IVPN Review (2019): Cutting-Edge?

IVPN is a small Gibraltar-based company founded in 2009. It’s owned by Privatus Limited, and it definitely lives up to its name, with an unheard-of dedication to privacy. It’s definitely cutting edge, but is it worth the high price? Let’s take a look.

PROS

  • Above average speeds
  • Super-secure
  • Great no-logs policy
  • Wireguard protocol
  • Full access torrenting
  • Kill switches
  • Very easy to use

CONS

  • High price
  • Low server count
  • No Netflix access

Speed & Expectations 

To measure speed, we tested the 3 main speed indicators:

  1. Download speed: The rate at which data is transferred from the server to your device. This is measured in megabytes per second (mbps) and a higher number is better.
  2. Upload speed: The rate at which data is transferred to the server from your device. This is also measured in megabytes per second (mbps) and a higher number is better.
  3. Ping (or latency): Tested by “pinging” the server, it’s the amount of time it takes for it to receive and process your request. This is measured in milliseconds (ms) and a lower number is better.

First we ran a baseline test using a default 100mbps internet connection in Chicago, IL.

Then we tested various IVPN servers across the globe.

We ran each test 5 times to increase reliability.

Speed results

These are the results of our baseline test:

So the average baseline score was:

  • Download: 84.7mbps
  • Upload: 9.8mbps
  • Ping: 9.4ms

Next we ran our tests on a IVPN United States server:

US averages of the 5 different speed tests were:

  • Download: 65.4mbps (22.8% slower) 
  • Upload: 17.3mbps (77.2% faster)
  • Ping: 12.8ms (36.2% longer)

(You would expect these to give the fastest results since we’re performing the tests in the US).

Next we tested Europe:

Europe’s averages were:

  • Download: 46.5mbps (45% slower)
  • Upload: 1.7mbps (83% slower)
  • Ping: 133.6ms (1321.3% longer)

Here’s Asia:

Asia’s averages were:

  • Download: 27.7mbps (67.3% slower)
  • Upload: 20.4mbps (108.3% faster)
  • Ping: 251.2ms (2572.3% longer)

IVPN doesn’t have any South American or African servers to test.

We also compared these results against the average of other VPN tests. How does IVPN measure up?

First up, let’s take a look at download speeds:

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
IVPN-23%-45%-67%n/an/a
Avira Phantom-41%-97%-98%-75%n/a
Speedify-6%-39%-73%-69%-69%
ZoogVPN-59%-74%-80%-98%-87%
NortonVPN-34%-68%-72%-29%n/a
SurfEasy-43%-61%-65%-37%n/a
Celo VPN-75%-93%-93%n/an/a
proXPN-52%-73%-74%n/an/a
X-VPN-71%-75%-99%-62%n/a
SpyOFF-66%-57%-76%-65%-63%
VPN.ht-48%-78%-68%-67%-67%
vpn.ac-52%-51%-67%-47%n/a
Tiger VPN-48%-68%-68%-55%-72%
VPN Unlimited-27%-77%-79%-64%-61%
Cyberghost-35%-59%-71%-56%-68%
Torguard-37%-58%-81%-60%-67%
ProtonVPN-35%-50%-56%-77%-54%
PureVPN-26%-68%-94%-32%-89%
Trust.Zone-14%-99%-80%-66%-82%
AVG Secure VPN-56%-87%-69%-75%-68%
Hoxx VPN-12%-96%-93%n/a-68%
VPNSecure-68%-93%-98%-61%-77%
IPVanish-36%-54%-72%-76%n/a
NordVPN-40%-99%-69%-58%-75%
ExpressVPN-71%-58%-64%-95%-67%
Avast-45%-63%-72%-66%-77%
Windscribe-44%-57%-80%-98%-73%
Average-43.1%-70.3%-77%-64.7%-71.3%

Downloads were well above average for the US and Europe, and above average for Asia.

Next, how did upload speeds compare?

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
IVPN77%-83%108%n/an/a
Avira Phantom252.9%-87%-60%-30%n/a
Speedify-36%-40%-29%-34%-25%
ZoogVPN117%24%50%3%24%
NortonVPN161%38%59%9%n/a
SurfEasy-4%-17%-50%-2%n/a
Celo VPN-35%-30%-40%n/an/a
proXPN-7%-15%-52%n/an/a
X-VPN-33%-61%-98%-77%n/a
SpyOFF-9%-18%-88%-52%-50%
VPN.ht-10%-17%-25%-23%-63%
vpn.ac-6%-18%-44%-16%n/a
Tiger VPN-3%-14%-20%-17%-42%
VPN Unlimited-13%-39%-85%-19%-56%
Cyberghost-8%-16%-92%-37%-48%
Torguard-9%-20%-35%-22%-41%
ProtonVPN-2%-15%-20%-41%-29%
PureVPN13%2.5%-54%-11%-72%
Trust.Zone-13%-45%-67%-28%-84%
AVG Secure VPN-19%-58%-75%-80%-77%
Hoxx VPN-5%-90%-24%n/a-51%
VPNSecure-9%-19%-92%-26%-56%
IPVanish-5%-19%-84%-22%n/a
NordVPN-13%-46%-26%-16%-70%
ExpressVPN-9%-24%-34%-72%-42%
Avast-13%-42%-78%-70%-77%
Windscribe-6%-17%-52%-97%-53%
Average13.1%-29.1%-41%-33.9%-50.7%

Incredibly, upload speeds were actually way faster than without the VPN in both the US and Asia. However, in Europe speeds were well below average.

And finally latency:

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
IVPN36%1321%2572%n/an/a
Avira Phantom35%1147%2322%1596%n/a
Speedify506%1160%2604%1689%3051%
ZoogVPN386%1931%4176%5004%6194%
NortonVPN194%1569%2276%1426%n/a
SurfEasy-9%792%1711%1058%n/a
Celo VPN915%1161%1654%n/an/a
proXPN194%996%2194%n/an/a
X-VPN-28%397%837%560%n/a
SpyOFF213%944%4278%2533%2598%
VPN.ht273%785%1667%1282%2109%
vpn.ac60%388%968%487%n/a
Tiger VPN9%895%1786%1105%2309%
VPN Unlimited33%935%3946%1411%2535%
Cyberghost27%1085%2344%1352%2415%
Torguard7%1036%2023%1384%2502%
ProtonVPN17%810%1840%1185%2017%
PureVPN-23%708%489%1018%1823%
Trust.Zone104%1206%2438%1396%2750%
AVG Secure VPN1021%1111%2419%3560%3336%
Hoxx VPN566%1098%2470%n/a2794%
VPNSecure281%1051%2519%1530%2917%
IPVanish240%1038%4144%1424%n/a
NordVPN34%1278%2328%1560%2696%
ExpressVPN98%965%2122%1545%2461%
Avast33%1133%2465%1556%2815%
Windscribe310%1018%1904%2042%2782%
Average204.9%1035.5%2314.7%1639.3%2783.6%

Latency was well above average in the US, but below average in Europe and Asia.

Speed (Summary)

Overall, speeds were above average. Local US speeds in particular were lightning fast for all speed metrics. Downloads were fast for all continents, but upload and latency were mixed for Europe and Asia.

Performance & Features

In this section we look at the key features all VPNs have and see how IVPN matches up.

Number of servers: 39

How many active servers are available to connect to across all countries, regardless of their physical location.

This is extremely low. The top VPNs have hundreds or thousands of servers, such as NordVPN’s 5,000 plus.

Number of countries: 28

How many countries the total number of servers cover, regardless of how many are located in a single country.

Again this is very low, which the top VPNs offering 40+. Here’s the full country list.

Number of connections allowed: 5

How many devices can be connected to a server (or number of servers) based on a single VPN account or subscription.

This is average across VPNs.

Torrenting allowed: Yes.

Whether you can download and share files on a peer-to-peer or P2P network as opposed to a single server.

Torrenting is allowed on all servers, although oddly they request users don’t use any US servers, but don’t actually limit this.

Kill switch available: Yes.

Whether the VPN software can disable your connection to the network in the event you disconnect from the VPN server. This prevents your IP address from being exposed.

IVPN has a ‘VPN firewall’ that’s basically a super-secure kill switch. It’s also available on Windows, macOS X 10.10+, iOS and Android, which is incredible! A lot of VPNs are desktop only. 

Performance and Features (Summary)

IVPN has a very small server network. However, it’s got full-access torrenting, 5 connections and kill switches on 4 platforms. So aside from the server network it’s pretty stand-out.

Privacy & Security

How secure is IVPN?

First let’s look at the technical aspects:

Protocols/Encryption: AES 256-bit encryption with OpenVPN and IPSec/IKEV2 procotols, or Wireguard protocol

IVPN uses industry-standard AES-256 encryption with OpenVPN and IPSec/IKEV2 protocols. Windows uses OpenVPN. These are generally regarded as the best available.

However, IVPN also offers the cutting-edge Wireguard protocol, which is touted as the next big thing. It’s supposed to be faster, simpler and more reliable. It’s still in the experimental phase in their app, but it’s available if you want to try it.

Only a few VPN providers are currently implementing this, so IVPN is ahead of the curve here.

They also offer a Multihop feature, routing your traffic through multiple VPN servers, and separate obfuscation technology, for additional protection.

DNS leaks: None found.

IP leaks: None found.

WebRTC leaks: None.

Viruses/Malware: 1 false positive.

Legal issues

Jurisdiction: Gibraltar. Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, but it’s pretty autonomous, with it’s own Data Protection Act, and is generally considered a pro-privacy location. Therefore IVPN argues it shouldn’t be considered a 5-eyes location.

Logging policy: No logs.

IVPN has one of the best privacy policies I’ve seen. It definitely puts other VPNs to shame. It’s extremely transparent and detailed, but also crystal clear.

For example it shows exactly what data it stores for account users, and different payment methods.

It also explains exactly how they limit simultaneous connections, something VPNs never usually even mention.

So basically they collect your email address, payment info and that’s it. Extremely minimal.

They use Piwik for web analytics, but this only collects data in aggregate. They explain that they have got rid of all other third-party tracking tools and are now a tracking-free provider.

They’ve also conducted an independent audit, one of few VPNs to do so. This is pretty amazing for such a small VPN.

To top it off, they also have a transparency report and warrant canary.

Basically, this VPN is extremely dedicated to protecting users privacy, and has gone above and beyond compared to almost all other providers.

Privacy and Security Summary

IVPN kills this section. IVPN uses AES-256 encryption with OpenVPN. It’s also got Wireguard. IVPN is based in Gibraltar with a great no-logs policy.

It’s a no-tracking provider, and has an independent audit, transparency report and warrant canary. We didn’t find any leaks.

Usability

This section looks at the following aspects:

  • Streaming/Geo-spoofing
  • Compatibility
  • Overall UI/UX

Streaming/Geo-spoofing

Netflix is a popular reason for purchasing VPNs, so let’s see if IVPN works in this regard.

  • Netflix: Detected. Unfortunately, Netflix was blocked on all servers. IVPN admits it focuses on privacy rather than streaming access.
  • Hulu: Detected. Hulu was blocked as well.
  • YouTube: Undetected. YouTube worked fine on all servers.
    Kodi: Undetected. Kodi worked fine with IVPN.

Compatibility

Is IVPN compatible with most devices?

We tested everything from Tor, iOS devices, Android devices, Smart TV’s, Amazon Firestick, Mac, Windows, to routers:

  • Tor browser: Supported. Tor works fine in conjunction with IVPN.
  • iOS (iPad, iPhone): Supported. IVPN has a fully-functional iOS app.
  • Android: Supported. Same for Android.
  • Smart TV’s: Not Supported.
  • Amazon Firestick: Not Supported. However, IVPN offers a manual setup guide for OpenVPN.
  • Windows: Supported. IVPN has a Windows app.
  • Mac: Supported. IVPN has a Mac app.
  • Routers: Supported. You can buy a preconfigured router, or IVPN has manual setup guides for various brands.

Overall UX/UI

IVPN has a very small, minimalistic interface with a pale blue and white scheme.

Simply click the big connect button to connect to the fastest server.

Even though it’s minimalistic, the main settings are also available for easy access on the home screen.

You can turn the firewall (kill switch) on or off, turn on their anti-tracker, and toggle between single or multihop.

It also shows the network you’re connected to, which you can set as trusted or untrusted.

Click on the selected server to access the server list.

This is pleasant to look at. However, it’s listed in alphabetical order by the internet country code rather than the country name. I always find this slightly annoying as it’s not as easy to scan through.

However, the list is simple enough and the city and flags are shown too.

Ping is also shown on the right, with a traffic light system as a nice touch.

Unfortunately there’s no other options to sort the servers, or search bar. It’s easy to live with this as it’s quite a short list.

One unusual thing you can do is deselect servers you don’t want to be  chosen as your ‘fastest’ server. Therefore if you deselect all but one, this is essentially a favorites system.

Connection times were fairly fast. Once connected you get notified by IVPN and Windows, and the system tray icon turns green.

Another unusual feature is you can pause the VPN connection, and resume it after a time period that you set. Or just when you unpause it manually.

IVPN also has a second, tiny interface that pops up in the top right-hand corner of your screen. It pops up when you’re connecting, showing the different connection processes, and when you pause the connection.

You can easily change servers without having to disconnect first, which is nice.

When you multi-hop, it shows you the different servers you’re connected to.

Overall, I was very impressed with the client, which was very smooth and fast with no lags between clicks.

I also liked the pop-up windows explaining some of the more unusual features when you hovered over them.

Settings were surprisingly in-depth.

There were several start-up and auto-connect settings, as well as a logging option for errors.

There’s also a lot of protocol options. For OpenVPN, you can choose your port (with a lot more options than most VPNs). You can also enable their obfuscation technology, as well as a network proxy.

Alternatively you can test out their new Wireguard protocol, and you can choose your port for this as well. However, IVPN warns you this in an experimental phase.

There’s also a lot of Firewall (kill switch) settings, which beats most VPNs of just toggling it on or off.

They also include an ‘Always-on’ feature.

Under networks you can set your networks as trusted or untrusted.

You can then choose what actions to take, e.g connect to the VPN and enable the firewall.

There’s also an option for it’s antitracker. You can select ‘Hardcore Mode’ to block Google and Facebook, which it calls ‘flagship bearers of the surveillance economy’.

Pretty cool, however it means you probably means you won’t be able to use anything owned by them, including Gmail or Youtube.

Finally, you can set your own custom DNS.

The mobile version worked in the same way, but looked even more minimalistic. There were also slightly fewer settings.

Multi-hop and protocol choice are still there, including Wireguard.

The firewall is replaced by a kill switch and always-on VPN. Network options are still there, as is custom DNS. However, the antitracker and wealth of startup and auto-connect options are gone.

They do add one handy feature for mobile though: split tunneling.

Usability (Summary)

IVPN doesn’t have any Netflix or Hulu access, which is a shame. It has all the standard compatibility plus routers, but no Smart TV or firestick support. The apps were very easy to use and packed full of features.

Pricing & Refunds

IVPN has monthly, quarterly and annual pricing plans.

The monthly price is $15, which is crazy expensive. This even tops ExpressVPN, a giant with a reputation for its high price.

The quarterly price is $13.33 a month, which doesn’t represent much of a discount.

The annual price is $8.33 a month, which is the same as Express’ monthly price.

This makes it the second most expensive VPN I’ve come across.

They also offer team accounts.

On its pricing page, IVPN admits its more expensive than most. However, it justifies this with its better security, faster servers and awesome support.

There’s a 3-day trial and 7-day moneyback guarantee. I think this is very poor for such a premium price tag. Other VPNs offer 7-day trials and/or 30-45 day moneyback guarantees. And most of these are significantly cheaper than IVPN.

To be fair, they try and explain themselves on their Refund Policy.

In terms of payment methods, IVPN offers card, Paypal, or Bitcoin.

This isn’t the widest variety we’ve seen, but at least there’s a crypto option.

Pricing (Summary)

IVPN is extremely expensive, the second most expensive we’ve come across. Its monthly price is $15, whereas its yearly price is $8.33. There’s a stingy 3-day trial and 7-day moneyback guarantee. Payment options include card, Paypal and Bitcoin.

Support

IVPN does have live chat, but when it’s actually available is a mystery.

Support says ‘it’s available when it’s green’, but doesn’t give any exact hours. It was never green for us.

It hasn’t got the best functionality either. When it’s offline, you can’t send a message through the chat. It just tells you to email support.

However, their email support is 24/7 and their support page promises to respond to emails/tickets within 24 hours.

When we emailed them via the ticket system they responded extremely fast – within 1 hour.

In the meantime, their system sent us some auto-generated links to their knowledgebase articles, based on keywords we mentioned. Some of these were useful.

Their answers were all correct, helpful and to the point.

It was obvious the support staff knew what they were talking about.

Their knowledgebase was also excellent, with great setup guides, including manual protocols.

There was a ton of general information articles, answering pretty much any question you have about the VPN. For example, even if they don’t have something, like Netflix access or Smart TV support, they have an article letting you know.

They also have a good troubleshooting section, with specific solutions for different errors on different devices.

They also have a set of Privacy Guides, with general privacy information, which is rare.

They also have a search bar which works very well.

Overall it’s very comprehensive with clear, easy-to-understand articles.

In addition to this they have a blog. This only includes service updates, which I quite like as that’s what I normally look for on a blog anyway.

Support (Summary)

IVPN has 24/7 email support, which responds very quickly and staff are knowledgeable. There’s a live chat box, but it rarely seems to be available. The knowledgebase is also very comprehensive, with setup guides, lots of general information, and troubleshooting.

What Do Other Reviewers Say?

What are other reviewers opinion of IVPN? Here’s an overview.

They all agreed the server network was small and unable to compete with the larger VPNs. They noted it’s also mostly focused in North America and Europe. However, one said that at least the servers are much more secure than an average VPN.

Most agreed that IVPN was fast, at least in some locations. One said it was very fast overall. Another found very fast local speeds and impressive mid-distance speeds, but inconsistent long-distance speeds.

Similarly, another stated US and UK servers were speedy, but others weren’t. Only one review found its performance rather slow, with poor uploads.

Most really liked the Multihop feature, particularly how easy to use it was. However, one said they weren’t sure how much use it would be to the average user.

All unanimously praised its logging policy, for its balance of detail and clarity. They liked that it clearly listed everything it didn’t log, as well as explaining explicity what it did log, including things like simultaneous connections. One really liked that it didn’t even collect cookies.

Almost all found it didn’t unblock Netflix or even iPlayer, which they cited as a major blow. However, one said it unblocked US Netflix.

They liked the full access torrenting, though.

All found the interface easy to use, one calling it one of the best they’ve seen. They found the settings stuffed with powerful options. However, some criticised the lack of sorting or favorites for the server list.

They particularly liked the firewall/kill switch configurability and trusted networks. Most didn’t mention Wireguard, which must be a recent feature.

Most stated the price was very high, over twice the cost of competitors. However, one said it was very competitively priced considering its features. Unlike us all appreciated the 3 day trial and 7 day money-back guarantee.

What Do Other Reviewers Say (Summary)

Most rated it between good and excellent. They liked its speeds, privacy, ease of use and powerful options. However, they weren’t impressed with it’s lack of streaming access, small server network, and high price.

Our Verdict

IVPN is one unusual VPN.

Initially it seems a write-off, with it’s tiny server network and such a high price.

However, the servers on offer are of very high quality.

IVPN offers an unparalleled level of privacy and trust, with its amazing no logs policy, independent audit, and the company’s obvious extreme dedication to internet privacy.

And despite the small server network, it also manages fast speeds.

It’s also got a ton of features, including Multihop and obfuscation, firewalls/kill switches on most platforms, Wireguard, and full access torrenting.

The apps are extremely easy to use as well, whilst offering an array of options.

The only major downside is its lack of streaming access. Netflix and Hulu fans will have to look elsewhere if they want to geoblock.

In conclusion, if streaming isn’t an issue, and the locations you need are there, it’s well worth the price for a super-secure, fast VPN you can trust.

Overall, we would rate this VPN 4.4 out of 5.


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