IPVanish is a veteran of the VPN industry. But has its sterling reputation let it rest on its laurels for too long? Several rival VPN providers want to usurp IPVanish with better speeds, pricing, security, apps, and features.
Can IPVanish still compete with the likes of NordVPN, ExpressVPN, or Surfshark? Or is it time to move on? In my 2021 IPVanish review, I wanted to find out if IPVanish is still worth considering. I tested IPV on both desktop and mobile devices to find out the answers:
- How fast is IPVanish?
- Can IPVanish unblock region-locked streaming services (such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Prime Video)?
- Is IPVanish safe and private?
- Can IPVanish be used in China?
- Does IPVanish offer good value?
I’ll discuss all of that and more in this review.
During my time with IPVanish, I used the VPN service to secure my connection on public wi-fi, hide my IP address while torrenting, and unblock streaming sites. I also put IPVanish through several tests to measure its speed and security.
My thoughts on IPVanish are summarized below. Read the full review to get an in-depth look at this long-running VPN provider.
Do I recommend IPVanish?
IPVanish is a United States-based VPN provider that emphasizes speed, security, and privacy. What it does, it does well, and it checks all the boxes when it comes to the standard features that are necessary for a modern day VPN. If you want privacy one public wi-fi or while torrenting, it should suit you fine. However, it struggles in China and isn’t the best for streaming. IPVanish is one of the biggest names in the VPN business, but whether its capabilities can extend beyond that of a run-of-the-mill VPN provider is a question we aim to answer in this review.
IPVanish Key data
|OVERALL RANK: #5 of 45 VPNs|
|Average Speed *:||52 Mbps|
|Video Streaming Support:||4K UHD|
|Other Streaming Services:||HMO Max|
|Encryption Type:||256-bit AES|
|Log Policy:||Zero logs|
|Value for Money|
|Lowest Monthly Cost:||$3.33|
|Money Back Guarantee:||30 days|
IPVanish pros and cons
Here’s a quick summary of what IPVanish gets right and where it could use improvement:
- Decent speeds
- Unblocks Netflix
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Strong encryption
- Great for torrenting
- No split tunneling
- Doesn’t work in China
- Can’t unblock some popular streaming services
- No Linux app
Speed: Is IPVanish fast?
I ran speed tests at various times of day on servers in North America, Europe, and Asia. Across all times and locations tested, IPVanish’s average download speed was 63 Mbps. That’s about average for VPNs in its price range.
Unfortunately, that’s not an improvement since the last time I reviewed IPVanish. Speeds have remained pretty stagnant in 2021 thus far, but that might be about to change. IPVanish plans to add the Wireguard protocol to its apps in the near future, an upgrade that boosted the speeds of rival VPNs into the 100-plus Mbps range, including ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark.
But for now, here are IPVanish’s average download speeds broken down by region:
- North America (nearest): 69 Mbps
- Europe: 63 Mbps
- Asia: 57 Mbps
We test servers in each of these locations at various times of day using a 5 Gbps connection from the United States. You can find more detailed info on how we test VPNs here.
Using nearby servers, I was able to stream 4K video without stopping to buffer. When we played a few matches of Brawlhalla, a Super Smash Bros-style online fighting game, performance ranged from slightly laggy to almost unplayable when connected to the UK server and playing on European servers. Your mileage may vary, but we recommend gamers only use the VPN during off-peak hours.
While the service was not the fastest we’ve tested, it is remarkably stable. Not once did the connection drop during our test period. Thanks to the “Best Server” option, which automatically connects you to the fastest server after setting the location, we never ran into a down server.
Keep in mind that our tests are not a definitive indicator of which VPN is fastest. The inherent volatility of the internet adds a significant factor of randomness, so VPN speed tests should always be taken with a big grain of salt. Those with faster connections may well notice a larger discrepancy in speeds.
As of time of writing, IPVanish operates more than 1,700 servers in over 75 countries, a marked growth since our last review. The countries with the most locations include the USA (18), the UK (5), Australia (4), France (3), and Canada (3). Server switching is unlimited.
You can search the full server list in the location menu, choose a location from a map, or use advanced filters to narrow down server selection by protocol, country, and latency. Latency loosely corresponds with proximity, and a lower latency often means a faster connection.
Apps: What devices work with IPVanish?
A single subscription allows unlimited simultaneous devices to be connected at once, making IPVanish a good value for a large household.
Apps are available for:
- Fire TV
Sadly, there’s no Linux app or web browser extensions. Other operating systems will have to manually configure a third-party app to connect, or connect to a VPN-enabled router.
Streaming, Netflix and Kodi
Does IPVanish work with Netflix?
IPVanish now unblocks US Netflix from abroad. Not all servers are guaranteed to work, so you might have to switch US locations a time or two to find one that does.
Unfortunately, IPVanish doesn’t unblock a lot of other popular streaming services like Hulu or Amazon Prime Video. It does unblock HBO Max, though. Compared to the top-of-the-line competition, IPVanish falls short of some of its competitors in regards to geo-unblocking.
IPVanish is a notable favorite among Kodi users. Kodi, a free home theater software that allows for streaming video and other content from multiple sources, is often installed on Android-based devices like the Amazon Fire TV Stick.
IPVanish makes an app specifically for Fire TV, and devices without access to Google Play or the Amazon App Store can directly download the Android APK directly to their device. The interface is remote-control friendly. Beyond the initial sign in, there is very little typing required to get up and running. Everything can be selected via drop-down menus, and there’s no need to struggle with maps or other interfaces that don’t gel well with remote controls.
Does IPVanish allow torrenting?
Yes, IPVanish allows torrenting on all servers. P2P filesharers and frequent streamers will be glad to know that there is no cap on bandwidth or data.
The IPVanish apps come with an optional kill switch that halts internet traffic should the VPN connection unexpectedly drop—a necessity for torrenting.
DNS leak protection is built in, including IPv6 leak protection.
The company keeps no traffic or usage logs on its customers. It does not record your source IP or any of your online activity.
Does IPVanish have split tunneling?
No, IPVanish’s apps do not support split tunneling at this time.
Split tunneling, or selective routing, allows users to choose which apps use the VPN tunnel and which use a direct, unencrypted connection. I could, for example, set my torrenting app to always use the VPN while Spotify always uses a normal internet connection.
Many of IPVanish’s rivals have implemented split tunneling, so I hope IPVanish catches up soon.
Security, privacy, and logging
Other than when an account is first registered, IPVanish keeps no record or log of VPN use on its users. Unfortunately, IPVanish has dropped Bitcoin as a payment method, forcing users to sign up with a credit card or PayPal. That makes fully anonymous signup next to impossible.
IPVanish uses 256-bit encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default. SHA512 is used for authentication, and a DHE-RSA 2048 key exchange supports perfect forward secrecy. These are all up-to-date and 100 percent secure encryption standards, and perfect forward secrecy ensures that past traffic data cannot be decrypted even if a hacker or someone else obtains the current decryption key.
The company operates its own DNS servers and DNS leak protection is built in, as is a kill switch. Our tests showed no DNS, IPv6, or WebRTC leaks.
IPVanish is based in the United States. This might raise concerns for users wary of the NSA, FBI, and other law enforcement or intelligence agencies with a record of covertly spying on people with the help of US-based tech firms. IPVanish’s zero logs policy should ease these concerns, and the company has no public record of anyone being arrested or hacked as a result of using its service. Despite that, some users will still be put off by any VPN provider based in the US and the countries it cooperates with on intelligence gathering.
IPVanish is one of very few providers that owns and operates all of its physical hardware, rather than renting it from a third party. Whereas most VPNs simply rent servers around the world, IPVanish buys them. There are pros and cons to this. Obviously, IPVanish maintains greater control over who has access to its servers. But owning servers also makes a provider less flexible under certain circumstances, such as when a data center where the servers are housed lowers their privacy or security standards. It’s much easier to end a lease and rent another somewhere else than it is to physically move a server.
Users can specify how often they would like their IP address to change down to a minimum of every 45 minutes.
A checkbox in the settings will enable traffic obfuscation. In the mobile app, this is labeled as “scramble”. This is helpful in certain situations where you don’t want your ISP or some other entity between you and the VPN server to know that you’re connected to a VPN. In regards to VPNs, obfuscation makes encrypted traffic look unencrypted. In some countries where deep packet inspection is used to identify and block encrypted VPN traffic, like China for example, obfuscation can be helpful. Unfortunately, it won’t help unblock servers that have already been blacklisted by their IP addresses or domains, the latter of which is the case in China.
IPVanish uses external email providers for support and other communication with customers. The only information on hand is users’ email addresses. No customer information is stored or accessible.
I came across a bug in the Windows app that caused certain settings changes not to take effect after restarting the app. The “Block local network interfaces when connected” setting had to be checked and unchecked again in order to actually disable the feature. It might not seem like a big deal, but I felt a little unsettled by the fact that my security settings were not what they appeared to me and had changed since I last used the app.
Does IPVanish work in China?
IPVanish is not a reliable VPN for users in mainland China at this time. I cannot use it to unblock websites or apps censored by the Great Firewall.
China has blocked connections to the IP addresses and domains of IPVanish’s servers. In the past, IPVanish recommended users in China set up their VPNs manually instead of using the official IPVanish app, but IPVanish now admits that even that might not work.
Is IPVanish’s customer service any good?
IPVanish has expanded its customer service options since we last reviewed it. Back then, all it had was an email form on its website. IPVanish now also offers live chat and even phone numbers for live support in seven languages. Phone support is a real rarity among VPNs.
On a weekday afternoon, it took about two minutes for a response from the website’s live chat support.
A fairly thorough knowledge base is searchable on the company website.
In 2021, IPVanish upped its money-back guarantee from seven days to 30, giving you much more time to try it out before making a commitment.
Rather than choosing to give discounts for longer plans, IPVanish prioritizes discounts for short term users. IPVanish has chosen lower pricing upfront however when compared with the 2-year plan discounts offered by a top-end VPN, like NordVPN, over the long term they work out to a similar price. IPVanish also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so, for users looking for a VPN for just a month, you can download the VPN for 30 days and then cancel to receive a full refund. If you change your mind at the end of the 30 days you can still make the most of their low monthly prices in the short term.
- Monthly plan – $4.99 for the first month, $9.99 thereafter
- Yearly plan – $39.99 for the first year ($3.33 a month), $79.99 thereafter
IPVanish also offers a package including their VPN and 500GB of SugarSync storage. This is priced at $5.49 for the first month and $10.99 thereafter on the monthly plan or $49.99 for the first year followed by $99.99 on the yearly plan.
Should I buy IPVanish?
IPVanish is an easy-to-use VPN service with plenty of simultaneous connections, apps for the major device platforms, strong security, no logging, and average speed. A wide range of servers are available. DNS and IPv6 leak protection, traffic obfuscation, and a kill switch are all built-in. If you want, you can sign up and pay anonymously. The interface is easy to use with Kodi and other Android-based media systems.
The service unblocks Netflix but is hit or miss with other streaming services. Users in China and possibly some other censorship-heavy countries won’t be able to use the slick apps to bypass blocks and blacklists. These are some of the most popular use cases for VPNs these days, so it’s a shame that IPVanish either can’t or won’t overcome those hurdles.
Here’s the latest IPVanish coupon
IPVanish is solid, but it’s not for everyone. If you want something that excels at unblocking region-locked streaming sites or that bypasses China’s Great Firewall, check out these alternatives:
Surfshark is one of the fastest VPN we’ve tested. It’s one of the only VPNs other than IPVanish to offer unlimited simultaneous connections. You also get competitive speed and security, and the company stores no identifying logs. Surfshark works well in China and is great for unblocking streaming services from abroad.
How does IPVanish compare to other popular VPNs?
|Average speed *||52 Mbps||115 Mbps||71 Mbps|
|Encryption Type||256-bit AES||256-bit AES||256-bit AES|
|Kill Switch||on desktop only|
|Records Identifying Logs|
|Unblocks Netflix US|
|Unblocks Amazon Prime|
|Unblocks BBC iPlayer|
|Lowest monthly cost||$2.62||$3.30 per month||$2.49 per month|
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||30 days||30 days|