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ExpressVPN vs IPVanish 2021: Which VPN Is the Best?

Meg Leach
Last Updated by Meg Leach on July 01, 2021

Most VPN providers claim to offer the highest speeds, the best server network, and the strongest security. With all these similar options, it’s difficult to know which service to go for. So, I put ExpressVPN and IPVanish through rigorous tests to find out which one is the top VPN.

IPVanish offers good value with military-grade security and unlimited device connections. You can test out IPVanish risk-free with the money-back guarantee. Keep in mind that you can only use the 30-day money-back guarantee if you sign up for a 1-year membership.

However, ExpressVPN is the best VPNs on the market with superior unblocking capabilities, faster speeds, and ironclad security. Every plan is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you download ExpressVPN and find it doesn’t fit your needs, you have 30 days to get a full refund (no questions asked).

Try ExpressVPN risk-free!

No Time? Here’s a 1-Minute Summary

Pricing $6.67 with a 15-month plan $3.75 with 12-month plan
Streaming Only works with Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Max Only works with Netflix and Disney+
Servers 3000+ servers 94+ countries 1300+ servers in 94+ countries
Speed
  • Local speed test: no decrease in speed
  • Long-distance speed test: 37% speed decrease
  • Local speed test: 1% speed decrease
  • Long-distance speed test: 91% speed decrease
Security
  • AES-256-GCM encryption
  • Lightway, OpenVPN UDP/TCP, IPSec/IKEv2, and IPSec/L2TP protocols
  • DNS and IP leak protection
  • Kill switch
  • TrustedServer technology available on limited devices
  • AES-256-GCM encryption
  • OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols
  • DNS and IP leak protection
  • Kill switch
Torrenting Higher security and allows torrenting Adheres to policies set by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
China One of the best VPNs for China Doesn’t work in China
Gaming 1.3X increase in latency compared to baseline 2.3X increase in latency compared to baseline
Device Compatibility All major operating systems, but only allows 5 simultaneous connections All major operating systems and allows unlimited device connections
Company Jurisdiction British Virgin Islands (outside the 5/9/14 Eyes) US (inside the 5/9/14 Eyes)
Privacy Policy Independently audited no-logs policy Internally audited no-logs policy
Payment Options Credit cards, Paypal, Mint, and Bitcoin Major credit cards and PayPal
Customer Support Fast and helpful 24/7 live chat, email, and ticket support Live chat, phone, email, and ticket support with helpful but slow responses

Try ExpressVPN risk-free!

ExpressVPN vs IPVanish: 13 Categories of Comparison

ExpressVPN beat IPVanish in 12 categories.

  1. Pricing — I compared the different subscription plans offered by each VPN to see which had the best value.
  2. Streaming — I used each VPN to access media sites to see which worked with the most streaming services.
  3. Servers — I reviewed how many servers each provider had and tested its ability to get around geo-blocks.
  4. Speed — I ran local and long-distance tests to see which VPN provided higher speeds.
  5. Security — I compared the security features offered by each provider to see which protected customer data better.
  6. Torrenting — I reviewed the torrenting policies of each provider and evaluated which would provide a safer torrenting experience.
  7. China — I assessed which VPN works best in China using testimony from colleagues.
  8. Gaming — I compared ping and latency numbers to see which VPN offered the best gaming experience.
  9. Device compatibility — I reviewed the native apps each provider has and the amount of allowed simultaneous device connections.
  10. Company Jurisdiction — I checked on the country of each provider’s company headquarters to see if it was located within an intelligence-sharing alliance.
  11. Privacy Policy — I reviewed each provider’s privacy policy and third-party logging audits to judge whether the VPN could be with private information.
  12. Payment and Refunds — I tested each company’s refund policies to see which was more generous.
  13. Customer Service — I contacted each provider’s customer service team to see which provided the fastest, most knowledgeable experience.

Try ExpressVPN risk-free now

1. Pricing — IPVanish Has Great Low-Cost Options

IPVanish wins this category because it’s cheaper. However, ExpressVPN does come with more features. Depending on what you’re looking for, its higher price might be worth it.

ExpressVPN IPVanish
Best Deal $6.67 on a 15-month plan $3.75 on a 12-month plan
Money-Back Guarantee 30 days on all plans 30 days on the annual plan only
Free Trial

Both VPNs offer generous no-questions-asked money-back guarantees, but you should know that IPVanish’s money-back guarantee is only applicable if you buy the 1-year subscription.

Since you can get it for such a low cost, IPVanish wins the pricing category despite its refund policy limitations. You don’t need to take my word for it though, try all of IPVanish’s features now and get a refund within 30 days if it’s not for you.

Pricing Winner: IPVanish

Try IPVanish now

2. Streaming — ExpressVPN Works With All Major Services

I tested how well ExpressVPN and IPVanish worked with popular sites and found that only ExpressVPN could access all of the streaming sites.

Both VPNs were able to access Netflix libraries in the US, Canada, Japan, and the UK.

I was happy that I could watch several streaming sites with ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN also successfully accessed several other streaming services like Disney+, Hulu, HBO MAX, and BBC iPlayer.

I found that I had less success with IPVanish, as I could only watch Disney+ with it.

I could access Disney+ with IPVanish

Both streaming services provided speeds fast enough for watching my favorite programs in HD. That means that this category’s winner is based purely on how many streaming services it worked with. Since ExpressVPN accessed all of the major streaming services, it wins this category.

Streaming Winner: ExpressVPN

Watch shows with ExpressVPN

3. Servers — ExpressVPN Has a Larger Global Network

ExpressVPN is the winner of this category as it has almost twice as many servers and locations.

ExpressVPN IPVanish
Server Number 3000+ servers 1300+ servers
Server Countries 94+ countries 75+ countries

While both VPNs have servers in the US and Europe, ExpressVPN has servers in over 20 different US cities, while IPVanish has about 20% fewer. More servers in a given country or location increase your ability to be able to find a local server. It also minimizes the chance of server overload, so you’ll get faster connection speeds.

ExpressVPN is excellent at working within censorship-restricted countries like China, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. Meanwhile, IPVanish admits its service is blocked in many of those regions and cannot guarantee it will work.

Servers Winner: ExpressVPN

Access content with ExpressVPN

4. Speed — ExpressVPN Is Faster

ExpressVPN wins this category as it has consistent speeds on both local and distant servers. You should know that several factors can impact speed such as server traffic and distance from the server you connect to, so you might not get the same results as I did.

Local Speed Test Results

I found that there was no loss of speed when connected to either ExpressVPN or IPVanish’s local servers. I only experienced a drop in download speeds of 3% (my base internet speed is 180mbps) with both VPNs, which really impressed me.

screenshots of speedtest results form ExpressVPN and IP Vanish when connected to servers in the US
I saw no speed decrease using local servers with ExpressVPN and IPVanish

Long-Distance Speed Test Results

I was a little disappointed that ExpressVPN decreased my download speeds by 37% when connected to a remote server in Australia. However, IPVanish suffered a lot more with a 91% loss of speed.

screenshots of speed test results from IP Vanish and ExpressVPN when connected to Australian serversscreenshots of speed test results from IP Vanish and ExpressVPN when connected to Australian serversscreenshots of speed test results from IP Vanish and ExpressVPN when connected to Australian serversscreenshots of speed test results from IP Vanish and ExpressVPN when connected to Australian serversscreenshots of speed test results from IP Vanish and ExpressVPN when connected to Australian serversscreenshots of speed test results from IP Vanish and ExpressVPN when connected to Australian serversscreenshots of speed test results from IP Vanish and ExpressVPN when connected to Australian serversscreenshots of speed test results from IP Vanish and ExpressVPN when connected to Australian serversscreenshots of speed test results from IP Vanish and ExpressVPN when connected to Australian serversscreenshots of speed test results from IP Vanish and ExpressVPN when connected to Australian serversscreenshots of speed test results from IP Vanish and ExpressVPN when connected to Australian serversscreenshots of speed test results from IP Vanish and ExpressVPN when connected to Australian serversscreenshots of speed test results from IP Vanish and ExpressVPN when connected to Australian serversscreenshots of speed test results from IP Vanish and ExpressVPN when connected to Australian servers
I was surprised that VPN had such a significant loss of speeds in long-distance tests

IPVanish’s speeds on distant servers weren’t enough for HD streaming. I recommend you try ExpressVPN if accessing local content while you’re abroad is important to you.

Speed Winner: ExpressVPN

Try ExpressVPN risk-free now

5. Security — ExpressVPN Keeps You Safe With Stronger Protection Features

ExpressVPN and IPVanish have very similar security features. Both offer the encryption standard expected from top-rated premium VPNs. However, ExpressVPN has stronger protocols and RAM-only servers, which helps it provide better security for its customers.

ExpressVPN IPVanish
Encryption AES 256-bit encryption AES 256-bit encryption
VPN Protocols Lightway, OpenVPN UDP/TCP, IPSec/IKEv2, and IPSec/L2TP OpenVPN UDP/TCP, IKEv2
No-Logs Policy (externally audited) (internally audited)
Kill Switch Available on Windows, macOS, Android ( 7.4+), Linux, and routers. Available on Windows, macOS, and Android
Leak Protection
RAM-Only Servers

Encryption Standard

Both ExpressVPN and IPVanish have military-grade AES 256-bit encryption security. This means you’re getting the best protection available and your information is safe with either VPN.

Encryption Protocol

ExpressVPN and IPVanish both use OpenVPN UDP/TCP and IKEv2 protocols. All of these are perfect for banking, surfing the web, and gaming, so it’s a good sign that both VPNs offer these.

ExpressVPN also offers the Lightway protocol, which works better with fluctuating connections. It delivers faster speeds and stronger security than OpenVPN or IKEv2. IPVanish doesn’t have an equivalent protocol yet.

Leak Protection

If you rely on a VPN to get around government censorship policies, you need to make sure your data doesn’t leak. Both ExpressVPN and IPVanish have excellent DNS leak protection that keeps your information hidden.

Screenshot of an ExpressVPN DNS and IP leak test
I was happy to see that my location stayed secret with ExpressVPN
Screenshot of DNS Leak test results when connected to an IP Vanish server
I felt comfortable knowing IPVanish kept my location hidden

RAM-Only Servers

All of ExpressVPN’s servers are RAM-only, meaning that the servers don’t store data. So customer information can’t be recovered even if the servers are seized.

IPVanish does not have RAM-only servers. For a company with a questionable logging history, this is a concern for me.

With additional encryption protocols and the benefit of RAM-only servers, ExpressVPN has more security features available to keep your information secure.

Security Winner: ExpressVPN

Protect your data with ExpressVPN

6. Torrenting — ExpressVPN Has Faster Speeds and More Torrenting Support

While both ExpressVPN and IPVanish allow torrenting, ExpressVPN is the winner since it supports torrenting on all of its servers.

Torrenting Safety

ExpressVPN’s security features and no-logs policy makes it a great choice for torrenting. More importantly, I like that ExpressVPN has how-to documentation about P2P on their site.

On the other hand, IPVanish states in its Terms of Service that downloading any copyrighted materials can violate your contract.

Torrenting Speed

Most VPNs that support torrenting have P2P servers which provide faster speeds for a better download experience. ExpessVPN’s full server network is optimized for torrenting, which is great since you don’t have to find a specific server for downloading.

IPVanish also doesn’t have any dedicated P2P servers. This means you’ll get the same speeds and security afforded to the whole server network.

Torrenting Winner: ExpressVPN

Torrent safely with ExpressVPN

7. China — ExpressVPN Is One of the Best VPNs for China

China employs the most rigorous firewalls to prevent people inside the country from accessing unapproved content. VPNs are always working to try and get around these firewalls, but very few are successful.

Unfortunately, I can’t recommend IPVanish as well. After extensive testing, I found it’s not able to get around the tough firewalls the Chinese government uses. IPVanish also has support articles that say it’s unlikely to work.

While traveling to countries with strict government censorship you need a VPN that is proven to work. ExpressVPN works diligently to maintain its ability to work in China, which is why it wins this category. Bear in mind that VPNs are illegal in China, but there’s been no record of tourists getting in trouble for using one.

China Winner: ExpressVPN

Try ExpressVPN in China

8. Gaming — ExpressVPN Provides Excellent Speeds for Gaming

A VPN can hide your IP address from DDoS attacks and give you a more direct connection to gaming servers for faster gameplay. ExpressVPN provided me with faster speeds, low latency, and safety from hackers.

Gaming Speed

When you’re playing with other people online, you need to have a fast connection while gaming. If you don’t, you’ll suffer from more lag and you’re likely to be an easy target for other opponents.

Screenshot of ExpressPVN connected to a US server while a user is playing Counterstrike
I was pleased with the speed ExpressVPN provided while I played multiplayer games online

Two significant metrics that impact lag in gaming are ping and latency. While running speed tests, I paid careful attention and I found ExpressVPN had consistently low ping, especially compared to the ping I got with IPVanish.

Gaming Security

DDoS attacks (Distributed Denial of Service Attacks) are becoming commonplace in the gaming world as people get more competitive. Hackers target your IP address and overload your connection, causing lag or even crashing your server.

The best way to protect yourself against DDoS attacks is to use a VPN that hides your real IP address. Luckily, both IPVanish and ExpressVPN hide your IP address which helps prevent DDoS attacks.

ExpressVPN and IPVanish both support routers, which can help protect your video game consoles. By connecting your router to your ExpressVPN or IPVanish account, you can protect a Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch.

For gaming, ExpressVPN is the winning VPN with its fast speeds and low ping.

Gaming Winner: ExpressVPN

Game with ExpressVPN today

9. Device Compatibility and App Differences — ExpressVPN Works on the Most Popular Devices

ExpressVPN has native apps for a variety of operating systems, connected devices, and routers. IPVanish doesn’t support as many devices, but it does have unlimited device connections.

Device Compatibility

Both ExpressVPN and IPVanish offer native apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and more. However, ExpressVPN supports game consoles like Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Samsung Smart TVs as well.

IPVanish allows unlimited device connections, while ExpressVPN only allows up to 5. However, you can connect ExpressVPN to your router to protect all the devices on your network.

App Differences Between Operating Systems

ExpressVPN works on Windows 7, 8, and 10. This means ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs for Windows. It also works on other popular devices, like macOS, iOS, and Android.

I found ExpressVPN’s interface minimalistic and easy to learn, which makes it ideal for beginners. The interface is similar across all the platforms, so you don’t have to learn how to use a new app each time you connect.

Screenshot of the ExpressVPN app's server list
I liked that I had the same experience on my phone as I did with my computer with ExpressVPN

I found IPVanish’s interface less user-friendly and more overwhelming, even though I have a background in cybersecurity. Its desktop client is cluttered and shows information that may not be relevant to every user (like time connected or data usage). It also shows all of the server options right on the front panel, which adds clutter to the interface.

Screenshot of IP Vanish's desktop client
I thought IPVanish’s Windows client was rather complicated looking and overwhelming

In comparison, I found IPVanish’s Android app was more streamlined and intuitive because it had options separated on different pages (such as the server list in another tab, rather than on the main page.) I preferred this layout over having everything on the main screen, which can be overwhelming.

This category ends in a tie because each provider has such strong selling points. ExpressVPN has more widespread device compatibility and more user-friendly apps. However, IPVanish has unlimited device connections, which is a huge benefit.

Device Compatibility and App Features Winner: Tie

Try ExpressVPN risk-free now

10. Company Jurisdiction — ExpressVPN Can Keep Your Information Private

ExpressVPN wins this category as it’s based outside of the 5/9/14 Eyes alliances, and has a warrant canary.

ExpressVPN IPVanish
Company Headquarters The British Virgin Islands US
Inside the 5/9/14 Eyes
Warrant Canary

The 5/9/14 Eyes intelligence alliances are groups of countries that share digital information. The United States is part of the Five Eyes alliance, which makes it generally unpopular for VPNs. This is a red flag, given that IPVanish is based in Los Angeles, California.

That means that if the US government or local law enforcement puts pressure on IPVanish to share its information, it’s obligated to do so. This is concerning, as IPVanish has a history of sharing user information with the government to aid in criminal investigations.

Privacy and Anonymity Winner: ExpressVPN

Stay anonymous with ExpressVPN

11. Privacy Policy — ExpressVPN Is Certifiably No-Logs

ExpressVPN has a solid no-logs policy that has been independently verified by a rigorous third-party audit in 2020. IPVanish claims to be no-logs but has actually handed over customer data to government agencies.

Logging Policies

ExpressVPN and IPVanish both claim to have zero-log policies, meaning they don’t even collect connection logs, which many companies use for service maintenance. However, in 2016 IPVanish cooperated in an investigation with the US government and shared customer information for use in a court case. At the time, IPVanish was owned by Highwinds Network Group. The new owners of IPVanish have publicly stated that it’s now 100% no-logs.

Unfortunately, IPVanish has yet to prove this claim with a privacy audit.

ExpressVPN participated in a PwC audit, which made sure the service was truly no-logs. The results of the audit came back overwhelmingly positive. In addition, Turkish authorities demanded logging information from ExpressVPN for an investigation. ExpressVPN refused, and the authorities seized the server but got no customer data thanks to this logging policy and its RAM-only servers.

Privacy Policy Winner: ExpressVPN

Keep your device secure with ExpressVPN

12. Payment and Refunds — ExpressVPN Accepts More Payment Methods

ExpressVPN is the winner of this category as it accepts any anonymous payment methods, including Bitcoin. Even better, ExpressVPN’s money-back guarantee covers all of its subscription plans, while IPVanish only gives refunds for its 1-year subscription.

Payment Methods

ExpressVPN IPVanish
Credit or Debit Cards
PayPal
Bitcoin
Mint
Other Payment Methods Diners Club, JCB, Alipay, Union Pay, and many more Diners Club and JCB

ExpressVPN and IPVanish both accept major credit cards, Paypal, and a few other popular payment methods. However, ExpressVPN accepts Bitcoin, which is a truly anonymous payment method that keeps your identity a secret from your VPN.

Money-Back Guarantees

Both ExpressVPN and IPVanish have 30-day money-back guarantees, which lets you get a refund if you change your mind. However, with a fully automated method of requesting a refund, IPVanish makes getting your money back absolutely effortless.

If you cancel your IPVanish account within 30 days you’ll automatically get a refund for your subscription.

To get a refund from ExpressVPN, you’ll have to contact customer support. However, they do have a no-questions-asked policy, so its refund system is also easy.

I easily got a refund from ExpressVPN’s friendly customer support

Unfortunately, IPVanish only gives refunds for its yearly membership, while ExpressVPN gives refunds for all its plans.

Payment and Refunds Winner: ExpressVPN

Try ExpressVPN risk-free now

13. Customer Service — ExpressVPN Has Quicker Support in More Channels

ExpressVPN’s customer support is eager to help and responds quickly to customer service questions. While IPVanish’s AI is fast, I found I often had to wait a long time to get help from an agent.

Customer Service Speed

ExpressVPN customer support agents answered my emails in about an hour. IPVanish’s AI email response was fast at 10 minutes, but questions that required a human to answer took almost a whole day. Most of the time though, IPVanish’s AI provided an adequate answer, which meant I didn’t have to talk to a person to get support.

The 2 VPNs are evenly matched when it comes to their live chat times. Though again, IPVanish relies on an AI, and it takes a few minutes to get in contact with an actual agent.

ExpressVPN IPVanish
Live Chat
Average Wait Time for Live chat 27 seconds with an agent Immediately by AI,
2.5 minutes with an agent
Email Support
Average Wait Time for Email 1 hour 45 minutes 10 minutes by AI, 18 hours by an agent
Ticket Support
Phone Support
Online Knowledge Base
Video guides

Customer Service Knowledgeability

Generally, I found that both customer service teams were knowledgeable. However, when I contacted an IPVanish agent, I sometimes got a less helpful answer. The agent answered my question but didn’t send me any support articles to help me get things set up.

I found ExpressVPN offered a much more helpful service. The response times were faster and the emails had plenty of additional resources to help me resolve my questions.

Questions Initial Response Time By Email Query Resolved Number of Emails
ExpressVPN Does ExpressVPN have split tunneling on iOS? 1 hour 48 minutes 1
What is TrustedServer technology? 1 hour 46 minutes 1
IPVanish Can I use IPVanish to Unblock Netflix 19 hours 45 minutes 1
How do I install IPVanish on my Samsung Smart TV 16 hours 57 minutes 1

While I appreciate using an AI to get assistance faster, I found IPVanish’s agents less helpful overall. ExpressVPN’s customer support is quick and knowledgeable — that’s why it wins this round.

Customer Service Winner: ExpressVPN

Try ExpressVPN risk-free

And the Winner Is…ExpressVPN

After running ExpressVPN and IPVanish through a gauntlet of tests, ExpressVPN won in 12 categories. Here is the breakdown of the winning VPN for every category:

IPVanish is a great budget option and allows an unlimited number of devices under one login. You can download IPVanish with the 30-day money-back guarantee to test it out at no risk to you.

However, ExpressVPN is significantly superior — in fact, it’s the best VPNs on the market as of July 2021. I was impressed by its faster speeds and advanced security features, all of which outperformed IPVanish. It even works with every popular streaming service (like Netflix), as well as censored countries like China and Turkey.

ExpressVPN is backed by 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can see first-hand why it’s the best. If you’re not satisfied, you can easily get a refund over 24/7 live chat from the customer support team (no questions asked!).

Overall Winner: ExpressVPN

Try ExpressVPN risk-free


Other Top VPNs in 2021

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Meg Leach
Written By Meg Leach
Meg is an IT expert who has helped people leverage technology to meet their goals for over a decade. She is passionate about making cybersecurity and privacy tools simple and accessible for people of all backgrounds.