IPVanish Review

IPVanish logoScore:
8.3/10

IPVanish offers both performance and power. Their server network speeds are some of the best around. And the client is highly configurable and packed with features. Though not without its downsides, especially some concerns about user privacy, IPVanish is a VPN well worth considering.

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Pros
  • Excellent server speeds
  • Great selection of encryption settings and privacy features
  • No logging policy
  • Allows torrenting
  • Up to 10 simultaneous connections
  • Customer support reachable by email, chat, and phone
Cons
  • Based out of the US
  • Doesn't work well with Netflix or BBC iPlayer
  • Short 7-day money-back guarantee

IPVanish likes to call itself both “The World’s Best VPN Service” and “The World’s Fastest VPN Service.” Laying claim to VPN supremacy is one thing. But actually delivering is something completely different.

I’m never one to take VPN claims at face value. Hence, I decided to put IPVanish to the test to try and separate marketing spins from reality.

The result? This top-to-bottom IPVanish review.

In it, you’ll find everything about the service, from who’s behind it to every major feature it offers, from what it does great to where it falls short.

And, hopefully, by the end, you’ll have a clear idea of how truthful IPVanish is being, and whether it’s service worthy of your time and consideration.

IPVanish Overview

Let’s start with a quick introduction to IPVanish, and an overview of its pros and cons.

The company is US based and has been around since 2012 – longer than 90% of VPN services out there. That’s a positive.

Though IPVanish was at first an independent provider, they have since gone through a couple of acquisitions – by Texas-based network security firm StackPath in 2017, and California-based tech giant j2 Global in 2019.

Over the years, the company has grown into a robust VPN service, sporting many security and privacy features, and a server network that spans multiple continents – servers which they both own and operate, by the way.

And, the IPVanish benefits don’t stop there either.

IPVanish Pros

Owning their server network, combined with a great selection of encryption and protocol settings – including OpenVPN and 256-bit AES – helps IPVanish deliver excellent security.

There are no IP or DNS leaks to speak of either.

Server ownership can also be a good thing for performance, and there too, IPVanish shines. Their impressive connection speeds easily make them one of the fastest VPN providers around.

The service has broad compatibility and should work with just about every internet-connected device you own.

IPVanish also allows torrenting and claim to keep no logs, though there are some question marks on the latter.

I will, of course, review all these benefits in much greater detail a bit further down – this is just a quick overview.

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IPVanish Cons

For all their benefits, IPVanish does come with a few drawbacks.

My biggest concern about the company is that they’re based out of the United States. It’s not a great jurisdiction for privacy.

Yes, in theory, the provider has a no-logging policy. In practice, though, IPVanish helped US authorities in the past by providing collected user data.

It’s something that happened under previous ownership, and the current management says they would never let it happen now (more on this shortly).

But, it does put into question whether IPVanish can ever deliver on its perfect anonymity claims due to the various US laws it needs to follow.

Despite its excellent speeds, IPVanish may also not be such a great choice for streaming. They’re don’t work very well with many popular services, including Netflix or the BBC iPlayer.

And, IPVanish offers only a 7-day money-back guarantee – currently the shortest (by far) among all top-tier VPN providers.

Features

If there’s anything that’s indisputable about IPVanish, it’s that they provide a ton of features. Some enhance security and privacy. Others improve compatibility and utility.

But, put together, they make for a service that can be a great fit no matter why you’re looking to use a VPN.

Kill Switch

When you want to keep your privacy on the internet, a kill switch in your VPN is a must. And, indeed, IPVanish does come with one.

A kill switch is a safety net feature that cuts off all internet access in case the VPN connection suddenly goes down. Unexpected disconnects shouldn’t happen often. But, when privacy is important, it’s good to have that extra layer of protection.

You can enable the kill switch on IPVanish’s Windows, macOS, and Android clients.

Enabling IPVanish kill switch

It’s worth pointing out that few VPN providers offer a full-fledged Android kill switch. So, extra points to IPVanish there.

Split Tunneling

While IPVanish does offer split tunneling, it does so only on the Android client.

Split tunneling lets you exclude some apps from using the VPN and, instead, use your regular internet connection. It makes it unnecessary to continually enable and disable the VPN based on what you’re doing.

It’s a handy feature to have when, for example, you would like to use BitTorrent while watching local TV at the same time. The torrent can go through the VPN – preventing anyone from finding out that’s what you’re doing – while your video stream does not.

As mentioned, IPVanish currently only implements split tunneling on Android. If you would like to use it on Windows or macOS, ExpressVPN is a good choice there.

IPVanish SOCKS5 Proxy

Though most of us won’t need it, you do get access to an IPVanish SOCKS5 proxy server on top of the regular VPN service.

You can think of SOCKS5 as an encryption-free version of a VPN.

It will let you hide your IP address without having to download the IPVanish client. You’ll also avoid the slight performance hit that comes with encrypting a connection.

But, SOCKS5 does come at the cost of privacy and security.

Due to the lack of encryption, using it does little to prevent, say, your ISP or government from analyzing your traffic.

If you’re a bit more advanced and have a specific use for it, having SOCKS5 access is a nice bonus. But, more often than note, sticking to the VPN is a safer bet.

TOR Compatibility

TOR is a free, volunteer-run anonymity network people turn to when privacy is vital. IPVanish allows you to combine it with their service.

In other words, you can use TOR while already connected to the VPN. This method adds a second layer of security, and all but guarantees your anonymity.

The downside of using TOR with IPVanish – and indeed any other VPN provider – is your connection speed will likely slow down to a crawl. But, when absolute privacy is ultra-important, it’s a small price to pay.

TOR over VPN is an advanced privacy feature the vast majority of us won’t ever have a use for. But if you do need it, it’s there.

Obfuscated Servers

Some networks, like businesses or schools, block VPN use. Some countries do the same too. Justified or not, they all have their reasons.

To get around such blocks, IPVanish offers VPN server obfuscation in a feature they call “scramble.”

Enabling IPVanish server obfuscation

Scrambling only works with the OpenVPN protocol. The point of it is to have your connection appear as though it’s not using a VPN, making it much more difficult for any network to block.

It’s an imperfect system, and some more sophisticated methods may still see through it. But, in my testing, it worked well enough.

Does IPVanish Work in China?

Despite implementing a form of server obfuscation, IPVanish is not the right choice for China. To put it bluntly, their obfuscation method is not good enough to get past the country’s advanced firewall.

If this is a problem you’re trying to solve, I recommend looking at VyprVPN instead.

VyprVPN’s custom-built and constantly evolving Chameleon protocol makes them one of the best VPNs for China – their track record of avoiding detection is excellent.

Streaming Support

IPVanish gets top marks for download performance. That should make it a good VPN for streaming, right?

Not necessarily.

While server speeds are indeed more than good enough for even the highest levels of video quality, in general, IPVanish has trouble accessing many popular geo-blocked streaming services.

This statement is especially true for anything based outside the US, like the BBC iPlayer.

Does IPVanish Work With Netflix?

When you take a careful look through IPVanish’s website, there is one VPN feature many of us seek that you won’t find mentioned anywhere: Netflix support.

Since early 2016, everyone’s favorite streaming service has gone to great lengths to block VPN use. And indeed, IPVanish seems to have fallen victim.

As things stand, the combination of IPVanish and Netflix is far from ideal. Sure, I was able to access the US version of the service. But, I also had zero luck streaming any other country’s library.

IPVanish not working with Netflix

There is more than one VPN that works with Netflix much better than IPVanish. So, if it’s unconstrained and consistent access you’re after, that’s where I would look.

IPVanish and Kodi

Kodi is a massively popular, open-source media management and streaming software. One of its big appeals is its ability to stream TV shows and movies for free.

Many countries see this as the equivalent of downloading those TV shows or movies. Kodi use is, therefore, often frowned upon and may expose you to legal problems.

Just like with torrenting, though, you can protect yourself by using Kodi over a VPN connection. And IPVanish happens to work with it very well.

You can, of course, simply install IPVanish on your device and direct all traffic through the VPN. But, there is also a Kodi plugin that lets you set up IPVanish right inside the software.

I prefer the second method.

But, whichever way you go, it’s easy to see why IPVanish is one of the go-to VPNs for Kodi users.

Torrenting and P2P Support

One internet activity that all but requires a VPN these days is file sharing. And, if that’s something you do, you’ll be happy to hear IPVanish does not limit BitTorrent use.

You can use any P2P software over both the regular network and IPVanish’s SOCKS5 servers.

Whether you chose VPN or proxy, expect download speeds to be excellent.

One thing I should point out is that IPVanish’s Terms of Service do include a warning about not using it to download copyrighted material.

That said, IPVanish claims not to log or monitor traffic. So, exactly how they can figure out illegal downloads are taking place, I’m not sure. But, it is something to keep in mind.

Concurrent Connections

If you’re planning on using multiple devices with a VPN at the same time, IPVanish is a great choice. They let you run up to ten simultaneous connections per account.

It’s a number that’s well above the industry average – most other providers allow no more than five, if that.

While I find it hard to imagine you’ll ever need more, if, for whatever reason, you do, you can also take a look at Surfshark, which offers an unlimited number of concurrent connections.

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Privacy and Security

Even the longest of feature lists can be meaningless if a VPN can’t give you the security and privacy they should.

But, except for the country they call home of and one past case of questionable conduct, IPVanish delivers there too.

Jurisdiction

IPVanish’s jurisdiction is, in my opinion, their biggest security and privacy weakness – they’re based in the United States.

The US government has a long (and some would say, underhanded) history of digital surveillance, more so than any other country in the western world.

For example, at one time, it was revealed that the NSA installed a device which let them spy on every single bit of data passing through AT&T’s massive internet network. That’s pretty major.

So, even though IPVanish has a no-logging policy and uses top-of-the-line encryption, there’s very little stopping the NSA, FBI, or a dozen other agencies from legally twisting IPVanish’s arm to let them spy on you.

In all fairness, there’s no evidence that this has or will ever happen.

But, any IPVanish user truly concerned with privacy would sleep a whole lot better if the company moved offshore to somewhere where the US (or its allies) has no sway.

Logging Policies

IPVanish does not keep logs. That is the one thing that makes their subpar jurisdiction choice a bit easier to swallow.

IPVanish is a zero-logs VPN service provider, which means that we do not keep a record of any connection, traffic, or activity data in regards to our Services.

So, unless someone (I’m looking at you, NSA) is watching connections from inside IPVanish’s network in real-time, they shouldn’t have any records to turn over about how you use the service.

That said, there was one case in 2016 where IPVanish, despite their no-logging policy, did supply authorities with activity information about a customer.

That did not (nor should it) sit well with anyone.

New owners of IPVanish have since disavowed the incident. Their core argument was that it happened before they were involved with the company.

They’ve recommitted to IPVanish’s zero-log policy and promised such cooperation would not have and won’t happen under their watch.

And while only time will tell if what they say is true, so far, there’s been no reason to doubt IPVanish’s renewed commitment to privacy.

But, if you have a one strike and you’re out policy – and fair enough – there are plenty of other excellent and independently verified zero-log VPNs from which to choose.

Protocol and Encryption

Not many things are more vital to a VPN’s privacy and security than the protocol and encryption standards it uses. On that point, IPVanish has pretty much all bases covered.

They offer just about every protocol option under the sun:

  • OpenVPNL2TP
  • IKEv2
  • IPSec
  • SSTP
  • PPTP

Mind you, though, not every protocol is available on every platform. On Android, for example, your only option is OpenVPN (using TCP or UDP – your choice).

OpenVPN is, however, the flagship protocol. It also uses 256-bit AES encryption, meaning it’s as secure as it gets.

Elsewhere, IPVanish uses an HMAC SHA1 handshake and DHE-2048 Perfect Forward Secrecy. Translated into English, that means nobody – except for your device and the IPVanish server you connect to – has any chance of decrypting your traffic.

The one protocol to stay away from (if you can) is PPTP. It was compromised years ago, and the only reason IPVanish includes it is for compatibility with select older devices.

The thinking here is that even imperfect protection is better than no protection at all. I don’t disagree.

IPVanish DNS Leaks

Many VPN providers often overlook one important privacy risk: DNS leaks.

A DNS leak happens when, even though your data goes through a VPN, your device’s DNS queries do not.

If you have such a leak, anyone with access to the DNS server’s log – most often your ISP – will know the name of every website and online service you visit.

It dramatically reduces the effectiveness of a VPN.

Thankfully, here, IPVanish gets a clean bill of health.

IPVanish passing a DNS leak test

IPVanish prevents DNS leaks by defaulting to DNS servers they own and operate. Anytime you connect to the VPN, it’s the only place your queries can go.

On macOS – and only on macOS for some reason – you can overwrite the default by supplying your own 3rd party DNS servers in the client’s preferences.

Setting 3rd party DNS servers in IPVanish macOS client

But, for 99% of us, that is not necessary. IPVanish’s DNS servers do a great job of keeping your VPN connection leak-free.

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Apps and Clients

Though the IPVanish client may look a bit overwhelming at first with its connection telemetry displayed front and center, it’s very intuitive and simple to use.

And, coming from a provider that had years to refine their user experience, I would expect no less.

At the time of this writing, IPVanish offers software for the following operating systems and platforms:

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Chrome OS
  • Fire TV

They also give you detailed setup instructions for running the VPN on Linux, Windows Phone, and a variety of routers.

The list of IPVanish supported routers is extensive. As I write this, no less than fifteen router brands and dozens upon dozens of models make the cut. It’d be hard to list them all but, as a rule of thumb, high-end RT series routers from ASUS and anything flushed to DD-WRT or Tomato should work.

For those platforms where a client is available, the look and feel is fairly consistent throughout.

Obviously, the mobile clients have a bit of touchscreen flair thrown in compared to the desktop versions. And some features only exist on one platform and not on others.

But, when it came down to it, I had no hang-ups switching back and forth between them – all functions and features were where I expected.

IPVanish Servers

IPVanish runs a very respectable 1437 servers in 53 countries.

It’s not the largest network of all top tier providers – that honor goes to PureVPN – but can more than hold its own.

Let’s also not forget that IPVanish owns their hardware – a plus for security and privacy – whereas most other providers rent theirs from various data centers.

If you’re interested, you can find the complete IPVanish server list here.

Selecting a country, city, or even an individual server to connect to is a breeze. The list is fully searchable, sortable, and filterable.

IPVanish server selection screen

A server location map view is also available in the desktop versions of the IPVanish client.

How Fast is IPVanish?

I mentioned at the top of this review that IPVanish considers itself to be the world’s fastest VPN. While not completely accurate – at least not according to my speed tests – they indeed have nothing to be ashamed of.

As is the case with any VPN provider, using IPVanish will slow down your connection slightly. But, with a few small exceptions, both download and upload speeds are excellent.

My best download result clocked in at 82.7 Mbps, with a 60.4 Mbps average speed across all tested locations.

The best upload result was a smoking fast 67.4 Mbps with a 54.6 Mbps overall average.

And even at the locations where speeds are a bit slower (Germany and France, to be exact), they’re still more than quick enough for heavy downloading and high-quality video streaming.

Below is a small results sample of my full IPVanish speed test.

Best Server
IPVanish best VPN server speed test results
With VPN
IPVanish best baseline speed test results
No VPN
United States
IPVanish United States VPN server speed test results
With VPN
IPVanish Unites States baseline speed test results
No VPN
Netherlands
IPVanish Netherlands VPN server speed test results
With VPN
IPVanish Netherlands baseline speed test results
No VPN

One thing you may notice is the large difference between the VPN and no VPN numbers. That’s nothing to be alarmed about.

I intentionally use a fast 500 Mbps down and 100 Mbps up connection, one that is much quicker than what any VPN provider can currently handle.

By going using a faster internet, I make sure we see the true maximum speed IPVanish’s servers offer, not one limited by my ISP.

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IPVanish Customer Service

While I haven’t run into any problems setting up or using IPVanish, that’s not a guarantee no one will. Technology is, after all, technology.

The good news is that, in the off chance you do run into issues, IPVanish offers some of the best customer service in the VPN industry.

Staff is available 24/7 via chat and email – handy for most general questions and operational issues.

Where IPVanish support really shines, though, is on the phone.

Phone support is something very, very few VPN providers offer. It’s expensive to operate and, therefore, typically avoided like the plague.

Not IPVanish, though. You can get through and talk to a real person in their US-based call center Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM Central Time.

And I can’t stress enough how valuable that option can be when something goes haywire. Explaining a technical issue (and trying to fix it) on the phone is so much easier than over chat.

I contacted support a couple of times with some general questions (once over email, once over chat), and in both cases, I found them prompt and courteous. And, most importantly, the answers I got were on the ball.

If you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer, IPVanish also has a rather extensive and detailed knowledge base on their website.

IPVanish knowledge base example

From setup guides to troubleshooting any number of technical problems, I found the information well put together and easy to follow (screenshots and all).

Price and Value

The best way to sum up the price and value of IPVanish’s service is to say that it’s not dirt-cheap but is a steal for what you’re getting.

With IPVanish, you can pick one of three subscription lengths: monthly, quarterly, or yearly.

Depending on which option you choose, the standard IPVanish cost per month breaks down as follows:

  • 1 Month Plan: $10.00 per month
  • 3 Months Plan: $8.99 per month
  • 1 Year Plan: $3.25 per month

It’s worth noting that IPVanish will charge monthly only with the “1 Month” plan. You need to pre-pay the entire amount with any “3 Months” or “1 Year” subscriptions.

Like most VPN providers, IPVanish also offers discounts and sales at various times throughout the year. Before signing up, be sure to double-check if you can get a better deal.

As forms of payment, IPVanish accepts every major credit card, as well as PayPal. There is, unfortunately, no option to pay with cryptocurrencies for better anonymity.

IPVanish also backs all subscriptions with a 7-day money-back guarantee.

Seven days is, however, on the short side. Most providers offer at least a month, and industry leader CyberGhost’s refund window is a very generous 45 days.

That said, it is something you can fall back on should you decide within a week that IPVanish is not the right choice for you, after all.

IPVanish Free Trial

IPVanish does not offer a free trial and has not done so for years. For a top-tier VPN provider, that is not at all unusual.

The best option you have at anything resembling a free trial is to sign up with IPVanish for one month and cancel your subscription within the 7-day money-back window.

The money-back-guarantee is unconditional, so you shouldn’t have any issues getting a refund.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, there’s a whole lot to like about IPVanish. They offer excellent speeds, a great selection of security and privacy features, have a no-logging policy, and come with one of the best customer service experiences in the business.

Two things I’m not a fan of, however, is their US jurisdiction and the one logging transgression that happened under previous ownership.

They are also not the best service for streaming geo-blocked non-US content.

If any of those things matter to you, other well-reviewed providers will be better options. Feel free to take a look at my recommendations here.

But, if video streaming services outside America are not that important to you, and you’re willing to let bygones be bygones, IPVanish is a solid recommendation and a service you should be very happy with.

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IPVanish logoScore:
8.3/10

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