IPVanish Review Overview
- 1500+ servers
- Unlimited Connections
- Works with Netflix & Kodi
- Based in US
- 12 month plan - $6.5 per month ($77.99 total cost)
- 1 month plan - $10.00 per month ($10.00 total cost)
If you’ve heard of IPVanish before, you probably know at least 2 things. First, it claims to be “The World’s Best VPN” and uses numerous endorsements – including from other VPN comparison sites – to defend that claim.
Second, a few years ago, the provider was caught lying about their no-logs policy when the FBI used data collected by IPVanish and PureVPN in a prosecution.
The question is: has IPVanish really cleared its name?
Spoiler alert: they have!
IPVanish is under entirely new management and has since proven their no-logs policy is legit. That’s a big thumbs up from TheVPNShop.com!
Want to find out more? Keep reading!
How IPVanish Compares to the Competition
Poor Choice of Location
One of the biggest issues we have with IPVanish – and an issue unlikely to change – is it’s a US-based company.
Obviously, we don’t have any problem with US companies in general. However, when it comes to the VPN industry, it’s a big no from us.
And it should be a big no for you too, because the US is one of the titular nations in the UK-USA Agreement.
Also known as the “5 Eyes” group (and extended to include 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes), this is a group of nations that actively spy on each other’s citizens and share that information.
This naturally makes us nervous about IPVanish. But we do know there are exceptions to every rule, including the one that says “never trust a VPN from a 14 Eyes jurisdiction.”
The key is finding out if IPVanish counts as one of those exceptions.
Is IPVanish’s No-Logs Policy Really a No-Logs Policy?
As we mentioned in the introduction, IPVanish handed user data over to the authorities despite having a well-published no-logging policy. And as we also mentioned in the introduction, they’ve come a long way since.
The provider maintains they don’t keep any logs – other than statistical data.
And logging statistical data is a very standard practice. Without that kind of data, VPN providers can’t monitor their service’s performance and deal with crashes.
On another note, IPVanish is also a lot more honest about all the third-party sites collecting cookies and other information on their website (though the sheer number is alarming).
When confronted about its history, IPVanish replied:
“It’s a completely different company, with a new executive and legal team. Security and privacy is our core mission. We’ve invested heavily in the new team and infrastructure to ensure our customer’s privacy is always paramount.”
For this reason, as far as our research can prove, IPVanish’s no-logs policy is legit this time around.
Military-Grade Encryption and the Best VPN Protocols
On another positive note, IPVanish uses the industry-standard military-grade 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).
The provider also offers several different VPN protocols:
- OpenVPN (both TCP and UDP)
This is a reassuring fact and we’re glad to see IPVanish isn’t cutting corners here.
For more information on these protocols, visit our Beginner’s Guide to VPN Protocols.
SOCKS5 Proxy – A Pro or Something Else to be Wary of?
The reason we’re glossing over the ins and outs of IPVanish’s better VPN protocols is to better explain its SOCKS5 proxy. It’s another type of VPN protocol, which the provider makes a big deal about advertising.
And we don’t entirely agree with TheBestVPN when they say it’s a pro for IPVanish.
Of course, we’re skeptical about a lot of things TheBestVPN says, thanks to some research by PCMag (though we’re not quite ready to take them at face value either).
SOCKS5 is free to use and sometimes touted as an alternative to OpenVPN, which TheBestVPN calls “an intrusive third-party tool” in their IPVanish review.
But OpenVPN and IPSec are the best VPN protocols available, while SOCKS5 is merely a proxy.
It’s a very good proxy – one of the best – and we’re not suggesting it should be avoided. However, you need to do a lot of research before using it.
After all, it has zero encryption. Even though it hides your IP address, it does very little in offering any sort of online security or privacy.
Still, there’s nothing wrong with IPVanish offering this feature, so we can’t hold it against them.
Kill Switch, Split Tunneling, DNS Leak Protection – But Not for Everyone
We had to hunt through IPVanish’s Help/Support section to find any information on whether they have a kill switch.
The good news is they do, though only for their Android, macOS, and Windows clients. The bad news is you have to manually activate it.
We much prefer the kill switch to be on by default. If you don’t know to look for and activate it, you end up exposing yourself to potential data leaks.
This is because the kill switch is there to automatically end your connection if your device stops communicating with the VPN server.
Just as perplexing is the fact that IPVanish only offers split tunneling in their Android and Amazon Fire Stick apps – and you have to go hunting for information on that too.
Admittedly, this isn’t a major issue for us, as using the split tunneling feature is typically reserved for heavy-duty VPN users.
However, we still feel it ought to be available for all clients, as split tunneling is what lets you decide which apps run through the VPN and which don’t.
IPVanish does have built-in DNS leak protection at least. But again, the provider is stingy with information: their article only mentions DNS leak protection for Windows devices.
We had to contact their live support (more about that later) to confirm it’s available for all clients.
We always take a moment in our reviews to point out – no matter what any VPN provider says to you, they can’t promise 100% anonymity. None of them can, because it’s not technically possible (at least not yet).
However, if you’re super concerned with your online privacy, you can get really close to 100% anonymity by using a VPN and The Onion Router (TOR) simultaneously.
Very briefly, TOR is a (non-profit) decentralized network, which basically means every user connected to the TOR browser essentially looks the same. ISPs, government agencies, and hackers can’t reliably track your location or browsing history unless you use login details, as your traffic is routed through 3 different servers.
IPVanish barely acknowledges TOR in their help articles. The only information given is using TOR can and most likely will slow your connection speeds, a fact TOR confirms as well.
Luckily, we’re the inquisitive type, so we tested IPVanish-TOR compatibility ourselves. If you’re hoping to use TOR, you’ll be glad to know it does work with IPVanish 100% for browsing.
However, we do not advise anyone to rely on IPVanish in countries that have draconian censorship laws (like China), even if you plan on using TOR at the same time.
We’re big fans of VPN providers with thousands of servers. IPVanish doesn’t quite make the cut, but with 1,500+ servers spread over 75+ locations, it very nearly does.
Those servers have a combined IP count of more than 40,000, so we don’t have any complaints in this department at least.
However, we’re not exactly thrilled about the fact IPVanish doesn’t have any Double VPN/Multi-Hop features.
Usually, we’d recommend using TOR to mimic a Double VPN connection in this case. You could do the same with IPVanish, though their support team says “there’s no need” – suggesting they don’t understand why it could be necessary for some users.
Speed is one of the most important aspects of any VPN service, second only to security and privacy (which we count as 1).
A lot of providers claim to be the fastest VPN in the world. Trust us when we say it’s a poor marketing technique that relies on the target audience not understanding how VPN speeds work.
This is why we test VPN speeds using the exact same internet connection, server locations, and devices. It’s not entirely foolproof, but it’s the best way to get a more objective comparison.
During our speed tests for IPVanish, we were pleasantly surprised:
As you can see, IPVanish offers fairly competitive speeds.
Device Compatibility and Connections
If you’re hoping for some unreservedly good news about IPVanish, here it is. The provider offers apps for just about every kind of device known to mankind:
Here it is in writing:
- Windows Phone
- Amazon Fire Stick
- Routers (and consoles via router)
- Chrome (browser extension)
They don’t, unfortunately, have a Firefox extension. This isn’t an issue for us, as VPN browser extensions are really just proxy servers and we don’t recommend using them.
However, IPVanish does allow for unlimited simultaneous connections. This is especially great news for those with families and a need for more than 5 devices to be connected to the VPN.
Subscription Plans and Pricing
IPVanish isn’t exactly a cheap VPN provider, but that’s kind of a good thing. “Cheap is cheap,” as they say. We’d much rather spend a little more money and enjoy online security than save a few bucks and get exploited.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly VPN, we will say IPVanish is one of the best options available, especially if you opt for a longer subscription:
Unfortunately, they don’t offer as wide a variety of payment methods as some of their competitors.
Various credit and debit cards are accepted, as well as PayPal. But we would like to see IPVanish introduce a cryptocurrency option, which would improve anonymity drastically.
Another low point is you only have 7 days to get a refund – and if you signed up via the iOS app, you don’t get one at all.
EDIT: IPVanish has since updated their refund policy to a 30-day money-back guarantee!
Streaming is one of the most popular reasons for wanting a VPN. This is especially true given the fact streaming services limit what you can see based on where you are.
They also use proxy detection to actively block VPN connections whenever they can, so you can’t get around those geo-location blocks. This is why it’s important to choose a VPN that stays one step ahead of the game.
We were able to stream Netflix and use most of the Kodi add-ons. However, there was a bit of a lag and we had to try multiple servers before finding a working connection.
Still, we would recommend IPVanish for Netflix & Kodi users.
UPDATE 07/23/20: IPVanish has since updated their servers, which can now be used to unblock Netflix reliably and use Kodi without lag! Unfortunately, BBC iPlayer still doesn’t work.
If you don’t already know, torrenting is becoming increasingly popular again thanks to the ridiculous exclusivity clauses almost every streaming service has introduced.
IPVanish doesn’t prohibit Peer-to-Peer (P2P) connections for torrenting, but they do recommend using SOCKS5 for such activities. Given the lack of encryption, we strongly disagree.
To be fair, IPVanish isn’t terrible for torrenting. If you plan on using P2P connections, we suggest you look at our guide on The Best Torrenting VPNs instead.
Usability and Support
It only took about 5 minutes to install the IPVanish Windows client, which is more or less the same as most of their competitors.
However, we do have an issue with the fact we had to restart the computer once the installation was complete.
It’s an annoying extra step that turns the 5-minute installation into a nearly 10-minute process before we could run the app at all.
Although, to be fair, after researching the issue, we found only certain users were required to restart.
Moving on, there’s a bit of a learning curve to using IPVanish. However, after adjusting to that, it’s actually one of the best-running VPN apps.
Granted, competitors like ExpressVPN score higher on usability, but IPVanish’s lack of features in comparison make it easy enough to use.
Support, on the other hand, is a little iffy. As mentioned earlier, their support agents don’t seem to understand the industry very well.
We tested their live support a couple of times and had to wait as long as 5 minutes for anyone to copy-paste their generic opening line.
That said, they at least know everything they need to know about their own product, and once the chat starts, you don’t have to wait long for answers.
UPDATE 07/23/20: IPVanish has since contacted us and discussed their support team. We then tested the support team from a “blind” account and had much better luck, with quick responses and better answers. We will thoroughly investigate their support team when we redo the IPVanish review in the near future.
How to Cancel IPVanish and Get Your Money Back
We do recommend IPVanish if you’re looking for an affordable VPN service – especially for Kodi purposes. However, if you want a little more bang for your buck, it’s easy enough to cancel:
- Log into your IPVanish Account
- Click on the “Subscription” tab
- Click on “I wish to cancel my subscription”
- Confirm (you’ll be asked to do so twice)
- IPVanish will offer you an incentive to stay, such as 2 months for free
- If you still want to cancel, confirm for the third time
- Ask for your refund via live chat if you’re still eligible for their 7-day money-back guarantee
- Alternatively, for some users, IPVanish offers a refund automatically if you cancel your subscription immediately