EXPRESSVPN VS IPVANISH: 16 Crucial Differences (*April 2020 Update)
“Differences between good VPN providers start manifesting only when you use them for a long time and study their performance in depth. We found 16 differences between the work of ExpressVPN and IPVanish.
The first version of this comparison was written in August 2019. But the situation has changed since then considerably. ExpressVPN has eliminated the flaws in its performance and became the leader of most of our ratings. As for IPVanish, the only changes it made were those of prices and I found no technological improvements of that service.
Without going into too much detail, what does the picture look like today?
- ExpressVPN is a larger and more popular provider.
- IPVanish owns a part of its server park while ExpressVPN rents its from hosting providers.
- ExpressVPN suits almost any task including streaming and torrenting. IPVanish isn’t the best choice for those purposes.
- ExpressVPN uses diskless servers, which guarantees that no logs can be kept. IPVanish claims it stores no logs as well but there is no solid proof of that.
But all of that is surface-level. VPN-Review has dug deeper and researched not only these differences but also the less obvious yet still important ones.
ExpressVPN and IPVanish: 16 Differences
16 differences between ExpressVPN and IPVanish
|Number of countries||ExpressVPN|
|Server choice convenience||IPVanish|
|ExpressVPN vs IPVanish for streaming||ExpressVPN|
|ExpressVPN vs IPVanish for torrenting||ExpressVPN|
|Functionality differences on various platforms||ExpressVPN|
|Connections via alternative protocols||ExpressVPN|
My tests of the kill switch’s performance has discovered significant flaws in the apps of IPVanish. You will recall that this function blocks the Internet connection when the VPN channel disconnects. It occurs during the location change, reconnection, or a problem with a VPN server.
A test of the kill switch function showed a problem. You will recall that this function blocks the Internet connection when the VPN channel disconnects. It occurs during the location change, reconnection, or a problem with a VPN server.
The kill switch serves to protect the user’s real location info.
What does IPVanish offer?
Too little. Only its Windows version has a kill switch. It’s turned off by default but can be switched on at any time in the settings:
Its Android, macOS and iOS apps come with no kill switch, so I do not recommend using IPVanish for torrenting and other delicate tasks that require hiding the real IP reliably.
At the same time, ExpressVPN is considered to protect the user’s private data well as it has a kill switch on all apps. The provider eliminated all the flaws its Android app had last year and now this function that is very important for security and privacy works perfectly.
That’s why ExpressVPN is the undisputed winner in this category.
You may find the comparison of the kill switch function on different platforms in the table below:
2. Technological infrastructure (IPVanish wins)
ExpressVPN has 3000+ servers whereas IPVanish has 1300+. Despite that, IPVanish is the better one in this category. Why is that?
The answer is easy. What matters is quality, not numbers.
Let’s take a look at three randomly chosen servers of ExpressVPN and IPVanish each and compare the real proprietors of their VPN servers:
||The company that owns the server|
|UK London||Legaco Networks B.V.||Mudhook Marketing (the owner of IPVanish)|
What do we see? While ExpressVPN rents its servers from third-party hosting companies, IPVanish maintains its servers on its own. It speaks volumes about the quality of this VPN service, as such aspects are concerned as:
- Third-parties’ access to the servers
- The load of the transmission channel
- Server maintenance
Information security, speed, and the quality of the service are important to the end-user. That’s why IPVanish wins in this category.
IPVanish refers to itself as the “fastest and fastest growing top tier VPN in the world” on its website. It’s hard to argue with that. But is that so? I have made a number of speed tests on different platforms.
And I can confirm that some of IPVanish’s servers are indeed very fast. But there are very few of them. Moreover, most servers have either average or slow speed.
As for ExpressVPN, though it doesn’t allow you to reach the speed of 200 Mbps, offering instead somewhat slower ones of 130-150 Mbps, it achieves that on many more servers and more countries.
|Service||Max speed, Mbps||Average speed, Mbps|
ExpressVPN wins in this category.
4. Power consumption (ExpressVPN wins)
In the past, ExpressVPN had an issue with high energy consumption on Android but it has been fixed by now. All the other platforms still work effectively without overloading the CPU or the battery.
The apps of IPVanish also don’t have any problems with computing power.
So why is ExpressVPN better, then?
The reason is that its apps have bigger functionality while consuming just as little energy.
And if on Windows both providers have approximately the same set of features, on other platforms, ExpressVPN beats its rival.
To conclude: ExpressVPN wins by a small margin in this category.
VPN services are fond of advertising huge numbers related to the size of their hardware infrastructure to seem bigger. Some put the number of IP addresses in their system or the number of locations up on their sites. This information is quite useless, as it’s difficult to see the provider’s parameters based on it. However, it looks impressive.
It looks very imposing, especially the 40.000 figure. But what is behind these figures and which one is more powerful: IPVanish or ExpressVPN?
To compare the size of a VPN service, we need to know the number of countries where it has its servers. An inexperienced user may think that locations are countries but it isn’t so. Physically speaking, locations are data centers, and there can be as many as 75 of them in a single country! My experience suggests that, if a provider does not state the number of countries directly, this number is lower than desired.
So I had to count the countries manually:
The total of 50 is very considerable.
What information do we have about ExpressVPN?
160 locations in 94 countries! This is the largest result in the present-day VPN market.
So, if we don’t pay any mind to large figures of little importance but instead think hard about what they mean, it’s easy to determine the winner. In terms of countries covered, ExpressVPN wins.
6. Server choice convenience (IPVanish wins)
As far as the convenience of location choice goes, IPVanish is better for two reasons:
- You can choose a definite server inside a location
- The choice is visualized on a world map.
The ability to choose a specific server is more important in practice. Thanks to it, one can browse the Internet from the same virtual IP address more than once. This function is useful when, for instance, a website requests credentials after every change of the user’s IP address.
ExpressVPN only lets to choose a location. The server is chosen automatically and, generally, its IP is changed frequently.
7. ExpressVPN vs IPVanish for streaming (ExpressVPN wins)
Do you want to bypass geo-restrictions imposed by Netflix, Hulu and other video services? If you’re an ExpressVPN user, you’ll be able to do it without a hitch.
Out of the 12 locations in the US, UK, and JP I tested, 10 allowed me to unblock Netflix. To add to that, connections speeds were high enough to watch video content in HD quality.
The situation with IPVanish was much worse. Only 2 servers out of the 10 tested were not blocked by Netflix.
Therefore, IPVanish is worse suited for streaming.
Additionally, Redditors who use VPN for Netflix recommend ExpressVPN quite frequently:
8. ExpressVPN vs IPVanish for torrenting (ExpressVPN wins)
Often enough, users find it hard to choose a VPN for torrenting, the reason being that it’s unclear what characteristics a “correct” VPN service should have.
But in reality, it’s simple enough:
- The provider’s policy allowing torrents
- High speed
- Presence of a kill switch
- No-logging policy
Not all VPNs allow torrenting.
Good speed is obviously important as it affects the downloading speed.
The kill switch is needed to ensure privacy when using torrents.
The no-logs policy will keep your mind in peace in the future.
What do ExpressVPN and IPVanish offer to users of torrent trackers or services like KODI?
ExpressVPN allows torrenting. There’s even a special page on its website. As I mentioned earlier, this service offers great speeds and a kill switch on all platforms. Moreover, ExpressVPN keeps no logs.
IPVanish allows torrenting as well. Its speeds are very good and it hasn’t been keeping logs since 2014. It does, however, have a critical flaw: only the Windows version of IPVanish comes with a kill switch, leaving Android, macOS, and iOS users at risk.
I should also mention that IPVanish is based in the US, which can potentially decrease the level of its privacy. I will provide further details on this below.
Thus, ExpressVPN narrowly wins. It is better suited for P2P/torrenting than IPVanish.
9. Functionality differences on various platforms (ExpressVPN wins)
When choosing a VPN, it’s necessary to take functionality differences on various platforms into consideration. Frequently, though, official websites and third-party reviews describe features of the “fullest” version only.
Usually, it is the PC VPN app. Not all services offer the same functions in their apps for different platforms. In my experience, those that do are a minority.
Why is this question so important? It’s because today, VPNs provide multi-connection subscriptions that allow users to connect from 5 to 10 devices per one subscription. So why not use this opportunity even if you planned to use the VPN on Windows only at first?
So, let’s compare ExpressVPN to IPVanish.
Functionality differences between ExpressVPN and IPVanish apps for the 4 main platforms and browsers
|Windows||Full version||Full version|
|macOS||Full version||No additional settings. Functionality is barebones.|
|Android||Full version||No kill switch|
|iOS||No Split tunneling||♦ No OpenVPN protocol
♦ No kill switch
|Browsers||Full version||Proxy with no additional features|
In the table above, you can see that ExpressVPN has more features than IPVanish on all platforms but Windows. Both VPNs have full functionality on PC.
10. Browser extensions (ExpressVPN wins)
Out of several dozen VPNs I have tested, I found out that ExpressVPN has the best extensions for Chrome and Firefox. They are the only ones that offer not simply a proxy connection (meaning that there’s no VPN channel and only browser traffic is protected) but also a fully-featured VPN that can also be controlled from within the browser.
What does IPVanish provide? Only a proxy extension for Chrome. Firefox isn’t supported. It allows you to connect to all the countries available in the desktop app but only via a proxy.
Therefore, ExpressVPN wins in this category because its plugins are more technically powerful and because it offers support of 2 browsers against IPVanish’s 1.
11. Stability (ExpressVPN wins)
What is the connection stability of a VPN? It shows the period of stable high-quality VPN connection during which a user doesn’t have any problems with Internet connectivity.
This value depends on:
- the load of the chosen VPN server
- that server’s output
- how well the app works
- parameters of the user’s initial Internet connection
- the VPN protocol type
- the encryption standard
The most widespread problem is the VPN server’s power or output overload. In most cases, it is the thing that affects the convenience of using a VPN.
Your initial Internet speed is also worth considering. Even the fastest VPN will drop it by 10-20%.
With that said, which VPN service is the more stable one? ExpressVPN or IPVanish?
To find out, I conducted 5-day connection tests on different devices and to different locations. To oversee the connection stability, I had developed a special web-logger that registers all changes occurring to the IP address and all connectivity problems.
Both ExpressVPN and IPVanish had such problems.
However, ExpressVPN’s results were generally more favorable. I couldn’t make a table with the data I got because this test yielded no absolute values. Victory in this category goes to ExpressVPN with an approximate margin of 15-20%.
12. Connection via alternative protocols (ExpressVPN wins)
Frequently, it’s necessary to change the service-suggested default VPN protocol to an alternative one. It can happen due to various reasons. Sometimes, the ISP blocks certain ports and sometimes, the user is dissatisfied with the speed or they don’t trust any protocols but one, etc.
ExpressVPN and IPVanish allow their users to change protocols.
At first, I didn’t plan on including this category into my comparison at all. Later, though, I learned that none of IPVanish’s protocols worked in the Windows app save for OpenVPN.
I tried to get them to work several times with various combinations of ports, turned obfuscation and the kill switch on and off, but all the IPVanish app did was freezing at every connection attempt. I had to abort and restart it every time. No matter how hard I tried, I was unable to connect via another protocol.
I didn’t have such problems with ExpressVPN.
13. VPN obfuscation (IPVanish wins, but…)
What is VPN obfuscation? It is an adaptation of a regular VPN protocol aimed at hiding it from special filtering devices.
For example, such VPN detection and blocking methods are commonly used in countries with heavy censorship.
What do our tested VPNs offer in regards to VPN obfuscation?
ExpressVPN does not have such a feature.
IPVanish provides the Scramble function, which allows users to modify OpenVPN, the most popular protocol.
I read through users’ reviews on Reddit to get some information about real-life tests of this feature. It turns out, it does not help to bypass censorship. IP addresses of VPN servers themselves were blocked. It makes it impossible to connect to them from a country that restricts the use of VPNs either with obfuscation or without it.
Moreover, even the website of IPVanish says that their obfuscation doesn’t help to bypass the VPN restriction:
Our IPVanish VPN apps are unlikely to work if you are attempting to connect to our VPN from inside of China or other countries that block our domain or website.
Alternatively, you may be able to connect via a manual configuration by connecting to our servers' IP addresses instead of our server names. However, please note that China, in particular, has started blacklisting our IP addresses too... so even this measure may not help
So, IPVanish provides more ways of VPN block bypassing. However, they are unlikely to work in practice.
If you’re looking for a good VPN that has obfuscation and actually helps to bypass censorship, you may find it in the article about Free and Best VPNs for China.
14. Jurisdiction (ExpressVPN wins)
Almost every VPN service is controlled by a company that has to adhere to the laws of a certain state. The home country can be a part of alliances or groups alongside other countries that may influence the service.
There are good, average, and poor jurisdictions for VPNs.
The good ones are countries or territories that are not members of any alliances. Liability is not very strict in these jurisdictions, and the influence authorities have over a VPN service is minimal.
The average ones include countries that do not belong to “dangerous” alliances but have strict legislation allowing them to access personal data of the VPN service users in special cases.
The poor ones are those that have commitments to other countries as to disclosing their citizens’ actions and, potentially, surveilling them. Their laws are also strict and provide for the possibility of private data access.
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands. It is an offshore zone and good jurisdiction.
IPVanish is based in the United States. The US is a member of the 5 Eyes alliance (read the Wikipedia article about the 5 Eyes) and its laws allow accessing private information at a court judgment. It’s a poor jurisdiction for a VPN.
Therefore, ExpressVPN’s jurisdiction is better than that of IPVanish.
15. Free trial (ExpressVPN wins)
Only ExpressVPN has a free trial. You can use its full Android version (other platforms are available only after you pay) for 7 days.
I’d like to draw your attention to an advantage that the ExpressVPN’s free trial has. It doesn’t require a credit card to activate, unlike many other VPNs that offer a free trial. Only your email is needed. It means that you won’t subscribe automatically when your free trial period is over. Thus, you can choose the tariff you like the most or decide against using ExpressVPN.
IPVanish doesn’t offer a free trial.
You can choose a good VPN with a free trial in our Free Trial VPN: options, nuances, advice article.
16. Pricing (IPVanish wins)
Both of the tested VPNs do not offer low prices. Rather, they can be described as “premium” services.
ExpressVPN and IPVanish prices comparison (for the same plans)
The prices of IPVanish are higher than the average but are considerably cheaper than ExpressVPN’s.
It’s worth noting that ExpressVPN offers more advantageous refund conditions: you can get your money back within 30 days of use.
With IPVanish, this period is only 7 days.
The score of ExpressVPN vs IPVanish is 13:3.
Surely, you realize that everything depends on the actual purpose you need a VPN for while this rating shows only the average figures. In most cases of normal use, a customer won’t even notice any difference between the two services.
At the same time, the task of VPN-Review is to study VPN services from all directions and to showcase even the least obvious yet important differences.
You can also read some of our other popular articles: