IPVanish provides a generally quick, relatively cheap VPN service with plenty of endpoint locations and clients for most of the major operating systems and device platforms. However, it has a murky history of – under previous ownership – handing over logs that weren’t supposed to even exist to US law enforcement.
IPVanish claims that, since 2014, it has kept no identifying logs of its users, but documents from a 2016 court case show that the company was able to provide detailed connection and online activity information to the US Department of Homeland Security.
IPVanish has changed hands twice since then: in 2017, its parent company, Highwinds, was bought by StackPath, which said in 2018 that it had no record of any such incident and places the blame squarely on previous management. Most recently, in May 2019, IPVanish was acquired from StackPath by J2 Global, a tech and digital content firm whose services and subsidiaries include PCMag, Mashable, SugarSync and Speedtest.
It’s also based in the US which, although it doesn’t have any specific logging requirements, is well known for the power of its government and law enforcement agencies to demand data from service providers without informing the subject of the demand, as well as being part of the Five Eyes anglophone intelligence gathering alliance.
IPVanish has endpoints in over 75 locations, with over 45,000 IP addresses across 1,300+ servers in 51 countries. Although that’s a reasonable number, it doesn’t compare to rival VyprVPN’s 200,000 IP addresses.
A larger number of IP addresses can help with avoiding detection by streaming services, and that’s something that IPVanish struggles with. We had no trouble connecting to US Netflix, but UK streaming services detected our VPN connection every time. It’s also worth noting that known US IPVanish endpoints appear to have been blocked by anime streaming service Crunchyroll, which usually only requires a basic proxy to region-shift into.
While not much cop for streaming, IPVanish’s UK endpoints don’t slouch when it comes to throughput: we got HTTP download speeds of 17.76MB/s (142.08Mbit/s) and US speeds of 13.37MB/s from our high-speed test facility.
The only anomaly in our test came from endpoints in the Netherlands, which managed just 8.27MB/s – well below average for a fibre connection with an un-VPN’d reference speed of 45.8MB/s to the same server. We’ll revisit this result in future months and expect to see improvements.
IPVanish allows up to ten simultaneous connections from a single account. Clients are available for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS: you can quick connect to the fastest endpoint near you, or select your desired location from a map or server list. Settings allow you to configure the application to start and automatically connect to your endpoint of choice when your OS boots.
A kill switch to cut traffic and an Auto Reconnect option to put you back on the VPN can be enabled to help protect you if your link to IPVanish’s servers drops. Windows users can choose which protocol to use – IKEv2 is the default option, but OpenVPN, L2TP, SSTP and less secure PPTP are also available.
The client helpfully displays its current protocol and kill switch status on all tabs. When connected, its main screen shows a traffic graph and keeps track of how much data you’ve transferred. Unusually, IPVanish has a Speech Feedback option for visually impaired users.
Linux users don’t get their own application, but OpenVPN profiles are available to download, alongside instructions for connecting a range of other devices such as routers. The Android app shares most of the Windows client’s features, but only uses OpenVPN and adds split tunnelling so you can configure only a select range of apps to go through the VPN. iOS only supports the IKEv2/IPSec protocol.
IPVanish costs $10 (£8.21) per month or $64.02 (£52.46) per year, with an unusual three-month subscription priced at $26.99 (£22.15). That monthly price is a little high, but the annual subscription is at the cheaper end of the mid-range. There’s a seven-day money-back guarantee if the service doesn’t work as you’d hoped.
If you don’t have any objection to the possibility of logs being kept, and if you’re not very into streaming video, then IPVanish is a perfectly decent VPN. But its subscriptions, although cost-effective, don’t really stand out amid tough competition, despite a generous 10-device connection limit.
Privacy-conscious users on a budget should instead opt for Private Internet Access, which costs only £3 more a year but has a no-logging claim that’s stood up to a US court of law, while ProtonVPN’s free and entry-level options are significantly cheaper.
If money’s no object and streaming is as important to you as privacy, ExpressVPN is the best-in-class alternative, while region-shifting friendly NordVPN’s privacy credentials have been audited, although not challenged in court.
Read our guide to the best VPN services to see how Nord VPN compares. When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we earn a small affiliate commission. This does not impact the products we recommend.
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