Read more: Surfshark VPN review: A feature-rich service with blazing speeds and a security focus
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Compared to high-profile VPN speed players like ExpressVPN, it’s tempting to paint IPVanish’s speeds as sluggish, since it cut our internet speeds by about 65% when I tested it. But IPVanish regularly gives bigger brands a run for their money in the thrice-daily tests conducted by ProPrivacy. And IPVanish is reaching those speeds with just 1,300 servers in 55-plus locations, at least 200 fewer servers than Norton Secure VPN’s 1,500 across 29 countries.
With more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries, we lost less than 17% of average internet speeds during our most recent speed tests. That’s faster than the 27% speed loss we saw in previous tests, and pushes it ahead of both NordVPN and ExpressVPN to be the current front-runner in our speed comparisons.
Only one of these VPN providers, however, is headquartered outside of the US and has special services configured for torrenting. Here’s how the two VPN services stack up when it comes to security, speed, features and cost.
A big win for IPVanish is its fun, configurable interface, which makes it an ideal client for beginners who are interested in learning what a VPN does under the hood. My only complaint is that IPVanish’s desktop clients have been known to get in a loading loop. This occurs in both the Windows and Mac version of the app, and IPVanish’s site advises a reinstall. Otherwise, this has become one of my favorite user experiences with a VPN client.
Read more: How we evaluate and review VPNs
While I appreciate that IPVanish comes with a standard kill switch feature, I always retain some caution when a VPN is headquartered in the US, and reserve my higher recommendations for those outside of international intelligence-sharing rings such as Five Eyes. I’m also not as confident in IPVanish’s leak security as I am with other VPNs after reviewers at CNET’s sister publication ZDNet detected a partial DNS leak during testing. I’m also still hoping to see an independent third-party audit of its operations.
It won’t be long until big-name VPNs realize what kind of threat Surfshark really is: It’s faster than a VPN of its size should be, has stronger security than you’d expect, offers a suite of impressive features and has cutthroat prices to go with its unlimited simultaneous connections allowance. During our testing, Surfshark has given even our most highly recommended VPNs a run for their money on speed, security and cost.
At .20 a month, IPVanish is more expensive than Surfshark, though the latter requires you to sign up for a two-year plan to get the best deal. It also recently changed its policy to offer a full 30-day money back guarantee. The company does get kudos for its increase from five to 10 simultaneous connections, but that bump seems moot given Surfshark’s unlimited connections offer.
Both Surfshark and IPVanish reach admirable speeds and are lightweight applications with great user interfaces. Both also are competitively priced against the better-known brands in the field, like NordVPN, ExpressVPN and Norton Secure VPN.
Surfshark and IPVanish have enough in common to make them natural competitors in the VPN market, but it’s worth it to compare their differences when you’re trying to decide which VPN service is right for you — especially if you’re on a budget and looking for the best cheap VPN option available.
IPVanish’s multiplatform flexibility and 40,000-plus IP addresses are also ideal for people focused on finding a Netflix-friendly VPN. It’s compatible with iOS, Android, MacOS, Windows, Linux, routers, Amazon Fire devices, and any Android-based media device. In comparison, Surfshark is available for Linux, Windows, Android, MacOS, iOS, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV.
You want to watch Netflix from any country? Surfshark’s watertight DNS features make that possible. You want to torrent quickly and privately? Surfshark routes you to its own P2P-configured servers out of the US. You want to block fingerprinting trackers, use a private search engine and camouflage your traffic so it looks completely normal with the assurance of a kill switch? Surfshark’s CleanWeb ad-blocker, Blindsearch search engine and on-board obfuscation covers you.
Surfshark is currently living up to its name with an aggressive pricing scheme. Right now, the VPN provider is offering an 81% discount, bringing costs down to .49 a month for a two-year plan ( in total). IPVanish gives you the same deal without asking for a two-year commitment, though Surfshark’s infinite simultaneous connection offer could balance that out if you want to share your account with family members.