Although a little short on frills, IVPN 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 is also, for the most part, insanely 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.
Three simultaneous connections
Client has firewall-based DNS leak protection and kill switch
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 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.
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)
OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec VPN protocols
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
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.
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.
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.
Logs & Legal
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 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”.
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 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
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
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
IVPN provides custom clients for Windows, a VPN for 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
Three simultaneous connections
Client has firewall-based DNS leak protection and kill switch
Blazing fast (mostly)
Supports Obfsproxy anti-censorship technology
US Netflix and BBC iPlayer not blocked
I wasn’t so sure about
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
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!