Here at CovertBlueprint.com we recommend everyone use a VPN. Maybe not for all network access, but to help ensure privacy and confidentiality when it matters the most.
We use IPVanish.
First of all, when considering privacy a VPN is only as good as it’s adherence to a zero-logging or no-logging policy.
IPVanish does not keep logs – period. That means there’s no record of when your home IP connected to their service – or to where you connected afterwards.
Secondly, the performance is very good, and they have a lot of options.
Lastly, they allow up to 10 connections on one account – which means you can cover multiple computers, iPads, and smartphones all at the same time.
Setting up IPVanish on MacOS
After you’ve purchased IPVanish, you’ll need to verify your email address.
Once that’s done, you are ready to go.
You’ll see options similar to this.
In this case, I’m setting up a Mac.
The link downloads a Disk Image (.dmg) file. Click to open, and drag the icon onto the Applications shortcut link.
Launch the program, and you’ll get the standard warning for a program downloaded from the Internet. Click “Open”.
Then login using the username (email address) and password you set when you purchased.
Once you login, a simple tutorial will describe how to use the VPN client effectively.
Once you are done with that, you’ll get connection options. Here’s what mine look like. I’ve not connected yet – hence the “Off” in the upper right. I’ve redacted some details from this screenshot – including my IP address and physical location.
Choose some options, then connect.
You’ll see that you can choose a city and server.
Before you connect for the first time, you will be prompted to install a helper tool.
Click Install. You’ll be prompted for your MacOS login password.
Now, here’s what it will look like when you are connected.
I’ll now appear as coming from Denver, CO – and that IP is one of the VPN service – not my home IP address.
What can we accomplish now?
First, my ISP can’t “spy” on what I’m doing. All they can see is encrypted traffic going to a known VPN IP address (so they certainly will know I’m using VPN.).
But, they can’t see what I’m doing – and they cannot see where the traffic goes after the VPN hop.
Secondly, the website I’m visiting won’t know my home IP.
They’ll think I’m coming from that Denver IP.
But, they may still know who I am.
Did I ever visit the site before? Then there’s likely a “Tracking cookie” on my machine – they can identify me through that.
Secondly nearly every computer has a uniquely identifiable browser fingerprint.
They could identify me via that as well.
Lastly – am I logging in? If so , they certainly will know who I am.
That’s possibly OK in many cases, but you have to know precisely what you are trying to accomplish when you use a VPN.
IPVanish – Important Settings
There’s a few more important settings you need to understand when using a VPN.
First of all, your VPN connection can fail unexpectedly.
For example, you may lose connection to the VPN server, and when that happens your Internet traffic will attempt to use your regular Internet connection (through your ISP).
At that point your privacy and security is no longer assured.
Therefore we recommend you use the Kill Switch option at all times.
When this is enabled, all Internet access will STOP until you re-connect VPN (either manually or automatically).
The option is ghosted here, because my VPN connection is active – simply toggle the connection to OFF to update or change.
I especially recommend this option if you are going to be away from the computer while downloading or uploading files.
You can also see ipV6 leak protection is on – ALWAYS have this on. This prevents your personal IP V6 IP address from being inadvertantly leaked.
I also recommend the “Warn when quitting” option.
Let’s talk about one more super-important setting.
Avoid DNS Leaks
One of the “loop holes” of VPNs is when your domain lookups (DNS) accidentally go over the regular network.
The DNS system is the “name resolution” system of the Internet. When you type in a domain name, the DNS service translates it to the proper IP address.
And if you are using your ISP’s or company DNS servers – they’ll potentially have a record of which domains you are visiting.
You should always, always use the DNS servers provided by your VPN provider – these are outside the purview of your ISP or employer.
This setting defaults to enabled, so that’s great – but here it is , just so you can double-check.
Setting up IPVanish on iPhone or iOS
The easiest way to setup IPVanish on the iPhone is to go to the app store and install their application.
The app is named IPVanish VPN: The Fastest VPN.
Install it, then Open the app.
You’ll get the login prompt.
You can save the password in your iCloud Keychain – and I would recommend that.
The iPhone client has a cool option “Connect On Demand” – it will automatically connect to VPN anytime you are on an untrusted network – this is a great option!
Once you do that, list the Wifi networks you considered trusted.
All I’ve added is my home WiFi network.
You’ll also have to allow “IPVanishVPN” to add VPN configurations. Select “Allow”.
Then, hit “Connect”.
You are then protected on your phone – that was easy, wasn’t it?
You can check the client at any time to confirm you are connected.
But, you can also google “What is my ip address?” – that should show you the IP address of the VPN server, and not your home ip address.
So, that’s how you’ll appear to all other websites.
IPVanish Frequently Asked Questions
Here’s some common questions and answers related to VPN usage – and IPVanish in particular.
How well does IPVanish VPN work with Mac/Apple?
If it’s been a few years since you’ve tried consumer VPN services – you are in for a pleasant surprise.
5 years ago, Mac support was very poor – but that’s all changed now.
Getting IPVanish VPN up and running on your Mac (or your iPhone or iPad) is just as easy as Windows – the clients are excellent and very easy to use.
Will IPVanish slow down my network access?
This is another area that you are in for a pleasant surprise – most web browsing and other Internet usage – you’ll not really notice any slowdown. There might be some, but that extra “hop” through the VPN server just isn’t noticeable when reading email, browsing the web, using Twitter, or Instagram, etc.
This is partially due to IPVanish’s excellent server network – they’ve got servers all over the place – and lots of them. These servers are shared amongst all the users – but the performance is very good.
Now, if you are doing big file transfers – you will notice reduced speed.
But, you need to weigh the upsides and downsides – do you need better privacy and security or do you need the ultimate in speed?
Does IPVanish work with P2P software such as BitTorrent clients (Torrents or Torrenting)?
Yes, IPVanish works great with BitTorrent clients and torrents in general. You will notice slower performance – but it’s not crippling slow – as it would’ve been a few years back.
If you need high-performance, private BitTorrent download speeds there are better options – but VPN will work just fine for small to medium size files.
Does IPVanish client on iPhone work when on LTE data connections?
Yes, the IPVanish VPN client can be used any time you have a data connection – Wi-Fi or cellular.
You can confirm this for yourself by googling “What is my ip?” both before connecting the VPN client and after – you will see the apparent IP change to that of the VPN server.
Does IPVanish VPN client on iPhone protect my cellular phone calls?
NO – cellular audio calls traverse a different sort of path on the cellular networks – the IPVanish VPN client WILL NOT do any thing to protect your privacy and security in this case. Neither will any other VPN client, by the way.
Does IPVanish work with TOR (The Onion Browser)?
Yes, TOR works with IPVanish.
But, that article says TOR is slow. And that’s true.
TOR is a great way to ensure anonymity on the Internet. But it does so in a very robust fashion.
And that means lots of extra hops (and encryption).
And, that slows things down drastically.
TOR slows things down even without a VPN.
And using a VPN with TOR will help conceal the fact that you are using TOR – which might be important to you depending on your situation.
IPVanish – In Summary
Need a VPN for privacy?
We recommend IPVanish.
They have a zero logs policy, it’s fast, and they allow a generous 10 connection limit per account.
It’s easy to use – which means you’ll actually use it – and you can put it on all your devices.