IPVanish Review: How Safe and Effective Is It?

June 2018 update: IPVanish now offers 10 simultaneous connections, more than nearly all of its competitors. They’ve also added live chat customer support

If you’re looking for high speed and privacy, but don’t necessarily want to pay an arm and a leg for it, IPVanish offers a remarkably fast VPN service at a reasonable price.

IPVanish operates a tier-one network, meaning that it owns all of its server and networking infrastructure. All of its 5000+ servers around the world are under IPVanish’s physical control.

While they don’t offer as many protocols or features as many of their competitors (including some of the cheaper ones), IPVanish is definitely among the faster VPNs I’ve tested. Setting it up on your devices is also extremely straightforward, which is a major advantage if computing isn’t your forte.

Moreover, IPVanish now offers 10 simultaneous connections, which puts it far ahead of most of its competitors, who rarely offer more than 5.

For a detailed analysis of all of IPVanish’s features, as well as a comprehensive usage test, check out my guide below. Feel free to skip to the sections that interest you.

IPVanish - High Speed and Privacy

Fast and private. Absolutely no logging. 1,000+ servers in 60+ countries. P2P-friendly. Offers OpenVPN, PPTP, IPSec, L2TP, and more. 10 simultaneous connections. 7-day money-back guarantee.

$6.49 per month

Privacy and Anonymity

First and foremost, you’ll be glad to know that IPVanish does not log user traffic in any way. They used to collect connection metadata such as IP addresses and timestamps, but they stopped doing so in 2014 (in case you find outdated reports elsewhere). They now operate a full-fledged, no logging VPN service.

Since all user traffic is routed through shared IP addresses, it is impossible for anyone, not even IPVanish itself, to identify a particular user in any way.

However, when it comes to anonymity (i.e. concealing your identity) IPVanish falls a bit short. They don’t support anonymous payments, such as Bitcoin or gift cards, nor do they offer PGP-enabled email support. It also appears that, by default, the username you use to log in to their VPN is also your email address.

Most people use VPNs for privacy (which usually means concealing your internet traffic from your ISP and protecting your connection from Wi-Fi hackers). If you’re looking to hide your identity from the world, including from IPVanish, I’d advise picking a different VPN.

IPVanish is based in the US, meaning that they’re subject to US law and NSA jurisdiction. Unfortunately, they don’t have a warrant canary, which would indirectly tell us whether they’ve been served with gag orders or data requests. For US-based company, this is a significant omission.

Again, if you’re just looking for privacy from your ISP, you can’t go wrong with IPVanish—but if you need to conceal your identity, other VPNs would make better options.

VPN Features

Connections and Bandwidth

As of June 2018, IPVanish offers the ability to connect up to 10 simultaneous devices. This makes IPVanish one of the cheapest per-connection VPNs on the market ($0.65 per connection).

You won’t find any other VPN on the market who offers this many connections. The closest competitor is NordVPN, which offers 6.

Well, that’s not entirely true. If you’re willing to pay for it, Perfect Privacy offers an unlimited number of connections. But IPVanish is still a better value if you have 10 or fewer devices, and you’re not looking for too many specialized protocols or features.

IPVanish offers unlimited bandwidth on all of its connections, and you’re guaranteed to have fast speeds (for more, check out the speed test section below).

Servers

IPVanish has a generous selection of servers, including 469 in North America and another 402 in Europe. As I’ve already mentioned, IPVanish claims to have physical control over all of its servers, meaning that no third parties ever handle their hardware or view their traffic.

They also don’t use virtual locations, which means that all of their servers are physically present in the cities that they claim to be located in.

However, I did notice during my tests that some servers I connected to did not have updated geolocation data. For example, when I connected to the Singapore server location, location-tracking websites claimed that I was actually in California.

This is a known issue between some VPNs and geolocation databases, and IPVanish admits that this may occasionally happen. This shouldn’t be a problem for most users, unless you plan to use your VPN for geoshifting, which I’ll discuss in the next section.

Geoshifting (Netflix, Hulu, BBC, YouTube, and more)

Many people use VPNs in order to switch their virtual locations, usually to access geographically restricted content, or to conceal their identity as much as possible.

Given its large selection of servers from around the world, IPVanish is quite effective at geoshifting. For my tests, I tried accessing several different geo-locked content websites and had several successes.

Remarkably, I was able to fully access BBC iPlayer without any restrictions whatsoever while connected to IPVanish’s UK servers.

BBC iPlayer

I was also able to access geo-locked videos on YouTube using IPVanish.

Netflix and Hulu, however, did not let me watch US-restricted shows when I tried logging in using IPVanish. That’s to be expected, as major content sites actively restrict VPN IP addresses, and few VPNs are able to unblock them. (If you’re looking for a VPN specifically for geoshifting, I recommend trying NordVPN.)

Again, with regard to geoshifting you should always keep in mind that your mileage may vary. Content providers are always finding new ways to block VPN users. It’s a cat-and-mouse game that you’ll have to constantly keep track of if you want to access geo-locked content from abroad.

P2P File-Sharing (BitTorrent)

IPVanish allows full use of P2P file-sharing on their servers, so you will be able to use BitTorrent or other P2P protocols without experiencing any disruptions or bandwidth throttling. There is no way for IPVanish or anyone else to identify individual users on their service based on their online activities, and P2P traffic is no different.

You will probably not be served with any complaints or have your account terminated if your BitTorrenting activities happen to skirt copyright laws. As IPVanish stated in an interview with TorrentFreak, “Since we don’t keep logs, we have no way to link a DMCA takedown [copyright violation] request to a specific customer, and are unable to forward requests.”

That said, keep in mind that IPVanish is a US-based company, and their Terms of Service do state that they ban users who engage in prohibited activities, including copyright violations.

As their Terms appear to contradict what they told TorrentFreak, at the very least I’d avoid using any of IPVanish’s US-located servers for P2P activities.

Censorship Bypassing (China, Schools, Hotels)

IPVanish does not offer any advanced tools to bypass VPN censorship. You will likely be unable to use IPVanish if you travel to China, or anywhere where VPN services are blocked.

Keep in mind that there are two general kinds of internet censorship: censorship targeting individual websites, and censorship targeting VPN services themselves.

The first kind of censorship you can easily bypass using any reliable VPN simply by switching to a server in a country where that particular website isn’t banned. For instance, some websites are blocked in the UK, so if you want to access one of these websites, simply connecting to any IPVanish server outside of the UK should do the trick.

The second type of censorship involves broad-based blocking of VPN protocols and VPN providers themselves. This is the type of blocking that you’ll find in China, as well as in some businesses, hotels, and schools. To use a VPN in this situation, you would need to use a VPN with obfuscated servers or a StealthVPN protocol that can disguise your traffic. Unfortunately, IPVanish will not work in these kinds of situations.

Advanced Protocols (Multi-hop, SOCKS, Tor)

IPVanish offers no additional protocols outside of the standard OpenVPN, IPSec, IKEv2, L2TP, and PPTP protocols that most VPNs offer.

As I’ve already explained, IPVanish doesn’t offer obfuscated servers or StealthVPN, or any protocols that could help you bypass censorship in highly restrictive networks (or countries like China).

They also don’t offer multi-hop or cascading servers, which are useful for adding an additional layer of obfuscation to your internet traffic.

So what do they offer? IPVanish’s VPN clients do offer a kill-switch, which prevents your traffic from flowing through your unsecured local network if your VPN connection is lost. I also noticed an option for switching your IP address within a time interval that you specify. You also have an unencrypted SOCKS5 proxy, which can give you a bit more connection speed, at the expense of privacy.

Overall, IPVanish’s protocol offering is somewhat bare, especially considering that they’re a large VPN service with a moderately high price tag. But if you’re interested in speed and usability, and you’re not planning on traveling to China or fiddling around with advanced settings, IPVanish might just be the ideal VPN for you.

As you’ll see in the next section, installing IPVanish on your computer or phone is remarkably easy.

Usage Test

Desktop

IPVanish offers dedicated software for most devices, including Mac and Windows. The software is easy to set up and use, no matter how technically competent you are (or aren’t).

For this guide, I’ll be testing IPVanish’s VPN client for macOS.

After downloading and installing the software, I was presented with a screen to enter my IPVanish username and password.

After logging in, IPVanish took me through a quick tutorial of its features.

After selecting my region and clicking “Connect” I was asked to enter my computer password to install an additional macOS Helper tool. While I’m usually wary of typing in my computer password after being prompted by an application, I didn’t spot any red flags, so I continued with the installation.

The installation happened quickly, and before I knew it, I was connected to IPVanish’s Seoul, South Korea server location.

IPVanish gives you the option of connecting to the “best available” server whenever possible, which is an excellent feature for users who are looking for maximum usability with minimum effort on their part.

As you’ll notice, the geolocation data for IPVanish’s Singapore server says that I’m located in Costa Mesa, California, which is an anomaly due, in all probability, to an outdated geolocation database. As IPVanish notes in their support section, “We do our best to try and convince various geolocation providers to represent our servers correctly, but we are not always successful.”

Luckily, I didn’t notice this problem with any other servers that I tried.

You’ll notice that IPVanish has a notably bare-bones interface. The lack of StealthVPN or other advanced protocols means that their VPN client doesn’t have many bells and whistles. For the average non-technically oriented user, this may be a blessing rather than a hindrance.

As I’m not a huge fan of desktop VPN clients, I’m glad that IPVanish also offers the option to connect manually via OpenVPN using Tunnelblick. The instructions for manual connections can be found at the bottom of the installation pages for macOS users, as well as for Windows users.

Mobile

IPVanish has dedicated VPN apps available for both iOS and Android (though manual connections are always possible).

For this guide, I’ll be testing IPVanish’s app for iOS on iPhone.

App Store IPVanish

After downloading the app from the app store and opening it, I was presented with a similar login screen as we saw before with the desktop app.

Login IPVanish

After picking a region and pressing Connect, I was prompted to allow the app to install a VPN configuration.

IPVanish

After accepting and letting the installation proceed, I was immediately connected to the VPN server I had selected.

IPVanish

The whole process took less than two minutes from start to finish.

If you’re looking for convenience, IPVanish has some of the most user-friendly VPN apps I’ve ever tried, and you should have no problem connecting to their VPN no matter your level of technical expertise.

Speed Test

We tested IPVanish while traveling in Hanoi, Vietnam. Our original connection (without a VPN) tested at 42.62 Mbps for download speed and 43.63 Mbps for upload speed.

While connected to IPVanish’s’s nearby Hong Kong server location, we were able to get 25.14 Mbps for download speed, and 16.91 Mbps for upload speed. This represents about a 40% reduction in download speed, which is a bit better than we expected (typical results for speed reduction would be about 50%).

We also tested the New York server location from Hanoi. Given that we were more than 8,000 miles away from New York, we were impressed to see an even faster 31.25 Mbps for download speed, and 9.16 Mbps for upload speed.

Granted, there are a lot of variables involved when you test for internet speed, and it’s possible that you could get different results depending on where you are in the world and what server you connect to.

However, after using IPVanish extensively over a one-month period, I feel confident in asserting that they have some of the fastest and most consistent servers in the industry—unexpectedly fast in some cases, as you can see with the New York server test above.

Customer Service and Support

IPVanish offers support via an email form on their website, as well as via 24/7 live chat.

I haven’t had a chance to test their live chat (it’s still not up at the time of writing), but when I do, I’ll let you know how it goes.

When I messaged IPVanish using the regular support page, I received a reply around 12 hours later, which I thought was fair. Of course, having 24/7 live chat means that you’ll no longer have to wait for customer support.

As I’ve already mentioned above under “Privacy and Anonymity”, IPVanish uses your email address to identify you for logging in to their VPN servers. They also use need your email address for support purposes. If basic anonymity is important to you, I’d suggest using an anonymous, dedicated email address for IPVanish.

Also, be aware that IPVanish uses third-party software for their support systems. If you do contact IPVanish support, avoid sharing private data about yourself, as this will potentially be seen and processed by a third party.

Verdict

If you’re looking for basic privacy from ISP and corporate snoopers, IPVanish is a solid choice, and you can expect to have a super-fast, reliable service with an excellent selection of servers.

I also like that their desktop and mobile VPN apps are outrageously easy to use.

If you have no idea what “port forwarding” is or you don’t know the difference between IPSec and L2TP, or you’re not planning to travel to China or Turkey, IPVanish may make a great choice for you, simply because they make using a VPN extremely user-friendly, no matter how little you might know about networking or computers.

But if you’re someone who needs the additional privacy that StealthVPN protocols or cascading servers can offer, or if anonymity is at all important to you, IPVanish is probably not a good choice for you.

Remember that you can always test out IPVanish for yourself by taking advantage of their 7-day money-back guarantee. If you decide that the service doesn’t meet your expectations, you can easily cancel and receive a refund at no additional cost to you.

If you do decide to go with IPVanish, let me know how it goes in the comments.

9.1 Total Score
IPVanish - High Speed and Privacy

Fast and private. Absolutely no logging. 1,000+ servers in 60+ countries. P2P-friendly. Offers OpenVPN, PPTP, IPSec, L2TP, and more. 10 simultaneous connections. 7-day money-back guarantee.

Privacy
9
Price
9
Protocols and Features
7
Speed
10
Ease of Use
10
Support
9.5
PROS
  • Fast VPN, ideal for users with high-speed connections
  • Absolutely no logging
  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • 1,000+ servers in 60+ countries
  • P2P-friendly, no restrictions
  • All major platforms: macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, etc.
  • 7-day money-back guarantee
  • Software is extremely user-friendly
  • Annual plan $6.49 per month
CONS
  • No obfuscation, multi-hop, or StealthVPN protocols.
  • Doesn't bypass censorship in China.
User Rating: Be the first one!
IPVanish - High Speed and Privacy

Fast and private. Absolutely no logging. 1,000+ servers in 60+ countries. P2P-friendly. Offers OpenVPN, PPTP, IPSec, L2TP, and more. 10 simultaneous connections. 7-day money-back guarantee.

$6.49 per month

Justin Uther

Writer, BestSafeVPN.com (justin@bestsafevpn.com)

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