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IPVanish VPN Review

 96.914% 
(175 User reviews)
IPVanish VPN screenshot
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio

Ask Simon about IPVanish VPN

Our Verdict

IPVanish has fast and highly configurable VPN apps. They're all secure and don't log any user activity. We recommend IPVanish to Firestick, Kodi and P2P users. The VPN does stream US Netflix, but that's the only service it unblocks. In short, IPVanish is a top VPN for privacy, but not for worldwide streaming.

IPVanish is an American VPN service offering a wide range of features you won’t see in many VPNs.

After reviewing its VPN apps, we can confirm that IPVanish is a highly secure VPN. It uses trusted security protocols like OpenVPN and IKEv2, strengthened by AES-256 encryption. And most apps feature useful tools such as split tunneling, a kill switch, and IPv6 leak protection.

IPvanish owns all its 1,400+ servers in 57 countries. This gives it total control of its network. It also provides over 40,000 shared IP addresses to its users.

Speed-wise, the VPN service is one of the fastest on short-distance connections. Its quick P2P-friendly servers make it ideal for private torrenting. It also offers a SOCKS5 proxy, popular with some P2P users.

IPVanish can also unblock US Netflix, and is great for Kodi streaming. In fact, IPVanish has the best Firestick VPN app, and is easy to set up on most Android devices.

Moreover, it has been a zero-logs VPN since 2017. However, this wasn’t always the case under Highwinds’ previous ownership.

The VPN let us down in two key areas. Firstly, it needs to unblock more streaming platforms, like BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. Secondly, it won’t work at all in China and other highly-censored countries.

In short, IPVanish is a top VPN aimed at Kodi, Fire TV Stick and P2P users. It’s secure, no-logs, and its fast local speeds are well-suited for file-sharing.

IPVanish VPN Pros & Cons

  1. Fast same-country speeds
  2. Zero-logs & no IP address leaks
  3. Best VPN for Fire TV Stick & Kodi
  4. Owns its entire server network
  5. Over 40,000 anonymous IP addresses
  6. Unlimited simultaneous connections
  1. Doesn't work with BBC iPlayer or Hulu
  2. Doesn't work in China
  3. No VPN browser extensions
  4. No Smart DNS for Apple TV & games consoles
  5. Based in privacy-unfriendly US
  6. 2016 logging incident

IPVanish VPN Key Summary

Data CapUnlimited
Speed84Mbps
Logging PolicyNo Logs
Data LeaksNo
JurisdictionUS (Five-Eyes Member)
Servers1,400+
IP Addresses40,000+
Countries57
US NetflixYes
TorrentingUnlimited
Works in ChinaNo
SupportLive Chat
Cheapest Price$2.62/mo for 12 months
Official WebsiteIpvanish.com

How fast is IPVanish VPN?

Speed Performance

IPVanish is very fast on local connections. We recorded an average download speed of 84Mbps on nearby servers. This works out as a 10% speed loss, which is impressive. Having said that, there are even faster VPNs available.

Even on long-distance connections, IPVanish didn’t slow down our Internet connection too much. For example, we experienced an average download speed of 53Mbps connecting to the US. IPVanish is fast enough for torrenting and HD streaming even on international connections.

On the whole, the VPN service was reliable and stable in all our speed tests. Connecting to a VPN server was remarkably quick, sometimes instant.

The VPN’s fast speeds let you browse the internet, download files, and stream video without interruption. You can see the full results of our manual and automated speed tests below.

Local Speed Test Results

Before using IPVanish VPN:

  1. DownloadMbps

    93.76

  2. UploadMbps

    97.58

  3. Pingms

    2

When connected to IPVanish VPN:

  1. DownloadMbps

    84.13

  2. UploadMbps

    90.33

  3. Pingms

    7

We tested our connection speed before and after connecting to an IPVanish server near us. Here are the results:

  • Download speed without IPVanish: 93.76Mbps
  • Download speed with IPVanish: 84.13Mbps
  • Our download speed loss when IPVanish is running: 10%

Our average speeds and latency were amongst the best we’ve seen across many VPNs. Our ping was only 7ms on a local connection, which is ideal for gaming. Speeds were also consistent from one test to the next, month after month.

Long-Distance Speed Tests

We also tested IPVanish’s speed on long-distance connections, too. We measured our internet speeds before and after connecting to its servers around the world.

While its local speeds are very fast, IPVanish’s global speeds aren’t as good. We measured an average speed loss of 44% connecting to the US. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t measure up to faster VPNs like ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

Connection speeds to Australia and Singapore were worse, with a download speed loss of 75%. These results just aren’t as strong as those of ExpressVPN.

Here are the average speeds connecting from London to IPVanish servers around the world:

  • USA: 53Mbps (download) & 37Mbps (upload)
  • Germany: 76Mbps (download) & 81Mbps (upload)
  • Singapore: 25Mbps (download) & 2Mbps (upload)
  • Australia: 24Mbps (download) & 6Mbps (upload)

How Fast is IPVanish Compared to Other VPNs?

On top of our manual tests, you can also review our automated VPN speed test results below.

Our automated speed test tool runs automatically each day of the year. It caps test connection speeds at 100Mbps to recreate a typical home internet connection.

The graph below shows IPVanish’s average speed loss on our New York test server, compared to rival VPN services. The data covers the last eight weeks, to illustrate speed as well as stability.

VPN Speed Performance Comparison Chart

Use our speed test tool to see IPVanish’s speed across the world

We keep seeing consistently high speeds from IPVanish. Until recently, it was even faster than ExpressVPN on a New York to New York connection. Upload speeds are also good and reliable, although not as good as other main VPN services.

Moreover, ping has been amazingly low and stable. It’s been hovering around 2ms on a local New York connection.

Once again, long-distance speeds are what let IPVanish down. Download speeds have stayed around 15Mbps lower than the competition, similarly to upload speeds.

Good value for money, with a 20% off coupon

Pricing & Coupons

IPVanish VPN Coupon

IPVanish VPN Pricing Plan

IPVanish is not the cheapest VPN, but it’s reasonably priced given its quality. The prices of its subscription plans are similar to other top-tier VPN services.

There are three subscription plans available: a monthly, quarterly, and annual package. Each option is paid upfront and includes exactly the same features.

If you sign up to IPVanish via our links, you can get a discount of up to $58.00. The best price comes with the annual subscription plan. This costs $2.62 per month, billed as $31.49 the first year and $89.99 thereafter.

  1. Monthly

    US$3.49/mo

    Billed $3.49 the first month, $9.99 thereafter
    Save 65%
  2. 12 months

    US$2.62/mo

    Billed $31.49 the first year, $89.99 thereafter
    Save 74%

All plans have 30-day money-back guarantee

Payment & Refund Options

Credit CardYes
PayPalYes

You can pay for your IPVanish subscription by credit card, debit card, or PayPal. International payment methods, like Alipay, are not supported.

Cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, and cash payments are also not accepted. It’s therefore impossible to subscribe to IPVanish with total anonymity. It won’t be an issue for most users, but it’s worth highlighting.

To try the service first, take advantage of a seven-day 100% free trial on iOS devices. There is no free trial on other platforms, but there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. This refund promise is no-questions-asked, and usually processed within 10 working days.

30 days gives you enough time to get to grips with the VPN. However, it does fall short of the 45 days Hotspot Shield and CyberGhost offer.

Also, if you sign up for IPVanish via the Apple App Store, you won’t qualify for the money-back guarantee at all. While this seems a little unfair, it’s sadly common practice.

Is IPVanish completely no-logs?

Logging Policy & Ownership

IPVanish is a zero-logs VPN provider, so it won’t keep records of your connection data or browsing activity.

Its privacy policy is clearly-written and transparent. It explicitly states that it doesn’t keep traffic or metadata logs:

“IPVanish does not collect, monitor, or log any traffic or use of its Virtual Private Network service on any platform.”

The only information the VPN service collects is an email address and payment method.IPVanish's logging policy in brief

The VPN does not:

  • Log user traffic or usage of the VPN service
  • Sell or rent user information to third parties

Many VPN services track at least anonymous server loads, or login instances for maintenance purposes. IPVanish, however, stands out for prioritizing user anonymity and privacy.

Unlike many VPNs, IPVanish doesn’t enforce any simultaneous connections limit. Therefore, it doesn’t need to log device connections to its network.

One thing IPVanish needs to do is request an independent audit of its logging practices. If you want a VPN that’s been externally audited, read our NordVPN review, or our VyprVPN review.

FBI Co-operation

No IPVanish review is complete without discussing the data-sharing incident of 2016. This is when the company’s previous owners (Highwinds Network Group) handed user logs over to the FBI.

The FBI identified the individual from a record of the VPN IP address and the time it was used. IPVanish had this information because it was logging web data its privacy policy explicitly stated it would not.

The IPVanish logging policy at the time of the FBI case

Screenshot of the IPVanish logging policy in April 2016

At the time of the case, IPVanish’s logging policy was very similar to its current one. In other words, the company couldn’t have accessed the data without breaching its own logging policy.

The screenshot below shows the information IPVanish shared with the FBI, based on a user “with IRC traffic using IP 209.197.26.72, port 6667”:

Screenshot taken from the IPVanish FBI affidavit

Excerpt from the affidavit

The severity of the crime justifies IPVanish’s decision to hand over logs to the FBI. But, it absolutely doesn’t justify the existence of these logs in the first place.

Luckily, this issue has been resolved. StackPath acquired IPVanish in 2017, who had no knowledge of the incident. It soon guaranteed that IPVanish wouldn’t store web logs going future.

We believe the IPVanish leadership when they state the service does not collect user logs. A third-party audit of the VPN’s no-log servers would help bury the issue once and for all.

Who Owns IPVanish?

IPVanish was founded in 2012 by Mudhook Media, which was part of the Highwinds Network Group.

In 2017 Stackpath purchased IPVanish, and two years later sold it to J2 Global. J2 Global also owns StrongVPN, SaferVPN, and Encrypt.me.

Despite the ownership changes, IPVanish hasn’t lost trust with its users. The acquisitions have in fact been a positive step for privacy. The arrival of a new owner with a strong reputation has put the past controversies behind.

All the companies mentioned above are headquartered in the US, a member of the Five-Eyes data sharing agreement.

This means the company can be forced to hand over user logs to US government agencies. In reality, though, IPVanish doesn’t have logs to hand over. So long as it continues to be followed, its zero-logs policy makes its jurisdiction much less of an issue.

Great for torrenting, but not for Netflix

Netflix & Torrenting

IPVanish isn’t the best VPN at unblocking subscription-based streaming platforms. Despite its fast speeds and large server network, it only really works with US Netflix.

The VPN service unblocks American Netflix on most US servers, although it can be slow to load the website/app.

We also tested IPVanish to see if it unblocks other Netflix regions. Here are the results:

Country Unlocks Netflix Example Server
USA chi-a02.ipvanish.com
UK n/a
South Korea n/a
Germany n/a
Mexico n/a
Canada n/a
Japan nrt-a02.ipvanish.com

As shown above, IPVanish only works with Netflix in Japan and the US. But, only some of its servers worked, and there are no dedicated Netflix servers. You’ll have to try different servers until you find one that works.

Screenshot of Netflix blocking IPVanish

Netflix detects many non-US IPVanish servers

Frankly, there are better Netflix VPNs available.

Unblocking BBC iPlayer with IPVanish is even worse. All its UK IP addresses are blocked. And the company isn’t looking to fix this any time soon. To stream BBC iPlayer from abroad, you’ll have to use a working BBC iPlayer VPN. Or, read our PrivateVPN review, a very good choice for BBC iPlayer.

We also tested IPVanish with Disney+ and had some success, but access was inconsistent. For a better experience, use one of these Disney+ VPNs, or read our Surfshark review, our #1 choice.

Moreover, IPVanish didn’t work with Amazon Prime Video or Hulu, either.

On the flip side, the VPN service is a much better choice for Kodi and Amazon Fire TV users. It has a great Firestick application that lets you stream Kodi and IPTV apps anonymously.

Is IPVanish Safe for Torrenting?

IPVanish VPN is perfect to torrent privately and safely. It’s extremely fast on nearby connections, and it operates over 40,000 anonymous IP addresses. This is ideal for high-bandwidth activities like file-sharing.

The VPN service allows P2P traffic on all its zero-logs servers. It also doesn’t leak any IP and DNS data. Moreover, the kill switch shields from IP exposures during rare VPN connection drops. This feature is not available on the iOS app, though.

A good torrent VPN must hide your true IP address, so that your ISP, or copyright trolls can’t view your download activity. IPVanish doesn’t talk much about torrenting on its website, but it caters to it very well. So well that it made our list of the best VPNs for torrenting.

The company does have an extensiveextensive DMCA policy. It also forbids torrenting copyrighted material in its Terms of Service. Don’t worry, though – this is true of many VPN services.

Screenshot of IPVanish copyright policy

The IPVanish Terms of Service forbidding torrenting copyrighted material.

Remember, the VPN doesn’t log usage data. Therefore, it can’t know who’s used a specific IP address at any given time. This means it won’t know which user to hand a DMCA notice to.

The VPN also offers a SOCKS5 Proxy. This is an old favorite for torrenters looking to mask their IP address. You can configure the SOCKS5 proxy directly in your torrent client, without the need of additional software.

It’s more secure to use a VPN rather than a proxy, though.

Security Tip

Connect to your VPN before launching your torrent client, and disconnect from the VPN after closing the torrent client. This avoids your IP address being exposed if your torrent client is seeding in the background.

Is IPVanish safe to use?

Privacy & Security

Protocols

IKEv2/IPSec

L2TP/IPSec

OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)

PPTP

Encryption

AES-256

Security

DNS Leak Blocking

First-party DNS

IPV6 Leak Blocking

Supports TCP Port 443

VPN Kill Switch

Advanced features

SOCKS

IPVanish is a safe VPN with strong security attributes. It protects your data with AES-256 encryption and uses secure protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP/IPsec.

We tested all its apps and they all hide your IP address and encrypt your traffic data. And we didn’t experience any DNS, IPv4 and IPv6 leaks.

Advanced features include traffic obfuscation, split tunneling, DNS and IPv6 leak protection. There’s also a VPN kill switch to keep your IP hidden in case of a connection drop. This isn’t turned on by default, so make sure you switch it on before connecting. Sadly, the kill switch is on available on the iOS app.

All the VPN apps offer a unique level of control over your OpenVPN configuration. There’s even a SOCKS5 proxy available for torrent users.

An advantage of using IPVanish is that it owns and manages its entire server network. This is rare among VPN services, and it reduces the risk of server security issues. We’ll go over the benefits of this in the server section of this review.

It has to be said that some of the apps lack key features, in particular the iOS app.

All in all, IPVanish is one of the most secure VPN services available. Its advanced suite of features is suitable for beginners and experienced VPN users alike.

IPVanish Leak Test

We tested IPVanish’s apps for leaks and can confirm that it does not leak IP or DNS data.

We ran our leak tests from our office in London, UK. We connected to several IPVanish servers including several US ones. As you can see below, our UK DNS and IP addresses were never detected.

IPVanish leak test

IPVanish’s leak test results when connected to its Chicago server

IPVanish therefore effectively hides your IP address and true location.

Wireshark Packet Inspection

After testing for leaks, we inspected our traffic when connected to an IPVanish server. This allows us to verify the VPN client is truly encrypting our data.

We carried out this test using Wireshark, a free and open-source packet inspection tool.

IPVanish Wireshark scan

The UDP stream from IPVanish shows no plain text

We didn’t capture any data being sent across our network in plain text. We found no unencrypted TCP or UDP traffic, and no HTTP or DNS traffic traveling in plain text.

In other words, IPVanish works exactly as intended. When it runs, it fully encrypts the traffic leaving the device. We trust the VPN to hide web activity from ISPs or protect data transfers on public WiFi networks.

Malware & App Permissions

We also scanned the desktop client using Malwarebytes to ensure it’s free from viruses and malware.

IPVanish Malwarebytes scan

Unsurprisingly, we didn’t find any malware in IPVanish

The VPN app passed the tests without trouble. We found no viruses or malware.

As a final step, we used the εxodus tool to scan the Android application. We use this tool to scan for intrusive or excessive device permissions.

IPVanish exodus permissions and trackers scan

The εxodus result showed few trackers, but also unnecessary permissions

The results show two trackers present: Google Crashlytics and Google Firebase Analytics. These are common troubleshooting tools that collect data on how you use the app.

This isn’t too concerning ‒ many VPN apps use Firebase and Crashlytics. But, it also isn’t the perfect model for privacy. Astrill’s Android app contains no trackers, and we want more VPN services to follow suit.

The IPVanish app also asks unnecessary permissions. The most worrying of which is “READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE.” There is no justification for a VPN reading external storage, and we find its inclusion concerning.

There are many reasons developers put permissions into their apps. Sometimes, permissions are just part of default libraries. In truth, only a few are necessary to run a VPN service. We hope IPVanish soon removes the more intrusive permissions.

All our security tests demonstrate that IPVanish VPN is highly secure and safe. Thanks to AES 256-bit encryption and advanced security features, its apps will protect your privacy.

Works on most devices but lacks Smart DNS

Device Compatibility

Apps

Windows LogoWindows
Mac LogoMac
iOS LogoiOS
Android LogoAndroid
Linux LogoLinux
Router LogoRouter

IPVanish has native apps for most platforms: Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Fire OS, and Linux. All apps are easy to set up, even on your home router.

The VPN service even comes with an official APK file. This lets you to side load the VPN onto any Android device.

You can also use the VPN on unlimited devices simultaneously. It’s rare to see a top-shelf VPN offer this. Most services limit concurrent connections to five devices per account.IPVanish device compatibility

Advanced users can also configure IPVanish on Windows phones, Ubuntu, Chromebook, and more ‘difficult’ devices.

Sadly, there are no VPN browser extensions available. VPN browser add-ons are increasingly popular, and we expect all major VPN services to have them. To use a VPN browser extension, take a look at our recommendations for Chrome and Firefox.

Installing IPVanish on Your Router

There are two choices for setting IPVanish up on your router. You can buy a pre-flashed router, or manually set up the VPN on a compatible router.

Installing a VPN on your router lets you protect your entire network with VPN encryption. This way you use the VPN on devices without native VPN applications like Apple TV and games consoles.

IPVanish is compatible with the following DD-WRT-enabled routers:

  • Asus
  • Belkin
  • Buffalo
  • D-Link
  • Linksys (Cisco)

Setting up a VPN on your router isn’t for beginners, though. You also need to ensure you have the right hardware first. Consult the IPVanish website to check that your router is compatible.

It’s a shame IPVanish doesn’t have a Smart DNS tool. It’s much easier to use a VPN on Apple TV and games consoles using Smart DNS.

IPVanish for Firestick & Kodi

IPVanish is one of the few VPNs to offer a native app for Amazon Fire TV. It’s one of the most secure out there, and it’s popular with Kodi and IPTV streamers.

The service doesn’t store any internet logs, keeping your streaming history anonymous.

How to install IPVanish on your Fire TV Stick:

  1. Select ‘apps’ and then ‘categories’ from the Fire TV Stick home screen.
  2. Choose ‘utility’ and then select the IPVanish application.
  3. Download IPVanish and select ‘open’ to enter your login details.
  4. Click ‘connect’ to use the nearest server, or pick a server from the ‘options’ menu.

IPVanish is also highly compatible with Kodi. There’s no other VPN service that has invested as much into marketing their VPN for use with Kodi.

Kodi add-ons let you stream all sorts of video content. If you stream copyrighted material, your IP address may be exposed to copyright trolls. The best Kodi VPNs, like IPVanish, protect your IP address from this risk.

IPVanish can also unblock geo-restricted content on official Kodi add-ons like IceFilms and NBC sport. The VPN’s website contains setup guides for using the VPN with Kodi on the following platforms:

1,400+ self-owned servers and 40,000+ IP addresses

Server Network

Globe with a blue flag
57Countries
Image of a city landscape
77Cities
Image of a pink marker
40,000+IP Addresses

IPVanish has a large network 1,400+ servers in 77 locations. All 1,400+ VPN servers are self-owned and managed. The company doesn’t rent any servers.

Users also have access to over 40,000 shared IP addresses. Only VyprVPN offers more, with 300,000. A large number of IP addresses helps prevent traffic congestion on very popular server locations.

The vast network includes servers in most European countries and over 500 servers in North America. The choice is more limited outside these regions, particularly in Africa.

Here’s a breakdown of the number of servers in each region:

  • North America: 822
  • Europe: 434
  • Asia: 66
  • Oceania: 83
  • South America: 32
  • Africa: 12
IPVanish full server list

IPVanish has servers in six continents

City-level server locations are available in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Brazil. Here is the full list of city-level locations:

  • UK: Manchester, London, Glasgow
  • Canada: Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal
  • Australia: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth
  • Brazil: São Paulo, Rio De Janeiro
  • US Central: Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston
  • US East Coast: Ashburn, Atlanta, Boston, Miami, New York
  • US West Coast: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Jose, Seattle

You can connect to servers in 57 countries. The full list of server locations is on the IPVanish website.

Server Ownership & Geolocation Testing

We’ve seen some VPN providers overextend their server networks, causing security vulnerabilities. The 2018 NordVPN security incident is a good example of this.

Many VPN companies rent large portions of their server network to cover as many countries as possible. Some VPN services specify how they keep control of these rented servers. Others are much less transparent.

VPN companies also use virtual server locations. These servers assign IP addresses for a country, even if they’re physically located elsewhere.

Both scenarios above can cause security issues. It’s vital that your VPN service takes server management and security very seriously.

An IPVanish rep confirmed the company owns all its servers and doesn’t use virtual servers.

IPVanish owns and manages its own servers rather than renting hardware from other companies. This gives it much more control over how its servers are installed, managed, and operated.

It’s rare for a VPN company to own its entire server network. Only VyprVPN and AzireVPN also do this. This is a huge security advantage and a unique selling point of IPVanish.

We ran geo-location tests on several servers to verify they’re physically located where they’re supposed to be. We did this using the App Synthetic Monitor Ping tool. The tool pings a URL from 50 different monitoring stations worldwide.

The closer the monitoring station is to the physical VPN server, the lower the ping rate will be. For example, connecting to a VPN server in Frankfurt, Germany, the ping between server and monitoring station is far lower than the ping from other stations:

Geolocation test of IPVanish servers

We applied this geolocation test to 20 popular IPVanish servers

We applied this test to 20 different IPVanish server locations around the world. We analyzed differences between our ping times and our supposed server location. We tested the following locations:

  • Albania (Tirana, tia-c02.ipvanish.com)
  • Australia (Sydney, syd-a50.ipvanish.com)
  • Brazil (São Paulo, gru-a14.ipvanish.com)
  • Canada (Toronto, tor-a11.ipvanish.com)
  • China (Hong Kong, hkg-a08.ipvanish.com)
  • France (Paris, par-a19.ipvanish.com)
  • Germany (Frankfurt, fra-a33.ipvanish.com)
  • Israel (Tel Aviv, tlv-c04.ipvanish.com)
  • Japan (Tokyo, nrt-a06.ipvanish.com)
  • Mexico (Guadalajara, gdl-a09.ipvanish.com)
  • New Zealand (Auckland, akl-c13.ipvanish.com)
  • Nigeria (Lagos, los-c02.ipvanish.com)
  • South Africa (Johannesburg, jnb-c06.ipvanish.com)
  • South Korea (Seoul, sel-a04.ipvanish.com)
  • Spain (Madrid, mad-a04.ipvanish.com)
  • Ukraine (Kiev, iev-c06.ipvanish.com)
  • United Arab Emirates (Dubai, dxb-c02.ipvanish.com)
  • United Kingdom (London, lon-a16.ipvanish.com)
  • US East (New York City, nyc-a13.ipvanish.com)
  • US West (Los Angeles, la-a02.ipvanish.com)

Each one of these servers passed our geo-location tests. They are all physically located where IPVanish says they are.

This doesn’t absolutely guarantee that the same is true of every single IPVanish server. But, it does serve as a strong clue that IPVanish is telling the truth.

IPVanish’s large, self-owned and secure network of physical servers is a rarity. It’s an ideal setup from a security standpoint. We hope to see more VPN companies follow this approach.

IPVanish doesn't bypass strict web censorship

Beating Strict Censorship

IPVanish does not work in China and other highly-censored countries. It’s not just its web domain that’s blocked – the VPN apps don’t work either. We tested IPVanish on our Shanghai server to no avail.

Its obfuscation tool, called “Scramble VPN traffic,” simply can’t bypass strict web censors.

If you need a VPN to beat online censorship, look elsewhere. If you live in or are traveling to a high-censorship country use either ExpressVPN or Astrill VPN. Both are very reliable at bypassing aggressive web censors. You can learn more about bypassing censorship in our Astrill VPN review.

IPVanish states that it is “forbidden to do business in”:

  • Cuba
  • Iran
  • Myanmar
  • North Korea
  • Sudan
  • Syria

And that its domain, ipvanish.com, is blocked in:

  • China
  • Kazakhstan
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The VPN may work in these countries (except China) by manually connecting to a server IP address. A full list of configuration guides is available on the IPVanish website.

Using IPVanish With Tor

Tor (The Onion Router) is an online anonymity tool that provides the highest level of anonymity. It does this by routing your traffic through three random servers in a volunteer-managed network.

Diagram of data passing through the Tor network

The Tor Network routes your traffic through three random servers to achieve anonymity.

Sadly, network managers like your school, university or employer can easily identify Tor traffic. And they will often block it, or penalize users for accessing it. This is also the case in countries with heightened online censorship.

By connecting to IPVanish before Tor, you can hide your connection to the Onion Network, and bypass restrictions.

There are drawbacks to this setup, though. Tor is already slow, and it isn’t optimized for UDP traffic, which OpenVPN defaults to. It doesn’t offer any dedicated servers for Tor traffic, either.

Therefore, expect significant speed issues when combining IPVanish VPN with Tor.

Intuitive apps with many advanced features

Ease of Use

How to Install & Set Up IPVanish VPN

All IPVanish applications are simple to use and offer a good suite of accessible features. It’s easy to change servers and the interfaces are reasonably intuitive. The advanced privacy settings are also easy to navigate.

All the apps are suited to both VPN beginners and more experienced users.

Installing the software is straightforward. The Windows and Mac clients install like most software. And you can install the iOS and Android applications directly from their respective app stores.

You can also download the Android APK file. This lets you install the VPN on Android devices with no access to the Google Play Store.

For beginners, detailed setup guides are available for every platform. You can also take an optional tutorial when you first log in to the app.

The Fire TV Stick app is also excellent. It’s far more complete than the Fire TV apps other providers offer.

Here’s an overview of the main IPVanish applications:

Windows Client

The IPVanish Windows app looks complex at first, but is in fact simple to use. Once you’ve connected to a server, a status panel will display the protocol you’re using, time connected, server name, and bandwidth used. There’s also a real-time graph showing upload and download speeds over time.

The IPVanish Windows app

The IPVanish Windows app allows you to change server locations with just a few clicks

You can pick a country, city, or server to connect to from the locations list. Or, just press “connect” to use the best server available.

In the side-menu, you can sort the server list by country, server load, or response time. The search box is also useful to filter by keyword. One click adds a server location to your ‘favorites list,’ for quicker future access.

There’s even the option to pick a location from a map, too. Numbers represent how many servers are available in a given location.

In the settings tab you have access to the kill switch, and the scramble protocol, which helps mask OpenVPN traffic. The kill switch isn’t enabled by default, though. Make sure you turn it on before you start using the VPN. You can also decide if you want IPVanish to launch on PC startup, or not.

The Windows default protocol is OpenVPN UDP, but you can also use OpenVPN TCP, IKEv2, or L2TP. You can also switch between OpenVPN ports 1194 and 443. Don’t use SSTP or PPTP – they’re insecure protocols and IPVanish should remove them.

Last but not least, the Windows app comes with full IP and DNS leak protection.

Overall, the Windows VPN app performs very well and its advanced features will please experienced users.

MacOS Client

The MacOS client has most of the same features as the Windows one (minus LAN exemption).

The interface is less user-friendly, though. It opens as a windowed app, but you can only access the settings from the menu bar app, which isn’t intuitive.

The IPVanish MacOS app

Both desktop apps include a real-time graph of upload and download speed

However, unlike some rival MacOS VPN clients – like NordVPN or ProtonVPN – it does have a kill switch. This is something we greatly value.

The Mac application has the option to toggle between IPVanish and third-party DNS. This is unique to the MacOS client. You can also toggle IPv6 leak protection on or off. IPv6 leak protection should always be on by default in our opinion.

Android App

The Android app is IPVanish’s most impressive client. The user interface is easy to use and there are more features than in any other app.

The home screen displays useful information like your current IP address location, and a target country. The ‘connect’ button gets you online in seconds. Settings, account details, and a full server list are available from the menu in the top left. Or, you can use the quick select fields on the home screen.

IPVanish Android app

The Android app is easier to use than on desktop

You can select servers by country or city in the locations menu. But, there’s no server load data to help you find less congested servers. And the ‘favorites’ list, to add your preferred servers, is missing. You’ll have to scroll to specific servers, instead.

There’s a support tab as well, to make things easy if you ever get stuck.

The best thing about the Android app is its versatility and long features list. There’s a kill switch, split tunneling, and LAN exemption to connect to local devices without issues.

To secure your traffic you can choose between OpenVPN UDP or TCP protocols. You’ll also benefit from a wider choice of ports (1194, 443 and 8443) than on the Windows client.

There are also features designed for mobile connections. You can choose to reduce the MTU (maximum transmission unit) to use less mobile data, for instance.

There’s a setting to notify you when connected to an insecure network, and an option to “scramble” data, too. This can help bypass general content blocks, but it won’t beat aggressive web restrictions.

Overall, the IPVanish Android app is an impressive VPN client. It’s easy to use and contains a long list of advanced features.

iOS App

The IPVanish app for iPhone and iPad is visually different to the Android app. It’s still easy to use, though.

You can access advanced features via the settings button in the top right hand corner. Unlike the Android app, there’s less on offer here. There are only two extra settings: auto-connect, and a protocol toggle between IKEv2 and IPSEC.

The default protocol is IKEv2, a good choice for mobile devices switching between WiFi and cellular data. You can also switch to IPSec, but IKEv2 is more secure.

The Android IPVanish app

The iOS app is more limited than the Android one

The lack of features on the iOS app is evident. There’s no kill switch, no split tunneling, and no LAN exemption. On the plus side, you can build whitelists and blacklists of wireless networks. The app will remember the networks to trust, and the ones to block.

What’s more, the server list displays server load and ping times. The app also features a ‘favorites’ list, where you can save your preferred server locations.

All in all, the iOS client is probably IPVanish’s weakest application. It’s functional, but it needs some work. Hopefully, the company will add features, like a kill switch, to it soon.

Fire TV Stick App

IPVanish Firestick VPN app is the best there is right now. It isn’t especially pretty, but it’s highly secure and easy to use.

IPVanish Fire TV Stick app

IPVanish has the best Fire TV Stick app

There are plenty of features available. These include auto-startup, auto-reconnect, LAN exemption, and even split tunneling. The real-time upload/download speed graph is prominent, but it doesn’t affect functionality. If anything, it looks better on a TV than on a phone or computer screen.

You can use either OpenVPN UDP or OpenVPN TCP connections. Like the other IPVanish apps, can also “scramble” your OpenVPN traffic. Try it if your standard VPN traffic is being blocked.

There’s a support tab, too, to get instant help. We had problems with some UK servers, but support quickly pointed us to a working one.

The Firestick app does take slightly longer to connect than the other VPN apps. However, it’s not frustratingly slow and connects after a handful of seconds.

Clearly, IPVanish has put a lot of work into its Fire TV app. Many VPN services haven’t, which is why we strongly recommend IPVanish to any Fire TV user.

Helpful live chat, but not 24/7

Customer Support

24/7 Email supportYes
Online ResourcesYes

IPVanish offers customer support via an extensive online help section, live chat and 24/7 email support.

The fastest way to get support is via Live Chat, which you can reach from the top-right of the website. Live chat agents are helpful, and always respond quickly. The round-the-clock email support is also excellent, with prompt and well-written responses.

IPVanish customer support

Live chat is a welcome addition

Equally, there are good resources for learning about VPN technology in general. Not to mention many detailed tutorials on using IPVanish on various platforms. For example, there are 12 guides just for using the VPN on Windows.

The online FAQ section is good for straightforward solutions to common issues.

There’s telephone support, too, which isn’t offered by any other big name VPN. It’s available from 9am to 5pm CST, Monday to Friday.

Do We Recommend IPVanish?

The Bottom Line

We recommend IPVanish primarily to P2P, Kodi and Fire TV Stick users. It’s an all-around excellent product that’s up there with the very best VPNs.

The VPN service is fast across its secure network of servers. Its native VPN apps are user-friendly and have many advanced features, particularly its world-class Fire TV Stick app. And, unlike many other VPNs, you can use IPVanish on as many devices as you like.

IPVanish is a strong choice for anonymous torrenting and Kodi streams. High speeds, no-logs policy, and IP leak protection are the hallmark of a great P2P VPN.

What the VPN service isn’t good for is bypassing strict VPN blocks. Whether its a streaming platform or a country’s firewall, IPVanish is unlikely to work well.

Alternatives to IPVanish VPN

The new ExpressVPN logo

ExpressVPN

As our top-rated VPN service, ExpressVPN excels in almost every department. It doesn’t focus on Fire TV Stick or Kodi to the same extent, but it beats IPVanish in most other areas. Read ExpressVPN review

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VyprVPN

If you need a VPN for China (or any other high censorship country) take a look at VyprVPN. It’s “Chameleon Protocol” is one of the most effective anti-censorship protocols available. Read VyprVPN review

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio


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