Usually, when we review a VPN service, things are pretty black and white. We’re either looking at a VPN that is good, like ExpressVPN or NordVPN, or a service that is bad (we won’t name any names, like we do in our State of the Cloud).
For some time now, Ivacy has fallen into the surprisingly rare middle ground. Every time we check in to see how things are going with Ivacy, it seems to be trying its best to claw its way onto our best VPN list, but it is always just shy for one reason or another.
Today’s Ivacy VPN review is no different. With its sought-after split tunneling, unique interface and outstanding pricing, Ivacy is — yet again — poised to take a shot at the upper echelons. However, its lingering speed issues and poor streaming performance during our testing keep Ivacy just out of reach of being called a “good” VPN for another year.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Split tunneling
- Great pricing
- Free trial
- Inconsistent speeds from location to location
- Poor streaming performance
- Interface needs a little refining
Alternatives for Ivacy
- : PayPal, Credit card, BitPay, Coingate, PerfectMoney, iDeal
- : 10
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, regional payment systems, WebMoney
- : 5
- : Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, UnionPay, Crypto Currencies, PayPal (via Paddle)
- : 6
- : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin
- : 7
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : 30
Ivacy VPN actually has some impressive features for its price and even manages to present some of them in a fairly unique way. For starters, there is a kill switch, as well as some way to make the VPN connect automatically on startup.
We consider both of these features to be mandatory for any decent VPN because they impact security. We’ll look at Ivacy’s kill switch and auto-connect features in more depth in the “security” section, but for now, it’s enough to say they’re both perfectly sufficient.
Ivacy also offers a handful of different dedicated server types that are designed for specialized tasks. The first category of these specialized servers is for streaming. The tab that contains the streaming servers lets you browse the server options by either the country’s content you’re trying to watch or the streaming service, which is unique and would be nice if it worked reliably.
Aside from the streaming servers, there are also dedicated IP servers available (for an extra cost), as well as servers that are supposedly for “secure downloads” and “unblocking.” How unblocking differs from the streaming servers is unclear, but the secure download servers add a layer of malware and virus scanning to the download process.
There are a number of problems that we see with this, such as a user simply forgetting to use a secure download server while downloading a file. One of the options in our best antivirus software article would be a much more reliable bet and would offer better performance and detection.
We’ve saved Ivacy’s best feature for last: split tunneling. This allows you to set up your VPN so that some programs use its tunneled connection while others don’t. We’ve talked for a while now about how elusive this feature is in the VPN world, and we’re starting to see it more and more.
Admittedly, Ivacy’s split tunneling isn’t the most robust version we’ve seen. Ivacy only lets you define a list of programs that use that VPN while everything else will use a normal unprotected connection.
If you look at other VPNs that offer this feature, such as ExpressVPN, you’ll see it lets you set up either a list of exemptions or a list of apps that must always use the VPN. Some VPNs even let you choose which URLs will get the VPN connection and which ones use the normal connection. Check out our ExpressVPN review for a look at a more fleshed-out version of split tunneling.
Despite not being the best version of split tunneling we’ve seen, it’s nice to see more VPNs squeezing it in at a lower price point. It’s a great feature to have, and this is one of the first times we’ve seen it offered at such a low price.
Ivacy Features Overview
|Payment methods||PayPal, Credit card, BitPay, Coingate, PerfectMoney, iDeal|
|Supports split tunneling|
|Free trial available|
|Worldwide server amount||800+ servers in 53 countries|
|Desktop OSes||Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android TV, Kodi, FireStick, Xbox|
|Mobile OSes||Android, iOS|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox, Edge|
|Can be installed on routers|
|Can access Netflix US|
|Can access BBC iPlayer|
|Can access Hulu|
|Can access Amazon Prime Video|
|VPN protocols available||OpenVPN, L2TP, IKEv2, WireGuard|
|Enabled at device startup|
|Passed DNS leak test|
|Malware/ad blocker included|
Ivacy’s pricing doesn’t start off looking like anything special, with a fairly run-of-the-mill monthly pricing of $9.95 per month. However, the other three options bring the price down considerably and make Ivacy a compelling budget pick.
- : Unlimited GB
- : 5
- : Unlimited GB
- : 5
- : Unlimited GB
- : 5
Ivacy’s six-month plan comes out to $5 per month, while its one-year pricing works out to be $3.50 per month; this puts it at the same per-month cost as NordVPN’s three-year price, which we praised in our NordVPN review for being quite low. What’s more is that Ivacy also offers a two-year plan that is $1.50 less on the per-month cost, coming to $1.99 per month.
In addition to the plan itself, you’re also given the option at checkout to pay for a dedicated IP or port-forwarding add-ons. These are generally pretty niche things that you’ll know if you need, so we generally recommend that most people don’t tack these on to their purchases as general upgrades.
Before you buy an account, though, there is the option to take advantage of Ivacy’s 24-hour free trial. This gives users a great way to try out the service and see if it’s right for them.
However, it’s not as generous as some free VPN plans, such as ProtonVPN. If you look at our ProtonVPN review, you’ll see that this VPN gives users a free account for as long as they want with no data limit.
Fortunately, if Ivacy’s one-day free trial isn’t enough for you, the VPN comes with an additional 30-day money-back guarantee. This gives potential new users something to fall back on if the service doesn’t suit their needs.
Finally, Ivacy accepts a wide variety of payment methods, including Alipay, PayPal, BitPay, about a dozen different cryptocurrencies as well as standard credit and debit cards.
Ease of Use
Ivacy has done a good job at making the start of your experience go smoothly. While some VPN providers make you jump through hoops and even send in invoices to get any kind of trial, Ivacy makes it easy to find and sign up for the 24-hour free trial.
We did get a warning message during the software installation, but it didn’t seem to have any impact on the setup, since we clicked “OK” and everything ran fine after that.
The windows client is well laid out while still avoiding a copycat design. A column of tabs is tucked away on the left margin, and when you move your mouse over them, they expand a bit to reveal some text that indicates what each tab contains.
Ivacy’s design is streamlined and clean while still making things easily accessible. The settings further help this feeling of overall ease, with many of the options having small explanations alongside them that explain what exactly each checkbox and feature does.
Overall, the look and feel of Ivacy’s client has significant potential, which is something we also stated in our last Ivacy review. There are a few details that still feel out of place, tough, and a few things that need further refining. Namely, the main server list itself is a bit of a hassle to scroll through.
The main server window can fit only five countries in the view at a time, and there is no search bar. Scrolling to the bottom to find the server you need can be a chore, and the narrow dropdown makes it easy to scroll right past. For a look at a VPN with a nearly perfect Windows client, be sure to check out our Private Internet Access review.
Our speed testing results with Ivacy showed a stark contrast between the more trafficked servers in the U.S. and UK versus the servers in slightly more remote and less traveled reaches of the virtual world, such as Japan and Switzerland.
Here in the U.S. — as well as across the pond in the UK — we were able to get about half of our download speeds back while using the Ivacy VPN. This is more than enough bandwidth to stream content or even download large files quickly, but these numbers aren’t sufficient to land Ivacy on our fastest VPNs list.
In the other three locations we tested, things went much less smoothly. In Hong Kong, Switzerland and Japan, we saw speeds fall into the teens or lower, even sinking into the single digits in Japan.
Although these numbers are abysmal on paper, the real-world performance of the Ivacy VPN was still usable. It never got the dialup loading times and, even in Japan, we were able to watch streaming content off of Twitch and YouTube in 720p.
The videos would often take a noticeable amount of time to start loading, but once things got going, it didn’t have an issue. If you’re looking for a fast VPN, then our NordVPN vs PIA article is a better place to look. Ivacy’s speeds are serviceable, but they are still one of the service’s biggest weaknesses.
Measuring up VPN security is difficult, but two of the most important factors to look at are the protocol options and the available levels of encryption. For protocol, Ivacy offers OpenVPN, L2TP and IKEv2.
You can read more about what these mean in our VPN protocol breakdown, but OpenVPN is, for now, considered the gold standard protocol, thanks to its clean track record and open-source nature.
The encryption is top-notch, as well, with Ivacy using AES-256, which is advertised as “military-grade” encryption on Ivacy’s website. If you read about AES-256 in our description of encryption article, you’ll find that it’s not an unfair claim to make.
In addition to the basic protocol and encryption setup, as we mentioned earlier in the “features” section, there are a couple more things built in that aid in the VPN’s security. The settings contain working IP and DNS leak protection, which we tested ourselves, as well as the kill switch and auto-connect options.
Ivacy has a solid setup for security if you change the protocol in the settings from “automatic” to OpenVPN. Ivacy doesn’t have a double VPN or Tor over VPN, like you can see in our NordVPN vs TorGuard article, but it offers sufficient protection for most users.
Ivacy needs to collect a name, email address and payment method in order to provide you with the VPN service. This means bitcoin or another crypto is the best option for those who want to maintain privacy, since it makes it possible to use a fake name and email.
Ivacy’s streaming performance is all over the place, depending on what sites you’re trying to access. For starters, we tried out the standard servers just to see how they perform and what would happen if you forgot to connect to the dedicated streaming servers.
Using the normal servers, we were able to get both Netflix and Hulu working. Hulu worked perfectly fine, but Netflix behaved very strangely. It took about 45 seconds to start playing a video, but once it did, everything seemed fine. Both Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer were blocked on the normal servers.
As we’ve mentioned before, the streaming servers are set up in a bit of a unique way. They are given their own tab, which is organized by streaming service rather than country, by default. We started our tests of these dedicated streaming servers with the Netflix option, which didn’t work at all.
It took about 40 to 50 seconds to connect and, once connected, our internet no longer worked. When we tried the Amazon Prime server, we got a similar problem. However, after waiting, the VPN would not connect at all and instead gave us an error message that told us to try again later, which we did and never got a working connection.
The BBC iPlayer server actually worked to unblock the site’s content, but for some reason, the server itself was in Singapore, according to the Ivacy software. This was a pretty lackluster performance from the software that has the streaming servers broken down by service with more than a dozen options.
Needless to say, Ivacy has a long way to go before showing up on any of our best VPN for Netflix or best VPN for Hulu lists.
Ivacy’s network has expanded considerably since our last review, and it now includes more than 1,000 servers in just over 100 locations. Although the number of locations has not changed significantly since we last checked in, the total number of servers has more than doubled.
This network is nothing to sneeze at, but it still pales in comparison to the largest VPN network we know of: HideMyAss. In our HideMyAss review, we look at its massive server network, which has a whopping 290 locations available.
Same as many websites these days, Ivacy has a bubble in the bottom-right corner of its site that you can click on to connect to the 24/7 live chat. This is probably the quickest way to hear back from customer support, but there is also the option to send in a support ticket.
Support tickets are also supposedly manned around the clock, just like the live chat, but both options have support reps that can quickly offer detailed answers to any questions we were able to throw their way.
What’s even better than having to reach out to support, though, is having the information to fix things yourself easily available. Ivacy’s knowledgebase fulfills this need well, with an ample number of detailed articles to help you sort out a majority of the most common problems that arise with VPNs.
Ivacy seems to be well in touch with what VPN users actually want. It has done a good job of laying down some solid groundwork with its interface and features, especially with the inclusion of split tunneling.
Its pricing makes Ivacy a very tempting option for some, but the speeds still hold it back considerably. Although Ivacy did double its overall server count, it still needs a lot of work on that front — as well as with hammering out the kinks in its streaming — before we can consider it worthy of a top spot on our site.
If you’ve used the Ivacy VPN before, we’d love to hear in the comments below how your impressions compare to ours in this Ivacy review. As always, thanks for reading.