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ASUS, SABAI, DDWRT
Bare metal or virtual servers
The Ultimate VPN plan offers the following features:
- Servers in 47 countries
- P2P: yes
- Three simultaneous connections
- Proxy servers in all locations
- Socks5 proxies
- Support for OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, SSTP, SoftEther, and IPsec VPN protocols
- Full access to the Smart DNS service (more on this later)
- Tor over VPN
The cheaper VPN plans are limited to just one connection at a time, and do not have access to all servers (44 countries for the Standard VPN plan, and nine for the Torrent VPN plan). They also have no access to Smart DNS or regular proxy servers, although Torrent VPN users can use socks5 proxies.
P2P is not permitted on the Standard plan, but is allowed on the Torrent VPN plan (of course!).
This basically allows you to “chain” VPN servers, so that your data is routed between two or more VPN servers as it travels between you and the internet.
Your PC/device -> VPN server 1 -> VPN server 2 -> Internet
Such chaining can provide some security benefits, but will always result in a major loss of speed. The privacy/security benefits of “double-hop” VPN are rather limited. But I understand that this is not a view shared by everyone. As we can see a little later in this review, a number of Double VPN sever options are available.
Tor over VPN
Another new feature is Tor over VPN. In this configuration, you connect first to an ibVPN server, and then to the Tor network, before accessing the internet:
Your computer -> VPN -> Tor -> Internet
ibVPN achieves this by transparently routing your data from the VPN tunnel to the Tor network. This means that your entire internet connection benefits from Tor over VPN.
This setup does offer some privacy and security advantages, but a similar effect can be achieved simply by using the Tor Browser while connected to the VPN. Crucially, such a setup is much more secure than the method offered by ibVPN.
Tor over VPN (however you do it) will seriously slow down your internet speeds, as you get the combined hit of using both the Tor network (which is very slow) and the VPN. ibVPN currently offers Tor over VPN servers in the Netherlands, Singapore, and the US.
Speed and performance
All tests were performed using my Virgin UK 50 Mbps/3 Mbps fiber connection. I used the OpenVPN-UPD protocol.
When I connected to some VPN servers listed as 100% free, I got no internet connection at all. I therefore tested servers under load (lowest for each location) in order to ensure that I could connect to the internet.
The graphs show the highest, lowest and average speeds for each server and location. See our full speed test explanation for more detail.
The download results are notably poor. It is also worth noting that I suffered an unusually large number of VPN disconnects while testing the service.*
IPv4 leak detected?
WebRTC leak detected?
ProPrivacy.com SpeedTest (max/burst)
ProPrivacy.com SpeedTest (average)
I detected no IPv4, DNS or WebRTC leaks (if DNS protection was enabled in the client). This is good.
Unfortunately, my ISP (Virgin Media) does not support IPv6 connections, so I am unable to test for IPv6 leaks at this time. This is an issue that ProPrivacy.com is working on finding a solution to.
Good news is that both US Netflix and BBC iPlayer work when connected to suitable servers.
ibVPN offers three VPN plans, plus a Smart DNS-only plan. The Ultimate VPN plan costs $10.95 per month, or $4.83 per month if an annual subscription is purchased. All other plans cost $4.95 per month, or $3.08 if purchased annually.
A Business VPN plan is also available. This is basically the Ultimate VPN plan but with more simultaneous connections. Prices start at $13.95 per month ($8.32 if paid annually) for five simultaneous connections, going up to $44.95 per month ($33.32 when paid annually) for 20 simultaneous connections.
A 24-hours free trial is also available. This provides the full benefits of the Ultimate plan for its duration. In addition to this, ibVPN offers a 15-day money-back guarantee.
The following payment methods are accepted: Avangate (recurring and one-time payments - Alipay, WebMoney, iDeal, and credit card), PayPro (recurring and one-time payments - credit card and PayPal), Payza, WebMoney, AstroPay, Western Union, and Perfect Money.
ibVPN also accepts payment in Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies (Litecoin, Blackcoin, Dogecoin, and Ripple), which can help to improve privacy.
Yes - 24 hours
Money-back guarantee length
ibVPN offers “24/7” live chat support, which I found knowledgeable and helpful. Ticketed email support is also available. If you require additional help, it is possible to schedule an appointment to receive remote assistance from the support team. I have not tested this, but it is a great offer.
Ease of use
The website design looks smart, and avoids making some of the more bombastic (and inaccurate) claims found on many providers' pages. Although technical details are a little light on the ground, FAQs, a knowledge base, and a forum provide most of the information that mainstream users should require.
This server list is not only quite good-looking, but rather useful. All IPs are shared, but whether you receive a static or dynamic IP depends on which server you connect to.
The IBVPN Windows Client
The Windows VPN client looks pretty smart, and is packed with features. I did notice, however, that changing servers often caused the program to crash, so it is better to disconnect before reconnecting to another server.* Notice also the list of Double VPN servers.
By default, protocol selection is “automatic.” From the log files, it is clear that this means that the very insecure PPTP protocol is used by default, followed by L2TP/IPsec should that fail (as it did in my case). I recommend changing to OpenVPN immediately!
I have no idea why the DNS leak options are disabled by default, but you should also turn them on immediately. It is good, however, that they exist.
A great feature of the ibVPN client is the per-app and per-process kill switch. This requires a little setting up, but is more sophisticated than the moe common whole-system kill switches.
Note, however, that the kill switch works by closing the specified programs in the event of VPN failure. This is not as secure as a firewall-based solution, which prevents any connections outside the VPN tunnel.
Overall, this is a fully featured client. I am a little concerned, however, by the fact that it defaults to weak VPN protocols and no DNS leak protection. These can be changed/turned on, but less techie users are unlikely to do so.
ibVPN has custom apps for Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Android. In addition to the standard “all-in-one” app, Mac VPN users can also use a new “quick connect app.” This is less fully featured than the all-in-one app, but is very easy to use.
Manual setup instructions are also available for a wide range of platforms and devices.
The Android App
Their Android VPN app asks needs permission to access my photos/media/files which is strange.
The app uses OpenVPN, which is good. Port selection is a nice feature, although there is no kill switch.
I detected no IP leaks using the Android app.
ibVPN offers a Smart DNS service, which is also bundled with the Ultimate VPN plan. This does nothing to improve your security or privacy, but enables geo-spoofing by resolving your DNS requests at a specified location. This makes it ideal for streaming geo-blocked content.
No encryption/decryption is involved, and the DNS translation is pretty much instantaneous. This means that Smart DNS services suffer fewer buffering issues than when using a VPN for streaming (although distance can still cause problems).
Another advantage of Smart DNS is that it can be configured on any internet-capable device, not just ones that can run VPN software. This means that you can use Smart DNS on your smart TV, games console, and Roku (among others).
ibVPN’s Smart DNS unlocked both US Netflix and BBC iPlayer when I tried it.
ibVPN users can also install browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, which proxy the browser connection.
I detected no DNS leaks while using the extension, but did see a WebRTC leak. US Netflix was not available, but I am pleased to report that BBC iPlayer was.
Privacy and security
“ibVPN does not collect or log any traffic or use of its Virtual Private Network service. We cannot relate any specific activity with any specific user. If any legal notices are forwarded to our legal department we will comply with that notice. However, we cannot be compelled to hand over information which we do not have.”
This is great. ibVPN is based in Romania, which had rejected the EU Data Retention Directive even before it was struck down by the European Court of Justice. Romania is also comfortably outside the direct area of influence of both the NSA and GCHQ.
So on the privacy front, ibVPN does very well.
Softether, Stealth VPN
OpenVPN connections are secured with an AES-256 cipher and HMAC SHA384 hash authentication. Since first publishing this review, ibVPN have updated handshake encryption to RSA-2048 and data channel encryption to AES-256.
This addresses my earlier criticisms. Perfect forward secrecy is provided courtesy of Diffie-Hellman Exchange (DHE) keys. I am pleased to say that ibVPN now uses a very strong encryption suite.
If you plan on using this VPN for iOS and you want to use OpenVPN encryption, you will need to manually configure it using a third party OpenVPN app. See ibVPN's website for a guide on how to do this.
Please see VPN Encryption Terms Explained for more details on the terms used here.
- No logs (at all)
- Modestly priced
- Good Smart DNS service
- Servers in 47 countries
- 24/7 support
- Fully featured software with per-app kill switch
- P2P: yes
- Three simultaneous connections
- Socks5 proxies
- US Netflix and BBC iPlayer available
- Good mobile apps
- Double VPN
I wasn’t so sure about:
- Defaults to weak VPN protocols and no DNS leak protection
- Tor over VPN (using the Tor Browser over VPN is safer)
- Poor performance
- Windows client disconnected and crashed a lot*
There is much to like about ibVPN. For a reasonable price, you get a very fully featured service (with Smart DNS thrown in for free with the Ultimate VPN plan). I detected no IP leaks while using the service, and although it’s not firewall-based, I like the per-app and per-process kill switch.
I do wish the Windows client was a little more stable*, If you are looking for a VPN for Netflix then this VPN is worth considering. It is also a good option for anyone wants a VPN for BBC iPlayer as both the VPN and Smart DNS service successfully unblock both services.
The only real problem is ibVPN’s speed performance results. Few users are likely to be happy about their internet connections being slowed down to such an extent.
*This article has been updated to include information on improved encryption and new features available to users of the service. ibVPN also assures me that its updated All-in-One Windows client fixes the stability issues I encountered, but I have not tested this yet.