Ivacy full review
Ivacy is a well-established VPN service which has been running since 2007. That doesn’t automatically make it a good choice, though. In this review we scrutinise every aspect of the service to see how it shapes up in 2020 against its competitors.
One of the benefits of Ivacy is that it has apps for so many devices. You’ll probably find it in your smart TV’s app store, it’s available on the Amazon Fire TV Stick and there are setup guides on Ivacy’s website which explain how to get it running on many other devices, some of which don’t natively support a VPN.
However, as with all VPN services, making Ivacy work with the Apple TV, Roku and games consoles that don’t support VPNs is a pain and involves sharing the internet connection from your PC or Mac, or using a router that supports VPN connections. So don’t get too excited when you see those supported devices on any VPN provider's website.
Ivacy: Price & availability
Ivacy costs $9.95 per month (around £7.60) but as you’d expect, there are huge discounts if you sign up for one or more years.
At the time of writing, Ivacy is offering a five-year deal for the ridiculously low price of just $0.99 per month (around 76p). This is the cheapest we have ever seen for a paid-for VPN.
If that’s expired by the time you read this, the one-year deal works out at $3.33 per month (around £2.55).
Since you can use the service on five devices at the same time, this makes it even better value.
You can pay via a variety of methods, including cryptocurrency. But if you use an anonymous method, the refund policy doesn’t apply. For one-month subscriptions there’s a 7-day refund period, but a 30-day period for longer subscriptions.
For alternatives check out our roundup of the best VPN services.
There’s surprisingly little information on Ivacy’s slick-looking website. Instead, there’s a lot of bluster and general information on why you need a VPN, but relatively few facts about the service being offered. For example, there’s nothing on how the servers are configured, who owns them and who has access to them.
The company is nominally based in Singapore, and this potentially explains why the English is fairly poor throughout the site. This doesn’t present a particularly professional image, and certainly lets the company down when compared to its rivals.
However, if you’re simply looking for a VPN to unblock websites and stream video none of that really matters.
What does matter is that Ivacy makes it easy to do those things. It’s one of increasingly few services which are ‘purpose’ based. Instead of simply presenting a list of countries, locations or servers, its main menu asks you to choose what you’re trying to accomplish.
There are options for unblocking, streaming and secure downloads. The latter adds ‘secure’ because it claims to scan all downloads with its own virus and malware scanner at the server level, adding a layer of protection. We can’t verify how this works exactly: it may use a simple blacklist rather than active file scanning.
When you select the Streaming option, you’re presented with a list of services including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, ITV and a host of others. Click on one of those and Ivacy will automatically connect to the most appropriate server and then offer to launch the app (or open a browser at the service’s homepage).
This is exactly what you want: it takes the hassle out of figuring out which server to use for a specific service. We found that it unblocked iPlayer with no issues and, despite seeing quite a few ‘proxy detected’ errors when attempting to stream US Netflix, all it ever required was to click on the episode or film again and it would start playing.
If you prefer, you can select a location – either a country or city manually. Ivacy claims to have over 1000 servers in over 100 locations. These span 63 countries, but some of those servers use virtual locations and are not actually based in those countries. But they will still spoof your location so it appears to any website or online service that you are in those locations. You’ll find a list of servers on Ivacy's site.
We asked Ivacy its servers were rented and who has access to them and were told that the company "has rented out servers from data centers but without managed services. A dedicated in-house DevOps team manages server and security operations. Nothing is left to Datacenters or its employees. As a result, they do not have ANY access to config files or operating systems which are the only things hosted."
The apps don’t show any load or ping information about each server, so you’ll have to use the Smart Connect feature if you’re after the fastest possible server.
In our tests, performance in general was good. We saw excellent speeds from our closest UK server – almost matching our normal uncloaked connection speed. We weren’t so impressed with the Smart Connect feature which picked a noticeably slower server in France, and as we expected, speeds were proportionally lower the further away the servers were from the UK, with the slowest (but still eminently usable) being in Australia.
When running the tests, we noticed that a PureVPN server was used on one occasion when we had selected UK as the country. So there’s clearly some server sharing going on between these VPN providers.
Obviously, as with all VPN services, speeds will vary depending on your location, time of day, day of week and other factors.
The apps themselves are relatively intuitive and, so long as you’re not a VPN power-user looking for lots of advanced options, you’ll be more than happy.
Features and settings are mostly replicated across the various apps, and given that Ivacy was one of the first (if not the first) to offer split-tunnelling it’s no surprise to see this on offer in the Windows and Android apps, though it’s missing from the iOS version.
This lets you decide which apps use the VPN and which are routed via your ISP as per normal (and therefore aren’t subject to any slowdown caused by the VPN connection).
Similarly, there’s a kill switch in the Windows and Android apps, but not in the iOS app. Note that there are no options with the kill switch: it’s either on or off. Only in the Windows app can you choose to have the connection “redial automatically” if it drops. On Android, you’ll simply lose your internet connection for any apps running via the VPN.
What’s missing from the apps is an option to automatically start a VPN session when connected to an unsecure Wi-Fi network, and set up a whitelist of trusted networks. Instead, Ivacy’s website simply urges you to “Exercise care and turn on Ivacy VPN before connecting”.
There’s also no way to search for or set countries or locations as favourites, nor a list of recently used locations. And that’s bad from a usability point of view.
If you’re into your VPN protocols, you’ll no doubt be slightly confused that OpenVPN is missing. However, that’s because Ivacy chooses to give you UDP and TCP options – both use OpenVPN.
Another oddity is that IP/DNS leak protection is disabled by default in the Windows app. Quite why you’d want to use a VPN service and not have IP and DNS leak protection is a mystery to us.
When we tested the service for leaks, thankfully we found none.
The only time potentially sensitive data is logged is if you’re using one of the company’s dedicated IP address, but most people won’t be because having one costs an extra $1.99 per month.
Via its website, Ivacy offers 24/7 live chat and we were impressed at how responsive this was, and how knowledgeable the support staff were. It’s far preferable to the ticketed service offered in the apps, which naturally takes a lot more time to get a response from.
Ivacy isn’t best VPN service we’ve tested. But with the regular deals on offer, it can be exceptionally good value if you just want a VPN for unblocking content and for extra security when using public Wi-Fi.
Speeds are fine – not excellent, but far from the worst we’ve seen and it’s really just the usability issues in the apps which will grate when you use the service a lot.
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