Surfshark vs IPVanish: Which is Better?

IPVanish is a top player in the industry. However, it’s surpassed by Surfshark, which is better in almost every way. To understand why, I’ve created this guide. Here, we’ll compare each quirk and feature the two offers. Moreover, we shall talk about pricing, interface, and customer support.

Overall Winner: Surfshark

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Comparison

Let’s start by getting an overview of what each VPN is all about. Below is a table to simplify the comparing process:

  logo surfshark
Surfshark
logo ipvanish
IPVanish
Logging Policy No Logging No Logging
Jurisdiction The British Virgin Islands United States (Five-Eyes Member)
Encryption AES-256
SHA-256 Hash Authentication
4096-bit RSA Key Exchange
ChaCha
AES-256
Protocols OpenVPN UDP
OpenVPN TCP
IPSec/IKEv2
IPSec/L2TP
Shadowsocks
OpenVPN UDP
OpenVPN TCP
IPSec/IKEv2
IPSec/L2TP
SSTP
PPTP
Ad and malware blockers Yes No
Kill switch Yes Yes
Leak Tests No Leaks Found No Leaks Found
Speed Tests Fast Slow
Torrenting & P2P Yes (Optimized P2P Servers) Yes (On All Servers)
Streaming Netflix
Amazon Prime
Hulu
BBC iPlayer
Firestick
Roku (Via Router)
Kodi
Apple TV (Via SmartDNS)
Android TV
Netflix
Hulu
Firestick
Roku (Via Router)
Kodi
Apple TV (Via Router)
Android TV
Gaming Windows
Android
iOS
Xbox One (Via DNS or Router)
PS4 (Via DNS or Router)
Nintendo Switch (Via DNS or Router)
Windows
Android
iOS
Xbox One (Via Router)
PS4 (Via Router)
Nintendo Switch (Via Router)
Compatibility Windows
macOS
Android
iOS
Linux
Chromebook
Chrome
Firefox
Tor
Selected Routers
Windows
macOS
Android
iOS
Linux
Chromebook
Tor
Selected Routers
Simultaneous Connections Unlimited Unlimited
Servers 1700+ 1400+
China Yes No
Split Tunneling Yes (As Whitelister) Yes (On Android Only)
Additional Features CleanWeb
HackLock (Add-On Feature)
BlindSearch (Add-On Feature)
MultiHop
Scramble Feature
Prices $12.95/Month
$6.49/month (6 Months)
$2.49/Month (2-Year)
$9.99/Month ($3.49 for the 1st Month)
$31.49 (for the 1st Year then $89.99/Year)
Our Rating 4.9 4.0
Website www.surfshark.com www.ipvanish.com

It’s clear that Surfshark has a lot of things IPVanish lacks. To get a better understanding, we must go into detail. Doing so will help you know what best suits your needs.

Overall Winner: Surfshark

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Privacy & Security

IPVanish is based in the US. It falls under Five Eyes Alliance jurisdiction, which hampers its ability to operate. The VPN must follow restrictive privacy and copyright laws or face getting shut down.

In comparison, no such laws hinder Surfshark as it’s headquartered in the British Virgin Islands. It may function freely without having to worry about constraints.

With all that said, let’s now discuss the specific security measures that each VPN boasts:

Encryption Comparison

Surfshark and IPVanish share AES 256-bit military-grade encryption with Surfshark also utilizing Chacha as a backup to AES-256 on Android.

Unfortunately, only Surfshark has disclosed the hash authentication (SHA-256) and handshake (4096-bit) it uses. IPVanish has yet to reveal anything about what it uses.

VPN Protocols

Neither of the two supports WireGuard. Instead, they support OpenVPN (UDP/TCP) and IPSec (IKEv2/L2TP). Setting them apart is Surfshark’s employment of Shadowsocks and IPVanish’s of SSTP along with PPTP.

Leak Protection

Complete leak protection is something Surfshark and IPVanish claim to provide. To see if they’re true to their claims, I ran some tests using IPLeak.net. Before looking at the results, check out my test without any VPN running:

ip leak test no vpn
IP Leak Test – No VPN

Here’s how Surfshark’s server in Hong Kong did:

ip leak test surfshark hong kong
IP Leak Test – Surfshark Hong Kong

And this is the result after transferring to IPVanish’s Tokyo server:

ip leak test ipvanish japan
IP Leak Test – IPVanish Japan

Both VPN providers succeeded at keeping my IP address hidden. Thus, I can say they live up to their claims. Using them is guaranteed to prevent troublemakers from finding out your location.

Server Security

Surfshark and IPVanish don’t run their servers in RAM-disk mode. As such, it’s possible to store logs on them. Fortunately, the former has transitioned fully to RAM-disk servers in late 2020. The same can’t be said for IPVanish, which has no such plans revealed.

In Conclusion

Surfshark has the edge when it comes to security. The VPN isn’t restricted by any laws, and it uses Chacha on Android. Moreover, it has announced plans to improve by soon implementing RAM-disk mode on all its servers.

Winner: Surfshark

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Speed Test

Speed is something that many say Surfshark specializes in. It’s one of the quickest VPNs on the market. Only ExpressVPN and NordVPN can compete.

In contrast, a lot have complained about IPVanish’s limited speed capabilities. The service has a reputation for being sluggish. If true, that means it's unideal for multi-tasking, streaming, gaming, and downloading.

To see what both can do, I conducted tests. Before examining the results, look at my base connection:

speed test no vpn
Speed Test – No VPN

Here’s how Surfshark’s Tokyo server affected it:

speed test surfshark japan
Speed Test – Surfshark Japan

This is what happened after transferring to IPVanish’s server in the same city:

speed test ipvanish japan
Speed Test – IPVanish Japan

Surfshark did fairly better than IPVanish, whose performance was abysmal. It put my internet in an unusable state. Downloading was almost non-existent, which surprised me. I expected it to perform poorly but not to such an extent.

Winner: Surfshark

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Torrenting & P2P

On paper, IPVanish has the advantage because all its servers are P2P-enabled. However, its slowness severely impedes its ability to torrent.

Surfshark doesn’t have a fully enabled P2P server network. It compensates for this by detecting torrenting activity and automatically connecting you to a suitable server. The VPN’s workaround is great because you won’t even know it hasn’t fully implemented P2P.

I had to see if the two could protect me when I torrent. Hence, I conducted a few tests. Let’s first look at the results when I wasn’t using a VPN:

torrenting no vpn
Torrenting Leak Test – No VPN

Here’s the outcome after I connected to Surfshark and its Tokyo server:

torrenting surfshark japan
Torrenting Leak Test – Surfshark Japan

Finally, this is the result after moving to IPVanish’s corresponding server:

torrenting ipvanish japan
Torrenting Leak Test – IPVanish Japan

Neither service failed at protecting me during my torrenting sessions. However, the winner of this round on IPVanish vs Surfshark match is Surfshark. I chose it because it’s quicker, which enables me to finish downloading faster.

Winner: Surfshark

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Streaming

Surfshark is a reliable VPN for streaming. It consistently bypasses the geoblocks of almost every streaming platform. In contrast, IPVansih has stated that it’s incapable of accessing most of Netflix’s libraries. The service also can’t be used with websites like Amazon Prime, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.

Netflix

Since Netflix is the world’s top streaming site, I used it to see what Surfshark and IPVanish can do. With both, I connected to the US server and watched Spotlight.

Below is my result with Surfshark:

netflix us surfshark
Netflix US – Surfshark

This is how IPVanish performed:

netflix us ipvanish
Netflix US – IPVanish

I was pleasantly surprised by how IPVanish performed. Although I knew Surfshark would do well, its competitor was able to put up a match. It streamed in full resolution without causing buffering. By doing so, it proved that it’s somewhat capable of streaming.

Despite their equal performance, the winner of this round of IPVanish vs Surfshark is still Surfshark. It’s the faster VPN that’s more consistent in working around geoblocks.

Winner: Surfshark

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Gaming

To see if each VPN was capable of gaming, I used them while I played Call of Duty Mobile. The first service I tried was Surfshark, which did wonderfully. While connected to its Singapore server, I played 3 matches. All didn’t experience frame drops or lags.

My next move was to use IPVanish and its server in Tokyo. As expected, the sluggishness of the VPN caused me to lag significantly. The game was almost unplayable. I was supposed to play 3 matches but was so frustrated that I only played 1.

The winner in this round of Surfshark vs IPVanish is Surfshark once again. Its speediness makes it so much better for gaming purposes. Any gamer would be satisfied with its performance without a doubt.

Winner: Surfshark

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Compatibility

I use many devices, so my VPN must have wide compatibility. Luckily, both Surfshark and IPVanish work on multiple devices. With that said, only one can be victorious in this category. To see what each service works on, look at the table below:

Surfshark IPVanish
Windows
macOS
Android
iOS
Linux
Chromebook
Chrome
Firefox
Tor
Selected routers
Windows
macOS
Android
iOS
Linux
Chromebook
Tor
Selected routers

It’s disappointing to see that IPVanish doesn’t have browser extensions for either Chrome or Firefox. Moreover, the VPN also isn’t compatible with Chromebook. For these reasons, the winner in this category is Surfshark.

Winner: Surfshark

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Simultaneous Connections

Surfshark and IPVanish both stand out in the VPN industry. They’re the only major service providers that offer unlimited simultaneous connections. As such, either one gives you wonderful value for money. With both, you’ll get to protect your whole family with one subscription.

Winner: Tie

Servers

IPVanish has a network of more than 1400 servers. Sadly, it is surpassed by Surfshark, which boasts 1700+ servers across the world. Keep in mind that both VPNs are constantly acquiring more. Needless to say, the victor of this category is again Surfshark.

Winner: Surfshark

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China

The Great Firewall of China is the most challenging thing a VPN can overcome. Services that are successful in doing so are considered to be the best.

In this regard, Surfshark once again takes the lead because reports have consistently stated that it can bypass the firewall. In comparison, IPVanish has a terrible record. It fails in working around the Great Firewall, making it useless in China.

Winner: Surfshark

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Interface & Usability

Surfshark’s app takes on a minimalist approach. The first thing you’ll notice upon opening it is the quick connect button. Below is a list of servers that you recently connected to. A full list of servers, the settings, and special features can be accessed on the sidebar.

interface surfshark
Surfshark Interface

IPVanish has an app that’s rather hectic. It immediately bombards you with information like your visible location, used server, and internet speed. A tiny quick connect button exists on the upper right corner of the app. Like Surfshark’s app, there’s also a sidebar where you can choose servers, access the settings, and see your account details.

interface ipvanish
IPVanish Interface

My preference lies with Surfshark because its app looks cleaner. It doesn’t flood you with any unnecessary information. All that’s present on the screen are the important things needed to operate the VPN.

Winner: Surfshark

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Additional Features

IPVanish has a special feature called “Scramble”. It’s the VPN’s version of obfuscation. Using it, you can modify the OpenVPN protocol to enhance security.

Meanwhile, Surfshark has something called MultiHop, which is a feature that lets you route web traffic through two servers. Besides that, the service also has a version of split tunneling called Whitelister. The feature allows you to give certain websites and services access to your real IP address.

In addition to what’s stated above, Surfshark has two paid add-on features. First is an alert system called HackLock that notifies you if your data has been involved in a security breach. The second is a proprietary search engine called BlindSearch.

Winner: Surfshark

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Customer Support

Refer to the table below to see what each VPN offers in regards to customer support:

  Surfshark IPVanish
Live Chat Yes Yes
Email Support Yes Yes
Phone Support No Yes
Ticket Support Yes Yes
Video Tutorials No No
Online Knowledge Base Yes Yes
Average Response Time 4 Hours 20 Minutes

The winner here is IPVanish because it has phone support. Furthermore, the VPN also has faster response times. Both of these factors make it so much easier to deal with the service.

Winner: IPVanish

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Prices

As a customer, you must get the best deal available. Fortunately, Surfshark and IPVanish are both known for being affordable. To better understand the pricing schemes of each service, look at the table below:

  Surfshark IPVanish
Subscription Lengths $12.95/Month $9.99/Month ($3.49 for the 1st Month)
  $6.49/month (6 Months)  
  $2.49/Month (2-Year) $31.49 (for the 1st Year then $89.99/Year)
Highest Price Per Month $12.95 $9.99
Lowest Price Per Month $2.49 $2.62
One Year Price $77.88 $31.49 and $89.99
Money-Back Guarantee 30 Days 7 Days
Special Offer 81% discount for a 2-year plan
50% discount for a 6-month plan
$3.49 for the 1st Month of a monthly subscription;
$31.49 for the 1st Year of an annual subscription

Surfshark offers better deals. It’s got longer plans that are cheaper, notwithstanding that it allows for unlimited simultaneous connections. Additionally, it has a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Winner: Surfshark

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Verdict

Is Surfshark better than IPVanish?

Yes. Surfshark is superior to IPVanish in every regard except customer service. It’s truly a quality service that’ll meet the needs of any VPN user. The service is fast, secure, great for streaming, torrenting, and gaming. Adding to that is the fact that it’s consistent in bypassing Chinese censorship measures.

I strongly recommend that you choose Surfshark over IPVanish. Doing so won’t leave you with any regrets.

Overall Winner: Surfshark

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About the author 

Kris Soliongco

Kris has two passions in life: writing and tech. He’s been building computers since he was eight years old and is very knowledgeable about online security. The first time he was exposed to VPNs was in 2016. Since then, he’s used a plethora of services and has gained much experience.