IPVanish full review
IPVanish gets off to a good start, with an easy-to-install app and a visual tutorial to help you get going. You’ll be connected to one of its servers across a huge range of countries in no time. However, upon delving into its finer details we came across some downsides that are difficult to ignore. Find out more in our full IPVanish review.
Let’s start with the price. IPVanish is among the more expensive VPN options. Its cheapest is the one year subscription, which costs $77.99 (around £61) so works out at $6.49 (£5.27) per month. That is a saving over the one month option, which is $10 (£7.80), and the three month option that’s priced at $26.99 (£21.05) so $8.99 (£7) per month.
You can pay using Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, JCB, Delta or Paypal but there are no anonymous gift card or coin payment options available.
There’s a 7-day moneyback guarantee, which should be long enough to help you work out whether it’s the service for you.
IPVanish is based in the US, and therefore in the top tier of the “14-eyes” countries that share cyber-intelligence. This will be a major turn off for privacy advocates, so if that’s you we’d recommend taking a look at our list of the best VPNs to choose a different service that suits you.
Otherwise, IPVanish is simple to install, so once you’ve created an account you’ll be able to get up and running in no time. You’ll be taken through a step-by-step guide on how to use it, and there are are video tutorials available on its website if you find anything about the installation or set-up process confusing.
If you’re not particular about which server you connect to, it’s as easy as clicking one button, but you can also choose to narrow down to a specific country and let IPVanish choose the most suitable server, or choose your own server from the list provided. There are more than 1,100 servers across 60 countries.
You can choose your server from a searchable list, a map, or a list that you can filter by latency or region. We’d have liked a list that helps you choose a server based on what you plan to use it for, such as streaming, privacy and file sharing. We’ve seen this from other VPNs including CyberGhost and PureVPN.
Like many other solutions we've looked at, by default all DNS requests sent through the VPN will be resolved using the VPN provider's own DNS servers. This is important as it ensures that such traffic doesn't give clues about your surfing habits.
Also in line with other VPN solutions, IPVanish doesn’t keep any connection or data logs, and doesn't store metadata about your VPN use.
Unfortunately, we were unable to use IPVanish to connect to Netflix or BBC iPlayer during our testing. We tried several different servers to no avail.
There’s no chat service with IPVanish (several others at the top of our VPN chart offer 24/7 support via chat, which we’ve found to be incredibly useful in the past), so we contacted support via email. It took about 24 hours for them to respond and the response was essentially that IPVanish won’t always work with Netflix but we can keep trying, so it wasn’t much help.
The desktop app interface isn’t the prettiest, and some of the data on the default screen could be hidden to prevent beginners from feeling overwhelmed. But once you know what you’re looking at and the information that’s actually useful to you it’s intuitive.
And of course, for those that do enjoy the extra data, having the time connected, the protocol and a chart that shows bandwidth fluctuations is reassuring.
We had a couple of occasions when the app completely froze, and another that seemed to bring our entire computer to a grinding halt that was only fixable with a forced restart. But the app has since been updated and seems to be running more smoothly.
It’s not immediately obvious where access to more advanced features are in the IPVanish app on macOS. You’ll have to go to the navigation bar at the very top of your screen and choose Preferences. On Windows, the settings are within the app interface so they’re much easier to find.
There you can choose to change IP address at an interval of our choice, which adds an extra layer of security but will mean your connection is temporarily interrupted during the switchover. The Kill Switch is disabled by default, but you can turn it on in the settings menu.
You’ll get 10 simultaneous connections with one IPVanish account, which is one of the highest we’ve seen but we’re not sure how useful it is in reality. It certainly sounds impressive but we don’t know many people who’ll need to connect using ten devices.
In addition to the Windows and macOS versions, you can also get IPVanish apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Ubuntu, Chromebook and select routers. There’s also an app available for Amazon Fire TV Stick.
We found the iOS app more intuitive than the desktop version, and had no trouble with crashing or connection issues. We still couldn’t use it for streaming services including Netflix and BBC iPlayer, though.
Android installation and use is as easy as downloading from the Play Store and logging in.
IPVanish also has an option to install its software on certain models of home router. This involves installing new system software and is not for the technically naïve, though the online tutorials are very thorough.
It’s very difficult to test the performance of a VPN, as it can vary from day to day and from hour to hour. The server you choose and the route used to get to that server will have an impact on performance, as will your own broadband connection.
IPVanish does show a graph of current download and upload speeds, though, which you can use to check performance as you’re using it. We tested for IP leaks and DNS leaks and were unable to find any, which of course is key to keeping your privacy intact.
IPVanish does protect your privacy, and for the most part it performs well if that's all you need it for. But if you're looking to connect to Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other streaming services you may be disappointed, and the support offered isn't as good as rivals when you need help.
When you consider that it's more expensive than some of the others we've tested, this makes IPVanish tricky to recommend for most readers.