Among the plethora of VPN service providers these days, one of them is IPVanish, and it’s a strong contender in the ever-growing VPN market. This review is the test of the services offered by IPVanish, on PC and Android. We have already covered the features, history, and scope of its VPN services in another article before. The $10 monthly VPN plan has various clients on offer; the supported platforms are listed as follows:
Each platform has different options, which include:
Mac OS X
- Mac OS X PPTP Setup
- Mac OS X L2TP/IPSec Setup
- Mac OS X OpenVPN Setup
- Mac OS X L2TP XML-Based Setup
- Mac OS X PPTP XML-Based Setup
- Mac OS X 10.6.8 – 10.9
Chromebook / Routers
- DD-WRT Routers OpenVPN
- Tomato Routers OpenVPN
As can be seen, there are umpteen software options available. This makes sure that you can use the VPN services from any platform available. What is interesting and oft not seen with other platforms, is the availability of software for routers. Additionally, there are three options available for the protocol that can be selected: PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN.
Some VPN service providers give the option to choose the protocol within the software; IPVanish has that too. It has to be understood that the protocol optioned software is available as a manual download. The automatic download installs software that provides the user with the possibility to select the type of protocol.
We have tested two installers: Android and Windows automatic installers. The testing happened across various parameters, which included: Features, Reliability, Speed and Ease of Use. While all the 230 location servers across 50 countries cannot be tested, the test has been done on a few of the servers. The USP of IPVanish VPN is that of speed and speed is important considering video streaming on NetFlix, YouTube, etc. Connection time is also sometimes necessary, and that has also been tested.
The Android app has fewer features versus the Windows software. Many things that are available in the Windows software are not available on the Android app. However, both the software are simple to use and do not overwhelm the average user with too many options. The software does what it is supposed to do i.e. to connect you to their VPN servers and start using the Internet. As soon as you turn on the software, you are presented with an option to select a server, on Android. And in Windows, you get to choose the server from a drop-down. Once the server is selected, just hit connect, give it a few seconds and voila, you are using the VPN. The simplicity of it is commendable and at the same time, for the experienced user, there are options to select the protocol or choose the “right” server based on certain criteria. The usability is critical and quite well thought of by IPVanish VPN, it encompasses the following features:
- Server Selection
Among the many servers of IPVanish, you get to choose one of them. But your choice would not be shot in the dark because you would get some parameters associated with each server. These are location, latency and load. You can also sort the servers as per country (location), latency (response time) and capacity (load), thereafter making a choice.
- Protocol Selection
This option is available in the Windows version of the app and allows you to choose among OpenVPN (TCP), OpenVPN (UDP), L2TP and PPTP protocols. The Android app does not have this option.
- Connection Parameters
Once you are connected to a VPN servers, you can see the upload and download speeds. This is also shown as a temporal graph and the total upload as well as download data count can also be seen. The representation changes as per the platform that you are using but the source data is the same.
- Account Settings
The account name, email ID, subscription details, etc. can be viewed. There is an option to edit it depending on which platform you are using.
- Login/Logout and Others
You can login/logout as per choice and see sections like FAQs, forums, etc. The access again depends on the platform you are using.
That’s it; it is quite simple to use by almost anyone as the only basic requirement is to have a working Internet connection, be it over WiFi or your cellular network.
The Android App
Recently, about a week ago, the Android app has been updated by IPVanish, this is a good sign and indicates that the business is good while the company is always innovating. To give you an understanding of the change in the interface, see the first screen after login:-
The interface looks much more user-friendly and is easier to use than earlier. Moreover, more information is available now with a modern look. The first screen after login, as you can see above, shows the server list. All the servers of all the countries are shown. The country, flag, name of the country, the country code and the latency (response time) are shown on the left. The right shows a circle depicting the current capacity of the server. The sorting can be done by location, latency and load:-
To connect to a server, just tap on it. Then the connection starts to happen; it shows various technical details while connecting. I think it appears so as to make the user feel that “something” is going on. It is both a necessity and an extra for the regular user to see it. Otherwise, the cost would not be entirely justified. Anyway, the connection screen looks like this on Android:-
Once the connection is established, the details of the connection are displayed in a graphical format. This again had a visual overhaul, versus the previous version of the app:-
The red button on the upper right can be tapped to disconnect from the VPN server.
There are a few other features, as explained above, and these can be accessed by the side menu on the top left:-
The FAQ, Forums, Contact Support options are all external hyperlinks to the web pages and just in-app browser views.
The benefit of any VPN is security & privacy; the external world and the Internet see you as a user of the country of whose VPN server you had selected. The added advantage is that you can use the online services that you cannot use in your country. An example of using IPVanish with a German server and accessing Google:
I could even install Netflix, by choosing a USA server. Netflix does not even install from the Google Play Store in India.
On the US VPN server, I could install and run Netflix. Even the option to start my first free month was available. One the US server, this is what I got as my IP address:
The IPVanish VPN icon also comes on the top status bar of Android, once the connection is active and also the notification bar has the connection status shown:-
The Windows App
The Windows application has a lot more options versus the Android app, but the core features are about the same. The only added feature is an option to select the type of protocol that you want to use. As soon as you start the program, the following screen would be seen:
The current location is shown as per the IP address, and it indicates that the VPN is not connected yet. As a regular user, you just have to press connect, and you would be presented with a login pop-up where you can enter the username and password to access the VPN services:
A note has to be added here that, the software might momentarily try and install OpenVPN driver from the Internet. Furthermore, the server selection can be made from the tab on the left and servers are presented in this manner:
One can select a server by use, by list or by using the map. The above screenshot shows the selection by use. This is handy and apt to provide for desktop users. As you can see, Gaming and Media are important aspects of using a VPN, say for NetFlix use or connecting to that gaming multi-player server in the US, which is not accessible in your country. Screenshots of servers by list and map:
The map has circles showing the number of servers at those locations.
Once connected, the app window shows like this, and you can minimize the software to the taskbar.
The connection diagnostics can be seen as here:
The settings can also be viewed as here:
The diagnostics and settings screens can be skipped by average users, but advanced users can play around with it. An advanced feature, which not all VPN service providers give is the ability to change IP address on regular intervals. IP settings can be accessed as follows:
And of course, there are the account settings and the support section. The support section opens can external link to the IPVanish website.
The user can easily disconnect from the VPN service by clicking the green button on the top right. The connection happens from the same button, but it turns red in color once disconnected.
As can be understood by now, IPVanish provides a plethora of features to its users and considering the price; it’s an excellent bargain. There are many servers to choose from, the Android app runs very well, all connection statistics are shown in the app for Windows as well as Android. There are many software clients available, for many platforms. This service is the full package with medium settings available and some advanced settings. There are a few other service providers on par with IPVanish, but not many. The Windows interface can be improved to match the theme of the Android interface while enhancing usability and I am sure IPVanish would be working on it. Considering that all these features are available, and IPVanish is continuously improving its software, all in all, this is an excellent service to use on a regular basis for the average user.