IPVanish continue to offer an all-round fast service with one or two rough edges that need polishing.
- Good range of apps across most devices.
- High level of encryption.
- Live help.
- Amazing download speeds.
- 10 device limit.
- Poor for unblocking TV services.
- Slim money back guarantee
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 2020?
In this latest review, we aimed to find out, so our team of experts have been testing their service thoroughly to see how they're performing, but more importantly, how they compare to the competition out there.
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.
- Check out our round-up of the top VPNs for Youtube.
For regular use, there was no noticeable slowdown or issues that we could detect.
You may be interested how this translates into actual speeds, so we ran some speed tests 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 speeds:
- 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.
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.
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.
IPVanish increased their concurrent connection limit to 10 a few years ago.
That means you can connect up to 10 devices at the same time with just one account.
This is one of the most significant limits available and most other VPN services are still only offering between 3 – 6. 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.
IPVanish is located in and under the jurisdiction of the United States.
Last year they were 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, so it pays to weigh up the positives and negatives of their location.
IPVanish introduced a new ‘Live Help' feature a few years back which lets you get answers quickly.
In our tests, we found live chat to be knowledgeable and able to answer most basic questions.
This includes the likes of Billing, Sales and Tech Support.
If you prefer to contact them via another method then you can either send them a support ticket or give them a phone call – 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 in most instances.
IPVanish's website claims to offer VPN servers in over 75 locations across the world.
A quick count of countries offered and it sits around the 55 VPN locations mark – up from 47 last year.
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 it puts IPVanish in the medium-high range.
While some providers offer more, when you discount those that use ‘virtual servers' it means IPVanish's offering is somewhat decent.
That said, most typical users will only ever connect to around 1 – 3 different locations in their entire VPN lifetime so with over 50 available, it's overkill for most.
The service has added more individual servers in those locations now offering over 1,300 VPN servers which is up 200 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. In our assessment, we have found no reason to doubt this.
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 services.
When a VPN uses a virtual server, it is pegged to server located in a completely different country.
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 IPVanish inside 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.
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 & Safety
Protocols & 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.
IPVanish has used industry-standard secure encryption across its service for many years.
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).
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.
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 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 is the way that few others do.
On their website, they stress that using their service allows you to torrent anonymously and without fear of 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 their users.
IPVanish offers support for all the most popular mobile devices, including Android apps, iPhone apps and the iPad.
We've been testing the Android version of their app over the past few months, although it hasn't changed at all since we reviewed their service last year.
The layout of the app looks similar to that of their desktop clients and apps for other platforms, so using across a range of devices is simple. 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 app screen, which is an elegant feature if you simply want to connect and forget about the VPN.
Behind the scenes, there aren't too many options.
Mostly they concern choosing between the TCP and UDP protocol and setting the app up for automatic connection if needed.
We like the ‘Split Tunnelling' 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. It's an ingenious feature and a massive bonus to the 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.
IPVanish's desktop apps are available for Windows and Mac OS systems.
They're mostly the same as we used the past two 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.
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:
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.
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.
A further app is available for Amazon Fire TV devices. It works with the Fire TV, 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.
In terms of unblocking 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 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.
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.
If you want to stick with IPVanish, then there is no issues with using a third-party ad-blocker with their service.
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 server cuts every now and then.
All VPNs do.
If you are active online when that happens, you run the risk of an IP leak. This means that your connection automatically returns to your actual IP Address.
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
How to enable the Kill Switch Feature in IPVanish
IPVanish 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.
- Open IPVanish on your computer
- Click the Settings button, which looks like a gear wheel, on the left side of the window.
- Click on the Connection
- Check the box in the Connection menu labelled Kill Switch.
Mac OS X
- Open IPVanish on your computer
- Click IPVanish VPN on the menu at the top of the app.
- Click on the Connection
- Check the box in the Connection menu labelled Kill Switch.
Does IPVanish work with Netflix?
IPVanish hasn't been the best for unblocking streaming services in recent years.
Unfortunately, the situation hasn't changed and Netflix is still inaccessible across the majority of their servers.
While you may find one or two that do work it's extremely hit and miss and there are more reliable services if you want to connect straightaway and get streaming Netflix (check out Surfshark for example).
Does IPVanish work with BBC iPlayer?
As with Netflix, BBC iPlayer also isn't accessible when using IPVanish's UK range of servers.
Does IPVanish work with Amazon Prime?
IPVanish can work with Amazon Prime, but probably not in the way you're wanting.
They have created a special feature known as split tunnelling which allows you to watch Amazon Prime while connected to the VPN like normal – but is not able to unblock it.
This clever 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 Amazon Prime.
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 Amazon Prime in other countries, you will have to try another VPN such as ExpressVPN that can unblock certain regions.
The IPVanish service does work with some 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 ‘out of luck' 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.
IPVanish follows the standard VPN service offering and has one package available that differs in subscription lengths.
As is the case with most providers, the longer you sign up for, the cheaper the service becomes.
In the past year IPVanish has moved to offer longer subscriptions which reduce the price matching most other VPN providers in the industry.
They've also reduced the cost of their 1-year package which works out at almost £2 per month cheaper.
The current package prices at the time of writing are:
- 1-Month: $10.00 /mo (~£7.67)
- 1-Year: $6.49 /mo (~£4.98)
- 2-Years: $4.12 /mo (~ £3.16)
The new two-year package offers exceptional value for money and is competitive to other provider's prices. However, the reduction of the annual plan also makes it an attractive proposition.
When considering the two-year subscription, it's worth considering that if the quality of the service reduced you would be locked in and as such the yearly account may make the safer option.
The downside is the savings are smaller.
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 that Bitcoin or use other payment types.
A rather small 7-day money back guarantee is available and we would have hoped this would have increased over the past year as the general industry standard is 30-days.
How does IPVanish's price compare?
IPVanish monthly package is 22% cheaper than leading VPN service ExpressVPN ($10 vs ExpressVPN's $12.95).
Their 1-year packages are the same price per month, both at $6.49 /mo.
While ExpressVPN doesn't offer a 2-year package, so in that sense, IPVanish works out cheaper because you would need two individual year's subscriptions to ExpressVPN.
Iin comparison to Surfshark however, IPVanish's 1-month package is 16% cheaper ($10 vs Surfshark's $11.95).
However, their 1-year package is 7% more expensive ($6.49 /mo vs Surfshark's $5.99) and their 2-year package is around 48% more expensive ($4.12 /mo vs Surfshark's $1.99).
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 money-back guarantee. Bear in mind it's only 7-days so you'll need to test quickly and grab a refund before seven days pass.
IPVanish has been one of our favourite VPN services in recent years and in our latest tests we've found them to offer the robust and reliable service we've come to expect.
The most significant change experienced since our last review was that IPVanish was acquired by J2 Global and outside of that very little has changed with the service itself.
It was pleasing to see a slight increase in locations offered and we would expect in 2020 to see progress in terms of service, locations and the overall quality of the VPN. Given that the owning company have now had enough time to smooth the buying process.
Upon testing the service both for everyday use and in specific speed tests, we found IPVanish to be one of the fastest services available.
If you like to stream high-quality video, download quickly or carry out other speed-intensive tasks, then IPVanish will undoubtedly be suitable.
We're disappointed to see that many of the most popular streaming services such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer still don't work. 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.
For this reason, we do not recommend them if you're a heavy streamer.
Encryption on the service is high and with apps for most major devices that have many of the options you'll require, IPVanish continues to offer a secure service suitable for protecting your privacy.
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.
Now if they could only unblock a few of the big TV services and they really would be vying for a higher spot as one of the best services.
Ready to give them a try?
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