[UPDATE] I have just received an email (Wednesday 9th May 2012) from the ibVPN Team informing me that the DE2 server will no longer support the P2P protocol. You can still use the VPN along with a P2P client when connected to the NL (Netherlands server) or LU servers)
With the current climate in the UK, US as well as most other countries around the world having to deal with government censorship, spying etc, more and more people are turning to VPN’s to safe guard their privacy. The other reason that people may wish to use a VPN, apart from security, is to get around geo-restricted sites like Hulu, BBC’s iPlayer as well as accessing blocked sites, like The Pirate Bay which has been blocked by the 6 of the biggest UK ISP’s. For example, say I want to watch a show on Hulu (or similar site), but I get blocked due to being in the UK. To get around this, you have to access the site by using a server that is based in the US. This is where switching between servers is good. This is also how a lot of my American friends access the BBC’s iPlayer to catch up with Dr Who and other shows, or UK people living abroad and wanting to catch up etc.
I have written a few articles before on VPN’s including FBVPN and BTGuard, CactusVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) and how they compare with each other with regards speed, P2P friendly/unfriendly, number of servers available and ease of use etc. So I thought I’d start to take a look at a few more.
In this article I am going to take a look at another VPN called ibVPN. This article isn’t meant to be very in-depth, but will hopefully give you some extra information on whether or not you think it’s right for you. I will be as open and honest as I can be in this article. I don’t work for the company nor am I affiliated in any way.
There are a few things that I look for in a VPN that are important:
- Do they keep logs (No ~ see bottom of article)
- Is there a bandwidth limitation (Unlimited)
- How many times can I switch between servers (Unlimited)
- What protocols are supported (PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN all with 256bit encryption)
- Support P2P (Yes, but only on the NL and LU servers)
Those are always the main points that I look for when choosing a VPN service. The good news is, is that ibVPN ticked all my boxes.
Note: After you have set up your VPN, make sure that your IP address has changed first before going on-line, or using P2P software. Testing this is dead simple. Use xmyip which will tell you the current location of your connection. Example, if you are connecting to a US server, then when you test it with xmyip, it should say that. You should also check to see if you have any DNS leaks when connected to your VPN.
I used their free trial for this article that gives you 2hrs to test it out. The trial starts from the moment that you apply for it, not from the moment you start using it. To set up your ibVPN connection is very straight forward and should only take you a minute or so. There are servers in the following countries that can be used:
- UK (6 addresses)
- US (8 addresses)
- Netherlands (3 addresses)
- Switzerland (1 addresses)
- Sweden (1 address)
- Germany (2 addresses)
- Eire (1 addresses)
- Canada (2 addresses)
- France (2 addresses)
- Russia (1 address)
- Romania (1 address)
- Hong Kong (1 address)
- Spain (1 address)
- Italy (1 address)
- Panama (1 address)
- India (1 address)
First let’s take a look at what my speeds are like when connecting to the internet normally. (not VPN) I am based in the UK and my ISP is BT
These speeds are pretty constant where I am so the above is average.
Now let’s take a look at the speeds when connecting to servers in other countries. First up, the US.
As you can see from the image below I am connecting to a server in the US (Los Angeles). The download speeds have taken a hit, but the upload is still pretty good. This is pretty normal. The ping rate has jumped to 155 from 29.
Now if you are using the VPN for general browsing or streaming (no HD) then this is fine. To test this I watched part of a recent episode of Eureka on Hulu. The program streamed OK and there wasn’t any buffering (only in the first few seconds)
Next up, I test a server in the UK. The server is located in my country, so as expected the hit in speed isn’t as great as it would be when connecting to a server in another country. The ping is also slightly better, although the ping that I have when connected normally (no VPN) does tend to fluctuate between 22-30 anyway.
Next, I chose to use a server in The Netherlands. The reason I chose this specific one, is that it is one of the few servers that I was able to use P2P with when using the free 2 hour trial.
How to switch servers using ibVPN
I will explain how to switch between servers quickly, as this is something I do quite a bit sometimes, especially if I am trying to catch up on a TV Show that isn’t available here in the UK, and then switch to another server after that.
Firstly, during your initial VPN set-up process, you would have been asked to create a short cut on the desktop. If you didn’t do this don’t worry. If you did, just double-click on it and select Properties. You will then see the window below:
If you don’t have a short cut to the VPN then just go Start>Control Panel>Network and Internet Connections.
You should now see a window that looks very similar to the one below. Just right click on you VPN client and select Properties.
Start>Control Panel>Network and Sharing Center>Change Adapter Settings (or Network and Internet when viewed in Category view)
You should now see the ibVPN connection icon. Right click on it and select Properties.
In the box at the top under the General tab, you will see either an address like us1.ibvpn.com or four set of numbers. The four sets of numbers act the same as the alphabetical version. Example 126.96.36.199 in the image above translates to the server I tested with Hulu in Los Angeles. When you first sign up for ibVPN they give you the different servers in numerical form and tell you what countries they belong to like below. Just remember to hit OK after you add the new set of numbers or server name.
Now say you wanted to connect to a server in France, you’d just take the set of four numbers (say 188.8.131.52 which is No. 1 server in Paris) and replace the ones that are currently in your properties box with the new server numbers and hit OK. You will get a prompt informing you that the changes won’t take effect until you redial the connect. E.G disconnect then reconnect.
Now just disconnect from the VPN and reconnect. To do that simply follow the same procedure as above, but instead of choosing Properties, you will see a Connect/Disconnect button.
Should you wish to get a ibVPN account, you have three different options.
Basic Pack (US $4.95/month with 15 day money back guarantee)
- Fast VPN servers in the specified countries
- Open VPN, PPTP, L2TP Connections. Every OS supported
- Unlimited switches, no activity logs, no traffic limitations
- All in One VPN Application
- P2P Support: one server in EU VPN, 4 servers at Torrent VPN
- Huge $$$ Savings on 3, 6 or 12 moth subscriptions
- Priority support
Basic Premium (US $7.95/month with 15 day money back guarantee)
- You get access to ALL our VPN servers in 9 countries
- P2P / Torrent Access (only on the NL and LU servers)
- High priority support
Total Package (US $10.95/month with 15 day money back guarantee)
- 35 extra IPs
- Proxy servers in 8 countries, to use where VPN is not allowed
- Remote assistance from our technicians
- Dedicated account manager
OK, here’s their policy on keeping logs. Now to be fair to them they say that they don’t keep logs of users activity. However, they do retain certain logs for a period of 7 days. This is actually fairly normal practice. If they kept them for longer, then they would have to state that. The reason that I bring this up, is that HMA (Hide My Ass) state that they do not keep logs when they do, as their users have been known to get warnings from copyright people stating that they have downloaded copyrighted materials. If they didn’t keep logs, then how did they match their account with the download?
We do not spy on our users and we don’t monitor their Internet usage. We do not keep logs with our users’ activity. We will however record and keep the following data for 7 days:
- Time, date and location VPN connection was made.
- Duration of the VPN connection.
- Bandwidth used during the connection.
This information enables ibVPN to enforce our Terms of Service, spam, crimes using the service, etc. If there is a violation we will use these trace logs to determine which account is in violation and we will terminate the service and/or take further action.
Well, I hope that has been of some use. As I said, it’s not an in-depth look at it, but it should help you decide if it’s worth trying or not.