IPVanish Review

IPVanish is a well-established VPN with a strong fan base and a mixed reputation. During this latest round of testing we liked a lot about it, but its track record for privacy, as well as a few other niggles, keep it from being anywhere near the top spot. Read our full IPVanish review for the dirty deets.

By Samuel Chapman
— Last Updated: 15 May'20
2020-05-15T09:20:18+00:00
Table of ContentsRating
Features
85%
Very Good
Pricing
65%
Decent
Ease of Use
90%
Excellent
Speed
90%
Excellent
Security
88%
Very Good
Privacy
40%
Terrible
Streaming Performance
75%
Good
Server Locations
78%
Good
Customer Service
85%
Very Good
User Reviews & Comments

Good
Starts from $ 650 per month
Save 35 %

IPVanish is one of the tragic figures in the virtual private network world. Although its stellar speeds, good set of features and laudable security should make it a shoo-in for our best VPNs list, its well-publicized privacy shortcomings make it difficult for us to recommend.

In this IPVanish review, we’ll give you the gory details on this VPN service’s discredited no-logging policy. We’ll also consider other aspects of IPVanish, including its speed, features, user interface, security choices, streaming power and customer service.

While IPVanish has a few flaws other than the big “no-logging” one, it’s by and large a well-built VPN that’s fast enough for casual browsing and for unblocking Netflix and BBC iPlayer. If you aren’t concerned about third parties reading your browsing history, it might be a good choice. If you’re concerned about your data, though, save yourself the hassle and read our ExpressVPN review.

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths:

  • Excellent speeds
  • Good user interface
  • Kill switch
  • 10 users per subscription
  • Strong security choices
  • Well-written knowledgebase
  • Phone support
  • Unblocks Netflix & BBC iPlayer

Weaknesses:

  • Major privacy issues
  • No split tunneling on desktop OSes
  • Overpriced annual plan
  • Unclear how many servers are virtual
  • Forces you to setup auto-renew
  • Fails to unblock Hulu & Amazon Prime Video

Alternatives for IPVanish

cloudwards rating
$ per month
top features
  1. 1
  2. /month
    • PayPal, Credit card
    • 10 Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • Yes--but proven false No-logging policy
  3. Visit IPVanishIPVanish Review
  1. 2
  2. /month
    • PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin
    • 5 Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit ExpressVPNExpressVPN Review
  1. 3
  2. /month
    • PayPal, Credit card
    • 10 Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit Private Internet AccessPrivate Internet Access Review
  1. 4
  2. /month
    • PayPal, Credit card
    • 5 Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit TorguardTorguard Review
  1. 5
  2. /month
    • PayPal, Credit card
    • 5 Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit AirVPNAirVPN Review

Features

85% - Very Good

IPVanish is available on desktops and laptops running macOS, Windows or Chrome OS, and mobile devices running iOS and Android. Though it technically works on Linux, the website stresses that this is only “best-effort” support and the install is not guaranteed to work.

This service has almost all of the features we look for in a VPN. The only major things missing are split tunneling (except on the Android and Amazon Fire TV apps), browser extensions and servers focused on streaming (read our PureVPN review for a service with all three). 

Before IPVanish became famous for entirely the wrong reasons, this VPN was best known for its IP address cycling feature, which randomly assigns IP addresses to each user and regularly changes them around (read our HideMyAss review for another service with this feature).

In older versions of this VPN, users could manage IP address cycling themselves, but more recent releases remove that control. IP addresses now cycle every hour. We miss being able to control it, but IP address cycling remains a great selling point.

IPVanish also has a kill switch, which immediately cuts your internet connection if your VPN connection drops. This is a pretty common feature, seen even on middling VPN services like Ivacy (read our Ivacy review).

However, IPVanish goes one step further, providing an option to automatically attempt to reconnect the VPN, which drastically reduces the time spent fighting your network.

There’s a wide range of startup options. You can have IPVanish launch when your computer starts up and/or connect immediately on launching the VPN. You can choose what server it connects to when starting automatically: the last server you used, the fastest available server or the fastest in a certain country.

The only other feature on IPVanish’s preferences list that might be confusing is the “scramble” option. When checked, “scramble” hides the fact that you’re using a VPN, which makes it easier to evade government censors that detect and terminate any VPN traffic using deep packet inspections.

A subscription to IPVanish entitles you to a free account with SugarSync, a cloud storage service owned by the same parent company, J2 Global. Check out our SugarSync review to learn more. Suffice it to say that although free stuff is always nice, SugarSync is a mediocre app that won’t be dethroning our best cloud storage picks anytime soon.

IPVanish Features Overview

Starts from$ 650per month

General

Payment methods
PayPal, Credit card
Accepts cryptocurrency
Simultaneous connections
10
Supports split tunneling
Android & Amazon Fire TV only
Unlimited bandwidth
Free trial available
Refund period
30 days
Worldwide server amount
1,400+ servers in 59 countries
Desktop OSes
Windows, MacOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, Chrome OS
Mobile OSes
Android, iOS
Browser extensions
Can be installed on routers

Streaming

Can access Netflix US
Can access BBC iPlayer
Can access Hulu
Can access Amazon Prime Video

Security

Encryption types
256-AES
VPN protocols available
IPSec, OpenVPN, L2TP, IKEv2
Enabled at device startup
Allows torrenting
No-logging policy
Yes--but proven false
Passed DNS leak test
Killswitch available
Malware/ad blocker included

Support

Live Chat
24/7
Email support
24/7
Phone support
24/7
User forum
Knowledgebase

Pricing

65% - Decent

IPVanish is overpriced on any plan except for the month-to-month subscription. Although $10 per month is on the cheap side for a VPN these days, IPVanish’s yearly VPN subscription is just this side of gouging, given how much you can save on an annual plan with some of our favorite VPN services, such as ExpressVPN.

There’s also no free plan. If that’s what you’re looking for, see our list of the best free VPNs, or read our Windscribe review to learn about our favorite free VPN.

IPVanish Price Plans
  • Unlimited GB Bandwidth
  • 10 Included Devices
3-months plan $ 9.00/ month
$26.99 billed every 3 month
Save 10 %
1-year plan $ 6.50/ month
$77.99 billed every year
Save 35 %

Signing up for any IPVanish plan gets you access to the entire feature set, including unlimited bandwidth and the freedom to use the VPN on 10 devices. (IPVanish earned a spot in our best VPN for multiple devices guide because of that second feature.) There’s no free trial available, but all plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Other than the monthly plan, IPVanish offers an awkward three-month subscription, a commitment that will save you exactly three dollars. There’s no level above the yearly plan, so that’s the best deal you’ll get with this VPN.

It’s that yearly plan, at $6.49 per month, that really sets our teeth on edge. You can get 15 months of ExpressVPN for almost exactly the same price, and ExpressVPN is an objectively superior VPN service. We know because we set these VPNs head-to-head; you can read our ExpressVPN vs IPVanish showdown for the details.

If you’re on a budget, you can get a perfectly good VPN like Private Internet Access (see our PIA review) for half the monthly price of IPVanish. To charge this much, a VPN needs to be near-flawless, and IPVanish is not.

The payment methods that IPVanish offers are also scant. IPVanish accepts PayPal and most major credit cards, but that’s it: no wire transfers, cryptocurrency or secure cash options.

Ease of Use

90% - Excellent

Other than a few unprofessional UI choices, which we’ll detail below, IPVanish has a clean user interface that’s easy to use. It looks good, it’s info-rich without being cluttered — read our AirVPN review for that — and it has one of our favorite server selection interfaces.

Download and Installation

However, IPVanish threw up a red flag before we even got off the payment page. In order to proceed to the software download, you have to agree to auto-renew your subscription every month, even if you only signed up for a one-month plan. Multiple other VPN providers, such as Mullvad, allow you to do a one-time payment. 

The best interpretation of this auto-renew is that IPVanish is at least warning you about something that many VPNs do quietly. The worst interpretation is that it’s trying to give itself plausible deniability. Neither possibility is as good as just not auto-renewing.

Aside from that one hiccup, downloading IPVanish was a snap. After paying, you’re taken directly to a page where you’re prompted to download the right client for your OS. The download itself happens fast. After verifying your email address, you’re ready to go.

IPVanish offers a quick tutorial upon launching that goes over the basics of how VPNs work and how to use this one. You can set the VPN tutorial to replay if you ever need to see it again. Although there’s not much content, it’s still a nice thought, albeit a far cry from the detail of TorGuard’s tutorials (read our TorGuard review).

User Interface

IPVanish’s main control panel has a pleasing black-and-green color scheme. It does a great job of presenting a lot of information in a readable format: all the most important information is right up front, including your connection status, data usage, server location and protocol.

From the “quick connect” tab, you can change your server location using three dropdown menus. Picking a new option from the top menu changes all the menus below it, so it’s easy to navigate from your favorite server in Seattle to the fastest available server in Bucharest, Romania.

If you want more options for finding the best server, head to the “server list” tab, where you can sort through all of IPVanish’s servers by country, city or number of servers within each city. The VPN doesn’t have quite as much useful information as CyberGhost’s server selection interface (see our CyberGhost review to read about that), but it’s close.

You’re also free to sort through the server locations with a map screen, which is not useful. By the time you can distinguish the servers’ actual locations, you’ve zoomed in so far that you’ll have to virtually trudge through the countryside to reach the data center.

The filtering option is more helpful. Combining a speed test with the server search function is a genius touch: it’s great to be able to see which servers in a country or city have acceptable latency.

The “account” tab is pretty much filler, except for a link to the “members area” of IPVanish’s website. It’s a bit annoying that the log-out button is placed where the connect/disconnect button is on the main tab; we accidentally clicked it at least once.

If you’re on Windows, you’ll have a “settings” tab that gets you to the rest of your options. Meanwhile, macOS users will find this by going to the “IPVanish VPN” toolbar menu and selecting “preferences.”

The “preferences” panel includes all the rest of the options we discussed in the “features” section above. Each one is expressed as either a checkbox or a dropdown menu. It’s hard to imagine how this could be any more user-friendly, other than providing a little more in-app information about the meaning of each feature.

Speed

90% - Excellent

Other than IP address cycling, speed is the biggest thing IPVanish has going for it. With an average WiFi connection running at about 14 Mbps unprotected, we were able to get streaming-ready speeds on three different continents. 

Moreover, IPVanish’s speeds are mostly very consistent, more so than other fast services like NordVPN (check out our NordVPN review to learn more).

As in our fastest VPN guide, we ran all of our speed tests using OpenVPN with UDP as the transport protocol. This way, we can compare services directly. You may get faster performance when using IKEv2, though.

LocationPing
ms
Download
Mbps
Upload
Mbps
Unprotected3414.172.28
Seattle, WA, U.S.25
10.70
2.21
San Jose, Costa Rica288
4.98
2.10
Glasgow, Scotland331
1.12
1.58
London, England328
5.61
1.53
Bucharest, Romania408
3.23
1.89
Hong Kong368
6.42
2.29
Average291
5.34
1.93

As you can see from the table above, the download speed took a massive dip in Glasgow, despite IPVanish selecting it as the best server in the UK. We added London to the table and got speeds fast enough to stream BBC content from the western U.S.

The exact same thing happened the last time we reviewed IPVanish, a whole year ago. We’re not sure if there are rats chewing on the wires at the Glasgow data center or what, but its problems aren’t indicative of larger issues; other less-popular areas like Costa Rica and Romania had relatively brisk speeds.

Other than Glasgow, not a single server farm dropped us below 20 percent of our starting speed. Compared to most VPNs we test, that’s remarkable. IPVanish earns its honorable mention spot on our list of best VPNs for streaming.

Despite excellent latencies on every server (even the weird, broken one in Scotland), IPVanish’s privacy issues kept it off our best VPN for gaming list this year. Were it not for our reluctance to recommend it in general (see the “privacy” section), this VPN would merit at least an honorable mention.

Security

88% - Very Good

IPVanish is strong in the security department. We used ipleak.org to test for any vulnerabilities, including DNS leaks, WebRTC leaks and IP leaks, and didn’t find anything.

To be clear: our high rating here is in no way meant to imply that your data is safe with IPVanish. See the next section to learn about its privacy issues. What we mean is that your data is secure enough with IPVanish that the only threat to your privacy is IPVanish itself.

The VPN gives you a choice of five different protocols: OpenVPN over TCP or UDP, L2TP, IPSec and IKEv2.

Since we last tested IPVanish, it’s gotten rid of PPTP, which wins it a lot of points. PPTP is so weak that the mere chance someone will use it by accident constitutes a major security flaw. See our VPN protocol breakdown to learn more or our SaferVPN review for one example of how PPTP creates problems.

OpenVPN is the best all around, but IKEv2 is faster, making it a strong choice for mobile devices. L2TP and IPSec are both throwaways; there’s no real reason to use them when OpenVPN is on the table.

Every IPVanish protocol uses AES 256-bit encryption, which is functionally impossible to crack. AES-256 is about as trustworthy as internet security gets.

Privacy

40% - Terrible

We’ve been building up to this section throughout the whole IPVanish review: the reason why IPVanish may not be a good VPN to trust with your private information.

In 2016, an American named Vincent Gevirtz shared child pornography online with an undercover agent for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. DHS traced Gevirtz’s IP address and discovered that it belonged to Highwinds Network Group, the original parent company of IPVanish.

DHS subpoenaed Highwinds, which at first claimed it couldn’t identify the user because it didn’t keep logs of browsing data. However, when served with a second, more forceful subpoena, Highwinds revealed it had the data after all. It handed over information that agents promptly used to acquire a search warrant and arrest Gevirtz.

We want to be completely clear: we’re pretty happy that Vincent Gevirtz is in jail where he belongs. However, we’re very unhappy that IPVanish had information it wasn’t supposed to have. The logs used to put him away shouldn’t have existed and, no matter if they were put to good use or not, it’s not what IPVanish customers are paying for.

IPVanish’s privacy policy in 2016, when all this happened, claimed that it did not log any user browsing data. That policy, which was proven to be a lie by the Gevirtz case, has not substantially changed since then.

IPVanish is now owned by J2 Global, which bought it from StackPath, the company that acquired IPVanish following the logging incident. StackPath claims to have discovered through an independent audit that all stored user logs were destroyed. We’re taking a trust-but-verify approach to that statement, and we haven’t yet been able to verify it.

Streaming Performance

75% - Good

For streaming, IPVanish is a mixed bag, only capable of getting into streaming services about half the time. It wasn’t able to access Netflix last year in our last IPVanish review, but testing the VPN this time, we found we were able to get around the much-feared proxy error. Combined with its speeds, we’d put IPVanish up against any of our best VPNs for Netflix.

Hulu, though, which is quickly becoming a harder nut to crack than Netflix, caught us on every server. Amazon Prime Video blocked us as well.

On a UK server, we managed to get into BBC iPlayer. Just make sure not to pick “best available city” or you’ll wind up stuck in Glasgow. Both the London and Manchester servers gave us fast enough speeds to stream shows.

Server Locations

78% - Good

IPVanish has more than 1,400 servers in its network, spread across 59 countries on every continent but Antarctica. It’s present in many areas of the world that VPNs often ignore, including Central America, South America, Africa and South Asia.

There could definitely be more IPVanish servers in these places, but what’s already there is a fine start. Yes, it hardly stacks up to NordVPN’s network (see our NordVPN vs IPVanish matchup), but no other VPN does either.

A server number that large implies a mix of physical and virtual servers. Virtual servers perform exactly the same, but they’re less safe for users trying to avoid government surveillance. If you live under a repressive regime and you aren’t certain a server is physical, we don’t recommend connecting to it.

Customer Service

85% - Very Good

IPVanish distinguishes itself in the customer service department by having a tech support phone line in several countries. It’s hard to find, but if you live in the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, Australia, Spain or Brazil, you can contact a support agent 24/7.

You can also contact IPVanish through live chat on the website or submit an email support ticket. We reached out via all three methods with simple questions and got our answers within 24 hours every time.

Note that IPVanish’s agents are much more forthcoming about troubleshooting than they are about the service itself. When we tried asking what percentage of their servers were owned, rented or virtual, we were rebuffed.

You can get to the IPVanish knowledgebase from the desktop app. The main support page is one of the best-organized pages we’ve seen in a while. You’ve got a search bar, a system status indicator, the button for an email support ticket and links to the most popular articles.

The articles are organized into six intuitive categories. Each one is informative and detailed. The IPVanish knowledgebase has that FAQ X factor where it’s clear the company has actually thought about what its average users want to see.

The Verdict

We were impressed by IPVanish this time around. Its speeds are near-uniformly fantastic. The VPN streams Netflix without any trouble. It’s friendly and fun to use, not to mention highly secure.

Given all that, we’d love to say that we accept the official line that the StackPath and J2Global acquisitions erased all of IPVanish’s privacy sins. The sad truth, though, is that we don’t have enough information to decide either way for this IPVanish review.

Until we get more evidence that the logs really are gone, we don’t advise that you use IPVanish if you have any reason whatsoever to be concerned about your privacy. So long as you’re OK with not being certain, IPVanish is a solid, relatively affordable VPN.

IPVanish FAQ

  • Does IPVanish Really Work?

    It depends on what you define as “working,” but in most areas, the answer is yes. IPVanish will keep your data safe from everybody but the company itself (see the next question) and will do so while hardly impacting your browsing speed at all.

  • Is It Safe to Use IPVanish?

    Yes, as long as you don’t run afoul of the government. IPVanish will protect you from hackers, but the VPN has kept logs of users’ browsing history as recently as 2016. In countries where you can be reasonably sure what will be illegal from one day to the next, this isn’t a problem. However, if your government is more restrictive and you wind up on a hit list for political reasons, using IPVanish could land you in trouble.

IPVanish Review

Privacy concerns give us pause on this otherwise decent VPN.

IPVanish is a well-established VPN with a strong fan base and a mixed reputation. During this latest round of testing we liked a lot about it, but its track record for privacy, as well as a few other niggles, keep it from being anywhere near the top spot. Read our full IPVanish review for the deets.
Starts from$ 650per month
Visit IPVanish
Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top
Top