The following is my test report for IPVanish VPN, which is done independently. Tested on Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS and others. If you have any questions, you can contact me and I will answer your questions.
Network security is a tricky thing, but using a virtual private network (or VPN) like IPVanish goes a long way toward making the web safer and more secure. IPVanish allows P2P and BitTorrent traffic on all its servers and has advanced features like automatic IP address cycling. IPVanish is an all-around excellent product and one of the best VPNs we’ve reviewed. Its special abilities may be just what you need to keep yourself safe online.
What Is a VPN?
When you connect to the internet via a VPN, all your web traffic is routed to a VPN server through a secure, encrypted tunnel. This means that someone spying on your local network, say at a coffee shop, won’t be able to see your activities. That’s not the only reason you need a VPN, however. Consider, too, that a VPN can hide your real IP address, making it harder to track you across the web. Even your ISP will have a hard time gathering and sellingyour data when you use a VPN, because it can’t penetrate the encrypted tunnel.
VPNs are used every day by people concerned about security or trying to circumvent restrictions on internet access. Journalists and activists in countries with restrictive internet policies use VPNs to keep in contact with the rest of the world and access content that would be otherwise forbidden.
While most of us don’t have to worry about oppressive regimes, the average person can get more than just additional security from using a VPN. You can also use a VPN’s numerous servers to spoof your location and watch region-locked streaming content. But be advised that some media companies are getting wise. In fact, the ability to view Netflix with a VPN is becoming rare.
There’s a good chance that you may have never laid hands on a VPN before. If that’s the case, don’t worry! We’ve got a whole feature on how to set up and use a VPN.
Pricing and Features
IPVanish has a simple pricing scheme with just three options, depending on how often you’re billed. All have the same feature set. The service costs $10.00 per month, $35.97 billed every three months, or $77.99 billed annually. As is the case with most VPN services, it offers a variety of special deals and discounts.
That’s slightly below the average monthly price of $10.50 for a VPN, but there are even-more affordable options out there. Editors’ Choice service Private Internet Access has a monthly plan for $6.95.
If price is a major concern, consider looking at a free VPN, instead. TunnelBear and ProtonVPN have excellent, albeit limited, options for free users.
You can pay for IPVanish with any major credit card or PayPal. If you’re looking to use Bitcoin, prepaid gift cards, or some other anonymous method of payment, you’re out of luck with IPVanish. TorGuard$9.99 at TorGuard, on the other hand, allows many anonymous payment options. If you ever wanted to use a Subway gift card to buy a VPN subscription, for example, TorGuard is a good option.
You can configure most any device to use IPVanish’s services, but the company also offers native apps for Android, ChromeOS, iOS, Linux, macOS, and Windows. The company’s website offers specific instructions for configuring these devices, as well as Windows Phones and routers, to work with IPVanish. Putting a VPN on your router might sound strange, but doing so secures all the traffic flowing through the router, including devices like the PlayStation 4$399.00 at Walmart, which can’t have VPN software installed locally. If you’re interested in having a VPN router, but you don’t want to set it up yourself, IPVanish has partnerships with retailers to provide preconfigured routers.
Users can also enroll up to five devices with IPVanish. That’s on par with other VPN services. Some services, such as KeepSolid VPN Unlimited and TorGuard, let you purchase additional slots for more devices.
Most VPNs allow the use of BitTorrent on their networks, although some do restrict the activity to specific servers. NordVPN is one such service, and TorGuard is another. If you’re a heavy downloader, you’re sure to appreciate the freedom and flexibility of IPVanish, which doesn’t restrict BitTorrent at all.
There are many ways to create a VPN connection, but for the most part, you don’t have to worry about choosing a VPN protocol. The app should take care of that for you. But we do prefer OpenVPN, which has a reputation for speed and reliability. It’s also open-source, meaning that its code has been picked over for potential vulnerabilities.
IPVanish supports OpenVPN (TCP or UDP), as well as IKEv2 and IPSec (IKEv1). It also has legacy support for L2TP and PPTP. Note that many developers opt to not include OpenVPN in their iOS apps because Apple treats such apps with exceptional scrutiny. IPVanish is one example of a developer that has not included OpenVPN, but we’re happy to see developers have recently started including OpenVPN with their iOS apps in increasing numbers.
Servers and Server Locations
IPVanish boasts over 1,000 VPN servers spread across 60 countries. It’s an impressive list, including servers in Africa, Asia (including China), Central and South America, North America, Europe, India, and the Middle East. In terms of geographic diversity, only a few of the best services can boast a list of server locations this large and complete. I value geographic diversity because it means you have lots of options for spoofing your location and can be assured that there will be a nearby server for faster, more reliable connections when you travel abroad.
Hide My Ass has an unmatched 226 server locations, but some of these are virtual servers (more on this later). CyberGhost, on the other hand, has several locales that IPVanish ignores or underserves.
Note that IPVanish recently suspended operations in Russia, as local law conflicts with the company’s zero-log policy. Other VPN companies, including Private Internet Access, have done the same. IPVanish has maintained a server presence in Hong Kong, despite efforts by the Chinese government to crack down on VPNs in that country.
In terms of robustness, IPVanish’s 1,000 servers are impressive, placing it among the best VPNs. A large server count can be important, since more servers mean you’re less likely to be crammed into an overcrowded VPN server having to share too little bandwidth with too many people.
Editors’ Choice winner NordVPN$2.99 at NordVPN – Limited Deal, however, boast 3,400 servers and Private Internet Access around 3,275. TorGuard VPN also recently boosted its server count to 3,000.
Some VPN companies make use of virtual servers. A virtual server runs on physical server hardware, but it is software-defined, letting several virtual servers run on a single physical server. Sometimes, virtual servers are configured to appear as if they are operating in a different country than the hardware on which they operate. This can be an issue if you’re concerned about the specific locations through which your data travels. It’s easy to see how this could become a problem if, for example, you think you’re connecting to a server in the privacy-friendly country of Iceland but discover that the server is actually someplace else—say, China.
A representative for IPVanish told me that the company does not use virtual servers and “owns the complete rack and stack wherever we have a point of presence.” The representative went on to explain that 5 to 10 percent of the time, IPVanish leases physical servers from a third party. Such lease arrangements involve vetting by engineers.
Your Privacy With IPVanish
When you use a VPN, it has as much insight into your internet activity as your ISP. That’s why it’s important to understand the information any VPN service may collect and how they use it. In general, the best VPN services will collect as little as possible, and share even less.
Some VPN services have been known to inject ads into your web browsing to earn a bit more cash. A representative for IPVanish assures me that the company does not use this practice.
One section regarding IPVanish’s use of aggregate data, however, does note that the company uses third parties to perform research on “aggregate or non-personally identifiable information” for internal marketing purposes. That’s not unusual, and the policy goes on to note that “we do not share your personal information with any third parties for their own marketing, advertising or research purposes.” However, I would like to see greater clarity about what this aggregate information contains.
Last, the legal jurisdiction under which the VPN company operates can dictate some of the company’s policies regarding personal information. In the case of IPVanish, it maintains its headquarters in the US, which does not have mandatory data retention laws. Some users, however, may be concerned about using products from the US after the ongoing revelations about mass spying operations carried out by US intelligence. It’s worth noting, however, that much of those intelligence operations were carried out at the network level; using a VPN would actually secure against some of this spying.
In general, I don’t feel qualified to make a judgment about the security implications of a VPN being based in a particular country. Instead, I encourage readers to educate themselves on the issues and go with a product with which they feel comfortable.
Hands On With IPVanish
The IPVanish application installed quickly and easily on my Lenovo ThinkPad T460sBest Price at Amazon running Windows 10.
The IPVanish app has kept its hacker-chic black-and-green color scheme from older versions, but the current iteration looks better and feels more substantial. It’s a much smoother experience than before, but it’s still not earning many points for looks, nor does it hold your hand. NordVPN has numerous advanced features, but it still manages to look friendly, while TunnelBear has hung its hat on the surprisingly cute bears that populate its interface.
Tabs down the side of IPVanish’s Windows app let you access account information, advanced settings, and a full server list. I especially like that the server list is searchable, and that it can be filtered by available protocol, country, and latency time. There’s also a map view, but this isn’t the default one. Other services with more emphasis on user interface design put maps at the forefront.
The main page lets you connect with a click, which I like. Surprisingly, many VPN apps don’t include a means to immediately get online and protected. Pull-down menus at the bottom let you select the country, city, and specific server of your choosing. However, it’s probably best to just select a country and let IPVanish choose the best options thereafter. The center of the screen shows a running chart of network performance, which is some tasty eye candy, and the bottom of the screen lists vital statistics like connection time, server, and protocol. IPVanish also has a minimized view, if you want to keep the controls close at hand but not filling up as much of your screen.
I like that the IPVanish app has lots of customization and advanced features—and that it keeps them hidden unless you need them. You can also have your IP address change automatically at a set interval. The Kill Switch feature blocks access to the web unless the VPN is connected, and the app can be configured to connect automatically on startup. Still, I would like to see IPVanish offer specialized servers, as NordVPN does, for activities like using a streaming video service. NordVPN even lets you connect to Tor via VPN connection, for additional anonymity.
IPVanish and Netflix
The location-spoofing abilities of a VPN make it a popular choice for accessing region-locked streaming content. For example: if you live withinthe US, you must sign up and pay for a CBS All Access subscription to watch Star Trek: Discovery. If you live outside the US, you can watch the same show on Netflix. In order to enforce these kinds of geographically sensitive deals, Netflix and other streaming services tend to block VPN users.
While using IPVanish, I found I was unable to access Netflix. This was while connected to a server within the US, which is doubly disappointing. NordVPN and KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, however, were able to sneak past Netflix’s guard. That could change at any time, but those are my picks for VPNs for watching Netflix.
Many VPN companies have begun including additional security features that go beyond what a VPN provides. Ad blocking and malware protection are typical additions, although I prefer to use standalone apps and services for protection in those departments. IPVanish doesn’t offer either of these features.
Notably, IPVanish does not offer additional simultaneous connections, dedicated IP addresses, or other network-based add-ons. NordVPN has a respectable list of options, but TorGuard VPN has a remarkable slate of static IP addresses of various flavors that are less likely to be blacklisted.
Speed Test Results
VPN services generally have some kind of impact on your web browsing. Usually, this means slower download speeds, slower upload speeds, and increased latency. This is especially true when connecting to servers in far-flung locales.
To get some kind of feel for what kind of impact a VPN makes on web browsing, I take a series of speed measurements using Ookla’s Speedtesttool. I then compare the average results without a VPN to results collected while the VPN is running and find a percent change. I do this twice—once with the VPN connected to a nearby server and again with the VPN connected to an Australian server and an Ookla test server in Alaska. The first is representative of typical VPN use, which uses nearby servers to prioritize speed. The second is more of a stress test, to get a sense of how the VPN performs when connecting over long distances.
Keep in mind that networks can change depending on the time of day, the number of people connected, and a host of other variables. You may find that your experience just doesn’t match my testing.
In the latency tests, I found that IPVanish increased ping time by 237.5 percent in the domestic tests and 300.9 percent in the international tests. The best score for the domestic latency tests goes to TorGuard VPN, which reduced ping time by 6.7 percent in my tests. TunnelBear had the best international latency test result; it increased latency by just 270.3 percent.
IPVanish redeemed itself in the all-important download tests. In the domestic tests, it had the second-best score, reducing download speeds by 4.3 percent. Only TorGuard had a better score, slowing speeds by only 3.7 percent. In the international download test, IPVanish lowered speeds by 61.3 percent, which is quite good in this test. The best score goes to AnchorFree Hotspot Shield Elite, which reduced download speeds by 39.9 percent.
IPVanish had the smallest impact on domestic uploads that I have yet seen, reducing upload speeds by only 2.9 percent. It performed well in the international test, as well, dropping speeds by only 97.6 percent. Private Internet Access had the best results, reducing speeds by a close 97.3 percent.
As it stands, I’m calling TorGuard the fastest VPN, on the strength of its excellent download-speed performance and low-latency connections. But IPVanish users shouldn’t fret. It performed quite well, and it’s unlikely to impinge on your internet experience.
IPVanish for Android
While we liked the simplicity of IPVanish’s VPN Android app, we must acknowledge that some people might be put off by its sparse design. NordVPN and TunnelBear do a far better job holding customers’ hands.
The IPVanish VPN Android app uses OpenVPN, our preferred VPN protocol. It also supports OpenVPN Scramble, which makes it harder for someone to try and block your VPN traffic. IKEv2 support is available, but only in beta. The app also lets you drill down into IPVanish’s full server fleet and select a specific server, although doing so is a bit tedious. We really like that this Android VPN app includes split tunneling, a feature we rarely see.
IPVanish for iPhone
When we last reviewed the IPVanish app for iPhone, we were impressed by the advanced tools that it included. However, we feel that its presentation leaves a lot to be desired, preferring instead the friendly TunnelBear. We are also surprised that it includes the option to exclude certain domains from VPN tunneling, an advanced feature, but also one of questionable utility.
The iPhone app includes an option to automatically engage the VPN when you connect to specific networks, but that seems backward to us. We’d rather have an opt-out list of trusted networks and automatically engage the VPN for everything else.
The IPVanish iPhone app supports the modern IKEv2 VPN protocol, as well as the older IPSec. We’re glad that it’s using new technology, but we’d like to see the developers take the same effort as competitors and include OpenVPN as well. Apple requires iPhone VPN apps that use OpenVPN to jump through more hoops, and more have started to do so.
IPVanish for Mac
We have yet to review the IPVanish Mac VPN app but will update this review once we do. As of this writing, we’ve given Editors’ Choice awards to three VPN apps for macOS: KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, NordVPN, and Private Internet Access.
Happily, IPVanish has a complete set of VPN protocols available for macOS users. You can create an encrypted tunnel using IKEv2, OpenVPN, or OpenVPN Scramble. It also includes the older IPSec and L2TP protocols.
Note that you have to download the IPVanish app from the company’s website. It is currently not in the macOS App Store.
IPVanish offers an excellent service at a slightly below-average price. It has a robust collection of servers offering unfettered, encrypted access to BitTorrent and P2P services, too. We particularly like the option to cycle IP addresses, which is rare among VPNs. It also performed well in our speed tests.
IPVanish finds itself stuck in an uncomfortable position. It’s not quite affordable enough to justify itself as a bargain, and it doesn’t have quite enough features to make it really stand out. But it’s still good enough to be listed among the best services we’ve tested. That said, we still prefer Editors’ Choice winners NordVPN, Private Internet Access, and TunnelBear for their breadth of service and value.
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