IPVanish is a pioneer in the virtual private network (VPN) space. Having been around for nearly a decade now, you’d expect the provider to have refined the product into an exemplary VPN service. Does the IPVanish VPN meet these expectations? In this IPVanish review, we’ll look under its hood to discover where it stands among industry-leading VPN services.
- IPVanish comes with a comprehensive suite of fundamental features like a kill switch, solid encryptions and support of various VPN protocols. Unfortunately, though, the desktop apps don’t come with a split tunneling feature.
- Even though IPVanish is fast enough to support buffering-free streaming, it doesn’t get into popular platforms like Hulu, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video.
- The IPVanish apps (desktop and mobile) look old-fashioned but are super easy to use even for VPN beginners.
The IPVanish VPN has a few hallmarks of one of the best VPN providers, like stellar speeds and laudable security. It’s by and large a well-built VPN that’s fast enough for casual browsing and for unblocking Netflix. However, a well-publicized scandal poked a hole in the credibility of its no-logs policy, which denies it a spot on our best VPN list.
While IPVanish has a few flaws other than the big “no-logging” one, it fits certain purposes. For example, 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.
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 the government is more restrictive, using IPVanish could land you in trouble.
In the digital era, you cannot underestimate what cybercriminals can do. IPVanish, like any other VPN, can be hacked, but the chances of doing so are very (very) slim.
Yes, NordVPN is better than IPVanish in all aspects: speed, security, pricing, server count and privacy.
Since our last review, IPVanish hasn’t had any major revamp, but we noted significant improvements in security and speed. It added IPv6 and DNS leak protection, and the download speed decreased by only 13.5 percent, which is an improvement from the 62 percent decrease in our last speed test.
Top IPVanish Alternatives
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, regional payment systems, WebMoney
- : 5
- : Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, UnionPay, Crypto Currencies, PayPal (via Paddle)
- : 6
- : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin
- : 7
- : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, Amazon Pay
- : Unlimited
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : Unlimited
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Consistent connection speeds
- Easy to use
- Automatic kill switch
- Unlimited connections per account
- Strong security choices
- Well-written knowledgebase
- 24/7 customer support
- Unblocks Netflix
- Major privacy issues
- No split tunneling on desktop OSes
- Overpriced annual plan
- Unclear how many servers are virtual
- Forces you to set up auto-renew
- Fails to unblock Hulu, BBC iPlayer & Amazon Prime Video
IPVanish has a decent set of features but lacks some common ones that most modern VPNs have. Thankfully, you get unlimited bandwidth and no VPN connection caps — the VPN service supports unlimited simultaneous connections.
It’s available for all operating systems: Windows, macOS, Chrome OS, Linux, Android and iOS. Besides that, IPVanish works seamlessly on routers and Amazon Fire TV. One small quibble, though, is that IPVanish doesn’t work on the first-generation Fire TV Stick.
As we mentioned, IPVanish has all the usual VPN features in place. This includes a kill switch that you can toggle on and off, which immediately cuts your internet connection if your VPN connection drops. It’s a pretty standard feature, seen even on middling VPN services like Ivacy (read our Ivacy review).
In addition, there are security-enhancing features like DNS leak protection and IPv6 traffic leak protection. However, an IPVanish representative mentioned that the IPv6 leak protection is available on Windows but didn’t specify if it was available for all devices.
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. Plus, 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 particular country.
Unfortunately, the IPVanish VPN only offers split tunneling on Android devices, Fire TV and Fire Stick despite it being a standard VPN feature nowadays. This means that you can’t set some of your apps like PayPal to access the internet directly on popular operating systems.
IPVanish Features Overview
|Payment methods||PayPal, Credit card|
|Supports split tunneling||Android & Amazon Fire TV only|
|Free trial available|
|Worldwide server amount||1,600+ servers in 52 countries|
|Desktop OSes||Windows, MacOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, Chrome OS|
|Mobile OSes||Android, iOS|
|Can be installed on routers|
|Can access Netflix US|
|Can access BBC iPlayer|
|Can access Hulu|
|Can access Amazon Prime Video|
|VPN protocols available||OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, IKEv2|
|Enabled at device startup|
|Passed DNS leak test|
|Malware/ad blocker included|
IPVanish offers average pricing that leans on the side of overpriced when you consider value for money. The monthly plan costs $9.99, which is a couple dollars cheaper than the top VPN providers, like ExpressVPN or NordVPN.
The annual plan sits on the higher end of the pricing spectrum. It sets you back $89.99 per year or approximately $7.50 per month. In other words, you save only $2.49 per month (roughly a 33 percent discount) when you decide to go for the yearly plan.
Whichever subscription you choose, your first month or year comes at a 65 percent discount. For example, when you subscribe to the monthly plan, you pay $3.49 for the first month, then it goes up to normal, at $9.99 per month. For the annual plan, you pay $31.49 the first year ($2.62 per month), before returning to the normal price of $89.99.
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. To make up for the missing free version, the provider offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, but it is only available on the yearly plans.
For the price, you get all the basic features, including unlimited bandwidth and no VPN connection caps.
IPVanish accepts PayPal and most major credit cards, but that’s it: no wire transfers, cryptocurrency or secure cash options. If you’d like to use a VPN that offers a variety of payment options, be sure to check our Mullvad Review or Surfshark review.
IPVanish Product Bundling
Initially started as a standalone VPN service, after years of evolution and takeovers, IPVanish now provides bundled plans. IPVanish partnered with SugarSync to pair its VPN capability with cloud storage features. Check out our SugarSync review to learn more.
The monthly bundle sets you back $10.99 per month, but you can bring the cost down to $8.33 per month on the annual plan.
IPVanish offers a 65 percent discount for the first month or year you sign up. For the monthly plan, you pay $3.84 in the first month, then it goes up to the usual price. On the other hand, the yearly plan costs $34.99 (or $2.92 per month), then it goes up to $99.99 per year as usual.
Each plan gives you access to the VPN, plus 500GB of cloud storage for your important files. Most importantly, the VPN and cloud storage tools work in sync to facilitate secure file sharing online.
Suffice it to say that although cheap stuff is always nice, SugarSync is a mediocre cloud storage app that won’t dethrone our best cloud storage picks anytime soon.
Ease of Use
Although it’s not the best-looking VPN app, IPVanish has a clean user interface that’s easy to use. It’s info-rich without being cluttered and has a good server selection interface.
Unfortunately, we have one major problem with IPVanish’s installation process. Before you can download the app, you have to agree to auto-renew your subscription, even if you only signed up for a one-month plan. This means you’re locked in to the higher, non-discount pricing for your second month or year.
Desktop App User Interface
When you log in to the IPVanish app, you notice the two major sections. One is the top ribbon menu, where you have the green “connect” button and a checkbox to switch the kill switch on/off. Besides that, there are details about your active VPN protocol, visible location and IP address.
The second part is the main menu on the left. Here, there are five tabs: quick connect, server list, account details, settings and information. From the “quick connect” tab, you can pick a preferred server location from the “best available country” — this doesn’t offer the complete list of available locations, though. To access the entire list, you can click on the “server list” tab.
The “settings” tab offers options to change the IPVanish startup, active protocol, enable/disable the kill switch and switch on the DNS leak protection and IPv6 leak protection.
IPVanish Android App
The Android app has all the main features, including access to all server locations and startup options. It also comes with a split tunneling function, giving you the option to choose apps that can connect to the internet directly, without going through the VPN.
When it comes to connection speeds, IPVanish does fine. However, it’s not fast enough to dethrone one of the services on our fastest VPN list, though.
We put the VPN provider through a series of speed tests using the Ookla speed test tool. First, we ran our unprotected internet connection through the speed test tool, then tried six different locations, starting with the closest one and moving geographically further away.
As in our fastest VPN guide, we ran all of our connection 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.
IPVanish Speed Tests Results
IPVanish’s speeds are mostly very consistent. With our average internet connection running at about 3 Mbps unprotected in our test location (Nairobi, Kenya), we got streaming-ready speeds on five different continents.
|Johannesburg, South Africa|
|São Paulo, Brazil|
|San Jose, Costa Rica|
|Seattle, Wash., U.S.|
On average, the ping rate increased by 20-fold, whereas the download and upload speeds dropped by 13 percent and 12 percent, respectively. As you can see from the table above, despite the speeds being near consistent in all the other locations, the download speeds took its biggest dip in London.
The story is the same for the upload speeds, which were pretty consistent in the test location, except for London. One peculiar thing we noticed is that the ping rate doesn’t increase with distance. For example, Sao Paulo recorded a ping rate of 703 ms despite being closer to our test location than Adelaide, which recorded a ping of 514 ms.
Like HideMyAss, IPVanish is neither good nor bad on the connection speeds front, so it retains its honorable mention spot on our list of the best VPNs for streaming. However, it doesn’t quite make our best VPN for gaming list.
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 personal data is safe with IPVanish. See the “privacy” section to learn about its privacy issues. What we mean is that personal data is secure enough with IPVanish that the only threat to your privacy is IPVanish itself.
IPVanish VPN Protocols
The VPN gives you a choice of five different protocols: OpenVPN over TCP or UDP, L2TP, SSTP, IKEv2 and PPTP. Every IPVanish protocol uses AES 256-bit encryption, which is functionally impossible to crack. AES-256 encryption is about as trustworthy as internet security gets.
Here’s a quick rundown of what each does:
OpenVPN is the go-to protocol for many VPN companies for various reasons. It’s free and open source, meaning anyone can modify it to help improve it, and it’s publicly available for security audits. Moreover, even though it’s not the fastest protocol, OpenVPN is reliable and uses two transport protocols: TCP and UDP.
IKEv2 is another popular choice for VPN users. The protocol is less CPU-intensive; thus, it promises faster speeds than OpenVPN. Plus, it supports a wide array of encryptions and offers a high level of stability. IKEv2 is the best option for mobile devices as it performs pretty well in re-establishing reconnections.
L2TP encapsulates data packets twice and encrypts it via IPsec protocol, which is excellent from a security standpoint but results in slow speeds. Besides that, L2TP has problems bypassing firewalls.
SSTP is a Microsoft product, and it’s fairly secure and stable. It supports the AES-256 encryption protocol — the most reliable VPN encryption there is. Even though it bypasses any firewall with ease, it’s an option for only Windows and Linux users.
PPTP is available for Windows, but it’s not an option for Mac and Linux users. We suggest its full removal because 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 read 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.
We’ve been building up to this section throughout the whole IPVanish VPN review: the reason why IPVanish may not be a good VPN to trust with your private information.
IPVanish’s Iffy Zero-Logs Policy
In 2016, an American named Vincent Gevirtz shared child pornography online with an undercover agent for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS traced Gevirtz’s IP address and discovered that it belonged to Highwinds Network Group, the parent company of IPVanish at the time.
The DHS subpoenaed Highwinds, which at first claimed it couldn’t identify the user because it didn’t keep traffic 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 the information it wasn’t supposed to have. The logs that were 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 you pay for as an IPVanish customer.
Highwinds (and thus IPVanish) was acquired by StackPath in 2017 following the 2016 logging incident. StackPath claimed to have discovered through an independent audit that IPVanish destroyed all stored user logs. We’re taking a trust-but-verify approach to that statement and haven’t yet been able to verify it.
In 2019, IPVanish changed hands again, this time being acquired by NetProject, a J2 Global subsidiary. NetProject has quite a few other cloud-based services in its portfolio, including the VPNs StrongVPN, SaferVPN, Encrypt.me, WLVPN, as well as SugarSync cloud storage, which comes bundled with IPVanish.
As we saw earlier in our speed tests, IPVanish delivers consistent download speeds, which is good news for streaming fans. It also offers unlimited bandwidth and has no data caps whatsoever, making it a suitable VPN for streaming.
However, speeds and unlimited bandwidth would count for nothing if IPVanish didn’t access Netflix and other streaming services. We tested its ability to bypass the geo-restrictions that popular streaming services impose and got mixed results.
IPVanish With Netflix
IPVanish was able to get around the dreaded Netflix proxy error to access the Netflix U.S. library. Better still, we watched the whole Dog Gone Trouble movie without any lag. However, we understand that Netflix is a selling point for many VPN services, so we were not surprised that IPVanish got us into this popular streaming platform.
If you want a reliably fast VPN to access Netflix, be sure to check our best VPN for Netflix guide.
Blocked Streaming: Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer
Unfortunately, though, Amazon Prime Video blocked us, recognizing that we were using a VPN or proxy service. We tried various servers in the U.S., and none of them were successful. Read our best VPN for Amazon Prime Video guide if you want to enjoy buffering-free streaming.
Additionally, Hulu — which is quickly becoming a harder nut to crack than Netflix — caught us on every server. The story was no different for BBC iPlayer. We tried several servers in London and Manchester, and none found a way around the BBC iPlayer firewall. However, check out our best VPN for Hulu and best VPN for BBC iPlayer articles, instead.
IPVanish has more than 1,600 servers in its network spread across over 75 locations on every continent but Antartica. It’s present in many areas of the world that VPNs often ignore, including Central America, South America, Africa and South Asia.
Of course, the server count isn’t as impressive as NordVPN or Private Internet Access (you can read our NordVPN review and Private Internet Access review to learn more). However, with the available servers, IPVanish provides over 40,000 shared, dynamic IP addresses.
One thing we like about IPVanish is that it allows you to drill down and pick a specific server. For example, when you can click Ashburn, United States, and choose one of the 106 servers. You can see the ping rate and load for each server, making it easy to find an optimal server.
However, there seems to be an issue with some IPVanish’s servers. For example, when we connected to some of the London servers and did a DNS leak test, our DNS records showed us connected to an IPVanish server in Germany.
IPVanish distinguishes itself in the customer support department by having a tech support phone line in several countries (languages). You can contact a support agent 24/7 via theUnited States, United Kingdom, Mexico, Australia, Germany, Spain or Brazil phone numbers available on IPVanish contact page.
You can also contact IPVanish through live chat on the website or submit an email support ticket. We reached out via email support with simple questions about the 30-day money-back guarantee and got an automated email response within minutes with a list of helpful articles about the topic. Even better, we got a response from IPVanish’s customer support in under 40 minutes, which is fast enough by email support standards.
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 the servers IPVanish owned, rented or were virtual, they rebuffed us.
You can get to the IPVanish knowledgebase from the desktop app via the “get support” button. 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.
IPVanish organizes the articles into six intuitive categories: billing, announcements, FAQ, setup guides, troubleshooting and about IPVanish. Each one is informative and detailed. The IPVanish knowledgebase makes it clear the company has actually thought about what its average users want to see.
There are glaring inconsistencies between the support article and the product pages, though. For example, the recently updated support article claims IPVanish has over 1,300 servers in over 55, while the server location page states there are over 1,600 servers in more than 75 locations.
Although we’re still cautious about IPVanish and its no-logs policy, it impressed us 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 J2 Global acquisitions erased all of IPVanish’s privacy sins. However, the sad truth is that we don’t have enough information to decide either way for this IPVanish VPN review.
Until we get more evidence that the logs 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.
Have you used IPVanish before? Do you think it’s a reliable VPN or do you not trust its zero-log policy? Will you use the VPN for Netflix or do you just want basic protection for your internet traffic? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments section below. Thank you for reading.