Surfshark and IPVanish are both well-known VPN services. While IPVanish has been around for a long time, Surfshark officially launched in 2018 but has already positioned itself as a market leader. In this new and updated IPVanish vs Surfshark comparison, we tested out each VPN to see which is best based on eight different categories.
Based on all the latest test results and analysis, Surfshark is the winner for 2023. In comparison to IPVanish, Surfshark offers much faster speeds, more security and privacy features, better apps, more support for streaming services, and better customer support. Finally, Surfshark is also cheaper than IPVanish, especially with the coupon below (see table).
This table highlights the main facts about each VPN service:
|Location||The Netherlands||United States|
|Logs||No logs||No logs*|
|Torrenting||All servers||All servers|
|Support||Knowledge Base; 24/7 chat||Knowledge Base; chat|
|Apps for||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, macOS, Android, iOS|
|Best Deal||82% Off Coupon >||N/A|
* Note: IPVanish was found to be logging users a few years ago, while also claiming to be a “zero logs” VPN. The logging operation was done to collect data for the FBI to be used in a criminal investigation.
Here are the categories we’ll cover in this IPVanish vs Surfshark report:
- Company and Jurisdiction
- Security and Encryption
- Privacy and Logs
- Netflix, Streaming, and Torrenting
- Reliability and Support
- Price and Value
Let’s begin with the background and jurisdiction check.
Company and Jurisdiction check
You use a VPN to protect your privacy online. A secure VPN service will do that since their system will securely encrypt your data so outsiders can’t read it. But you have to be able to trust the VPN not to spy on you or do anything shady in the background. For that, you’ll want to know the company and the jurisdiction it is based in.
Surfshark company and jurisdiction
Surfshark VPN is based in The Netherlands. While this is in Europe, which is not ideal, it’s also not in a 5 Eyes jurisdiction like the US or UK, which should be avoided. Surfshark is a strict no logs VPN service and even maintains a warrant canary. A warrant canary is basically a transparency report dedicated to showing people if any government has requested/demanded data logs.
Based on our research, Surfshark has no history of privacy or security issues and has a very clean track record since its launch in 2018. Additionally, Surfshark has passed independent audits, which we will discuss more in the security section below. Both Surfshark and NordVPN are now part of the same parent company, Nord Security.
Surfshark VPN passes the background check and it is based in a great jurisdiction.
IPVanish company and jurisdiction
IPVanish has gone through a few owners in the last couple of years. They are currently owned by J2 Global. This is a large conglomerate that not only owns a collection of other VPN services, it also owns a portfolio of “VPN review” websites like PCMag.
IPVanish also has a troubling history. Back in 2018, we reported on the IPVanish logging scandal. This was when IPVanish complied with FBI requests to log user data and hand the records over to the FBI. All of this happened while IPVanish was claiming to be a “zero logs” VPN service. Since the logging scandal, IPVanish was sold to StackPath, and then later sold to J2 Global (aka Ziff Davis group), the current owner.
Making matters worse, IPVanish is based in the United States, a founding member of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance. US-based privacy companies can be (and have been) forced to log user data for US agencies and other authorities. Aside from IPVanish, Lavabit and RiseUp are two other examples.
IPVanish has been caught logging data for US authorities in the past, and there is no guarantee they won’t do it again. IPVanish fails the background check.
Background Check and Jurisdiction winner: Surfshark
IPVanish vs Surfshark speed tests
While you can expect any top VPN to provide comparable levels of privacy and security, the speed of VPN services varies all over the place. Some, like NordVPN with its NordLynx protocol, are lightning-fast. Others move more like molasses than lightning. When it comes to IPVanish vs Surfshark speed tests, the results will tell the tale.
Thanks to their upgrade to the WireGuard VPN protocol, Surfshark is now one of the fastest VPNs in the world. IPVanish is in the process of upgrading to WireGuard on all of their device apps. Additionally, they still run the industry-standard OpenVPN protocol, which is usually slower than WireGuard. In our tests, WireGuard seriously outperforms OpenVPN, as we saw in the NordVPN vs IPVanish comparison. So let’s see if the same holds true here.
Note: We run our speed tests on a 500 Mbps internet VPN connection from our lab in the United States.
Test #1: Los Angeles
Surfshark Los Angeles results: 346 Mbps.
At over 300 Mbps, this is an excellent speed test result from Surfshark. Can IPVanish do better?
IPVanish Los Angeles speed test results: 68 Mbps.
This is certainly not fast. Surfshark was about five times as fast as IPVanish for the Los Angeles location.
Test #2: Seattle
Surfshark Seattle test results: 308 Mbps.
Another great test result from Surfshark, still over 300 Mbps.
IPVanish Seattle results: 79 Mbps.
While this is slightly faster than the Los Angeles server location, it’s still pretty slow. Here we see that Surfshark is significantly faster than IPVanish, by about 229 Mbps. We saw a similar performance difference in our Proton VPN vs Surfshark comparison.
Test #3: New York
Surfshark New York results: 397 Mbps.
At nearly 400 Mbps, this is one of the best results we’ve seen for a New York connection.
IPVanish New York results: 5 Mbps.
This is one of the worst results we’ve seen for a New York connection. Surfshark was nearly 80 times faster than IPVanish for this location. From the three locations we tested, it’s clear that Surfshark is putting up the best USA VPN speed test scores.
Note: Although we did not test servers in Canada, we have found that Canadian servers typically perform on par with US servers. See the best VPNs for Canada here.
Test #4: United Kingdom
For our last test, we connected to servers in the United Kingdom. By this time it was pretty clear that Surfshark would be the winner. And so it was.
Surfshark Manchester, UK results: 330 Mbps.
Impressive results like these are just one reason we rate Surfshark as one of the best VPN services for the UK. Now let’s see how IPVanish clocks in.
IPVanish London, UK results: 43 Mbps.
IPVanish got clobbered here too, but their UK results are a definite improvement over their horrible New York results.
Speed test winner: Surfshark
Note: Surfshark is really fast when using their WireGuard implementation and it clearly gives it an edge over the competition. NordVPN also demonstrated the value of WireGuard in our NordVPN vs PIA comparison.
IPVanish vs Surfshark features
Many people want a VPN that has a rich array of features for various use cases. Let’s see how Surfshark and IPVanish do in this category.
One killer feature of Surfshark is the great speed it gets from the WireGuard VPN protocol. Not only does it offer blazing-fast download speeds, but it also allows you to connect faster, and is better at maintaining connections for mobile devices. To enable WireGuard with Surfshark, you can easily select it in the Surfshark VPN app settings:
Surfshark currently boasts a network of over 3,200 VPN servers in 100 countries. The network includes fast, reliable standard VPN servers as well as double-VPN servers that encrypt traffic twice for extra security, and Camouflage mode (obfuscated) servers designed to defeat internet censors. The obfuscated servers are useful if you need a good VPN for China, where VPNs are typically blocked.
Surfshark offers a large collection of user-friendly VPN apps for Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Android devices. They even support Smart TVs and gaming systems (see our VPN for gaming guide). All VPN apps include a kill switch to keep your traffic from leaking onto the internet if the VPN connection fails. They also have a Bypasser split tunneling feature, which allows you to route traffic or websites outside of the VPN tunnel.
Here is the Surfshark Windows app we tested for this review:
Not long ago, Surfshark released CleanWeb, a feature that blocks ads, trackers, and malware domains from ruining your day. This gave Surfshark additional protection beyond just a standard VPN ad blocker.
But things don’t stand still for long in the VPN industry. Surfshark has already released CleanWeb 2.0, an even more capable version of CleanWeb. To see the current features available with CleanWeb, here are the configuration options currently available:
Static IP – Surfshark is also a VPN with a static IP option. This is a static IP address that does not change, but can be shared by other users as well.
Surfshark also offers a few paid add-on features:
- Surfshark Alert lets you know if your private information has been stolen and published somewhere online.
- Surfshark Search is a private search engine, which eliminates another possible location where hostiles might spy on your online activities.
- Surfshark One is a combined cybersecurity suite that includes the Alert and Search features above, as well as an antivirus product.
Routers – While Surfshark does not have a dedicated router app, it does still support most types of routers. To use Surfshark VPN with a router, you will simply need to import the configuration files. This will then allow you to use devices like Apple TV with a VPN with all of the traffic on your router.
Connections – Surfshark has one more feature you might like: support for unlimited simultaneous connections. Most VPNs, including ExpressVPN and NordVPN, support five or six simultaneous connections. And while this is enough for most people, Surfshark gives you even more.
IPVanish doesn’t offer as rich of a feature set as Surfshark. They do give you basic leak protection in their apps, along with a kill switch. The kill switch worked well in our testing, but it would have been nice if the app told you that the switch had activated, instead of leaving you to guess why your connection was dead. You also get Scramble, their server obfuscation feature for defeating internet censorship. But when chatting with support for the IPVanish VPN review, we learned it does not work in China.
They also offer a moderate set of VPN apps, which should suffice if you don’t have any particularly exotic devices you want to protect. Below is the IPVanish Windows VPN app, which felt a bit clunky and old-fashioned compared to Surfshark apps.
Like Surfshark, IPVanish also offers a dedicated app if you need a VPN for Firestick, which is available in the Amazon App Store.
One new feature we find with IPVanish is support for the WireGuard protocol. This was recently announced and we’ll be testing it more in the coming months.
What about servers? IPVanish offers a good number of servers (1,600+ in all) in 75 locations around the world. This is about on par with other large VPN services, including CyberGhost and ExpressVPN.
Connections – Like Surfshark, IPVanish also gives you an unlimited number of connections. So in this area, both VPNs stand out from the crowd.
All in all, this isn’t a bad feature set, but Surfshark comes out on top by offering many more features than IPVanish. We also saw IPVanish came in second place for features in the ExpressVPN vs IPVanish comparison.
Feature set winner: Surfshark
Security and Encryption
For a VPN to protect your privacy, it needs excellent security. And to have excellent security, it must use excellent encryption. So let’s take a quick look at the security and encryption provided by Surfshark and IPVanish.
Surfshark security and encryption
When you use Surfshark’s WireGuard VPN protocol, your traffic is protected by a ChaCha20 cipher and other advanced encryption technology. When you use their OpenVPN or IKEv2 VPN protocols, Surfshark uses AES-256 cipher for encryption to give your traffic the security it needs.
We ran leak tests with the Surfshark VPN apps and did not identify any leaks, bugs, or security problems:
Another security benefit you get with Surfshark is that all servers run on RAM-disk volatile memory with no hard drives. With all data stored in volatile memory, even if a Surfshark server gets seized by hostile forces there will be no disk drive to hack for user data. No hard drives = no data.
Note: NordVPN, Perfect Privacy, and ExpressVPN have also converted their networks to diskless operation.
Further cementing their standing as a secure VPN, Surfshark commissioned the German cybersecurity firm Cure53 to conduct an independent security audit of Surfshark’s browser extensions. This makes it an excellent choice if you need a VPN for Chrome. You can get more details about the audit in our Surfshark review.
IPVanish VPN encryption and security
Days ago, IPVanish announced WireGuard support in their Windows app. . Currently, IPVanish supports the OpenVPN, IKEv2, and PPTP VPN protocols for most of their apps. The last protocol, PPTP, has some serious security vulnerabilities and should probably not even be offered.
Like Surfshark, we also did not find any leaks, bugs, or security flaws in our tests of the IPVanish apps:
Security and encryption: Surfshark
Privacy and Logs: Is Surfshark or IPVanish best?
Surfshark privacy and logs
Note: The service optionally sends anonymized crash reports on mobile apps, but this can be easily disabled in the preferences.
Surfshark also publishes a warrant canary to warn users about privacy violations. At of the end of 2022, Surfshark’s warrant canary shows no problems whatsoever:
On the privacy front, Surfshark is looking good. There is one thing missing however. Surfshark does not yet have an audit of their no-logs policy conducted by a third-party auditor.
IPVanish privacy and logs
IPVanish has a less sterling privacy record. We already covered the logging scandal above in the Background section.
Even though IPVanish claims to be a “no logs” service today, we have trouble really trusting these claims for two reasons:
- IPVanish has violated its own “no logs” policy in the past, and could do it again at any time.
- IPVanish operates from the US jurisdiction, where it can be forced to log data by US authorities.
In April 2022, IPVanish completed a no logs VPN audit conducted by Leviathan Security Group. This is a plus for them given their bad logging episode. Thanks to that episode, IPVanish earns low marks in the privacy category. If all you need is a VPN for Kodi IPVanish might be okay, but we still don’t like their history.
Privacy and logs winner: Surfshark
Netflix, Streaming, and Torrenting
Many VPN users depend on their VPN to safely stream, download content or unblock websites. But only certain VPNs can bypass the geo-blocking software deployed by streaming media services. Many users depend on their VPN to protect their privacy when downloading content by torrenting or P2P file sharing. Let’s compare IPVanish vs Surfshark on these capabilities.
Netflix and streaming
The ability of a VPN to unblock Netflix and other streaming services is important. One that can do those things and is fast enough to display HD video has a shot at the top of this category.
Surfshark does it all, making it one of the best VPNs for Netflix. Officially, Surfshark supports about 17 different Netflix libraries around the world, including all of the most popular regions, such as the US, UK, Canada, and more. Below we are streaming UK Netflix through a Surfshark server in London:
Surfshark is one of the best VPNs for streaming in existence. No matter where you are on Earth, Surfshark can probably unblock what you want to stream. It is a great VPN for Disney Plus, BBC iPlayer, DAZN, and it is also an excellent choice for Hulu VPN streaming.
IPVanish can sometimes get through to the Netflix US library. But this access was unreliable during our testing and does not consistently work. We had similar problems connecting to other geo-blocked services. Similarly, it is also not a good VPN for BBC iPlayer and was blocked in our tests.
IPVanish is not a good VPN for streaming geoblocked content.
Torrenting with Surfshark and IPVanish
When it comes to P2P file transfers and torrenting, the most important characteristics are VPN speed and knowing your IP address will never be exposed.
Surfshark is one of the best VPNs for torrenting. With leak protection and kill switches built into their apps. Additionally, with the WireGuard protocol, Surfshark can deliver blazing-fast speeds for P2P torrenting on all servers.
IPVanish provides good security against leaking your IP address, but server speeds were bad. Additionally, there are some concerns about IPVanish being in the US, which is home to some of the harshest copyright violation laws we’ve seen.
Netflix, streaming, and torrenting winner: Surfshark
Reliability and Support: Surfshark and IPVanish
Surfshark has a reputation for being a reliable service, and it was certainly reliable during our testing. And if you do have a problem or question, customer support is always available through their responsive 24/7 live chat system. We contacted them several times during our testing. The Surfshark team was always fast and helpful.
IPVanish functioned reliably during our testing. They also offer 24/7 live chat support. Their support team was competent, although we sometimes waited 5+ minutes to be connected to a chat representative.
Reliability and support winner: Surfshark by a nose (fin?)
Price and Value
IPVanish pricing is ok, at least initially. The Yearly plan comes out to $3.99 per month for the first year, and then $89.99 per year thereafter.
Now let’s compare this to Surfshark.
Surfshark is an all-around good cheap VPN service with their longer plans. Here is the current Surfshark VPN pricing table:
Surfshark is cheaper than IPVanish on the two-year plan.
Refunds – Both VPN providers give you a 30-day money-back guarantee, but only the yearly IPVanish subscription qualifies for a refund.
Often, your personal circumstances and needs determine which VPN provides the most value to you. But at other times, one service will be a better value under virtually any circumstances.
This is our situation today. Surfshark does everything that IPVanish does. And it does each of those things as well or better, while also having a better privacy record and being based in a better privacy jurisdiction, along with unlimited simultaneous connections.
Price and value winner: Surfshark
Note: To see other deals and discounts, check out our guide on VPN coupons here.
Conclusion: Surfshark is the best option in 2023
Surfshark won every category in this IPVanish vs Surfshark comparison. Our tests show that it is clearly the better product, and better value. In fact, we consider it to be one of the best VPN services in the world.
We don’t recommend IPVanish. After their big logging scandal, IPVanish doesn’t meet our criteria for trust. Apparently others agree with our position too.
If you want to give Surfshark a try, you’ll get the best deal with the coupon below. Remember you have 30 days to test the service risk-free.
Surfshark VPN Coupon:
Get 82% off Surfshark VPN (drops the price down to $2.30 per month) plus 2 months FREE:
(Coupon is applied automatically.)
Have you used Surfshark or IPVanish? Share your thoughts below in the comments.
This Surfshark vs IPVanish comparison guide was last updated on March 4, 2023.
one important feature not mentioned is the comparability for versions of software like Android ver 5 plus up to even 12 and 13. As well as Windows and others.