Surfshark vs IPVanish

Choosing a VPN can be tricky. After all, your provider has to be able to beat online restrictions, handle whatever you throw at it, and most importantly, keep your traffic secure. To simplify things, our team of experts has created a side-by-side comparison of two leading providers, Surfshark and IPVanish.

Below, we’ll explain every feature that these VPNs have to offer in plain English and note any strengths or weaknesses that we find. Hopefully, this will give you a better understanding of what you’re paying for. Even if neither of these services is right for you, you should get a bit of insight into what to look for in other VPNs.

Can’t choose between Surfshark and IPVanish?

Having trouble deciding which of these providers to try first? We’d recommend Surfshark: it’s a fast, reliable VPN with exceptional streaming ability and best of all, it’s currently available at a huge discount. Leaning towards IPVanish? That’s totally understandable; it has a lot to offer too! Why not use our exclusive discount to cut the cost as much as possible?

After an exhaustive analysis, we were able to break down every single aspect of these services. Here’s how they stack up:

Summary: Surfshark vs IPVanish

Surfshark

  • Servers in 100 countries
  • Excels at beating strict online censorship
  • Very strong on security and privacy
  • Works with Netflix US and many others
  • Fully audited apps for all platforms

IPVanish

  • Fast enough for almost any task
  • Has improved its streaming ability lately
  • Impressive security offering
  • Follows a strict no-logs policy
  • Fully audited apps, policies, and network

Surfshark vs IPVanish: Price comparison

No valueSurfsharkIPVanish
WebsiteSurfshark.comIPVanish.com
Subscription periodsOne month, one year, two yearsOne month, one year, two years
Special offer
Highest price per month$17.95$12.99
Lowest monthly cost$2.19$1.99
One year price$41.88$51.95
Money back guarantee30 days30 days
Best deal (per month)$2.19
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free
$1.99
SAVE 85% on the 2 yr plan + 3 FREE months

If you’re only looking for short-term coverage, IPVanish is the cheaper option at $11.99 USD per month. Surfshark’s steep discounts help it close the gap on medium and long-term plans, though, and you’ll even get two months for free if you choose the two-year subscription.

Whichever of these providers you choose, you’ll have access to a 30-day money-back guarantee. As such, you’ll be able to test either service out, free from any restrictions, and can simply cancel if it fails to meet your expectations. Surfshark offers this on every plan, but IPVanish customers can only take advantage if they sign up for a year or more.

BEST DEAL FOR SURFSHARK:Get two months extra free with Surfshark’s 2-yr plan.

BEST DEAL FOR IPVANISH:Sign up for IPVanish’s two-year plan to get a 77% discount on an already affordable service.

Surfshark vs IPVanish features

No valueSurfsharkIPVanish
WebsiteSurfshark.comIPVanish.com
Simultaneous ConnectionsUnlimitedUnlimited
Devices SupportedWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TVWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android
Manual install devicesSelect routersLinux, routers
Free extrasAutomatic wifi protection, ad-blocking and malware-scanning. Extensions for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. Stealth mode.Chrome browser extension, automatic wifi protection
Best deal (per month)$2.19
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free
$1.99
SAVE 85% on the 2 yr plan + 3 FREE months

Surfshark and IPVanish both allow you to browse safely anywhere, thanks to their strong multi-platform support. In fact, they’re each represented in the Amazon app store, so you won’t even have to sideload your VPN onto your Fire TV. Surfshark even has extensions for Firefox, Edge, and Chrome that allow you to quickly secure your browser traffic (although it’s worth mentioning that your other traffic will remain unprotected unless you use the full Surfshark app).

IPVanish and Surfshark are two of the only major VPNs to have removed connection limits entirely. This is good news for users with large families or lots of devices since you can connect any number of devices simultaneously. This is normally only possible if you install a VPN directly on your router.

There are a few differences between these VPNs though. First, Surfshark has a command line-based installer for Linux, whereas IPVanish users will have to configure their connections manually. Additionally, although both providers allow split tunneling (specifying certain apps or websites to bypass the VPN), this functionality is only available in IPVanish’s Android version.

Finally, Surfshark offers a selection of advanced features that IPVanish doesn’t. There’s ad-blocking and malware-scanning, for instance, as well as a feature that activates the VPN automatically whenever you use a public wifi network.

Surfshark provides multi-hop connections and a no-borders mode to help you connect in countries that enforce strict VPN blocks. These features aren’t available with IPVanish. Both VPNs can obfuscate VPN connections use when you use OpenVPN to hide the fact that you’re using a VPN. Obfuscation is called Scamble in IPVanish and Camouflage mode in Surfshark.

Streaming and Netflix comparison

No valueSurfsharkIPVanish
WebsiteSurfshark.comIPVanish.com
Unblocks Sky Go
Unblocks Prime Video
Unblocks BBC iPlayer
Unblocks ABC
Unblocks CBS
Unblocks NBC
Unblocks ITV
Unblocks Channel 4
Unblocks Hulu
Best deal (per month)$2.19
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free
$1.99
SAVE 85% on the 2 yr plan + 3 FREE months

As you can see in the table above, both of these VPNs are great for accessing geo-restricted streaming platforms from abroad.

IPVanish focused on improving its streaming ability recently, and now works with many services that it struggled with in the past, including BBC iPlayer and Prime Video. In fact, we had no issues streaming any of the platforms we tried. It even works with Hulu, which it used to fail with.

We would still recommend testing IPVanish to access international streaming services outside of the US. IPVanish is pretty US-centric. For example, this VPN has more server locations in the US than just about any other VPN, but only has servers in 50 countries. Compare that to Surfshark, which has servers in 100+ countries.

Surfshark has the edge for streaming. It worked with more than half a dozen regional Netflix libraries, whereas IPVanish focused on providing reliable access to a few popular catalogs, like Netflix USA and Japan. In our tests, Surfshark also worked to watch Hulu, HBO Max, TNT Sports, and most other international services in diverse countries such as Germany, Australia, and Italy.

Which works best in China?

Chinese internet restrictions are some of the strictest in the world. In fact, due to how advanced the country’s web-filtering tools (sometimes called the Great Firewall) are, most VPNs that aren’t sanctioned by the government just won’t work.

Unfortunately, the Chinese government blocks IPVanish completely. If you intend to travel to China for pleasure or work, we would recommend opting for a competing VPN that works there. Even using the Scramble mode will unfortunately not guarantee access in China, so bear that in mind.

On the plus side, Surfshark works well in China. But its website is inaccessible there. You need to sign up and install the VPN app onto your devices before traveling to China. This will ensure that the VPN is installed and ready to go the moment you land.

Enable Surfshark’s NoBorders mode by navigating to Settings > VPN settings > NoBorders to browse freely. As long as you turn on this feature and the Camouflage mode, then you should have no problem accessing Facebook and other home services from China.

Setup and interface

No valueSurfsharkIPVanish
WebsiteSurfshark.comIPVanish.com
Automatic setup wizardWindows, Android, iOS, Linux, MacOSWindows, Mac, Android, iOS
Main location selectionList-basedMap-based/List-based
Extra settings pages
Mobile-friendly
Best deal (per month)$2.19
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free
$1.99
SAVE 85% on the 2 yr plan + 3 FREE months

Both providers offer easy-to-use desktop apps. Surfshark features a button that automatically connects you to the fastest available server, plus a list of servers you’ve used recently. The server selection screen neatly categorizes servers into four groups: general-purpose, static IP, multi-hop, or dedicated IP. Further, it’s easy to find specific options thanks to the well-designed settings menu.

Surfshark server screen on app
Surfshark’s apps place everything important right there on the main page

IPVanish has revamped its interface recently, and now actually looks quite similar to Surfshark. Notice the split-window design: one displays important metrics about your connection, while the other lets you select a server from a map. We’ve always found that choosing from a list is easier, and you can still do this using the tabs on the left.

IPVanish server locations
IPVanish’s new redesign shows various connection statistics on the home screen

The Surfshark mobile app is almost identical to the desktop versions. There are a few small changes, such as the sidebar being shifted to the bottom of the screen, but otherwise, everything is the same. Importantly, all security features have been maintained, and there are even two new ones specifically for Android users: the option to use small packets (to use less data) and override your GPS location data automatically.

It might not look much different, but IPVanish’s mobile app has a few functional changes from the desktop version. For instance, you can choose to use smaller data packets and, if you’re on Android, choose certain apps to bypass the VPN entirely.

Servers and performance

No valueSurfsharkIPVanish
WebsiteSurfshark.comIPVanish.com
Server countries10075
Total number of servers3,2002,200+
Mobile-friendly
Best deal (per month)$2.19
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free
$1.99
SAVE 85% on the 2 yr plan + 3 FREE months

Both of these providers have expanded their networks in recent years. Surfshark has more overall, though, and nearly twice as many locations to choose from. This includes less-commonly-seen countries like Brunei, Pakistan, and Ghana – as well as servers in 100+ countries in total.

To its credit, IPVanish covers many high-traffic locations like the US and the UK, but with just one location on the whole African continent, there’s certainly room for improvement.

IPvanish provides servers in 21 different US cities, ideal for bypassing blackout restrictions on sports streams, accessing state-level gambling services, or gaining access to better privacy protections from elsewhere in America.

Take a look below for a full list of every country where Surfshark and IPVanish have servers:

SurfsharkIPVanish
Albania
Algeria
Andorra
Argentina
Armenia
Australia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Bahamas
Bangladesh
Belgium
Belize
Bhutan
Bolivia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Brazil
Brunei
Bulgaria
Cambodia
Canada
Chile
Colombia
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Ecuador
Egypt
Estonia
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Ghana
Greece
Greenland
Hong Kong
Hungary
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Ireland
Isle of Man
Israel
Italy
Japan
Kazakhstan
Latvia
Laos
Libya
Liechtenstein
Luxembourg
Macau
Macedonia
Malaysia
Malta
Mexico
Moldova
Monaco
Mongolia
Montenegro
Morocco
Myanmar
Nepal
Netherlands
New Zealand
Nigeria
Norway
Pakistan
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Puerto Rico
Romania
Saudi Arabia
Serbia
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
South Korea
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sweden
Switzerland
Taiwan
Thailand
Turkey
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
Ukraine
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Venezuela
Vietnam

It should be noted that IPVanish is the faster service. In fact, in our most recent tests, it delivered average speeds of 277 Mbps, whereas Surfshark averaged 189 Mbps. To be clear, this means that both VPNs are fast enough for any day-to-day task. Still, with IPVanish having less of an impact on speed, it may be the better choice for those on slower connections.

No valueSurfshark
WebsiteSurfshark.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)521 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)702 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)561 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$2.19
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free
No valueIPVanish
WebsiteIPVanish.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)277 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)237 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)352 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$1.99
SAVE 85% on the 2 yr plan + 3 FREE months

Surfshark vs IPVanish for gaming

Both VPNs offer the modern WireGuard protocol, designed from the ground up to give you better speeds. This makes them speedy VPNs that are good for playing multiplayer online games.

Surfshark has servers in more countries, which can make it better for accessing easier Warzone lobbies or to play on international game servers to find matches at night or in a different language.

In our experience, although both these VPNs are very fast, Surfshark is a bit more consistent. You can test it with the games you like to play using its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Finally, when it comes to bypassing ISP throttling, both these VPNs are great. They both provide solid encryption to prevent your ISP from tracking you and will stop your provider from knowing you are playing games, thereby preventing throttling.

Security comparison

No valueSurfsharkIPVanish
WebsiteSurfshark.comIPVanish.com
VPN protocolsOpenVPN, WireGuardOpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard
OpenVPN data encryption256-bit AES256-bit AES
OpenVPN control channel encryptionRSA-2048RSA-2048
Kill SwitchmacOS, Android Mobile, and Windows
Private DNS servers
Best deal (per month)$2.19
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free
$1.99
SAVE 85% on the 2 yr plan + 3 FREE months

Surfshark keeps things simple, with just OpenVPN and WireGuard connections supported. IPVanish uses these protocols too, but also lets you connect via IKEv2 if you’d like.

Whichever VPN you choose, your data will be secured with 256-bit encryption and 2048-bit RSA keys. Without getting too technical, this makes it effectively impossible for anyone to see what you get up to online. Surfshark and IPVanish both come with a kill switch as well; this stops sending data the moment your connection to the VPN drops. Although IPVanish doesn’t include this feature in its mobile apps, the functionality can be replicated using Android’s built-in network options. Unfortunately, there’s no way to use a kill switch with IPVanish’s iOS app yet.

Surfshark’s NoBorders mode lets you slip past online censorship and country-wide firewalls. We don’t know exactly how this works, but it likely reshapes your data to resemble standard HTTP traffic. IPVanish does something similar, scrambling your OpenVPN data in the hopes of bypassing systems that check for the telltale signs of a VPN connection.

Privacy

No valueSurfsharkIPVanish
WebsiteSurfshark.comIPVanish.com
HQ base of operationThe NetherlandsUnited States
Connection logsEffectively noneSome aggregated data
Activity logs
User details for signupEmail addressEmail address
Anonymous payment optionsBitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple
Best deal (per month)$2.19
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free
$1.99
SAVE 85% on the 2 yr plan + 3 FREE months

IPVanish is based in the United States, which is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance. This allows member countries (the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) to freely share information. For instance, although the US isn’t supposed to spy on its own citizens, it could ask Australia to do so, and simply have it pass any resulting data to the US authorities. Surfshark, however, is based in the Netherlands; this is a 14 Eyes country but it has strong data protection laws and a history of standing up for its citizens’ privacy.

There’s really no need to worry about either VPN’s location. This is because they both follow strict no-logs policies, so there’d be no data for intelligence services to share in the first place.

Often, users are asked to take their VPN’s privacy claims at face value. Not with these providers, though: each has undergone an independent audit to prove that they don’t keep any logs that could identify you. That said, if you’d like to register anonymously, Surfshark is the better option. That’s because it accepts three separate cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple. At the moment, IPVanish doesn’t support any anonymous payment methods.

Customer service

No valueSurfsharkIPVanish
WebsiteSurfshark.comIPVanish.com
24/7 live chat
Ticket support
Email support
Average email response time2 hours, 28 minutes4 hours
Searchable knowledge base
Phone support
Video guides
Best deal (per month)$2.19
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free
$1.99
SAVE 85% on the 2 yr plan + 3 FREE months

IPVanish and Surfshark provide around-the-clock support over email and live chat. They also have searchable knowledge bases providing setup guides and answers to commonly-asked questions. The Surfshark and IPVanish YouTube channels offer video guides too.

The easiest way to reach customer support is usually live chat. That said, this service might face outages and is unavailable in China. We emailed three questions to each provider. Below, you’ll see how long they took to reply, and whether they actually answered our question:

Surfshark
Question Initial response timeNumber of emailsQuestion answered
What kind of speed reduction can I expect while connected?2 hours, 15 minutes1Yes
Which of the supported protocols is most secure?59 minutes1Yes
Is there a specific server for unblocking Netflix or will any work?53 minutes1Yes
IPVanish
Question Initial response timeNumber of emailsQuestion answered
What kind of speed reduction can I expect while connected?1 hour, 16 minutes1Yes
Which of the supported protocols is most secure?24 minutes1Yes
Is there a specific server for unblocking Netflix or will any work?3 hours, 20 minutes1Yes

Both providers replied quickly to email inquiries. In fact, neither made us wait more than a few hours. This is impressive considering some VPNs take eight hours or more to respond.

The winner: Surfshark

Surfshark

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

To be clear, either of these providers would be an excellent choice. IPVanish is a quick and reliable service that boasts powerful security features, a true no-logs policy, and a particularly responsive support team. It even lets you connect an unlimited number of devices, which is very rare.

However, Surfshark is the better choice for most people. Like IPVanish, it has no connection limit. However, it also offers better network coverage and stronger privacy protections. It’s more versatile too, with static IP servers and the ability to beat the world’s strictest digital censorship. Simply, whether you’re looking to stream foreign content abroad, torrent anonymously, or browse privately in China, Surfshark has you covered.

Surfshark Coupon
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free
Get Deal >
Discount applied automatically

Methodology: How we compared Surfshark and IPVanish

Comparing VPNs is actually quite tricky so to create a fair and accurate overview, we had to really dig into everything Surfshark and IPVanish had to offer (and any areas in need of improvement). Here are a few key areas we focused on:

  • Network: We consider server numbers and distribution since the further away you are, the slower your speeds usually are. Additionally, we check whether either VPN uses virtual servers, as these change which country’s laws apply.
  • Performance: Our team personally speed tests VPNs, averaging nine results per provider to get a clearer, more representative idea of the speeds you can expect.
  • Streaming ability: Major streaming platforms frequently force users to disconnect their VPNs. That’s why we test VPNs against platforms like Sling TV, BBC iPlayer, and Disney Plus so that you never have to browse unprotected.
  • Security and privacy: We spend hours testing VPNs to make sure they use looking for uncrackable encryption and
  • safeguards like a no-logs policy, leak protection, and a kill switch. We’ll let you know about any independent audits that have been performed and any anonymous payment methods too.
  • User-friendliness: The easier a service is to use, the better. Features like 24/7 support, task-specific servers, and apps for all major platforms go a long way. We also like unlimited connections, and Surfshark and IPVanish checked this box right off the bat.
  • Pricing: If a provider doesn’t offer the functionality to back up its price tag, we’ll let you know. We also hunt down details about any money-back guarantees, trials, or long-term discounts that are available. This way, you can browse securely without breaking the bank.

Want to find out more about how we test VPNs at Comparitech? We’ve put together a post that breaks down our methodology in greater detail.

Surfshark and IPVanish: FAQs

Do Surfshark and IPVanish allow torrenting?

Yes, Surfshark and IPVanish both permit P2P connections. In fact, since neither provider monitors your traffic, they can’t actually even tell whether you’re torrenting or not. Now, it’s worth mentioning that neither service permits port forwarding, which will limit you by virtue of having fewer peers to connect with. Still, these are two of the fastest VPNs on the market, so there’s really no need to worry about long download times.

Which is better for families: Surfshark or IPVanish?

Both of these services allow any number of connections, which makes them perfect for anyone frustrated with the low connection limits of other VPNs. They’re also extremely fast, so you’ll probably not notice any performance issues, even when the whole family is connected.

Surfshark does have a couple of features that make it better for sharing, though. Its CleanWeb tool can stop your kids from inadvertently downloading malware while connected, for instance. You can also get rotating IP addresses, preventing anyone from bulding a profile of your family’s browsing habits.

Is IPVanish faster than Surfshark?

There’s always an element of randomness when it comes to internet speeds. As you might expect, this makes accurately comparing speeds pretty tricky, especially since your actual results will be limited by how fast your base connection is.

With those caveats out of the way, yes, in our latest tests, IPVanish delivered higher speeds than Surfshark. It averaged over 270 Mbps, which makes it one of the fastest providers on the market. Surfshark did very well, though, with average speeds of almost 200 Mbps. In short, you’re unlikely to experience slow speeds with either VPN.

See also: