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Surfshark vs IPVanish: VPN Head To Head

Marc DahanSurfshark vs IPVanish: VPN Head To Head

There is quite a lot of competition in the commercial VPN industry today. There seem to be more providers than ever before. And they’re all offering more features than ever before.

It can be difficult to cut through the marketing and evaluate the different service offerings for what they are. 

In this post, we put Surfshark and IPVanish head to head to see which one comes out on top.

Surfshark vs IPVanish - Side By Side

[vpn vpn_1="Surfshark" vpn_2="IPVanish"]

Can't choose between Surfshark or IPVanish?

While both providers have strongly worded privacy and no-logging policies, IPVanish was caught spying on its users in 2016. So there’s a trust deficit here. Additionally, Surfshark offers more features and we feel that the features Surfshark offer are more in line with what VPN users want. 

Let’s start the comparison, and I think you’ll agree with my choice.


1. Speed

Speed is a major consideration when shopping a VPN service. Nobody wants to use a service that will drastically cut their connection speeds. 

How do Surfshark and IPVanish compare on speed?

We conducted speed tests on both services and found that their performance in terms of speed was essentially the same.

Surfshark

Tested on a 75Mbps (Download) and 30Mbps (Upload) network

Server: U.S.A., New York

Average Download Speed: 64.85Mbps

Average Upload Speed: 24.10Mbps

IPVanish

Tested on a 45Mbps (Download) and 15Mbps (Upload) network

Server: U.S.A., New York

Average Download Speed: 35.04Mbps

Average Upload Speed: 11.12Mbps

IPVanish Speed Tests

On both services, we get a speed drop of about 20Mbps, which is fine. 

A VPN will inevitably cause a speed hit

And it’s very difficult to really get meaningful results with network speed tests. Because networking infrastructure is rather volatile and can be affected by a huge amount of factors.

Winner: Tie

It’s a tie. Both providers perform similarly in terms of speed. They’re neither the fastest nor the slowest provider out there.


2. User-friendliness

I remember the days where VPN providers didn’t supply client apps and you had to download and import their config files into your generic client. 

Those days are over. VPN providers now provide official client apps for their service.

Both Surfshark and IPVanish provide client apps to connect to their networks. And they both support a large number of operating systems, including Amazon Fire Stick.

Surfshark's App
Surfshark's official VPN client application.
IPVanish's App
IPVanish's official VPN client application.

The apps can be installed on any number of devices. 

IPVanish allow up to 10 simultaneous connections.

Surfshark places no limit on simultaneous connections. That’s right, you can connect as many devices as you want, at any given time.

Winner: Surfshark

I find Surfshark’s approach to be easier on the eyes and to be organized in a way that’s easier to understand. Add unlimited simultaneous connections to that and I think you'll agree that Surfshark takes the prize for user-friendliness.


3. Streaming

Bypassing geo-restrictions and VPN bans have moved up the list of features as streaming services are replacing traditional cableTV.

Both Surfshark and IPVanish claim to bypass geo-restrictions. And they both do. So no distinction here.

However, only Surfshark is able to bypass the Netflix VPN ban

Using IPVanish, we weren’t even able to login to our Netflix account.

We tested Surfshark with Netflix. If you want more detailed information about this, I suggest you check it out.

Winner: Surfshark

While they both are able to bypass geo-restrictions, only Surfshark can bypass the Netflix VPN ban. This puts them on top here.


4. Security and Encryption

The available ciphers and encryption level is pretty much the crux of any VPN’s security claims.

Both Surfshark and IPVanish use industry-standard encryption. That is AES-256. It’s very secure and has no known vulnerabilities.

And neither Surfshark nor IPVanish gives you any other option. And this is actually good. As it protects less experienced users from misconfigurations.

Surfshark offers an additional feature here: A VPN Kill Switch, which will block all traffic from your device automatically if your connection to the VPN server should ever drop.

IPVanish does not support this feature at this time.

Winner: Surfshark

It would have been a tie here as well, as they offer the same ciphers. But Surfshark's support for a VPN Kill Switch puts it over the top here as well.


5. Logs and Privacy

Both providers have strong privacy policies and no-logging policies.

Here’s an excerpt from IPVanish’s privacy policy:

“We care deeply about your privacy rights, and we do not log any traffic or usage of our VPN. We do not sell or rent personal information to others, under any circumstance. Your data is secured and rendered anonymous whenever you are connected to our Services. In order to provide you with our Services, we need to collect an email address and payment method to process transactions.” 

And here’s an except from Surfshark’s privacy policy:

“A global network of electronic spy stations that can eavesdrop on telephones, faxes, and computers. It can even track bank accounts. This information is stored in Echelon computers, which can keep millions of records on individuals. Officially, however, Echelon doesn't exist”. 

Pretty similar.

There’s just one thing, though… As reported by TorrentFreak, in 2016 IPVanish was caught spying on one of its users, despite having essentially the same privacy policy, back then, as they do today.

So IPVanish has a definite trust deficit.

Winner: Surfshark

IPVanish actively and knowingly spied on their users. They simply cannot win here. Surfshark takes it.


6. Pricing

As far as pricing is concerned, here are the different packagesprices, and payment methods available for each provider:

IP Vanish Price Plans
IPVanish's different subsciption plans.

IPVanish

Get IPVanish (save 46%)
  • 10.00 USD for one month of service
  • 26.99 USD for three months of service (works out to 8.99 USD per month)
  • 77.99 USD for one year of service (works out to 6.49 USD per month)

Payment Methods

  • Credit Card
  • PayPal
Surfshark plans
Surfsharks's different subsciption plans.

Surfshark

Get Surfshark (save 83%)
  • 11.95 USD for one month of service
  • 71.88 USD for one year of service (works out to 5.99 USD per month)
  • 47.76 USD for two years of service (works out to 1.99 USD per month)

Payment Methods

  • Credit Card
  • PayPal
  • Google Pay
  • Amazon Pay
  • CryptoCurrencies

Both providers offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Winner: Surfshark

So, Surfshark is cheaper than IPVanish on any term other than a single month. They even go down to a mind-boggling 1.99 USD per month on their two-year plan. 

Surfshark also supports more payment methods than IPVanish. And Surfshark accepts cryptocurrencies - which should be pretty standard for privacy services, in my opinion. Surfshark takes it here, again.


7. Torrenting

Surfshark provides dedicated P2P servers in a very thoughtful way: the routing to these servers happens in the background

All you need to do is connect to the Surfshark network, launch your torrent client and your P2P traffic is automatically routed through a dedicated P2P server.

This is one of the best ways I’ve seen to secure P2P traffic over a commercial VPN.

For more information on Surfshark’s P2P support, take a look at our Does Surfshark Allow Torrenting / P2P? article.

As for IPVanish, they don’t really mention torrenting in their marketing materials. They instead put the spotlight on their SOCKS5 Proxy support

A proxy server is much like a VPN, in that it changes your IP address to that of the proxy and makes it appear as if your traffic originates from the proxy server’s location. 

But, critically, a proxy server does not encrypt your traffic. 

This is why IPVanish claims their proxy may be faster. And it may well be. But it just seems strange that a VPN provider would encourage its clients to drop encryption…

Winner: Surfshark

Clearly, Surfshark wins in this category as well. Not just because IPVanish’s offering isn’t all that torrent-friendly. But because of the way Surfshark supports P2P file sharing. Background P2P routing is an excellent feature.


8. Other Features

There are other ways in which these two providers distinguish themselves from one another. 

And, nothing personal, but these additional features do play in Surfshark’s favor.

  • Surfshark offers an ads & tracker blocker. IPVanish does not.
  • Surfshark supports multiple server hops. IPVanish does not.
  • Surfshark publishes a warrant canary. IPVanish does not.

Standout Features

Surfshark

  • Background P2P Routing: Surfshark’s implementation of background P2P servers is definitely original and convenient. It offers protection to its user base with minimal fuss and zero configuration. It will protect you from the copyright machine and circumvent any throttling your ISP might be tempted to apply to your connection.
  • Unlimited Simultaneous Connections: Not much to explain here. Contrary to every VPN provider we’ve come across, Surfshark places no limit on the number of devices that can simultaneously connect to their network. This really does stand out from the lot. At 1.99 USD a month (on a two-year plan) and with unlimited simultaneous connections, this is one of the most affordable and generous VPN subscriptions we’ve seen.

IPVanish

  • Free SugarSync Subscription: IPVanish bundles a free SugarSync subscription on all of their VPN plans. SugarSync is a secure online backup service. The free subscription provides remote storage space for up to 250 GBs. Normally, this subscription costs 10 USD per month.
  • SOCKS5 Proxy Support: IPVanish provides access to a SOCKS5proxy server. They promote it for torrenting use. A proxy server will change your IP address and location but it does not encrypt your traffic. This makes it faster, but less secure than a VPN. I’m a bit confused as to why a VPN provider would promote this.

Winner: Surfshark

Surfshark takes it overall where features are concerned. Their offer is more useful, has more value, and costs less.


Conclusion: Surfshark vs IPVanish

So who wins? Surfshark or IPVanish?

We had seven categories:

  • Speed – (Tie)
  • User-friendliness – (Surfshark)
  • Streaming – (Surfshark)
  • Logs and Privacy –  (Surfshark)
  • Pricing – (Surfshark)
  • Torrenting – (Surfshark)
  • Features – (Surfshark)

So we’re going to give the winner in each category one point. And give both of them one point for the tie.

So the score is 7 – 1, for Surfshark.

That makes Surfshark the clear winner.

They offer a high-security service with many convenience features. And the price of their 2-year plan is close to impossible to beat.

IPVanish, on the other hand, has spied on their users, are more expensive and don’t have many compelling features. I couldn’t recommend IPVanish for anything more than casual use in a coffee shop.

Surfshark

Go With Surfshark if:

  • You’re on a budget, but don’t want to compromise on security or privacy
  • You engage in P2P file-sharing often
  • You want to unblock Netflix
Get Surfshark (83% off)

IPVanish

Go With IPVanish if:

  • You want a free SugarSync secure backup subscription
  • You want to use a SOCKS5 proxy for torrenting
  • You’re not all that concerned with security & privacy

For more information on these VPN providers and others, check out our VPN review posts:

Visit IPVanish (save 46%)

Further Reading

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