Streaming fans should look elsewhere, but when it comes to privacy IVPN has you well covered
- Great download speeds
- Powerful, user-friendly client app
- Excellent privacy credentials
- Comparatively pricey
- Poor for unblocking streaming sites
You might not have heard of IVPN, but there’s a reason for that: the company largely eschews commercial promotion and advertising, seeing them as incompatible with a VPN’s obligations to transparency and accountability. That’s a rare show of integrity in this competitive market.
Its licensing model is novel, too, with a two-tier approach to suit different use cases. The standard package provides basic VPN services for two devices and starts at just $2 (around £1.60) for a week or $6/mth. Longer-term deals come at discounted rates, with pricing set at $60/yr, $100 for two years or $140 for three years – equivalent to a little over £3/mth.
For more demanding users, the IVPN Pro option supports up to seven devices and adds port-forwarding and multi-hop features. That will cost you $4 for a week or $10/mth; then the yearly packages are $100 for 12 months, $160 for two years, or $220 for three.
It’s good to have all these options, and we very much appreciate a VPN that lets you choose up front whether or not you want your subscription to automatically recur. However, the long-term prices aren’t particularly competitive: we could reel off ten VPNs with cheaper annual offerings and, if you’re willing to sign up for three years, Atlas VPN and PIA will give you unlimited connections for less than half the price of IVPN. Still, there are business plans for teams of different sizes, plus a significant discount for non-profit organisations.
As for coverage, IVPN offers servers in 37 countries. Those include a good spread of locations in Europe and North America and, since we first tested IVPN last year, the service has beefed up its presence on other continents, with new servers now online in Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa and Taiwan. It’s a selection that should serve most needs, but if you want the widest choice of virtual locations CyberGhost , ExpressVPN , HMA and Surfshark all offer more than twice as many server sites around the world.
IVPN offers native apps for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS, all of which use the speedy WireGuard protocol by default; the service also supports OpenVPN, so you can set it up on a wide range of smart TV devices and even some NAS platforms. You can also get around the two-device limit – with IVPN’s blessing – by configuring the VPN on a compatible router.
IVPN review: What’s it like to use?
The IVPN Windows app is quite clean and clear. It opens with a blocky, stylised map view showing your detected location, along with your visible IP address and ISP details. You can also save space by clicking the Shrink icon to hide the map and reduce the interface to a single vertical panel.
Click the Connect button in the upper left and IVPN will connect to the fastest available server. Alternatively, you can click on a city on the map to virtually relocate there, or you can open the location panel to browse the full server list.
This works very slickly, with an instantly responsive type-to-filter field, colour-coded ping times next to each location and a simple star icon for adding servers to your list of favourites. You can sort servers by name, proximity or speed, and a neat feature we haven’t seen in any other VPN is the ability to customise the list of candidates for the fastest server – so you could use it to connect to the fastest server that isn’t in Europe, for example, with a single click. If you’ve signed up for a Pro subscription, you’ll also see a multi-hop option that lets you pick individual entry and exit servers.
Back at the main window, there are also switches to enable the firewall, which stands in for a kill switch by routing all traffic through the VPN. The optional anti-tracker module blocks tracking cookies and other privacy-compromising technologies. In the Settings view, you can tweak these features as well as play with an extensive set of protocol and connection options, firewall rules, split tunnelling and quite a sophisticated auto-connect feature that lets you set the VPN to automatically engage when you connect to specific networks, or to untrusted ones.
The experience is very similar on Android, though it’s laid out differently. Here, the map view takes up almost all of the main page, with the server list just a tap away. The Settings are combined into a single scrolling page rather than multiple panes as with the desktop app, but it’s pleasing to see that most of the same features are here, including auto-connect, anti-tracking DNS, split tunnelling and protocol settings.
In all, whether you’re using it on desktop or mobile, IVPN is packed with features, yet still feels clean and easy to navigate. We do have a couple of minor gripes: first, there’s no browser extension for easy server-hopping – though you can connect to any of your favourite servers directly from the IVPN system tray icon – and second, while most VPNs offer 24/7 live support, IVPN only offers assistance by email, so if you have a question you could potentially be waiting hours, or even days, for a response.
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IVPN review: How fast is it?
We tested IVPN’s performance on a Windows 11 laptop connected to a domestic Virgin Media fibre broadband line. With the VPN disabled, the Google Speed Test tool reported an average download speed of 373Mbits/sec; when we then connected to a IVPN server in London, download speeds fell only slightly to 353Mbits/sec – a small drop that will, realistically, have no noticeable impact on the average home user.
Even when we switched to IVPN’s New York server, performance held up well, with an average download speed of 224Mbits/sec. That’s one of the best transatlantic speeds we’ve seen – Hotspot Shield , NordVPN and Surfshark were even faster, but you wouldn’t notice a difference between any of these services in everyday use.
We also tested the VPN’s performance on our Android tablet, a Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 running Android 13. Once again we saw excellent speeds when connected to IVPN’s London server, this time averaging 330Mbits/sec. US connections are always slower on Android, so it was no surprise to see download rates fall to 138Mbits/sec via New York, but this is still plenty of bandwidth for most purposes.
And don’t forget you can always use the split tunnelling feature to make individual apps bypass the VPN for maximum performance – though IVPN is fast enough overall that it might not be worth bothering.
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IVPN review: What’s it like for BitTorrent and streaming?
IVPN fully supports BitTorrent on all of its servers, with no technical restrictions and not even any of the usual disclaimers about copyright infringement. However, users are requested to avoid using US-based servers for torrenting – not because there’s a realistic legal threat, but to save on the administrative burden of processing complaints from copyright holders in that territory.
Things aren’t quite so breezy when it comes to the streaming services. IVPN warns that it “makes no guarantee” about unblocking video sites and indeed, we found we were entirely unable to watch BBC iPlayer, Now TV, Disney+ or Hulu with the VPN enabled, on either Windows or Android.
The attempt wasn’t a total washout, though: using IVPN’s New York server, we were able to watch US-only Netflix content, while the London server allowed us to access Channel 4.com via a desktop browser. On the whole, IVPN lags behind its rivals when it comes to streaming capabilities: Express VPN , IPVanish , Surfshark and Windscribe all managed to unblock every one of the seven services we tested, on both laptop and tablet devices.
IVPN review: Is it secure?
IVPN is based in Gibraltar, which – the company is at pains to point out – is not the same as being located in the UK. The territory has its own government and laws, isn’t covered by UK surveillance regulations, and doesn’t participate in intelligence-sharing alliances. You might still be happier with a VPN based in Switzerland (such as Proton VPN ) or Malaysia (such as Hide.me ), but IVPN is likely to protect you better than a service based in the UK or US.
At any rate, IVPN strives to store as little information about you as possible. Its zero-logging policy extends unusually far, to the point that the operator never even knows your email address – instead, a random user identifier is generated for you at the point of subscription. You also have the option to pay for the service with Bitcoin or the Monero cryptocurrency, so the company never sees your banking or PayPal details either.
As we’ve mentioned, the software comes with numerous technical protections, too: you can configure the VPN to automatically kick in when you connect to an untrusted network; the desktop app offers not just a killswitch but a complete firewall; and Pro users can configure multi-hop routes for extra obfuscation.
A final reassurance is the fact that the IVPN client software is open source so, if you’re technically minded, you can inspect or even recompile it yourself. The code is audited annually by independent security specialist Cure53 and, while it’s a little unnerving to note that recent tests unearthed a total of eight vulnerabilities, we appreciate the transparency of the process and the speed with which issues have been addressed.
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IVPN review: Should you buy it?
IVPN is comparatively pricey and it did poorly at unblocking the biggest streaming services, so if you’re looking for an affordable way to access foreign streaming sites then there are plenty of other, better choices.
Yet IVPN has definite strengths: the client apps are powerful yet user-friendly; speeds are very good; the company has a very liberal policy on file sharing; and you won’t find many VPNs offering such a wide range of subscription options.
IVPN impresses most of all when it comes to privacy and transparency. The provider goes to unusual lengths to ensure your activity can’t be exposed, and the annual app audits provide an extra degree of reassurance. While it’s not the most rounded VPN, IVPN is an attractive option for those who want to share files and sensitive information safely.
IVPN review: Quick facts
|£3.89/mth (36-month subscription)
|2 (7 with Pro plan)
|24/7 customer support:
|US Netflix and Disney+:
|Y (with Pro plan)