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IPVanish VPN review

IP Vanish Review

IPVanish mentions its primary function in the name: as all VPNs, it hides your IP address. Naturally, VPN services are good for a lot of other purposes too, such as bypassing censorship, securing your data, and more. So, how good is IPVanish at all these things?

In this IPVanish VPN review, I’m going to test their speeds, streaming services compatibility, features, security options, pricing, and overall look and feel of their apps. So, let’s find out whether you should vanish your IP with this VPN.

Country:United States
Logs:No logs
Price:from $2.62/month
Support:knowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chat
Locations:52 countries
Torrenting:Yes
Netflix:Yes

IPVanish pros and cons

Pros

  • One of the cheapest yearly options
  • Split-tunneling on Android
  • Customizable kill switch
  • Good P2P speeds
  • Obfuscated server toggle
  • Automatization options
  • Free SOCKS5 proxy
  • Good customer support portal

Cons

  • No Linux app
  • Price increases after a year
  • Doesn’t work in China

Speed performance: How fast is IPVanish?

Using a VPN has much in common with sending parcels. You can send it from your local post office, or you can drive to another city to do it. The first is faster, but it has more ties to your location, while the second takes a bit longer but is more discrete.

In the same way, your connection without a VPN is much faster than with it. So, the most tangible way to measure VPN speeds is by measuring their drops from the baseline speeds.

Baseline: 1 ms/300 Mbps download/300 Mbps upload

LocationOpenVPN UDPOpenVPN TCPIKEv2L2TPPPTP
 Ping (ms)Download Speed (mbps)Upload Speed (mbps)Ping (ms)Download Speed (mbps)Upload Speed (mbps)Ping (ms)Download Speed (mbps)Upload Speed (mbps)Ping (ms)Download Speed (mbps)Upload Speed (mbps)Ping (ms)Download Speed (mbps)Upload Speed (mbps)
US (NY)1701585317112517117725833177861517321
US (FL)13814432289142501772899177123131425332
US (LA)178975021898196216287721673162185233
UK471306740218219402905640128265152Fail
Germany177188481642922091642893516574195243
Japan2753414730712812911643292114278469
Singapore25523625264512332512324251134172664632
Australia2837014423142102282137162833011281554
Latvia828613582872878285175817312085756
India15866817576118020731793241813815
Argentina24399264832371625117512251121162525630

The OpenVPN version that IPVanish has implemented allows switching between UDP (faster, but less secure) and TCP (slower, but safer) standards. However, IPvanish seems to be rewriting the rulebook: on average, UDP download speed drop was 54%, while TCP was only 45%. Average upload drops were 81% for UDP and 55% for TCP. It’s quite impressive that IPVanish made the slower TCP standard download speeds faster. That said, the speeds were anything but consistent.

The time to connect with IKEv2 was significantly lower than with OpenVPN. The download speeds were more consistent and overall higher, but the upload speed dropped substantially in many cases. On average, the download speeds dropped by 21%, while upload speed drops were around 89%. As with OpenVPN, ping times were also higher than usual.

Although most other VPN service providers are dropping support for L2TP, it’s still here. The download speed drops on average were 70%, while the upload speeds dropped by 23%. Coupled with the fact that ping times also weren’t impressive, it looks like the only case where L2TP could be useful is compatibility. It should work on most devices without problems. However, that’s hardly a selling point on its own, considering the speed reductions.

It seems that universally PPTP is the worst option that IPVanish has. Not only because of security vulnerabilities associated with it. Average download and upload speed drops were 86% and 93%, respectively. Ping times were also pretty huge, so it seems that PPTP is poorly optimized.

Overall, IPVanish doesn’t come off as a blazing fast VPN service. Many protocols struggle to achieve consistent upload and download speeds. However, OpenVPN TCP mode has the best safety-performance balance for many use cases. Other tunneling protocols are poorly optimized or even outdated, so you should avoid them if possible. I expect them to phase some of these protocols out and add WireGuard, instead. That should help with speeds.

Streaming: Can I watch Netflix with IPVanish?

Most older toplists you can find online recommend or give a honorable mention for IPVanish in the streaming department. So, naturally, my expectations were high.

IPVanish doesn’t have specialized servers for streaming. You will be using the same ones as for everything else. However, this doesn’t seem to be a flaw. With this VPN, I managed to unblock US Netflix and watch the ’90s Twin Peaks. There were no freezes or buffering interruptions.

YouTube also wasn’t a hard nut to crack. When connected to their servers, you can unblock geographically restricted sports highlights or trailers without problems. Even if you’d like to see what ads are shown in other countries, it’s possible.

The perfect unblocking streak ended with BBC iPlayer. The website returned an error asking to disable the “proxy.” So, if you want to access your home media, you’ll either have to come back to the UK or choose a different VPN service provider.

The same goes for DAZN, which IPVanish also didn’t manage to unblock. The VPN was caught in their filters, returning an error and blocking access to the site.

Overall, IPVanish seems a decent option for streaming. If you’re only interested in Netflix and YouTube, IPVanish will do just fine. However, if you need more niche streaming websites unblocked, you may run into some problems. This is a shame since they have Apps for Fire TV, Fire Stick, Fire Cube, which makes streaming all the more convenient.

Is IPVanish good for torrenting & P2P?

IPVanish isn’t making a huge selling point out of its P2P capabilities. The service doesn’t offer specialized torrenting servers, so you’ll have to use the same pool.

I’ve found out this isn’t such a massive problem because torrenting with IPVanish works without problems. During the tests, the download speed was 7-8MB/s (56-64mbps) once it connected to all of the peers. So, the speeds were a little bit higher than I’m accustomed to seeing on average.

There’s also a free SOCKS5 proxy, so those who want to take advantage of even higher speeds also have options.

IPVanish VPN features

SugarSync

When you’re paying for your IPVanish subscription, you also can get encrypted storage for a small fee. It works similarly to Dropbox or Google Drive, with the upside that it’s encrypted using the AES-256 cipher. So, your uploaded files are protected with the same standard as your VPN connection.

SugarSync lets you store up to 500 GB. The most significant selling point is that you can even enable upload by email. When you enable this option, you can forward emails with attachments to a unique email address. The attached files will be immediatedly stored in the cloud. This is convenient and solves some problems if you’re using a secure email provider with limited inbox storage.

On Demand

IPVanish offers a method to automatize your connections with the On Demand feature. When it’s turned on, you auto-connect to the VPN in pre-determined cases. You can set it up to always connect automatically, disable the feature when connecting to a specific Wi-Fi, or turn it on when connecting to specified websites.

IPVanish VPN on demand feature

If you set it up for your mobile, you can choose to not use the VPN while at home but automatically connect in coffee shops or libraries. That way, you don’t have to remember to enable it. The VPN does its good work from the background. However, this feature is only available on iOS.

Split tunneling

Split tunneling allows IPVanish users much better control of their VPN setup. With this feature, you can choose apps, which can connect to the Internet, bypassing the VPN connection. This means that they will be connecting directly with your real IP address instead of going through an intermediary.

IPVanish VPN split tunneling

It makes sense to use split tunneling for local versions of applications that you’re using. So, you can order food from a local retailer, rather than some chain that’s located on another continent.

This feature can also minimize the risk that your banking application will trigger security alerts. These apps are particularly sensitive to foreign IPs joining the website, as it’s often a signal for scammers who got a hold of someone’s data. With split tunneling, you’ll be able to avoid all such problems. Sadly, it’s available for Android users only.

SOCKS5 Proxy

Every IPVanish subscription comes with a free SOCKS5 proxy. It’s an unencrypted intermediary server, which removes your IP address. For this reason, it’s popular with torrenters who want to remain anonymous when downloading. Many torrent clients can be easily configured to use the SOCKS5 proxy, hiding your real IP address.

However, it’s worth noting that the IP address being hidden is the only benefit. SOCKS doesn’t encrypt your data. A snoopy ISP will be able to see what you’re doing online. It just minimizes the risk that your IP address will end up on some shady list.

For more tech-savvy users, IPVanish terms of service don’t restrict SOCKS5 usage for scraping. It means that if you want to scrape websites for data, you can theoretically use IPVanish without repercussions. We haven’t tested this service in this sense, so don’t take it as a recommendation.

Traffic obfuscation

Another useful feature about the existence of which IPVanish isn’t screaming from the rooftops is traffic obfuscation. You can tick a box in the settings to enable the XOR cipher for your traffic. That way, your encrypted traffic is modified, making it difficult to determine you’re using a VPN.

IPVanish VPN obfuscated servers toggle

The first layer of encryption protects your exchanged traffic, for example, the visited websites. It leaves you with patterns that are very indicative of OpenVPN usage. However, with XOR, OpenVPN’s traffic loses its VPN characteristics as they are scrambled with the XOR step.

It may seem irrelevant, but keep in mind that some governments have implemented firewalls with deep-packet inspection. Their function is to disable all VPN usage. So, with obfuscation, you’re immune to their blocks to some extent. With that said, user testimony implies that IPVanish doesn’t work in China.

Is it safe to use IPVanish?

Feature options are always welcome, but the bread and butter of a VPN is security. If a service gets it right, even if they lack in other departments, it’s a worthwhile option to consider. Let’s see how IPVanish looks in this regard.

Encryption

Like most consumer-grade VPN service providers, IPVanish uses 256-bit AES encryption. Originally known as Rijndael, this standard is considered one of the safest options to encrypt data. For this reason, it’s widely used in government and financial institutions. It’s simply too complex to be brute-forced by hackers.

Account authentication is processed with SHA-512 hash functions, scrambling your login information into hashes. Because it’s SHA-512, each hash’s size is 512 bits, so it’s a lot to process. Cracking such a hash would take an absurd amount of time, making your data safe.

Their authentication mechanisms also support perfect forward secrecy, meaning that some portion of their encryption system is constantly changing. This means that the encryption keys they were using a year ago are slightly different from the encryption keys they’re using now. So, in the case of a data breach, you can have more peace of mind that your data will remain safe.

Tunneling protocols

IPVanish has a wide variety of available tunneling protocols. You can choose from the following:

OpenVPN (TCP/UDP) – open-source protocol, which still provides first-class security. IPVanish allows you to switch between TCP and UDP versions, so there’s room for customization. It’s the safest option in the IPVanish arsenal. Available on Windows, macOS, and Android.

IKEv2/IPSec – the most popular mobile device option due to low resource usage, compatibility, and near-instant reconnections on interrupts. The security is comparable to that of OpenVPN so that it will fit most tasks. Available on all their clients.

L2TP/IPSec – is a combination of two older protocols, which as a package is considered to be fairly secure. That said, it was co-developed by the NSA, so if you’re trying to stay secure, you might reconsider using it. Available on Windows and macOS.

PPTP – heavily outdated tunneling protocol, which is still sometimes used when no other options work. Although it has wide compatibility, this should be avoided due to numerous security vulnerabilities that can make your connection less safe. Available only on Windows.

It’s worth mentioning that there’s also an SSTP option, which is available on Windows. However, it seems that it’s not working as intended, as I didn’t manage to connect to any of their servers using this protocol. If it were fixed, this could be a selling point, as this protocol is known to bypass China’s Great Firewall.

Overall, IPVanish has a decent suite of tunneling protocols, with the best options being OpenVPN and IKEv2. Sadly, there are no proprietary protocols and no recent additions like WireGuard. IPVanish could improve their speed test scores with this protocol. As it stands now, IPVanish will do the job, but the suite won’t blow you away.

Kill switch

IPVanish does have a standard kill switch that shuts down your internet connection if a link to a VPN server is interrupted. However, there are more customization options for it.

IPVanish VPN kill switch

It’s also possible to block LAN access to shut the device off from the local network devices. This may be relevant if you’re cautious about who could also be connected on a public Wi-Fi. In reverse, you can set it up so that you can block all other local network interfaces when you’re connected to the VPN. This may help you to prevent your data from leaking when you’re downloading torrent files.

In our tests, killing the app didn’t interrupt the connection to the VPN server with IKEv2 and did interrupt it on OpenVPN. However, with OpenVPN, only killing the OpenVPN process engaged the killswitch. The app detected the disconnection but did not notify me, and tried to reconnect when this option was enabled in the app.

So, the kill switch triggers are a hit or miss. You must be cautious and double check if you’re planning to do something that requires discretion.

Logging

When looking for a suitable business location, IPVanish picked one of the worst available options – the US. This is home to the NSA, which is tapped into all of the country’s data lines. Also, the US government is one of the founding members of the Five Eyes alliance.

In their privacy policy, however, IPVanish promises to treat your data with the utmost respect. They claim not to log or sell your data. The only collected information pieces are email address and payment method.

That said, they admit that their website uses quite a lot of tracking cookies. Otherwise, this shouldn’t be such a big deal. Still, considering that their primary customer is privacy-minded, this doesn’t reflect positively on them.

Otherwise, since they haven’t undergone third-party audits for a long time, it’s hard to say whether they will hold their end of the bargain. The company doesn’t have a warrant canary or other more detailed reports on how they will be handing law enforcement requests.

The brand is no stranger to privacy scandals, either. In the past, they have collaborated with the FBI, providing email, account status, real IP address, and connection timestamps. It did help to take a sexual predator into custody, but it added a black spot on the IPVanish privacy promises. With all that said, the brand has changed hands since then and the new owner has distanced themselves from this incident.

IPVanish servers and locations

The server count isn’t the most important attribute of a VPN service, but it has its benefits. A huge fleet allows avoiding traffic congestion on their servers. It means that your speeds will suffer less if the user base is evenly spread across the globe.

In this regard, IPVanish has ~1,600 servers in ~75 locations. So, although the fleet isn’t the hugest, the country amount is above the average. In addition, all these servers are owned by the company, which has security benefits.

IPVanish VPN server fleet

As for the content coverage, here’s how it looks:

RegionsNumber of serversNumber of countries
North America952 servers4 countries
Europe523 servers30 countries
Asia72 servers9 countries
Oceania50 servers2 countries
South America38 servers5 countries
Africa10 servers2 countries

If you’re planning to use IPVanish for Asian servers, it might be a bit crowded if more users decided to connect at the same time. However, for those choosing North America or Europe, they will have a much better experience.

Keep in mind that distance from the VPN server and your location will also affect your speed.

Plans & pricing

The main dilemma that you’ll have when choosing an IPVanish pricing plan is whether you need SugarSync. You can either get only the VPN or a bundle that includes their encrypted storage.

IPVanish VPN pricing plans

VPN-only plans:

  • Monthly plan: $3.49 for the first month, then $9.99 every consecutive month
  • Yearly plan: $31.49 for the first year, then $89.99 after that or $2.62/month for the first year, then $7.45/month

SugarSync bundle:

  • Monthly plan: $3.84 for the first month, then $10.99
  • Yearly plan: $34.99 for the first year, then $99.99 every following year, or $2.92/month for the first year, and $8.34/month for each subsequent year

No matter how you distribute the amount, you will be charged instantly for the whole sum in advance. Although, when put in perspective, their monthly sums aren’t that high. Considering the number of features that you get, it’s a pretty good deal.

The added cost of SugarSync is well worth it if you have use for encrypted storage. However, after the first month or first-year discount ends, the pricing isn’t that low. This pretty much makes IPVanish the cheapest VPN to use for a year.

Their money-back guarantee only applies to their yearly plans. If you want a free trial, don’t pick a monthly option, as you won’t get a refund. All plans support 10 simultaneous connections, so it should be plenty for most households.

Available payment options include credit cards and PayPal. So, if you’re planning to pay with cryptocurrencies, you won’t be able to do it.

Interface and ease of use

Desktop versions

If you’re a Linux user, you’ll have to make do with a manual connection. Apps are available for Windows and macOS. Both clients have a similar interface, which should be simple enough to navigate for most users.

IPVanish VPN UI on MacOS

You get a selection from several tabs like QuickConnect, Server List, and Account settings. By switching the tabs, you can quickly alter your settings or connect to a different server. The server list can be switched from list view to map view, which I found very convenient. There’s even a filter according to the proximity and latency of the server.

IPVanish VPN windows UI

Feature-wise, the macOS version has a kill switch, auto-reconnect, an obfuscation toggle, and on-demand rules. The Windows kill switch is a bit more customizable, allowing even local area network blocks. So, other than SSTP and PPTP tunneling protocols, nothing is separating the Windows and macOS versions.

IPVanish mobile apps

Suppose you’re an avid cybersecurity tools user by now. In that case, you should have noticed that iOS apps rarely have the edge over Android. IPVanish is no exception to the rule. Their Android version is head and shoulders above the iOS version.

IPVanish VPN ios app

The iOS version has On Demand connections, Siri shortcuts, and an alternate connection mode. Otherwise, there’s nothing else. Meanwhile, on Android, you’re getting the obfuscation toggle and split tunneling. You can even reduce the maximum packet size that can be transmitted over your network, which can help if you’re having trouble reaching websites via a mobile network.

Neither app has a dedicated kill switch. Yet, on Android, they provide instructions on how to enable the OS VPN kill switch. So, there’s a workaround.

Visually, both apps look identical. There’s a switch between light and dark mode, so if you’re using system-wide dark mode, IPVanish UI won’t stick out like a sore thumb.

Customer support

If you have some questions about their service, the best place to start is their knowledge center. There you’ll find heaps of FAQs, so it’s likely that your problems already have a well-documented solution with images. It seems properly maintained, and I didn’t manage to find outdated articles.

However, if your problem needs their input, you can contact their customer support agents via email or live chat. I contacted them, asking if there is anything that can be done to unblock iPlayer. I only got a reply three days later, asking what device I am using. So, email isn’t the fastest option at their disposal. However, live chat proved to be much faster.

Overall, their customer support left a positive impression. I liked the fact that their customer support portal shows whether there are any major problems with the service. That way, you know that the problem isn’t on your end.

Is IPVanish worth getting?

IPVanish is a middle-shelf VPN service. It does have all the necessary features that you’d want from your provider: a functional kill switch, numerous servers to connect to, P2P compatibilities, and a very affordable price for the first year.

That said, due to their business location and reputational black spots, it may not be the go-to choice if absolute privacy is your goal. Even as an entertainment-only option, it has some difficulties with unblocking some streaming services. As a whole, the speeds were decent but inconsistent, so your experience may vary.

If you’re looking for the cheapest option for torrenting, IPVanish is a great VPN. For other use cases, it’s good, but not spectacular.

FAQ

Does IPVanish work in China?

The majority of users report that IPVanish doesn’t work in China, so keep this in mind if you’re going there.

Is IPVanish free?

No. IPVanish doesn’t have a free version. Even their 1-month trials are non-refundable. So, the only way to try the service is by buying a yearly plan and asking for a refund.

How many devices does IPVanish allow?

IPVanish allows a maximum of 10 simultaneous connections.

Which is better IPVanish or NordVPN?

In the long run, NordVPN can be a more affordable option that also has more features and is generally safer. Learn more in our IPVanish vs NordVPN comparison.

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