Review

ibVPN Review 2017


There is much to like about ibVPN. For a very reasonable price you get a fully featured service (with Smart DNS thrown in for free with the Ultimate VPN plan). Few users are likely to be happy, however, with ibVPN’s speed performance.
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Review of: ibVPN
VPN by:
ibVPN

Reviewed by:
Rating:
3
On January 30, 2017
Last modified:February 24, 2017

Summary:

In this ibVPN review I find a low cost, fully featured service with much to recommend it. Slow speeds, however, a major issue.

ibVPN is a no logs Romanian VPN provider. As we shall see in this ibVPN review, there is much to admire about this low-cost service. Its software is very fully featured, and top-tier customers get an impressive Smart DNS service thrown in for free. However, disappointing speed performance will likely concern most users.

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs (at all)
  • Modestly priced
  • Good Smart DNS service
  • Servers in 47 countries
  • Fully featured software with per-app kill switch
  • ConsCONS
  • Poor performance
  • Windows client disconnected and crashed repeatedly

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Pricing and Plans

ibVPN offers three VPN plans, plus a Smart DNS-only plan. The Ultimate VPN plan costs $10.95 per month, or $4.83 per month if an annual subscription is purchased. All other plans cost $4.95 per month, or $3.08 if purchased annually.

A Business VPN plan is also available. This is basically the Ultimate VPN plan but with more simultaneous connections. Prices start at $13.95 per month ($8.32 if paid annually) for five simultaneous connections, going up to $44.95 per month ($33.32 when paid annually) for 20 simultaneous connections.

ibVPN review pricing

A six-hour free trial is also available. This provides the full benefits of the Ultimate plan for its duration. In addition to this, ibVPN offers a 15-day money-back guarantee.

The following payment methods are accepted: Avangate (recurring and one-time payments – Alipay, WebMoney, iDeal, and credit card), PayPro (recurring and one-time payments – credit card and PayPal), Payza, WebMoney, AstroPay, Western Union, and Perfect Money.

ibVPN also accepts payment in Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies (Litecoin, Blackcoin, Dogecoin, and Ripple), which can help to improve privacy.

Features

The Ultimate VPN plan offers the following features:

  • Servers in 47 countries
  • P2P: yes
  • Three simultaneous connections
  • Proxy servers in all locations
  • Socks5 proxies
  • Support for OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, SSTP, SoftEther, and IPsec VPN protocols
  • Full access to the Smart DNS service (more on this later)
  • DoubleVPN
  • Tor over VPN

The cheaper VPN plans are limited to just one connection at a time, and do not have access to all servers (44 countries for the Standard VPN plan, and nine for the Torrent VPN plan). They also have no access to Smart DNS or regular proxy servers, although Torrent VPN users can use socks5 proxies.

P2P is not permitted on the Standard plan, but is allowed on the Torrent VPN plan (of course!).

Double VPN

This basically allows you to “chain” VPN servers, so that your data is routed between two or more VPN servers as it travels between you and the internet.

Your PC/device -> VPN server 1 -> VPN server 2 -> Internet

Such chaining can provide some security benefits, but will always result in a major loss of speed. As I argue in this article, I think the privacy/security benefits of “double-hop” VPN are rather limited. But I understand that this is not a view shared by everyone. As we can see a little later in this review, a number of Double VPN sever options are available.

Tor over VPN

Another new feature is Tor over VPN. For a full discussion on the pros and cons of this, please see here. In this configuration, you connect first to an ibVPN server, and then to the Tor network, before accessing the internet:

Your computer -> VPN -> Tor -> Internet

ibVPN achieves this by transparently routing your data from the VPN tunnel to the Tor network. This means that your entire internet connection benefits from Tor over VPN.

This setup does offer some privacy and security advantages, but a similar effect can be achieved simply by using the Tor Browser while connected to the VPN. Crucially, such a setup is much more secure than the method offered by ibVPN.

Tor over VPN (however you do it) will seriously slow down your internet speeds, as you get the combined hit of using both the Tor network (which is very slow) and the VPN. ibVPN currently offers Tor over VPN servers in the Netherlands, Singapore, and the US.

Visit ibVPN »

Privacy

ibVPN does not collect or log any traffic or use of its Virtual Private Network service. We cannot relate any specific activity with any specific user. If any legal notices are forwarded to our legal department we will comply with that notice. However, we cannot be compelled to hand over information which we do not have.”

This is great. ibVPN is based in Romania, which had rejected the EU Data Retention Directive even before it was struck down by the European Court of Justice. Romania is also comfortably outside the direct area of influence of both the NSA and GCHQ.

So on the privacy front, ibVPN does very well.

Security

OpenVPN connections are secured with an AES-256 cipher and HMAC SHA384 hash authentication. Since first publishing this review, ibVPN have updated handshake encryption to RSA-2048 and data channel encryption to AES-256.

OpenVPN Encryption
Cipher
AES-256
Data Auth
HMAC SHA384
Handshake
RSA-2048
Forward Secrecy
DHE
Logs & Legal
Connection
None
Traffic
None
Country
Good

This addresses my earlier criticisms. Perfect forward secrecy is provided courtesy of Diffie-Hellman Exchange (DHE) keys. I am pleased to say that ibVPN now uses a  very strong encryption suite.

Please see VPN Encryption Terms Explained for more details on the terms used here.

 

The Website

The website design looks smart, and avoids making some of the more bombastic (and inaccurate) claims found on many providers’ pages. Although technical details are a little light on the ground, FAQs, a knowledge base, and a forum provide most of the information that mainstream users should require.

ibvpn server list

This server list is not only quite good-looking, but rather useful. All IPs are shared, but whether you receive a static or dynamic IP depends on which server you connect to.

It is also good to note that the terms of service and privacy policy are clear and are written in plain English. A blog is available, which mainly highlights features and promotions related to the ibVPN service.

Support

ibVPN offers “24/7” live chat support, which I found knowledgeable and helpful. Ticketed email support is also available. If you require additional help, it is possible to schedule an appointment to receive remote assistance from the support team. I have not tested this, but it is a great offer.

The Process

Signing Up

Other than a valid email address and any payment details, no personal information is required. You can therefore sign up “anonymously” using a disposable password and one of the many cryptocurrencies that ibVPN accepts. Please remember, though, that ibVPN will always know your real IP address.

As previously noted, you can sign up for a six-hour free trial. No payment details are required for this. Once this time is over, you will receive an email inviting you to upgrade to a premium plan.

The ibVPN Windows Client

ibvpn servers 2

The Windows client looks pretty smart, and is packed with features. I did notice, however, that changing servers often caused the program to crash, so it is better to disconnect before reconnecting to another server.* Notice also the list of Double VPN servers.

ibvpn protocols

By default, protocol selection is “automatic.” From the log files, it is clear that this means that the very insecure PPTP protocol is used by default, followed by L2TP/IPsec should that fail (as it did in my case). I recommend changing to OpenVPN immediately! For the difference between UPD and TCP please see here.

ibvpn privacy

I have no idea why the DNS leak options are disabled by default, but you should also turn them on immediately. It is good, however, that they exist.

ibvpn kill swich 1

A great feature of the ibVPN client is the per-app and per-process kill switch. This requires a little setting up, but is more sophisticated than the more common whole-system kill switches.

Note, however, that the kill switch works by closing the specified programs in the event of VPN failure. This is not as secure as a firewall-based solution, which prevents any connections outside the VPN tunnel.

ibvpn customization

Various customization options are available.

Overall, this is a fully featured client. I am a little concerned, however, by the fact that it defaults to weak VPN protocols and no DNS leak protection. These can be changed/turned on, but less techie users are unlikely to do so.

Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 Tests)

All tests were performed using my Virgin UK 50 Mbps/3 Mbps fiber connection. I used the OpenVPN-UPD protocol.

When I connected to some VPN servers listed as 100% free, I got no internet connection at all. I therefore tested servers under load (lowest for each location) in order to ensure that I could connect to the internet.

ibvpn down

ibvpn up

The graphs show the highest, lowest and average speeds for each server and location. See our full speed test explanation for more detail.

The download results are notably poor. It is also worth noting that I suffered an unusually large number of VPN disconnects while testing the service.*

ibvpn IP leaks

I detected no IPv4, DNS or WebRTC leaks (if DNS protection was enabled in the client). This is good.

Unfortunately, my ISP (Virgin Media) does not support IPv6 connections, so I am unable to test for IPv6 leaks at this time. This is an issue that BestVPN.com is working on finding a solution to.

Good news is that both US Netflix and BBC iPlayer work when connected to suitable servers.

Other Platforms

ibVPN has custom apps for Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Android. In addition to the standard “all-in-one” app, Mac users can also use a new “quick connect app.” This is less fully featured than the all-in-one app, but is very easy to use.

Manual setup instructions are also available for a wide range of platforms and devices.

The Android App

ibVPN Android

I don’t see why a VPN app needs permission to access my photos/media/files.

ibVPN Android settings

The app uses OpenVPN, which is good. Port selection is a nice feature, although there is no kill switch.

I detected no IP leaks using the Android app.

Other Services

Smart DNS

ibVPN offers a Smart DNS service, which is also bundled with the Ultimate VPN plan. This does nothing to improve your security or privacy, but enables geo-spoofing by resolving your DNS requests at a specified location. This makes it ideal for streaming geo-blocked content.

No encryption/decryption is involved, and the DNS translation is pretty much instantaneous. This means that Smart DNS services suffer fewer buffering issues than when using a VPN for streaming (although distance can still cause problems).

ibvon smart dns

Another advantage of Smart DNS is that it can be configured on any internet-capable device, not just ones that can run VPN software. This means that you can use Smart DNS on your smart TV, games console, and Roku (among others).

ibVPN’s Smart DNS unlocked both US Netflix and BBC iPlayer when I tried it.

Browser Extensions

ibVPN users can also install browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, which proxy the browser connection.

ibvpn browser extension

I detected no DNS leaks while using the extension, but did see a WebRTC leak. US Netflix was not available, but I am pleased to report that BBC iPlayer was.

ibVPN Review: Conclusion

I liked:

  • No logs (at all)
  • Modestly priced
  • Good Smart DNS service
  • Servers in 47 countries
  • 24/7 support
  • Fully featured software with per-app kill switch
  • P2P: yes
  • Three simultaneous connections
  • Socks5 proxies
  • US Netflix and BBC iPlayer available
  • Good mobile apps
  • Double VPN

I wasn’t so sure about:

  • Defaults to weak VPN protocols and no DNS leak protection
  • Tor over VPN (using the Tor Browser over VPN is safer)

I hated:

  • Poor performance
  • Windows client disconnected and crashed a lot*

There is much to like about ibVPN. For a reasonable price, you get a very fully featured service (with Smart DNS thrown in for free with the Ultimate VPN plan). I detected no IP leaks while using the service, and although it’s not firewall-based, I like the per-app and per-process kill switch.

I do wish the Windows client was a little more stable*, but am very pleased to note that both the VPN and Smart DNS service successfully unblocked US Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

The only real problem is ibVPN’s speed performance results. Few users are likely to be happy about their internet connections being slowed down to such an extent.

*This article has been updated to include information on improved encryption and new features available to users of the service. ibVPN also assures me that its updated All-in-One Windows client fixes the stability issues I encountered, but I have not tested this yet.

Visit ibVPN »


Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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