IPVanish VPN Service Review

In addition to our own test results and experiences, we're also providing a reader-based assessment of leading VPN service IPVanish.

Introduction

Readers rated almost 30 VPN service providers. IPVanish had the third-highest response rate, with 29 readers weighing in, and it finished in third place with a stellar average rating of 4.45. Actual reader ratings, along with verbatim comments, are provided at the bottom of this page.

IPVanish got high praise for how easy it is to use, and the number of server locations. Time and again, readers said things like "it just works." On the downside, there were several readers grumbling about client issues on various OSes, but nothing consistent. However, other readers pointed out a lack of encryption offerings. At the bottom of the page are a smattering of representative responses, accompanied by your ratings; we've tried to provide the responses that offer the greatest variety of experience, reflect the high score received, and also things that might be helpful before purchasing IPVanish.

Features And Specifications

Supported Encryption

OpenVPN
AES-256-CBC; hash algorithm: SHA256; TLS control connection supports multiple ciphers, negotiated between client and server at connection (default to DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA)
PPTP
MPPE128 encryption; MS-CHAPv2 authentication
L2TP
Tunneled with IPSec, supports multiple ciphers (AES_CBC 3DES_CBC DES_CBC DES_ECB BLOWFISH_CBC RC2_CBC CAMELLIA_CBC RC5_CBC CAST_CBC IDEA_CBC)
Cisco IPSec
supports multiple ciphers (AES_CBC 3DES_CBC DES_CBC DES_ECB BLOWFISH_CBC RC2_CBC CAMELLIA_CBC RC5_CBC CAST_CBC IDEA_CBC)
IKEv2
aes128-sha256-modp1024

Interface And Setup

IPVanish’s product slick isn’t shy. “IPVanish is the only true tier-1 VPN service in the world,” it trumpets. “We deliver the best VPN speeds, the most secure connections, and the most competitive pricing anywhere.”

Well, we’re not sure exactly what constitutes a “tier-1 VPN,” and let’s ignore that there are free alternatives and cheaper subscription services, including Private Internet Access (below). With pricing pennies away from that of HMA!, IPVanish covers the gamut on client compatibility: Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Ubuntu, router installation and even Chromebook. Yes, we’d say IPVanish’s UI is just a pinch friendlier than HMA!’s, even though it lacks some of HMA!’s sweet speed diagnostics. It’s a close call, but we do like that within the Server Selection page, you can sort with By Use, List and Map tabs. The By Use option is a bit simplistic: You can select either “Fastest Server” or “Media and Gaming” for the U.S., U.K. or Canadian regions. But sure, if you want a shortcut that avoids sorting through ping times or map dragging, there you go.

All told, IPVanish boasts over 140 VPN servers across 76 cities in 61 countries. This accounts for over 14,000 IP addresses. The company allows you to have two simultaneous VPN connections and offers your choice of OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP protocols. Also note that IPVanish comes with 24x7 human support and a seven-day money-back guarantee. The company reports that they perform no user activity monitoring or logging.

Test Results

Sources
Targets
Vancouver Canada (West Coast)
Portland, OR (West Coast)
Phoenix, AZ (West Coast)
Hood River, OR (West Coast)
London, UK
Miami, FL
Tel Aviv, Isreal (Middle East)
London, UK
Tripoli, Libya (Middle East)

When we selected any of IPVanish’s three Seattle servers, Speedtest.net reported us as being right around Cocoa, FL, just east of Orlando. Clearly, there can be a difference between the server you select and the IP address you receive. We substituted the next closest location, San Jose, CA, and observed the same thing. When we moved off the coast into Phoenix, AZ, though, Speedtest matched our expectations. London similarly matched server and IP locations with no issues. The closest IPVanish server to Syria is in Israel, which we thought might have an unfair infrastructure advantage. Thus we took a hop westward to Istanbul, Turkey. Once again, while Whatismyip.com correctly placed us in Instanbul, Speedtest.net believed we were working from the island of Cyprus. Ugh. As download speeds from Instanbul/Cyprus were terrible — well under 1 Mb/s — we switched to Tel Aviv, which detected correctly and provided better numbers. (Torguard had the same Istanbul/Cyprus issue.)

IPVanish's Israel server trounces HMA's Syrian system, and while we're hard pressed for apples to apples comparisons, we'd say that IPVanish's flagship West Coast site in Vancouver trails HMA!'s downloads out of Seattle -- and that's with Seattle not being HMA's choicest option. On the other hand, IPVanish's London site outperforms HMA!'s. The moral of the story may well be that you need to try the server(s) in the location of your choice before picking a service. However, IPVanish does switch between servers faster than HMA!.

Five-Star Reader Ratings

☆ Rating:

✓ Pros:
Speed, software, and server locations.

Cons: Their website, and setup guides.

Comments: I use IPVanish and have tested other VPN services before deciding it was my favorite.
☆ Rating:

✓ Pros:
The number of fast servers they have in places like the UK and NL.

Cons: It's not really their issue, but it seems Apple limits what they can do on iOS.

Comments: IPVanish VPN service is fast, has great geolocation, good encryption, and is affordable.
☆ Rating:

✓ Pros:
It is a fast service, I haven't had any issues streaming, and they add servers regularly (I notice that new countries are added to the Windows client pretty much month over month).

Cons: I haven't had any issues up until this point (I've been a paying customer for 8 mos).

Comments: I chose a 5 star rating for IPVanish based on their overall speed.
☆ Rating:

✓ Pros:
Multiple platform support. No logs. (Except for US servers) Not expensive. So many servers online (Everywhere). Speed is good if server is near. can drop to 30mbit/s if on the other side of the world.

Cons: No automatic application shutdown if connection is lost.

Comments: Very affordable, great customer support and very easy to setup. Have been a customer for the last year or so.
☆ Rating:

✓ Pros:
I like the amount of global servers they have, and their speeds.

Cons: The price could be cheaper, but compared to the quality of other cheaply priced VPNs, I'd say it's probably worth the few dollars more.

Comments: The quality of service is just wonderful.

Four-Star Reader Ratings

☆ Rating:

✓ Pros:
What got me to sign up for IPV over other services was their response to a question from a site doing a review. The question was about giving any user information to any gov't agency and the response was something like this (paraphrasing): "In the event a government agency contacted us for any information we have on any registered user, we would be legally bound to tell them about the nothing that we have." Also, some times it does speed up downloads and youtube videos buffer much faster, I can usually stream 1440p or 1080p60 seamlessly.

Cons: Connection is reliable 85-90% of the time, some days I'll drop from online games up to a dozen times while connected to a server less than 10 miles away and reporting 25ms ping (ping in games shoots up above 500ms at times). I do think my ISP is partly to blame though.

Comments: Dont know much about the finer details of VPN services but after 6 months of use, IPVanish seems to be just ok. (My 1st and only VPN experience thus far).
☆ Rating:

✓ Pros:
Price & effectiveness.

Cons: Have to logon at bootup.

Comments: Fair introductary price, selection of servers & NO ID users records.
☆ Rating:

✓ Pros:
Large amount of servers I can choose to log on to for my service.

Cons: Nothing yet.

Comments: The customer services rock, and and speed rocks also.
☆ Rating:

✓ Pros:
Seems like they have servers everywhere and the list is still growing.

Cons: Android client needs work. Prefer the native manual setup.

Comments: Solid performance but android client app feels slow and looks like it was designed in the froyo days.
☆ Rating:

✓ Pros:
Cheap as chips, and came recommended from others in the industry. other than that, can't say really.

Cons: Lack of configuration options.  It recently updated, and took away my ability to choose the type of tunnel etc. that might work for the stupid, but alas, the current way of the world says anyone using a vpn is not in that catagory.

Comments: Nothing is perfect, and I've struggled to renew my password a few times.
☆ Rating:

✓ Pros:
It works and gives me access to many locations.

Cons: When VPN drops, it could expose my real IP if I do not detect it changing.

Comments: VPN provides security and their system works as expected.
☆ Rating:

✓ Pros:
Their VPN is fast, they continue to add servers so none is overloaded with users, and they are torrent friendly.

Cons: They allow only one OpenVPN connection, no port forwarding and no access to a proxy.

Comments: Could have offered some additional features PIA offers, like port forwarding and proxy server, for extra costs.
☆ Rating:

✓ Pros:
Varied server location and excellent connection speeds.

Cons: Need more robust encryption options needed. Clarification of retention of data policy and transparency of requests from Gov's. Way of stating they are complying with Gov requests without breaking gag rules imposed.

Comments: Ease of use , good connection speed, good declared policy of not tracking, and decent encryption algorithms.
☆ Rating:

✓ Pros:
fast connection, stable, n always succesful in ip change.

Cons: only 2 devices, no manual changes for encryption settings.

Comments: Fast and easy to connect, and no dns leak.

Three-Star Reader Ratings

☆ Rating:

✓ Pros:
VPN software is fantastic, service is really easy to use.

Cons: I'm in Australia. Not using a vpn, I have an average speed of around 80mbps. When connecting to an Australian service via vpn, I get 14mbps, and when connecting to a US server, 3 or 4 mbps.

Comments: Slow speeds.
☆ Rating:

✓ Pros:
Good speeds, fast connection.

Cons: Access program.

Comments: Good speeds, troubling access program.

MORE: Best VPN Services Of 2015
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William Van Winkle is a Senior Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware. Follow him on Twitter.

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