Low prices and comprehensive streaming support, but there are flaws
Singapore-based Virtual Private Network (VPN) Ivacy might not be a household name in layman circles, but it’s well established service that’s been available since 2007. It isn’t the biggest VPN around, but more than 1,000 servers in over 100 locations are enough to make it an intriguing competitor. This VPN was a even a pioneer in the technique of split-tunneling, which is a useful feature that other providers have implemented subsequently.
What We Like
- Subscription plans are very competitively priced
- Extensive device support
- Unlimited bandwidth and data allowance
- Competent security measures
- Works seamlessly with Netflix
What We Don’t Like
- Sluggish speeds
- Not always easy to find the right server for torrenting
- Limited options for advanced users
- Occasionally unreliable service
Keen to see if Ivacy is a hidden gem in the VPN field, we conducted many tests to see what speeds it offers, how easy it is to use, and how well it performs with streaming services such as Netflix. We also evaluated how secure it is and how fast it is for torrenting purposes.
We found it wasn’t entirely reliable at times, but there were certainly some strong positives in the mix for a budget-priced VPN. Read on to see what else we thought about this surprisingly competent VPN.
Setup Process: Easy enough
The signup process for Ivacy is easy. Click the Get Started button on the site, and you’re taken to a choice of subscription plans before picking an app to download. Ivacy doesn’t pick up on what system you’re using so you must pick out the relevant app for your system (i.e. Windows or Mac) but the list is clearly laid out so it’s simple to browse through.
Log in on the newly installed app and you’re good to go.
Design: Simple and basic
Ivacy has a fairly simple-to-use app, although it can seem confusing at first. Load it up and log in, and you’re presented with a series of options from a sidebar. Initially, this is where the confusion sets in. Options include Smart Connect, Secure Download, Streaming, and Unblocking. In many ways, these all sound like synonyms but they make a difference to what you can access.
The idea behind it is that Smart Connect is your all-purpose connection, Secure Download is if you want advanced virus and malware protection, while Streaming covers all the streaming services imaginable. Unblocking is a more vague term that we found most suitable for some very specific scenarios that we’ll talk about later.
Despite those initial complications, Ivacy is easy enough because it skips complex details like server names. Instead, you choose the country you want to connect to via a drop-down list (alternatively, you can pick a specific city) and Ivacy does the rest.
Once connected, there’s a timer demonstrating how long you’ve been connected, and that’s about it. Don’t expect statistics such as download speeds or average pings. Ivacy keeps it super simple, right down to not even being able to tweak more advanced settings from the app. You can’t even choose a favorite server for future reference.
Ivacy offers apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS users, with extensions also available for Chrome and Firefox. Additionally, there are extensive instructions on how to configure Ivacy on devices including Linux based systems, smart TVs, routers, games consoles, Kodi boxes, and even Blackberry phones.
The instructions require some technical knowledge, but it’s reasonably straightforward if you know your way around the respective device. It’s good to see such extensive support too, given few VPN services seem to mention games consoles so overtly, for instance.
Performance: High max speeds, but lags in some areas
Ivacy offers several different servers to choose from, as well as different settings such as whether you’re downloading files or simply browsing. In all cases though, we found speeds to be roughly the same.
General browsing is fine, but anything that requires a speedy download or two, and Ivacy will begin to irritate.
During our speed tests, we were able to achieve a maximum download speed of 151.57 Mbps using our 1 Gbps connection. That might seem like a massive reduction, but it’s not out of line with most of the speedier VPNs that we have tested.
If you’re simply browsing websites, you are unlikely to notice any performance issues at all. However, when downloading files, we did notice a dip in speed. This reduction was pronounced both during off-peak use and during peak times of day, and we even experienced dropped connections and difficulty reconnecting at times. The good news is that Ivacy includes a kill switch, so your information will remain secure even if you experience similar issues.
The available speed was a non issue when watching videos on YouTube and streaming other media. Essentially, the suitability of Ivacy’s performance is largely dependent on what you’re using the VPN service for. General browsing and streaming were both fine in our experience, but downloading large files can be a source of irritation.
Streaming: Dedicated servers
Make the mistake of loading Netflix while connected to Ivacy via the Smart Connect or Secure Download settings, and you won’t get very far. Netflix immediately notices you’re using a VPN and stops you from streaming.
Switch back to the Ivacy app, select the Streaming mode, and suddenly the world is your oyster. With this mode, you can simply choose the streaming service you want to watch from a somewhat awkwardly designed box on the app, and Ivacy immediately connects and opens up the relevant browser window for the service. In our experience, it worked flawlessly with a number of different services.
We tested it extensively on Netflix and had no issues watching numerous shows and movies on the service. It also worked well with HBO Now, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime US, ABC, Fox Sports Go, as well as RTE, France TV, and many others.
Ivacy is set up for 63 different streaming services in all, and you’re likely to find that others work as well. You’ll need subscription plans to use them, but it’s very convenient to have a VPN that just works for so many services with minimal hassle.
Ivacy is very open about exactly what it stores, or doesn’t store, which is good to see. The company also points out that due to its no-logs policy, it has no information to provide to authorities even if they request it.
It states that it “strictly” doesn’t log or monitor any user’s activity, from what they’re browsing to connection times or IPs assigned.
Security Features: Lots of security-conscious features
Ivacy offers quite extensive security features that keep in line with other VPN services of this kind. For the most part, it’s exactly what many users need when looking for a VPN client.
The most important security features include:
- AES-256 encryption: A military-grade level of encryption, this is exactly what you want and require from a security-conscious VPN.
- Internet Kill Switch: This feature immediately disconnects you from the internet if your VPN connection drops. That means you stay private and away from prying eyes at all times.
- Split-Tunneling: Pioneers in the concept, split-tunneling allows you to access both local and foreign content at the same time by effectively splitting your connection. It makes it safer for your data, too.
- IPv6 Leak Protection: Your online IP can be leaked via IPv6 if it’s not correctly protected, allowing third parties to keep track of your activities. Such protection stops this from occurring.
- DNS Leak Protection: Similarly, DNS leak can occur if your request passes through your ISP’s DNS rather than the VPN tunnel. Ivacy encrypts that channel so your ISP can never see what you’re doing.
Torrenting: Stable after a few tweaks
Remember the mention of a Secure Download part of the Ivacy app? Logic would dictate that’s what you use to download torrent files, but we didn’t find that to be the case. Instead, that setting blocked all trackers for the files we were downloading.
When we switched over to the Unblocking mode, we found that peer to peer connections worked just fine. That’s a slightly weird way of doing things given the app so clearly labels one mode as dedicated to downloads, but at least torrenting does work somewhere.
Speeds are reasonable if unexceptional. Much like the speed tests we conducted, don’t expect to max out your connection here. However, it was pretty stable and we really appreciated the Kill Switch that meant we didn’t have to worry about the VPN connection dropping unexpectedly. Get past the weird UI related issues, and torrenting is just fine with Ivacy.
Ad Blocking: Not included
Some VPN services include a built-in ad blocker that prevents ad requests at the DNS level. If you’re looking for that extra level of protection, you won’t find it with Ivacy. There is no build-in ad blocker of any kind.
Customer Service: Web chat and email
Ivacy offers a good level of customer service and support options, with both web chat and email. The web chat system is available around the clock, 24/7, so it’s available any time you need to speak to a human customer support agent at Ivacy for any reason. If you prefer asynchronous communication, or your issue isn’t pressing, they also provide an email address.
Ivacy is reasonably priced if you opt for the rolling monthly subscription plan, but it gets even better if you commit to a year or more at a time. For $9.95 per month, you can enjoy the service on a rolling basis.
Alternatively, for $40 per year (the equivalent of $3.33 per month), you can commit to a year or $54 buys you two years of Ivacy for the equivalent of $2.25 per month. There are even offers on five-year plans for the equivalent of $1.33 per month making it one of the cheapest VPN services out there. It’s hard to find a VPN service that’s so well priced.
Payment options include all the major hitters such as card, Paypal, BitPay, Alipay, Bitcoin, PerfectMoney, and Paymentwall. There’s no gift card option or cash payment, but other than that, Ivacy is comprehensive.
Competition: Ivacy vs NordVPN
Similarly priced in the VPN field is one of the biggest names in VPN services, NordVPN. The Panama-based firm frequently offers heavy discounts on its services, especially if you commit to multiple years at a time, which makes it similarly matched to Ivacy price-wise. NordVPN is a touch more expensive with two-year plans working out at the equivalent of $3.99 per month rather than Ivacy’s $2.25 per month.
General browsing is fine, but anything that requires a speedy download or two, and Ivacy will begin to irritate.
We’re tempted to say NordVPN is worth the extra, too. While both providers offer great compatibility with Netflix, NordVPN’s speed when downloading files is that bit faster and makes it a more compelling choice than Ivacy. It rarely suffers from connection drops either.
Having said that, for a simple app to use, Ivacy beats NordVPN. It’s a little too simple for those advanced users keen to check pings and tweak settings, but it’s ideal for those that want a painless enough browsing experience. Providing they don’t mind switching things around to Streaming for if they want to watch Netflix, that is.
Ultimately, for an all-round VPN, you can’t go wrong with NordVPN over Ivacy.
Cheap with Netflix support covered, but slow connection times.
Ivacy is a very attractively priced VPN service provider that has an initially easy-to-use app that will appeal to newbies. It offers great Netflix streaming potential, but awkward to narrow torrenting support. With sluggish performance and disconnects at times, it’s a fairly run-of-the-mill VPN that has its moments but nothing more.
- Product Name: Ivacy
- Price: $9.95
- Speed (Fastest Observed): 151.57 (Tested on a 1Gbps connection)
- Operating Systems: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
- Devices: Five devices at a time
- Server Locations: 55 Countries
- Number of Servers: 1,000+
- Streaming: Yes, tested Netflix, Hulu, iPlayer
- Torrenting: Yes, dedicated servers, kill switch
- Encryption: AES-256 encryption, OpenVPNPPTP, SSTP, L2TP, IKEv2
- Logging: No logs
- Jurisdiction: Singapore