ibVPN (short for ‘Invisible Browsing VPN’) is a Romania-based VPN provider. They set themselves apart by including features that most other VPNs charge extra for (SmartDNS, proxy service).
Above all, ibVPN is known for their extremely low prices. With plans starting as low as $3.08, they’re one of the world’s cheapest VPN services. Despite the low price, they offer solid security, features, and server selection making them a good choice for the value-conscious.
Company: Invisible Browsing VPN (Based in Romania)
Server Locations: 100+ servers in 39+ countries
Protocols: OpenVPN (best), PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, SmartDNS
ibVPN App for: Windows, Mac, Android
Best Uses: Media Streaming, Security, Torrents
Regular Price: $4.95-$12.95/month
Current Best Price: $3.08/month (claim this offer)
Currently, you can Save 60% when you buy 1 year of their ‘Ultimate’ Package
- ibVPN Software and Features
- Security and Encryption
- Privacy/Logging Policy
- Best (and worst) uses
ibVPN is VPN provider based in Romania (which may make them less vulnerable to exploitation by the NSA). Since Romania is part of the European Union, ibVPN is subject to EU data retention laws (though it’s unclear whether these laws extend to VPN services or just Internet Providers).
ibVPN is a popular choice as an all-around VPN provider, because of their rock-bottom pricing, torrent friendliness, and free SmartDNS bonus (with select plans).
Here’s what we like about ibVPN:
ibVPN is cheap. Dirt cheap. With 1-yr plans starting at $3.08 it’s hard to find a better deal.
Software + Security
ibVPN has their own custom VPN software, which works on Windows, Mac, and Android devices. It includes enhanced functionality like a VPN Kill-Switch, SmartDNS, and VPN protocol selection. Users can choose up to 256-bit encryption which is the industry standard for high security communication.
Here are some things about ibVPN worth considering. They likely won’t affect or matter to all users.
Too many plans/packages
ibVPN has more than 5 different plans with different servers/features which can make it a bit confusing to choose the right one. Fortunately we clear this up in the pricing/plans section near the end of this review.
ibVPN keeps temporary connection logs for 14 days. These are non-invasive records that are used mainly for troubleshooting purposes and to prevent abuse (they don’t monitor/log your online activity). But it’s worth being aware if you’d prefer a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs.
ibVPN has over 5 different plans so choosing can be a bit confusing. Basically their plans break down into a few categories:
- Regional plans (best price, all servers in one region/continent)
- Total plan (All countries included, + ibDNS)
- Ultimate plan (Total Plan + exclusive servers + proxy)
You can find their pricing page here (screenshot below)
we’ll look at their top tier packages first (Ultimate, Total, ibDNS, and Torrent)
Ultimate VPN Plan
This is their top of the line plan. It includes all feature and servers in 39 countries including private servers that are reserved only for Ultimate subscribers (so they should be faster). You also get ibDNS (smartDNS) included free ($4.95/m value).
Total VPN Plan
You still get full access to all 39 countries with ibVPN servers, the only difference between this and the ultimate plan is no SmartDNS, no exclusive servers. Still, I think the Total Plan is the best value because you get 95% of the features while saving $3/month.
This is ibVPN’s standalone smartDNS service. SmartDNS allows you to unblock geo-restricted video/audio streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and spotify. It allows you to stream at full bandwidth (speed) but you don’t get encryption. ibDNS is included free with the Ultimate and Total plans.
Torrent VPN Plan
Specifically designed for bittorrent users, the Torrent Plan gives you access to all of ibVPN’s p2p enabled servers in 10 countries. If you only want a VPN for downloading torrents and you don’t need access to USA vpn servers, the torrent package is the best value (as low as $3.08/month)
ibVPN also offers regional VPN plans that give you access to server in a specific continent/area. They are:
- US + UK VPN (14 us servers, 4 in canada)
- UK + Ireland VPN (7 UK servers, 2 in Ireland)
- EU VPN (28 servers in 19 European countries)
Each of these plans is priced at $4.95/month ($3.08/m with a 1 year subscription).
These are the cheapest plans ibVPN offers so if you’re on a really tight budget they’re worth considering, but unless you know you’ll never need access to a server outside your plans’ area, we recommend spending a couple extra $ and going with the Total plan (best value by far).
ibVPN has created their own custom VPN desktop application with both a Windows and Mac version. They also have a mobile app for both Android/iPhone (or iPad).
Desktop software interface
ibVPN’s desktop software is intuitive and easy to use. We tested their Ultimate package for free thanks to ibVPN’s 6 hour unlimited free trial.
The ‘General’ screen gives you easy access to the most used features. After you login you can:
- Choose your VPN protocol (L2TP, PPTP, SSTP, OpenVPN)
- Choose UDP/TCP (faster vs more reliable)
- Choose your server location (over 50 available)
- Check your IP address to verify connection
The settings menu gives more control over some simple software options such as:
- Confirm software exit/close
- Confirm server change
- Auto login/Autoconnect on startup
Kill-Switch /Advanced Settings
In the advanced settings tab you can choose whether to auto-reconnect to ibVPN if your connection drops.
Using a kill-switch is completely optional but it’s a nice security feature we like to see in custom VPN software. Typical programs you might want to add to your kill-switch list include:
- Web browser
- Torrent software
- Any software you never want routed unencrypted
ibVPN also sells SmartDNS service which allows users to unblock geo-restricted services like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, and HBOGo. It works slightly differently than VPN and allows you to stream media at full speed directly to your computer without a 3rd party server or VPN encryption slowing you down.
ibDNS is included for free if you buy the Ultimate VPN plan. Otherwise it costs $4.95/month.
You can easily turn ibDNS on/off using the desktop software. You can also use it with your mobile device but it requires a bit of manual configuration. They have step-by-step guides in their user tutorials however.
Most VPN subscribers don’t need SmartDNS, but if you don’t have much speed to spare already and need 100% of your available bandwidth to stream movies in HD, ibDNS should make a big difference.
ibVPN is an above-average vpn service as far as security features and encryption strength.
ibVPN’s desktop software (windows and mac) includes an app kill-switch that will instantly close whichever apps/programs you specify if the VPN connection status changes.
DNS Leak Protection
As of 2015 ibVPN now uses their own private DNS resolvers for all DNS lookups which means you don’t have to worry about your ISP intercepting DNS requests and possibly still monitoring your web-browsing history.
We found no leaks when we tested ibVPN for DNS leaks using DNSleaktest.com
ibVPN utilizes 256-bit AES encryption for all OpenVPN connections (which is the industry standard). This algo/strength combo is considered very strong and is considered by security experts to be unbreakable by brute-force (key guessing) attacks.
L2TP connections also use 256-bit encryption.
PPTP connections is limited to 128-bit, but PPTP has been considered vulnerable for years and should never be used for security-critical transmissions. Instead it’s a good choice for low-security uses (such as HD video streaming) where speed is important but security is not.
Analysis (good security)
I like that ibVPN uses the AES algorithm vs a a less secure (but faster) option like Blowfish. The addition of a kill-switch is also a nice feature and we consider dns leak protection a must these days (though far too many VPNs ignore this vulnerability). Fortuantely ibVPN has plugged that security leak.
ibVPN’s Logging Policy/ Privacy
Like most VPN providers, ibVPN does keep temporary ‘connection logs‘ to prevent abuse on their network and troubleshoot problems. They do not keep any activity logs or record your web history.
Log retention period: 7 days (good)
The logs consist of:
- Time, Date, Location of VPN connection
- Duration of connection
- Bandwidth used
What’s interesting is they don’t even list IP address as being a data point that they record for the temporary logs. Without an IP address/account number, the data would not be able to identify an individual user, though it’s likely that all logged data is associated with your individual account id in the log file.
I consider 7 days to be a very reasonable length of time to keep these minimal logs of your connection history. Some other VPNs keep similar logs for 6 months or more (like Hidemyass VPN). 7 days make sense from a troubleshooting/abuse standpoint and isn’t long enough to meaningfully reduce subscribers’ privacy.
IBVPN also uses shared ip addressess (where multiple users are assigned the same ip address simultaneously) which makes it even harder to identify individual users by their VPN activity.
What ibVPN DOESN’T log.
ibVPN doesn’t record your actual vpn usage or web history.
They do not store any record of:
- websites you visit
- files you download
- protocols/programs you use
This is far more privacy than most ISP’s will give you, and many internet providers worldwide actually record some (or all) of that information about you. By using a VPN, you can prevent virtually all logging/monitoring of your online activity.
Not all VPNs are perfectly suited for every possible use. We list the most common VPN uses and rate ibVPN for each…
General Security (Great)
If you’re just trying to encrypt your internet traffic, guard against financial/identity theft, protect yourself on public wifi, etc, then ibVPN should be a good fit. They let you choose up to beefy 256-bit AES encryption and opensource(security verified and audited) OpenVPN connections.
Media Streaming/Unblocking (Great)
If you are primarily looking to stream HD movies/shows, prevent youtube throttling, or access VOD services like Netflix/Spotify/Hulu…
ibVPN should serve you well, though we recommend going with the Total Plan or higher since it includes SmartDNS service at no additional charge (lets you get maximum bandwidth when streaming from popular websites).
ibVPNs speeds are sufficient for streaming 1080 HD video to nearly all locations (except possibly Australia). If you need more speed, or want to stream in up to 4k resolution, we recommend IPVanish.
Torrents/Filesharing (Above Average)
ibVPN explicitly allows torrents, but they restrict p2p/filesharing to specific servers. In order to access filesharing servers you must purchase one of 3 plans:
- Ultimate Plan
- Total Plan
- Torrent Plan
ibVPN’s desktop software does include a kill-switch which is a a recommended feature for bittorrent users. The only concern is their logging policy, which states that ibvpn retains temporary connection logs for 7 days.
7 days is a pretty short retention period and should be relatively safe, though we do recommend frequent downloaders choose a true ‘non logging’ VPN provider. If your VPN has keeps no logs, your torrent download history is virtually untraceable by 3rd parties.
ibVPN is a low-cost VPN provider based in Romania. They offer decent service and have a user-friendly privacy/logging policy. They have 7 different plans available so if you know exactly what features/server locations you need, you can save quite a bit of money with ibVPN.
They performed solidly in nearly every category, but when you compare them with Private Internet Access (their closest priced competitor) I think that PIA edged them in virtually every category. There are only 3 main reasons to choose ibVPN over PIA:
- If you need more server locations (PIA only has 20 countries)
- If you want a VPN that includes SmartDNS also
- If you don’t want a USA based VPN (ibVPN is Romanian)
Verdict: Solid budget (low-cost) VPN option