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IPVanish VPN Review: Know If It Is The Right VPN For You

IPVanish VPN Review: Know If It Is The Right VPN For You

Online privacy and security of data are hot topics of debate these days. Reason? Rising cases of internet-based privacy breaches and data thefts.

When you browse over the internet – whether through your personal computer, laptop, work computer, or mobile, you put your data and online identity at the risk of being stolen or misused.

While we know that bad actors like cyber attackers or hackers are always on the lookout for weaknesses in one’s browser security, they are not the only ones who can see your data.

Your internet service provider (ISP) for instance, can also see your browsing history, websites you visit, etc. This data though is safe in their hands (to a large extent), but we cannot completely rule out the possibility that it can be stolen or compromised from their end too.

So, what can you do to protect your online information?

We say, use a VPN – Virtual Private Network.

{Use the below quick links to jump to your favourite section}

What is a VPN?

A virtual private network helps add a layer of privacy and anonymity by hiding your internet protocol (IP) address. This definition is just the tip of the iceberg. An advanced VPN can offer a whole lot of other features and functionalities to make your online browsing safer and more secure. This includes hiding your personal information, helping you avoid data and bandwidth throttling, allowing you to access region-blocked streaming services, etc.

But this write-up is not just about VPN and what are its benefits. Let’s go a step further and review a VPN service. For that, we are going to take a deep look into the IPVanish VPN and see what it has to offer.

IPVanish VPN review

About IPVanish

IPVanish is a popular VPN service based in the United States. It was founded in 2012 by Mudhook Media Inc. (an independent subsidiary of Highwinds Network Group) in Orlando, Florida.

In 2017, StackPath acquired Highwinds Network and IPVanish was the part of this deal. Later in 2019, J2 Global acquired IPVanish VPN with their NetProtect business.
IPVanish spans across 40,000+ IPs on over 1,600 VPN servers located in 75+ regions. The VPN establishes an encrypted connection through a tunnelling protocol. This protects your data or information in transmit.

Features

IPVanish offers a wide range of features. This includes the ability to hide IP address, no connection records, zero user logs, high-grade encryption to secure the network, no device connection caps, SugarSync secure storage add-on (more on it later), apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Amazon, and Android.

The hidden IP address feature allows users to browse without the fear of being tracked by ISPs, network hackers, and even advertisers.

This is especially beneficial when you are on a public or WiFi network like when you log onto the internet from your college library, coffee shop, hotel or cafe, and other spots that offer free WiFi. A VPN might not be required when you are working in a safe home environment.

The VPN service also offers secure cloud backup with encrypted backups, remote wiping controls, and automated syncing.

We will be reviewing some of the features in detail in the upcoming sections.

Pricing and plans

Pricing is an important factor when reviewing a product. Many customers base their purchasing decision solely on the price of the product or service.

IPVanish operates on a subscription-based model.

Like many other subscription-based services, IPVanish VPN is also available in monthly and yearly plans. Users can either go for the only VPN at $9.99 per month or else opt for a combo of VPN + storage at $10.99 per month.

However, currently, they are running a summer sales event in which you can get the VPN monthly plan for $2.62 per month for the first year, while with additional storage it would cost you $2.92 per month for the first year. Grab this offer, before time runs out.

You can also go for their yearly plans for greater savings. (see the snip for pricing)

The VPN offering consists of:

  • Safe WiFi access
  • Anonymous internet browsing
  • Location and IP address privacy
  • Advanced network encryption
  • Ad-tracking protection, and more

The VPN + Storage offering includes:

  • Encrypted cloud backup
  • Automatic syncing
  • Remote data-wiping
  • Full sharing controls
  • In-app file editing, and more

Installation and setup

The installation was quick and trouble-free. I simply had to download the setup file on my Windows PC and follow the process step-by-step to install it. Even someone with zero technical experience can install it.

How to set up IPVanish on Windows?

  • Visit https://www.ipvanish.com/ and select Windows from the App
  • Click on Download Windows App. This should download the setup.
  • Next, double click on the download file to run it.
  • Choose a file location to save the program files.
  • Select Yes when the User Account Control pop-up appears.

After installation is complete, you can sign into the account (if already registered), else choose Sign-up.

For detailed instructions, click here.

Servers and locations

While researching about other VPNs, a recurrent question that pops up is – How many servers does the VPN provider own? Is server information important? Yes, it is.

While how many servers a VPN company owns cannot be directly linked to the quality of service, it does show the number of subscribers it has. So, more servers equal more subscribers. Plus, the location of the server has a huge impact on the speed. The closer the server is, the better speed you will experience.

IPVanish claims to be the fastest top-tier VPN in the world with over 1,600 servers spread across 75+ locations. Though it is less than other leading VPN providers in the market like NordVPN with 5,400+ servers in 58 countries and ExpressVPN with 3000+ servers, the company is growing every year and is including new locations rapidly.

One of the best things I found here is that it covers parts of Africa and South America as well – two popular VPN locations often not available with other VPN providers.

Again, it does not cover regions with stricter controls like Russia, Turkey, China. As it is based in the US, so most of the servers are located in that region only.

What is Split Tunneling?

Split Tunneling is a technique used by many VPN providers. It allows the VPN users to route some of their application or device traffic through an encrypted VPN, while the other traffic has direct access to the internet. The major benefit here is that it lets you access applications or site that works best when the location is ON while keeping your sensitive communications and data safe.

IPVanish also allows split tunnelling. It helps in experiencing faster speed by conserving bandwidth usage. You can even stream content without having to use a foreign IP address. You can also download content over the internet without slowing down your other web activity.

IPVanish Speed-Test results

As the VPN adds another layer between your network and the internet, many people ask whether it affects the internet speed or not.

The VPN does affect the speed of your internet as all the traffic moves through a secure tunnel.

To know how much the speed varies, I tested my internet’s speed with and without a VPN connection. Please note that the speed of the internet depends on several other factors as well, like the server location (the closer, the better). So, my numbers may be different from yours.

Without VPN

With VPN

*Speed test results from Ookla

As you can see, I did not experience a drastic change in the connection speed. Though, the upload speed was reduced to 6.61 Mbps over a VPN connection.

DNS Leak Test

I also tested it for a DNS leak. DNS – The domain name system converts your long IP address into a human understandable form and the other way around. When you are connected to a VPN, ideally, your IP address should be the one owned by your VPN provider. If not so, it is a big loophole in the security.

As expected, IPVanish passed the DNS Leak Test.

To check it yourself, first, run it on the DNS test leak website without a VPN – the IP address you see must match with that of your ISP provider. Now, repeat the process with an active VPN connection. This time, the IP address must reflect a distant server location – the one your VPN provider is using.

VPN Protocols

A VPN acts as a tunnel between a private and a public network – allowing users to send and receive data privately and anonymously. Now, how this data moves within the VPN tunnel differs from one provider to another, depending upon the VPN protocols used.

VPN and VPN protocols are two different things. Before we look at the VPN protocols run by IPVanish, let me give you a quick introduction to what is a VPN Protocol?

A VPN protocol mainly consists of programs and processes to determine how data moves within a tunnel. There are two basic types of VPNs:

Remote Access VPNs: These are generally used by private users. Here, the VPN encrypts the data during transmission, to avoid any unnecessary snooping by third parties.

Site-to-site VPNs: These are used by organizations. It can be intranet or extranet based. The former combines multiple LANs into one private network and can be used by the employees of an organization irrespective of their physical locations. The latter is when a company wants to connect the network of one office location to another company’s location for partner or client communication.

Depending upon the type of VPN, different VPN protocols can be recommended or adopted by the VPN provider.

Now, when you have an idea of what VPN protocols are, let me take you through a list of VPN protocols offered by IPVanish:

OpenVPN

OpenVPN is a quite popular VPN protocol that can be used to create Point-to-point (P2P) and Site-to-Site connections. It uses TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) or UDP (User Datagram Protocol) internet protocol. While the former guarantees full data delivery via error correction, the latter is preferred for faster speed.

One of the major benefits of this protocol is that it is open source. Anyone can check the code for any vulnerabilities or hidden backdoors that might compromise your VPN’s security. It also allows the community members to tweak the code to make it more secure and fix bugs.

It also bypasses most firewalls, hence making it highly compatible. It is also supported by Windows, Linux, Firestick, macOS, Chrome, and even popular routers.

However, every good thing comes with a cost. To use OpenVPN, you may be required to download third-party software. But, IPVanish says that they have got the software required to make OpenVPN run easily without requiring any customer action.

IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange Protocol Version 2)

IKEv2 is a common VPN protocol, largely paired with IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) that provides a secure and encrypted key exchange session. This protocol excels at re-establishing connections after a temporary loss of network. This makes it a suitable option when switching from one network to another – like from WiFi to cellular.

It is an enhancement to the IKEv1 and as such can simplify the key exchange flows and introduce measures to fix vulnerabilities in IKEv1.

L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol)

L2TP protocol is a session layer protocol.

It is normally paired with UDP (User Datagram Protocol) and IPsec for encryption and confidentiality.

It is an extension of the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP). It is best suitable in cases where OpenVPN is not supported like in several mobile systems. L2TP can save dial-up costs for any user who is willing to remotely connect with a site office. It is also known as Virtual Dialup Protocol because of its PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) extension over the Internet.

IPsec (Internet Protocol Security)

The IPsec protocol suite encrypts IP packets for tunnelling and transport. Thus, it helps keep the data sent, and received over a public network, secure.

It does not provide any algorithm or authentication itself, unlike other VPN protocols like OpenVPN and PPTP. It just provides a framework for secure transport.

It is supported by all major OS including Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux.

PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol)

The last protocol we will discuss is PPTP – the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol. It is generally used in older operating systems and mobile devices. It was developed in the mid-90s by Microsoft and was integrated into Windows 95.

However, with technological upgrades, its basic underlying security was compromised. But as it lacks many security features found in modern VPN protocols, it can offer the best connection speeds to the users. However, it is kind of a last resort.

Please note that I have not got into the details of each VPN protocol. I just wanted to give you an idea of the different VPN protocols IPVanish uses.

There is no perfect protocol. All protocols have their owns advantages and disadvantages. Their use and application depend upon the supported devices and the requirement of the user.

Netflix and other streaming services

Netflix follows strict geographical libraries and can blacklist known VPN servers.

Many VPN users intend to use the service to browse their favourite web shows in different regions and countries. However, not all VPNs can unblock Netflix’s geo-locked libraries.

The good news is – IPVanish does allow you to stream Netflix from any supported server location. With 1,600+ servers, you can choose any server and connect to Netflix. The downside is that not all servers work. Netflix’s US, Canada, and Australia based servers are more accessible as compared to other locations.

Additionally, you are prone to experience error, as the streaming giant is very strict when it comes to VPNs.

Depending on the errors, you can try some easy fixes, like changing the VPN protocol or trying to re-connect the VPN.

The big picture is – you can stream Netflix using IPVanish. I tried connecting through a UK server, and it did work for me.

You can contact their support – phone or chat to know which servers are available for Netflix streaming in case you are not able to connect.

IPVanish also offers split tunnelling in their Android and FireOS device apps for streaming videos over Netflix. Learn how.

It also works with Disney+ and Amazon Prime.

Log data and privacy

When you use a VPN service, the VPN provider acts as your ISP. They know about your internet activities, sites you visit, and other browsing habits. This poses a great threat to the users, as this data can be leaked to any unauthorized third-party, government and law enforcement agencies and advertisers.

IPVanish offers a detailed privacy policy to help users understand how they store and process any information. The good news – the company says that they do not log any user data. This means the sites you visit, or forms filled by you are not getting recorded in the VPN provider’s database.

“IPVanish is a zero-logs VPN service provider, which means that we do not keep a record of any connection, traffic, or activity data in regard to our Services.”

Furthermore, it also mentions that “We do not sell or rent personal information to others, under any circumstance.”

However, they clearly mention that the email ID you enter when subscribing to their VPN service, as well as the payment method, are stored with them to provide you with better services.

As IPVanish is based in the US – it does come under the tight scrutiny of their five eyes intelligence alliance comprising the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. The government and law enforcement agencies can demand user data for any legal proceedings.

The company explicitly says that “We do not sell personal information to third parties under any circumstance.”

“As previously outlined IPVanish does not collect or log any traffic of its Services. We closely review any requests we receive for customer information by a third party. We cannot provide information that we do not have, and we do not provide information that we do have unless we are legally required to. We may also compile some statistical information related to app crashes.”

When it comes to privacy, users must depend on their own discretion. We would recommend knowing in detail about the privacy policy and if required, you can always talk to the company representatives.

Encryption and Security

Encryption is an integral security feature that is a must-have in any VPN service. IPVanish uses the AES 256-bit VPN encryption – the industry standard for data encryption.

It stands for Advanced Encryption Standard while the 256-bit refers to the length encryption key.

Overall, it is considered the best encryption standard in the industry and is used by leading government and privacy advocates around the world to protect their sensitive information from hackers.

The Kill switch

Imagine a scenario when you are surfing the internet while connected to a VPN, thinking that your IP address is safe and anonymous. But what happens if the VPN gets disconnected during the active session? Your IP address is at the risk of being exposed.

Here, the kill switch functionality can prove highly beneficial.

It is essentially a feature that can automatically disconnect your computer or phone from the internet until the VPN connection is re-established.

IPVanish has kill switch feature support for their macOS, Android, and Windows users.

You will have to manually switch ON or OFF the Kill Switch button which Windows users can access directly from the home screen. Check out this help article to know more about this feature.

Cloud Storage

IPVanish also offers a VPN + Storage plan to allow users to safely store their important data with SugarSync file storage.

With cloud storage, users can rest assured of their important photos, files, documents and even protect them against ransomware and other cyber threats.

Users can also share files online for seamless collaboration. For better security, they use TLS (Transport Layer Security) and AES security protocols.

The best part – it does not keep a tab on the number of connections. So, you can connect unlimited devices and sync them across for seamless collaboration.

Money-back guarantee

IPVanish offers a 100% refund within 30 days of purchase over yearly plans.

This is quite a relief for the users who are not satisfied with the product. However, the money-back guarantee could be extended to 45 days as the company does not offer any free trial.

Our Verdict: Do we recommend IPVanish?

IPVanish is a very strong and AES-256 encrypted VPN service that is great for running all your devices concurrently in a safe and anonymous environment. If you are someone who loves torrenting or streaming videos online, then also IPVanish is a great option to do that without exposing your IP address and other sensitive information.

The only thing to consider can be the fact that it is based in the US and hence comes under local laws and legislations. It may be required to submit user data when required by the government and other law enforcement agencies.

It may seem pricier as compared to other VPNs, but it also allows users to connect unlimited devices. So, it may prove economical in a long run.

It does not have a free version. If you want to try the service, you must purchase a plan. A money-back guarantee is there, but only for 30 days on the yearly plan.

For me, it is a balanced offering, and you can give it a try.

Here is a quick overview of what we liked and did not like in the offering:

Things we loved about it

  • It does hide your IP address and uses high-standard security protocols to ensure safety.
  • The Kill Switch feature allows your IP address to be hidden even if you lose connection to the VPN in between.
  • The browsing speed was not reduced to a great extent. The split tunnelling feature can help in distributing traffic and thus improving speed.
  • A good number of servers and connections available in South America and Africa.
  • Allows torrenting – a must-have for cinephiles.
  • Has a separate cloud storage offering for file storage and collaboration – can benefit the business users.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • Great and quick customer support
Things we did not like

  • Only a few servers work with Netflix.
  • It does not offer a free trial
  • Under 5 eyes’ surveillance

Hope you enjoyed the review. Do let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Read Next: Top 10 predictions for the cloud providers in 2021

Disclaimer: Wire19 is an independent reviewer. This review post contains affiliate links. Clicking on that or making a purchase via these links can help us earn a small part of the revenue as commission.

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