IPVanish Review

IPVanish Review Header
IPVanish Review

Overall
4.3









  • Price









  • Service









  • Apps









  • Speed









  • Policy









Summary

IPVanish continue to offer an all-round fast service with one or two rough edges that need polishing.

Pros

  • Good range of apps across most devices.
  • High level of encryption.
  • Live help.
  • Amazing download speeds.
  • Unlimited device limit.

Cons

  • Poor for unblocking TV services.
  • Dated looking apps.


IPVanish is a popular VPN service and has been around longer than most. While they were our favourite for several years, other services have more recently surpassed them.

But how have they been doing in 2021? What are the IPVanish pros and cons?

In this IPVanish review, we aimed to find out, so our team of experts have been testing the IPVanish VPN service thoroughly to see how they're performing, but more importantly, how they compare to our reviews of the competition out there.

Service

Speeds

Download speed

To start our IPVanish VPN review we ran some speed tests. Download speed is, after all, one of the most important features.

IPVanish has consistently been one of the fastest VPN services over the years, even when faced with fierce competition.

In testing their service over several weeks, we found no issues when browsing the web, sending emails or streaming high-quality video from services such as YouTube and others thanks to impressive download speeds.

For regular users, there was no noticeable slowdown or issues with connection speed that we could detect.

You may be interested how this translates into actual speeds, so we ran some speed tests on different servers to find out.

Using a regular UK residential internet connection we tested a range of servers at random on a Windows PC using OpenVPN 256-bit. Our speed achieved without using a VPN was: 62.94 Mbps.

When connecting to IPVanish's servers in no particular order, we achieved the following download speed during our speed test:

  • UK – 60.76 Mbps
  • France – 60.57 Mbps
  • Netherlands – 60.78 Mbps
  • Switzerland – 60.72 Mbps
  • Sweden – 58.59 Mbps
  • New York, US – 58.82 Mbps
  • Australia – 60.02 Mbps

IPVanish's download speeds are some of the best we've seen this year and the impressive rates across their entire worldwide network will be suitable for almost all uses

The upload speed was great too, so overall I am pleased with the speed test results while using IPVanish.

Logging

Next for our IPVanish VPN review, we looked at their logging privacy policy.

IPVanish claims to store no-logs of your activity.

This is information like what websites you visit, what you're saying to friends when chatting or the videos you're streaming.

They go one step further and also claim they don't store metadata. This is the who and the what. For example, metadata isn't what you say to a friend when chatting but it's who you're talking to and the time of the messages.

It's critical on its own and it can link you to your activity, so it's a great addition that IPVanish explicitly states they don't retain this.

The trend recently has been to have VPNs audited by third party providers to confirm such claims are valid. VPN Providers such as ExpressVPN, NordVPN and ProtonVPN have all undertaken these.

As of yet, IPVanish has not carried out any such audits which leaves them lagging behind the competition.

In early 2018 there was uproar over a historical criminal case dating back to 2016 in which a child sex offender was caught with the assistance of IPVanish.

It was certainly not against the capture of a clear criminal, but how IPVanish assisted with records that they claimed they didn't keep.

The company has since been acquired twice over by other organisations and after the incident came to light recommitted themselves to their no-log policy and distanced themselves from prior owners.

Simultaneous Connections

Since our last IPVanish review, this VPN has increased their simultaneous connections limit to allow you to use an unlimited number of device connections.

That means you can as many devices as you want connected at the same time with just one account.

Most other VPN services are still only offering between 5 – 7 so this is a significant statement of intent from IPVanish to offer unlimited simultaneous connections and one that few other VPN providers can match at the moment.

If you've got a large family or plenty of internet-connected devices, then this will be a huge advantage and a cost-saver too.

IPVanish has essentially future-proofed their service for IoT devices as everything becomes more connected too. A shrewd and user-friendly move.

Jurisdiction

IPVanish is based in the US, and therefore is under the jurisdiction of the United States.

They were recently purchased by J2 Global from StackPath, who are both US-based companies.

You may want to consider the implications of using a VPN service powered by a company in one of the ‘5-eyes' surveillance countries.

However, there are no logging requirements in the United States at the time of writing, so it pays to weigh up the positives and negatives of their location.

Customer Service

IPVanish introduced a new ‘Live Help' feature to their customer support a few years back which lets you get answers quickly.

We found the 24/7 live chat support to be knowledgeable and able to answer most basic questions.

They were pretty decent with more complex technical issues too and if they didn't know the answer themselves, the support staff were quick to either connect you to another member of the support staff who did or a written resource that could help.

Having a live chat customer support is a nice touch that any IPVanish customer will appreciate.

This includes the likes of Billing support, Sales support, and Tech support.

If you prefer to contact them via another method other than live chat support, then you can either send them a support ticket or use their phone support – although this is limited to US business hours.

Customer service response times via ticket vary but we didn't wait more than a few hours for a response from their customer service team in most instances.

Which is better IPVanish or ExpressVPN?

There was a time when IPVanish was our editor's pick for best overall VPN, but ExpressVPN have held that mantle for some time now. So, what's the difference between the two?

IPVanish's logging blip back in 2018 was a factor and for a long time, IPVanish lagged behind a little with a short money-back guarantee and a rather stagnant infrastructure offering.

But in more recent times, they have rebounded in style.

Investment in infrastructure, a longer 30-day money-back guarantee, and a renewed commitment to their no logging commitment means that IPVanish are a serious player in the VPN market once more.

Our most recent ExpressVPN review gave it an overall score of 4.8 out of 5. This is pretty impressive but there is still room to surpass them and IPVanish are definitely one of the contenders nipping at their heels.

Server Locations

Server locations

IPVanish's website claims to offer VPN servers in over 75 locations across the world with tons of IP Addresses.

This is not a big increase on last year but they have recently invested heavily in this area and have established a broad network with a high number of servers in the high-demand markets like the USA (esp. Los Angeles) and Europe.

It's excellent to see IPVanish has started to once again increase their offered locations after cutting back in recent years.

In comparison to the competition, IPVanish sits in the medium-high range and we would like to see further investment in this area moving forwards.

While some providers offer more, when you discount those that use ‘virtual servers' it means IPVanish's offering is pretty decent.

That said, most typical users will only ever connect to around 1 – 3 different locations in their entire VPN lifetime so with over more than 75 VPN server locations available, it's overkill for most.

The service has added more individual IPVanish servers in those locations now offering over 1,600 VPN servers which is up 300 servers on last year. Add this to the more than 40,000 IP Addresses and they're still one of the more extensive networks.

Does IPVanish use Virtual Locations?

No. We have quizzed IPVanish about this on several occasions.

They are adamant that all of their servers are physically located in the place they claim to be. This is one of the reasons they haven't expanded their network even more at this stage.

In our assessment, we have found no reason to doubt their claims about virtual VPN servers. For IPVanish users, that is good news.

While virtual servers do allow users in remote or particularly authoritarian regions to access local content, they can have an adverse effect on other areas of their services.

When a VPN uses a virtual server, it is pegged to a server located in a completely different country. As a result, VPN users of that server can suffer from slower speeds as a result.

This means VPNs with a lot of virtual servers can offer an all-round poorer service. Fortunately, IPVanish doesn't have such issues.

Can you use IPVanish in China?

No. We have tested to see whether it will work in China and found it completely inaccessible.

IPVanish themselves admit that their service does not work inside China. There is also no suggestion that they are making any efforts to make it work there.

This is a shame because it is perfectly possible to keep a VPN accessible inside China and many of IPVanish's competitors manage to do so. They could make IPVanish work in China if they wanted to.

If you are looking for a premium VPN that works in China, IPVanish is not the solution.

Instead, you will need to try a VPN such as ExpressVPN.

Security and Safety

Protocols & Encryption

Protocols and encryption

IPVanish offers the regular host of VPN protocols which includes PPTP, L2TP and OpenVPN.

In 2018 they introduced the IKEv2 protocol and it's more common now to see their apps using this by default. They added this as they say it is faster than IPSec and claimed more secure.

Almost all their apps now support this additional protocol.

Concentrating mainly on their OpenVPN protocol, very little has changed since we last reviewed their service and it still makes use of AES 256-bit encryption (more specifically AES-256-GCM).

OpenVPN is still their default protocol and OpenVPN is the best protocol to use for most users.

A 2048-bit RSA key is used for handshaking.

IKEv2 also makes use of AES 256-bit encryption which is at the upper end of the scale and one of the most recommended encryption standards currently.

IPVanish has not yet added WireGuard to its service which is a shame.

WireGuard is a new lightweight protocol that offers the best combination of speeds and security around right now. A lot of VPNs have added this to their package or, in the case of ExpressVPN, created their own equivalent.

IPVanish does have a little catching up to do in this area and we hope there will be more positive news in future reviews.

Has IPVanish suffered any security incidents?

In 2016, IPVanish was owned by a company called Highwinds, a company that also ran a cloud storage, CDN, and colocation operation.

A Special Agent with the Department of Homeland Security traced a user spreading child pornography to an IP Address owned by Highwinds. They subsequently admitted the IP Address belonged to their VPN.

Upon a formal request for user information, Highwinds provided the Department of Homeland Security with the user's name, email address, and real IP Address.

This is despite the fact that IPVanish claimed at the time to be a no-logs VPN provider.

IPVanish has changed ownership two times since the incident and is adamant no user logs are kept these days.

We are inclined to believe them but this incident will always leave a slight doubt at the back of everyone's minds.

Is IPVanish safe for Torrenting?

IPVanish does not just permit torrenting, it actively encourages it in a way that few others do.

On their website, they stress that using their service allows you to torrent anonymously and without fear of your web traffic being spotted.

They stress that you can torrent “freely and privately” with IPVanish.

Few other VPNs are so ebullient about allowing people to torrent on their network. Their stance might upset copyright advocates, but it is great news for those using IPVanish.

Apps

Apps

Mobile Apps

IPVanish offers support for all the most popular mobile devices, including Android apps, iPhone apps and the iPad.

We've been retesting the Android application over the past few months, although they haven't changed at all since we reviewed their service over the last few years.

The layout of the Android app looks similar to that of their desktop clients and apps for other platforms, so using across a range of devices makes the VPN easy to use. If you're a beginner, you'll appreciate not needing to learn a new layout.

Connection and server selection can be made from the main Android app screen, which is an elegant feature if you simply want to use the quick connect option and forget about the VPN.

IPVanish VPN Android app connected

Behind the scenes of the Android application, there aren't too many options for users.

Mostly they concern choosing between the TCP and UDP protocol and setting the app up for automatic connection if needed.

We like the ‘Split Tunneling' option that allows you to select apps that fall outside of the VPN connection.

If you wanted the entire connection to use the VPN but simply have your banking app use your regular Wi-Fi or mobile data connection, then this is possible with split tunneling. It's an ingenious feature and a massive bonus to the Android app.

Overall the mobile apps are easy to use and have one or two interesting features.

They aren't the most feature-rich apps out there nor the most aesthetically pleasing but for quick mobile security they've got the right balance between ease of use and options.

The apps for iOS and Android both work great.

Desktop Apps

IPVanish's desktop apps are available for Windows and Mac OS systems.

They're mostly the same as the ones we have tested for the past couple of years and as far as we could tell there are no new additions or features.

The desktop apps function well and connection along with city and specific server selection can all be made from the main screen using their “Quick Connect” option.

If you need a little more in the way of server selection then behind the scenes you get the following views to help you find the correct server:

  • Map
  • List
  • Filter

Screen grab of the IPVanish Windows App

There's a wealth of options in the ‘Settings' area which includes all the essential requirements such as

  • IPv6 Leak Protection
  • DNS Leak Protection
  • Kill Switch
  • Protocol and Port selection
  • Obfuscate OpenVPN traffic which IPVanish call ‘Scramble'

It's nice to be able to connect and disconnect on every screen of the app so whether you're in the Settings area or browsing your Account Information you can connect or disconnect at will.

Overall the desktop apps are very well rounded and include all the essential features you will need (such as DNS leak protection).

Again, we're not a fan of the aesthetics of the app which is now looking a little dated, but it's not overly important because all the critical features are contained within.

If you require support while using the desktop app, the IPVanish customer service will be able to assist you.

Other Apps

A further IPVanish app is available for Amazon Fire TV devices. It works with Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Cube devices.

Having an Amazon app is a massive advantage because it allows you to protect your privacy while streaming on your TV. If you're a big Kodi user, then you'll appreciate the protection.

There is also a Linux app and an app specifically designed for ChromeOS too. So if you are using a Google Chromebook, IPVanish have got you covered.

It is also possible to install IPVanish onto various VPN-enabled routers too, but you will have to do this manually using one of their guides.

In terms of unblocking media content, IPVanish is unfortunately quite poor, so if you want to unblock services like Netflix or BBC iPlayer, then you're out of luck.

They do work with some services such as ITV Hub, TV Player and one or two others across the world but your luck may vary and we wouldn't recommend them as a dedicated service for unblocking media content.

Does IPVanish offer browser extensions?

No. Like many other premium VPNs, IPVanish has moved away from browser extensions and instead is investing more time and resources in developing apps for different devices.

As a result, there are not currently any browser extensions available for IPVanish users. But that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Browser extensions offer a limited version of a VPN while apps are packed with all available features.

If browser extensions are a selling point for you then look towards ExpressVPN or NordVPN instead, they are great services with outstanding reviews.

Does IPVanish offer an ad-blocker?

No. IPVanish does not come with built-in ad-blocker.

There was a time when this would have been nothing unusual, but these days more and more premium VPNs are offering a suite of security tools including an ad blocker.

IPVanish hasn't gone down this route yet but if they follow market trends it is only a matter of time.

If you do want a VPN with a built-in ad blocker you can opt for the likes of NordVPN and CyberGhost VPN, both VPNs have excellent reviews.

If you want to stick with IPVanish, then there are no issues with using a third-party ad-blocker with their service. Some experts would actually recommend it.

Why you should enable the Kill Switch

Despite the fact that IPVanish is, by our reckoning, one of the leading VPN providers around right now, even they experience VPN server cuts every now and then.

All VPNs do.

If you are active online when a cut to your VPN connection happens, you run the risk of an IP leak or DNS leak. This means that your connection automatically returns to your actual IP Address, causing your details to be visible.

But a kill switch prevents this from happening and so should be an essential tool for all VPN users who value their online privacy and security. It is not vital for everyone, but for some users they are essential. We would particularly recommend them for:

  • People using a VPN to evade online censorship
  • People using a VPN to evade online surveillance
  • Anyone else who needs to be anonymous online
  • Torrent users
  • Kodi users
  • Anyone using sensitive documents or materials

We ran a leak test while running IPVanish and they passed with flying colours. The leak test didn't pick up any of our personal details, which is great news.

How to enable the Kill Switch Feature in IPVanish

IP Vanish currently offers a Kill Switch feature with their Windows and Mac OS X apps.

The feature is not switched on by default which means that you need to enable it manually if you want to enjoy the extra security benefits it offers. Fortunately, this is a simple process and can be done by using the following simple step-by-step guide for each app.

Windows
  1. Open IPVanish on your computer
  2. Click the Settings button, which looks like a gear wheel, on the left side of the window.
  3. Click on the Connection
  4. Check the box in the Connection menu labelled Kill Switch.
Mac OS X
  1. Open IPVanish on your computer
  2. Click IPVanish VPN on the menu at the top of the app.
  3. Click on the Connection
  4. Check the box in the Connection menu labelled Kill Switch.

Any problems with your kill switch? Yes? I'm sure their live chat customer support will be able to support you with your problem.

Streaming

Streaming

Does IPVanish work with Netflix?

IPVanish hasn't been the best for unblocking streaming services like Netflix in recent years.

Unfortunately, the situation with Netflix hasn't changed and Netflix is still inaccessible across the majority of their servers.

While you may find one or two IPVanish VPN servers that do work with Netflix, it's extremely hit and miss and there are more reliable services for Netflix if you want to connect straightaway and get streaming Netflix (check out Surfshark for example and see the reviews).

Does IPVanish work with BBC iPlayer?

As with Netflix, the BBC iPlayer streaming sites also aren't readily accessible when using IPVanish's UK range of servers. You might get lucky, but in our testing this was not common.

Another disappointment if it's streaming services you're after accessing and again you'll need to look to other providers like ExpressVPN or NordVPN that do allow access to iPlayer.

Does it work with Amazon Prime?

IPVanish can work with Amazon Prime video, but probably not in the way you're wanting.

They have created a special feature known as split tunneling which allows you to watch Amazon Prime video while connected to the VPN like normal – but IPVanish is not able to unblock it.

This clever split tunneling feature allows you to route selected apps through your internet service provider (ISP) instead of IPVanish. This means you can do other things online securely while still connecting to your Amazon Prime video service (US, UK or elsewhere).

This is great if you are a subscriber and want to watch your favourite shows at the same time as doing other things. It does however mean that IPVanish can't unblock different regions of Prime.

If you want to watch US Amazon Prime or other regions in other countries, you will have to try another VPN such as ExpressVPN that can unblock certain regions.

Other services

The IPVanish service does work with some other streaming services such as ITV Hub, My5 and a couple of others from across the world.

However, it's our experience that these are more operating because these services do little to stop VPNs, rather than IPVanish actively working to support these services.

If you're after accessing premium services like Disney+, Foxtel Go or others, then you'll have no joy here.

Many US services don't work but some do, it really is a bit hit and miss.

Price

Prices and Plans

Lastly, our VPN review took a look at the price.

IPVanish has simplified its price packages this year. You now have two choices; monthly or annually:

The current package prices at the time of writing are:

  • 1-Month: $9.99 per month (~£7.30) – ($4.99 per month for the first month)
  • 1-Year: $79.99 /yr (~£58.55) – ($39.99 for the first year)

We are very disappointed to see that IPVanish have dropped their excellent two-year package which was only introduced last year. This made their service good value for money whereas the new pricing ranges are frankly on the pricy side.

You do also now have the option to sign up for IPVanish VPN + there SugarSync® file storage service too. This lets you sync & secure 500 GB of data to access important files from any device. It is priced as follows:

  • 1-Month: $10.99 per month (~£8.05) – ($5.49 per month for the first month)
  • 1-Year: $99.99 /yr (~£73.25) – ($49.99 for the first year)

The payment methods accepted are limited to Credit Cards and Paypal. While this should suit most, you're out of look if you want to spend Bitcoin or use other payment types.

They recently expanded their money-back guarantee to 30-days which is a great addition.

IPVanish has also started offering a cloud storage service too, but in all honesty it's not something I would get excited about.

If you're specifically after cloud storage then it will be useful but for most it will go unused and while it has been added to seem like an additional feature, the truth is, it's an underwhelming sales point.

How does IPVanish's price compare?

IPVanish monthly package is cheaper than leading VPN provider ExpressVPN ($10 vs ExpressVPN's $12.95) but the gap has narrowed this year.

The ending of their two year deal is a shame and means that other VPNs can trump IPVanish on price if you are willing to sign up for longer.

Does IPVanish offer a free trial?

Unfortunately, there's no free trial on offer from IPVanish.

The only way to test their service is to sign up and pay for the service.

If you don't like what's on offer, then you'll need to take advantage of their 30-day money-back guarantee.

Verdict

Verdict

IPVanish has been one of our favourite VPN services in recent years and in our latest tests we've found they still offer the robust and reliable service we've come to expect.

Sure they have their pros and cons, but all VPNs do, but our IPVanish VPN review is positive overall.

The most significant change in recent times has been that IPVanish was acquired by J2 Global but outside of that very little has changed with the service itself.

Speeds are good, encryption remains robust, and their no user logs guarantee appears to be reaffirmed. Customer service is impressive too with an excellent live chat support.

On the downside, there is no WireGuard protocol offering and it is not able to work inside China.

We're disappointed to see that many of the most popular streaming services such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer still don't work since our last IPVanish review.

This has been the case for the past few years and it limits the usefulness of the service if you're after it specifically for streaming things like Netflix.

For this reason, we do not recommend them if you're a heavy streamer.

With privacy features such as 256-bit Encryption, IP leak protection, and DNS leak protection, your data is in safe hands with IPVanish.

With apps that support most major devices (such as iOS and Android), you'll have all the privacy and security features you'll require for your VPN. IPVanish continues to offer a secure service suitable for protecting your privacy.

IPVanish has only two payment options, either card payments or PayPal and their payment plans have regressed this year too.

Overall we still really like IPVanish and if you're after protecting your privacy, they're high up on the list of services suitable for the job. They're not the best, but they're very good.

Ready to give them a try?

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Christopher Seward

Author: Christopher Seward

After 25 years of using the internet, Christopher launched one of the very first VPN comparison websites in 2013. An expert in the field his reviews, testing and knowledge have helped thousands of users get the correct VPN for their needs.

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