iVPN.net In Depth Review & Speed Test

logo ivpn iVPN.net In Depth Review & Speed Test

We have recently completed an In Depth Review & Speed Test of the iVPN.net VPN service and are ready to share the results with our readers!  iVPN.net is a solid provider of VPN services and offers L2TP and OpenVPN services.  Pricing is competitive, and in general they are rated well by their customers.  One of the biggest differences between iVPN.net and the competition is that they offer “Multihop” VPN in addition to the standard “Single hop” VPN.  Multihop is just as it sounds, it routes your connection first through an intermediate location, and then onto the final destination – hence the multiple hops.  For example, iVPN.net offers Multihop from NL to UK.  A US based customer that utilized this VPN service would first be connected through the Netherlands, and then forwarded onto the UK.  For more more information on Multihop, please visit the iVPN.net site here.  MultiHop and Single apply to their OpenVPN service offering only.  The L2TP service offering is a traditional IPSec/L2TP VPN.

This type of Multihop service really caught our editors attention and we decided an In Depth Review and Speed Test was needed!  Our team’s hypothesis was that Multihop would likely be a slower VPN connection when compared to a traditional single hop connection.  Seems fairly obvious, right?  If you are routing through two servers rather than one,  you have twice as much overhead.  What we couldn’t estimate was how much, if any, slower it would actually be -  hence the need for a full speed test.  Included with our speed test is a thorough and InDepth Review of their OpenVPN and L2TP VPN services, as well as the iVPN.net website client portal.  Overall our editors were quite impressed with the iVPN.net service, and we were actually surprised to see the high speeds pulled from the Multihop connection!

Our review is broken up into 4 sections:  Website Client Portal, OpenVPN, L2TP, and Speed Test.

First we’ll start with a review of the iVPN.net website client portal:

The website client portal at iVPN.net is quite robust and provides various areas for customers to access once they have subscribed.

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The downloads section offers installation software for OpenVPN. iVPN.net utilizes a customized version  of the OpenVPN GUI, or you can download the raw config files for a standard OpenVPN GUI.

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Also offered is installation software for L2TP (Windows only).  This adds an easy to use shortcut and application for connecting to the iVPN.net L2TP VPN services.

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The miscellaneous section of downloads provides some additional tools for customers, such as a portable version that would be great for installing iVPN.net on a USB stick!

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Port forwarding is available through iVPN.net but you must first contact iVPN.net support to enable and assist with setup.

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iVPN.net also displays the current status of all their VPN servers on the client portal.

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Second, let’s take a look at their OpenVPN software and installation:

The customized OpenVPN GUI from iVPN.net does not differ very much from a traditional OpenVPN GUI.  The install is very straight forward for Windows users.  During installation you may be asked about autologin, which is not recommended because it will store your username and password.

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The OpenVPN GUI will add an icon to  your system tray and allow you to select an iVPN.net server for connection.

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To connect to an iVPN.net server simply select “connect” and you will be prompted for your user/password.  Usernames and passwords are unique and generated by iVPN upon initial subscription.

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The OpenVPN GUI also contains some settings, such as the ability to specify a proxy (optional).

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Now let’s take a look at their L2TP VPN.  For this portion we will review the optional Windows application that provides some convenient features for users.  At this point we’ll also mention that the L2TP portion of the iVPN.net service is not as robust as their OpenVPN offering.  This is to be expected, especially since the Multihop from iVPN.net is only available on OpenVPN.

The L2TP connection window is where you supply the basic user/password information.

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Once  you are connected you can view the status of your connection.

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You can also view the details of the connection and ensure that the L2TP connection is encrypted.  iVPN.net uses IPSec with 128bit AES on all L2TP VPN connections.

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The Properties screen VPN tab contains a drop down box allowing you to choose from the L2TP servers available on iVPN.net.  iVPN.net currently offers L2TP servers in France, Netherlands, UK, and USA.

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The Options screen contains the logging feature.

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A Sharing tab is also available, should you choose to make the host a computer connected to iVPN.net “internet sharing enabled”.  This means other computers on your home network will connect through the host, and therefore through iVPN.net L2TP, for internet access.

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The first option for Sharing is to select the physical connection for the host computer.  For most individuals this will be a LAN connection.  On some computers with multiple LAN ports, there will be multiple LAN connections listed.

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The second option for Sharing is to select which services should be enabled.  This of the services in terms of what you would like to do and share (e.g. mail, remote desktop FTP, etc.)

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For our full speed test, we had our US based East Coast editor utilize the free website SpeedTest.net.  Our test methodology is as follows:  first, connect to the network to be tested (L2TP, MultiHop, Single); second, open SpeedTest.net and begin test; third, allow SpeedTest.net to select best server based on ping; fourth, record upload/download/ping during two test runs; and fifth, where there are significant differences between the test runs (>450KB/s difference) complete another test run.  Basically we are utilizing SpeedTest.net and completing multiple runs on each iVPN.net server.  By performing multiple runs, our results should better reflect the speed of the VPN network and hopefully control for issues with editor’s connection or possible hiccups.

The US based East Coast editor performed the tests on a standard cable modem connection from Comcast.  Maximum download speed is 30Mbit/sec and maximum upload speed is 3Mbit/sec.  Test were performed in the evening, from approximately 11:00pm to 12:00am.  All tests were performed during this time, on the same computer and same connection.  Below are some graphics of the particular tests, as well as some analysis on the network.  Results are grouped by VPN connection type:  OpenVPN Multihop, OpenVPN Single, and L2TP.  Averages are computed for download, upload, and ping to aggregate the results from the multiple test runs.

Anything that comes close to 3750KB/sec will be hitting the testers maximum download speed.  On the upload side, anything near 375KB/sec is basically at max.  For streaming video, consider approx 188KB/s (1.5Mbit/sec) a low end threshold and 625KB/s (5Mbit/sec) a relatively high end threshold for download speeds.  If you want more information on our streaming recommendations, please visit our Learn article for a complete listing of the recommendations and supporting documentation. We also have a good Learn article on network speeds and bandwidth units (e.g. Mbps/Kbps/KBps/etc.)

Also included are select images from the SpeedTest.net results.  To be fair, you shouldn’t put much stock in the average grade they display since that is rating the connection speed versus a “native” broadband connection in that geographic location.  It is however nice to see the results from SpeedTest.net directly, as well as see how far away the test server, because that can have some impact on speeds measured.

First up, the OpenVPN Multihop Servers:

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Select images from SpeedTest.net results:

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As you can see, the Multihop servers are pretty quick!  Our editors were definitely impressed when we saw these results.  The UK to NL multihop server was the fastest, and this makes sense considering the location of the tester was US East Coast.  Overall, Multihop performed very well and beyond our expectations.  Considering this is a unique offering from iVPN.net they definitely are doing a good job at maintaining a high speed network that provides the multiple hops through the various geographic locations.

Second, the OpenVPN Singlehop Servers:

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Select images from SpeedTest.net results:

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The single hop servers, pound for pound, are faster than the Multihop servers.  This proves our hypothesis correct, that adding an additional hop does degrade speed somewhat.  What we did not expect though was the minimal amount of degradation we encountered.  When you consider the fastest Multihop server, UK to NL, with a download average of approx 1000KB/sec compared to the UK average of approx 1200KB/sec, and the NL average of  approx 1700KB/sec – it’s easy to see the decrease, but that decrease is not huge.  Maintaining an average of 1000KB/sec on Multihop is very impressive in this context.

One other thing to note about the singlehop servers is that they are offered in two flavors:  normal and TCP.  TCP is of course slower, typically showing a 50% decrease from the normal counterpart.

Lastly, the L2TP VPN Servers:

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Select images from SpeedTest.net results:

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iVPN.net directly promotes their OpenVPN service over the L2TP service, so it was no surprise to see that L2TP was slower than OpenVPN.  Still, the UK servers offered high speeds over L2TP.  Again, this makes sense considering the physical location of the editor conducting the tests.  It is nice that iVPN.net offers a good variety of regional locations for L2TP, and this should ensure relatively quick speeds in the US, UK, and EU.

It’s also worthwhile to include a word or two on the encryption and security levels encountered on the various VPN types.  iVPN.net maintains a relatively high level of encryption on their OpenVPN service.  On the control channel (authentication), they are using 2048bit keys.  On the data channel (tunnel), they are utilizing 256bit AES.  For HMAC you have 160bit SHA1.  Our editors would have preferred to see something from SHA2 on HMAC, and we imagine that update from SHA1 to SHA2 is probably in the not too distant future for iVPN.  If all of this sounds too technical for you, have a look at our Learn article on OpenVPN encryption.  On the iVPN.net L2TP service, they are using a standard IPSec with 128bit AES.  This is pretty standard across many providers running L2TP, although some utilize 256bit AES.

Overall the iVPN.net service performed admirably.  As we said above, although our initial hypothesis regarding multihop as slower than a singlehop was proven to be true, the speed decrease was not very significant.  In our opinion, the multihop offering from iVPN.net is a great service, and something folks should look into as they compare the different providers.  The software from iVPN.net did not give us any problems, and their L2TP software was a nice touch for Windows users.  It completely removes the hassle of setting up L2TP, which can sometimes be tricky and take quite a few steps to accomplish.  In the future we will be making our complete test results excel spreadsheet available for download, as soon as we get it up onto Google Docs, or a suitable alternative.  In the meantime, head on over to the full editors review (currently in draft) and take a look at the customer comments for iVPN.net.  We hope you enjoyed the in depth review and speed test!

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