Step-by-step Hide your traffic with IPVanish
Open your web browser and head to www.ipvanish.com, then click the Start Now button. Note that IPVanish isn’t free; a VPN is a relatively demanding service, and the company charges a monthly fee for use of its facilities with a seven-day money-back guarantee. There are free VPNs, but IPVanish is our top pick – and who knows what the free ones are doing with your information?
Verify and install
You’ll be sent an email to the address you supplied. Click the link within, head to the ‘My account’ link at the top of the site to log in with the details you used in the previous step, then click the Apps link. Click ‘Download now’, followed by Download Windows App, then run the file you downloaded. Simply click through the installer to get it installed, then Run IPVanish when it’s complete.
Select your payment option (bear in mind that anything other than the monthly payment is billed in one chunk) and create your account – in the spirit of anonymity, all you need is an email address and a password. You can even pay anonymously, although this means owning Bitcoin. Here’s a tip: loiter on the site for a while, and you’ll be offered a discount on your first billing.
Sign into the app with your username (your email address) and the password you set earlier. You’ll be taken first to the Quick Connect screen; click the big green Connect button for the first time and IPVanish will ask to install a TAP device – this isn’t sinister. Confirm it’s OK to do this, and click the relevant prompts when they pop up. You’ll be prompted again when it’s complete.
Click ‘Connect’ again, and IPVanish will hook you up to a random server in the USA. You’ll see the location information at the top left of the window change as it does so, and the graph in the centre will start moving to show that traffic is flowing through the VPN. Open your web browser and head to www.whatismyip. com. The information shown there should match your new locale.
Click the red Disconnect button and you’ll go back to broadcasting your location, with your traffic back out in the open. Now’s a good time to try one of IPVanish’s other servers. Click ‘Server List’ in the left-hand menu to see the map; drag it around with the left mouse button, and zoom with the mousewheel. Click one of the green locations to move your connection there.
Find the fastest
If you want the speediest connection, selecting the server with the lightest load is key. You can connect to specific servers using the drop-down boxes above the Connect button on the Quick Connect screen, but head to the My Account section of the IPVanish website and click the Server List button to see current loads. Click the top of the status column to find the lightest ones.
You can also find servers by their latency. A low-load server won’t be much good if it’s half the world away and behind a clogged connection. Head to the server list within the IPVanish app, and click the Filter tab. Use the lower drop-down box on the left, and select 50-100ms to see servers which offer a reasonably fast response – double-click a likely looking one to connect to it.
If you’re paranoid, you may want to set IPVanish to work on your connection the moment you boot up your PC. Just go to the Settings screen and check the box at the top of the General tab. You may also wish to set it to automatically connect to your last server or a country of your choosing using the radio buttons below. Using a VPN isn’t a great choice if you need top speed.
If encrypting your internet connection and sending it across the world isn’t quite enough for you, you can harden IPVanish further in the IP Settings tab. Check the top-most box, and specify a time: IPVanish will now automatically change your address for a new one periodically. Be warned that you’ll experience a blip in your internet connection when it does so, but it won’t last long.
Where am I? Your visible location shows where in the world your internet connection purports to be from. Keep an eye on it. Move house The server list is the quickest and easiest way to select a new location anywhere in the world you fancy connecting...
Graphical Are you connected properly? Is traffic flowing? This graph should be sweeping to the left if all is well with connection. Choose it You can manually select the server you wish to connect to with these dropdown boxes. Be sure to disconnect...