Many VPN providers proudly state their server count on their homepage because, in most cases, it’s shorthand for great quality. It suggests a provider is particularly great at unblocking geo-restricted content (think Netflix) and bypassing strict content filters in more repressive territories (think China)
IPVanish is no different. Before you’ve scrolled to the bottom of its homepage, the provider gleefully informs you that it owns 1,300+ anonymous servers. Most of its testimonials, including one from TechRadar, also reinforce the idea that IPVanish provides a great VPN experience through its massive fleet of servers.
However, while quantity is clearly important here, it’s the quality of the actual servers that ultimately makes the difference. For this reason, we’re taking a closer look at the IPVanish server list to give you the lowdown on how strong and well-positioned its servers actually are.
How big is the IPVanish server list?
The IPVanish server fleet totals in at 1,310 privately-owned servers (i.e. no virtual or ’fake’ servers). These servers are spread out across 74 cities in 48 countries.
Out of context, this looks impressive. However, 48 countries is a little low for a top-quality VPN. Astrill VPN, for instance, offers only a quarter of the servers IPVanish has, but they’re spread over 63 countries, which therefore provides a stronger reach.
Astrill is also known as one of the fastest VPN providers on the market, which lends further credence to the argument that less is often more with regard to VPN servers. As such, we’re going to dig into the numbers to see how well IPVanish really performs in this regard.
The spread of the IPVanish server list
As we mentioned, IPVanish lays claim to 1,310 servers in total. Of these, 632 alone are situated in the United States, and 324 are in Western Europe. The combined total is 78.5% of their total servers.
This leaves little over 250 servers for the other 35 countries outside those regions. These are divided into the following:
- Australasia: 69 (5.7%)
- Central/Eastern Europe: 63 (5.2%)
- Northern Europe: 41 (3.4%)
- South/Southeast Asia: 38 (3.1%)
- East Asia: 25 (2%)
- South America: 18 (1.4%)
- Central America: 6 (0.5%)
- Middle East: 4 (0.2%)
- Africa: 2 (0.1%)
As you can see, the IPVanish servers are heavily loaded in the English-language markets of Australia and New Zealand.
The provider has a higher concentration of Australasian servers than NordVPN (5%), but 5% for NordVPN is over 250 servers. However, IPVanish does beat Astrill VPN in this regard, which has only 2.5% of its servers in that region (8 in total).
What’s more revealing is the fact that all of the South American servers are located in southeastern Brazil (Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, both of which are 5,000 km away from the nearest server in Costa Rica).
There are also no servers between South Africa and Israel, a distance of over 7,500 km as the crow flies – the São Paulo server is actually closer, despite being separated by the Atlantic Ocean.
Population density in Africa and South America is not usually strong enough for VPN providers to purchase hundreds of servers there, but that doesn’t mean users in these regions do not deserve VPN server access at all.
In comparison, while Astrill has fewer servers in South America than IPVanish, they are more evenly placed throughout the continent, which therefore allows for greater access overall.
Ivacy, another VPN provider with a small fleet of smartly-placed servers, offers servers in six African countries from the north (Egypt), east (Kenya; Seychelles), west (Nigeria; Ghana), and south (South Africa).
In conclusion, then, IPVanish provides very little coverage to users outside North America and Western Europe. Users in less represented regions will, therefore, find it difficult to find a reliable nearby server to connect to – and if that server crashes, there’ll be very little chance of a backup.
IPVanish server speed
Here’s where the above issue really comes into play. We speed-tested a number of IPVanish servers – cross-referencing them with user reviews for a greater sample size – and found a common consensus: IPVanish is useless unless you’re physically close to one of their servers.
Now, when you are close to their servers, IPVanish provides some genuinely decent connection speeds. Testing from the UK, we found most of the servers in Western Europe to be reliable.
However, this dropped off once we got to Eastern European servers such as Poland. Similarly, US servers gave us around a quarter of our base internet connection, and servers in East Asia were positively useless for us.
For comparison with other regions: the UK and the US are closer than the distance between the Brazilian and Costa Rican servers; the US and Japan are separated by a slightly greater distance than between the South African and Israeli servers.
For the underrepresented regions, then, the IPVanish server list seems to be mostly hopeless.
IPVanish servers and streaming
IPVanish mostly works on shared IP addresses, which makes it easier for anti-VPN services such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer to notice that you’re using a proxy.
It isn’t always impossible to bypass geo-restrictions using shared IP – just ask ExpressVPN – but it’s probably a good reason why IPVanish cannot bypass these restrictions at all.
Even if you did fall lucky with a Netflix-friendly server, the speeds on distanced servers are so poor that there wouldn’t be any point in actually trying to watch anything.
IPVanish servers and torrenting
On paper, IPVanish is actually quite great for torrenting. P2P is supported on all servers, and the provider offers a SOCKS5 proxy as standard – and both of these features are essential to VPN torrent support.
Put to the test, it allows for speedy torrenting without leaking any data whatsoever. Users in Western Europe can rejoice at the whopping 94 servers in the torrent-friendly Netherlands, as well as a further 10 in Spain provided as a backup.
Of course, that’s where it falls back; IPVanish’s torrent support is mostly reserved for Western European users. At this stage, though, we’re just happy to see that the IPVanish server list is good for something, whatever it is.
Users will likely balk at IPVanish’s lack of ability to bypass international geo-restrictions, and those outside of Western Europe and North America may balk at the total lack of server coverage in their regions. Nevertheless, if you are a Western European user in need of some added protection for torrenting, IPVanish could certainly be a solid option for your needs.