Ivacy VPN Review – An Entry-Level Premium Service
Ivacy VPN Review
Is It Up To Par With The Rest Of The Best?
Pricing and Features
As mentioned before, the pricing scheme with Ivacy is a little unusual; however, they do offer one of the most affordable options around. The standard month-to-month fee for a single month is just $9.95, which is not far off from the industry standard of $10.50. While not bad, this single-month price is still slightly higher than other services such as Private Internet Access.
When you venture into Ivacy’s long-term plans, that’s where their deep discounts start to appear. If you look at their one-year program, you will only be paying $3.50 each month. While this is already relatively cheap, they offer an even deeper discount when you subscribe for five years. Their 5-year plan comes out to just $1 each month. Five years might sound like a long time, but for only one dollar a month, there might not be a better deal out there.
If you are interested in purchasing Ivacy, you will have many options to complete your order. Their checkout service offers the standard credit card payments and the option to pay with PayPal, BitCoin, or other cryptocurrency options. The crypto payment methods are great if you are gunshy about providing your name or billing address. While there is typically no cause for concern, privacy is probably one of the main reasons you seek out a VPN service in the first place.
When you sign up for an Ivacy account, you get access to all the included features with their subscription. One of these features is access to connect up to five devices at the same time. While this is right about the industry average, it lags behind many competing VPN services. For example, CyberGhost offers up to seven, and TorGuard has no limit to how many devices can connect. Mostly, companies seem to be heading towards an unlimited model rather than restricting their customers’ connections.
One feature that is worth noting, though, is Ivacy’s split-tunneling feature. This allows you to choose which apps will go through the VPN tunnel and which will be excluded. This is an excellent feature if you are a gamer since it allows you to bypass the typical latency that a VPN service creates, leaving other apps protected.
In the past, setting up a VPN service could be a pain. These days, most companies provide an easy-to-install client that allows you to set up the VPN service with the click of a button. Thankfully, Ivacy covers most of its client base by offering apps for iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Firefox, and Chrome.
VPN for Streaming Devices
Many users who stream content on a device are also interested in using a VPN for one reason or another. That is why Ivacy makes a big deal about its VPN service and its compatibility with the Kodi media server. Kodi is software that is free to download and can be used to stream content from a media server on your network.
Besides their support for Kodi, Ivacy does not offer much in terms of other streaming services or devices. They do not have any standalone apps for AppleTV, Roku, or FireTV, becoming more familiar with other VPN services. However, it can still be installed on these devices manually, with little work. While it is not difficult to establish a VPN manually, it may turn off many first-time users who simply want to download an app.
If a standalone app is a requirement for your VPN service, you may want to look at others like NordVPN or ExpressVPN.
When it comes to VPN protocols, there are a few options on the market, and not all are equal. There are dozens of different protocols that are designed to protect data on your network. However, one of the most common options, OpenVPN, is our protocol of choice. OpenVPN is relatively new compared to a standard such as IKEv2, and it is preferred for its speed and open-source platform. The open-source element is essential since it is continually being tested and updated for any vulnerabilities.
As far as Ivacy goes, the Windows client supports the OpenVPN protocol in both UDP and TCP formats. It even allows for some of the older protocols, such as IKEv2 and L2TP. One of the issues with their client is that the app does not distinguish between the OpenVPN UDP and TCP protocols, so it is impossible to tell which is currently running. However, Ivacy features reliable and up-to-date technology at its core.
Servers and Server Locations
When searching for a new VPN company, one of the most important things to look for is their server loads and where their servers are located. For the most part, the closer a server is to you physically, the better service you will experience. With that in mind, it makes sense that the more locations a company’s servers are in, the more chances you have of connecting to a server close to your present location.
Ivacy offers 459 servers, which falls a little flat from the 500-server minimum that we typically expect from most other companies. These days, it is more common for companies to have over 700 or even closer than 1,000 servers to meet their growing demand. For example, the current leader of the pack, NordVPN, has over 3,400 servers. Private Internet Access is not too far behind with their 3,275 servers.
What Ivacy may lack in their numbers, they make up for in their server distribution. They offer servers in over 100 different locations, which outshines the just 59 offered by NordVPN and the paltry 22 offered by TunnelBear. While 100 server locations might seem impressive, it still can’t touch the 286 locations in 220 countries that the Hide My Ass VPN offers.
In addition to server distribution, Ivacy does well with the location of its servers. Many VPN companies tend to ignore the continent of Africa; however, Ivacy has a reliable six locations there. Ivacy servers even represent other often overlooked locations such as Central and South America. If that weren’t enough, locations with restricted internet policies such as Russia, Turkey, and China, are even on Ivacy’s server list.
The number of servers alone should not entirely impact your decision to purchase, as this metric can be a bit deceiving. Many VPN companies utilize what are known as virtual servers. These servers are loading with software to make it seem as if they are in a different location. That means a single physical server could host several virtual locations. Some users take issue with virtual servers as they cannot see the precise path their data travels. For example, you might connect to a server in Hanoi that is being routed through a physical server in Shanghai.
Whether or not you agree with the use of virtual servers, they can help gain access in countries such as China or Vietnam that tend to regulate internet traffic heavily. As far as Ivacy goes, they currently host 26 virtual servers in their fleet. Other companies can go either way. For example, most of Hide My Ass’s servers are virtual, while a company like NordVPN uses none. Whether you are looking for a company with virtual servers or not, Ivacy has the right mix of physical and virtual.
Ivacy’s policy is a bit lengthier and confusing than we would like to see, but overall, it is still quite readable. After reading dozens of privacy policies, it became evident that many companies would be better off to benchmark a service like TunnelBear. Their approach is short, sweet, and simple to read. It leaves no questions about their stances and explains complex issues in understandable terms.
Their policy details that they will never sell, rent, or even share a user’s information or details given during the signup process. This is great to hear because it would be unethical for a VPN company to make their money by selling their user’s data. Additionally, they claim that they will never inject any ads into browser traffic.
The policy details the information that Ivacy does collect and precisely what they will do with that information. In most cases, the only information that is retained is the email address and payment method to process the billing function. One important note is that the company purges its inactive users every 12 months.
One of the essential bits of information to consider is where your VPN company is located and what rules they operate under. Specific locations require companies to disclose personal information if requested, so it would be unwise to choose a VPN company located in one of these areas.
Ivacy is in a reasonably safe location under the jurisdiction of Singapore. Singapore has relatively loose policies regarding the retention of information, and it is safe to say that Ivacy is well protected in this jurisdiction. However, we recommend that each user do their research on the privacy laws and locations before buying. What is okay for one user might not work for others.
Keeping in line with the top VPN companies on the market, Ivacy mentions that they make it their goal to keep as little information as possible to protect their users should some agency come knocking. A representative that we spoke to claimed their servers to not store any personal information, so even if they are subpoenaed, they would have no information to turn over. This is excellent news if you are concerned about your private information.
Hands-On With Ivacy
For testing purposes, we installed the Ivacy Windows client on the latest version of Windows 10. Installing the Windows app was a breeze, and we had no issues finding the correct version and installing the program.
While the installation was simple and pain-free, once we opened the client for our initial run, we were less than impressed with the actual design of the app. The app looks a little cluttered, but once you get past the first impressions, you will discover that this small client packs many useful features. If you have never used a VPN client before, it might look a little overwhelming. However, once you start clicking around, things begin to make sense. If you are looking for a simple and straightforward client, you might look into something like NordVPN or even TunnelBear.
Aside from the app layout’s initial confusion, Ivacy offers a similar design to other VPN clients like Hide My Ass and PureVPN. You will find all of the preset you need on the righthand menu, including a Dedicated IP, Unblocking, Streaming, and Secure Download. These presets are great because you can click and go without fussing with different options. The main page’s center lies the Quick Connect button, which will take you to the nearest server based on your location.
The streaming option is excellent, and it is very similar to the one offered by PureVPN or CyberGhost. However, with Ivacy, you have the quick link option to begin streaming from specific servers in the US or the UK. There is also the option to set up new channels if needed. We wish that it was more similar to the CyberGhost setup where you can customize your channels, but the Ivacy format works well.
One of the more advanced options, the Dedicated IP, is quite useful, but it also requires an additional subscription. Another handy feature is the Unblocking preset, which will default connect you to the country with no restrictions on content. The Unblock feature is perfect if you are in a country where the government controls or restricts internet connections.
One function that remains a bit of a mystery is the Secure Connections options. When we clicked on the option, the server connected to Belgium, we are not exactly sure what is more secure about that location, but we will have to take their word for it.
That wasn’t the only oddity that we discovered while using the Ivacy client. When we selected the Fast Connect button, the client chose a server in Germany rather than a closer to our physical location. While this might be the most optimized server choice, someone who has never used a VPN service might become quite confused by choice of location. Luckily, a search box allows users to change the settings to select a country or even pinpoint a specific city.
Unfortunately, there were a few glitches when we were testing the various server locations. One of the major issues we found was when trying to connect to a specific server in Australia. For some reason, no matter what configurations we tried, we were unable to connect to the Australian servers.
Our issues didn’t stop there. To see if it was just a Windows client issue, we took it to the Firefox and Chrome extensions, but the problem persisted there as well. This might have been an isolated incident, but any connection issues do not look suitable for a VPN company.
One last feature worth mentioning is the built-in protocol selector, which comes with a kill switch and IPv6 leak protection. These features are fail-safes in case your computer loses communication with the network. It will keep your communications encrypted at all times. Ivacy also includes a split tunneling option which allows you to connect certain apps through the VPN tunnel without connecting all of your traffic.
These extras were a pleasant surprise, and all of them functioned well. However, it is difficult to get over the connection issues we encountered with multiple clients.
Ivacy and Netflix
One of the most common uses for a VPN service is to unlock regional libraries on streaming services such as Netflix. While most regions have access to streaming services, the content is different from one to the other. Some people live outside the regions they are trying to access. In that situation connecting to a reliable VPN is an acceptable workaround. VPNs are also handy if you are traveling and would like to access your home region’s content.
Most streaming services are very aware of VPNs and their ability to skirt their regional restrictions. Since content providers are only licensed in certain regions, it is in their best interest to protect the content blockers. It is far from uncommon for a streaming service to work entirely with a VPN one day and then be blocked the next.
When testing Ivacy, we had no issues unlocking Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer on multiple regions. Remember that just because there are no issues now does not guarantee that there will be none in the future. With a smaller-sized company like Ivacy, you never know when their workaround will be blocked and how long it will take to correct it. If you are looking for a more guaranteed solution, you should consider a larger company such as NordVPN or ExpressVPN.
These days, most VPNs go above and beyond to provide their users with more than just standard encryption and location protection. To stand out in a very crowded marketplace, service providers need to include extra benefits to entice any would-be buyers on the fence. Most companies offer some sort of ad-blocking service, security features, or even phishing protection. For example, TunnelBear provides a password manager and a standalone adblocker.
With Ivacy, you will receive a barebones VPN straight out of the box with location spoofing and encryption services. If you would like to include a NAT firewall with your service, it will cost you an extra $1 each month. We found this a little strange since a service such as a firewall isn’t usually considered different; instead, it is an included service.
You can also pay $1.99 extra each month to include a dedicated IP address in the US, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany, Canada, or Australia. When you use a dedicated IP, it is less likely to be blocked and will not be immediately flagged as a part of the Ivacy IP block.
Ivacy does offer dedicated servers that are set up especially for streaming purposes such as Netflix. They also have a BitTorrent and P2P sharing server for those that are looking to torrent. With Ivacy, you pretty much get what you pay for at that is a barebones service with very few extras.
Performance and Speed
Whenever you are using a VPN service, you should expect some drop in speed and quality. The farther you distance yourself from your ISP connection, the more latency you will experience, and the slower your connection becomes.
To test the Ivacy VPN connections’ performance, we used the Windows client installed on the latest version of Windows 10, as well as the speed test by Ookla. In order to establish a baseline for comparison, we first ran the test with only our internet connection and no VPN. Here are the results:
Next, we ran the speed test with the VPN connection to the optimal server with no server settings changes. Here are the results:
As you can see, the service slowed down both of our connections quite a bit; however, we are still maintaining decent speeds, especially for the upload speeds. For the next test, we connected to the US server:
Just as expected, the farther away we connected, the more latency we experienced with lower speeds. However, both of these speeds are still adequate for gaming or torrenting.
Still, we would expect a VPN to have less impact on our initial speed than Ivacy had, and we were a little disappointed in the results. We suspect that these less than impressive products come from the relatively small pool of servers offered by Ivacy, but we can’t be sure.
Many other companies with larger server pools or more strategic server placements tend to work better with less latency since most locations are not far from other servers. For now, Ivacy is not doing much to stand out in such a crowded space with there less than average connection speeds. If you would like a more speedy option, check out a service such as TorGuard or NordVPN.
Ivacy for Android
If you download the Ivacy app from the Google Play store, you will be able to choose from three different versions: Ivacy Lite, Ivacy VPN, and Ivacy TV. Ivacy TV is for Android TV devices, and the Lite version is their free version. While we did not test these apps individually, they all have decent ratings and reviews on Google Play, and they seem like reputable products based on their reviews.
In the full Android version, Ivacy utilizes OpenVPN to establish the connection protocol. This is a protocol that many VPN users prefer for its speed and safety, so it is good to see that it is being utilized on these mobile apps.
Ivacy for iPhone
Ivacy used a similar distribution plan for their iPhone version in that they offer a free version and their main app. The difference is that their free version is called Ivacy Lite, and the paid version is called just Ivacy VPN. They did not release a version for the Apple TV just yet, but if there is an Android TV version, we can expect an Apple TV version in the future.
The iPhone version of the app uses the less secure and much older VPN protocol called IPSec and the IKEv2 protocol. It is disappointing that the iPhone version does not use the OpenVPN protocol; however, Apple is quite strict about allowing OpenVPN on their app store, so it is to be expected. Only a few companies have attempted to jump through the hoops required to get this protocol listed on the app store.
Ivacy for Mac
In addition to the mobile applications, Ivacy also offers an app for Mac users. However, if you are looking for it in the official Mac store, it won’t be found. You can only download this version of the app from the Ivacy website.
We have not tested this version, but it has decent reviews on the internet, just like the Android app. This is a good sign since many native Mac VPN apps are available on the market, and the competition is increasing each day.
The Mac version of this app only uses the IPSec protocol, which is disappointing for Apple users. This protocol is an older protocol and is not as widely used. Ivacy should consider providing a newer, more secure protocol such as OpenVPN for all of their apps.
Ivacy for Web Browsers
Most VPNs have included web browser extensions for most of their apps as standard practice these days. These are more portable and lightweight versions of the VPN app and offer the advantage of only being on when you are browsing the web. This is great if you like to watch specific regional content through your browser. This can also be a disadvantage as only the traffic going through your browser is protected by the VPN.
The Chrome extensions come with very few extra settings other than protecting against WebRTC leaks. This browser plug-in makes it much easier to access the server pool and search for the connection you wish to make.
The Firefox extension is nearly identical to that of Chrome, which is excellent for creating a consistent experience.
Ivacy is a VPN service that does little to dazzle its users. They offer a fairly standard set of features that are generally available on any VPN application. Beyond the standard services and functions, they do not bring much more to the table.
The biggest issue with Ivacy is their lack of server options, which led to a lackluster speed and higher latency, even when connecting to the closest server. The browser extensions are excellent, and they offer a wide variety of options in terms of applications; however, they do nothing to set these apps apart from the competition. If you are looking for any extras, you will even have to pay an additional monthly fee.
In the case of Ivacy, you might just get what you pay for. However, if you are looking for only a minimal VPN service that won’t break the bank, Ivacy might be a good option for you. If you are looking for speedy service with lots of extras, you might want to keep looking.