendly option: IPVanish has a lower monthly cost of $10 as opposed to $12.95, or, if we wanted to opt for the longer-contract,
  • A VPN for your Mac: When we did our speed test, IPVanish didn’t slow our Mac down as much as it did our Windows computer.
  • More connected devices: IPVanish allowed us to connect up to six devices at the same time, while ExpressVPN only let us connect five.
  • Superior customer service: IPVanish has bragging rights when it comes to their phone line, something that not many VPNs offer.
We recommend ExpressVPN if you’re looking for…
  • Airtight security: With ExpressVPN’s headquarters in the Virgin Islands, we can rest easy knowing that our data will never be surrendered to the government due to Five Eyes, Nine Eyes or 14 Eyes.
  • Netflix: Though IPVanish offers a host of other streaming services, to us, Netflix is king, and having access to it carries lots of weight for ExpressVPN.
  • A VPN for your Windows: In our speed showdown, ExpressVPN slowed our Mac down significantly, so it might be a better option if you’re a Windows person.
  • Further global reach: ExpressVPN has about 500 more servers in twice as many countries compared to IPVanish.

If neither VPN sounds like it suits your need, feel free to check out some of our other VPN pages, like our CyberGhost review, NordVPN review and our rundown of the best VPNs.

Citations
  1. CNN. (2017). What is the Five Eyes intelligence pact?
    cnn.com/2017/05/25/world/uk-us-five-eyes-intelligence-explainer/index.html

  2. BBC. (2020). Network topologies, protocols and layers.
    bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zr3yb82