IPVanish VPN is a popular VPN service based in the United States with over 1300 servers located throughout 50+ countries spread around the world.
IPVanish repeatedly comes up in online discussions around VPN services due to their consistency, strict no-log policies and no bandwidth caps.
IPVanish VPN Background
After years of foolishly running my online business via public WiFi (though more secure now than then), I decided to start using a VPN to mask some of my communications and access a bit of out of market sporting events while traveling.
But I found out that – similar to web hosting – there is no such thing as a “best VPN provider”. In fact, it’s like a whole world of confusing information because even trustworthy information is near-useless since it’s so complex.
This IPVanish VPN review is my notes from trying them out for my own purposes as a privacy-aware, traveling, US-based businessperson who needs good usability and good pricing. I am not a political activist or someone who regularly travels to firewalled countries.
Here’s a good explainer as to whether you actually need a VPN at all…
Whether you are looking for a VPN for privacy on public networks, for website access, for avoiding geotargeting, for masking communications or all the above, hopefully, this IPVanish VPN review will be useful.
What is IPVanish VPN?
IPVanish is a commercial Virtual Private Network (VPN) currently owned by J2 Global, a large holding company of various digital brands including NetProtect, Mashable, PC Magazine, MyFax, along with 5 other smaller VPN brands. IPVanish was previously owned by StackPath, a technology company that owns the CDN that my website runs on.
IPVanish offers all the standard features of a VPN with a focus on reliability, usability, media streaming, and productivity suite bundling. They are openly US-based, which will be both a pro and a con within the review.
Is IPVanish VPN Safe?
Yes, IPVanish is safe*. They are owned by a large, growing, public company with a straightforward and open business model (aka, the customer pays money for a service) and audited services & financial records.
*The asterisk here is that the company is US-based. That means customers benefit from US laws & protection. But global privacy hawks will point out that IPVanish is also subject to enforcement from the FBI, NSA & Treasury. But since 2016, IPVanish no longer keeps any logs beyond real-time server load logs to audit. Additionally, all commercial VPNs suffer from the same group of risks outlined by the US National Institutes of Technology’s Empirical Analysis in 2018.
Is IPVanish VPN Good?
Yes, IPVanish is a solid VPN all-around. They have tradeoffs for sure, and they aren’t right for everyone. But they offer everything most customers want in a VPN at a great price with solid US-based reputation.
So here’s the rest of my IPVanish VPN review – structured with pros & cons based on my experience as a customer so you can figure out if IPVanish is a good fit for you, or if you want an alternative paid VPN.
IPVanish VPN Pros / Advantages
It’s no secret that IPVanish is highly-rated among websites and customers alike. They have plenty of testimonials and slick feature overviews on their homepage. They position themselves as an affordable “security suite” provider.
It’s a solid, straightforward pitch. But it’s also very similar to other popular VPN providers. Here’s what I found IPVanish does well.
Pricing & Payment Options
IPVanish VPN uses one of the most attractive pricing structures for VPN providers: 1-month, 3-month, and 12-month subscription options. It’s $11.99 monthly, $35.97 billed for three months, or $143.88 billed annually ($6.49/month). They also do frequent deep discounts that you can lock in for a entire billing cycle (ie, 1 month, 1 quarter, or 1 year).
As you can tell, you’ll save quite a bit on an annual subscription over a monthly subscription. If you frequently travel through the year and connect to public Wi-Fi while doing so, the annual subscription is the way to go. They are not the cheapest VPN out there, but they also are not the most expensive. Like many of their features, they seem to be aiming for a happy sweet spot of value for money.
Unlike some other VPNs that require you to pay more to gain access to all the VPN’s features, IPVanish VPN gives you everything with any plan. That means you’ll have five simultaneous connections, full security features, and any choice of a server you wish. There are no cross-sells or upsells.
IPVanish VPN offers a 7-day money back guarantee. If you request a refund within seven days after you subscribe and aren’t satisfied with the service, you’ll get all your money back within ten business days, no questions asked. That’s alright, but it’s not as good as the 30-day refund that ExpressVPN and NordVPN carry.
With any VPN – you usually get what you pay for. While not perfect, IPVanish’s pricing and payment options are a strong point of their service.
Encryption & Security
IPVanish VPN gives you the option of three different protocols: OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP/IPsec VPN. They’re all excellent choices for security, but OpenVPN is among the top protocols for keeping you protected. This one offers 256-bit encryption of your data, which is what banks use to keep your information safe on their websites.
There are also over 40,000 shared IP addresses to choose from to hide your real IP address. You can connect to a different one an unlimited number of times if you wish. IP address switches can further help you keep your identity and internet actions unknown to anyone who might be searching.
Best of all, IPVanish VPN doesn’t keep logs of your traffic. The company doesn’t keep track of where you go, or what you do, online, so even if it’s served with a warrant to investigate something, there’s not any information for IPVanish VPN to give. This is a tough feature to pull off without sacrificing network stability. Some companies like ExpressVPN and VyprVPN try to strike a balance where they only log some information for support & network stability. Then are are some, like NordVPN or AirVPN, that have no-log policies that seem to affect their performance. IPVanish – as we’ll see in the Performance section, seems to pull this balance off.
**Caveat – Note that no VPN is 100% secure. Your traffic is still routing through a company. Any company can go out of business or go rogue. If you are trying to avoid your American ISP – then you are simply replacing distrust of Comcast/Charter with the trust of your VPN. If you are a political activist where trust is a life or death situation, you need to be using something like Tor. This highlights this section of IPVanish VPN’s unique features, but the point remains using a VPN does not instantly create security/privacy. That is something you do via aligning company incentives (ie, paying for companies who maintain security) & being proactive.
IPVanish VPN strikes a good balance with advanced security features that are understandable for the lay user. Many VPNs remove advanced controls for the sake of usability and convenience, but IPVanish’s advanced settings are useful. Here is what their Preferences screen looks like in their app.
Overall, IPVanish deservedly gets praise from online forums and publications for their user-friendly privacy practices and no-log practices.
Usability & Onboarding
IPVanish VPN does a good job moving new customers to active customers (ie, “onboarding”). Their signup process is straightforward. Their apps are seamless and self-explanatory.
After signing up and verifying your email address, you are redirected to the Get Started screen where you can download apps for your respective devices.
When you first log on to the client, you can walk through a tutorial that shows key features. After setup, you can choose a server or have it automatically connect to a server for you based on your selected server location and current location. You can even search a full list of servers using filters, like protocol and current speeds.
The client offers both basic and advanced features to meet the needs of virtually any user. Want to get connected as quickly as possible? You don’t need to change anything because the client sets essential security features for you. If you want to tweak anything according to your preference, there’s always that option.
In the advanced section, you can choose your protocol, IP address settings, activate the Kill Switch and leak protections, and more, with the click of a few buttons.
While not as pretty as some other VPN clients, IPVanish is simple and straightforward and highly usable.
Speed, Performance & Consistency
Like every other VPN, IPVanish VPN calls itself the “world’s fastest VPN.” However, based on my testing, they can actually claim to be one of the fastest VPNs available.
There is a lot that goes into Internet speeds via a VPN. It is quite literally a middleman. So there is going to be a speed dropoff compared to non-VPN speeds, especially if your server is geographically distant from your location. That said, there is a lot that a good VPN can do for Internet speeds. Among other things, they can have a geographically diverse set of servers that correspond to both customer location and in-demand content. They can provide capacity above and beyond demand. And – they can work with server settings depending on connection types and types of content.
I live and work in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, so my tests all have a strong American bias. But, IPVanish VPN is remarkably consistent across its servers, both in the United States and those in other countries, with speed and performance. And, several speed tests conclude that this VPN seems to have the most similar speeds to internet connections without a VPN for both downloading and uploading.
Here is my baseline, non-VPN internet speed.
Here is my typical result with IPVanish.
That is more than 50% of my non-VPN speeds. That is very impressive based on anecdotal comparisons with other VPN providers that I’ve tested. Not the greatest…but also not the worst.
Additionally, this VPN stays connected with little chance of lagging and dropped connections. So, you likely won’t notice much of a change in your connection once you log on to the VPN – which is one area that IPVanish does well. Even the VPNs that have been abnormally fast have also been the ones that drop connections the fastest.
Overall, IPVanish scores really well on the speed/performance area.
Product Bundling, Apps & Bonuses
IPVanish is owned by a company that also owns a bunch of other tech brands. And, they’ve begun created interesting bundles that are unique to IPVanish.
For example, every IPVanish account gets free access to a SugarSync account – a brand-name encrypted backup & filesharing solution.
Now, it’s not groundbreaking if you’ve been making do with Dropbox or Google Drive. But it does have some unique features (like automated backup). And for the fact that it’s free makes it a really solid value-add. If you’ve been on the fence about paying for filesharing, SugarSync does give a huge push to IPVanish’s plans.
IPVanish VPN Cons / Disadvantages
Of course, no VPN provider is perfect. There are inherent tradeoffs to nearly everything. IPVanish VPN is no exception to the rule, as it has a few negatives to consider that may affect your decision.
Here are some of the disadvantages that I found with IPVanish.
Company, Guarantees & Refunds
The first downside of IPVanish is really a medley of two things – their company structure and their plan structure.
On the company structure side, there is a downside about their ownership. IPVanish is on their 3rd owner in just ~3 years. The actual product has not changed much – only the plans & pricing.
Now, this practice is totally normal in the corporate world. Kraft will sell brands to Heinz and Pepsi all the time without affecting the underlying product. However, across so much of the VPN industry, actual product seems like it’s more of a financial commodity rather than an investment. Additionally, J2 Global is getting quite big. They own a ton of brands – not all of which are VPNs. That can be a good thing, or a bad thing.
If you trust big companies, then the fact that IPVanish is simply a brand in a big company’s portfolio is fine – even good thing. If you trust smaller, independent, focused companies, then this could be a severe disadvantage.
The second structural downside is their lack of a long refund period in addition to the lack of payment options. They offer a 7 day refund with no trial and only credit card / PayPal options. That’s not bad per se, but it’s also not the best in the industry.
Based in the United States
Again, this isn’t something crucial, but the United States isn’t the most well-known country for internet privacy. The U.S. government is very capable of restricting the internet and quickly finding the information it wants to find.
Since IPVanish VPN is a United States-based company, you abide by the U.S. internet policies and regulations.
Now, this cuts both ways – you also benefit from the FTC’s protection as a consumer. Nobody at IPVanish is going to defraud you or run malware without risking a fine / jail.
But, if the US government decides it wants to monitor your internet activity, it can always get a warrant to do so through IPVanish VPN.
However, since IPVanish VPN doesn’t keep logs, the chances of anyone finding out you’re behind one of the VPN’s IP addresses is highly unlikely. Still, if this privacy issue makes you the slightest bit squeamish, then IPVanish VPN may not be the best option.
Additionally, if you plan on using your VPN to violate the DMCA, then be aware that if you are caught with a violation, then your account is subject to termination.
Aside – and yes, this fact sounds counter-intuitive to their “no logging” claim to me as well. Either they do log some traffic or they never terminate accounts or they filter specific connections (ie, Torrents). Either way, I’ll just mention the point of trust again.
Can’t Always Access Geo-Restricted Content
You may not be concerned about having access to geo-restricted content, like Netflix or YouTube videos that some countries ban. If not, then you can disregard this issue. For some, accessing geo-restricted content is a vital feature of their VPN.
IPVanish VPN claims to gain access to this content quickly, but some customers have found it hit-or-miss, especially with Netflix. But, to be fair, as more services catch on to VPNs gaining access to their content, more VPNs will have similar issues.
When I was trying to access geo-restricted content, I kept having to jump through hoops, like this one from Google –
It’s not a deal killer but was something that stood out as an inconvenience compared to other VPNs.
Not “The Best” at Any One Thing
Ironically, the last “downside” about IPVanish is that they aren’t “the best” at any one thing. In a crowded VPN market, that’s a downside to building a large customer-base and sustainable business model.
They are obviously trying to carve it out with their security suite positioning. But until then, they are possibly the most solid all-around, but not “the best” at any one thing like pricing, servers, privacy, etc.
IPVanish VPN Next Steps
IPVanish ticks a lot of the boxes of a good VPN for most customers, but also has some shortcomings that might make it 2nd choice for some customers.
If you are primarily concerned about speed, performance, and no-logging, then IPVanish will be a good fit for you. Go sign up here.
Otherwise, feel free to browse some of my related VPN posts below!