We've all come across dozens of different ads from services that claim to be the best VPN. Well, everyone can't be the best, and when it comes to Surfshark and ExpressVPN, it becomes much harder to choose which is better.
Thankfully, I've tried both VPN providers, and I'll help you to determine which is superior in this ExpressVPN vs Surfshark comparison review.
From my experience with both VPNs, I'll compare and contrast their:
- Main features
- Connection security and privacy
- Customer support
If you don't have enough time to read the entire article, below is a quick summary to help you make a fast and efficient decision:
If you need an affordable premium VPN with great security, try the Surfshark service. But if what you want is a faster and more efficient VPN for your entertainment, try ExpressVPN.
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN: Main Features
|Speed||Download: 14mbps – 22mbps|
Upload: 6mbps – 19mbpsPing: 90ms – 170ms
|Download: 54mbps – 65mbps|
Upload: 4mbps – 6mbpsPing: 7ms – 70ms
|Compatibility||Apps for: Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android, Firestick & FireTV|
Extensions for: Chrome, Edge, Firefox
|Apps for: Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android, routers, Chromebook, Amazon Fire|
Extensions for: Chrome, Edge, Firefox
Limited services for:● smart TVs (Apple, Android, Chromecast, Firestick, Roku)● gaming consoles (PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo)
|Connectivity||Unlimited devices||Max. of 5 devices|
|No. of Locations||65 countries||94 countries|
|User Interface||Easy to use||Extremely easy to use|
I'll begin by analyzing the key performance features of both VPN services.
Your internet is always faster without a VPN connection than it is with one. VPNs with slower speeds are those that take too much of a toll on your internet.
I ran a speed test on Surfshark several times and in varying servers and conditions. This is what I discovered:
● Download: 14mbps – 22mbps
● Upload: 6mbps – 19mbps
● Ping: 90ms – 170ms
Surfshark's download speed was only good enough to download files and stream music. Playing games and streaming videos was a bit frustrating for me.
The upload speed was fantastic. I easily live-streamed on various channels with my VPN connection active.
If you don't know, ping refers to the time it takes for your device to get a response from the server after a request. Ideally, you would want your ping to land below the 50ms mark. My ping was way too high with Surfshark.
I enjoyed my fastest speeds after switching to the IKEv2 protocol. You should try that if you want more “juice.”
The number of times a VPN connection drops per session reflect its stability. In my experience with VPNs, very few were as impressive as Surfshark. I never experienced any drop in the connection throughout.
Also, my speed levels were relatively constant, only fluctuating once in a while. I noticed the speed was most stable when I ran it on the OpenVPN UDP protocol.
I've got multiple devices at home, so I was delighted to find Surfshark apps for iOS, Windows, Linux, macOS, and Linux. Surfshark's Android app was also available for download on Google Play. Although I don't own them, I found more apps for Firestick & FireTV.
In terms of browser extensions, there was support for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox.
I have never believed premium VPNs should restrict the number of devices you can connect to your VPN account at once. Thankfully, Surfshark agrees.
The VPN software offers unlimited simultaneous connections per account.
Another practice I don't love in the VPN industry is data caps. Fortunately, most premium providers don't put paying customers through restrictions.
There are no data limitations with Surfshark. I browsed as much as I wanted.
The Surfshark server infrastructure is impressive. The company has 3200+ servers in over 65 countries.
How a VPN designs its software can have a major impact on user experience. I loved Surfshark's layout as the apps and extensions were easy to use.
When I ran the same internet connection speed test on ExpressVPN, I got the following results:
● Download: 54mbps – 65mbps
● Upload: 4mbps – 6mbps
● Ping: 7ms – 70ms
We can clearly see that the download is a lot better than Surfshark's. I had a swell time gaming and streaming in 4K.
The ping was also great, although it fluctuated a lot. The only part I didn't like about ExpressVPN's internet performance was its upload speed, which wasn't great for live streaming. It would have helped if it reached the recommended speed for live streaming.
For the fastest internet connection speed, I recommend you run the Lightway protocol. It gave me better results than OpenVPN UDP and others.
In terms of VPN connection drops, ExpressVPN was stable, albeit not as much as Surfshark. I experienced a few disconnections, especially when my laptop was in sleep mode.
From my downloads and research on their websites, I can confirm that there are ExpressVPN apps for iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, Chromebook, and Amazon Kindle Fire. I also installed the dedicated router app and used it to connect more devices.
ExpressVPN offers browser extensions for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. But there's more: the MediaStreamer. This feature allowed me to unblock geo-restricted content on many streaming services even without a direct VPN connection.
MediaStreamer works well for smart TVs (e.g Android TV) and gaming consoles (e.g PlayStation). The downside was that each device I used counted as one of my simultaneously connected devices.
With ExpressVPN, I got five simultaneous connections for my account. It wasn't too bad, but I was a bit annoyed with the restriction.
There were no data limitations with ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN has a slightly better server infrastructure than Surfshark. With 3000+ high-quality servers located in 94 countries, there's so much more you can do with such a range.
The unique quality of ExpressVPN software is that you get the feeling that anyone can navigate its interface. It was extremely easy to use – even better than Surfshark's.
Winner is: ExpressVPN
Despite offering infinite simultaneous connections, Surfshark falls short of ExpressVPN in this round. The latter's superior server locations, compatibility, and ease of use give it the win.
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN: VPN Connection Security & Privacy
|Encryption Technology||AES standard|
Protocols: IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, WireGuard®
|AES standard – Traffic Mixing|
Protocols: Lightway, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and IKEv2
|No-Log Policy||Not 100% – logs the following|
Personal Data: email address, encrypted passwords, billing info, order history
Anonymous Data: performance, usage frequency, crash reports, and failed connection attempts.
|Not 100% – logs the following: |
Personal Data: email address, payment info, and order history
Anonymous Data: App versions used, server locations used, connection dates, amount of data used, crash reports, and connection diagnostics
|Ad-blocker||Browsers and apps||None|
|Malware Protection||Websites only||None|
The VPN industry was built on the promise of more privacy and security for internet users. Hence, this section is one of the most important in the review.
All noteworthy VPN services have encryption technology, and here's how most of them work:
- User connects the device to the VPN
- VPN develops an encrypted tunnel
- User's network traffic passes through the encrypted tunnel
- VPN servers can interpret the encryption, but third parties can't
Some VPNs offer more secure internet encryption by passing your traffic through two different VPN servers. Such security features are called Double VPN.
Surfshark claims to use AES 256-bit standard encryption technology, which is the highest standard in the VPN industry. I did some research and confirmed they had a third-party audit recently. So, their claims are legit.
One common trend I noticed among VPN providers is that they all promote a no-logs policy. This policy states that they don't keep the personal data of their users such as connection logs, sites visited, IP address, etc.
Unfortunately, keeping no logs is easier said than done as many tech companies are compelled to store certain info by their government.
Surfshark says they don't keep logs of personal information. It's almost impossible to confirm this from their backend, so I took a deep dive into their privacy policies.
As it turns out, they keep the following:
● Personal Data: email address, encrypted passwords, billing info, order history
● Anonymous Data: performance, usage frequency, crash reports, and failed connection attempts
Although their no logs policy is not 100%, the data they collect shouldn't pose a threat.
A standard VPN ensures you don't use the same IP address whenever you connect to the software. Surfshark hides the IP address of all users.
When a VPN connection drops, a kill switch is activated to block all internet activity on your device. Such security features help to maintain your safety and privacy.
Surfshark offers a system-wide kill switch.
The CleanWeb feature on Surfshark VPN functions as a malware and ad blocker. As someone who doesn't care for ads, this was the feature that excited me the most. I activated it and noticed something interesting…
No ads on any of my browsers and apps. This allowed me to save more data and enjoy a slightly boosted internet speed.
To test CleanWeb's malware protection, I intentionally tried to enter some sites I already knew to be sketchy (not a recommended practice). Thankfully, the protection feature kicked in immediately.
AES 256-bit standard encryption is also available on ExpressVPN. It has a system that mixes your network traffic with other users' so even the VPN service can't tell which data is yours.
ExpressVPN also says they have a no-logs policy, despite having a base in the British Virgin Islands.
I researched their privacy policies and found the following:
● Personal Data: email address, payment info, and order history
● Anonymous Data: App versions used, server locations used, connection dates, amount of data used, crash reports, and connection diagnostics
Their no-log policy is not 100% either, but you can feel safe browsing any private search engine or sensitive website.
ExpressVPN helps to hide your IP address.
All ExpressVPN apps have a system-wide kill switch.
Ad-blocker & Malware Protection
Although I tried to find one, ExpressVPN has no ad-blocker. Also, they don't offer any security tools for malware protection.
Winner is: Surfshark
Having ad and malware protection gave Surfshark a solid win.
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN: Pricing Plans
|Subscription Durations||One Month, One Year, Two Years||One Month, Six Months, One Year|
|Most Expensive Monthly Plan||$12.95/month||$12.95/month|
|Best Deal||$59.76 for two years (81% savings)||$99.84 for ONE year (save 35%)|
|Best Discounts||15% student discounts||12-Month Paid Plan + 3 Free Months|
|Refund Policy||30 days||30 days|
Let's check out how much I spent on these VPNs.
They have three pricing plans:
● 1 Month at $12.95/month
● 12 Months at $3.99/month
● 24 Months at $2.49/month
I decided to save 81% by paying for the 24-month plan.
The only discount available on the website is one 15%-off offer for students only.
The service also offers three pricing plans:
● 1 Month at $12.95/month
● 6 Months at $9.99/month
● 12 Months at $8.32/month
On a normal day, I would choose the 12-month plan directly from their pricing page to save 35%. But thankfully, I checked for discounts first…
Winner is: Surfshark
This is another clear win for Surfshark as they offer longer-lasting plans for less.
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN: Customer Support
|Support Team Quality||Excellent||Excellent|
It's important to use a VPN provider that cares enough to help you solve problems by providing a reliable support team. So, I tested the customer service levels on both platforms.
They provide 24/7 live chat and email support. No phone support though. Their response time was okay and I got feedback within 24 hours.
On the website, I found FAQ articles and tutorials. These self-help materials were fantastic because they seemed to genuinely acknowledge and address the common problems people face with their software.
My experience isn't enough proof, so I set out to find more. After collecting 20 of their latest Trustpilot customer support and service reviews, I found that 19 reviews were excellent and only 1 was bad.
They also provide 24/7 live chat and email support. Their agents had about the same response time as Surfshark's with no phone support. The website had enough FAQ articles and tutorials.
However, my problem with the self-help section is that much of the information there seemed like how-to articles. Although there was some helpful content, most weren't as authentic as Surfshark's.
Winner is: Surfshark
Surfshark's authentic self-help resources gives it a slight edge in this round.
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN: Extras
|Connected Devices||Router||Router app and MediaStreamer|
|Unlockable Streaming Services||20+ services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, BBC iplayer, and Hulu||20+ services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, BBC iplayer, and Hulu|
|Dedicated IP Address||No||No|
Extras could determine whether or not a VPN is worth its money. That's why I explored and analyzed the add-on benefits from both ExpressVPN and Surfshark.
All the Surfshark apps offer the split tunneling feature, which allowed me to bypass VPN connections for certain apps. My mobile bank app was connected directly to the internet via my ISP as it wouldn't work well with an IP from a foreign country.
Using this Surfshark post, I was able to connect my gaming consoles to the VPN through my router.
Thanks to their obfuscated servers, I was able to unlock 20+ geo-restricted streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, BBC iplayer, and Hulu.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find any option to buy a dedicated IP address and was stuck with sharing access to the same IP address as other Surfshark users.
ExpressVPN also comes with a split tunneling feature. I tried it on 20+ geo-restricted streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, BBC iplayer, and Hulu. Thanks to ExpressVPN's stealth servers, I unlocked all the content I needed.
The software allows you to connect devices through the dedicated router app or MediaStreamer. Both are easy to set up, but I recommend the app because it allows you to connect an unlimited number of devices to your router's VPN, bypassing the 5 max. rule.
There was no dedicated IP option either.
Winner is: ExpressVPN
The dedicated router app and MediaStreamer are better extras compared to what Surfshark has to offer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is better: NordVPN, ExpressVPN, or Surfshark?
From my experience with all three software, Surfshark is better than both ExpressVPN and NordVPN in terms of offering premium value for your money.
Are Surfshark and ExpressVPN based in the British Virgin Islands?
Yes, both Surfshark and ExpressVPN are based in the British Virgin Islands, and they are governed by the laws of the territory. However, any contract you have with Surfshark before the 1st of October, 2021 will be under Surfshark Ltd., a British Virgin Island entity; and any contract after that will be under Surfshark BV., a Netherland company.
Is Surfshark or ExpressVPN owned by China?
Both Surfshark and ExpressVPN are private companies with no obvious affiliations to the Chinese government.
Does Netflix block Surfshark VPN connection?
Surfshark has stealth servers that Netflix and geo-restricted streaming services can't block. Hence, you can access the movies and TV shows of any country of your choice.
It's time to announce our overall winner. After comparing both VPNs, I would say Surfshark is the better option. For a lot less money, you can get premium VPN protection thanks to Surfshark, but ExpressVPN offers less protection for more money.
However, if you care more about speed and accessibility than anything else, try ExpressVPN.
And if all you need is the full VPN experience at an affordable price, try Surfshark. Both platforms offer 30-day money-back guarantees, so there's no risk.