Sunday, May 10, 2015

Hobo-Sneak: IPVanish

IP Vanish VPN Service

IPVanish is a standard IP masking VPN service that is designed for average users who want some of the benefits of anonymity, or need to mask their geolocation for location aware web services.

If you have already read our series on basic online security, then you are aware of the benefits of a VPN service. I am using IPVanish VPN at this very minute while sitting in a coffee shop having lunch while writing. It is wonderful piece of software that will automatically connect to the fastest server available to me, and will automatically reconnect after a spontaneous disconnect.

The Windows installer downloads immediately following the download link, and there are no hoops to jump through. Likewise, the website is not designed to induce false ad clicks. I found the whole process of signing up and getting the VPN up and running to be extremely smooth in windows.

I still tote around my tiny old netbook, and that means I have a few specific requirements that software developers often fail to think about.

The installer allowed me to select a custom install location so that I didn't have to take up precious space on my 32gb SSD. Likewise, I was pleased to discover that the installer was 100% bloatware free! I love when I can click through an installer without realizing that I just agreed to install the toolbar. Major brownie points for making this a great experience so far!

As the installer begins to complete, a virtual network adapter is installed to handle the connections. This took me a little off guard, but makes sense.

As the software began to start up the first time, I realized the first issue that I was going to experience. I am using a netbook, and the software's minimum window size is larger than my maximum resolution! Oh no! There was no way to fix this that I am aware of, but I was still able to move the window around and get things done. On any normal sized laptop or desktop this would not have been a problem. Netbook owners (if there are any left out there) are pretty used to this type of problem.

Once the software is open, you have a few quick options that include Fastest and US Media/Gaming. I have not been a true PC gamer in a long time, so I didn't have the chance to test the bandwidth and pings in any type of gaming capacity. I assume that many games would be playable, but FPS games would likely have some lag. That is just the feeling I get from the media download speeds.

My first stop was Netflix, a geolocation locked media streaming site that looks for proxies and VPNs and blocks them. I allowed the software to choose the fastest server for US Media/Streaming. As I sat in a cafe in Florence Italy, connected to a public Wifi hotspot, I watched the software ping each server on the list and then select the one (I had noted by eye) that had the lowest ping.

The connection appeared stable, and I marked the new network as public in Windows. I refreshed the geolocked Netflix page and waited for the window to load. Then, there it was! Netflix popped right up and let me browse my queue. I selected the next episode of a television show that I had left in progress back in California, and the web viewer opened and started to load the video.

The loading time for the video was a little slower than I am used to, and I was a little afraid that the stream was going to be too slow to open. Finally the video stream started and ran without a single hiccup through the entire episode. I was very pleased to have some english television to watch when I was bored trying to translate italian TV using my classical latin training from college. Hint - Latin is about as useful for translating Italian, as ye olde english is for translating modern english.

1. Old English  2. Middle  3. Early Modern  4. Modern

That' a bit of an exaggeration, Latin and Italian are a little closer to each other. If Italian is number four, then Latin is a bit like number three.

I spent the rest of my time in Europe with ready access to all the sites that I was used to having back home.

Everything was pretty solid until the first time I rebooted...
After my first reboot, I discovered that I was unable to connect to any of my normal networks (wifi or ethernet). The new network adapter had disabled the other adapters, and I needed to reactivate them in order to connect to my wifi network. Not too big a deal, but it is important to note that users may have this same issue. Open the network settings, then adapters, right click and reactivate.

So how did my other devices handle the service?

Android - Nexus 7
My 2012 nexus 7 was able to install the free android app from the play store, and connect with no trouble at all.

The android app was a little less polished than the Windows application, but I was still able to browse the server list and look for the lowest ping. The list can be sorted by country, which is nice when traveling, but does not allow secondary sorting by fastest ping. This means scrolling through a list looking for the fastest ping manually.

Once selected, the VPN connects and you are all set with a status in the notification area.

The same tests were run on the tablet: Netflix, Pandora, Spotify, HBO Go. All passed with flying colors. I watched a lot of tv on my tablet on rainy days in the city. It was really a big change from having to sit and watch Euro MTV all day, running repeats of the same twelve music videos while I try to work.

iOS - Iphone 4s
This was a disappointment, but not an uncommon sight these days on an older iPhone. I did not have the opportunity to try this on any more modern Apple hardware, but I expect that the app works in an identical fashion to the android version.

Curse you planned obsolescence!

If I were less poor, or had chosen to use my science to become a rich and powerful supervillian, I would have a newer iPhone to test this on. Instead the last device I was able to test on was the Oneplus One.

Android - Oneplus One
I'm sure many of you have no idea what phone I'm talking about, maybe some of you have heard of the Oneplus One. Anyway, it is a reasonable high end android phone and it ran the software with no problems. Much more smooth than the old Nexus 7 due to the updated hardware.

Other operating systems
Many of you have an Apple or Linux machine, and want to know how the service works on those operating systems.

I have not yet tested on either OSX or Linux, but at the very worst you would have to manually connect to one of the VPN servers using the network manager in the taskbar.

The stand alone software is not required for the VPN to function, and you can easily connect to using the built in dialer in your OS.

That being said, they do offer native OSX software, so getting set up is going to be just as easy for Mac users as it is for Windows.

You Linux guys, you are my people, but you know its never as easy for us. Just fire up the old Network Manager and add a new VPN manually. No CLI kung fu should be required.

Getting started with IPVanish

Head to the IPVanish page here or click on the banner ad below, and you will automatically use the  discount code "hobogeek". Or input the code manually at checkout. Using our discount code gets you a better price, and helps us to keep this site up and running.

You can choose to pay for a month, three months, or a year at a time. The larger your time commitment, the better the discount you will receive.

After that, it takes just a few minutes to get your username and password, and to install the client software on your device.

IPVanish does not store any user details that can be linked to your external IP, gives you fast unlimited access to numerous servers across the globe, and has a money back guarantee if you are unsatisfied with the service. All of their traffic is encrypted between your computer and the server, not even your ISP can tell what you are browsing or downloading.

Your monthly fee is a small price to pay for the security and freedom that comes with such a powerful tool for protecting your online identity.


  1. Artikelnya keren dan lengkap. Thankyou :)

  2. am search for proxy vs vpn. and here I am,
    ipvanis now on my list to buy. i just try fr** hide ip.
    thank you

    1. A proxy will be a much less secure and private option. A VPN will always be a more secure and reliable choice for those who consistently need it.


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