IPVanish is a standard VPN, or Virtual Private Network, service that operates the same way that any other VPN provider does. IPVanish is just a brand name and doesn’t imply that the service can make your IP address, or intellectual property, vanish. The name is a reference to the fact that a VPN masks your IP address by replacing it with the VPN server’s address.
VPNs work by creating a securely encrypted tunnel between your device and a VPN server. Your device then sends all internet traffic through the encrypted tunnel to the VPN server. When the VPN server receives a message, it decrypts it, then sends the web request to the internet using its own IP address rather than yours.
IPVanish offers more than 1400 anonymous servers to connect to, in order to get around the filters. When one of the VPN servers receives the response from the webserver, it sends it back over the secure tunnel to your device.
Devices can include things like phones, computers, tablets – with IPVanish, you can use your VPN on up to 10 devices at the same time. That means you can set it up so your entire family runs their traffic through the VPN, hiding your IP address and thus your activity on the net.
By replacing your IP address with its own, a VPN server can be used to change the location of where your web traffic appears to be coming from. This feature is called Geo-Spoofing or location-spoofing. This is primarily used to bypass location-based content restrictions, such as region-locked content on Netflix.
Tip: This form of location spoofing doesn’t involve faking any GPS data from a mobile phone GPS sensor. The location detection is based purely off of the IP address of the VPN server. Some VPN providers do offer the option to spoof GPS data as well, but this is not a standard feature.
The “secure tunnel” portion of the VPN is an agreement between your device and the VPN server to encrypt messages a certain way with a shared encryption key.
Tip: Encryption is a process of scrambling data in such a way that it can’t be read without the encryption key.
The encrypted connection between your device and the VPN server means that your ISP can’t monitor your internet usage. This encryption also protects you from hackers, trying to monitor your communications on insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Additionally, IPVanish also offers cloud storage and file encryption with their service – the trade-off is that unlike some other VPN providers, IPVanish isn’t free – nor is it particularly cheap. Pricing plans start at $3.70/month and go as high as $10/month. For this though, they offer a solid service with a fair number of features.