Why Use a VPN?
Internet users are always looking for ways to secure their online identity and viewing habits. Depending on the country you’re browsing and streaming from, you may or may not be at risk of running afoul of some law or another. And regardless of your country of origin, there are notable security and privacy risks, both from your ISP and even from your government. Services like IPVanish exist to help alleviate those worries.
IPVanish is one of many virtual private network services that provides access to private, heavily encrypted servers across the globe. VPNs allow you to access all of the content you want without the fear of having your viewing activity or identify discovered. That’s thanks to the “tunnel” that a VPN creates between you and your content. And a good VPN does more than just bring you directly and securely to your content. Most VPNs will help you get around content blocking and geographic content restrictions that seem to be increasing with regularity.
Today, we’re taking a look at perhaps the largest VPN service on the block: IPVanish. Below you’ll find our critical review of this popular and well-known service.
Install IPVanish on Different Devices
IPVanish is one of several subscription-based VPN programs that works with many different programs, including the Kodi media player. You can install it on a large number of devices and run it in the background to cover all programs running on your device, Kodi included. You will likely find that IPVanish works for your system. However, IPVanish is also one of few VPN programs that you can get setup to work directly inside of Kodi using the OpenVPN and OpenELEC plugins.
Click here to access the IPVanish guide on setting up IPVanish for OpenVPN and OpenELEC. We don’t recommend using this method for newcomers, however, as it’s far more complicated than simply installing the IPVanish application for your preferred device.
This VPN can be installed on the following operating systems:
- Windows Phone
- Linux (Ubuntu)
IPVanish will not work for every version of each operating system. Make note of the following limitations:
- To Install IPVanish on Windows-based operating systems, you’ll need Windows Vista or above.
- To install IPVanish on Mac computers, you’ll need Mac OSX 10.6.8 or higher.
- To install IPVanish on an iOS device, you’ll need iOS 8, 9, or 10.
- To install IPVanish on Android devices, you’ll need Android version 4.0 or higher.
- To install IPVanish on Linux, you’ll need Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, or CentOS.
- To install IPVanish on Windows Phones, you’ll need Windows Phone 8.1
This VPN service allows you to install their application before you signup for an account. You’ll find the service offers low-cost subscription plans. For more information, we recommend you read the full review on IPVanish below.
IPVanish Review Summary
IPVanish bills itself as the only Top-Tier VPN service on the planet. While we’re not sure how they’re defining “top-tier”, what is true is that IPVanish provides, quite easily, one of the most complete, well-rounded and feature-rich VPN services that we’ve tested. The service is not without its faults, as no services are. But we’ve found that IPVanish fits its price nicely, and perhaps offers even more than what you might expect based on what you’re paying for. For more details on our holistic review of IPVanish, continue reading below.
Summarized Pros and Cons
|Over 500 servers||No live chat for customer support|
|Servers located in over 60 countries||Limited money-back guarantee period|
|Kill switch included|
|Consistently fast server speeds|
|Over a dozen security features|
|Large range of device and operating system support|
|Fast customer service|
|Large number of IP addresses available|
|No activity logging|
|Special features specifically for torrent users|
Pricing and Payment Plans
IPVanish offers 3, relatively low-cost plans:
Cost is always a major concern for internet users most of whom have a strong (and understandable) desire to access content for free. One thing many internet users should pay for, however, is a VPN. IPVanish is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive VPN around. The 1 Month plan may seem pricey to many users at $10.00. However, if you find you like the service after a few days, we would suggest upgrading to at least the 3 Months plan. What IPVanish doesn’t offer that several other services do is a 6-month plan. Nevertheless, the 3 Months plan is a good value if you like the service but are unsure if you’re going to want to keep it. The 1 Year Plan does indeed offer the best value, as suggested by IPVanish. At nearly 50% off the 1 Month plan price, it’s an excellent deal for anyone who wants to keep the service. Positively, the 1 Year plan’s discount makes IPVanish one of the cheapest services around.
IPVanish also accepts a very large number of payment methods. All major credit cards are accepted, and alternative methods are accepted, including PayPal and 14 other online payment services. IPVanish even accepts payment from via Bitcoin.
Chances are, IPVanish will work with whatever device you’re using. The service doesn’t offer the most extensive device compatibility we’ve ever seen, but it is still very large. This includes all major and some minor operating systems and system families. This service works on:
- Windows Vista or newer
- Mac OS X 10.6.8 or newer
- Chrome OS
- Android 4.0 or newer
- iOS8 or newer
- Windows Phone 8.1
IPVanish: Main Features
The vast majority of IPVanish’s many features are security and privacy related. However, this service does provide an impressively large number of additional features that help make this service worthwhile:
VPN servers in over 60 countries. IPVanish has more server locations than any service we’ve reviewed. 60+ country locations mean most internet users will likely find access to a server near them. That means better streaming through websites of all kinds.
Over 500 servers. IPVanish’s 500+ servers mean users are more likely to find a working server near them, with little load and better bandwidth. This is not the largest number we’ve seen from a VPN service, but the quality of the servers is the key here.
Unlimited server switching. This is an often overlooked benefit to VPN services. However, the server switching will provide greater access to the best server, keeping speeds up.
Unlimited bandwidth. This is a particularly important feature for those who use P2P services. IPVanish does not slow down speeds on P2P users.
Fast and easy setup. We’ve tested some VPN services that are a pain to set up. While many internet users are typically pretty adept at getting online, most prefer quick and easy setup when possible. IPVanish takes out a lot of the guesswork. The application also includes a visual tutorial.
5 simultaneous devices. Those internet users who utilize the application on multiple devices will find this to be a boon. More VPN services allow for at least 5 device connections. IPVanish is right along with them on this end.
The speed test is invariably one of the most important parts of a VPN review. Most streaming services require a noticeable level of bandwidth, sometimes to compensate for the vast number of people streaming through certain websites. Whether it’s live sports or HD films through, speed is king. Most SD streaming can be accomplished with somewhat minimal download speed, but ping can also heavily influence whether you’ll be buffering for long periods of time while waiting for the data to transfer. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem given the large number of server locations IPVanish offers, however.
Our server speed test was conducted using the third party service Speedtest.net. Before testing any servers, we ran a control test at our test location in Washington DC. All speed tests are using IPVanish are compared against this control. We chose our server locations based on the number of servers in each country, picking the countries with the most servers. As a result, we ran tests on servers in the U.S., Netherlands, UK, Australia and Germany. When testing, we recorded and compared information for upload speeds, download speeds, and ping.
It’s important to note that our results may be different than yours. Original ISP speed will influence the results, as will time of day and distant from the VPN servers.
Here are the results of our speed testing.
|Server||Ping (ms)||D/L Speed (Mbps)||U/L Speed (Mbps)|
The speed tests for IPVanish were extremely positive. There were no notable upload speed drops (a good sign for internet users favoring P2P addons), while download speed drops were negligible in all cases except for the U.K. We can’t fault IPVanish for their UK server speeds. We’ve tested UK servers in every VPN serves we’ve reviewed thus far. UK servers always underperform servers elsewhere. However, IPVanish sports some of the best speeds we’ve seen out of the UK servers. In all, any internet user would find extremely fast VPN servers across the board, with very little to worry about in terms of bandwidth. Even the slower UK server would allow for HD streaming and possible online gaming simultaneously. Based on server speed alone, IPVanish is worth the asking price. And this does not include the many security and added features available.
Security and Privacy Features
IPVanish shines when it comes to security features. It doesn’t matter what security features you’re looking for, chances are IPVanish has it. Unlike many other VPN services, IPVanish gives users choice over their security protocols. Internet users will find this a valuable aspect of the service, as different protocols can influence your connection speeds on different servers. The following privacy and security features are a highlight of the service:
No activity logging. For internet users who use torrent or P2P services, this is perhaps one of the most important features to have. IPVanish logs no information and even provides specific benefits for those who do use torrents services.
Kill switch included. This feature immediately shuts off your internet or any programs that happen to start revealing your identity. You can turn it back on when you get the data leak problems figured out.
DNS and IPv6 leak protection. IPVanish helps protect against data leaks. It’s hard to predict when this might occur, as any website or program might leak information without your knowledge. Thankfully, IPVanish covers these problems.
AES-256 encryption. This is among the best encryption standards around. IPVanish utilizes this well-known and highly respected encryption on all of its applications and in all of its protocols.
DNS Proxies. IPVanish offers more than just VPN servers. Users will find DNS proxies available as well, these take a few extra steps to operate, however.
OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP protocols used. A large majority of VPN services only utilize OpenVPN, offering few other options. IPVanish gives users more choices. All protocols include standard, high-level AES-256 encryption.
LAN traffic blocking. This added feature is optional but is a good idea for those using public Wifi. It’s extremely helpful to prevent hacker attacks.
We were pleasantly surprised by IPVanish’s support services, although there are some areas left to be desired. The site advertises 24/7 support, which is a tough claim to live up to for any company. The lack of a live chat makes this particularly difficult to accomplish. However, IPVanish is very responsive over email, and at the least has an automated response email to acknowledge receipt of a support ticket. It’s hard to express how important that particular step is, as far too many VPN services leave users sitting in the dark wondering when they’ll ever get a response, or if their email was ever received. We ran into a few issues during setup, all of which were communication errors on our part and not the fault of IPVanish. However, we were able to solve all issues quickly and effectively.
IPVanish makes signup very fast and very easy. After choosing a plan and entering and processing payment, you’ll receive a confirmation email. The email may take a few minutes and may end up in your spam folder. However, the time from signup to logging onto a VPN is easily under 10 minutes.
Internet users are highly selective and very apprehensive to spend money frivolously on something that doesn’t work. Thankfully, IPVanish is one service that delivers more than its price point. When compared to similar services, IPVanish simply blows the competition out of the water. There are cheaper services out there, but some of those cheaper services have far fewer servers in far fewer locations, with far fewer benefits. IPVanish tries to do just about everything most security-minded web surfers are looking for, and interestingly, seems to get most of them right.
The true shining point of IPVanish is just how fast and effective its servers are. The fact that we didn’t experience any real loss in bandwidth after testing different servers is rare. And the fact that some of those servers even posted speeds that were higher than our control test is a sign that IPVanish makes good on its claims that it provides unlimited bandwidth. Furthermore, the notoriously slow UK servers were fast enough that most internet users could still use them for streaming purposes through their favorite websites without any real consequence.
The primary reason anyone would use this service over others lies in both the price and the service’s large number of security features. IPVanish offers up all of the security features of every other VPN service out there, in one easy-to-use application. Most other VPN services offer only some of these services. IPVanish delivers all of them. What’s more, IPVanish delivers these services at a far lower price than many of its competitors that provide fewer security and safety features while simultaneously asking for more money.
We find that IPVanish delivers the goods. Marketing is everything, and it’s often hard to determine whether a company’s marketing is a bit overblown. In the case of IPVanish, the service does a good job of only advertising itself on aspects about what it offers that are verifiably true.