There are dozens of VPN services out there competing for your dollars. With so many to choose from, it helps to have someone do the research for you. That’s where we come into the picture. We do the research for you so you can choose the best VPN service for you without spending hundreds of hours doing it yourself.
In this article, we’re going to cover IPVanish. This VPN Service has some real benefits, but also some big question marks.
To help you figure out if IPVanish for you, we’re going to break this IPVanish review into the following sections:
- Device Support
- Security and Privacy
- Geographic and Legal Considerations
- Global Coverage
- Streaming and Torrenting
- Customer Support
IPVanish works with the devices you are most likely to have. It provides clients for:
- Amazon Fire TV
It supports other operating systems but doesn’t have clients for them. In these cases, it instead provides detailed tutorials and visual setup guides to show you how to connect to its network.
Operating systems that fall into this category include:
- Windows Phone
- A large collection of Routers
In other reviews (like our ExpressVPN Review), we have talked about how speed testing a VPN is subject to lots of variables, and published IPVanish speed test results illustrate the problem. Some testers claim IPVanish is the one of the fastest VPNs in the world, in part because it owns most or all of its own infrastructure.
Other testers report speeds ranging from very fast to extremely slow, depending on their own location and which VPN servers they are connecting to.
We think the best way to attack this problem is to take advantage of IPVanish’s 7-day money back guarantee. Install it and see how it performs when you use it the way you would normally. While a longer test period would be nice, a week should be enough time to see if IPVanish is going to work for you.
Some Numbers that Might Help
There are two VPN use cases that depend heavily on speed. One is streaming multimedia content. The other is real-time online gaming. Let’s look at some numbers that could help you evaluate whether IPVanish (or any other VPN) is fast enough for you.
Streaming Multimedia Content
According to an April 5, 2019 article by Consumer Reports, you need the following download speeds to stream various types of multimedia content:
- Audio (Standard Quality Music) 128 Kbps
- SD (360p) High-Quality Video 1 Mbps
- HD (1080p) High-Quality Video 8 Mbps
- 4K HDR Video 18 Mbps
If IPVanish can give you these kinds of speeds when and where you want to view streaming content, then it is fast enough for streaming.
Real-time Online Gaming
While the speed of your connection is important for online real-time gaming, even more important is the latency (Ping) of the connection. The lower the Ping, the more responsive the game will be.
Security and Privacy
IPVanish advertises that its network is secure and gives you complete anonymity and privacy online. This is the area where IPVanish has some questions to answer. Let’s define our terms before getting into the details.
Anonymity – This is the situation where no one can tell that you sent a message. In the context of VPNs, if no one can associate a message you send with the IP Address of your computer, the message is anonymous.
Privacy – This is the ability to control who gets to see your personal data. By using a VPN Service, you prevent your ISP and anyone spying on your Internet connection from seeing your personal data. They can see that you are connected to the VPN, but not the contents of your messages, or what sites you visit through the VPN.
Security – This is the ability to prevent others from reading the messages that pass back and forth between your computer and the VPN service. VPNs provide this security by using strong encryption and a VPN Tunneling Protocol to protect communications between your computer and the VPN servers.
A VPN can provide Privacy and Security, but can’t provide Anonymity. It provides Privacy and Security by encrypting messages to and from your computer and passing them through a VPN tunnel that outsiders can’t break into. No one can read the messages that pass between your computer and the VPN server except you and the VPN.
VPN Services aren’t truly Anonymous because they have the ability to read your messages and to know where they came from:
- A VPN’s software encrypts messages between your computer and the VPN Server.
- And a VPN’s software decrypts the messages before they go on to its final destination.
- And a VPN service knows your real IP Address.
A “no-logs” VPN protects your privacy by not recording any personally-identifiable information about what you do on its network. But it could if it wanted to, or if forced to by the police or some other government agency. Anonymity is not inherent in a VPN and your privacy is in the hands of your VPN Service.
If you are interested in adding an extra layer of privacy, you should consider using your VPN with Tor.
How does all this relate to IPVanish?
IPVanish has long billed itself as a “no-logs” VPN. But in 2016, Highwinds Network Group, the company that runs IPVanish, released logs to the US Department of Homeland Security in a child pornography case. In 2018, Highwinds Network Group was acquired by StackPath, LLC, which now owns IPVanish.
For someone considering using the IPVanish VPN Service, this leaves a lot of questions centered around one key theme:
How can I trust IPVanish after this?
In June of 2018, TechRadar published an article where Jeremy Palmer, VP, Product and Marketing at IPVanish answered 8 questions about the situation. We urge you to read it as well as this post at IPVanish to help you decide whether you would feel safe using IPVanish as your VPN.
Geographic and Legal Considerations
Another factor to consider is where in the world a VPN is located. Both the physical location of its facilities and the country it was incorporated in matter. Let’s start with the legal jurisdiction IPVanish functions under.
StackPath, LLC, the parent company of IPVanish, is based in the USA. As you are probably aware, the US government conducts massive amounts of surveillance of Internet activities. The NSA conducts warrantless Internet surveillance, and various laws can compel VPN services based in the USA to provide logs of the activities of their users, regardless of what company policy might be.
In addition, as shown by Edward Snowden, US intelligence agencies routinely hack telecommunications and computing systems in the USA to facilitate their spying.
We generally recommend that you choose a VPN Service that is located in a privacy-friendly country, which the USA is not.
Aside from choosing a VPN Service like ExpressVPN that is located in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction, we recommend against using a VPN based in your home country. We believe the odds of a foreigner getting into trouble for violating some local law are lower than for a citizen violating the same law.
What about IPVanish servers located in other countries? Which jurisdiction do they fall under? In general, the laws of the country the server is physically located in are the ones that apply to the server.
We understand that servers located in US territory are subject to US surveillance laws, regardless of who legally owns them. There is a high probability that the US government spies on any VPN server located in its territory. Unless you are using IPVanish for something like connecting to your US Netflix account, we recommend using an IPVanish Server located outside the USA whenever possible.
While signals travel quickly through the copper cables, microwave relays, and optical fibers of the Internet, they are not infinitely fast. That means the further a message must travel between your computer and the Internet resource you are using, the longer it takes. So the physical location of the VPN server you use can make a difference in the latency and overall speed of a connection.
For a simple example, imagine you are located in Miami, Florida and you want to connect to a server that is physically located in New York City. The distance between those two cities is about 1,100 miles (1,760 km). So if you don’t use a VPN, messages traveling between your computer and that server will need to travel about that distance (or 2,200 miles / 3,520 km for a round trip).
Now imagine that instead of connecting directly to that server in New York City, you turn on your VPN and connect to the New York server using a VPN server located in Cleveland, Ohio. The distance between Miami and Cleveland also happens to be about 1,100 miles (1,760 km).
But now we have to add in the distance between the VPN server in Cleveland and the one in New York City. That distance is about 400 miles (650 km). Connecting through the Cleveland VPN server makes the total distance messages must travel 1,500 miles (2,410 km) or 3,000 miles (4,820 km) round trip. The additional 800 miles (1,300 km) for the round trip will definitely slow down communications between your Miami computer and that New York server.
The solution to this problem is to choose a VPN server as close to your computer as possible. This minimizes the additional distance messages must travel, regardless of where the resource you want is located.
Unless, of course, you are using IPVanish to evade geo-blocking. In that case, the goal should be to connect to a VPN server that is physically close to the resource you want. Once you are done with your anti-geo-blocking mission, you will probably want to disconnect from this server and connect to one close to you for general Internet use.
Censorship and Surveillance
As of April 2019, there is very little government Internet censorship in the United States. However, the big tech and social media companies like Google, YouTube, and Facebook are known to use various types of censorship in the name of combating what they call “fake news.”
The processes by which these companies apply their censorship are proprietary and totally opaque, so it is possible that you could get around some of this censorship by using IPVanish to log in from servers in other parts of the globe.
As we discussed previously, communications and computer systems in the United States are heavily targeted by intelligence agencies and are likely not secure against government surveillance. We urge you to use US-based services only after serious consideration of your use case and risks.
More VPN servers in more locations is a good thing. It gives you a higher probability of finding a server near you or the resources you use the most. It also gives you a greater chance to get around geo-blocking by logging into a server in an “acceptable” location.
Meanwhile, more countries mean a better chance of evading geo-blocks and censorship.
As of this writing, we see over 1,300 IPVanish servers in 75 locations across 55 countries. It offers over 40,000 IP Addresses.
The IPVanish network is large but significantly smaller than those of competitors like ExpressVPN or NordVPN.
To find out if there are IPVanish servers where you need them, you can check out the IPVanish VPN Servers page.
Streaming and Torrenting
IPVanish supports streaming and torrenting. The most important things to consider when thinking about streaming and torrenting are whether you can access the services you want, whether the VPN protects your privacy while streaming/torrenting, and whether it is fast enough.
We’ll look at all three right now.
We talked about the speed of the IPVanish network a bit already. Since reports are mixed as to the speed, we recommend testing the service by in your own environment, doing exactly what you want to do with it. Then you will see whether IPVanish is fast enough for your purposes.
But you needn’t despair if the service seems a bit slow for your particular setup. That’s because an IPVanish subscription includes access to their SOCKS5 Proxy Server. This server is similar to the MediaStreamer feature of ExpressVPN in that it lets you use the IPVanish network to hide your IP Address and avoid geo-blocking, without the slow-downs and extra computer loading caused by regular VPN encryption.
Setting up the IPVanish SOCKS5 Proxy is a bit technical, but the company provided detailed instructions for doing so here.
Security While Streaming or Torrenting
While streaming and torrenting are convenient for the viewer, they can get you in trouble. Torrenting is the biggest culprit. In many countries, downloading (that is, torrenting) copyrighted content is illegal. And many media companies try to stop it by suing people who torrent their content.
A perfect example of this appeared on our radar last month (April 20, 2019) under the headline, ‘Canadian BitTorrent Users Are Getting Sued for Illegal Downloads by Film and TV Studios.’ The article details how these companies are using the Canadian Copyright Modernization Act as the legal basis to force ISPs to help them track down and sue BitTorrent users.
The process is complex and includes the hiring of companies that specialize in snooping on BitTorrent users, Norwich orders, and registered letters sent to “John Doe.” The penalties can run into multiple thousands of dollars. And all of it depends on the ability to find the IP Address of the person who is going to be sued. As a result, Canadians are being advised to start using a VPN for torrenting to hide their IP Address.
That’s good advice, but it may not be enough. If your computer loses its connection to the VPN Service while torrenting, your real IP Address could be exposed. This is why the best VPNs all have automatic Kill Switches that disconnect your computer from the Internet if the VPN connection fails.
IPVanish does include a Kill Switch, but only in the Windows and Mac OS X clients. It is up to you to manually enable the Kill Switch for these clients, and the company shows you exactly how to do it. Including the Kill Switch in these two clients is a good start, and hopefully, the company will be able to add it to the rest of its clients soon.
What about Netflix and other streaming services?
As we’ve discussed in previous articles, the VPN Services are in a perpetual battle against Netflix and other streaming services like BBC iPlayer. The battle here is usually over getting access to a streaming service you pay for when you are outside the approved geographic region.
By logging into the service through a VPN server in the approved area, you can often get access to the content you pay for. Doing so may violate the terms of service of the streaming media company, but it isn’t normally a criminal offense like torrenting.
The streaming companies use various technological tricks to try to block you from logging in using a VPN, and the VPNs try to figure out how to get around those blocks. IPVanish gets mixed marks when it comes to avoiding the blocks thrown up by major streaming services like Netflix and iPlayer. Some testers report that they could connect to their USA Netflix account with no problems but not to iPlayer. Others report the exact opposite.
If avoiding geo-blocking to connect to streaming services from outside their approved geographic areas is extremely important to you, you might want to consider ExpressVPN instead of IPVanish. ExpressVPN has a reputation as one of the very best services when it comes to connecting to streaming services. You can read our ExpressVPN review for a full rundown of what this service offers. Additionally, you can go over our list of the best VPNs for Netflix.
If you are going to invest in a VPN it would be logical to protect all your Internet-connected devices. But VPN services limit the number of devices you can have connected to their service at any one time. This is one area where IPVanish shines. Many services (including top-notch ones like ExpressVPN) only support 3 simultaneous connections. Others such as NordVPN are more generous and support 6 simultaneous connections. Check out our NordVPN review to see what other features this VPN service provides.
IPVanish blows them away by allowing you to have 10 simultaneous connections! This is great. There aren’t too many people, or even entire families, that need to have more than 10 devices connected to the Internet at the same time.
So that’s IPVanish for you. If you are still reading, you are probably wondering what it should cost you to get a subscription to this service. Here’s what the pricing looks like as of April 2019:
|Length of Plan||Price||Total Price Billed Up Front|
|1-month||$10.00 per month||$10.00|
|3-month||$8.99 per month (billed every 3 months)||$26.99|
|This pricing is confusing.|
They are offering a buy 1 year, get 1 year free deal for new users.
While they don’t explicitly say what happens after that, it looks like you would go to a 1-year billing cycle at the same price as you paid for the first 2 years.
|$77.95 for first 2 years|
$77.95 for each year after
IPVanish doesn’t offer a free trial. But it does offer a 7-day money-back guarantee, which gives you time to see how IPVanish works for you.
IPVanish doesn’t offer you a huge range of options to pay for its service. In particular, it doesn’t give you the option to pay with Bitcoin like several of its competitors. Still, it has the basic methods covered:
Another plus for IPVanish is its improved Customer Support department. It recently added 24/7 live chat and telephone support to its Support Center.
IPVanish has a lot to offer, with its worldwide network, support for 10 simultaneous connections, and built-in Kill Switches on some of their clients. However, past events combined with its location in the USA have made us a bit nervous about its ability to protect your privacy.
- What is an IP Address?
- What is internet privacy?
- Privacy and Security Compared
- What is Geo-Blocking
- What does VPN Security mean?
- IPVanish Support Center
- IPVanish Server Location
- Norwich Orders Explained
- Copyright Modernization Act Explained
- Who is Edward Snowden
- What is Highwinds Network Group?
- KillSwitch setup on IPVanish
- How does SOCKS5 work?