IPVanish VPN Review: good performance, but not the cheapest
IPVanish is a commercial VPN service based in the USA that has been established since 2012. There are desktop programs available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, as well as apps for iOS and Android, and also options to set up the service on various routers.
IPVanish at a glance
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Unlimited P2P traffic
- Unlimited devices
- Internet kill switch
- IPv6 leak protection
- DNS protection
- OpenVPN scrambling
- Wireguard protocol
- IP address cycling
- SOCKS5 web proxy
- 1,900+ servers in 75+ locations
- Not the cleanest track record for their claim of zero traffic logs
IPVanish is very similar to other VPN services, e.g. ExpressVPN or Private Internet Access, in how their services are offered, paid for, and managed. All features are the same regardless of which plan or subscription period you have, and the only differentiating factor is the price.
One month subscription is the most expensive way to get the VPN, with a current price as of the time of writing this of $10.99 USD per month. If you opt to pay for a year at a time, that price drops by 63% to $4.00 a month, or $47.99 for the first year, and then the normal price of $89.99 thereafter. The third option listed on the site is a two year plan, at the same price point of $4.00 a month for two years ($95.98) and then $89.99 thereafter. It should also be noted that IPVanish offers a discounted price of $3.20 per month to college students and professors who verify through the site ID.me.
There is no free trial for IPVanish, but rather a 30-day money-back guarantee if you sign up for a yearly or 2-year plan. The exception to this is accounts made through iTunes / the iOS application are not eligible, and refund requests must be handled by Apple.
IPVanish only offers payment via credit card or PayPal, which may be a turn-off to those looking for more anonymous or private payment methods.
IPVanish offers unlimited simultaneous device connections, unlimited bandwidth, and unlimited P2P traffic, though it does not have specific servers for P2P and so speeds can vary depending on server load.
IPVanish: clients and supported protocols
The IPVanish client displays a number of different pieces of information right on the front page, ranging from country, city and server selection boxes, time connected, protocol selected, data transfer rates in text form and a visual representation of the data transfer rates.
The default protocol for IPVanish is OpenVPN, which is recommended for the best protection against DPI (Deep-Packet Inspection), however the option to switch to other protocols such as the new kid on the block WireGuard, IKEv2 and others is easily done through dropdown menus.
Some protocols are unavailable on some clients, so it is recommended to check out the Protocols page to cross-reference with your system of choice.
IPVanish has servers in over 75 locations, with countries ranging from Albania, Canada, USA, Singapore, Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, and more.
IPVanish does not have specific servers for things like P2P traffic or Netflix connections, nor do they use double-connection servers; this limits the service somewhat. Services such as NordVPN or CyberGhost run specialized servers for streaming and other purposes.
IPVanish: privacy and security features
However, in 2016, Highwinds Network Group, the owners of IPVanish at that time, complied with a USA Department of Homeland Security request for information, providing numerous details that a company who claims not to log traffic would not have been able to provide, if they were keeping up with their promises, in order to help catch a child-pornography spreading person. As much as any decent person would want this person caught, it showed that IPVanish was indeed keeping some logs. However, IPVanish was later acquired by a different company in 2017, called Stackpath.
Stackpath CEO, Lance Crosby, posted the following in a Reddit thread that was talking about the previous issue:
“IPVanish has always marketed itself as a “no logging” VPN. At the time of the acquisition 2/6/17, the StackPath team and a third party performed due diligence on the platform. No logs existed, no logging systems existed and no previous/current/ future intent to save logs existed. The same is true today. We can only surmise, this was a one time directed order from authorities. We cannot find any history of logging at any level.”
The IPVanish Vice President of Product & Marketing, Jeremy Palmer, has been quoted as saying, "“IPVanish does not, has not, and will not log or store logs of our users as a StackPath company. I can’t speak to what happened on someone else's watch, and that management team is long gone. But know this – in addition to not logging, StackPath will defend the privacy of our users, regardless of who demands otherwise.”
So, whether or not IPVanish currently sticks to their 'no traffic logs' policy, or not, is something that could be a question that concerns those looking into potentially using their VPN services.
IPVanish has since been bought by another company in 2019, J2 Global, who just recently has changed their name to Ziff Davis. Ziff Davis owns other VPN companies and file storing services, such as StrongVPN, Encrypt.me and Sugarsync, and also own popular media sources such as PCMag and Mashable, shopping and coupon site RetailMeNot, and finally gaming sites Humble Bundle and IGN, just to name some popular brands.
On the security features side of things, IPVanish has a number of them in their arsenal:
- Internet kill switch - Automatically shuts off all networking and access to the public internet if disconnected from the VPN, when this is enabled. It should be noted, that even if you close the VPN software; if you have this enabled and you forget to disable it, all internet access will be cut off until you disable the feature -- this can be helpful for security sake, but just something you need to keep in mind if you suddenly realize you have no internet access when using this VPN service / feature.
- IPv6 leak protection - Prevents IP address leaks when using IPv6.
- DNS protection - IPVanish uses their own DNS when connected to their VPN services, helping to prevent DNS leaks.
- OpenVPN scrambling - Deep-Packet Inspection is possible by ISP's and other agencies using advanced technologies; OpenVPN protocol with scrambling helps to protect against this and ensure privacy, including things such as the Great Firewall of China.
- Wireguard protocol - A new up-and-coming protocol in the VPN world, boasting open-source code, significantly faster speeds as well as safer and more power saving than other protocols.
- IP address cycling - Each time you connect to a VPN server, it's most-likely that your IP address will be different, as well, IP addresses are shared, adding another layer of plausible deniability and privacy.
- SOCKS5 web proxy.
IPVanish: speed tests
To test the speed of IPVanish, first a base test was run without the service. The PC used was connected to a 250down/20up connection in Canada. Using speedtest.net for the test, the results were as follows:
Without the VPN, connected to a speedtest server in my city:
- Ping - 10ms
- Download - 245.13 mbps
- Upload - 20.00 mbps
Next, connecting to the VPN and letting it use the 'best available country', 'best available city' and 'best available server' settings, which lead to a server in the USA surprisingly, rather than servers in my own country of Canada.
I used Wireguard as my protocol for the following tests.
Result 1, connected to the "best" server selected by IPVanish in all categories, with the Speedtest server located in the same city:
- Ping - 26 ms
- Download - 237.57 mbps
- Upload - 18.01 mbps
An interesting note about this test, was Speedtest knew this IP was an IPVanish IP and listed it as such.
Result 2, I selected Iceland as my country of choice, and allowed IPVanish to select the best city and server, the speedtest server was located in the same city in Iceland:
- Ping - 131 ms
- Download - 107.39 mbps (I ran this test twice. I got over 200Mbps the first time, but did not screenshot it. Screenshot is from this lower-result).
- Upload - 6.77 mbps
Overall, very impressive speeds and very acceptable pings. A quick P2P test confirmed these speeds were all accurate, and I was zipping through downloads nearly as fast as if I hadn't been using the VPN at all. I personally would not use this VPN while gaming if I was connecting to any sort of international server, as the higher pings (>100) would likely adversely affect my gaming experience, but I would see no problem with using a local server whilst gaming, if someone had a need to do so.
IPVanish privacy tests
If your VPN is leaking your IP address or any DNS information, it's not doing it's job, so two tests were used to see how IPVanish performed.
DNS Extended Version Leak Test: PASSED (https://www.dnsleaktest.com)
IP Leak Test: PASSED (https://ipleak.net/)
There we no issues when running either test, and IPVanish passed flawlessly, even when using the extended test on DNSleaktest.
IPVanish unblock streaming platforms test
IPVanish has limited ability to unblock regionally locked content. There are no specific servers designed for this purpose, and many of the major streaming services have IPVanish IP addresses blocked or blacklisted.
Netflix and Amazon Prime were tested, and neither did very well. First, using a few Canadian IP addresses, both services detected the VPN. The same was when I started switching to American locations; I tried 10 different ones, two per state, and only one state and one server allowed me to access Netflix (I will not name the state or server however). So it should be noted that while the VPN has many many servers available, this could be a doubled edged sword; you may have to spend a long amount of time trying various servers out to get unblocked access to the streaming services that you want.
A look at the IPVanish Windows desktop application
Interacting with the Windows client is very straightforward, with everything in dropdown boxes or checkboxes, and a large visual representation of your traffic available in the center of the application window.
The settings page is also very simple, and easy to digest, giving you direct access to the various options and configuration changes available to you.
IPVanish is a strong contender by many for 'best VPN service' when it comes to speed, features, and easy of use. However, higher prices, and a stain on their record does warrant some extra thought when considering if IPVanish VPN is the right solution for you. As well, with IPVanish being based in the USA, it falls under American privacy laws, something else worth considering.
With all of that said, if you are looking for a VPN service that has a great many servers available from various locations around the world, very respectable speeds, even if they aren't the absolute fastest available, and you are not specifically using your VPN service for geolocation changing for streaming services such as Netflix, like accessing American Netflix from other countries, then IPVanish VPN may be a good choice. However, due to the lack of specific servers that are geared towards streaming services, users who are seeking a VPN to fill that need may struggle to be satisfied with the cat-and-mouse game of having to repeatedly try various server locations with IPVanish before finding one that allows them to access their streaming service of choice.
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