IPVanish Review – Easy to Use
IPVanish VPN Review
Excellent for Torrenting, but What About Streaming?
Pricing and Features
IPVanish has a reasonably simple and straightforward pricing scheme with only two options in each category. They provide their basic VPN service or their VPN with 500GB of cloud storage. If you choose the second option, the storage is available across all devices. Let’s start with the basic VPN service.
The first option is a monthly plan in which they will bill you $3.49 for the first month and $9.99 for the months after that. Next, the yearly plan starts at $2.62 each month for the first year, totaling$31.49 and then $89.99 for any year after that.
For the VPN plus storage option, it is only slightly more expensive. The monthly option starts at $3.84 the first month and $10.99 after that, and the yearly service runs $2.92 per month for the first year, then $99.99 after that. With a total of four options, there isn’t much choice between the services, but the prices are transparent and, for the first year, are relatively low.
Compared to the industry standard for $10.10 per month, the first year of the VPN is relatively cheap and remains standard for the years after. Many other services that charge at or more than the industry average also offer plenty of extra features, making it worthwhile. So how does IPVanish stack up?
On the surface, IPVanish offers few extra features other than their standard VPN protection. While their storage option is relatively cheap, it remains a mystery why they feel the need to price their service around the standard rate when offering more minor services. Compared to a similar offering, they seem rather expensive. For example, Mullvad is a relatively bare-bones VPN service, but they are only charging $5.63 each month regardless of how long you sign up.
While IPVanish is not extremely expensive, if price a significant concern for you, you might want to look into some fee options, such as TunnelBear or ProtonVPN. TunnelBear has a free subscription model. However, they will cap your data at just 500MB each month. Additionally, ProtonVPN has a free option, with no data limits to subscribers but only through their browser app.
When it comes to payment options, IPVanish has the standard options of using a credit card or your PayPal account; however, they lack the anonymous payment methods. They do not offer Bitcoin, gift cards, or crypto payments that other services utilize, so you are out of luck if you are trying to avoid giving out your billing information. This is a weak point in the IPVanish service, and we hope that they upgrade their offerings shortly to match the competition.
One area where IPVanish has provided an upgrade, however, is their simultaneous device connection policy. In the recent past, they only allowed ten devices, which is more than some but out of touch with the premium services. That is until they revamped this policy to lift all restrictions on the number of devices you can connect. That means you can accomplish more for less on IPVanish and not worry about any conditions when connecting.
Almost every VPN service will allow P2P file-sharing or connection to the BitTorrent network; however, many of these services will only relegate these connections to specific servers. If you try to avoid switching to a particular server just to torrent, you will not need to worry when using IPVanish. They allow P2P connections and BitTorrent traffic on all of their servers and make no restrictions.
Additionally, some other VPNs block ads from the network altogether. As far as we can find, IPVanish does not offer any ad blocking services from their VPN connections. Another area where IPVanish might fall short is their lack of multihop connections or access to the Tor network. These are features that are becoming more common with other VPNs, so it is a shame to see that they aren’t included with the IPVanish service.
VPN Protocols and Options
When it comes to establishing a safe VPN connection, there are several protocols to choose from. When you are looking for speed, reputation, and reliability, there is no better choice than OpenVPN. This protocol has become so popular because it is an open-source project. This meanest that the code is scoured continuously for vulnerabilities by a variety of different users.
Luckily, IPVanish supports OpenVPN with both TCP and UDP and IKEv2, which is another solid choice. If none of those protocols interest you, you can also use the legacy protocols for SSTP or L2TP, and however since these are used less and less, they should be used as a last resort.
While OpenVPN has become an industry-standard, there is one newcomer protocol that stands to take the reigns. This protocol is known as WireGuard, which is also an open-source protocol. While it is relatively new, it seems more widespread adoption as the safest and secure option. Unfortunately, IPVanish does not currently support the WireGuard protocol. However, we can safely predict that it will be added shortly.
It should be noted that many current developers tend to exclude the OpenVPN protocol in their iOS apps since Apple scrutinizes these types of apps very harshly. IPVanish has also chosen to exclude OpenVPN as an option for their iOS devices, instead only including IKEv2 connection protocols.
Server Locations and Server Options
When it comes to choosing a quality VPN, its server fleet and how they operate are crucial. In most cases, companies that offer geographic diversity from their server locations are preferred. When a company provides servers all over the globe, there are plenty of options for location spoofing, as well as the guarantee that you will be able to find a nearby server from your current location. Nearby servers often provide the most stable and reliable connections compared to those far away.
IPVanish offers a host of servers spread out across 55 countries, which is a marked improvement from the year before. However, it is still a bit short compared to other more established companies. For example, ExpressVPN offers servers in 94 countries. One area where IPVanish shines is their inclusion of servers in lesser represented regions such as South America and Africa. IPVanish does not provide servers in locations such as Russia or Turkey, which are known for their oppressive internet regulations; however, they offer a server located in the often policed Hong Kong.
The number of servers a company has is essential for several reasons. First, the server number is often linked to how many subscribers a company has. The more servers a company has, usually, that means the more subscribers they have as well. While this is a mark of popularity, it is not always a mark of quality service. In the case of IPVanish, they offer a respectable 1,300 servers, which makes it the middle of the road. Compared to giants such as ExpressVPN and TorGuard, which boast over 3,000 servers, it seems to fall flat.
But what about IPVanish’s virtual servers?
A virtual server is software that runs on a physical server to represent a different physical location. That means that several location servers can be represented by just one physical server. The “virtual” server is simply configured to appear as if it were running in a different location than it is.
In most cases, virtual servers are not an issue, and almost every company uses them. However, many users are concerned about this practice as it means that your data is traveling to a different place than the server that it is passing through. Companies use these servers to quickly adapt their server loads and locations to meet their users’ demands. Additionally, many of these virtual servers are used to represent countries that it would be unsafe to house physical servers due to internet and privacy restrictions.
Most users agree that virtual servers are an acceptable practice as long as the company is transparent about how many they have and how they are being used. In our investigation, this is not a problem for IPVanish. They are clear and upfront because they don’t utilize any virtual servers at all.
So if you are concerned about where your data is being routed, with IPVanish, what you see is what you get.
Your Privacy and IPVanish
When you choose a new VPN, you need to know that you can trust the company and its services. In reality, a VPN company can see as much of your information and internet activity as your ISP. You need to know that your VPN service will respect your privacy, and they need to be clear on what information they collect and how they use it. In most cases, the less information a company collects, the better. That way, it is less likely they will be sharing anything important.
When it comes to IPVanish and its privacy policies, we were a bit disappointed that it was such a dense read. The procedure itself is quite lengthy, but the overall concepts were easy enough to understand. One of our favorite privacy policies is that of TunnelBear’s. It is short, simple, and easy to read. We hope that more and more companies will begin to model their policies after the one that TunnelBear has published.
These are all great things to hear when talking with a company representative. The same representative also stated that the company only makes money from their customer subscriptions and never sells any data. They also provide a level of transparency by publishing a list of all of their third party partnerships, as well as an option to opt-out of any of these options should you be concerned about their privacy.
The company IPVanish operates under the holding company called Mudhook Marketing, LLC. Mudhook is also owned under the umbrella of NetProtect, which is also a subsidiary of J2 Global, Inc.
IPVanish is wholly based in the United States, and a company representative made the statement that they do respond to valid law enforcement requests. Still, they do not keep any user data. In the case of a law enforcement request, they will simply have nothing to turn over since they do not own any records of activity logs.
Many VPN companies also use a foreign base of operations to add another layer of distance between the company and any law enforcement requests. Also, many companies are entirely operated in an unfamiliar location to avoid any confrontation with law enforcement or any intelligence agencies that might try to request user data. Users should always read up on the company and make an educated assessment on whether or not their data is safe in certain jurisdictions.
IPVanish does own most of their physical hardware. However, they do lease some of their servers from third parties in several locations. They have made concerted efforts to stop any unwanted access to the server infrastructure. One of these efforts includes the deployment of actions or authentication, which requires approval from several different individuals to make any code changes.
That is a great security measure and means that the infrastructure is safe from any hacks or brute force attacks. It is also worth noting that most other companies have also taken similar steps to secure their customer’s data from unwanted prying eyes. This security level has become increasingly necessary in the VPN industry as several major players have suffered substantial data breaches at the hands of hackers. These attacks have also led many companies to switch to RAM only servers, which add another protection level from tampering or law enforcement.
Many VPN companies have also begun commissioning audits that third parties perform to increase their level of trustworthiness. These audits allow for an unbiased and detailed analysis of a company’s security and pinpoint any weak points.
Companies such as NordVPN and TunnelBear both publish annual reports of their audits for their customers to see. Unfortunately, IPVanish has not commissioned any third-party audits at this point. However, a company representative has stated that the company regularly undergoes its internal audits.
Another unfortunate aspect of IPVanish is that they do not issue any sort of transparency report. Usually, these reports will outline any law enforcement interactions and give details about their canary policy. IPVanish also does not have a canary warning, which will indicate to their users that they have had a request to turn over information to a law enforcement entity. We hope that IPVanish will see the benefits of issuing such reports and consider publishing them in the future.
Hands-On With IPVanish
To get a better feel for the installation process and overall app layout, we installed the IPVanish Windows client on the most recent update of Windows 10.
The app interface has a stylized, hacker-esque feel with its black and green color schemes. While it will remind you of the matrix, it is not overly done. The service itself was quite responsive in all of the tests we performed. However, for more recent users, the number of pulldown menus might seem a bit intimidating. Overall, the navigation is simple and relatively self-explanatory.
The bulk of the app is centered around a detailed chart that displays the online traffic while connected to a specific server. Some may find this chart helpful, but for many, it is just decoration. There is a big green “connect” button in the upper-righthand corner, which you can press to connect immediately to the nearest server. The simple connect button is highly appreciated and makes it easy and straightforward for first-time users to connect right away.
If you access the pull-down menus located on the bottom, you can select your server down to your chosen country and city. By default, these menu options are set to the “Best Available,” However, you can select that manually if you want more customized options.
The console side also features several tabs that will let you find information about your account, a complete server list, and the advanced settings. It is a great idea to make the server list fully searchable, and it can even be filtered by the latency time, country, or available protocols.
To the right-hand side, you will notice a number that shows all of the servers available in a given country and a series of dots that represent latency. If you hover your mouse over any of these tabs, you can also find out each server’s speed. When you click on your selection, the section will expand and show server information such as the ping time, load percentage, or specific servers. Most casual users will probably not need such advanced features, but it is always good to know they are there if needed. If you find a server that you like or use often, you can add it to your favorites list to connect later.
The console also features a map; however, this feature is not visible by default. Most other services that opt for a simplistic user interface usually put the plan in the forefront so that users can connect just by clicking in a region. The map is also helpful to identify nearby alternatives if you are unable to connect to your first choice.
Besides selecting the individual VPN protocol you are using, the app itself offers little to no customization. It does feature a handy killswitch that functions to block all web connections unless that VPN is active. The app can also be set to load upon startup.
The app allows you to toggle VPN access to LAN traffic from on to off, which will enable you to communicate freely with other devices on your network. This can be a handy option if you are looking for a VPN that offers complete control over your network and network settings. When you access the advanced features, you will see port forwarding options and other protocol options. However, they do not offer many advanced options compared with a highly customizable app like the one provided by Private Internet Access.
Lastly, to see if the VPN successfully stopped any DNS leaks, we put it through a DNS leak test. We discovered that IPVanish does keep all ISP information private and pass the DNS leak test with flying colors through our testing. You can safely use IPVanish knowing that your ISP information is safe and protected.
IPVanish with Netflix
One of the biggest draws of using a VPN service is to unlock regional content from streaming services. The ability to spoof your location to a place that you are not physically located opens up a whole new world of content. It allows you to access content in different languages as well. Since these streaming services have contracts where their content can be streamed, they tend to protect it with vigor. Unfortunately, that means that they often block VPNs from working around their region locks.
With IPVanish VPN, there is some good news and some bad news. First, the good news. We were able to unblock Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, and Disney+ with ease. The bad news is that we had some trouble unblocking BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime.
When you are using a VPN to unlock content, the workarounds can be revoked at any minute. You never know when a streaming service will block your connection and how long it will take the VPN service to work it out. Luckily with the primary streaming services, we had no issues using IPVanish.
Beyond the VPN
In addition to their spoofing services, many companies have also begun to include extra security features to keep their users safe. Many companies contain ad blockers, static IP addresses, and even malware blockers as add-ons to their service. Unfortunately, IPVanish is not one of these. They do not offer any extras with their service other than their storage service to pay extra to access.
If you are looking for a VPN with plenty of extras, TorGuard offers a static IP and several other addons. TunnelBear provides a password manager called Remembear and Nord uses their NordLocker to lock encrypted files. Hopefully, IPVanish will see the advantage of offering their users some extras and create these to entice more people to sign up.
Speed Test Results
It goes without saying that when you are using a VPN, your speeds will be slowed down at least a little. The same goes for upload speeds since you are distancing yourself from your ISP. To test how much these speeds are impacted when using IPVanish, we put it to the test. For this test, we are using the downloadable windows client on Windows 10. We are testing the service using Ookla’s speedtest.net.
For our first test, we will run the speed test without turning the VPN on. Here are the results so we can make a comparison to the IPVanish service:
Next, we tested the service using the default “connect” option, which will connect us to the closest server. Here are the results:
As you can see, the results are relatively decent. Our ping increased, and our download speed went down (barely), but our upload speed increased. So far, so good. Next, we tested the server when connected to the United States. Here are the results:
It appears that we connected to an outstanding server on the West Coast of the US. Our ping went up, but both our download and upload speeds improved. Keep in mind that these results change from day to day and the time of day they are tested. Overall, these are decent speeds, especially considering the price.
According to our other tests, the fastest VPN to date is Hotspot Shield, which has the most negligible impact on our speeds. Remember that speed alone doesn’t make a great VPN and is just one factor that should be considered before you make a purchase.
IPVanish on Operating Systems
IPVanish can be configured manually to connect to their VPN service on almost any device. However, many users prefer a standalone native app that is easy to install and connect. IPVanish offers apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android devices. Unlike many of their competitors, IPVanish does not offer any browser plugins. Surprisingly though, they do provide a standalone app for Amazon Fire TV.
If you have any issues installing these apps, they are well documented on their website for all devices. They even have sources for routers and Windows phones. Putting your VPN directly on your router is an excellent option since it will automatically protect any connected devices to the network. All the traffic going through these devices is also covered. If that sounds like too much work, you can even buy a router already configured with the VPN.
IPVanish is a reliable VPN service that provides excellent value for the price. The price is lower than average. It offers unlimited device connections and allows access to over 1,300 in 55 different countries. With geographic diversity, it is easy to find a nearby server to connect to, and the speeds are surprisingly fast.
The app is a little out of date stylistically, but it comes with all of the basic features you come to expect from a VPN. They are relatively straightforward on their privacy stances and offer reasonable protection for their users. They should provide a bit more documentation as well as pursue a third-party audit.
Overall, IPVanish is a solid choice if you are looking for a standard VPN service with no frills at an affordable price. If you are looking for a service with more extras or a lot of customizable options, your money might be better spent elsewhere.