IPVanish

Category VPN
Reviewed by Maria
Updated Jan 18th, ’22

Tekpon Score

9.2

Users Score

7.5

IPVanish Review

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Did you know Facebook tracks you across the internet, even if you don’t have a profile? By gathering tidbits of your information, Facebook can create a “shadow profile.” When you decide to make a Facebook profile, your data is already there, including people you might know. IN THEORY, a VPN (virtual private network) service would stop bad-faith actors from this kind of tracking and provide you with anonymity and security online. How well does IPVanish fare? Read through my IPVanish review and find out.

 

UI/UX

9.2

Ease of use

9.4

Value for Money

9.5

Features

9.0

Customer Support

9.0
Pricing Details

Starting from: $10.99/month

Pricing Model: Subscription

No free trial

No free version

PROs
  • 1,900 servers in 75 countries
  • Automatic kill switch
  • DNS leak protection
  • Zero logs policy
  • 24/7 support
CONs
  • Google may lock out the IP address for 12 hours
  • No independent audit of some features
  • A data leak involving the government
  • Shoddy Oceania speeds
  • No IPv6 support
Best for
  • Personal
  • Small business
Deployment
  • Desktop - Mac
  • Desktop - Windows
  • Desktop - Linux
  • Mobile - Android
  • Mobile - iPhone
  • Mobile - iPad

IPVanish — VPN service

 If you’ve decided to use a VPN, you’ve already adopted a healthy dose of paranoia in your online life. The sheer number of bad-faith actors online will make you want to crawl in a corner and cry yourself to sleep in a fetal position. In addition, governments, international conglomerates, and social media giants want to know everything about you, including your love interests.

In theory, a VPN lets you slip through the digital surveillance dragnet by bouncing your traffic across multiple locations. But, in practice, that means you’re entrusting your digital well-being to a single company, which can also abuse it if you fall asleep at the wheel. For starters, IPVanish VPN won’t work without an IPVanish account, which brings us back to the shadow profile problem. So, how does it work, and is it worth the hassle?

What is IPVanish?

 IPVanish is a private internet security company. VPN stands for “virtual private network,” a dedicated highway lane on the internet for select users. IPVanish VPN service touts itself as providing anonymous, global, and unmetered internet access.

When enabled, IPVanish works automatically, redirecting all internet traffic through IPVanish servers. The idea is that your traffic is bounced around the world between them, to the point nobody tracking the traffic can know it’s you. Add in hundreds of thousands of other VPN users, and your traffic is a needle in the haystack.

How to use IPVanish?

 Click the “Apps” heading on the IPVanish website. Next, click the “Download Now” button to start the IPVanish download, click another button (changes depending on your device), save the setup file, and run it. Once installed, IPVanish prompts you to make an IPVanish account.

If you have no account, click “Sign Up,” at which point your browser will direct you to the VPN purchase page. The IPVanish login is directly from your desktop. The IPVanish interface gives you control over who you connect to and gives you feedback on the state of your connection.

IPVanish Features

  • Support for ASUS routers

According to the Setup Guides section on the IPVanish website, their best router support is for high-end RT series ASUS routers.

  • Google lockout

In some instances, your connection to a Google service may be rejected with an “Unusual traffic” error message. This happens when too many log-in attempts are made from the same IP address, which Google detects as a hack attack. The lockout typically lasts 12 hours.

  • Zero logs policy

IPVanish claims to hold no user activity logs, which could retrace their steps. However, according to reports from 2018, in 2016, IPVanish delivered detailed activity logs of one Indiana-based user to DHS. This only came to light because the logs were used in a criminal affidavit against the user.

  • Automatic kill switch

Automatically disconnects the VPN traffic when it gets exposed and disabled by default.

  • WireGuard network protocol

WireGuard is a cross-platform connection protocol. It is a simple, encrypted, low-maintenance protocol that is easy to implement and audit. Other supported protocols:

  • PPTP
  • L2TP w/ IPSEC
  • OpenVPN
  • SSTP
  • IPSec
  • IKEv2
  • SOCKS5
  • Backup

Accounts that buy the backup add-on get the Sugar Sync feature. It touts itself as a cross-platform backup and file sync service, boasting AES 256 encryption and support for most file types. It needs to be activated through the IPVanish account, providing 500 GB of storage.

  • Setup guides

The official website is replete with guides on setting up IPVanish on devices, including Fire TV. Networking is a bit complicated since computers communicate messily, so if you understand how IP addresses and ports work and set everything up on your own, you’ve done great.

  • Unmetered connections

Oceania internet users regularly get the short end of the deal regarding bandwidth, and IPVanish can’t rectify the situation. If connecting to Malaysia servers, expect dismal bandwidth and network speeds. However, users report the Oceania connections were stable, and those to Japan and Australia had acceptable network speeds. Other than that, IPVanish supports connections and devices up to the limit stated in your pricing plan. The fastest speeds were for connections to US servers, though this depends on the protocol used. WireGuard was the fastest, while OpenVPN and IKEv2 showed the biggest fluctuations.

  • Zero-tolerance policy for spam/IP address misuse

According to the IPVanish Terms of Service, the company has the discretionary right to decide what is or isn’t spam. That’s one dealbreaker, with the other being anything related to IPVanish IP addresses, especially:

  • advertising them
  • use of websites or ISPs that advertise them
  • forging message headers
  • posting “articles of spam.”

Those found spamming through or misusing IPVanish IP addresses will have their accounts terminated and prevented from using the service again. This policy implies IPVanish can and does monitor the traffic that goes through its servers. Another implication is that IPVanish monitors the content posted through IPVanish and matches it to users, which brings us back to the shadow profile problem.

Large internet companies are known to curb spam whenever they see it, including blocking entire IP address ranges associated with spam. As for the IP misuse clause, large companies regularly block traffic coming from IP addresses associated with VPN services. So it makes sense IPVanish would want to keep the IP addresses of their servers a secret for as long as possible.

Torrent support

IPVanish allows torrenting through your VPN connection.

IPVanish Pricing

There are two plans:

  • monthly
  • yearly

The monthly plan costs $10.99 a month. The yearly plan costs $44.99 for the first year and $88.99 every year after. Only the yearly plan is covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee, which does not apply to IPVanish subscriptions bought through iTunes in the iOS app. There’s a backup add-on, which costs an additional $2 a month for the monthly plan; $2.50 a month for the yearly plan. It provides automatic online backup, data restoration, and remote device wiping.

Also, there’s another bundle — IPVanish VPN with a generic VIPRE antivirus. In that case, the pricing plan is $12.99 a month when paid monthly; $54.99 a year when paid yearly. IPVanish accepts all major cards and PayPal.

DNS leak protection

 DNS is a service that handles your browser’s IP address requests. In some cases, your browser’s request can end up at the wrong DNS, which is called a DNS leak. It is a breach of privacy because whoever owns the DNS can see what you’re doing or can redirect you to a different website. Since IPVanish only supports IPv4, any IPv6 DNS requests will leak outside the VPN.

IPVanish will automatically set your device’s DNS IP addresses to 198.18.0.1 and 198.18.0.2 to prevent all DNS leaks. Use online services such as DNS Leak Test to check which servers handle your browser’s IP address requests. Cross-reference them with the server list provided by IPVanish.

Five Eyes controversy

In 2013, Edward Snowden revealed the existence of a multi-national espionage endeavor. Called “Five Eyes”, it comprises five countries:

  • US
  • Canada
  • UK
  • Australia
  • New Zealand

Ostensibly, the Five Eyes endeavor came out of a Cold War espionage apparatus built to spy on Russia, with the only difference being that it was adapted for the internet. It eventually became a powerful tool for spying on individuals in those five countries. Each country’s spy agency realized domestic laws protect the domestic population, but not an allied one, especially when access to their data is willingly given.

So, each country in the Five Eyes alliance spies on the population of the other four, sharing the data under the guise of fighting terrorism, spying on Russia or whatever other boogeyman is trending. In this way, there is no digital privacy for any citizen of the five countries, and yet no laws are broken.

Nine and Fourteen Eyes

Later, the Five Eyes alliance will be expanded to include:

  • Denmark
  • France
  • Norway
  • Holland
  • Germany
  • Belgium
  • Italy
  • Sweden
  • Spain

with these four suspected to be unofficial members:

  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • Israel
  • South Korea

The practical implications of Snowden’s revelation are that residents of those countries, and any internet traffic going through them, are subject to the Five Eyes surveillance. But wait, the traffic is encrypted, right? That’s where fingerprinting comes in.

Fingerprinting

 Fingerprinting is a digital surveillance method that uses metadata to spy on people, even if they use top-grade encryption. Spy agencies realized they don’t need to crack the encryption — if they can figure out who is talking to who, they can fill in the blanks to discover the contents of their conversations.

One piece of this metadata is the IP address each person uses. VPN is meant to be a method to resist fingerprinting by obscuring the IP address used. However, a spy agency can figure out other details, such as which fonts, resolution, browser versions, etc. are used, to track users through the VPN network. Later, by sharing the information with other spy agencies, they can unmask the user.

How liable is IPVanish to seizure?

 The gist of all this is that, if the VPN headquarters are in one of those countries, the VPN owners are liable to prosecution and persecution until they give away the metadata of their VPN’s users. IPVanish headquarters are in the US, and they can be raided with ease by any of numerous spy or law enforcement agencies, whether as part of the Five Eyes program or not. A VPN service can even be run by a spy or law enforcement agency, or the spy agency can hack into the servers to spy on them. A VPN server can be seized as well, all under the guise of the Five Eyes surveillance. So, VPN represents just one layer of protection, and in the case of IPVanish, we see it’s a piddling one at best.

Naturally, users would want to figure out if a VPN service is trustworthy, sharing the IP addresses of the servers to see who registered them, when, how, etc. In comes the IPVanish Terms of Service clause I mentioned above, which conveniently forbids sharing, discussing, or “spamming” the IP address of IPVanish servers. In my mind, this clause is definite proof that IPVanish is not playing fair and circumstantial proof that it may be compromised by spy agencies.

IPVanish Alternatives

 There are a lot of VPN services in the market, yet each one may work different for most people. Let discover some of the IPVanish alternatives:

  • Proton VPN

Based in Switzerland, Proton VPN touts itself as a high-speed VPN hosted by 1,500 servers in 61 countries. The official website claims all their apps are open source (meaning their code is open to inspection) and that they are audited. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee for paid Proton VPN plans, which range from $60 to $330 a year (paid in euros). They come with an ad-blocker, which is a neat addition, seeing how ads are another way to fingerprint a user. The flagship feature of Proton VPN is called “Secure Core”. It uses “hardened data centers” in Switzerland, Sweden, and Iceland, presumably preventing an adversary from compromising them and extracting user data or metadata.

There is a free plan as well, powered by 24 servers in 3 countries and with medium speed. The same company operates Proton Mail, so if you’re already registered there, you can use the same account.

  • NordVPN

A VPN company founded in 2012, boasting 5,200 servers in 60 countries. The ownership structure is a can of worms, with headquarters strewn across UK, Panama, and Lithuania. NordVPN has set transparency standards on the VPN market, going through two app audits in recent years. It claims to be the first VPN company to have an independent audit of its no-logs policy. Soon after, other VPN companies started boasting the same, despite not having audits to back it up with.

NordVPN leads the market in educating the public about cybersecurity, internet freedom, and online censorship. There is a bug bounty program as well — you can earn up to $50,000 if you discover a critical bug in NordVPN. The bug reporting rules are convoluted, and you can easily forfeit your reward.

You may use up to 6 devices per NordVPN account. You can watch all streams, regardless of whether they are geo-restricted or not, through NordVPN. Ad-blocker is a given. There are browser extensions as well.

Prices range from $40 to $140 a year (paid in euros). You can wait for a holiday deal and grab one of the multi-year plans for a huge discount (we’re talking 60 percent off). NordVPN accepts all major payment methods, including PayPal and cryptocurrencies. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee. 

IPVanish Review Conclusions

 You’ve hopefully learned enough in this IPVanish review to keep your privacy a little bit more protected online. In my opinion, who owns the VPN service is more important than what the VPN can do. In this case, IPVanish is owned by Mudhook Marketing Inc., a business registered in Florida, with two employees and annual revenue of $100,000.

Reddit comment by the user “lavosby”, who claims to be the new owner of IPVanish since February 2017, stated in response to the log leak, “I will spend my last breath protecting individuals’ rights to privacy, especially our customers”. This emphatic statement hasn’t been followed by a similarly emphatic independent audit. I conclude that IPVanish VPN is a leaky VPN, and despite new management taking over, it hasn’t done enough to establish user trust, such as by being transparent Anything you do through it makes you potentially liable to legal troubles.

Does IPVanish really work?

 Yes, for casual browsing and torrenting. It can hide your location, undo censorship, and cover your tracks. However, location-based streaming services, such as Disney Plus, will reject your connection if it’s coming from a VPN IP address, including that associated with IPVanish. On the other hand, BBC’s online player will likely work, because the IP check isn’t so strict. If you plan on doing anything contentious, use a disposable payment method and still expect IPVanish to rat you out when pressed by the authorities.

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