VPN Review: IPVanish
We can make one clear statement before this review even begins: IPVanish will not win any awards for modesty. The provider refers to itself as "the fastest, most-reliable VPN service" in its title. However, as the tale of the tortoise and the hare has demonstrated for centuries, speed is not everything. Whether IPVanish's epithet is based in reality, or just a marketing gimmick, as well as its capabilities in other VPN disciplines will all be shown in our test.
What is IPVanish?
IPVanish is a US-based VPN provider which offers desktop clients for Windows and macOS, as well as mobile apps for Android, iOS, and FireTV. The provider was launched by Mudhook Media Inc. in 2012, and since 2017, part of StackPath.
Pros and Cons
Allows lots of simultaneous connections
Solid server network
Unappealing user interface
Questionable "no logging" policy
Installation and Features
Alongside the official IPVanish apps, the provider can be manually configured for Chromebooks, Windows phones, or routers. After registration, clients can be installed with a few clicks, allowing users to start surfing in minutes, if not seconds. A total of 10 devices can be connected, while 10 connections can be simultaneously created with a single IPVanish subscription, well above the market's average.
Diplomatically speaking, the desktop app's user interface is an acquired taste. Put bluntly, IPVanish's desktop client consists of an ugly green and black text box that is crammed to bursting with buttons and information, looking more like a DOS game from the late 80s, than the interface of a 21st century VPN.
In stark contrast to other VPN providers, who seem to put their interfaces on ever more restrictive diets, IPVanish has gone the opposite route, stuffing its desktop client with as many options as possible. The "connect" button is not the center of attention around which everything else is organized, but rather, hidden in the upper right of the program's task bar. On the increasingly 'stylish' VPN market, IPVanish looks like a throwback or someone's crude joke, and will never win any design award. However, IPVanish will cater to those who want current information about their connections, and/or aren't particularly fond of minimalism.
The "quick connect" tab provides you with a wealth of information about your connection. For example, you can always see what protocol you are connected with, if the kill switch is activated, and what your current IP address is. In the middle of the tab, you can also view information about the service's performance, and the upload and download speeds.
In the bottom right of the "quick connect" tab, you can also see all available server locations, and even servers, allowing you to choose which one you would like to connect to. More options can be viewed in the "server list" tab, which sorts the servers alphabetically, by favorites, ping, or loading time. Why the selected favorites don't appear in the "start" tab is strange, but something we can't answer. Apart from the list view, you can also browse through the servers on a world map, connecting at will by double-clicking on a location.
In the "settings" menu, you are provided with an overview of the program's features. The variety of options for system and program start are very practical: Alongside the usual auto-start setting, you can also set IPVanish to automatically connect to the last-used connection, the best-available server, or the best-available server in a particular country at start. This allows you to ensure that your internet connection is secure as often as possible.
Apart from these features, the settings aren't particularly extensive, and the client doesn't offer any extravagant features, however, the most important VPN functions, like switching protocols, and a kill switch, are present. The latter severs your connection, even if you have closed it yourself, which caused some confusion for us at first. It is unfortunate that IPVanish has removed several well-liked features which it included in the past, such as the ability to automatically change your IP address at certain intervals.
IPVanish only partially passed our streaming test: We had no difficulty in viewing American Netflix content from abroad, however, the BBC's iPlayer was inaccessible.
IPVanish's mobile app is similar to its desktop app, however (thankfully) its on/off button is in the center, as is standard among the provider's competitors. The "quick connect" settings allow for users to select from the full list of server locations, or alternatively, to switch to the server sub-menu. Most of the desktop app's settings are also available in the mobile app, including the detailed auto-start options. The kill switch is unfortunately, only present for the Windows and macOS desktop clients, whereby the mobile app does have split tunneling.
Once you get used to the visually unappealing interface, IPVanish turns out to be a solid provider, capable of much more than just connecting you to a VPN, or cramming you full of information. At the same time, the technical interface creates the illusion that the tabs are filled with options for personalization and customization. This mirage 'vanishes', with the provider offering the same basic VPN functions as many of its competitors, with only a handful of extra features. Even its once unique timed IP change has been removed, for reasons unknown. What remains is a good VPN service, however, one with a lot more potential.
Score: 3.7 / 5
IPVanish has more than 1,300 servers, in 75 locations, spread across 60 countries. This global network can't compete with the heavyweights, but definitely secure IPVanish a place in the middle of the pack.
The majority of IPVanish's servers are, as usual, in Europe and North America, with some outposts scattered around the rest of the globe. South Africa is Africa's only representative, while Brazil and Columbia speak for all of South America. Even in Asia, the world's most populated continent, coverage is sparse. These weaknesses are a general problem among all VPN providers, with IPVanish's coverage in reality rather good.
Score: 4 / 5
The speed of all VPNs which we tested was evaluated using a server in Europe with a 1 GB/s connection. We tested random IPVanish servers at different times of the day to more accurately evaluate their performances. More information concerning our methodology can be found in our VPN speed test.
The table below shows the average results from the last 365 days, arranged in order of download and upload speed (descending):
Is IPVanish, as promised, the fastest VPN service, presumably in the world? Not quite: When testing was conducted, IPVanish clocked a download speed of 149.9 MB/s and an upload speed of 14.8 MB/s, securing it 12th place in our ranking. In comparison to the best performers, the service's speeds are still good, but certainly not the best or fastest.
The diagram below shows IPVanish's average speeds over the past months.
Score: 4 / 5
Security and Privacy
IPVanish encrypts your traffic with AES 256, providing maximum security. The protocols supported include OpenVPN, IKEV2, L2TP, SSTP, and PPTP, with OpenVPN allowing you to choose between UDP and TCP. Although IPVanish allows its users a significant amount of freedom in regards to protocols, only the first two are really recommended. PPTP, for example, is no longer up-to-date, but the option to use it certainly doesn't cause any harm.
This guarantee sounds authentic enough, and it is certainly possible that under StackPath's custodianship, IPVanish has truly not committed any data security trespasses, however, broken promises are still broken promises, even if in the past. IPVanish could go some way to removing doubt through an independent, third-party audit.
Score: 3 / 5
24 is the number customers most like to hear in regards to support, and IPVanish doesn't disappoint: "We are online - 24 hours a day." This guarantee extends not only to email support, but also a live chat. For both, we had to wait a bit in line, but never longer than a few minutes. Service is also offered in foreign languages, albeit noticeably through automatic translations.
The support center's FAQs are only available in English as of the time of writing. At least here, IPVanish could take a look at its user base, and invest in translating these guides to their mother tongues. Even (blindly) selecting the most common languages in the world, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, and German would be a good start. The 24/7 live chat is a nice feature though.
Score: 4.3 / 5
IPVanish's monthly price depends largely on the length of the contract you agree to. The cheapest option is the yearly plan, however, the monthly plan is also reasonably priced, especially compared to those of other providers. A current price list can be found here:
|1 Year||3 Months||1 Month|
|Price per month||$6.49||$8.99||$10.00|
|Contract period (months)||12||3||1|
|Number of devices||10||10||10|
|Number of servers||1,100||1,100||1,100|
|Number of countries||60||60||60|
IPVanish accepts credit cards and PayPal. Regrettably, payment by Bitcoin or other alternative methods is not available. IPVanish does not offer corporate packages.
Users of IPVanish will probably not be artists, designers, or those interested in aesthetics of any sort: The VPN's interface is downright hideous. The ugly duckling, does not really grow into a feature swan either: Its breadth of features is only 'good'. Even its promises in terms of performance ("fastest VPN") are hollow, and in the realm of data security, a lot of questions have been raised. Plenty of criticism, and yet, in sum, we were satisfied with IPVanish. Particularly its low price could help it catch on among users.
In the reviews which we evaluated, IPVanish received very good ratings. These often praised its easy installation and usage, with criticism directed largely at the speed of its connections.