IPVanish – Design and Features
IPVanish isn’t the best designed VPN app – not by a longshot – but it includes all the major features you’d want in a privacy-ensuring service, and then some. Available for download for Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, and some wireless routers, IPVanish gives users access to 1,400 servers in more than 75 locations across the globe. Offering unlimited bandwidth and the ability to run on 10 devices simultaneously, the VPN uses 256-bit encryption to keep data locked down as it traverses the web. On the desktop, IPVanish’s app is a mess of stats and data, all swirling around and reassuring users how well it’s working. At the top right of the app’s window, users will find an off/on button which works as advertised. Across the top IP address information for the current server appears, and below the on/off button, a graph showing the VPN’s activity scrolls along. A great resource for users that rely on VPNs to mask their download activity, the graph displays download speeds in green and upload rates in white. Below the graph is information about the VPN session that included time connected, the protocol being used, the name of the remote server you’re connected to, and cumulative upload/download numbers. Next to that information, you can see the country, city, and server you’re connected to. On the lefthand column of the app, there’s tabs leading to more information about the servers and user account information. So, like we said at the top of this review, compared to the lean apps that dominate this space, IPVanish is a bit much on the eyes. But on its mobile apps, the layouts look different and make much more sense, so it’s not a major issue. One perk to having an IPVanish account, however, is that the service has teamed up with cloud company SugarSync to give the VPN users free access to the encrypted storage and backup product. That’s a great deal, and makes IPVanish a VPN worth using if you’re already a SugarSync user.
IPVanish – Performance
IPVanish makes little boast about how fast its VPN servers will perform, but it matches up favorably to other VPNs we’ve reviewed in head-to-head testing. We measured IPVanish’s upload and download rates by using SpeedOf.Me’s speedtest, and averaging its speeds in several tests taken across the afternoon and evening. IPVanish’s gaming performance was calculated by pinging the servers of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, and League of Legends while logged into the VPN, averaging the times to measure the servers’ latency. We then played the games while protected by IPVanish to see if it is the best VPN for gaming. To test if it was the best VPN for Netflix, we also used IPVanish to stream some movies.
In terms of download speed, IPVanish performed right in the middle of the pack, not near the speed demon VPNs that won the day, but fast enough to be head and shoulders above the slower services it’s competing with. But no other VPN came close in our tests to matching IPVanish’s upload speed, which even bested the average speed of our network without a VPN. And when it comes to testing IPVanish’s latency, it’s a similarly zippy story – the VPN was responsive when connecting to some of the most popular titles in online multiplayer gaming.
Playing Counter-Strike while using IPVanish was a breeze – the game booted cleanly, we connected to a team without an issue, and the game’s video and audio streamed freely without a hindrance. Likewise, Fortnite was a great experience while using the VPN: Maps rendered quickly, and players moved fast through the buildings and surroundings without hiccups. League of Legends also worked well. Streaming video via IPVanish worked similarly without incident, working well whether we connected to Atlanta or Zurich to watch the fast-moving action film Extraction, which loaded up without buffering and seemed to match the same quality as if we weren’t running a VPN at all.
IPVanish, like its peers, has a range of pricing available. For example, a two-year subscription to IPVanish costs $89 up front, which breaks down to $3.70 per month. IPVanish’s one-year subscription costs $77.99 annually, or $6.49 per month. And a month-to-month IPVanish subscription, was listed at $11.99 when we signed up for it, but was then reduced to $7 per month after entering an offer code – but only for two months, until the rate would climb to $10, monthly. This kind of promotional game is typical of VPNs, leaving users to wonder what the real price of the service is. But if you don’t like it, IPVanish also gives users a 30-day money back guarantee.