IVPN is a small Gibraltar-registered service that has been preserving its customers’ privacy since 2009.
The company's VPN network is small, with just 22 locations across 13 countries. These are focused almost entirely in North America and Europe, with one other location in Hong Kong.
Platform support is reasonable, with custom clients available for Windows, Mac and iOS, and detailed setup guides for Android, routers, some NAS types and more.
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You're able to connect up to five of your devices simultaneously, although the company emphasizes that the account isn't for sharing with others, "including within a single household".
IVPN operates its own DNS servers, a welcome extra touch which helps to ensure your online activities can't leak to third parties.
An unusual multi-hop feature enables routing your traffic through two VPN servers. For example, you could have the client connect to the VPN in London, travel through the network to New York, then head to its destination. That website only sees your New York IP address, and even if the New York server is compromised, anyone monitoring it will still only see the London IP address rather than yours.
As we write, prices are very reasonable at $10 (£8) a month paid monthly, dropping to $5 (£4) on the annual plan. This apparently includes a "40% anniversary discount" and is for a "limited time only", though, and when the offer expires IVPN will look relatively expensive.
The no-logging policy is summed up here, for instance: "We do not store any connection logs whatsoever. In addition we do not log bandwidth usage, session data or requests to our DNS servers." There's more reassuring detail in those two sentences than other companies manage in 1,000 words or more.
IVPN explains that it holds your email address only, and optionally some form of payment ID, such as a PayPal account name. But you can avoid this by paying via Bitcoin, or even cash, and you can ask the company to delete your data if you close your account.
IVPN protects its website visitors by using self-hosted analytics, rather than using Google or other platforms, and it even explains how this anonymizes individual visitors ("IVPN discard the last two octets of the IP address".) Very few companies provide this degree of clarity, and overall IVPN gives the impression of a firm you can trust.
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If you've been won over by IVPN's feature list then the company makes it very easy to sample the service, with everything you need present on the 'Sign up' page.
The main steps are very familiar – create an account, choose a billing frequency (monthly, quarterly or annually) and a payment method – but IVPN scores highly when it comes to the fine details.
Registration only requires an email address, for instance – no name, country or anything else. The monthly and total costs are displayed for each plan, so you know exactly what you're signing up for. It's possible to pay by Bitcoin (via Bitpay) as well as PayPal and card, and the company even allows you to choose whether your subscription automatically renews or is a one-off.
We worked our way through the form, handing over our PayPal details. We weren't charged immediately, but the website explained that we would be billed $10 after the three-day trial ended.
IVPN next allocated us a random username for our VPN login. That's more inconvenient than using your email address, but it's also more secure, especially for those who regularly reuse the same few passwords.
The final setup page offered us a download link for the IVPN Windows client, and pointed us to instructions on how we could set up the service manually. We downloaded the client and the program installed itself on our laptop within seconds.
The client was lightweight by Windows standards. It added only two processes to our test PC for its app and service, typically using under 25MB RAM. The app can be closed when you're not using the VPN, cutting RAM requirements to a very low 5MB.
Overall, we found it easy to set up IVPN's client on our Windows 10 laptop. Our only concern is that if you're not so lucky, there's not much help available. There's no documentation with the client, and barely anything on the website. You could send a message to the support team, but you're told any response could take "a few hours", so patience might be required.
Once you're up and running we suspect you won't need much assistance. The IVPN desktop client is stripped back and more basic than most, with little more than the core VPN essentials.
There's the usual list of locations, for instance, with a ping time to give you an idea of their distance. But there's no favorite system, no search box, no filters, not even a 'last used' box. The list isn't even sorted alphabetically.
There are one or two handy settings. You can have the client automatically connect to the last server when the system starts, for instance, or you join an insecure Wi-Fi network. That could be very convenient for some users.
The IVPN Firewall is a kill switch-type feature which blocks all non-VPN traffic. You can set this up to be running all the time or only while you're connected, and there are options to allow LAN and multicast traffic through the firewall.
Useful expert-level options include the ability to select your protocol and port (UDP 2049 or 53, TCP 443 or 80), define a proxy, use Tor's obfsproxy to conceal your traffic, and even specify custom OpenVPN configuration parameters.
IVPN's only significant extra is its multi-hop feature, as mentioned earlier, which can direct your traffic through two VPN servers. You can set this up to define entry and exit servers, for example London and New York. We're unsure how much benefit the average user will get from this, but at least it's easy to use. Click the Multi Hop tab, choose an incoming and outgoing location, and you can connect and use the service as normal.
Our speed tests* delivered great results locally, with our closest UK servers giving us from 35 to more than 40Mbps. UK and close European servers gave us 28 to 35Mbps download speeds, also well above average. US speeds were more ordinary at around 20Mbps, and the Hong Kong server peaked at 5Mbps – enough for basic browsing, but that's about it.
Our final privacy tests ended the review on a positive note, as IVPN passed with ease: all our new IPs were in the advertised locations, and there were no WebRTC or DNS leaks to give away our real identity.
IVPN doesn't have many locations, but some of the servers you get are very fast, and you're protected by one of the clearest no-logging policies around. It's a likeable alternative to VPNs which make big promises they can't deliver – and the service offers a three-day trial to check it out for yourself.
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*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we've reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.