Antivirus software protects you from malware, but to protect your privacy and security on the web, you need a virtual private network, or VPN. Ivacy offers VPN protection at an affordable price and boasts servers in far-flung corners of the world. It's a strong offering on paper, but we had some hiccups in testing. At the end of the day, it can't match our Editors' Choice winners NordVPN, Private Internet Access, and TunnelBear VPN in terms of robustness or ease of use.
To ensure that it’s working, head over to Torguard’s IP Checker. This site can tell you what your IP address is, and compare it to the IP address of your torrent client, which will let you know whether your proxy is working correctly. To test it, hit the “Generate Torrent” button, and open the resulting torrent in uTorrent. Then, go back to your browser and hit the Refresh button under the “Check IP” tab. If it’s the same as your browser IP—which you’ll see next to the Refresh button—then your proxy isn’t working, and you’ll want to double-check all of the above settings. If it shows a different IP address (which should be in the Netherlands), then Private Internet Access is successfully tunneling all your traffic for you.
Torrent websites and torrents themselves are havens for malware. Because torrents are uploaded by the community, they often go unchecked for viruses and malware. A case in early 2018 saw 400,000 users hit by a malware outbreak caused by a Russian torrenting client. Every time you download a torrent, it’s a good idea to scan it with good, up-to-date antivirus software. If the website you downloaded from has a comments section, other users might have already posted about potential threats. This is especially true for software and video games that contain a lot of files, making it easier to hide malicious files.
Buffered previously was able to unblock Netflix in a web browser on MacOS and Windows, but this is no longer the case as of September 2017. A customer support rep told us, “As of the moment, we are unable to access Netflix US with any of our servers. A fix is being worked on and should be forthcoming fairly shortly. We have no update though as of yet.”
Smart DNS proxies like Unotelly, Overplay, Unlocator, and Unblock-US were a flash in the pan during Netflix’s war on proxies. After Netflix blocked connections from most VPN servers, many users switched to these services instead. A smart DNS proxy is a server that monitors any DNS requests sent from your device. DNS requests are a means of looking up which domain names (e.g. “netflix.com”) are associated with which servers. If it detects a DNS request for Netflix, it sends all the browser traffic for that request through the server to an American Netflix server, thereby changing both your IP address and DNS server.
If cost is a major hurdle, fear not. There are many excellent free VPNs on the market. Our Editors' Choice winner, TunnelBear, offers a free version with a limited amount of data available. ProtonVPN, on the other hand, limits the number of simultaneous devices and available servers to its free customers. Ivacy does not, however, offer a free version.
BitTorrent's dubious distinction as the pirate's tool of choice has led to indiscriminate crackdowns from ISPs on the use of BitTorrent. With a virtual private network, or VPN, your traffic is encrypted and secured to ensure that no one can see what you're up to—even when you're torrenting. The catch is, not every VPN service allows BitTorrent on its servers.
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Ivacy VPN offers the same set of features provided by most other VPN companies at an affordable price. It has one or two noteworthy additions, but beyond that it doesn't bring a lot that's new to a very crowded space. That's not really a problem. What is a problem is that the service has far fewer servers than the competition, which was reflected in my speed test scores. We also weren't able to use Ivacy's browser extensions, and several of the VPN servers I attempted to connect to in my testing simply didn't work. Finally, the app seemed to have difficulty choosing the best servers in our testing.
I submitted several other queries designed to gauge the knowledge and efficacy of the team (all of them were submitted at similar times) and all of these queries were answered in a similarly timely (and brief) manner. To ensure that my experience was an accurate representation of their customer support team, I also reviewed their social media accounts to see how well they handled other customer complaints and questions.