Even though IPVanish achieved slower speeds than Norton Secure VPN during ourspeed tests, I can still reach faster speeds with IPVanish. How? Simple. IPVanish lets you select which city, and which server, you want to connect to. And it's that key flexibility that lets you get the most value out of a midtier VPN. Unfortunately, that flexibility is missing in Norton Secure VPN.
Compared side by side, here's how globally renowned brand NortonLifeLock holds up to the zippy, adaptable newcomer IPVanish.
Editors' note, Feb. 9, 2022: The VPN industry has undergone significant change in the past few months, with all three of our top VPN choices announcing major changes in corporate ownership. In December, ExpressVPN announced that it had officially joined Kape Technologies, a company that already owns several other VPNs and has raised privacy concerns in the past. In February, NordVPN and Surfshark announced the two companies were merging, though they'll continue to operate autonomously. We're in the process of reevaluating all of our top picks in light of these changes. We will update our reviews and, if necessary, our rankings to account for this new competitive landscape.
There are few more familiar names in information security than Norton and LifeLock. But with limited server options and a few deal breaker security issues, it's clear that the Norton Secure VPN from NortonLifeLock still has some work to do before it can meet the high standards set by its sibling security products.
In terms of speed, Norton's are on par with other midtier VPNs: During my testing, it achieved only about 43% of the average 187-megabits-per-second speed achieved on a 1-gigabit-per-second-capable fiber connection during testing, while still maintaining an average of around 81Mbps globally. But unlike many other VPNs, Norton doesn't allow you to choose the city you connect to -- only the country. Norton's Hong Kong servers dragged down overall speed scores, averaging just 6Mbps. So if you're looking for a VPN to use while traveling in China, you may want to consider a different option.
Norton offers what it calls bank-grade encryption -- standard AES-256 -- but offers no kill switch, which would prevent network data from leaking outside of its secure VPN tunnel in the event the VPN connection fails. I'd generally consider a lack of kill switch a deal breaker. Norton also didn't mask my IPv6 address, and I experienced DNS leaks during testing -- major security red flags from a product that is supposed to mask your browsing activity.
This also led to difficulties accessing Netflix. So if you're looking for a VPN that will allow you to access your normal media subscriptions while traveling, we recommend seeking a different VPN for now. We likewise recommend looking elsewhere if you want a VPN that allows torrenting, can be used on a wide variety of devices, or can be paid for in Bitcoin.
Norton Secure VPN is only available on the four main platforms -- Windows, Android, Mac and iOS. Depending on your subscription, you can opt for one, five or 10 simultaneous connections. The least expensive plan is $35 annually (for the first year), which allows only one device at a time. The most expensive is the 10-device annual plan for $60. That's more than you should be paying for something that doesn't disguise your location, doesn't support Netflix and drags on speed.
On the plus side, the application comes with a built-in ad-tracking blocker.
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 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, since it cut our internet speeds by about 65% when I tested it. But IPVanish regularly gives bigger brands a run for their money in the thrice-daily tests conducted by ProPrivacy. And IPVanish is reaching those speeds with 1,500-plus servers in 75 locations, about the same number of servers as Norton Secure VPN's 1,500 across 29 countries.
While I appreciate that IPVanish comes with a standard kill switch feature, I always retain some caution when a VPN 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 $10 a month and $78 for a year (or $62.30 with the discount for CNET readers), IPVanish can't beat Norton on price right now, but the $2.30 more you pay a year for IPVanish instead of Norton is well worth the ability to not get stuck in overloaded server traffic and be unable to watch Netflix. IPVanish also gets kudos for its increase to unlimited connections, and for recently changing its policy to offer a full 30-day money-back guarantee.