IPVanish is a perfect example of how all the great specs in the world won’t always outweigh a tarnished reputation.
With all the past controversies surrounding IPVanish, I decided to see if this provider enacted enough positive changes to make it a great VPN service after being put under new management.
There are many pressing questions I’ll look at regarding IPVanish and its current state as a VPN provider. Is IPVanish safe to use? Does it have a no-logs policy? How fast is it? Is IPVanish good for torrenting? And, finally, is IPVanish worth your money?
I’ll try to answer these questions and more to help you decide if IPVanish is the right choice for your VPN needs.
Based in: the USA
Servers and locations: 1300+ servers in 50+ countries
Logs: minimal data collection
Encryption and protocols: main protocols OpenVPN and IKEv2, military-grade encryption (AES-256)
Torrenting: Yes, P2P allowed on all servers
Apps: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Amazon FireTV, Chromebook, Windows Phone, Routers
Support: 24/7 live chat, email, knowledge base
Price: from $6.49/month
Free version or trial: Yes, but only on iOS
Security and privacy features
IPVanish offers great online security and privacy. Its features can provide you with a safe online experience for your general VPN needs (streaming videos, torrenting, gaming, file sharing, unblocking geo-blocked content, and so on) if you can turn a blind eye to IPVanish being a US-based VPN service.
Encryption and tunneling protocols
IPVanish features military-grade AES-256 encryption, which is one of the safest encryption methods used by both financial and military institutions the world over.
IPVanish offers the following VPN protocols at the moment:
- OpenVPN TCP
- OpenVPN UDP
This is an excellent array of available tunneling protocols, with plenty of choices for VPN casuals and experts alike.
Just make sure to avoid the PPTP option unless you really know what you’re doing. PPTP is an outdated protocol marred by serious security vulnerabilities and should only be used as a last resort option by experienced VPN users.
IPVanish has a kill switch that will shut down your entire internet traffic in case of an unexpected VPN connection drop. This is an essential feature for every VPN. With a kill switch enabled, you’ll keep your connection encrypted at all times and keep your privacy protected whenever you use the VPN service.
Currently, IPVanish only offers the kill switch feature on its Windows, macOS, and Android (8.0+) apps, which can leave your connection insufficiently protected on Linux and iOS devices. This means that you should stay away from IPVanish if you use Linux or iPhone.
I’ve tested the IPVanish kill switch on my Windows desktop and found it to work consistently whenever I disconnected the VPN.
No IP or DNS leaks
I’ve tested IPVanish for leaks and found absolutely no DNS/WebRTC/IPv6 leak issues.
As you can see, the service has reliable DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leak protection, which means the IPVanish is safe to use for masking your IP address.
Privacy-unfriendly location: USA
Owned by the US-based VPN provider Stackpath, IPVanish is a well-known player in the VPN industry. Since IPVanish is based in the United States, it might mean data retention, corporate surveillance, and serious privacy concerns when it comes to getting private information.
The US is one of the founders of the Five Eyes alliance, which makes it one of the key global surveillance countries. And those tentacles reach far and wide.
Therefore, I’m skeptical about so-called “maximum security” VPN providers that are based in surveillance-friendly countries like the US.
Is IPVanish really as secure and privacy-friendly as it claims to be? As it turns out, this service takes its no-logs policy seriously, at least on the face of it. This might have somewhat balanced out my fears regarding its privacy-unfriendly location. That is if they hadn’t been caught logging in 2016…
Not that long ago, when IPVanish was still owned by Mudhook Marketing (US), there was a criminal case where a suspect was convicted as a result of IPVanish providing logs of personally identifiable information to authorities. In this particular situation, it seems rather fortunate that the suspect was caught, but the episode does call the sincerity of IPVanish into question.
The good news is that IPVanish is under different ownership now. That company is StackPath (part of J2 Global) and it seems to be interested in improving their product’s reputation. In any case, if you don’t plan on doing anything particularly sensitive, you shouldn’t be too worried.
Other technical features
IPVanish has several advanced security features you won’t always find on your average, run-of-the-mill VPN service:
- Free SOCKS5 Proxy service – change your location and hide your IP without downloading additional software.
- TOR compatibility – integration with The Onion Network for an additional layer of privacy and anonymity.
These are nice features to have, but this list isn’t long enough just yet for IPVanish to stand out of the crowd when competing with NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and other big boys on the security and privacy block.
Speed: is IPVanish fast?
IPVanish claims to offer you some of the best speeds available today. To see if these claims match with reality, I gave the VPN a test drive.
My connection speed without a VPN was 220 Mbps download and 200 Mbps upload. I was testing IPVanish from Europe using the speedtest.net tool. Here’s what I came up with:
- Download: 123 Mbps (44% drop-off)
- Upload: 46 Mbps (77% drop-off)
New York, US
- Download: 44 Mbps (80% drop-off)
- Upload: 6 Mbps (97% drop-off)
- Download: 3 Mbps (99% drop-off)
- Upload: 4 Mbps (98% drop-off)
To sum things up, you might expect IPVanish to give very good download speeds from nearby locations, with upload speeds ranging from average to low. These low upload speeds are a drastic change from my previous IPVanish speed tests that had consistently shown very high upload rates.
This means that, contrary to the provider’s claims, long-term IPVanish use may reveal average download speeds that lag behind other fast VPN services, while the upload speeds tend to be on the lower side.
Does IPVanish support my device?
Yes, it probably does. As far as its multiplatform support goes, IPVanish is available on all the most popular desktop and mobile platforms, as well as Chromebook OS, Amazon Firestick TV, and routers.
I must definitely highlight the impressive range of apps this VPN service provider offers, rightfully putting it among my top 3 choices in this regard.
You can use up to 10 devices with one single subscription, so you may want to download all the clients you’ll need in one go.
IPVanish desktop apps: Windows, macOS, and Linux
Having tried some of the IPVanish apps, I must admit that it has done a good job at revamping their application. The older version had some design issues (certain menu screens were clunky or not even properly functional). That, however, is in the past.
The new IPVanish interface on Windows and macOS actually looks quite clear and informative and has a simple but nice design.
IPVanish also comes with a very useful menu named Settings. In this menu, you can tweak your startup and connection preferences, ranging from simple startup behavior options to toggling the kill switch and leak protection features or enabling server obfuscation. This is especially important to those living in countries that restrict internet usage.
Strangely enough, the option to contact the IPVanish support team is now hidden away at the bottom of the Settings menu:
All in all, I’ve found the IPVanish to have a clear-cut, informative, and easy to use interface even for less tech-savvy users. Barring the weird relocation of the support menu, the IPVanish application is certainly a strong point of this VPN service provider.
Another positive is that the IPVanish Mac app is just as secure as their Windows client, which is not that common in the VPN industry. Many VPN providers offer macOS apps that have fewer security features and tunneling protocol options. Thankfully, that’s not the case with IPVanish.
On the other hand, the Linux version has no graphical user interface to speak of. That’s not surprising, considering that the vast majority of VPNs release their Linux versions as configuration instructions for the OpenVPN app. Other than the lack of a user-friendly interface, the IPVanish Linux app doesn’t support static IP, which might be somewhat of a disappointment.
IPVanish mobile apps: Windows Phone, Android, and iOS (iPhone/iPad)
IPVanish Android and iOS apps just streamlined versions of their desktop counterparts, adapted for mobile use. Well-designed and really user-friendly, both of these apps will have your back whenever you need online protection for your mobile device.
The Android version of IPVanish doesn’t have a native kill switch. This means you’ll have to use a third-party kill switch app or the default Android OS one, which isn’t a big deal.
You can get the IPVanish Android app on Google Play or just downloaded it directly as an APK package file from the official website.
The IPVanish iOS app is available from the App Store.
Other platforms for IPVanish
IPVanish also offers apps for Chromebook OS, Amazon Fire Stick, and routers. This means you can also set them up on these other devices to encrypt your online traffic, access content that’s been geo-blocked in your region, or protect your entire network by running the VPN straight on your router.
Netflix and other streaming services
Is IPVanish good for Netflix in particular? They aren’t saying the service doesn’t support Netflix, but they don’t advertise that they do, meaning you shouldn’t be surprised to see that most servers are blocked.
IPVanish unblocks Netflix US, but not other libraries. Even more, it did so only when I switched from IKEv2 to OpenVPN with traffic scrambling turned on. It’s also hard to say anything about the speeds because I couldn’t access Netflix’s Fast.com test and sometimes I couldn’t even load Netflix’s website.
It’s clear from these test results that IPVanish has trouble unblocking Netflix. It also seems to have issues unlocking ABC channel but managed to bypass the blocking measures of CBS and NBC during my tests.
However, if you want the best streaming experience, I recommend NordVPN or ExpressVPN, both of which have proven ideal for prevailing in the Netflix vs. VPN battle.
Does IPVanish support torrenting?
Yes, IPVanish supports torrenting on all servers.
Some call IPVanish “a torrenter’s and gamer’s dream,” so let’s see what it really has to offer.
My tests have shown IPVanish as one of the better VPN services for torrenting.
IPVanish has its own servers in lots of strategic locations to make its network as fast as possible. It supports the OpenVPN protocol and the IKEv2 protocol with AES-256 encryption, and it has DNS and IP leak protection as well. This means that no one can decode your traffic.
However, don’t forget about the fact that this provider is based in a Five Eyes country and also that the US has powerful copyright legislation (particularly the Digital Millennium Copyright Act).
IPVanish live chat, email support, and knowledge base
Customer support is yet another area where I think IPVanish could use some improvement. That is if they want to step it up a notch and overtake the strongest players on the VPN market.
As is usually the case, there are a few ways to try to get help from the IPVanish support team:
- Email support
- 24/7 live chat support
While you may actually receive a reply to your emailed questions, user reports indicate that such messages are often robotic and not necessarily helpful. In other words, you may have to try again and again to finally solve your issue. IPVanish certainly needs to outwork all those negative comments about their customer service.
I must add that during my tests, I was surprised to find that the application also has a 24/7 live chat support option, was not the case in the past, and may finally take IPVanish customer support to the next level.
Pricing: is IPVanish worth your money?
For many, pricing is the most important factor, while others may prioritize security or speed as their determining criteria when choosing a VPN.
Here are the IPVanish pricing plans until December 2:
1-month plan: $10.00/month
3-month plan: $8.99/month
1-year plan: $6.49/month
With its only 7-day money-back guarantee, this VPN service is not exactly the best buy out there today. Still, these prices are quite fair compared to other, pricier providers (e.g., Astrill and Perfect Privacy). Moreover, considering that IPVanish owns and maintains their entire global network, maybe I should cut them some slack and appreciate the effort.
Since you can now use 10 separate devices at a time with a single license, IPVanish is a great choice for users with multiple devices or families. Even if this VPN doesn’t have browser extensions at the moment, I believe that it’s still a good choice for streaming HD videos, torrenting, and online gaming.
If you are an iOS user, you can go for the free trial option before investing your money.
As I’ve already mentioned, IPVanish has stopped supporting anonymous payment methods like cryptocurrencies. This, unfortunately, could put off the types of customers (investigative journalists, hackers, activists, and, let’s face it, various criminals) who need the highest possible level of online privacy.
Should you get IPVanish?
As you can see from the rest of my review, IPVanish has plenty of pros and cons. I may have been a bit rough on this VPN provider, but, in general, I can say that it’s still among the better ones I’ve seen, tested, and reviewed.
My overall verdict is that there are superior VPNs out there, but, depending on your needs, you may still find IPVanish to be a reliable and secure service.
If you’re still in search of the best VPN service, be sure to check our other reviews and comparisons.