Introducing first, in the white corner, an up-and-coming but already recognized as PCMag’s champion – Surfshark!
Introducing second, in the green corner, a champion of the old – IPVanish!
The officials are ready and the fighters are in. So for the thousands in attendance and the millions watching around the world: Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to … compare the two VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) – Surfshark vs. IPVanish – which is better?
Table of contents
Surfshark vs. IPVanish: At a glance
3200+ servers in 100 countries
1,900+ servers in 75+ different locations
WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN
WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN, IPSec
Platforms and apps that run the VPN
Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android, FireTV, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, major gaming consoles
Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android, Fire TV, Linux, Chrome
Price per month
$2.30 (2-year plan)
$3.33 (1-year plan)
Browser extensions, server infrastructure
Both Surfshark and IPVanish are premium VPN services boasting top-grade encryption with unlimited simultaneous connections. So what more is there to look for?
When talking about what makes a good VPN, speed is essential. With that in mind, we’ll look at the biggest factors that contribute to VPN speed. Then, to figure out which industry titan offers better speeds, we’ll run some tests.
The actual connection speed on a VPN will be determined by:
- The infrastructure used by the VPN provider;
- Security protocols that are used;
- The location, quantity, and quality of servers the VPN provider has.
So, once you’re using a VPN, the stats you should be looking at are download speed, upload speed, and an increase in ping. They are measured in megabits per second (Mbps) – the speed at which your data is transferred.
All of the taken speed results will differ and that’s A-OK because all of us are from different parts of the world with different internet speeds.
Speed test results
Important info interpreting the test results:
- We picked two places – one very far away from us, another very close;
- With each place, we performed 10 tests: the shown speeds are the average. Then, we compared the internet speed with the VPN results against the one without a VPN;
- We used Speedtest.net by Ookla;
- The percentage info shows how much your speed drops.
Speed test using a server closer to us
Increase in ping
1.7 times the normal ping
3 times the normal ping
Speed test using a server further away from us
Increase in ping
23 times the normal ping
25 times the normal ping
It’s hard to be impartial when writing about your own product, but it looks like Surfshark beats IPVanish in this category. Though keep in mind that results differ depending on the location they’re performed at.
Closing thoughts on speed
Surfshark takes the cake, despite IPVanish having bigger bandwidth servers. However, location is one of the biggest factors in determining speed, so be wary of where you do the speed test from.
Also, it’s important to note that internet speed has several bottlenecks, two of which are the quantity and location of the servers.
Speed winner: Surfshark
In this case, quantity means quality. Let me explain.
On paper, Surfshark uses 10Gbps servers, while IPVanish boasts 25Gbps servers. These numbers mean the bandwidth that they offer. Server bandwidth (Gbps/Mbps) is the diameter of the internet ‘’pipe’’ – the bigger the diameter, the more of the internet ‘’water’’ (data) can flow through. But, in reality, these numbers don’t matter quite as much.
The thing is, one server has only one pipe of limited bandwidth. That bandwidth is split among all of its users. The more users, the less bandwidth for an individual user – meaning slower internet speeds for you. More servers for people to join means less populated servers – faster browsing for you.
How does server location influence your internet speed? Let’s say you are visiting a website – the closer you are to the web server, the fewer networks the data passes through. A shorter journey for the data means faster browsing for you.
Also, the location of a server influences another important thing – geolocation and geo-restriction. With a larger pool of servers in different countries, you have access to markets with lower prices. More servers – more markets – fewer expenses.
So, now that we’ve established that quantity IS quality here, let’s check the server count and locations.
Server count & locations
Both VPNs cover the globe and overlap in general locations like North and South Americas, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. However, Surfshark stands out with its servers in almost every region of the world.
The table below shows the server locations and server count per platform.
The Middle East and Africa
Want a more specific list? We’ve got you. The following countries are home to Surfshark servers but don’t host a single IPVanish server:
- Europe – Andorra, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Georgia, Greenland, Isle of Man, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Ukraine;
- Americas – Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela;
- Asia – Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, Macau, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Vietnam;
- The Middle East and Africa – Algeria, Egypt, Marocco, Nigeria.
Now, I have to be honest with you – IPVanish touts more servers in the US. They have over 1,300+ servers, while Surfshark has over 600+. Despite that, Surfshark still takes the cake thanks to its larger server pool.
And, while on the topic of servers, Surfshark, unlike IPVanish, offers static IP servers.
Closing thoughts on servers
Surfshark has more servers in different places, meaning more access to geo-restricted websites. Also, with Surfshark, more servers equal more security. Literally. We utilize this ton of servers in one of our features called Surfshark Nexus.
Servers winner: Surfshark
Although both VPNs provide data encryption, only one has more features than the other. Here’s a quick overview of the features that they offer.
Also known as the Camouflage mode at Surfshark, obfuscation masks the fact that you’re using a VPN. Even from your ISP. Both IPVanish and Surfshark use it.
Also known as fake GPS or GPS override, GPS spoofing makes it so that you appear to be in a different place. Both IPVanish and Surfshark have it.
Also known as Bypasser at Surfshark, split tunneling means that only a part of your information (of your choosing, of course) goes through a VPN. It helps separate activities that need a VPN from those that don’t. Both IPVanish and Surfshark use it.
Kill Switch disables your internet connection if the VPN connection drops without any notice. Nobody wants to be caught with their pants off, do they? Both IPVanish and Surfshark have it (IPVanish doesn’t support this feature on Linux and iOS though).
A no-log policy is a guarantee that any action taken in the cyberworld will not be logged and kept. Both IPVanish and Surfshark follow it.
Cookie pop-up blocker
It’s a browser extension that declines and rejects any and all cookies that are unnecessary. If some are crucial for you to continue – those are accepted. Only Surfshark has it.
This comes into play only If you’re in a country that forbids the use of VPNs or restricts internet freedom. The feature is intended to help you log in to your Surfshark app and see the list of servers that work best under current network restrictions. Only Surfshark has it.
We call it CleanWeb. One of the ways of infecting your computer is by clicking on a malicious advert. So it seemed natural to add a feature that keeps your browsing clean of such ads. Only Surfshark has it.
Also known as Double VPN, this feature lets you direct your data through a couple of different servers chained together to increase your security. Surfshark uses it and IPVanish doesn’t.
Surfshark uses a network of servers scattered all over the world to hide your IP address. Connecting to Nexus routes your internet traffic through a network of servers rather than a single VPN tunnel. Only Surfshark has it (across all VPNs).
Up to 500 GB of secure cloud storage space with cross-device compatibility. Only IPVanish offers it.
Closing thoughts on features
Surshark and IPVanish compare to one another like a Swiss knife to a regular one – both cut, but one has more features. It’s like having your dad’s toolbox full of appliances for every occasion.
Features winner: Surfshark
Security & privacy
The majority of VPN users choose a VPN based on its security. That security depends on several things, like protocols, security features, followed policies, encryption, and server infrastructure and their location.
To start with, a VPN’s primary purpose is encrypting data, which can be achieved via different encryption standards. In that regard, both Surfshark and IPVanish use the VPN industry standard encryption – AES 256-bit encryption – which is the fastest.
Then, we have VPN protocols – both the engine and the rulebook behind that encryption. These include:
Fastest protocol overall
Best and fastest protocol for mobile users
Fast and reliable open-source VPN system, the only one that many routers natively support
IPSec (Internet Protocol Security)
Protocol suite that encrypts IP packets and provides a framework for secure transport and tunneling
*The IKEv2 protocol is about to be removed from Windows.
Of course, it’s not just about encryption.
Another way of enforcing security is server infrastructure. Surfshark beats IPVanish here because we use RAM-only servers, taking that no-logging practice to the next level. RAM-only servers mean no information can be physically taken from servers because we can’t keep user data long-term.
So, because the servers constantly get wiped as a part of our security protocols, your data remains 100% secure and your browsing experience always stays private. Even if we wanted to log it, there’s just nothing to log. And we don’t stop there.
Naturally, besides all the security tech, what matters at least as much is trust. One way to build it is by establishing credibility via audits and following policies.
On that front, both VPNs boast about following a no-logs policy. But some years ago and under different management, IPVanish had an ‘’oopsie’’ – they not only logged activity but provided it to the authorities too. That said, since then, IPVanish has certified its adherence to the ‘’no-logs’’ policy by an independent auditor – Leviathan.
While on the topic of audits, Surfshark’s server infrastructure has also undergone an independent audit so that you would know we mean business. We’ve also had our browser extensions looked at. Both assessments have been carried out by the Cure53 team.
Closing thoughts on security & privacy
Based on prior history, security features, server infrastructure, and the place where the company is registered, you are more likely to keep your internet activity private and secure if you choose Surfshark.
Security & privacy winner: Surfshark
There’s not a lot to talk about – the truth is that both Surfshark and IPVanish offer end-to-end data encryption for all major mobile devices. Also, IPVanish and Surfshark support router encryption, letting you have a VPN on unlimited devices.
In addition to your overall security, the Surfshark One bundle also offers antivirus software for Android mobile users.
The same goes for IPVanish with their VIPRE product, which is an antivirus program.
Closing thoughts on mobile apps
It’s a tie! Surfshark and IPVanish both offer great online security on all mobile devices with the option of an extra layer of protection provided by their own antiviruses.
Mobile apps winner: It’s a tie
Pricing & plans
Both VPNs offer the same bundle of goodies no matter what plan you choose. And the pricing is based on the same principle – you pay less money a month for a longer plan.
Both also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
However, IPVanish has a subtle twist when buying their VPN after the first year – they raise their prices for the subsequent months.
1 month: $12.95/mo
1 month: $10.99/mo
12 months: $3.99/mo
6 months: $5.32/mo for the first year and $10/mo for the second year
24 months: $2.30/mo + 2 months free
12 months: $3.99/mo for the first year and $7.50/mo for the second year
Closing thoughts on pricing & plans
I’d like to use the tattered and sickening phrase, ‘’get the most bang for your buck,’’ but I won’t. It is as simple as it gets – Surfshark is better for the long term.
Pricing & plans winner: Surfshark
As per usual – live chat and email are the go-to options when looking for support. But there’s more to choose from, and it’s important to mention the differences.
IPVanish shines bright offering phone support, but Surfshark stands tall with its searchable knowledge base and constantly updated video guides.
Customer support channels
Searchable knowledge base
The average email response time for both VPN providers is between an hour and two. Likewise, both have articles and video content offering technical support.
Closing thoughts on customer support
Surfshark and IPVanish stand as equals with minimal exceptions. Both have a knowledge base, but only Surfshark has a search option.
Even though they lack freshness in their video department, IPVanish still has a strong presence in this category thanks to their over-the-phone support. Hats off to you, sirs!
Customer support winner: IPVanish
Surfshark vs. IPVanish: The final scores
IPVanish has a tarnished history, and despite having servers of bigger bandwidth and an option of cloud storage, it lacks in other departments compared to Surfshark.
Security & privacy
Streaming & torrenting
So, which one do you choose?
Is Surfshark a good VPN?
Yes, it allows top-grade VPN traffic encryption and unlimited simultaneous connections for a competitive price.
Is Surfshark more trustworthy than IPVanish?
Yes, Surfshark is more trustworthy because it has more high-level security features and has a clear company history when compared to IPVanish. Especially when talking about the no-logs policy.
Where are IPVanish and Surfshark VPN located?
Surfshark is located in the Netherlands and IPVanish is located in the US.