Industry-standard security • Fast download speed (EU and UK) • Easy to use • Supports torrenting
Slow-to-average download speed (Asia • U.S.) • No Netflix
IPVanish isn’t terrible, but it’s not great either, and it has a long-term price higher than most VPNs. There are VPNs that offer better service for half the price.
If you’re looking to boost your online privacy, you might want to think about getting a VPN to protect you from hackers, spammers, and criminals.
But with so many VPNs these days promising you the same thing, it’s getting really hard to find the “best” VPN.
IPVanish is a VPN founded in 1999 by Mudhook Marketing. The company is located in Florida, U.S.A. It offers standard security features, occasionally fast download speeds (with EU and UK servers), an intuitive and easy-to-use app, and support for torrenting.
IPVanish claims to be “the best VPN service in the world” but does it live up to its own hype?
A secure VPN, with one catch
I always talk about security first every time I review a VPN. Security is, after all, a VPN’s main feature. Any VPN worth its salt will offer (at least) decent security before anything else.
On that score, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news: Based on features alone, IPVanish is secure. The bad news: The service is based in a “risky” location (I’ll explain this in a sec).
So why do I confidently say IPVanish is secure? For starters, encryption.
For those unclear on why encryption is important: All information you send and receive is compiled into readable data packets. The fact that they’re readable, though, means your information, unencrypted, is readily available to anyone willing and able to access it.
Encryption scrambles the information in these data packets so they become unreadable to anyone who doesn’t have the encryption keys (usually just you and the person on the other end of your communication). Anyone stealing your data packets will find only a jumbled mess.
While the OpenVPN protocol is preferable for its speed and security, it does have the downside of needing to download a separate client directly to your device to access the required certificate for a secure connection.
The downside? SOCKS sacrifices security for speed as it doesn’t possess the same encryption standard. So it’s a good idea to weigh your options when choosing the right protocol for your purposes.
Kill switch, logging, and leaks
Another security feature to look for is a built-in kill switch. In simple terms, a kill switch protects your privacy by killing an app in the event of a disturbance in the force (or when the connection to the VPN is interrupted, potentially exposing your data).
IPVanish has a built-in kill switch so there’s less need to worry if you’re in a place with constant interruptions to your internet connection.
The next thing to look out for isn’t really a security feature but it’s still a key factor in a VPN’s overall security: the company’s logging policy.
The thing is, a lot of VPN companies say one thing on their home page but do something entirely different based on their logging policy. This is why we always have to read the fine print.
As you can clearly see, IPVanish does not log your data.
Now, I then put IPVanish to the test to determine if they were all bark and no bite. To do this, I used two different tests: DNS leak tests and a Virustotal scan.
You see, every time you search for something on the web, your browser sends a request through your ISP which then forwards your request to a DNS server. This server then connects your browser’s request to the right website.
The thing is, without a VPN, your ISP (and all the sites you visited) can read and monitor your DNS information without your knowledge — thereby compromising your privacy.
Your VPN prevents this by taking your browser’s request and sending it through an anonymous IP address before it gets to your ISP. This is why a VPN that leaks your DNS information is like a parachute with holes in it — utterly useless (and dangerous).
But when I put IPVanish through the ringer, the results came out negative — IPVanish did not leak my real IP address.
Don’t be confused with the technical mumbo-jumbo in these screenshots below. The only thing I was looking for in these leak tests was whether my real IP address became visible despite while having IPVanish active. The IP you see on the tests is not my real IP, therefore IPVanish didn’t have any DNS leaks.
DNS leak test 1:
DNS leak test 2:
DNS leak test 3:
DNS leak test 4:
It’s important to make sure your device isn’t being invaded by malware hiding in IPVanish’s executable or install files. You really can’t take anything for granted, since VPNs are free software, and sometimes bad actors use them as delivery packages for malware.
But, just like the first test, the Virustotal scan came out negative, no malware detected.
To be clear, a VPN doesn’t instantly become risky even if there were a couple of red flags in this test (false positives on malware are relatively common). But, in this instance, I was glad to see that IPVanish didn’t have any to begin with.
Everything I’ve told you up to this point serves only to bolster your trust in the security of IPVanish.
So, what did I mean when I said IPVanish’s location was bad news?
I’ve talked about this in my past reviews but it’s worth repeating: VPNs inside U.S. borders fall under . This means the U.S government can compel IPVanish retain your personal information and release it (to the authorities) later, even if it doesn’t want to.
Does this mean that everything stated above was all for naught?
Not necessarily. Let me explain.
In the situation that the U.S government ever needs your personal information, they’re going to ask it from IPVanish. Your information will then be given by using any of your personal data logged by IPVanish.
Read that again.
That’s right. If you paid attention, the authorities need your logged data. But, since IPVanish doesn’t keep any of your logging information, it simply wouldn’t have any of your data to reveal.
This means that overall, IPVanish is a secure VPN.
Speed is a roller coaster
Now, a VPN could offer the best security in the world but you still wouldn’t want to use it if it didn’t perform well.
First, let’s talk about speed. VPNs will throttle your download speed; they all do, though some more than others.
Here’s how IPVanish did on my speed tests:
US Server (New York)
Download: 34.71 Mbps
Upload: 24.72 Mbps
EU Server (Amsterdam)
Download: 82.67 Mbps
Upload: 43.19 Mbps
Asia Server (Hong Kong)
Download: 7.61 Mbps
Upload: 5.88 Mbps
UK Server (London)
Download: 80.25 Mbps
Upload: 42.09 Mbps
That’s a pretty wide range of speeds. While IPVanish may have blazing-fast speeds on their EU and UK servers, its U.S. server has only an average speed. And its Asian server speed is dismally slow.
At a guess, this was probably due to my device’s physical distance from specific servers, but the results are still unexpected since IPVanish has over 1,000+ servers in over 60+ countries around the world.
The app experience
You can use IPVanish on any of these devices:
It also allow you five simultaneous connections in any combination of the above devices (although I didn’t really need to use that many).
Additionally, I found the IPVanish app easy to set up on both Windows and Android. Both just took a couple of minutes to find and install.
The app itself was intuitive and easy enough to use. The home screen lets you make a quick connection based on the best choice for your location or based on your own preference. You can choose your own preferences on the homescreen before you establish a connection.
Going to the Menu, you’ll find your User account and the Settings.
The general settings allows you to turn IPVanish on or off during your device’s startup. It also lets you reset your changes to their default settings.
Connection settings lets you choose which protocol you prefer as well as toggling the “Scramble” option, which allows OpenVPN to bypass network traffic sensors that might detect and block a VPN.
Now, the ability to torrent is a welcome addition to any VPN’s services, which is why I was happy to find that IPVanish supports torrenting.
Unfortunately, like most other VPNs, I couldn’t access Netflix with IPVanish.
It’s a rather expensive VPN
This is how much you pay to get IPVanish:
$10.00 a month (monthly plan)
$8.99 a month (yearly plan)
$6.49 a month (two-year plan)
And this is the real problem with the service: Its features were OK, but for a long-term price (the two-year plan) that’s more than double that of NordVPN or PIA, IPVanish needs to up the ante before they can truly compete with the top contenders for “the best VPN” title.
In the end, I can’t recommend IPVanish. Yes, it does offer military-grade encryption, a user-friendly app, and torrent support, but so does its closest competitors.
And, definitely, it’s entitled to boast about speed on its EU and UK servers, they’re not as impressive when compared to NordVPN (similar speeds) and PIA (faster speeds across the board), especially since NordVPN and PIA are cheaper.
It ultimately boils down to features vs. cost. IPVanish just doesn’t have the features nor the speed to justify the cost for their services.