In our first review of recommended VPN services we'd like to take a look at IPVanish, one of the world's most popular VPN services.
IPVanish is probably the largest VPN service out there, with 40,000+ shared IP’s and 750+ VPN servers in more than 60 countries. IPVanish is currently the only Tier-1 VPN provider, which means they own and manage all of their 750+ VPN servers.
IPVanish is also a US based company, which might raise concerns among some of our readers, but we can assure you, their zero log policy is legit.
Let’s start with the basics. IPVanish is offering their own client software for Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android. In addition you can set it up with OpenVPN and PPTP for Linux or routers.
The client software is very intuitive and easy to handle. After login with your username and password you can choose your preferred country, city and server. We recommend to choose just a country and the IPVanish client will select the ‘Best Available City’ and ‘Best Available Server’. Click ‘Connect’ and done you are.
Having a look at their server list reveals servers from countries like Albania, Costa Rica, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and even Saudi Arabia, among more common locations. That is very impressive, we have to admit!
Two other features we’d like are the ‘Kill Switch’ and the ‘Change IP Address’ option.
The kill switch shuts down all internet traffic if your VPN connection unexpectedly drops, leaving your privacy and anonymity intact.
To turn on the kill switch for macOS is pretty simple: Click IPVanish at the top of the menu bar (Next to the ), then click on “Preferences”. Once the “Preferences” window appears, click on the “Connection” tab at the top and check the box labeled “Kill Switch”.
The change IP address option does exactly what it says: Once enabled it will change IP addresses at a set time interval (45 minutes or greater).
Even better, you have the choice if the IP address change takes place between different countries, or just between servers within the same country. Isn’t it great? An hour ago you appeared to be in the Sydney/Australia region and now you are in Frankfurt/Germany. What a perfect disguise!
To change the IP address between countries, just select one country and leave the settings for best available city and server untouched. After the set time interval your IPVanish clients will change your IP address from one country to another.
If you want to stay within the same country, select a available city and IPVanish will switch between servers in different city’s in the same country.
And it works just great! Please note that during the IP switch your VPN connection will be temporarily interrupted. Usually it just takes a second or two and if you have enabled the kill switch (recommended!) your privacy and anonymity is not at risk.
To enable the change IP address option for macOS: Click IPVanish at the top of the menu bar (Next to the ), then click on “Preferences”. Once the “Preferences” window appears, click on the “IP Settings” tab at the top and set a time interval.
Settings for the Windows client are very similar. Please note that currently only the macOS and Windows client are supporting the ‘Kill Switch’ and the ‘Change IP Address’ feature.
We have also noticed that IPVanish is pretty fast. They call themselves the ‘World’s fastest VPN’, and we feel they meet their promise most of the time.
Now to the downside:
While testing IPVanish we came across websites rejecting traffic from IPVanish:
PHPJunkyard, a popular php developer forum asked us to stop our bad behaviour, or to cease accessing their system.
Craigslist.org stated: “This IP has been automatically blocked”.
Several other sites are blocking access with a 401/404.
Some websites are using a captcha, before you can access, just like Google:
While there might be servers, among the 750+ IPVanish servers, that are not yet detected and blacklisted by the likes of Google, Craigslist etc., it is still annoying. I don’t want to switch servers, just to see if another server (IP) might be accepted, before getting access to the website I’d like to visit.
Now let’s see what the IPVanish support has to say. We have contacted their support via their Support Center. It took them two days (!) to answer and all they did was to give us two links to some prefabricated answers. Link one pointed to some general information about Geolocation, link two informed us “that it is likely that it [website] is using geolocation to determine that you are not in a location where the content is permitted“.
Hello dear IPVanish support, despite answering a support request to a client who paid for your services after two days, which is nowadays unacceptable by any means, I’ve reported here about problems with Google, Craigslist and PHPYunkyard! If you haven’t noticed yet, they are all operating globally. How can they use geolocation to determine that I am not in a location where their content is permitted, if they work globally? No, it’s not about geolocation, it’s about that they’ve blocked access to their content, because I am using your VPN. In case of Google I am forced most of the time using their captcha first, before a search can take place. Sometimes many times I have to select different mountains, store fronts or traffic signs, before I am finally allowed to search.
Another support request asking a question about their SOCKS5 proxy remains unanswered for almost a week today.
Unfortunately IPVanish doesn’t maintain a support forum anywhere, where members could freely ask questions and post their experiences (unlike AirVPN for example). One could ask a ‘Public Question’, on their website, but and I quote: ‘Public questions are all moderated by our support team. Not all submissions are guaranteed to become publicly visible’. Well done IPVanish, I call this censorship.
So we come to the conclusion that their support sucks, yes it really sucks big times. So here IPVanish has some work to do to improve and meet customer expectations.
If only their customer service and general usability would be better, IPVanish would score big!
If you want to use IPVanish to connect to Tor through VPN, IPVanish is an excellent choice. No other provider offers more servers in that many countries than IPVanish. Add to this the really impressive speed. On the other hand if you are using your VPN for clearnet browsing as well (and of course you should), better look somewhere else. IPVanish is offering a 7-day money-back guarantee. Try them out yourself!
- Intuitive client software
- AES 256-bit encryption
- Very fast
- 750+ VPN servers in more than 60 countries
- Kill Switch
- Automatically change IP address
- 5 simultaneous connections on multiple devices
- Based in the U.S.
- No VPN through Tor
- Poor customer service
- Some websites are blocking IPVanish traffic
- Android app doesn't work with some builds