Stephen Cooper

Stephen Cooper

June 18, 2018

Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, IPVanish is one of the leading VPN companies in the world. The company owns and manages all of its own infrastructure, so there are no subcontracted service companies involved in delivering this system.

The company prides itself on its high speeds and large server network, which encompasses 700 servers in 60 countries. In this review you will find out how to sign up for the IPVanish service and how to use it. You will also find out what activities this VPN works well for, as well as how to get the best out of the app.

  • ProsPROS
  • Seven-day money-back guarantee
  • Five simultaneous connections
  • OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP
  • Kill switch
  • Easy-to-use app
  • ConsCONS
  • Customer support can be slow
  • Can’t get into BBC iPlayer

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IPVanish Pricing & Plans

IPVanish has one service plan, but offers different subscription periods. So you can pay for the service monthly, get a subscription for three months, or sign up for a year. The prices work out cheaper per month if you take out a longer subscription. However, you have to pay for the whole period up front.

IPVanish prices

The purchase process sets up a repeat billing agreement, so when your chosen subscription period ends, it will be recharged automatically for continued service. So, if you signed up for one month, because you only wanted the service for one month, you have to remember to cancel the service before that subscription expires.

All accounts get a seven-day refund guarantee, even the one-month subscriptions. However, that refund period only applies to your first month, so if the repeat billing agreement rolls on and charges you for another month, there is no refund possible for that second month.

IPVanish accepts a lot of different payment types, not just credit cards. You can pay with your PayPal account, but unfortunately, the company no longer accepts Bitcoin.

IPVanish accepted payment types

IPVanish Features

The features of the company’s package are:

  • Seven-day money-back guarantee
  • Allowance of five simultaneous connections
  • Self-installing app
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Unlimited data throughput
  • Kill switch
  • Pool of more than 40,000 IP addresses
  • P2P allowed
  • SOCKS5 web proxy
  • Accepts PayPal as well as credit cards
  • OpenVPN, L2TP and PPTP
  • Apps for Windows, Mac OS X, macOS, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire
  • Gets into Netflix USA

IPVanish has more than 700 servers located in 60 countries across the globe. The company is particularly strong in Europe. However, it doesn’t have any servers in Russia.

In the USA, the company’s home territory, IPVanish has 418 servers in 17 cities.

Visit IPVanish »

Is IPVanish Secure?

The IPVanish app has some extra security features, which you will find particularly useful on mobile devices. You can choose to activate a network block, which will prevent the apps on your device from connecting to the internet without your VPN being turned on. You don’t have to worry about extra charges for data usage because the IPVansh service includes unlimited data throughput. As such, you should probably leave the VPN turned on all the time.

When you walk out of the house with your laptop or mobile device, you will move out of range of your home router. However, you will pass through the signal footprint of other routers and your device will try to connect. The network block of IPVanish freezes out the network card until the VPN can establish its own connection. This means that you will be protected against connections to unsafe open networks that have no password requirements, which is a method that hackers sometimes use to sneak malware onto mobile devices.

OpenVPN Encryption
Cipher
AES-256
Data Auth
HMAC SHA1
Handshake
RSA-2048
Control Auth
HMAC SHA-256
Forward Secrecy
DHE-2048
Logs & Legal
Connection
None
Traffic
None
Country
USA

Encryption

AES is an encryption methodology that was commissioned by the government of the USA. The motivation for the creation of this security method was that the government worried that no existing encryption system was secure enough. AES is used by all US government departments to protect their communications over the internet. Other governments around the world also use AES because it is seen as the most secure encryption system available.

Privacy advocates worry that any encryption system that is promoted by the US government probably has a back door to allow US security agencies to read all messages encrypted by it. Despite this, AES is the most widely-used encryption system used for VPNs. IPVanish uses a 256-bit key, which is the strongest security available.

BestVPN.com recommends OpenVPN above all VPN methodologies and we particularly like OpenVPN systems that use AES encryption with a 256-bit key. This is the main reason why IPVanish regularly appears in our lists of recommended VPN services.

One problem with AES is that the same key encrypts and decrypts messages, so that key has to be sent over the internet in order to coordinate encryption. Therefore, a second encryption system is necessary in order to protect the passage of that key from snoopers.

OpenVPN uses a system called Transport Layer Security to protect the administration messages of the secure connection — including the transmission of the AES key. This “control channel” uses the RSA encryption cipher. RSA uses two different keys for encryption and decryption and you can’t work out the decryption key if you know the encryption key. This type of cipher is termed “asymmetrical encryption.” The encryption key can be publicized, so it is called a public key. The longer the key, the safer the encryption. RSA typically uses key of 1024, 2048 and 4096 bits in length. RSA with a 1024 -bit key is not secure. Most VPNs use a 2048-bit key and IPVanish is in this division. The very best VPNs use 4098-bit keys for RSA to future-proof their security methods.

Privacy

The US base of IPVanish could be a problem. American companies are vulnerable to pressure from the NSA and other law enforcement agencies. Copyright lawyers are also very active in the USA and there is even a law against file sharing in the country. That means you could actually be convicted and sent to prison for conspiracy to commit copyright infringement under the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act.

These factors should discourage those who want to download files with P2P networks from using IPVanish to protect their identities. However, the logging policy of the company should make that activity safe. The company declares that it keeps no logs at all, so if the NSA turned up with a court order for records of the connections of IPVanish’s customers, it could only walk away with an empty disk. This policy gives IPVanish the confidence to advertise its services for P2P activities.

The Website

IPVanish has invested a lot in its service, and the high-quality that money bought is manifested in the company’s website. The top stripe of the site gives access to the main pages of the website. This menu is fixed in place in the window, so it remains visible as you scroll down each page.

IPVanish Review

At the bottom of each page you will encounter a footer section, which includes links to more information about IPVanish’s services.

IPVanish site footer

You can get to the IPVanish blog from the footer. This is probably the most comprehensive blogs in the industry and it is added to with posts almost daily. Topics focus on internet privacy issues and articles about VPNs.

IPVanish blog

Support

The support department of IPVanish lets down the brand a little. It is surprising that that company didn’t spend a little more on its help desk given all of the investment that it has put into all other aspects of the VPN service.

The main support conduit of the site is its FAQ page.

IPVanish FAQ

The FAQ page is searchable and it heads the section of the IPVanish site that is dedicated to the Support Center. You can see other support categories by scrolling down in the FAQ page.

IPVanish support categories

You will need to get to the Setup Guides once you subscribe to the service.

IPVanish setup guides

If you can’t find a solution to your problem, you can fill in the contact form to ask a question of the support team. This is accessible through a link in the FAQ page, and also there is a link in the site footer to the contact form.

IPVanish contact form

You will get a reply to your query via email. It can often take more than a day for the Customer Support team to respond to queries.

The Process

Signing Up

Your starting point for signing up to IPVanish is the Pricing page. You get to this page through the main menu of the site, or by pressing on one of the “Start Now” buttons on the Home page of the site or beneath the description of the plan term that you want to take out.

The sign up form doesn’t require much information. Just an email address and a password. The email address has to be valid and one to which you have access. However, you don’t have to give your regular email address because you could just set up a free webmail account in order to communicate with IPVanish.

IPVanish sign up page

The IPVanish Windows VPN client

The app’s installer will put a shortcut for IPVanish on your Desktop. Click on this to get the app running.

IPVanish shortcut

The first time you open the app you need to enter your username and password. The log screen remembers these details, so you won’t have to type them in on subsequent visits.

IPVanish app login

The most important fields in the main screen of the app are three server location selectors in the bottom right of the window, just above the connect button.

IPVanish app

These fields all lead to drop-down lists. They enable you to select a country, then a city and then a specific server. You get another view of the available servers over on the Server List page.

IPVanish app server list

You can re-order this list according to response time, or load, as well as having them in alphabetical order. If you click on the star symbol next to a server location, you mark it as a favorite. Then you can get the app to just list those servers that you have marked.

The Settings section of the app is divided into four pages, which you access through tabs. These pages give access to some important security features.

IPVanish app settings

On the first page of the Settings section, you get to decide whether the VPN should start up with the operating system and which server the app should connect to by default.

Settings on the Connection tab dictate how the app will behave once it is running.

IPVanish app connection settings

The all-important kill switch will prevent other apps on your computer from connecting over the internet if the VPN is not engaged. This situation can happen if the internet connection drops briefly. When the connection returns, apps that are still retrying to continue their communications will send out messages without the cover of the VPN. The kill switch makes sure the VPN connection gets established first.

The “Block LAN traffic” option acts as automatic WiFi protection. This will prevent your laptop from connecting to open WiFi hotspots without your knowledge. The “Auto Reconnect” feature means that you don’t have to keep checking whether the VPN is still connected, because the app will re-establish its link to the VPN server, should the connection drop briefly. The obfuscation checkbox further down the page will add an extra layer of security to your communications. It scrambles up the contents of each data packet that passes between your computer and the VPN server. This is an important step if you intend to use the VPN in China. However, it will slow down your connection, so don’t use it unless you really need to.

The “Active Protocol” field enables you to nominate which VPN methodology the app should use.

IPVanish app connection settings

This is a great feature because usually VPN apps don’t include L2TP or PPTP. Instead, these are often available only for manual set up. Although it is possible to change the protocol that the app uses, you are better off sticking with OpenVPN. The option to select either TCP or UDP is also very useful. UDP is the User Datagram Protocol. It is a lightweight transport system and is preferred by real-time applications, such as IP telephony or video streaming. This is probably your best VPN option.

The IP Settings tab has a couple of features that would better to ignore.

IPVanish app IP settings

The IP switcher option at the top of the screen will allocate you a different IP address from the VPN server periodically. You get to specify how often the address should change. Although this is a clever security feature, it takes a little time to allocate a new IP address and when this change is occurring, you will find that the internet stops working. If you are in the middle of watching a streaming movie or playing a game online, you will find this temporary loss of internet access annoying.

Further down the page, you will see the option to change the DNS server used for connections when the VPN is connected. The DNS server translates between web addresses and IP addresses. This is because the URLs that you enter into your browser to get a web page are meaningless to the routers on the internet.

Some privacy specialists mistrust DNS services and like to research a specific DNS server and stick with it. However, it is better to rely on the VPN’s own DNS servers because each server location uses a nearby DNS service. One telltale sign that you are using a VPN is when the DNS server used by your computer is in a different country to your reported location. This can alert proxy detection systems and get you locked out of location-restricted sites.

Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC and IPv6 Tests)

The page VPN Speed Testing Done Right has a full explanation of our new scientific speed test system. Following these guidelines, you can see how IPVanish’s speeds compare to its competitors.

IPVanish claims to be the fastest VPN in the industry, and our speed test show that this claim is valid.

The DNS lookup time can slow down the process of fetching a page from a web server. IPVanish doesn’t do too well in this respect.

IPVanish DNS lookup times

However, IPVanish’s connection times put it in the top rank of VPNs.

IPVanish connection time comparison

Overall, IPVanish scores very well in these tests and claims the crown of the fastest VPN on the planet.

I connected to one of the IPVanish London VPN servers from the Dominican Republic. The website IPLocation.net references five location databases to report on the actual location of an IP address. Two of these databases identified the server’s location as Rugby. Two others had the IP addresses registered in the United Kingdom, but couldn’t pinpoint a country. The fifth database had the real-world address of the UK server I chose as actually being in the Netherlands. None of the location databases placed the IP address in London.

The test site ipleak.net reported my location as in the Netherlands. This showed that the VPN had successfully cloaked my real location, which was in the Dominican Republic. Appearing to be in the wrong country would make it impossible for me to get into location-restricted websites. A report on the DNS servers accessed by my computer identified just one, which was located in the Netherlands.

Another test site, doileak.com placed me in the United Kingdom and also saw that the one DNS server that my computer accessed was in the UK.

My internet service provider does not use IPv6 addresses and so I was unable to test for IPv6 leaks.

Streaming Services

While connected to an IPVanish server in London, I accessed UK video streaming services from the Dominican Republic. These sites do not allow cross-border access, and they also block users of VPNs, if they detect them — this is called “proxy” detection.

The proxy detection systems of Netflix UK and the BBC iPlayer spotted the VPN and refused to allow me to watch videos. The location checks of ITV and Channel 4 are not quite as thorough and both of those sites let me watch videos.

I next tried location-restricted sites in the USA, connecting through an IPVanish server in Miami. IPVanish performed better with Netflix USA than it did with the UK version of the service and I was allowed to watch videos. ABC spotted the VPN and so I was blocked. Both NBC and CBS let me watch.

Other Platforms

The apps of IPVanish work well on all of the major operating systems.

IPVanish 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.

You can also install the VPN on flashed routers and set-top boxes.

IPVanish Review Conclusion

IPVanish is one of the top VPN services around and its prices are very reasonable. You get the choice of a large number of server locations and a lot of extra security features, such as a kill switch and a network block. IPVanish has created a very nice app, which is easy to use and installs itself. You don’t need any specialist technical knowledge in order to use this system.

I liked

  • Seven-day money-back guarantee
  • Servers in 60 countries
  • P2P allowed
  • No logs
  • Allowance of five simultaneous connections
  • Easy-to-use app for Windows
  • Kill switch
  • Super-fast speeds

I wasn’t so sure about

  • Slow customer support responses

I hated

  • Can’t get into BBC iPlayer or ABC

It is a shame that the VPN can’t slip by the proxy detection systems of Netflix UK or the BBC iPlayer. However, if you have a Netflix account, IPVanish can get you into the US version of the system even if you signed up for Netflix in the UK.

IPVanish has extra security for customers in locations such as China and the Middle East. The service offer excellent protection for P2P downloading, internet telephony apps, online gaming, and access to geo-restricted websites.

Visit IPVanish »