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IPVanish VPN Review: A great VPN for secure local connections

20 Jan 2021
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
per month

IPVanish is a secure and user-friendly VPN, though it’s not great for unblocking foreign streaming services

Excellent local speeds
Strict no-logging policy
10 simultaneous connections
Doesn’t unblock most streaming services
No Chrome extension

IPVanish is a great VPN for covering your tracks and staying secure online: it has a good spread of servers, decent speeds and a strict no-log policy. However, it doesn’t unblock most streaming services, so if that’s what you’re after it’s not the right choice.

IPVanish VPN review: What you need to know

IPVanish has more than 1,300 servers across 52 countries – and while some VPNs use virtual servers, IPVanish’s servers are all physically located where they say they are. The service also supports up to 10 simultaneous connections, so one subscription will cover a whole family or group.

It’s worth noting that IPVanish is based in the USA, and we wouldn’t usually recommend a VPN based there because its government has extensive intelligence-sharing agreements with other countries. However, IPVanish is adamant that it doesn’t store any usage or traffic logs at all, and it’s owned by an established US-based company called Stackpath that provides security solutions to millions of users worldwide – which inspires a certain confidence in its claims.

OFFER: Half-price on the one-year plan

IPVanish VPN review: Setup and basic use

IPVanish offers apps for PC, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV and routers. Unlike most other VPNs, it doesn’t do browser extensions, but you can install it on a Chromebook. While the service supports up to 10 simultaneous connections, installing it on a router only counts as one connection.

The Windows software is very straightforward to use. After installing the client, you can select the country that you want to connect to from a list, or use a graphical map-based interface. Optionally, you can narrow down your selection to a city and even an individual server, although in most cases, the default “Best City” and “Best Server” options will suffice: these automatically choose the best server in your selected country, based on your location, speed and security.

Unlike other VPNs, IPVanish connects almost instantaneously, after which you’ll see a live graph on your main screen showing your upload and download data rates. You can also check your connection time, the VPN protocol, the server you’re connected to and the total data you’ve downloaded and uploaded.

IPVanish VPN review: Privacy and security

IPVanish attracted criticism in 2016 when it handed over information about a customer to the US Department of Homeland Security. However, that was before the VPN was acquired by StackPath; following the acquisition, StackPath’s CEO pledged that the company would never store any user logs or user data whatsoever.

To protect your traffic while you’re browsing, IPVanish uses ultra-secure AES-256 encryption and supports the industry-standard OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols. It also uses custom technologies to ensure your IP address and DNS settings can’t be exposed: we used several test sites to see whether any information could leak out and IPVanish passed every one of them.

For the maximum security, we’d suggest you change the default protocol from IKEv2 to OpenVPN, which is faster and safer. You’ll need to download the TAP network that OpenVPN needs, but this takes just a few seconds and you only need to do it once. You may want to switch on “Obfuscate OpenVPN traffic” too, which can help you bypass VPN blocks in specific countries.

Finally, we also recommend you enable the Killswitch option, to automatically shut off all internet activity if your VPN connection drops.

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IPVanish VPN review: Performance and speed

Some VPNs play an endless game of cat and mouse with streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and the BBC, constantly trying to find new ways to circumvent their geoblocking systems. For IPVanish, this isn’t a priority.

That means that if you’re on holiday this summer and want to watch BBC iPlayer from abroad, IPVanish won’t help. It’s the same story with Amazon Prime and Hulu. HBO and YouTube do work, however, and it’s possible to watch Netflix US too – but you’ll need to talk to IPVanish’s customer support to find out which servers to use, and you can’t access other countries’ Netflix libraries.

On the upside, IPVanish supports Kodi, and it’s also one of the few VPN services that lets you access torrenting websites, regardless of where you’re browsing from. We found that torrent speeds were only slightly slower than using a local ISP connection.

Testing IPVanish’s performance using Ookla’s, we noted that connections were always instant, even to far off places like the United States and Australia. However, browsing speeds fell sharply when browsing via these far-off locations: connecting through a server in London resulted in a mere 10% drop in browsing speed, but this leapt to over 60% when we switched to a US server, and in Australia we lost about 70% of our download speed.

It’s a stable connection, though: we once accidentally left a connection to Australia active for over three hours, and when we got back it was still connected without any problems.

Overall IPVanish is best for servers that are geographically nearby: browsing via Belgium, France and Portugal knocked just 20% off our speed, rising to 30% when we switched to a server in Italy.

OFFER: Half price on the one-year plan

IPVanish VPN review: Mobile apps

The IPVanish Android and iOS mobile apps look and feel very similar to the PC client (which is not something we can say about all VPN services). You choose a country, city or server in the same way – although there’s no map-based interface – and connection times are once again instant. When you’re connected you’ll see a VPN icon in your device notification area, along with your new IP address and location.

There are some differences between the two platforms, starting with the fact that the Android version uses OpenVPN, while the iPhone app supports IKEv2. The Android app also has more features: you can choose to start IPVanish as default, and receive warnings about insecure networks. The app also has Split Tunneling, which means you can restrict specific apps to using the VPN, and use the others as you normally would. While there’s no killswitch feature, you can set this up manually on Android – the process differs depending on which Android device you use.

The iOS app doesn’t have as many options, but it does lets you unlock the IPVanish app using TouchID. There’s also a useful feature called Connect on Demand that automatically activates the VPN when an untrusted network is detected – a great feature that we haven’t come across before.

Interestingly, we noticed that the Android app gave us faster connection speeds than the PC client. We only lost 30% of our browsing speed when connecting to the US, a reasonable 17% speed loss via Italy and Spain, and no measurable loss at all when using a server in Belgium.

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IPVanish VPN review: Price

As you can see, IPVanish has two price points depending on what you're looking for. You can either get the monthly or annual plan. The monthly plan costs about £4 (£5.59) for the first month, after which the price increases steeply to about £8 ($10.99) per month

Instead, you're better off choosing the annual plan because this costs £37 ($49.99) per year, which amounts to just £3 ($4.16) per month. It's worth mentioning that you'll be charged the full rate of £73 ($99.99) after the first year, but you can return next year to see what other offers are available. Both plans cover the usage of IPVanish VPN and storage options.

Unlike some VPNs, IPVanish doesn’t accept Bitcoin: you’ll have to pay with a credit card or PayPal. There’s no free trial as such, but you can cancel your subscription within 30 days for a no-questions-asked refund, regardless of how you’ve used the service.

OFFER: Half price on the one-year plan

IPVanish VPN review: Customer support

The IPVanish website includes detailed setup guides that can help resolve many problems, but the company also offers 24/7 customer support.

When we tried quizzing support agents about different aspects of the service, from simple setup questions to technical protocols, we noticed that some staff seemed to be simply copying and pasting answers from the website. We’d prefer a more personable approach, but it goes to show that a lot of the key information you might seek is available online.

IPVanish VPN review: Verdict

IPVanish is an excellent VPN for short-range connections. If you want to browse via a secure server in your own country, or a neighbouring one, it offers speed, security and ease of use.

We also like its 10-device limit, which is more than most competitors offer, and dedicated 24/7 customer support. It’s comparatively slow for intercontinental browsing, and there are better options for accessing geo-blocked content, but if those aren’t deal-breakers for you then at £3.55 a month IPVanish is a steal.

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IPVanish VPN review: Quick facts

DetailsIPVanish VPN
Based inUSA
Price3.55 per month
Money-back guaranteeYes, 7-days
Devices10 simultaneous connections
Locations1,300+ in 75+ locations
SpeedGood locally, Moderate abroad
24/7 customer supportYes
Netflix allowedYes, but only certain locations
BBC iPlayer allowedNo
Torrenting allowedYes
DNS leaksNo
Activity loggingNo

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