Last update: 08.08.2018
When you keep your biggest secrets in an ultra secure deposit box, but the bank manager also has a key to it. Read the full IPVanish review to learn the good and the bad!
For a VPN service provider to have and manage all their own network of servers is quite unique and it is also the pricier solution when compared to shared and rented virtual servers. This is certainly one area in which IPVanish occupies the Tier-1 throne by being “the only true Top Tier VPN service in the world.” In all fairness, VyprVPN may have something to say about the “only true” part since they also operate 100% without third parties, which means that they also own all 700 of their servers. But that would only be enough for second place anyway.
IPVanish boasts 1000+ own servers in 60+ countries globally as well as one of the bigger pools of IP addresses with a whopping number of 40,000+. Now, that is all impressive, but what else makes IPVanish not vanish into the haze of mediocrity? What else is there up its metaphysical sleeve to finish among the top 10 premium VPN providers?
This VPN service comes with a good variety of protocols and security features, including a kill switch. However, the bad news is that IPVanish is based in the US, which means data retention for the ISPs and a surveillance-friendly jurisdiction. This is not really a good recipe for an online anonymity promising service. But despite its base location, this VPN comes with a strict no logs policy, which may somewhat balance our initial fear of the prying eyes.
Let’s see what else we have found under our microscope when we looked closer for our IPVanish review whether it is worth it for you to spend your money on this particular service.
Security & Privacy: Is IPVanish safe to use?
When it comes to cybersecurity many people still don’t feel like they need to be concerned. If you ask people what kinds of measures they have implemented for their online security and privacy, they may look at you like you are some kind of a conspiracy theorist or lunatic; sometimes they even think these two go hand in hand.
“Why would I care about the (almost) all seeing Fourteen Eyes global surveillance alliance if I have nothing to hide?” or, “Who would hack into my computer or my social networking accounts? I am nobody.”
These are the usual reasonings computer users may come up with not even suspecting how wrong they are taking this matter so lightly.
As a matter of fact, there are several reasons why you should take online security seriously. The virtual world of the internet is full of invisible dangers like identity theft. Just because you are physically located somewhere on the globe (or disk if you are a flat-earther) and the servers you connect to are invisible to you, your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and third parties can easily collect enough information about you to know your exact geolocation, your interests, your preferences, and more.
Many users are rather careless in the virtual world, for example, when they share personal information on social media like “Oh, my little girl is home alone, and I will only be back by 9 pm.” With all the wackos and criminals out there, this could be as good as an invitation to your home. A little more research and your home address could be figured out. Of course, even the best VPN applications will not safeguard you against the “human factor,” i.e., when you yourself share personally identifiable information.
Nonetheless, if you want virtual privacy and anonymity, and stream HD movies, sports, play online games, share files securely, and visit geo-blocked websites, a VPN app could save the day. You should also be wary of the potential dangers of public WiFi’s because hackers may be able to retrieve your account logins or other sensitive information.
But is IPVanish really as secure and privacy-friendly as it claims to be?
There are several factors where a VPN provider can bleed out when it comes to protecting user security and privacy. One such factor is the so-called “zero-logs policy” or “no-logs policy,” which seems to be a wee bit overused by VPN service providers and mostly, as a weapon of marketing.
Since IPVanish is owned by Mudhook Marketing and is based in Florida (USA), we have even more questions about the allegedly “most secure connections.” The US is one of the founders of the Five Eyes alliance, which makes it one of the most eager global surveillance countries. Those tentacles reach far and wide.
IPVanish isn’t even the only VPN service whose no logs reputation was tarnished by US authorities. An FBI case from last year is a good example – an allegedly “no logs policy” VPN provider by the name of PureVPN (based in Hong Kong) was approached by the intelligence agency in a cyberstalker case. PureVPN was able to identify two IP addresses linked to the person of interest and shared it with the FBI. So much for your privacy being protected. This could not be possible with real “no logs policy” VPN provider.
Therefore, we are especially skeptical about so-called “maximum security” VPN providers that are based in “surveillance-friendly” countries like the US. Maybe we are paranoid a bit, so don’t let us spook you.
Have you heard of the Five/Nine/Fourteen Eyes countries? Are you aware that the member countries of these alliances can force server hosting data centers and locally registered companies by law to log user data and share this information with the respective government agencies?
Despite all our jurisdiction-related seeming paranoia, we must mention that IPVanish does a lot for your online security and privacy. Here are some of the features that take care of you while online:
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Zero traffic and usage logs
- OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec VPN protocols
- Socks5 Proxy service
- Unlimited and automatic server switching
- 40,000+ IP addresses for greater privacy
- IP address leak protection
- DNS leak protection
- Kill Switch to protect your IP address when the VPN connection drops
All these IPVanish features can provide you with a safe online experience for your general VPN needs (streaming videos, gaming, file sharing, unblocking geo-blocked content, and so on) if you can turn a blind eye to their being a US-based service provider.
But there’s one more worrisome thing about this VPN, though, that we doesn’t strike us as they understand anonymity fully: the payment options. IPVanish doesn’t offer any anonymous payment methods like cryptocurrencies (e.g., Bitcoin, Dash, and Ethereum) anymore. This is a big drawback if a user wants full anonymity regarding the use of a VPN. Of course, on the other hand, this is all about trusting a provider. Since IPVanish has not yet proved to be unreliable, well, you may as well cut them some slack.
The question always emerges whether it is legal to use VPN at all. So, let’s get this straight.
While using a VPN service is legal, it is just like a knife. It can be used for chopping your onions and meat (unless you are vegan, of course), but it can also be used with criminal intent, which is another story. Yet, using a VPN for cyberstalking or sending bomb threats to your school as a teenager did in the Netherlands raises the question of whether such criminal activities should also enjoy the privilege of full privacy of a VPN service or not. So, before we judge a provider, we should also consider this. On the other hand, we cannot forget the fact that the aforementioned cases involved VPN services that marketed themselves with “no logs” policy.
Hopefully, this IPVanish review will make you think twice before deciding on the best VPN.
Speed: The fastest VPN, or is it really?
In addition to online security and privacy, it is the speed that you should put under the microscope when choosing a VPN service. Although IPVanish leaves a bit of sour taste in our mouth by being based in the US, it may still claim the title for “the best VPN speeds” just like most of the competitors do, too.
By owning all their 1000+ servers (and leaving out third parties from the equation) and covering 60+ countries across the globe, IPVanish can offer you one of the best speeds available today. However, reality and long-term use may show average download speeds lagging somewhat behind the top two VPN providers, NordVPN and ExpressVPN, while upload speeds may do better than others.
If we want to be fair, though, we must mention that you may not get the very same results on other review sites. There are several factors affecting the actual download and upload speeds like what tool you use, so we can’t go all general on this at all. In other words, don’t take these metrics for granted, always take them with a grain of salt.
What we can tell you for sure, tests for our IPVanish review indicate that this service certainly offers relatively fast and reliable speeds.
When talking about speed in connection with VPN services, we also need to talk about how VPN affects your internet speed in general. You may think that the more servers your chosen provider has (preferably located in more countries as well), the higher the speeds they can offer; however, this is not always true. The secured internet speed can be affected by, for example, in which country the VPN server is, how far it is geographically from you, how fast your internet connection is, and what type of VPN protocol you are using (e.g., OpenVPN, PPTP, or L2TP/IPsec).
Tests for this IPVanish review show progress in terms of speed and reliability; however, we advise you to go on exploring more about this service so that you can have a more solid base to compare it with other competitors.
How to download and install it
First of all, it is worth noting that IPVanish is available on all of the more popular platforms, including Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Amazon Firestick TV, and Routers. We went through the whole process for this IPVanish review and it was quite simple. Before you rush to download your chosen client(s), it is best to click the orange Start Now button at the top of the official website. Why? Because you cannot use your client anyway until you:
- Choose a plan
- Create your IPVanish user account (valid email address and password combo)
- Select your payment method: Credit Card (e.g., Visa, American Express, and Discover) or PayPal
Once you are done with this, you can select the Apps menu from the main menu, choose your platform, and download the installer. Remember that now you can use up to 10 devices with one single subscription, so you may want to download all the clients you may need in one go.
How to use IPVanish
Having tried some of the IPVanish apps, we must admit that IPVanish has done a good job at revamping their application. The older version had some issues of being clunky in certain menu screens and not even working properly. But that is the past; buried deep in the virtual cemetery of binary codes.
The new IPVanish interface actually looks quite clear and informative with a simple but nice design. When you launch the program, first, you need to login to your IPVanish account using your credentials.
At the top of the application window, you will find the Quick Connect section. From two drop-down boxes, you can quickly choose a VPN protocol and a server to connect to. Now, click the Connect button and wait for a few seconds to be securely hidden from the prying eyes of governments, ISPs, and hackers. On average, it may take around 10 seconds to connect to a server, which is quite good.
On the left, you will see the main menu starting with the Dashboard, which is also the active menu after your login. This screen displays a map with your chosen fake location and IP address, but also offers Diagnostics for troubleshooting and Settings as tabs at the top of this screen.
The next main menu is Server Selection. There are three ways here for you to select a server for your needs. The first submenu is By Use, where you can choose from the Fastest Server, US Media or Gaming, UK Media or Gaming, and CA(nada) Media or Gaming options.
If this is not how you want to make your choice, you can click the second tab labeled List. Here you can filter the long list of servers (cities and countries) by typing your preferred location or by selecting one from the list. The third tab, Map, lets you choose by physical location on a world map.
IPVanish also comes with a very useful menu, the IP Settings. In this menu, you can change your IP address either on the fly just by pressing the Change IP address button or by choosing an automatic time interval.
The next main menu item below is Account. On this screen, you can log in to your IPVanish user control panel on the website and modify settings, such as your password.
Finally, you have an opportunity to access the support center by choosing the last menu, Support, on the left. You will find the FAQ on this screen and you can also contact the support team via email or live chat.
All in all, our tests for this IPVanish review find a clear-cut, informative, and easy to use interface even for less tech-savvy users. The IPVanish application is certainly a strong point of this VPN service provider, we must admit.
IPVanish for Netflix
There are a lot of TV channels and services like Netflix, which are restricted in their catalogs depending on your geolocation. So, if you:
- are a traveling businessman,
- do freelance jobs away from your home country or your clients’ country,
- want to have access to unlimited US/UK TV shows,
- simply live in a country like China or North Korea where internet traffic is closely surveilled and controlled,
you can use a premium VPN application to circumvent such geolocation-related restrictions and securely watch your favorite TV shows or access otherwise geo-blocked websites.
Bad news for Netflix fans: we tried it for this IPVanish review and can confirm the fact that it has stopped supporting the Netflix service (and it also seems to have issues with the ABC channel). On the positive side, this VPN still manages to bypass CBS and NBC to stream their TV shows, which may not be a big pain relief for those especially wanting to use a VPN service to stream Netflix TV shows. For them, we advise using either NordVPN or ExpressVPN, which both have proven to be ideal so far to tackle the Netflix vs. VPN battle.
IPVanish for Torrenting
Some call IPVanish “a torrenter and gamer’s dream,” so let’s see what it really has to offer.
There are a couple of factors to consider when you are choosing a VPN for torrenting, and hopefully, our IPVanish review will help you decide. First and foremost, you need to be secure when you download files from torrent sites. Not only because you may download copyrighted materials for free and you are not a fan of lawsuits, but also due to the fact that cybercriminals may lurk in the shadows of the virtual world to attack you with malware or steal sensitive information by accessing your system.
VPN servers are usually very well protected against malware attacks, and since they play the role of a mediator between your device and the internet, you can enjoy real peace of mind behind such powerful defense lines.
Our tests for this IPVanish review reveal it as one of the best torrenting VPN services; well, if we forget about the fact that it is based in a Five Eyes country that is – sorry, but we can’t. 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 L2TP/IPSec protocol with AES-256 encryption, so no one can decode your traffic, and it has confirmed DNS and IP leak protection as well.
What else do you need for the best possible VPN for torrenting services? Well, maybe great 24/7 live chat support? Let’s see how IPVanish performs in that field.
Live chat support
Customer support is yet another area where IPVanish needs to improve if they want to step it up a notch and reach the heights of the strongest players in the VPN market. There have been numerous complaints over the past years. Some users complain about the long waiting for support, while some about the quality or the lack thereof. It is possible that you will be treated in a rude tone or after a few failures to find a solution to your issue, the support team may just stop replying to your requests.
But, again, this is a territory where different users may have totally different experiences. You may not even have any issue after using IPVanish for a year. While others may stop being able to access geo-blocked streaming media centers (Netflix) after some time and end up not being supported.
As usual, there are a few ways for you to try to get help from the IPVanish support team. You can simply select the Help menu at the top of the website. On the help page, you can use the Support Center to find an answer or solution to your question, you can use the FAQ for assistance, or send an email to the support team.
Otherwise, anywhere else on the site, you can click the green Help button in the bottom right corner of your screen for similar options. This is when you can connect to a support agent via the live chat support option. IPVanish didn’t use to have this vital option before. So, it’s certainly a good improvement that now they have a responsive and quite effective live chat support.
While you may actually get a reply to your emailed questions, user reports indicate that such messages may be automated, and you would not always be better off having them. In other words, you may have to try and try again so that finally you can solve your issue if you can at all. As we have said, IPVanish certainly needs to work on this to be able to decrease all those negative comments about their customer service practices. In all fairness, there are always unsatisfied haters, too, so it is not possible to only get positive comments anyway.
We must add that during our tests for this IPVanish review we were surprised to find that the application also has a live chat support option, which may finally take IPVanish customer support to the next level. Speaking of the application, let’s see what platforms this provider supports.
Apps and extensions
While this IPVanish review doesn’t cover all the available apps, most of what we tried was convenient and easy to use. We must definitely highlight the impressive range of clients this VPN provider can offer, which righteously puts it in the top 3 choices in this aspect. Here’s the list of all the supported platforms:
- Mac OS X
- iOS/Android/Windows Phone
- Routers: you can either buy a router with IPVanish VPN pre-installed or you can manually flash your VPN router
- Amazon Firestick TV
Since you can also use now 10 separate devices at the same time with a single license, IPVanish should be able to satisfy most users with this arsenal. Even if this VPN lacks the browser extensions at the moment, we believe that it’s still a good choice to consider for streaming HD videos, torrenting, and online gaming.
Pricing: the Golden Mean paradox
For many, pricing is the most important factor while others may prioritize security or speed over the costs of the service. While generally speaking, the Golden Mean means the best possible or the ideal moderate position between two extremes, when talking about pricing, it may not indicate an advantage. Not, when you are looking for the lowest price.
Here are the IPVanish pricing plans:
- 1-month plan: $10.00 per month
- 3-month plan: $8.99 per month (25% save)
- 1-year plan: $6.49 per month (46% save)
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., ExpressVPN and Perfect Privacy). And, if we also consider that IPVanish owns and maintains all their servers globally, maybe we should cut them some slack and appreciate that they can still do this at such relatively low prices.
You may also apply a coupon during signup or the renewal of an inactive account, but you can use it only once in connection with an account.
If you are an iOS user, you may find it quite a relief that you can go for the free trial option before investing your money. However, you should be aware that when buying IPVanish through the Apple Store, you are not eligible for the 7-day money-back guarantee since the cancellation policy as well as the refund are handled by Apple.
As we have already mentioned at the beginning of our IPVanish review, this provider has stopped supporting anonymous payment methods like cryptocurrencies. This simply means that when you purchase a plan, you can be clearly identified and linked to this service, which is not the best practice when you consider that such a VPN should serve you with the best possible privacy.
This, unfortunately, could put off some potential customers like investigative journalists, (ethical) hackers, activists, BitTorrent and uTorrent users, who need the highest possible level of privacy when it comes to internet traffic.
Bottom line: The two fruits of our IPVanish review
As most of the nominees for the “Best VPN” title, this VPN service also has its pros and cons as you can see from our IPVanish review. We may have been a bit tough on this VPN provider but, in general, we can say that it is still among the best ones we have seen, tested, and reviewed.
Our overall verdict is “no, thank you,” our mouth is left with a bitter taste. But, we do appreciate the effort. Depending on your needs you may still find IPVanish a reliable and secure service. So how does your mouth taste after this review? That should be your guide.
If you are still at a loss and would like to find the best VPN service that suits you the most, please check out our other reviews and comparisons.
Let us learn from your experience
Was this IPVanish review useful? Have you ever tried to use IPVanish or any other VPN app? What are your impressions?
Remember, sharing is caring!
Please feel free to leave your comment below.