Review

IVPN Review


I must say that I am very impressed with IVPN. Although a little short on frills, it offers a no-logs VPN service that has all the most important things covered. It does not leak your IP address and it uses strong encryption. It was also, for the most part, insanely fast.
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Review of: IVPN
VPN by:
IVP
Version:
IVPN

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On February 27, 2017
Last modified:July 12, 2017

Summary:

In this IVPN review I find a Gibraltar-based VPN provider that keeps no logs at all, uses strong encryption, and is very fast.

In this IVPN review I find a Gibraltar-based VPN provider that keeps no logs at all. It is a little pricey for what is basically a fairly stripped-down VPN service, but what it does, it (by-and-large) does right. Importantly, it uses strong encryption and does not leak your real IP address. The real killer, however, is IVPN’s speed performance. Quite simply, it is among the best I have ever seen.

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs
  • Excellent encryption
  • Three simultaneous connections
  • Client has firewall-based DNS leak protection and kill switch
  • Blazing fast (mostly)
  • ConsCONS
  • Pricey
  • Windows client crashes a lot

Visit IVPN »

Pricing & Plans

As with many such services, IVPN offers a simple one-size-fits-all VPN package, which starts at $15 per month if paid monthly. Although prices drop to $8.33 per month if paid annually, this does place IVPN firmly at the pricier end of the VPN spectrum.

IVPN review pricing

IVPN offers a three-day free trial, but payment details are required in order to take advantage of this. You will be charged if you do not cancel before the three-day trial is over. In addition to this, IVPN offers a seven-day money back guarantee (from date of payment). A 30-day extended money back guarantee is available for technical issues.

IVPN accepts payment using credit/debit card, PayPal, or Bitcoins (via BitPay). With care, using Bitcoins allows you to pay for the service anonymously, but please always remember that IVPN will know your real IP address anyway.

Features

The following features are available to all users:

  • Servers in 12 countries
  • Up to three simultaneous connections (more available on request)
  • Port forwarding (via web interface or client)
  • Multihop VPN
  • OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec VPN protocols
  • Warrant canary
  • P2P is permitted

Servers are mainly based in Europe, but also in the US, Canada, and Hong Kong.

Multiphop (double) VPN

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

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

IVPN multihop

An excellent (and unique) feature of IVPN’s implementation of multihop VPN is that it allows you to double-hop through any two of its servers. Despite the name, though, it is not possible to hop through more than two servers.

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 multihop VPN using the same VPN service are rather limited. But I understand that this is not a view shared by everyone.

Visit IVPN »

Privacy

IVPN is incorporated in Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory (BOT). Gibraltar has no mandatory data retention laws, which allows IVPN to offer a fully no-logs-at-all VPN service.

We do not store any connection logs whatsoever. In addition we do not log bandwidth usage, session data or requests to our DNS servers…. Unlike many service providers, IVPN purposefully does not log any usage data associated with an account as we provide an unlimited and unrestricted quota free service.”

Which is great. A question mark, however, hangs over whether Gibraltar should be classified as a Fourteen Eyes spying alliance country. It is true that the UK has little direct influence over internal Gibraltar affairs, but as a BOT, Gibraltar does still lie under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United Kingdom.

It would, therefore, seem safest to assume that the UK can exert pressure on the Gibraltan government and its companies and institutions, should it wish to. Being based in Gibraltar is therefore probably safer than being based in a Fourteen Eyes country, but is not ideal.

It might be worth mentioning that when writing this review, the Windows client EULA contained some references to jurisdiction under US law. IVPN assures me, however, that this is not the case, and that the EULA has now been updated to make clear that IVPN is wholly under Gibraltar jurisdiction.

Security

For OpenVPN encryption, IVPN uses an AES-256 cipher with RSA-4096 handshake and HMAC SHA-1 hash authentication (control and data channels). A Diffie-Hellman exchange (DHE) introduces perfect forward secrecy PFS), with a new encryption key generated every hour.

OpenVPN Encryption
Cipher
AES-256
Data Auth
HMAC SHA1
Handshake
RSA-4096
Forward Secrecy
DHE
Logs & Legal
Connection
None
Traffic
None
Country
Gibraltar

This is excellent. And the website’s Qualys SSL report scores an A+ with PFS, which is also excellent.

I am a little dubious about the value of having a warrant canary, but am aware that others appreciate them.

The website

The IVPN website uses a smart grey, red and white theme. There is not a huge amount of information available, but what is there is informative, and answered most questions I had.

The website also includes a good introduction and general guides to how VPNs work, and I appreciate the lack of bombastic language falsely claiming that the service provides “anonymity”.

I also appreciate the clear Privacy Policy, which is written in plain English.

Support

Support is via a ticketed email system (web form available). IVPN promises response with 24 hours, but I generally received a full and knowledgeable answer within a couple of hours.

The website also features a Live Chat option, but it did not work when I tried it. IVPN tells me that “Live chat is an experimental feature we are testing at this time, we do no guarantee the availability of live chat”.

The Process

Signing Up

The only personally identifiable information asked for during signup is a valid email address. There is no reason this cannot be a disposable one. Once you have paid, you will receive an introductory email with your username (which can be changed) and a link to IVPN’s setup guides.

The IVPN Windows VPN client

IVPN windows 1

The Windows client is a rather unassuming looking app. The firewall, however, acts as both a kill switch and DNS leak protection, ensuring that internet traffic cannot enter or exit your PC except via the VPN tunnel

IVPN Windows 2

An unusual feature is the ability to leave the firewall on even when the VPN client is not running. This can help ensure that you never accidentally connect to the internet without the VPN running

IVPN Windows 4 (1)

You can change ports from within the client, and select an obsfproxy connection in order to help evade censorship

Obfsproxy is a tool designed to wrap data into an obfuscation layer, which makes it difficult to detect that OpenVPN is being used. It has been adopted by the Tor network, largely as a response to China blocking access to public Tor nodes. It is independent of Tor, however, and can be configured for OpenVPN (as it is here).

IVPN Windows 3 Multihop

As already noted, IVPN allows you to double-hop using any two of its servers

It might look a little plain, but the client gets the job done. And the firewall should ensure that you suffer no IP leaks when using the service (see test results below).

I did, however, find the client to be very unstable, and suffered numerous crashes while writing this review. On the plus side, this allowed me to confirm that the firewall kill switch works as advertised!

Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC and IPv6 Tests)

All tests were performed on my Virgin Media UK 50 Mbps/3 Mbps fiber connection, using the OpenVPN UDP protocol.

IVPN down

IVPN up

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

As we can see, transatlantic download speeds are very decent, although upload speeds are less so. Those results when connected to nearby servers in Europe, however, are fantastic! They are, in fact, some of the best results I have seen in four years reviewing VPN services.

IVPN leak results

As we can clearly see here, IVPN uses Google DNS servers. After carefully examining the log files, I can confirm that it proxies the DNS requests so they appear to come from IVPN and not users. I therefore I detected no IPv4, DNS or WebRTC leaks

Please note that Private Use RFC IPs are local IPs only. They cannot be used to identify an individual, and so do not constitute an IP leak.  Unfortunately, my ISP (Virgin Media UK) does not support IPv6 connections, so I am unable to test for IPv6 leaks at this time. This is a situation that should change in the near future.

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

Other Platforms

IVPN provides custom clients for Windows, Mac OSX, and iOS. It also provides various OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec setup guides for Windows, Mac OSX, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, DD-WRT routers and more.

Pre-flashed and pre-configured IVPN DD-RT routers are available from Flashrouters.

IVPN Review Conclusion

I liked

  • No logs
  • Excellent encryption
  • Three simultaneous connections
  • Client has firewall-based DNS leak protection and kill switch
  • Blazing fast (mostly)
  • Port forwarding
  • Supports Obfsproxy anti-censorship technology
  • US Netflix and BBC iPlayer not blocked
  • P2P: yes

I wasn’t so sure about

  • Pricey
  • I’m not convinced of the value of multihop VPN (but being able to use any servers for this is cool)
  • Gibraltar is much better than many places for privacy, but there are better

I hated

  • Windows client kept crashing

I must say that I am very impressed with IVPN. Although a little short on frills, it offers a no-logs VPN service that has all the most important things covered. It does not leak your IP address in use, and it uses very strong encryption.

It was also, for the most part, insanely fast. I have very rarely recorded results to the UK and to mainland Europe anywhere near as good. Results to the US were not quite as impressive, but are still very acceptable.

So IVPN gets a very strong thumbs up from me. Now, if only that damn Windows client would stop crashing!

Visit IVPN »


Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. You can now follow me on Twitter - @douglasjcrawf.

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15 responses to “IVPN Review

  1. Final note and update:

    Decided to ditch and cancel IVPN after attempting to use their new “chat” feature which apparently does not work even after being greeted and allowed to type info into the chat window as there was obviously no live person on the other end to respond. They have taken far too long to come up with a reasonable solution for the crashing client and/or diagnostics logs (that cannot be sent) issues so I am done with them. Have to now move on to greener pastures!

    Update:

    IVPN has just updated their website (i.e., new appearance and other links added) and take a look at their “About us” link at bottom of page under “COMPANY” as there are now details on the CEO and seven other employees. Please note the current software version is still 2.6.2 and nothing yet has been done to address the crashing client problem and diagnostics logs that cannot be sent.

    1. I only just checked their site. I’m liking the refresh!

      Personally, I have stopped using IVPN recently, not for any reasons that should cause anyone to stop using their service.

      I’m just trying out ProtonVPN. Since using ProtonMail (Which I LOVE), and the recent launch of ProtonVPN I decided to give their VPN service a try. If all goes well I will be staying with ProtonVPN. Although, for some reason, I want to keep using IVPN.

      Would love to see a ProtonVPN review from you legends (Douglas Crawford) here at BestVPN.

      Grace and Peace, John.

      1. Hi John,

        Yup. Look out for a ProtonMail review in the nearish future. I am going away on holiday soon, however, so there may be a bit of a delay.

  2. I still continue to use IVPN as my only VPN since it is the only one I trust in regards to its transparent privacy policy. Already have tried all of the top rated VPN’s and must say that IVPN works the best for me on a Mac so far minus the freezing / crashing client issue and not being able to send “diagnostics logs” from the client. It has a very simple but excellent interface and the firewall is an absolute must. Also, most importantly, there are no DNS leaks even when having manually selected your own DNS servers. Have not found a better VPN anywhere and hope they can soon correct the current problems.

  3. Douglas,

    There is yet another problem with IVPN and that is when you attempt to “Send Diagnostics Logs” from the client it generates a popup error message and the logs cannot be sent. Does not matter if the client is connected or disconnected as the error message is the same. Have reported this problem along with the crashing client issue. So, it stands to reason … what good are diagnostic logs if they cannot be sent?

    1. Hi VPN user,

      Hmm. It does seem the software is a little buggy. It nevertheless performs very well, and I detected no IP leaks.

  4. Yes, the IVPN client crashes on my Mac also as this happens when switching, scrolling, and/or selecting server locations as I get the spinning “beach ball” of death and when this happens there is no other option but to go to the Apple menu and select “Log Out Mac” and return to the desktop. Even attempting to “Force Quit” IVPN does not work since (and oddly enough) IVPN does not appear in the Force Quit list and therefore cannot be selected. Have contacted support and the head agent (John V.) says he has reported this problem to the development team although it cannot be replicated on all machines at present including his own as he says he is one of the lucky ones that has NOT encountered the issue. Also, note that I was not even able to take a proper screen shot of the “beach ball” of death that spins when the client freezes up as the ball itself will not appear in the screen shot (regardless of several methods I tried) so had to explain the problem in words without being able to document the problem.

    1. Hi VPN user,

      That is interesting, as this is a feature that also seems to affect the Windows client.

    2. Douglas,

      Will update here again after IVPN gets around to fixing this issue although was told they did not know as to how long that might take. IVPN is the only VPN that I use since they have one of the most transparent and best privacy policies. Is the Windows client still crashing as of now when you use IVPN and what could be causing this?

      1. Hi VPN user,

        I uninstalled the software after writing this review. That said, when my subscription with AirVPN runs out, I may consider switching to VPN instead for my personal VPN.

    Great review!

    I’m new to the whole VPN and privacy scene but I started with IVPN last year and have no desire to switch or try any other VPN service. My experience with them has been awesome. I don’t know what’s happening with your Windows client, mine has not crashed since I have started using it. I’m glad they finally released an app for IOS, I thought it was never coming haha. So for me this review just gave them a stamp of approval for continued use.

    Any chance you will do a bitcoin guide, much like the “The Ultimate Online Privacy Guide” or “VPNs for Beginners”? I know that one is a long shot because this site is “bestvpn”.

    I’ve learnt a lot about privacy from bestvpn.com and especially from you Douglas. One of my favourite sites to visit. You guys are awesome!

    All the best, John.

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks! I don’t know what was happening with the Windows client either, but it crashed pretty much every time I switched VPN servers. As you can see, however, I still very much liked the service despite this. It’s good to know, though, that it may just be an issue that affects me,

      Thanks also for mentioning the iOS app, as it is something I missed while doing the review (now added). It is a little old and defiantly needs a refresh, as things have changed since I wrote it, but I think my Buying Bitcoins to pay for VPN anonymously, a step by step guide might be what you are after.

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