IPVanish is a VPN provider that sets itself apart from many other US based companies by offering a very high degree of anonymity to its users. It also offers a truly international service, drawing on over 15 years’ experience in the network management and IP services business industry to offer servers in 41 countries (including North Africa, India and the far East). In our tests it performed extremely well and provided a very polished and professional experience that left us feeling impressed. In fact, the only real niggle about their service that we could make was regarding their retention of users’ email addresses for (their own) marketing purposes.
Pricing & Features
IPVanish offers a one-size-fits-all package, with reductions for bulk purchases. Additional reductions are also available at the time of writing (see below), but we have no idea for how long.
For your money you get a choice OpenVPN, L2TP and PPTP protocols, unlimited bandwidth and choice of over 90 servers in 41 countries (resulting in a possible 3500+ IP addresses). In addition to this, all servers support both TCP (more reliable) and UDP (faster) versions of the OpenVPN protocol.
Although no free trial is on offer, there is a 7 day money back guarantee.
Website & Customer Support
The IPVanish website is a professional affair: attractive, well laid out and featuring plenty of information on the benefits of VPN and IPVanish’s own services. In addition to this, there is a fairly busy and active forum and a blog which updated every couple of days and discusses VPN related issues and news.
Customer support is available via email (with a support form), or live chat during regular Eastern US business hours.
We’ve created a video review for you to see exactly how IPVanish works.
A US based company, IPVanish is not required by law retain logs of users’ online activities and, unlike some other US VPN providers, does not do so. They do keep a timestamp of when a connection is started with them, the IP address used for the connection, and the number of bytes transferred, but not what users get up to. This level of security is further backed up by the use of shared IP addresses’, which make individual identification impossible. The only caveat is that IPVanish will use your email address to offer services and other promotional related stuff, although they promise not to pass in on to a third party.
In terms of technical security, all users have access to OpenVPN encryption, which is the most secure type generally available, although 128-bit PPTP and L2TP encryption can also be used for times when OpenVPN is not practical. Although not mentioned on the website, we were pleased to learn from the customer support team that the OpenVPN encryption is 256-bit, which we would prefer more VPN providers to support as standard.
With no logs kept and 256-bit OpenVPN encryption as standard, IPVanish ticks all the important security boxes, although support for anonymous payment by Bitcoin would have been a nice cherry on top.
Signing up for IPVanish is a very easy process, with only a valid email address and payment details required and it only takes seconds for confirmation etc. emails to come through, although you are asked to validate your email address before registration is completed. There are a good number of payment options available, although as noted earlier, unfortunately no Bitcoin.
The Windows VPN client
Once the VPN client is downloaded you are presented with a Wizard which holds your hand as you choose how you want it to behave.
The client itself is a fairly simple affair, but allows you to easily select the server and protocol you desire, and the inclusion of Ping times to different servers helps you determine which is the fastest (as does the list of servers showing how busy they are which available on the Control Panel webpage).
The Preferences pane is again simple, but provides all the necessary options (which can be changed from those selected during installation).
The client includes a link so you can check out where your IP address appears to be.
There is a nice little System Tray icon (far left), but unfortunately it stays green whether you are connected or not.
The web-based control panel lets you manage your account and billing details etc.
A useful inclusion is a server list, with server load information.
As usual, we used our 10 megabyte UK broadband to test connection speeds to the IPVanish VPN servers:
Connected to a UK VPN server using UDP OpenVPN encryption.
Connected to a UK VPN server using TCP OpenVPN encryption. TCP is theoretically slower than UDP but more stable, although this is not borne out by this result! Also note the truly excellent (and much better than when unencrypted) upload speed.
Connected to Belgium VPN servers using TCP OpenVPN encryption. Note again the superb upload speed.
Very impressive download speeds then, and some of the most spectacular upload speed results we have yet seen.
In addition to multi-protocol clients for Windows and OSX, IPVanish provides setup guides and any necessary configuration files for manually configuring various OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP setups in Windows, OX, IOS, Ubuntu and DD-WRT routers.
A nice touch here is the inclusion of both quick bulleted lists explaining the needed steps for those who know what they are doing, plus extensive ‘Visual Guide’ walkthroughs for those who are unsure.
No instructions are provided for configuring Android devices using OpenVPN (which would require the use of third party software), so we followed the guide on setting up L2TP.
A few settings (server name and simple IP Sec key) need to be entered, but nothing too difficult, and there is no need to tamper with any advanced settings.
The speedtest.net results when connected to a VPN server in Belgium were good…
Connected by L2TP/IP Sec to VPNJ server in Belgium
No logs kept
Shared dynamic IP’s make individual identification impossible
Lots of different server locations to choose from
Fast speetest.net download results
Fantastic speedtest.net upload results (particularity when using TCP OpenVPN encryption)
Choice of TCP or UDP OpenVPN encryption
Easy to use VPN client with all necessary features
We weren’t so sure about
Keeping email addresses for promotional purposes
No OpenVPN guide for Android
There really is very little to complain about here. IPVanish provides a great service that combines dedication to keeping its users’ online activities anonymous, with great download speeds. We were also particularly impressed with the upload speeds we achieved, which bypassed our ISP’s throttling to far exceed the unencrypted results (almost four times as fast on one test!) Highly recommended.
IPVanish have now replied to this, here is their reply:
Thank you for bringing this up, as this is an important topic.
Per our TOS, we allow all legal traffic on our system. Unlike other VPN companies, we do not block or throttle any port for any legal use. We do not log, read, sniff or throttle the traffic for any individual’s use of IPVanish – and yes, if many users are on a single IP, there is no way for us to tell anything at all from the logs we keep even if we wanted to. Also we regularly cycle all logs.
We have to abide by the law, like every other company on the planet. If a valid DMCA take down comes in, we have to react – it’s not optional. We also can’t sell accounts to people in “banned” countries like Syria or Iran, even though the ordinary people of these countries likely are the ones who need a VPN most.
That said, keep in mind that takedowns can come in in real time. So if one were seeding large files of copyrighted content that one did not own the copyright for from a bit torrent server or client and were still doing so when the takedown came in, we are in many cases able, when we are forced by law, to spot the torrent traffic for a specific IP address. And it has nothing to do with logging, log files or retention of connection data.
This is a security product and we promote privacy, speed of service and freedom of speech for all, but we do not condone breaking the law and never will.