Update June 2018: IPVanish has got into hot water for handing over logs it claimed not to keep to US Homeland Security in 2016. This situation is complicated by the fact that IPVanish is now run by a different company which disowns the actions of its past management. Please see here for the full story. Given the change of management, we must admit that we are not yet sure how best to respond to this news with regards to recommending IPVanish. Please watch this space.
IPVanish is a US-based VPN provider from Orlando, Florida. It is an established VPN service that is well known for providing a lightning-fast and reliable VPN experience. The VPN owns and controls its entire network of “Tier 1” servers. This is an advantage in terms of both performance and privacy – because it means that no third parties are involved in its server infrastructure.
IPVanish VPN has a massive network of servers: 1000 servers located in over 60 countries. What’s more, IPVanish is a zero-logs VPN that implements strong OpenVPN encryption (military grade). For this reason, IPVanish is considered outstanding for both data-intensive tasks (like streaming in HD or gaming) and privacy. When it comes to unblocking censored, geo-restricted – or otherwise-blocked website services – this VPN truly is fantastic.
IPVanish VPN has been around a long time and always performs superbly. However, we thought it was time to revisit this review to get an up-to-date picture of how IPVanish is performing in April of 2018. So, let’s dive right in and put IPVanish through its paces!
IPVanish only has one service plan, which can be purchased for three different subscription periods. Consumers are rewarded for committing for a longer period of time. Subscribers are given the option to get either a one month, three month, or yearly subscription.
A subscription to IPVanish is recurring. If you do not cancel the VPN at the end of your subscription period – you will automatically be billed the same subscription fee again.
All subscribers are given a seven-day money back guarantee to change their mind if they wish. This is even true of the one-month subscription.
Consumers can pay for IPVanish in a large number of different ways, which is awesome. Credit cards and PayPal are accepted as are some other virtual options. However, IPVanish does not accept Bitcoin payments (or any other cryptocurrencies).
Credit card payments are processed on behalf of IPVanish by the third-party payment handler Chase for most payments. WorldPay is used for some international payment types. Payments are also handled by Paypal and Apple if you purchase using these options.
These are reputable payment handlers. What’s more, having payments managed by a third party means that payment records and subscription records are kept at arm’s length from each other – which theoretically has some advantages.
IPVanish provides all the advanced VPN features you would expect to get from a top-of-the-range VPN service. These include:
Apps for Windows, Mac OS X, macOS, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire
Allowance of five simultaneous connections
Easy-to-use client interface
Unlimited data allowance and no bandwidth limiting
DNS leak protection
OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP encryption
Zero logs policy
Servers in 60 countries
A pool of more than 40,000 IP addresses across 1000 servers>
SOCKS5 web proxy
Accepts PayPal as well as credit cards
Seven-day money-back guarantee
IPVanish has in excess of 1000 servers located in 60 countries around the world. The company is extremely strong in Europe and the US – but also has servers in useful locations like Australia, Brazil, Japan, Asia, and South Africa.
IPVanish does not have servers in Russia. If you need a VPN to unblock Russian services (to unblock VK in Ukraine, for example). Or if you require Russian servers for privacy – you will need to look elsewhere. To be fair on IPVanish, many VPNs have decided to stop providing servers in Russia due to new laws that bring into question the privacy levels that can be promised on servers within the nation. So this is a valid omission.
In the USA, IPVanish has a whopping 418 servers in 17 cities – ideal for accessing NFL blackout games and other regionally restricted US content.
IPVanish has reliable software that is packed with advanced security features. Some of those features are particularly useful on mobile devices – such as the network block feature, which protects you against connections to unsafe open networks with no password requirements (which are sometimes set up in public places by hackers). And which your device could connect to automatically.
In addition it has a killswitch, DNS leak protection, Xor stealth mode (scramble), OpenVPN port selection, auto-connect, and launch at start up. A truly complete suite of VPN features!
Logs & Legal
IPVanish provides three different kinds of VPN protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP. PPTP is an outdated encryption protocol that is no longer considered secure and should never be used for privacy. Out of the three available protocols, we recommend that you stick to OpenVPN.
IPVanish implements Open VPN using an AES cipher. IPVanish implements AES with a 256-bit key, which is the strongest cipher used for VPN encryption today. Handshake, hash auth, RSA keys, and Perfect Forward Secrecy, are also important components of the overall encryption standard. So those must be analyzed too…
The weakest part of IPVanish’ OpenVPN encryption is the HMAC SHA1 handshake. However, thisdoes meet our recommended standards for privacy. Thus, all of the necessary components of the protocol on both the data and control channels are considered secure. Good news indeed.
To conclude: IPVanish is great for data security from an encryption standpoint. It even implements Perfect Forward Secrecy (DHE-2048). For a more detailed look at VPN encryption please read our guide here.
Being based in the US is enough to put some people off IPVanish. This is because being based in the US is not “ideal” for any company that provides a privacy service. Why? Because the US is the home of the CIA and the NSA – and is also a part of the 5 Eyes surveillance agreement.
In the US, firms can be served both warrants and gag orders, which means that they could be asked to hand over data without disclosing it to the public (this is a gag order). This is far from ideal. However, to make up for this fact, IPVanish implements an excellent zero-logs policy. This means that even if it was served a warrant it wouldn’t have anything to hand over to the authorities.
Despite this seemingly watertight solution, the question surrounding gag orders is still significant. Due to the Snowden revelations, we know just how invasive the US is. This does make it a hard nation to trust with citizen’s data. However, it is also true that many other nations also have similar gag/secrecy orders in place – so this is not a unique problem to the US.
As far as we know here at BestVPN.com, IPVanish has never had to go against its word to hand over logs to the authorities. As such, IPVanish is considered secure and is believed to be favorable for torrenting via P2P.
It is our belief that for most people IPVanish is going to provide more than adequate levels of privacy. Anybody who requires higher levels of privacy would probably be better sticking to Tor (not a VPN).
I checked the IPVanish website using Privacy Badger to see how much tracking it is doing. It detected 16 potential trackers, including Google analytics, spreedly, upsellit, hotjar, and doubleclick. This is nothing out of the ordinary and does not really pose any risks to the VPN service itself.
However, it is worth noting that there are VPNs out there that have as little as one tracker on their website, so 16 can be considered a high amount.
IPVanish has done a great job when it comes to design. The website is clean and extremely friendly on the eyes. The image imparted by the site is one of professionality, with a spotless elegance that is somewhat rare in the VPN industry.
The home page boasts of being “the world’s best VPN service” – a claim that can be thought to be pretty reasonable considering it is often at the top of our fastest VPNs page (we test the fastest VPNs three times a day).
VPN Setup Guides can also be located at the bottom of the page (as well as by clicking “Help” at the top of the page).
You can also access the IPVanish blog from the footer. This is an extremely valuable resource that is updated with posts on an almost daily basis. Topics focus on internet privacy and articles concerning VPNs.
I found the entire site to be extremely easy to navigate and packed with useful information about every aspect of the service.
The support department of IPVanish used to let down the service a bit. However, this is an area that IPVanish has been actively improving since we last tested it. IPVanish has added a live chat service to the member’s area and the price plans area of the site (for non-members to ask questions) – and is about to roll the live chat feature out sitewide. This means it will be available sitewide in the coming weeks.
This is a really valuable improvement to the service, which highlights that IPVanish is investing heavily in making its service better and better for its subscribers. I tested the live chat a number of times and always got a response right away. 10/10.
The site also provides an excellent FAQ page.
The FAQ can be searched and has instructions for most problems. This is a great resource, that is useful both as a stand-alone feature and as a place for live chat support to send subscribers to walk them through fixing problems. You can access support categories and useful setup guides, by scrolling down the FAQ page.
You may want to look at the Setup Guides once you have subscribed to the service, especially if you intend to make use of IPVanish’ native Amazon Fire TV app. Or if you want to set up your VPN for Kodi. It even has setup guides for OpenELEC, which means you can run it with Kodi on a Raspberry Pi if you want.
If you can’t find a solution to a problem, you can also elect to fill in a contact form to ask the support team a question. This is accessible through a link in the FAQ page, as well as in the site footer.
You will get a reply to your query via email. A reply to this email will come pretty quickly because support is now 24/7. Excellent customer service all round.
If you want to sign up to IPVanish VPN, you will need to navigate to the “Pricing” page. This page is accessible from the main menu of the site, or by pressing the “Start Now” buttons on the Home page (or beneath the description of the subscription plan that you want to get).
The sign-up form does not require much information. Just an email address and a password. The email address has to be valid because you will need to access your welcome email. However, you don’t have to use your regular email address: you can set up a “burner” email account under a fake name to communicate with IPVanish as privately as possible.
The IPVanish Windows VPN client
The app’s installer will put a shortcut for IPVanish on your Desktop. Click on this to start the VPN.
The first time you launch the VPN you will need to enter your username and password. However, the software remembers these credentials – so you won’t need to type them in every time you start it up.
The most important settings in the main “Quick Connect” tab, are the three server location selectors in the bottom right of the window – located just above the “Connect” button.
Clicking on those arrows will open up server drop-down lists. These allow you to select a country, city, and then a specific server. This is a high level of control that is very easy to customize compared to most other VPNs. You can also see all available servers using the “Server List” tab.
It is possible to re-order the list of servers according to response and load time, as well as in alphabetical order. If you click on the star symbol next to a server location, you mark it as a favorite. You can set up the app to only list the servers you have starred.
The Settings tab is divided into four pages: “GENERAL,” “CONNECTION,” “IP SETTINGS,” and “LOGS.” These tabs provide access to some important security features.
IPVanish can be set up to start when you turn on your computer. You can also ask it to connect automatically to either the last server you used, the fastest server, or even the fastest server in a particular country.
In the Connection tab, you can ask IPVanish to “Auto Reconnect”. We recommend you turn on “auto reconnect” and the “killswitch” even if you do not want the VPN to automatically launch when you start your PC. DNS leak protection can also be enabled here and should be used to ensure optimal data privacy.
The kill switch will stop you leaking un-encrypted data to your ISP (or other network admin) if the VPN connection drops out. The Killswitch works like a firewall – completely stopping any data from leaving your device outside of the VPN tunnel. However, it is worth noting that if the VPN crashes the killswitch crashes with it.
The “Block LAN traffic” option performs automatic WiFi protection. It prevents your laptop from connecting to open WiFi hotspots without your knowledge.
The obfuscation option further down the page ( “scramble” also known as “stealth mode” or “VPN cloaking”) will add an extra layer of security to your communications. This stops ISPs from detecting VPN use and evades ISP throttling.
This is an important feature if you intend to use IPVanish VPN in places like China, Iran, and Egypt (where OpenVPN traffic is blocked by ISPs). IPVanish implements Xor scramble stealth technology – for evading firewalls and Deep Packet Inspection. This is generally thought to be a reliable stealth technology (though it has received some criticism from OpenVPN’s developers).
“Active Protocol” allows you to select your preferred encryption protocol.
Having choices is nice, but we recommend you stick to OpenVPN. The option to select either TCP or UDP is superb. UDP (User Datagram Protocol) is the best option for most people because it is faster for streaming, gaming, and using real-time applications like Skype.
The IP Settings tab has a couple of features that some people might need, but most won’t use. Nevertheless, it is extremely nice to see IPVanish going the extra mile in terms of features.
The IP switcher can be used to periodically change IP address while connected to IPVanish. You can specify how often the address changes. This is a clever security feature, that some people might want to use. However, it does take a little time to switch IPs, and if you have the killswitch engaged (which you should if you use this feature) your net will cut out momentarily.
The DNS server settings can also be updated, but we generally recommend using IPVanish DNS servers as they are secure.
SOCKS5 is a versatile proxy that works with any kind of traffic. IPVanish is one of the few VPNs that provides a SOCKS5 proxy for free when you sign up to the VPN. IPVanish VPN also provides a number of excellent guides for using SOCKS5 (with Deluge or uTorrent, for example). The benefit of a SOCK5 proxy is fast speeds, but do bear in mind that it does not provide encryption like the VPN client.
Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC and IPv6 Tests)
We test IPVanish connection speeds three times a day using a unique server-based scientific speed testing method. For more information on how those speed tests work please read: VPN Speed Testing Done Right. As is always the case, IPVanish is currently performing excellently. It is one of the fastest VPN services available on the market. That is why IPVanish is so good for data-intensive tasks such as streaming in HD, gaming, and torrenting.
As you can see in the graph below, in the last two months IPVanish has been sandwiched in amongst the very fastest VPNs in the world – which all have similarly excellent speed results as each other. IPVanish currently has fourth-best average download speeds, but it is often first (and was as recently as toward the end of March)!
The DNS lookup time can slow down the process of fetching a page from a web server. IPVanish performed well in this area. The average speed is very fast, and it has a much better maximum lookup time than a selection of the world’s fastest VPNs.
IPVanish’s connection times put it in the top rank of VPNs. VPN connection times do not get any better than this!
As you can see, IPVanish scores extremely well in these tests and is one of the few VPNs that can claim to be one of the fastest in the world.
IP and DNS Leak Tests
I connected to one of the IPVanish London VPN servers to test for leaks using ipleak.net. I discovered no detectable IP Leaks or DNS leaks. My IP address correctly appeared in London as did the single DNS address. WebRTC leaks performed in Chrome also came back negative on my system.
My internet service provider does not use IPv6 addresses and so I was unable to test for IPv6 leaks.
I tested BBC iPlayer using a UK server – IPVanish failed to give me access. However, I spoke to IPVanish and they assured me that:
“BBC iPlayer works, but they’ve been aggressively targeting VPNs, so it does go down from time to time.”
The location checks for ITV and Channel 4 are not quite as thorough and both of those sites let me watch videos.
Next, I tried to use Netflix US using a US server in Miami and I was not allowed to watch videos. I contacted support via live chat and they told me that “Unfortunately, we have stopped supporting Netflix service.” ABC also spotted the VPN and I was unable to watch catchup shows. Both NBC and CBS let me watch shows.
Overall, I was pretty disappointed with not being able to get into these streaming services. This is pretty much the only thing that lets down the IPVanish service, but it might be a deal breaker for some people.
The custom IPVanish apps work well on all of the major operating systems.
Although the graphic above doesn’t list it, the macOS system is catered for. However, macOS computers and iOS versions later than release 10 don’t have access to PPTP (which if anything is good).
In addition, it is worth noting that the iOS version of IPVanish runs on IKEv2 encryption not OpenVPN. However, anybody wanting to connect via OpenVPN can do so using OpenVPN Connect software because IPVanish provides .ovpn config files in the member’s area.
I particularly liked the availability of a custom Amazon Fire TV app – this is a really unique feature that is still a rarity in the VPN industry. You can also install the VPN on flashed routers and set-top boxes, and IPVanish has setup guides to help you.
IPVanish is one of the best VPN services around and its prices are extremely reasonable. You get the choice of a massive number of server locations and a lot of advanced security features, such as a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and network blocking (to name a few). IPVanish has produced a superb app, which is easy to use and easy to setup. You don’t need any specialist technical knowledge to use IPVanish VPN.
Seven-day money-back guarantee
Servers in 60 countries
Allowance of five simultaneous connections
Easy-to-use apps for all platforms
Amazon Fire TV app
Great customer support and website resources
Live chat available on the sign-up page (and coming sitewide soon)
I wasn’t so sure about
Based in the US (but keeps zero logs)
Can’t get into Netflix US (and BBC iPlayer goes on and off periodically)
It is a shame that the IPVanish has given up fighting to keep Netflix available. However, unless this is a primary care – IPVanish is a superb lightning fast VPN that is extremely secure. The service offers outstanding protection for P2P downloading, internet telephony apps, online gaming, and access to geo-restricted websites all over the world. Well worth a test run using the money back guarantee!