Ivacy VPN is a decent choice for those looking for a low-cost VPN for streaming services unblocking. It looks like a good bargain, so it's worth testing out. At the same time, it's not the ideal match for those looking for strong privacy guarantees and top-notch performance.
- Unblocks most services consistently.
- Swift support
- Value-for-money, especially on the 5-year plan
- Decent speeds for what you pay
- Slow updates and feature addition, e.g., WireGuard
- No security/privacy audits
- Client apps could have been more informative
This is the first technical review by borderpolar.com. So it's essential to make an excellent first impression. As I watched “The Mandalorian” from Greece just a few nights ago, I kept thinking about how many hardware and software options I have available for review. And then it occurred to me. I've been using Ivacy since the 25th of April of 2020, both for streaming and privacy, on several platforms. And so here I am, kickstarting the technical reviews section of Borderpolar with an Ivacy VPN review in 2021.
Disclaimer: This page may contain affiliate links, just like all other review pages will in the future. This is a way for the audience to fund this blog and a guarantee that it won't be partial to any service or product we review.
A little backstory
There is something quite different about the long term reviews of products you bought by choice, a personal aspect. Most reviews on Borderpolar won't have that aspect, but the first one does. So, around Easter time in 2020, I needed to spend some money. So I came across an offer for the Ivacy VPN, and it was quite an interesting one. Ivacy was 90% off on the 5-year plan with a 30-day money-back guarantee. I checked a few reviews online, and it turned out that most reviewers considered Ivacy decent, but nothing spectacular. The price I got for the purchase was $55.66. This is less than $1/month for something not that spectacular. Well, fine by me. That's how I bought Ivacy. Let's start then.
What is Ivacy?
Ivacy is a Singapore-based VPN provider company, and as its website claims, it is an award-winning one. Every VPN provider claims they are award-winning, and most of them are in some well-known or less well-known blog like this one.
Ivacy VPN's infrastructure
Another claim on their website, as of January 7th, 2021, is that they have a network of 2,000+ servers. Another one is that they have a network of 1000+ servers. What I found on another page of their website is that they have 3,000+ servers. Finally, I contacted their affiliate marketing PR team to inquire about this, and they told me that they now have 3,500+ servers, a number I finally found on Ivacy's VPN servers page.
The VPN servers page actually lists 793 VPN servers, so I'll go with that. To clarify, 793 VPN servers is not a bad number at all. But the inconsistency in numbers looks like a feeble marketing attempt. Most VPN providers follow similar tactics without providing all server hostnames. Ivacy does provide a list of VPN server hostnames, though.
Ivacy apps & features
Now after going full bad cop, let's list the positives of Ivacy. Ivacy offers a vast variety of apps that includes Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, accompanied by Chrome, Edge, and Firefox extensions. There are also instructions for manually setting up the service on routers, Kodi, Linux, Roku, consoles, and more devices. This is an impressive app and device support, and it's very well documented. You will not have trouble setting up Ivacy on major platforms, as it's a pretty straightforward process.
Ivacy is torrent-friendly, while it also offers malware blocking and a no-logging policy. The service supports up to five simultaneous connections, and it has an Internet kill switch to protect your privacy in the case of disconnects.
Ivacy's protocol support covers L2TP, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 protocols. At the same time, split tunneling allows you to choose which traffic you route through the VPN tunnel, and the feature list goes on, including extra features such as a dedicated IP and port-forwarding.
Plans and pricing
If the service isn't working as it should, 24/7 support via email, ticket, and live chat is ready to assist you. And yes, they respond really fast to all your inquiries. Customer support won't disappoint you with Ivacy.
Ivacy subscription options:
Ivacy's pricing plans are very competent in most cases. Monthly billing is reasonable at $9.95, but this falls to $3.50/month on the annual plan, and the five-year subscription is an insanely low $1.00 a month/month. With a 20% discount Honey coupon, you can get that down to the price I paid for the 5-year plan.
To put that in perspective, you're getting five years of coverage for an upfront payment of $69.99. Even a one-year HideMyAss! the plan is only marginally cheaper at $59.88. If you only use Ivacy for a couple of years, it still looks like great value.techradar
Optional extras include dedicated IPs (US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore) for a very reasonable $1.99 a month and port forwarding support $1 a month.
Note: In this review, I evaluate Ivacy's cheapest option without a dedicated IP and port forwarding.
Ivacy accepts various payment methods. Here is the full list of payment methods for Ivacy:
- Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, JCB, Diner's Club cards
- PayPal (my personal preference when available)
- Bitcoin via BitPay
- many others, including Click and Buy, dotpay, neosurf, and more
Ivacy also provides a trial option that gives you seven days to check out the service for just $0.99, enough time to get a taste of its capabilities.
However, as in most cases, the 7-day trial automatically renews as the annual plan unless you cancel in time. And yet, even if you sign up and regret it, you're further protected by a 30-day money-back guarantee (or 7-days for monthly-billed accounts). All this means is that you can have up to 37 days to test ivacy before making a verdict. That's pretty a good time frame.
Privacy and logging – The good part
We strictly do not log or monitor, online browsing activities, connection logs, VPN IPs assigned, original IP addresses, browsing history, outgoing traffic, connection times, data you have accessed and/or DNS queries generated by your end. We have no information that could associate specific activities to specific users.
The policy details the personal data Ivacy does collect (name, email address, payment methods), and other collection methods (app crash reports and diagnostics, Google Analytics on the website).
Finally, Ivacy also allows you to request the deletion of your personal information via the Members Area of its website.
Privacy and logging – The bad part
For that reason, I cannot recommend Ivacy VPN in 2021 to anyone who has privacy as their number one priority. Ivacy may be doing everything by the book and providing full privacy, but I would not look towards Ivacy's direction due to the lack of regularly publicized privacy audits. I would go for a more pricey and transparent choice.
Let's pause here – Ivacy's business model
When evaluating a product or service, it is crucial to understand the business model and its target audience. My understanding is that Ivacy's priority is providing reliable streaming service unblocking, ease of use, and strong customer support to people who want to use it to overcome the region-blocking of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+.
Ivacy has not invested in industry-leading speed and latency nor regular privacy evaluations.
Note: This review is targetting Ivacy's performance and unlocking capabilities on laptops, desktops, and smartphones. I have not evaluated Ivacy on 4K smart TVs, so if you want to check whether services like Disney+ are unlocked successfully, you will need to wait for an updated review or do your own research.
Now that is where the previous section about Ivacy's business model makes sense. Ivacy is not targeting those who want to browse the web anonymously constantly with the best privacy guarantees and protocols. Although, in terms of performance, I would give Ivacy a solid 7.5/10, and that's coming from a location with quite a poor Internet infrastructure. My 50Mbps connection can only reach 30Mbps, so we have to take this into account. This grade is primarily a result of how well Ivacy works with streaming service unblocking and its solid performance when streaming even 4K quality videos.
Browsing, in most cases, is not a matter of bandwidth but a matter of latency instead. I live in Greece, so when I choose the automatic option on Ivacy's Windows app, I connect to Romania by default. This is where Ivacy shoots itself in the foot, as the much closer option of Turkey is available.
As you will see below, the bandwidth loss is not significant. Suppose you consider so when I start browsing connected to Romania, I get results swinging between bearable and acceptable. So if you want to browse the web anonymously with Ivacy, your patience will be tested in some cases if you use “Automatic” or if there is no VPN server nearby. Keep in mind the following though. The speed test was performed with the VPN server connecting to a server in Bucharest, Romania. Depending on where you connect on the internet performance will be different because of the CDNs available close to the Romanian server for instance.
But here is the thing: in my case, I can manually switch to Albania on my mobile phone, where once again, Ivacy picks Romania on Automatic. On my Windows and macOS devices, I can switch to Turkey. Ivacy does not automatically select these options, but its performance increases significantly by going with them manually. This is probably to better CDN availability as the VPN server is closer to Greece.
So in my case, by manually selecting a server, I can browse without noticing I'm using a VPN for the most part. Of course, the catch here is that each individual requires different privacy levels, and for some being that close to their original country of residence is not a great fit. Again, I wouldn't recommend Ivacy for such use cases. For the everyday user who wants to browse anonymously, Ivacy is a satisfying performer if you have a server close to you. Of course, this means that it's better to look at the servers page before purchasing any plan.
This is where things get interesting as I consider Ivacy to be mostly targeting users that want to region-unlock streaming services. To unlock any content, I typically have to connect to the US, UK, and in rare cases, Australia. It goes without saying that these connection options are not viable for lengthy anonymous browsing in my case.
As you will see below, there is a significant latency, and bandwidth hit when connecting to Netflix US. Browsing the web is almost a no-go in this case.
However, this is where the very cool part starts. When I overcome the occasional connection timeout and I start streaming, I have faced no problems so far on my laptops.
Netflix: I constantly watch shows and movies from Netflix US and UK in Full HD quality on Microsoft Edge. I doubt Netflix selects the 2K option my monitors support on the native app, though. On the other hand, selecting 4K quality on YouTube US leads to almost seamless streaming even with such a poor connection, and I deem this a quite impressive feat for Ivacy.
Disney+: In most likelihood, you won't have much success with Disney+ using the Windows or macOS app. Most of the time, you will get an “Access Restricted” message. To overcome this you will end up using the browser extensions and switching locations, possibly several times. You will also need to remove Disney+ cookies sometimes. Combined with the high latency if you connect to the US from Europe, as I do, the process can get quite lengthy and annoying. In spite of that, I have successfully unblocked Disney+ most of the time and I have not had the same issue on mobile.
“The Mandalorian” plays without any issues at all while streaming. No interrupts and Full HD quality on Windows. On my smartphone, it definitely looks like 1440p video quality.
Hulu: I had no problems streaming Hulu, but the quality was worse than 720p. Despite that, I think it's hard to blame Ivacy for that when every other service performs so well.
Note: If you are streaming on your browser, there will be a resolution cap. Microsoft Edge can go up to 1080p (FHD), Google Chrome and Firefox can go up to 720p (HD) regardless of the operating system, and Safari on macOS Big Sur seems to be able to go up to 4K, just like Netflix's native app on Windows.
On Android, I can successfully stream 1440p videos on YouTube when connected to the US. However, Netflix decides to serve content with below HD quality. Disney+, as already mentioned, looks outstanding on my OnePlus 8 Pro on a Wi-Fi connection, and the latency is negligent. I don't even have to switch to 4G – not that I would.
US channels & more: All the US channels listed in the apps worked for me. Keep in mind, though, that a lot of those will ask you to provide TV provider credentials for long term use.
Verdict on performance
Considering the price tag, I was quite impressed by Ivacy's performance during the 9-month period I've been using it. Ivacy is a solid performer. Yes, I wish I would experience less latency on Windows and Mac when connecting to the UK or the US, but the overall performance is still more than good enough for streaming purposes and my privacy requirements. 7.5/10.
Verdict on unblocking
I have nothing negative to say about Ivacy here. It unblocks whatever it claims to unblock. Ivacy can successfully unblock BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, US YouTube, Disney+, ABC, BT Sport, CBS, Fox Sports Go, HBO Now, Hulu, NBC, and more with Ivacy. However, I will give Ivacy an 8.5/10 on unblocking performance. My main concern is Disney+ as I think it's a very challenging service and a stringent one, so I can only hope Ivacy's unblocking will last, even if it requires some tinkering in location selection, even quite a lot of trial and error sometimes. After reviewing other VPNs, I have observed that the best VPNs out there handle Disney+ much better.
Features & ease of use
Ivacy's apps do very well in the ease of use department. I have had zero issues with the installation and setup of any of the three apps I use (Windows, macOS, and Android) and the browser extensions. I also had no issues with my Linux configuration, although I have to use Chrome or Firefox for streaming service unlocking.
I accessed all supported streaming services through the Windows and macOS app and automatically opened the service on the default browser. The service does not detect the use of a VPN, and the streaming proceeded successfully. However, Disney+ is not supported out of the box by the apps, so you will need to connect using a browser extension and toy around with locations to get the Disney+ website on your browser. But Disney+ is so hostile towards VPNs – I will be adding more on that soon – that I'm just glad Ivacy works with it, even if it's not from the apps.
That being said, there are a few things that need improvement. First of all, you cannot switch locations or make any settings changes while connected. In some cases, I found myself a bit disappointed by this. Secondly, the list of countries and cities does not show ping times and load factors. This is very problematic because you want to try the best available server option when you connect manually.
Ivacy provides three connection options:
- “Streaming” enables you to unblock streaming platforms (Amazon Prime Video, BBC, Hulu, Netflix, and many more).
- “Unblock” allows access to geo-blocked websites.
- “Secure Download,” which seems to block downloads from blacklisted URLs.
The Windows app settings enable choosing your preferred startup mode, for example, opening with the Streaming page. There's an option to switch protocol (OpenVPN UDP or TCP, L2TP or IKEv2), split tunneling, a kill switch, and an option that enables scanning for open ports to help bypass VPN blocking. I could not find a protocol-switch option on the macOS app, so I assume it uses IKEv2.
Ivacy's Android app provides the same connection modes (streaming, secure download, and unblocking), a connection list displayed by country or city, a kill switch, split tunneling, and multiport mode. However, protocol support is limited to OpenVPN UDP or TCP. Other than that, I have to say that I have encountered no problems with this app.
It's a similar story with the iOS app, aside from the lack of a kill switch and its use of IKEv2 rather than OpenVPN, but it's an app I have not tested yet, as I don't own any iOS devices.
Finally, the Ivacy representative I reached out to told me that WireGuard support is coming in 2021.
I want to note here that while I have a below-par internet connection, it is a very stable one. I only encountered connection issues on rare occasions, despite reading that other users have encountered such issues. This review is based on my own experience, so I cannot consider those.
Split tunneling was easy to set up and worked on Windows, macOS, and Android apps. I consider it quite useful as it allows you to use one browser for stream unblocking, for instance, and the rest to browser the web normally without suffering the performance hit.
The killswitch worked quite well in my tests, but with such slow speeds and big latency at times, it's hard to imagine that it will always prevent leaks during a VPN connection loss. I could not produce such a scenario, but that's one reason you need a high-quality connection from the VPN provider.
Ease of use verdict
I doubt anyone will have issues with the ease of use of the Ivacy apps. I would have preferred more detailed descriptions about the servers and faster feature addition, especially since they would be to the company's advantage. Once again, though, you get what you pay for, so I would rate the ease of use with an 8.5/10.
The documentation and troubleshooting guides available are definitely not ideal. Some are very basic, and others are a bit outdated.
What is impressive is the live chat support, which is 24/7 and very fast to respond. I had the same experience with email support. I am a big fan of live chat support as it is straightforward, so I'm giving the overall support service a 9/10 rating.
Ivacy is a full-featured VPN service offered at a meager price. It is not perfect in terms of speed, but it does very well in device support, unblocking, and customer support. So, do I recommend Ivacy? I think there are two aspects here:
- Simultaneously, I recommend Ivacy 100% for those who want a cheap VPN with excellent unblocking capabilities for streaming services. As I said, I think that is the audience, Ivacy aims for instead of the former one; quite ironic considering its name. But this how I would do it. Get the 7-day trial or the annual plan. Or even the 5-year plan if you can afford it. Please take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee to test it on your 4K and other devices. If you are happy, stick with Ivacy until there is a status change in unblocking support or any other negative development. This way, I doubt you will be disappointed with the service.
To conclude, I give Ivacy an overall 7.5/10 grade. I would like to see more clarity and transparency from Ivacy in the feature. Asking for industry-leading performance and features is probably a bit too much to ask at this price range. But at the end of the day, Ivacy VPN is a bang for the buck for the average user.
Ι will be updating my Ivacy VPN review as Ivacy told me that they will add WireGuard support at some point in 2021, and they are working on performance improvements. I will also be adding 4K testing sooner or later.
Finally, stay tuned and subscribe if you consider this review informative, as I have contacted several other VPN services, including premium ones, so more VPN reviews are coming.