Maintaining a highly secure and private connection whilst using the internet is becoming an ever increasingly difficult proposition. This is where a top-class vpn service provider can assist. A good vpn service can provide users with ability to mask their true IP address and thereby protect their identity. It can allow users to access blocked websites and avoid geo-location restrictions that may be imposed by certain companies (e.g. Netflix, BBC iView, etc). IPVanish does indeed offer this functionality (and more), but what is the quality of these services provided, and how do they stack up against their competitors?
Pricing and Plans
IPVanish currently offers x3 different plans for their vpn service, with prices varying according to the subscription period selected:
1 Month price:
- $10.00 USD per month
- Billed once every month.
3 Months price:
- $8.99 USD per month.
- Billed $26.99 every 3 months.
- This prices represents a 25% saving over the standard Monthly price.
1 Year price:
- $6.49 USD per month.
- Billed $77.99 every 12 months.
- This prices represents a 46% saving over the standard Monthly price.
As you would expect with a vpn service provider the size of IPVanish, network speed and performance is one of their top priorities. They have a huge network of servers all around the world (see Server Locations section below) which offers significant performance advantages. They also employ their own server engineers who personally manage, monitor and tune their vpn servers for optimal speed, performance and reliability.
One of the most important factors for us when it comes to network speed is bandwidth. Thankfully, IPVanish does not impose any limitation on bandwidth whilst connected to their vpn service.
Another key point is that they also do not prevent Peer 2 Peer access on any of their servers.
IPVanish has a suite of security features that not all other vpn service providers have. For us this is reassuring to know that they do take their customers online privacy seriously and are willing to take additional steps to ensure it.
Some of the additional security features offered by IPVanish that impressed us most are:
256-bit AES encryption – in addition to offering the most modern and up to date vpn protocols, IPVanish also makes use of the ‘Advanced Encryption Standard’ (AES). This is the industry standard encryption method, and is the same encryption as used by the U.S Government. Whilst there are also less secure 128-bit and 192-bit versions of this encryption method, IPVanish prefers to use the full 256-bit version for optimum security.
Killswitch – this functionality is built into certain IPVanish apps and operates in the background without any user input. It monitors your vpn connection, and if the connection does drop out for any reason at all, it will kill your internet connection immediately (thereby ensuring that no data is transmitted outside of your vpn connection). At present, this Killswitch functionality is available for the Windows and Mac OS X apps only.
NAT firewall – this feature is built into all IPVanish vpn servers. It works by having IPVanish users all sharing the same pool of IP addresses. Sharing of IP addresses in this manner adds an extra layer of privacy as it makes it very difficult for anyone to know exactly what any one person is doing.
The IPVanish network of vpn servers is extensive, covering all major countries and continents. This is reflected in their impressive raw number server stats:
- 40,000+ IP’s
- 850+ servers
- 60+ countries.
This is a huge advantage for IPVanish customers providing them with the ability to bypass geo-location blocking in just about any country.
VPN Protocol Support
IPVanish offers all the latest vpn protocols, so their users can be assured that they are connected using the most up to date security protocols. The below is technical information for those vpn users that want to dig deep with their vpn settings. For all other ‘regular’ users, the recommended settings are pre-configured in all IPVanish apps, so it’s really not something that you need to worry about.
- OpenVPN – the recommended vpn protocol for non-mobile devices.
- PPTP – Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol.
- L2TP w/ IPSEC – Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol with Internet Protocol Security.
For iOS users, the following 2 vpn protocols are also offered:
- IKEv2 – the recommended vpn protocol for mobile devices.
Data Logging Policy
IPVanish operates their business under a strict ‘Zero Data Log‘ policy. For us, this is an critical feature of any vpn service provider that takes their users privacy seriously. This means that they do not monitor, record or store any data logs for any of their user’s VPN activity.
We found it a little bit disappointing that IPVanish does not currently offer a Live Chat function, as is common with most of the other larger vpn service providers.
The primary mode of customer support offered by IPVanish is email. We recently put their email support response times to the test by sending them a simple email inquiring about which vpn protocols did they support. Their reply email arrived into our inbox 23 hours later. To be clear, we would not classify a 23 hour response time as brilliant, but at same time we would say that it it is within the bounds of being ‘acceptable’.
IPVanish offers a full range of apps for all your devices, all of which are included in the standard vpn service. Their present lineup of supported devices includes:
- Mac OS X
- Windows Phone
- Fire TV
Supported devices appears to be one particular area that IPVanish has focused on, and indeed excels. Many of the other vpn service providers that we have previously tested only had apps for a limited number of devices. IPVanish not only offers apps for all the standard device types (e.g. windows, mac, ios, android), but they actually go a step further by offering apps for Windows Phone and Fire TV. So if you own either of these 2 device types, IPVanish would be an excellent choice for you.
IPVanish is based in the United States of America (USA).
Because they are based in the USA, this unfortunately means that they must comply with all internet privacy and data retention laws stipulated by the U.S Government. When we put it to IPVanish Management that this did not seem like an ideal scenario, they reminded us that they have a ‘zero-log’ policy – which effectively means that identifying a IPVanish customer based on their IP address is impossible.
- Unlimited bandwidth.
- Extensive server network.
- Peer to Peer supported.
- 5 simultaneous connections on multiple devices.
- Extensive range of supported devices including: Windows Phone + Fire TV.
- Zero Data Log policy.
- Customer Support – no Live Chat functionality.
IPVanish ticked all the boxes on the things that mattered most for us: network speed + online privacy. On the occasions that we used their vpn service, we found their server speed and performance to be excellent. We were also very much impressed with their clear commitment to privacy shown via their strict Zero Data Log policy. The addition of a Live Chat function would certainly be a welcome addition to their service offering, but this did not present an issue for us, as we did not experience and reason/need to contact their support team (i.e. their vpn apps were easy to install and use). IPVanish make a lot of claims in relation to being a high-end, reputable and reliable vpn service provider. In our opinion these claims are well founded, and therefore IPVanish receives our full recommendation.