Before you shell out your hard-earned cash and commit to a two-year subscription with a VPN, or virtual private network, read our side-by-side VPN comparison on two of the most popular VPNs on the market. Compared to its peers, IPVanish has one of the best VPN user interfaces, encouraging you to get under the hood and learn the mechanics powering the technology. Meanwhile, NordVPN has a reputation for its reliable connection speed and unbeatable pricing.
Here's the breakdown on each one's strengths and weaknesses.
Read more: The best VPN services for 2021
A big win for IPVanish is its fun, configurable interface, which makes it an ideal client for beginners who are interested in learning what a VPN does under the hood. My only complaint is that IPVanish's desktop clients have been known to get in a loading loop. This occurs in both the Windows and Mac version of the VPN app, and IPVanish's site advises a reinstall. Otherwise, this has become one of my favorite user experiences with a VPN client.
IPVanish's multiplatform flexibility and 40,000-plus IP addresses are also ideal for people focused on finding a Netflix-friendly VPN. It's compatible with iOS, Android, MacOS, Windows, Linux, routers, Amazon Fire devices, and any Android-based media device.
Compared to high-profile VPN speed players like ExpressVPN, it's tempting to paint IPVanish's speeds as sluggish. But the IPVanish VPN regularly gives NordVPN a run for its money in the thrice-daily tests conducted by ProPrivacy, and was outpacing NordVPN in that race at the time of this writing. And IPVanish is reaching those speeds with just 1,900-plus servers in 75-plus locations, that's about a third of Nord's VPN server count.
While I appreciate that IPVanish comes with a standard kill switch security feature, I always retain some caution when a VPN service provider is headquartered in the US, and reserve my higher recommendations for those outside of international intelligence-sharing rings such as Five Eyes. I'm also not as confident in IPVanish's leak security as I am with other VPNs after reviewers at CNET's sister publication ZDNet detected a partial DNS leak during testing. I'm also still hoping to see an independent third-party audit of its operations.
At $11 a month and $90 year ($45 for the first year), it's obviously trying to move you towards its yearly program. The VPN provider also offers a full 30-day money back guarantee. That said, the VPN company gets kudos for its increase from 10 simultaneous connections to unlimited devices.
This heavy-hitter stays on our list of the best mobile VPNs for many reasons, including its status as the reigning champion of the bang-for-buck ratio. Hands-down, you aren't going to get a VPN anywhere else that can do more than NordVPN does, as cheap as NordVPN does it. Despite a security breach in 2019, you'll be hard pressed to find another VPN that can do what NordVPN does at all.
Sure, NordVPN could offer a little more privacy if it boosted the number of servers it owns, but I'm talking about 5,200-plus servers in 60 countries, a strict zero-log policy and a jurisdiction in Panama. It's an encryption powerhouse and has a feature that allows you to VPN into Tor. It's available for not only iOS and Android, but also Windows Phone and even BlackBerry.
With all that security, NordVPN has no business being as fast as it is. In my speed tests, NordVPN performed admirably, cutting our internet speed by about 32% on average (compared to about 65% speed loss with IPVanish), where most VPNs can reduce speeds by half or more. I found NordVPN's speeds were reliably fast; There were never any sudden dips or service interruptions, and where I expected the VPN to underperform, it proved itself up to the task.
For all that, how much are you paying? The VPN company offers a one-year subscription plan for $4.92, but a two-year plan is $3.67 a month, or $99, billed at once. While the two-year price is lower than most other contenders, it's still higher than IPVanish's single-year plan, and Nord's month-to-month price of $12 is at the high end of its spectrum. And yes, NordVPN also has a full 30-day refund policy if you aren't happy with the service.
While a two-year plan is a big commitment to make to any service provider in the privacy field, NordVPN has developed a reputation for offering fair refunds.