Disclaimer: The below review is my opinion, which I will try to provide as many examples for and as much evidence as possible to support. Readers can learn more about how I conduct my reviews, my methodology, etc – here. More information on review badges here.
This review’s roll was #62 (at the time of the roll, IPVanish).
Written Aug 29, 2016
Like a handful of other services I’ve tried and reviewed in the past, IPVanish is one service I see cropping up over and over again on affiliate “review” sites. Many VPN companies unfortunately rely on the native advertising (paid reviewer) model to generate referrals for their business, but it may be worth noting that IPVanish has some of the most out of control partners in the industry. Do a search for “IPVanish review” and just try to find one that isn’t written by someone paid to do so. One such affiliate of IPVanish, has in the past, stolen my work and put it up on their own website (and yes, I had reached out to them at the time of the incident in question, and no action was ever taken by them against the offending party). I believe this says something about a service when they’re content to let their resellers run amok. It’s incredibly irresponsible when those they partner with are given free reign to steal copyrighted and trademarked work of others. I like to make a point of illustrating this when it applies to a service I’m reviewing, as it sets the stage given my past experiences of them proving themselves:
Signing up for the service: Signing up with IPVanish was relatively simple, with a couple of annoyances. You are given the option to choose 1 month, 3 months, and 1 year, which is fairly standard. There are several exotic alternative payment methods, including Bitcoin. You are required to provide an email address, and IPVanish DOES require that it be valid, which rubs me the wrong way from a privacy standpoint.
Configuring the service: Getting to the Linux and Android setup was fairly simple, however downloading config files was cumbersome, requiring the user to either use a terminal command or access an obscured link to a plain text index which contained a massive amount of individual configs or a zip download. The original password the service assigned me on signup didn’t work the first time I attempted to set up and login to the service, requiring me to reset it.
One red flag were some warnings that were thrown back in the log file:
“DEPRECIATED OPTION: -tls:remote,please update your configuration”
“DEPRECIATED TLS cipher name ‘DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA’,please use IANA name ‘TLS-DHE-DSS-WITH-AES-256-CBC-SHA’
This indicates an out of date server configuration – which is important, as if server configurations and software versions aren’t updated regularly, it can directly impact the security of the user.
Speed & Stability tests: Speeds and stability on desktop were inconsistent with at least one failed test on each international server here. Speeds on mobile were hit and miss, but relatively stable.
|Speed Tests – IPVanish – Desktop|
|No VPN||Trial 1||8||ms||97.22||mbps||12.16||mbps|
|US West||Trial 1||41||ms||27.77||mbps||11.54||mbps|
|Comp to Bench||+34||ms||28.48%||96.22%|
|Comp to Bench||+310||ms||11.51%||26.67%|
|Hong Kong||Trial 1||339||ms||0.97||mbps||0.67||mbps|
|Comp to Bench||+331||ms||0.94%||4.53%|
|Comp to Bench||+314||ms||11.07%||31.15%|
|Speed Tests – IPVanish – Mobile|
|No VPN||Trial 1||11||ms||73.77||mbps||13.98||mbps|
|US West||Trial 1||41||ms||26.94||mbps||13.12||mbps|
|Comp to Bench||+30||ms||35.97%||92.56%|
|Comp to Bench||+349||ms||6.80%||45.57%|
|Hong Kong||Trial 1||386||ms||0.63||mbps||0.28||mbps|
|Comp to Bench||+350||ms||0.61%||2.39%|
|Comp to Bench||+366||ms||7.34%||41.06%|
Certain tests are shown as 0.00 mbps which is not a mistake, as these tests failed:
- Desktop – UK – Trial 2
- Desktop – Hong Kong – Trial 2
- Desktop – Australia – Trial 2
All tests were run using UDP – AES-256. AES-256 is a strong encryption standard, which could be at least partially responsible for relatively slow speeds, but it shouldn’t be so drastic in the desktop scenario, which leads me to think servers are not as good as they could be.
Getting support: I contacted support to ask some general questions (about servers, a PGP key, etc). They responded very quickly (within a couple of hours at the most). The support team responded quickly, but with mostly canned, not very detailed responses.
Getting a refund: After the support chain above, I requested a refund, which they directed me to after not too much runaround. The option to cancel is accessible from the billing tab of the website, which is nice that you can do this yourself without the need to contact support.
We may add to, change or remove any part of these Terms, at any time without prior notice to you other than listing of a later effective date than the one set forth at the top of this policy. Such modification shall be effective immediately upon posting at the Site.
So, in the case you ever dispute something you deem to be bad policy – the service reserves the right to change things without notifying you – but they do say they’ll “endeavor” to notify you.
By registering for our Services, you represent and warrant that all information you submit to us is true, accurate, current and complete and that you will promptly notify us if your information changes.
Yet another service that enforces the accuracy of your personal information in their terms. Those interested in anonymity and privacy, look elsewhere.
Same as above, requiring this kind of information is a breach of user privacy.
If IPVanish determines that you have posted one or more articles of spam, we may cancel your account immediately and take steps to prevent you from using our network at any time thereafter.
It’s not the anti-spam policy that bothers me here, it’s HOW they plan to make this determination. What information can they see they would give them indicators?
IPVanish may, with prior notice, change the fees it charges you for accessing the Services at any time.
A solid reason to not use auto-pay…
IPVanish may also at any time modify or discontinue, temporarily or permanently, all or any part of the Services or your account, with or without notice, and you agree that IPVanish will not be liable to you or any third party for any such modification, suspension or discontinuance.
Which other industry could get away with such a clause?
Transmitting or receiving, uploading, using or reusing material that violates any intellectual property rights of a third party, including, without limitation, patent, trademark or copyrights;
Don’t worry, IPVanish affiliates, this term only applies to customers, resellers are 100% immune apparently.
IPVanish respects the intellectual property rights of others and expects that you do the same.
HA HA HA HAAAAAA HAAA *GAAAASSSP* *COUGH* HAHAHAHAHA.
Actual service coverage, speeds, locations and quality may vary.
I can attest to this.
Your privacy is important to us
Companies need to start expressing this to us BY their terms, not IN their terms.
To create an account, you may need to provide certain personal information, such as your name, billing address and e-mail.
Obviously this is not ideal for individuals who value their privacy.
We collect the IP addresses of all visitors to our Site, as well as other related information such as page requests
But, but… you said you valued our privacy…
We use security measures that are consistent with industry standards to protect your personal information from loss, theft, misuse or unauthorized access or disclosure or destruction.
Except for keeping servers up to date with tls cipher naming changes that took place almost a year ago.
We may change this Policy from time to time, without prior notice to you, consistent with applicable privacy laws and principles.
I hope I’ve justified being able to call their terms:
Final thoughts: IPVanish is one service that I see advertised a lot. Like so many others, it seems to me to be the bare minimum to qualify for a functional VPN service with nothing else to show off. The website is functional, but unrefined, specifically where downloading configurations are concerned. Speeds and stability were hit and mis, and the server configurations themselves, as mentioned before were out of date, which is always a concern to me. Support was quick, but provided fairly sterile, bare minimum responses. Their terms are written in such a way, like many others lately, to absolve themselves from any and all possibilities to the point of absurdity. These terms are not user friendly, nor are they conducive to privacy – despite the claims to the contrary. In the end, IPVanish works, but has enough red flags to make me run far away – the cherry on the top of all of this being their hypocrisy with affiliate behavior and an overly aggressive, highly unethical reselling policy.
|FROM THE VPN COMPARISON CHART|
|JURISDICTION||Based In (Country)||USA|
|Enemy of the Internet||Yes|
|Logs DNS Requests|
|Logs IP Address|
|ACTIVISM||Anonymous Payment Method|
|PGP Key Available||No|
|Meets PrivacyTools IO Criteria||No|
|LEAK PROTECTION||1st Party DNS Servers||Yes|
|IPv6 Supported / Blocked||Yes|
|Supports TCP Port 443||Yes|
|Supports SSL Tunnel|
|Supports SSH Tunnel|
|Other Proprietary Protocols|
|PORT BLOCKING||Auth SMTP||Some|
|SPEEDS||US Server Average %|
|Int’l Server Average %|
|SERVERS||Dedicated or Virtual|
|SECURITY||Default Data Encryption||AES-256|
|Strongest Data Encryption||AES-256|
|Weakest Handshake Encryption|
|Strongest Handshake Encryption|
|AVAILABILITY||# of Connections||5|
|# of Countries||60|
|# of Servers||500|
|Linux Support (Manual)||Yes|
|WEBSITE||# of Persistent Cookies||9|
|# of External Trackers||7|
|# of Proprietary APIs||20|
|Server SSL Rating||A|
|SSL Cert issued to||Self|
|PRICING||$ / Month (Annual Pricing)||6.49|
|$ / Connection / Month||1.3|
|Refund Period (Days)||7|
|ETHICS||Contradictory Logging Policies|
|Falsely Claims 100% Effective|
|Incentivizes Social Media Spam|
|Requires Ethical Copy||No|
|Requires Full Disclosure||No|
|AFFILIATES||Practice Ethical Copy||No|
|Give Full Disclosure||No|
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