With hundreds of VPN providers to choose from, making the right choice is difficult. Even for us, and we have reviewed a lot of providers, the choice isn’t easy. What makes a great VPN provider depends on what you want to use the VPN for, some offer better speeds and throughput others offer better privacy protection, most are somewhere in between.
It isn’t unusual for a VPN provider to contact us requesting a review of their service, hence we weren’t too surprised to get an email from IPVanish. What set their request apart was their offer to connect online as well as offline.
IPVanish offers a solid VPN product that easily competes with HideMyAss, Private Internet Access et. al. as far as the standard VPN features and price go, just as you would expect from any serious contender.
They own 156+ servers, spread over 58 countries, totaling over 14,000 IP addresses; not bad, but certainly not anywhere close to the market leader, HMA. What sets IPVanish apart is they own their Tier–1 network, which means they can offer unparalleled speed and bandwidth.
Their pricing is competitive, support quick and knowledgeable, the software easy to install and use, but lacks some features other providers are offering, such as automatic IP switching and secure IP bind. Last, but not least, they don’t keep logs or inspect your traffic in any way, just don’t do anything illegal, because that violates, not surprisingly, their terms and conditions 😉
The Good: High bandwidth, fast network, easy-to-use software
The Bad: Dialer only offers basic features
The Verdict: Solid VPN product competitively priced. Great for streaming movies and online games.
IPVanish has free software for all major operating systems, Windows, Mac, Ubuntu, iOS, Android, Chromebook and even routers. I installed IPVanish on my Mac and iPad, both installations were quick and straight forward, without needing to consult help files or contacting support. For this review I read through a few setup instructions on their website and it became clear they put a lot of effort into making the instructions as easy to follow as possible.
Using the software if pretty easy, start the dialer, choose a server, optionally choose a protocol to use, and click connect – that’s it. On iOS their software helps you setup a profile – a VPN connection – that iOS can use to connect, so you need to use the iOS VPN feature to connect and disconnect, also very easy.
IPVanish offers the standard protocols to connect, PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, and the most secure OpenVPN either via UDP or TCP. Their dialer handles the details, but if you want to use your own software, their detailed instructions will allow you to do that.
Servers and IP Addresses
As of this review IPVanish had 156 server in 58 countries with more than 14,000 IP addresses, that’s a lot of IP addresses to hide behind. IP addresses are assigned dynamically to better protect anonymity and you can switch between different servers as much as you like. For a detailed list of server locations please follow this link.
Next to security, the most important factor when choosing a VPN is speed. You need speed for smooth streaming, fast downloads and fun gaming, after all, nobody wants to watch or listen to choppy stuff or worse see a spinning wheel instead of the next scene… We used IPVanish to stream TV shows and movies from Hulu and Netflix, all of which played smoothly without interruption.
But, of course, we didn’t stop there and actually compared their performance against Privateinternetaccess (very fast) and Hidemyass (most servers and IP addresses of any VPN provider). For our tests we downloaded a Linux distribution file (475MB) to our testing server using servers in the same locations and under similar conditions. We repeated the tests for each provider several times, just to be sure. IPVanish easily beat HMA, being about 50% faster, and outperformed PIA by more than 20% using both TCP and UDP connections.
Region Restricted Content – Geo Fencing
The Internet promised to be the greatest liberator, promising everybody equal access. Unfortunately access has been restricted for many people, because of political or financial reason, The Great Firewall of China is one example, movie licensing by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) another among many.
A VPN offers the most flexible way to get around these restrictions and literally reside anywhere, or in the case of IPVanish in 58 countries, your choice. Because IPVanish doesn’t impose any bandwidth limitations and offers high throughput it is ideal for streaming content.
Hulu was recently compelled to enforce region restrictions and cracked down on customers streaming their content outside the US using VPNs. They basically blocked IP addresses known to belong to anonymizing services, such as VPNs. I tested a few of IPVanishes servers to see if those were affected, some were, others still work just fine.
IPVanish includes a NAT Firewall with all paid accounts. This feature keeps unwanted inbound traffic at bay and makes it impossible for such traffic to reach your device, a cool add-on many providers don’t even offer…
Terms, Privacy and Logging
T&C are standard, a lot to read, basically prohibit you from performing any type of illegal activity while using their network.
IPVanish doesn’t log any of your Internet activity (logging on/off, real IP address etc…) and does not perform deep packet inspection to keep your online activities anonymous and private.
Their website has an extensive, well-written support section with answers to most questions, but if something doesn’t work you can reach them via real-time chat or email. We contacted support at various times with multiple questions and always received a courteous and useable answer very quickly.
IPVanish offers three pricing plans, month-to-month, 3 months, and a yearly subscription. Monthly service costs USD10, a three month subscription USD 8.90/month (billed as USD 26.99) and a yearly subscription for USD 6.50/month (billed as USD 77.99). All subscriptions offer the exact same features and allow two concurrent connections, one via OpenVPN, and one using PPTP or L2TP.
All pricing plans come with the 7 day money back guarantee (no questions asked), so there’s no reason not to test the service. Personally I prefer a slightly longer test period, so I usually subscribe for a month and decide during that month if I will switch to the yearly plan, because it offers substantial savings.
If you are looking for a solid VPN product, you should give IPVanish a try. Their product is competitively priced, offers fast and reliable connections, and easy to use. They take privacy very serious and are constantly expanding their network and improving their service. Big thumbs up from us!
Easy to use software
Fast reliable connections through their Tier–1 network
Located in the US, meaning they have to comply with US law which doesn’t protect privacy as well as laws of some other countries do.
Basic software, no automatic IP switching, no secure IP bind
Image Credit: Martin Knudsen