It’s been a number of years since IPVanish handed over data to the FBI (in 2016), and the company is still based in the not-so-privacy-friendly US. So, I wanted to make sure that IPVanish is as safe as it claims today.
Overall, I can say that IPVanish is a safe option, while perhaps not as safe as other top VPNs I’ve tested. It’s fast and has a decent network of servers, too. However, it was pretty disappointing in other categories, namely unblocking streaming platforms. If you decide to give IPVanish a try, you can always take advantage of its 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with it. No other VPN I’ve tested has a refund policy as hassle-free as IPVanish’s.
Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
- A poor choice for streaming. I had some success with IPVanish when I tested it with Netflix. However, it struggled with most other streaming sites. Jump to see my streaming results.
- Superfast speeds. I managed to get fast speeds on local and long-distance servers that were consistent for the most part, although I could only game on local servers. Find my speed test results here.
- Extensive server network. IPVanish has over 2,000 servers across 70 countries that are compatible with P2P sharing and gaming. But it doesn’t work in China. Find out how reliable its server network is here.
- Excellent security features. These include military-grade encryption, a kill switch, advanced protocols, and DNS/IP leak protection. Learn how effective these features really are here.
- OK privacy standards. While IPVanish adheres to a strict no-logs policy, it’s based in the US and has been previously involved in a privacy incident that I found a bit concerning. Find out whether you can trust it with your data here.
- Easy to use. IPVanish is suitable for both beginners and experienced users and you can connect as many devices as you want at the same time. It has native apps for all of the major operating systems and devices, including Amazon FireStick. Learn more about its different apps here.
- Trustworthy money-back guarantee. You need to sign up for the 1-year plan to take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee, but IPVanish offers good prices. Find out about all the subscription options here.
IPVanish VPN Features — Updated in January 20229.4
|📆 Money Back Guarantee||30|
|📝 Does VPN keep logs?||No|
|🖥 Number of servers||2000|
|🛡 Kill switch||Yes|
|🗺 Based in country||United States|
|🛠 Support||24/7 Live Chat Support|
|📥 Supports torrenting||Yes|
IPVanish is far from being the best VPN for streaming. I tested multiple server locations with a dozen streaming platforms, but had very poor results. I even contacted customer support to ask for troubleshooting tips, and they only let me know they were aware of the problems.
Unblocked: US Netflix and Kodi
The first service I tried to unblock was US Netflix, which produced inconsistent results. The first 3 servers I tested (Los Angeles, New York, and Houston) were unable to access the site. However, the following 3 servers I used (Miami, Chicago, and Seattle) could easily unblock US Netflix.
IPVanish doesn’t mention the servers that can unblock Netflix and couldn’t provide the answers when asked, so you’ll probably need to do a bit of hunting for a working server. But once you find one, it’s very reliable. I could stream both Radium Girls and New Girl in HD without any interruptions.
However, I couldn’t access any other Netflix library. I tried unblocking Netflix using IPVanish’s servers in the UK, Germany, France, Japan, and Canada, which all failed. When I asked customer support about the problems, they confirmed that Netflix (its US library) is the only streaming platform it can access.
While it’s not a streaming site, IPVanish is compatible with Kodi, a home theater software that lets you stream P2P files. I could watch Sita Sings the Blues while connected to an IPVanish server in Miami and stream without buffering. However, please note that plenty of P2P files available through third-party Kodi apps are protected by copyright. We do not condone any illegal activity, so I recommend that you check that the files you stream aren’t protected under copyright.
Blocked By: Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, ESPN+, DAZN, and Disney+
IPVanish failed to unblock every other streaming site I tested it with. Even though they confirmed that it wouldn’t, I still wanted to test it for myself. I did this by connecting to its US servers in Los Angeles, Houston, Arizona, Seattle, New York, and Miami to access Hulu, HBO Max, ESPN+, and Disney+, which never succeeded. I was faced with an error message on each of those sites.
I then tried those servers (plus a couple of UK ones) with Amazon Prime Video. Given my previous experience with the other sites, I wasn’t very hopeful. My expectations turned out to be correct as I always got the proxy error message whenever I hovered on a show.
The last site I tried was BBC iPlayer, which is based in the UK. For this one, I connected to IPVanish’s UK servers in London, Glasgow, and Manchester. All of them came up with the same error message when I tried watching Peaky Blinders.
If streaming is your priority, then I wouldn’t recommend IPVanish. I’ve tested plenty of VPNs that are much more reliable for streaming than this. If you’re willing to pay a bit more for a really good streaming VPN, then I’d go with ExpressVPN instead. It can reliably unblock all the sites I tested above, plus dozens more.
IPVanish provides fast speed on both short and long-distance servers, making it one of the fastest VPNs available. Long distances tend to slow speeds because your data needs to travel further. So, I was impressed that even though the speeds on the faraway servers were slightly slower, they were still fast enough for streaming and torrenting. Gaming, however, was a different story.
I conducted my speed tests on my MacBook Pro and used Ookla’s speed test to get the figures. As I was testing different locations, I only used the OpenVPN TCP protocol to ensure consistent results. This is the default protocol for IPVanish. After my location tests, I tested the different protocols using the Quick Connect feature, which automatically connects you to the best server available.
During my tests, I looked at 3 factors:
- Download speed. This is the time it takes to receive data. It’s measured in megabits per second (Mbps) and indicates how quickly you can load web pages and content.
- Upload speed. This refers to how fast you can send data, such as uploading videos, sending emails, sharing files, and more. Like the download speed, it’s measured in Mbps. But it’s always slower because a lot more data is received than sent.
- Ping. This measures how long it takes for data to travel and is an indicator of latency. A low ping rate indicates a more responsive connection, which is ideal for gaming. It’s measured in milliseconds (ms).
I tested servers across 9 spread-out locations at different times of the day, which didn’t record any drastic slowdowns. This was all done from my location in New Zealand, and none of my speeds dropped below 29 Mbps the entire time.
My non-VPN speed came in at 104.65 Mbps, while the total average of the servers I tested was 56.84 Mbps (that’s an average drop of 46%). The underlying trend was that the short-distance servers provided the fastest speeds. On the Auckland server the drop was 20%, whereas on the Sydney server it was only 8%. For reference, a speed reduction of 10-20% is expected on short-distance servers. Anything above a 40% drop in speed on long-distance connections I would consider a bad result.
The long-distance servers proved to be inconsistent, although fast. Los Angeles showed excellent results with just 24% drop, considering it’s more than 10,000 km away from me. São Paulo performed a bit slower with 41% speed drop, while on the Dubai and Frankfurt servers I noticed around 65% drop, which is quite a lot. Tokyo was one of the slowest servers at 29.44 Mbps, even though it’s the third closest of the locations I tested. Only London was slightly slower at 29.38 Mbps, which is understandable since it’s the furthest.
It’s normal for a VPN to slow down your speeds because of your new server’s extra encryption and distance. Nevertheless, this is still quite a big drop of 72% on these 2 servers, but it wasn’t an issue for me since my non-VPN speed is quite fast. However, if your base speed is 20 Mbps or lower, you might experience some lag and slowdowns.
Next, I tested all of IPVanish’s protocols on my home servers in New Zealand to see if there were any differences in speed. To my surprise, the differences were very minimal. The fastest protocol was WireGuard, with a download speed of 99.15 Mbps. I expected this since it’s the newest protocol that’s purpose is to provide strong security without reducing speeds.
Also, keep in mind that the volatility of your internet connection has a bigger impact on speeds than the VPN you use. However, percentage drops in speed tend to be similar no matter your base speed, so you can use those numbers to determine how IPVansh will affect your connection.
Are IPVanish’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? Yes
IPVanish’s short-distance servers are fast enough for gaming, but its long-distance servers proved otherwise. The underperformance of its long-distance servers was primarily attributed to high ping rates. Higher ping rates equal higher latency, which results in slower response times and in-game lag.
I played Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition for my tests on a local server in New Zealand and long-distance servers in the US and UK. The protocol I used was WireGuard, as it gave me the fastest speeds. The game can get pretty full-on when the battles take place, so having low latency is crucial.
While gaming on its New Zealand server, I recorded an average ping rate of 12 ms, which is very low latency. A ping rate of under 100 ms is deemed suitable for gaming, so this was highly sufficient. It did not affect the performance of the game: with every press of a button, the action took place almost immediately, as if I wasn’t connected to a VPN at all.
But when I tested its US and UK servers, everything changed. The US server in Los Angeles gave me a ping rate of 168 ms, while the UK server in London came in at 254 ms. There were times where the gameplay would freeze for up to 5 seconds, while my scrolling and command inputs would take a bit longer to catch up. With such a disadvantage, I frequently lost my battles on those servers.
IPVanish has an extensive server network of 2,000 servers in 70 countries, with the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Germany having the most servers. You can choose city-level servers in these countries, as well as Brazil. There are even some servers in Africa and South America, which most VPNs don’t cover. However, no servers exist in restrictive countries like China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. The domain "ipvanish.com" is blocked in these countries, too.
Having an extensive server network is beneficial because it can provide faster speeds with less overcrowding and give you more IP addresses to access more global content and protect your privacy.
What’s most impressive is that IPVanish owns its entire server network and doesn’t rent any servers from a third party. This provides increased security since it’s very unlikely that your data will ever fall into the wrong hands. IPVanish doesn’t use any virtual servers either, which means all of its servers are physically located in their respective countries.
Connecting to the best server available is easy, too, as IPVanish has a Quick Connect feature. When I used it, it connected me to a nearby server in Auckland that was slightly faster than the others. All you need to do is select the country or city you want to connect to and click “Connect”. You can also filter servers by latency, country, or protocol to manually select one. In addition to choosing a server from a drop-down box, you can use its interactive map to find a server. Being able to zoom in and out of the map makes it easy to use.
Similar to other VPNs like ExpressVPN and CyberGhost, all of IPVanish’s servers are P2P-friendly, which means you can freely torrent on them without any restrictions. There are no limits on server switches, too, meaning you can change as many times as you want.
IPVanish is a safe VPN and one of the main reasons for that is its world-class security features. These features include military-grade encryption, a kill switch, DNS/IP leak protection, split tunneling, and advanced protocols. There’s even a Scramble feature for the OpenVPN protocol, making it look like you’re not using a VPN by obfuscating your traffic. Its main function is to help bypass online censorship and tough firewalls.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t have its own malware or ad blocker, which are handy features I always like to see in a VPN. Another security feature it lacks is multi-hop, which adds extra encryption layers to your connection. However, IPVanish has split tunneling, although it's only available on the Android app. Split tunneling lets you redirect some of your internet traffic through a VPN so that you can get the best of a VPN and non-VPN connection at the same time.
Military-grade encryption, also known as AES 256-bit encryption, is the highest level of encryption available and is very secure. 256 refers to how long the character key is, which protects your data like a password. The longer the character key, the better, as it takes more time to crack it. In fact, 256 bits is so long that it would take several lifetimes for the world’s most powerful supercomputers to break it.
It also uses the SHA512 algorithm for authentication and the DHE-RSA 2048 key exchange that supports perfect forward secrecy. These encryption standards ensure that none of your data can be decrypted even if a hacker gets hold of the decryption key (which is very unlikely, anyway).
IPVanish has a reliable kill switch and it performed well during my tests. This is a feature that has become standard with VPNs, so I expect to see it. The kill switch cuts off your internet connection if your VPN malfunctions. It is available on the macOS, Windows, and Android apps, but not on iOS. The benefit is that it prevents any accidental exposure of your data. This makes it a handy feature to use on public WiFi networks because hackers can easily intercept your connection if it’s unprotected even for a minute.
Enabling or disabling the kill switch is very easy on desktops. On Windows, there’s a kill switch check box in the main window, you don’t need to open your settings at all. On macOS, it can be toggled on or off by going to your OpenVPN settings under Preferences.
Enabling the kill switch on Android is a bit more complicated. You have to turn it on in your Android’s advanced connection settings. Under the “Connection” tab in the IPVanish app, you’ll see a section called “Android OS kill switch”. When you tap it, a popup will explain exactly how to enable it. It still only took me about 15 seconds to activate.
DNS/IP Leak Protection — No Leaks Detected
IPVanish provides both DNS and IP leak protection on all of its apps and it worked really well during my tests. This ensures that both your DNS requests and actual IP address remain hidden, so no one can uncover your browsing activity, location, and identity. These features are already in place, so you don’t have to enable them manually.
I tested 6 different servers (in the US, UK, Australia, Germany, Japan, and France) for any DNS/IP leaks on ipleak.net. No leaks were detected.
IPVanish provides strong security through several protocols: OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), WireGuard, IKEv2, IPSec, and L2TP. These protocols allow you to customize your connection for whatever you’re doing online, mainly through speed and security. The default protocol is OpenVPN TCP, which can be changed in the settings menu.
- OpenVPN: A highly secure protocol that is open-source. This means that its code is always visible, which allows people to examine and improve it. It comes with 2 options, TCP and UDP, which produced very similar speeds in my tests.
- IKEv2: A fast protocol that works well on mobile devices. This is because of its ability to auto-connect, which protects you while you switch between a mobile and WiFi network. However, it’s not as fast as OpenVPN or WireGuard.
- WireGuard: The newest protocol that provides a good balance between speed and security. It gave me the fastest speeds out of any protocol, although not by much. For this reason, I recommend it for streaming, video calls, and browsing.
- L2TP: A good protocol to use on mobile devices that don’t support OpenVPN. It was designed to improve the old PPTP protocol, although it produced the slowest speeds in my tests.
- IPSec: A safe protocol that provides a framework for secure transport by encrypting IP packets. While it’s predominantly used for security, it still produced fast speeds in my speed tests, coming in as the 3rd fastest.
Overall, the protocol I’d recommend is WireGuard since it offers strong security without compromising your speeds as was evident in my speed test results.
Does IPVanish Keep Logs? No
IPVanish follows a no-logs policy. It states it won’t collect or record your online activity, such as the websites you visit, DNS queries, and connection timestamps. However, it claims to collect random bits of data to help improve its product performance. The data is anonymously collected, so it can’t be traced back to you individually.
This information includes user language preference, device model, UI interactions, country, and session lengths. Unfortunately, IPVanish hasn’t been subjected to any third-party audits, which is largely concerning. Without third-party audits, you can’t tell if it really adheres to its no-logs policy.
Also, you need to provide your email address, name, and payment information when signing up. And since you can’t pay with cryptocurrencies, there’s no way to pay anonymously.
Ownership and Headquarters — Inside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance
Another concern with IPVanish is that its home base is in the US, which is at the heart of the 14 Eyes Alliance. This is a global surveillance network where member nations share data about their citizens. They can also make third parties hand over this data by law.
This actually happened when the FBI requested IPVanish to hand over user data in 2016, which proved it was collecting user logs. They complied with the FBI as part of a criminal investigation after 2 requests.
Torrenting — Allows P2P Sharing on All Servers
IPVanish is a great option for torrenting since its entire network works for P2P file-sharing. It also has unlimited bandwidth and no data caps, so you can torrent as much as you want, for as long as you want.
Using a VPN for torrenting is recommended since it hides your online identity and location while encrypting your data. This keeps you well protected from malicious parties on the other end. Just make sure you turn on your kill switch in case you disconnect from your VPN.
During my tests, I connected to its US, UK, and New Zealand servers to download a movie on uTorrent. I got an average speed of 1.3 Mbps while torrenting Mabel’s Strange Predicament on its New Zealand server, which took less than 2 minutes to complete. It was a 700MB file, so this was really fast. However, IPVanish lacks port forwarding, which can help you find a larger number of seeders.
But keep in mind that your torrenting speeds are largely determined by the number of seeders and leechers that are assigned to your torrent and not by your internet speeds or VPN. Additionally, the IPv6 protection, DNS leak protection, and no-logs policy let you torrent safely.
IPVanish also offers SOCKS5 proxies in more than 25 locations. You can manually configure this in your BitTorrent client to hide your IP address. Since it doesn’t encrypt your traffic, you’ll get much faster speeds for downloading. My speeds were 25% faster using the proxy address in Sydney as they were using the regular VPN server.
Even though the proxy offers good speeds, keep in mind that it is less secure since it doesn’t encrypt your data. You can access the full list of SOCKS5 proxy addresses in your IPVanish dashboard and there are guides on its website to help you set it up.
Please note a lot of torrents are protected by copyright, and we do not condone any illegal activity. Always make sure you refer to the laws in your country before torrenting and don’t download anything protected under copyright.
Does IPVanish Work in China? No
IPVanish doesn’t work in China. The country has blocked all of its servers and IP addresses and access to the IPVanish website. Even its obfuscation tool called Scramble cannot bypass censorship in China and other restrictive nations. I confirmed this by asking customer support.
There are other VPNs that work reliably in China, so I’d suggest choosing one of them instead.