IPVanish is a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that is open to the public. It’s purpose is to provide anonymity to its users. This is accomplished by routing all of your traffic to an IPVanish server. The server then sends your traffic out to the internet. When your data returns to the server, it forwards it back to you. Nobody on the Internet knows who you are. All they know is that an IPVanish server has requested some data.
IPVanish becomes your “middle man” running all of your errands. It’s just like sending somebody to the drugstore to buy condoms when you are too embarrassed to do it yourself.
Once you are logged into your ISP, you log in again to IPVanish. From that point on, all of your traffic is encrypted, and not even your ISP can see what you are doing. All they, or anybody sniffing your packets can see is a stream of encrypted data traveling between you and IPVanish.
VPNs were invented so that people working at home could log into their company’s network securely. So, VPN technology is mature, battle-tested, and very secure.
Additionally, IPVanish does not keep usage logs, so there is no record whatsoever of your activity.
IPVanish also has servers all over the world, and you can pick which one to log into. If you live in the USA, and for some reason want the Internet to think that you are in the Netherlands, you could log into the Amsterdam server. Some websites will then start giving you the Dutch versions of their pages! See the list of countries where IPVanish has servers on this page.
You can do almost anything while connected to IPVanish. You can download from Usenet, run BitTorrent, surf the web, trade stocks, etc. One problem that you might encounter is when trying to send email with a desktop app such as Thunderbird. Your ISP’s email server may not allow you to send email because it will think that you are outside of its network. You will probably be able to read email though, and web-based email like Gmail will work fine.
There are several more reasons to use a VPN; see the top-ten list here.