IPVanish VPN Review: A Jack-of-All-Trades

IPVanish is one of the most complete VPN services we've tested. As its name implies, it lets you disappear online and surf anonymously. Its performance is good, if not top-notch; its software is easy to use; and it never dropped a connection on us. We can recommend IPVanish, but our Editors' Choice, Private Internet Access, offers even better performance at half the price.

Costs and What's Covered

IPVanish's list price is daunting, at nearly $12 per month, but like NordVPN and PureVPN, the company offers heavy discounts (in this case, nearly half off) for paying for a year up front. As of this writing, even the monthly rate was discounted to $10 per month.

There's no free trial, but IPVanish has a seven-day money-back guarantee if you don't like the service. You can pay with a credit card, PayPal or Bitcoin and other services.

MORE: Best VPN Services for Staying Anonymous Online

The service supports up to five simultaneous users, which means you can share the account with family members or friends. There are no limits on data or bandwidth usage.

IPVanish has client software for PCs, Macs, Android devices, iPhones, iPads and Amazon Fire TVs. Other platforms — such as Linux machines, Chromebooks, Windows Phones or Kodi — can be set up to use the IPVanish VPN service without client software, or with OpenVPN software if their platforms support it.

Wi-Fi routers that can use the DD-WRT open-source firmware can be turned into VPN routers using IPVanish. Full instructions can be found on IPVanish's setup page.

Features and Interface

IPVanish lets you choose from about 1,000 VPN servers in 60 countries, ranging from Albania to Vietnam. You can also let the software choose the most efficient server connection. Dig into the settings, and IPVanish lets you automatically start the service when you boot your computer.

IPVanish's Android (pictured below) and iOS apps show your current IP address and the server you're connected to, as well as how long you've been online and how much data has flowed back and forth. But IPVanish VPN lacks the ability to block ads — a feature that's becoming common among VPN services.

Privacy Protections

To sign up for IPVanish, all you need is a valid email account. Unless you're paying with a credit card, you don't have to provide your real name.

The company promises that it doesn't log user activity, and hence will have nothing to show authorities who come looking for information. But privacy fanatics should know that IPVanish is based in the United States, and thus subject to search warrants and National Security Letters.

MORE: Your Router's Security Stinks: Here's How to Fix It

Like most commercial VPN services, IPVanish encrypts data transmissions using the AES-256 protocol where possible, but some platforms (Windows Phone, Chromebook) are limited to AES-128, which is functionally just as secure.

IPVanish's client software also has a "kill switch" option that will shut off all of a system's internet activity if the connection to the VPN server is lost. That should stop some would-be snoopers.

Performance

Over a month of testing, IPVanish had one of the lowest average latency results — the delay in connecting to a website — among the VPN services we tested. At 21.8 milliseconds, its latency was about half that of Avira's Phantom VPN, and one-quarter that of PureVPN.

But latency can vary naturally over time, even without a VPN being used. In that respect,  IPVanish's 106-percent increase over the non-VPN latency at a given moment puts it behind ExpressVPN, which saw a latency increase of only 76 percent. Both were far behind Private Internet Access, whose 3-percent latency increase was barely perceptible.

The IPVanish network delivered data to our system at an average rate of 41.2 Mbps (megabits per second). That's a decline of 28 percent from the non-VPN download rate of 56.9 Mbps. That was slow enough to put IPVanish in fourth place behind the free Opera browser VPN, which had a rate drop of 14 percent; Private Internet Access, which dropped off 22 percent; and CyberGhost, which suffered a 23-percent drop.

IPVanish was able to upload data at an average rate of 17.9 Mbps — a drop of only 1.2 Mbps, or 6.3 percent, from the non-VPN upload rate.

IPVanish took 12 minutes and 18 seconds to download a 428MB video file. (It took only 2:59 to download the file without a VPN activated.) That's a decrease of about 300 percent, putting it about in the middle of the pack. By contrast, Private Internet Access zipped through the download in 4 minutes and 25 seconds. Throughout our testing, IPVanish never dropped a connection or needed to reconnect.

Establishing an initial connection with the IPVanish network can be a little tedious, though. When you launch the client software, it does a pretest and looks for the closest servers. That process takes about 11 seconds. (None of the other services did this.)

Fortunately, this occurs only when you open the mobile app or desktop application. When we clicked to connect to a remote server, it took an average of 9.5 seconds, which is slightly slower than average. My advice is to keep the app loaded to avoid the preliminaries.

Setup and Customer Support

It took about 3 minutes to set up the IPVanish client on a PC or a Mac, and there's a tutorial for first-timers. Although the interface is dark and ominous-looking, it offers access to feedback and configuration details, and lets you resize the windows.  

MORE: Best Mobile Password Managers

IPVanish's Android and iOS apps each take about a minute to install and set up. Customer support is by email only.

Bottom Line

It may not be the fastest or the cheapest VPN available, but IPVanish is an online jack-of-all-trades. It has great software; a wide range of server locations; and client applications for just about every computer, smartphone or tablet. It fulfills the promise of virtual private networks to protect all your data from snoops. But overall, we preferred Private Internet Access, which is cheaper and gave us better performance.

Specs

Client software platforms: Win, Mac, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire
Native support platforms: Win, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Chrome OS, open-source routers
Supported protocols: L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN, PPTP, IKEv2
No. of servers: 850
No. of countries: 60
Country of registration: United States of America
Payment options: Credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, Giropay, other online payment systems
Real name necessary? No
Encryption protocol: AES-256
Data usage: Unlimited
Bandwidth usage: Unlimited
Max. no, of simultaneously connected devices: Five
Customer support: Email
Privacy policy: No logging

Create a new thread in the Antivirus / Security / Privacy forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
1 comment
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
  • guilder03
    Many of these services will perform ok in a test environment. For long-term use many will fail like IPVanish. I experienced frequent drops during the most critical time when you need protection and to keep your PC cloaked for protection. A lot of fluff from these guys but the service is truly subpar.