IVPN Review – Surf the Darknet Anonymously

IVPN

Promoted as a high security privacy protection solution, IVPN is a VPN service intended to prevent private data snooping and surveillance. It also affords protection against hackers and identity thieves. Just like what other VPNs do, it enables access to restricted websites or content. IVPN, however, does not have an extensive network of servers in different parts of the world. It only has a few dozen servers in a number of countries.

Interestingly, IVPN’s website somewhat made us think for a brief moment that it’s a quite big VPN service by mentioning “customers in 150+ countries” on its homepage. We initially had the impression that the line meant that IVPN has a vast network of servers when it doesn’t. Apparently, IVPN’s web development team is quite good with “misdirection” (regardless of whether it was intentional or unwitting). Can IVPN be similarly good at redirecting traffic and misleading snoops to ensure the security and privacy of your online activities? Go over this review for our assessment.

IVPN Company Overview

IVPN is a registered private company in Gibraltar, with the following address: 5 Secretary’s Lane GX11 1AA. It was founded in 2009 by a group of information security specialists. This group wanted to enable transparency in VPN solutions so they wanted to create something that is easy to understand and use. IVPN’s network of servers, however, is far from impressive. At the time we did this review, there were only 34 servers listed. The company has been in operation for more than 7 years but it has not expanded its network of servers. IVPN is a member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Conditional Free Trial, Unconditional Money Back Guarantee

The Start Free Trial button and the line “Try IVPN FREE for 3 Days” on the site clearly indicates that IVPN supposedly should be offering a free trial period. However, we initially thought that there is actually no free trial period with IVPN since we couldn’t proceed to signing up by clicking on the payment option that indicates a “$ 0,00” order total. We were only able to proceed after loading the page a number of times until the PayPal/credit card payment form appeared.

Apparently, the free trial is only available if you use the PayPal/credit card payment option. You will be charged during the registration if you use the other payment options (BitPay and Cash). If you use PayPal or credit card, the billing is deferred to the day after the 3-day free trial period lapses. This means you don’t get to pay yet but you will automatically be billed on your credit card or PayPal account if you forget to cancel before the 3-day trial period. This means you will have to submit your credit card details or allow IVPN to bill your PayPal account. Hence, we call it a conditional free trial period.

Just like most other VPN providers, IVPN has a money back guarantee. It is valid for a seven-day period. It’s an unconditional money back policy so you can decide to have the service stopped and get refunded for whatever reason, no questions asked, as long as you do it within seven days. Cancel your account from within the IVPN client or app. The refund will be processed within 24 hours.

IVPN Setup and Interface

IVPN is an easy to set up VPN service. For Windows, Mac OS X, and iOS devices, all that’s needed is to download and install the client. You can then proceed to choosing a server you prefer (one that is geographically closer to your location) and connect. The client automatically loads the right settings for you. You just have to choose a server and connect after installing the client.

You will have to do manual configuration, though, if you are going to use IVPN in your Android devices, Linux computer, and routers. The process is not impossibly difficult but you will need to carefully follow instructions so successfully set everything up.

You will get your login details only after your make your payment or after you complete the free trial application process.

IVPN’s interface is very similar to most other VPN clients. If you have already tried other VPNs before, it should be easy using IVPN. Otherwise, you can always refer to the Setup page of the IVPN website for instructions if you are not sure what to do. You may also contact IVPN’s support team for your inquiries or if you want to request for technical assistance.

IVPN Security

IVPN maintains good standards of security. It implements 256-bit encryption for all VPN protocols. It supports the following VPN protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP.

IVPN is designed to provide protection against all identifiable IP leaks including DNS, IPv6, WebRTC, and disconnection leaks.

Moreover, IVPN includes a multihop feature which makes online activities even more secure, particularly when accessing the deep web or darknet sites. This feature is discussed further in the Features section of this review.

Privacy

IVPN’s privacy policy is similar to what most other darknet VPN service providers have. It does not save logs of the VPN usage of its customers (zero logs policy). It may collect some information about customers but these are only for the purpose of setting up the account. If ever a court order compels IVPN to reveal information about its customers, it’s unlikely for anything incriminating to come out of it. Additionally, IVPN uses Piwik instead of the usual Google Analytics to ensure privacy. Piwik is deemed by the Center for Data Privacy Protection in France (CNIL) as the only tool that ensures full compliance with privacy regulations.

IVPN Speed

Connection speed is not an issue with IVPN even though it has fewer servers compared to other major VPN providers. It only has a little over 30 servers in 12 countries: Canada, Switzerland, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, United STates, and China (Hong Kong). As shown on IVPN’s Server Status page, only a few of the servers have a load higher than 50%.  All servers also show uptimes higher than 99.9%.

There’s nothing to complain about IPVN’s speed. You are unlikely to experience any noticeable speed drops. If you were able to watch videos without the need to pause to buffer, you should be able to experience the same unless the connection speed delivered by your ISP is really that slow that a few Kbps of speed reduction is already significant.

Usability

IVPN adequately serves its purpose as an online privacy and security tool. It is useful in bypassing restrictions on websites or online content. It affords protection against snooping when accessing the internet through public wi-fi networks. It does most of what other VPN solutions are capable of doing. Add in the intuitive client or mobile app and you get a VPN that may not be the best but good enough for the what it is meant to do.

Using IVPN shouldn’t be difficult. You just have to download the client installer, install it, run the client , choose your desired server, and click on the Connect button. You may also connect immediately using only the default server.

If you want to use IVPN with your iOS device, just go to iTunes and find the official IVPN app and proceed to using it.

Unfortunately, IVPN does not have its own app for Android. If you want to use it with your Android device, you will have to install the OpenVPN for Android app. You then have to download IVPN’s OpenVPN configuration file (link is on the Android section of the Setup page of the IVPN website), and import this file to the OpenVPN. The process will definitely be longer as compared to simply using an Android version of the IVPN mobile app but it’s not that difficult. Just go over the Setup page and you will find all the details you need, including screenshots.

Considering that IVPN has a zero logs policy and there’s also the option to pay for a subscription/plan in bitcoins, we can say that it can be a good companion VPN to the Tor browser when using darknet markets. Using IVPN is unlikely to pose a risk. Just be sure not to use your regular email address (create a new one for the registration) and pay for the IVPN subscription using bitcoins.

Notable Features

Despite its limited network of servers, IPVN has a good list of features. The most notable of which are the following:

  • No speed and usage limits
  • Zero logs policy
  • Protection from all known IP leaks
  • Easy installation
  • Up to 3 simultaneous connections
  • Protection from hackers and identity thieves
  • Compatibility with all major operating systems and devices
  • P2P traffic supported except if you use US servers
  • Three-day conditional free trial period
  • 7-day unconditional money back guarantee
  • Port forwarding
  • Bitcoin payments accepted
  • Multihop VPN*

*Multihop VPN is an online privacy protection system that involves the routing of internet traffic through multiple VPN servers. A standard VPN only routes traffic through a single server. This technology is integrated in the IVPN network using 256 bit OpenVPN encryption. Multihop VPN affords users with higher levels of anonymity and privacy.

Compatible Devices

IVPN works with a multitude of devices and operating systems. It works with Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Phone, and even Windows XP. It can also be used with Mac OS X and GNU/Linux computers. Likewise, you can use IVPN with iPhones and iPads (iOS devices) as well as with Android devices and routers. It works with DD-WRT, Tomato, and PFSense routers.

IVPN, however, only has clients for Windows, Mac OS X, and iOS devices. For the rest, you can’t expect the convenience of simply installing the application, launching it, choosing a server, then connecting. You will be doing manual configurations for Linux computers, Windows Phone devices, Android devices, and routers. It’s not difficult to do manual configurations, though. IVPN’s website, the Setup section, provides detailed step-by-step guides on doing manual configurations.

Pricing, Promotions, and Checkout

IVPN is available in monthly, quarterly, and annual subscriptions for $15k, $53.35, and $100respectively. The longer the subscription you get, the lower the per-month cost gets. The quarterly plan only costs $13.33 while the annual plan only costs $8.33 per month. That means savings of around 11% and 44% if you choose to get billed quarterly or annually.

We did not find promo offers on the website. The only price reductions presented were the usual lowering of per-month prices when opting for longer plans (quarterly and yearly).

If you are ready to proceed with your subscription/signing up, click on the red Start Free Trial button. Just click on the Sign Up, Start Free Trial, or Add New VPN button. They will lead you to the same interface. By default, the site will let you start a free trial, wherein the Credit Card or PayPal option is chosen for the payment method. As mentioned earlier, the free trial only works with the credit card or PayPal payment method. If you choose other methods, the Order Total will be changed from $0,00 to the amount of the plan you choose.

Payments can be through credit card, PayPal, BitPay, or cash. You have to click on your preferred payment option to display the form you need to fill out or to be redirected to the interface/login page of the payment method you select. For cash payments, you will be sent an invoice that bears the instructions on how you will be doing the cash payment. Caveat: cash payment processing usually takes seven to ten days depending on where the amount is sent from. BitPay is for paying using bitcoins.

IVPN Support

To reach IVPN’s support or admin team, click on the Contact Us link on the header or footer part of the site to go to the contact form. You may also send your questions, complaint, or request for assistance directly to the following email address: [email protected]. Unfortunately, you may only contact IVPN through email. There are no phone numbers, fax number, or social media links given on the site. There is also no live chat support. The site, however, has a knowledge base that provides answers to a multitude of frequently asked questions as well as how-to guides. You may want to go over them to find answers to your questions before sending an email inquiry.

Conclusion

IVPN is definitely not a bad option if you are looking for a dependable VPN service. However, its price is not really that competitive. It has fewer servers in a few countries. It has a maximum of only 3 simultaneous connections. Also, it does not have a client or app for Android devices (unlike most other major VPN service providers). Nevertheless, IVPN delivers good speed, security, and privacy. It can be considered a good choice if you are looking for a VPN to be used with the Tor browser as you access darknet sites. It has a free trial period for 3 days, albeit conditional. IVPN also accepts bitcoin payments through BitPay so you can get an account without having to reveal your personal details.

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