One of the reasons we were drawn to doing this review is the name of the VPN service itself – Ivacy. It’s very clearly a play on the word “privacy,” in this case without the “PR,” which happens to be an acronym for “Public Relations.”
We’re not sure whether this wordplay was entirely intentional or not (though, obviously, the name Ivacy is meant to make you think of the word “privacy”).
But we find it rather fitting, because the VPN provider has kept a rather low profile despite being part of the industry since 2006. So much so that the VPN comparison site, TheVPNLab, erroneously suggests they’re a newcomer!
All that aside, we were curious as to whether Ivacy’s wordplay is merely a clever gimmick, or if they live up to the promise of online privacy. Find out more in our Ivacy VPN review.
Ivacy VPN Review Overview
Ivacy VPN Overall Rating
Reliability and Support
How Ivacy VPN Compares to the Competition
Not a Great Location
That promise is challenged right off the bat by the fact Ivacy is based in Singapore.
We have nothing against Singapore itself, but it’s a terrible jurisdiction for a VPN company to be based in.
If you’re not wholly new to the world of online privacy and security, you’ll know about Edward Snowden having published over 1.5 million NSA documents that were meant to be highly classified.
Part of the reveal included details on what’s best described as an international operation with the sole purpose of spying on each and every single person on the planet.
Sound like a breach of privacy? It is. And the nations involved (collectively known as 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes) all know this. Which is why they spy on each other’s citizens and share that information.
Unfortunately for Ivacy, Singapore is confirmed to be collaborating with 5 Eyes.
A Strict No-Logs Policy?
Ivacy has one of the strictest no-logs policies we’ve read so far. They make a point of stating “systems in use by Ivacy are designed in such a way that they can’t be decrypted, nor can anything be obtained, since we keep no logs.”
Now, like all VPN providers, Ivacy does hold some user data. But the only identifiable information they have is your name, email address, and payment method.
That’s it. All the other diagnostic data they record is completely anonymized and necessary for things like troubleshooting and designing patch updates. They don’t know anything about what you’re doing through their servers and they don’t want to.
So why are we only cautiously impressed by all this? Well, Ivacy is still located in Singapore – and VPN providers are known to lie through their teeth about having a no-logs policy.
Until we see an independent audit that confirms it, we’ll stay healthily skeptical.
Military-Grade Encryption (But Only Sometimes?)
Ivacy uses 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). It’s the best-of-the-best, used by banks and military intelligence agencies – which is why it’s always referred to as “military-grade encryption.”
But here’s the catch: according to their support pages (which seem to have last been updated in 2016), Ivacy uses a range of encryption levels “from No Encryption to the highest SSL or AES 256 bit encryption” [sic].
This is problematic, especially as it says only Windows and Mac users can manually change the default. If you’re using any of their other apps, Ivacy’s servers “will go with the default settings which are usually encryption enabled.”
According to their live support, that information is outdated and 256-bit AES has become the default across all apps:
Next up is the VPN protocols Ivacy uses (if you’re unfamiliar with these, we suggest checking out our Beginner’s Guide to VPN Protocols).
On their Features page, Ivacy says they offer TCP, UDP, L2TP, and “IKEV” (a typing error meant to read IKEv2).
In their support page on how to change your VPN protocol in the Ivacy Windows app, IKEv2 is left out, but PPTP and SSTP are included. It’s also better explained that TCP and UDP refers to OpenVPN.
But that support page is also dated 2016. So we went back to live chat and found that all of the above are available – as well as one other, IPSec.
Kill Switch, DNS Leak Protection, and Split Tunneling
Rather alarmingly, the knowledge base article on Ivacy’s kill switch suggests this very, VERY important security feature is only available for Windows and Android clients.
That’s a huge problem – but once again, the page was last updated in 2016.
The same issue occurred when we looked into Ivacy’s DNS leak protection features. According to the outdated knowledge base article, you need to manually set it (and it’s implied this is only available for Windows).
Ivacy was actually the first VPN provider to introduce the split tunneling feature which allows you to choose which apps on your device (or even which sites) connect via their VPN servers and which don’t. It’s not the most necessary feature, but it’s always a great-to-have in our opinion.
Now, the web page only mentions Windows and Android devices, and the knowledge base article doesn’t mention device compatibility either.
Unfortunately, Ivacy’s “24/7” live support was not available when we tried to request better clarification on these issues.
How Many Servers Does Ivacy Actually Have?
We have a few issues with Ivacy here.
For starters, they’re inconsistent in their claims. In their knowledge base article (last updated in September 2018), they list just over 250 servers in about 100 different locations. On their information page, they claim “1,000+ servers in over 100 locations,” but only list 390 servers. As of October 2019, Ivacy offers roughly 1000 servers.
That level of inconsistency doesn’t exactly foster any kind of trust. Their entire knowledge base section being outdated is bad enough without their feature page contradicting itself too.
Secondly, that’s a very low server count. This isn’t necessarily an issue in and of itself, but we strongly prefer a VPN provider to offer 2,000+ if they’ve been around even half as long as Ivacy has.
The reason for this is to help prevent network congestion (also known as network overload), where there are too many people connecting to the same server at once and speed is negatively affected.
We also have an issue with the fact Ivacy doesn’t offer a Double VPN (or Multi-Hop) feature. This is sort of a “nice-to-have” rather than a true necessity for us. But the ability to route your connection via 2 VPN servers at the same time can drastically improve online security.
Usually, we’d say you can get around this problem by connecting to The Onion Router (TOR) via your VPN. But alas, Ivacy is not TOR-compatible.
We’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews, with some users citing ridiculously huge speed reductions and others claiming they barely noticed any difference in their connection speed.
And of course, most VPN comparison sites are split between politely saying Ivacy offers mid-range speeds and others trying to pass the provider off as the fastest VPN in the world.
Well, there are a lot of things that can affect your internet speed, so the mix of user reviews didn’t surprise us much.
And most VPN comparison sites decide how good their “reviews” are based on how much commission the VPN provider is paying them, so we never take them at their word anyway.
But given all the other issues (big and small) we encountered while trying Ivacy’s service, as well as their minuscule server count, we weren’t expecting much to begin with.
Here are our results:
Needless to say, our low expectations were washed away with better than average speeds.
Device Compatibility and Connections
One almost entirely positive thing about Ivacy is they have apps for almost all the devices you’d want to use a VPN with, including:
- Smart TVs
- Amazon Fire Stick
- Gaming consoles
- Chrome (browser extension)
- Firefox (browser extension)
You’ll notice, however, we don’t mention Linux, despite Ivacy advertising a Linux app.
This is because there isn’t actually any native Ivacy app for Linux – it requires manual configuration. We don’t consider this a major problem per se, but we would prefer to see a native app instead.
The only other issue we have is the router set-up seems to only allow the PPTP VPN protocol. This is far from ideal, as PPTP has the weakest security imaginable (we again encourage you to check out our Beginner’s Guide to VPN Protocols for more information).
Back on the plus side, Ivacy meets our minimum expectations for multiple connections. Up to 5 devices can be connected to a single account at any time, which is the industry standard.
It’s unclear whether you can “cheat” by using your router to connect more devices (other VPNs allow for this). Of course, considering Ivacy router configurations only seem to work with PPTP, we don’t suggest testing this if you value your online security.
Subscription Plans and Pricing
On Ivacy’s “Pricing” page, you’ll find the following information:
If you wait long enough though, you’ll get the following pop-up promising a 5-year subscription at “$1.33/month” ($79.80):
We’re also glad to see Ivacy accepts multiple payment methods, including cryptocurrency.
But Ivacy isn’t altogether upfront about their refund policy, which they brazenly advertise everywhere as being valid for 30 days.
However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find you can only get a refund if you meet all of the following conditions:
- For 1 Month subscriptions, you must request a refund within 7 days (30 days for longer subscriptions)
- Ivacy hasn’t already suspended your account
- You’ve connected to their VPN servers less than 30 times and used less than 500MB of bandwidth (upload and download combined)
- It’s the first time you’ve ever requested a refund
- You’ve used your card or PayPal to pay – no refunds for any other payment method
This is sketchy at best. We’d much rather have Ivacy be upfront about their money-back guarantee’s conditions instead of hiding them in the fine print – which they know almost no one is going to read.
Poor Streaming, But Decent Torrenting
Ask most people why they want a VPN and other than privacy concerns, they’ll cite a desire to stream geo-blocked content (such as Netflix shows) and/or torrent.
And, granted, their Purpose Selection feature does allow you to automatically connect to a server optimized specifically for the activity you have in mind.
Here’s the issue: we couldn’t get Netflix to work at all, regardless of what server we tried. After 4 attempts with the Purpose Selection, we switched to choosing our own servers, but still had no luck whatsoever.
It seems Ivacy’s server IPs have all been blacklisted by the Netflix proxy detection.
Torrenting, on the other hand, yielded better results (we should specify we only endorse using P2P connections for legal file sharing, not for breaking copyright laws). It’s still nothing worth getting excited about, but Ivacy is at least competent in this area.
Usability and Support
It only took 5 minutes to install Ivacy on our Windows computer, which is exactly as long as we’re willing to wait for a VPN installation.
And, thankfully, they didn’t ask to restart the device.
We must admit Ivacy created a very sleek, user-friendly app. Everything is clearly marked and easy to find.
That said, we did run into issues connecting to the VPN servers via the “error connecting” issue. After 1+ hour of disabling our firewall, reinstalling drivers, and a few other things, we were finally able to get the app to work.
As you’ve already seen, we contacted their live support team quite a lot while preparing for this review. When they were available, we received responses rather quickly, with all the information needed. But we also got the following error a few other times:
How to Cancel Ivacy VPN and Get Your Money Back
We’re going to admit outright: we cannot, in good faith, recommend Ivacy as a VPN provider.
While we do appreciate the witty wordplay behind their name, they offer too many issues to be considered anything other than a fast, budget-friendly last resort.
If you’re still eligible for their sketchy money-back guarantee, here’s what you need to do:
- Log into your Ivacy Account
- Click “My Services” under the “Services” drop-down menu
- Next to your active subscription, click on the arrow and select “Request Cancellation”
- Confirm by filling out the message box
- Select “Immediate” under “Cancellation Type” before clicking “Request Cancellation”
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to follow up on your cancellation request and request a refund
Ivacy is a little shady here in that you need to follow up on your cancellation request via email (live chat will direct you to do so).
They’ll also try convincing you to let them resolve any technical issues you’re having via remote assistance, but this is a ploy to make you ineligible for a refund as it will use more than 500MB.
How much does Ivacy cost per month?
For a monthly subscription, Ivacy costs $9.95/month.
Does Ivacy work for Netflix?
No, all of Ivacy’s servers appear to be blacklisted by Netflix.
Is Ivacy legitimate?
Ivacy has some questionable policies regarding account cancellation and their money-back guarantee. They’re also inconsistent in providing information on their site and in their knowledge base, which makes us wary.
Is Ivacy a good VPN?
Too many features are missing from Ivacy to consider them a good VPN, but they might be acceptable as a budget option for general online privacy and speed only.
Does Ivacy hide my IP address?
Yes, Ivacy does hide your IP address when connected. We found no IP leaks during our tests.
Does Ivacy charge monthly?
Yes, but only if you choose the monthly subscription. Longer plans charge accordingly.
Is Ivacy a zero-logs VPN?
Yes, but Ivacy is located in an unsafe jurisdiction and has not been independently audited to verify their no-logs claim.
Can you cancel Ivacy anytime?
You can request a cancellation at any time, but you have to follow up to ensure your account really is canceled.
Is Ivacy safe in China?
No, Ivacy is not reliable for use in China or other countries with strict censorship laws.