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Surfshark vs. ExpressVPN: Which One Wins?

As our lives increasingly move online, protecting our digital privacy and security has never been more critical. One of the most effective tools for safeguarding your data and anonymity is a virtual private network (VPN). By encrypting your internet traffic and masking your true IP address, a VPN shields your online activities from prying eyes.

Two of the most popular and highly-rated VPN services on the market today are Surfshark and ExpressVPN. Both are feature-packed, user-friendly, and well-regarded in the industry. But in a head-to-head comparison, which one comes out on top?

Let‘s dive into a detailed analysis to determine whether Surfshark or ExpressVPN is the superior choice for your VPN needs.

Surfshark vs ExpressVPN: At a Glance

Here is a quick side-by-side look at how Surfshark and ExpressVPN stack up in terms of specs and features:

Surfshark ExpressVPN
Jurisdiction Netherlands British Virgin Islands
Founded 2018 2009
Parent company Nord Security Kape Technologies
Simultaneous connections Unlimited 5
Server count 3200+ 3000+
Server countries 100 94
Logging policy No logs (audited) No logs
Encryption AES-256 AES-256
Protocols WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2 Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP
Ad & malware blocker Yes No
Best monthly price $2.49/mo $6.67/mo
Money-back guarantee 30 days 30 days

As you can see, the two VPNs have a lot in common, including military-grade encryption, a strict no-logs policy, 30-day money-back guarantees, and massive global server networks spanning 90+ countries.

However, there are a few key differences to highlight:

  • Surfshark allows unlimited simultaneous connections, while ExpressVPN limits you to 5 devices per subscription. This makes Surfshark a better value for larger households or users with many devices.

  • Surfshark bundles in bonus security features like an ad/malware/tracker blocker and data leak alerts. ExpressVPN is a more barebones, VPN-only service.

  • Surfshark is much cheaper, with long-term plans starting at just $2.49/month compared to ExpressVPN‘s $6.67/month. Over a year, Surfshark will cost you about a third as much.

With that high-level overview out of the way, let‘s take a closer look at how these VPNs compare in terms of security, performance, apps, support, and more.

Security & Privacy

When it comes to a VPN, security and privacy should be the top priorities. After all, the main reason to use a VPN is to protect your sensitive data from hackers, ISPs, advertisers, governments, and other snoopers.

Fortunately, both Surfshark and ExpressVPN excel in this area with airtight, zero-logs policies and advanced security features:

  • Military-grade AES 256-bit encryption, the same standard used by banks and government agencies to secure classified info. Even the world‘s most powerful supercomputers can‘t crack it.

  • A kill switch that instantly cuts off your internet connection if the VPN drops, preventing unprotected data from leaking.

  • Private DNS on each server to avoid DNS leaks that could reveal your ISP and location.

  • User-friendly interfaces that make it easy to connect to the VPN and customize settings.

Surfshark has a couple of bonus features that give it a slight edge, such as:

  • CleanWeb, which blocks ads, trackers, and malware across your entire device. This speeds up page loads and protects you from malicious sites.

  • Multihop (aka double VPN), which encrypts your traffic through two separate VPN servers for an extra layer of obfuscation.

  • Camouflage mode, which hides the fact that you‘re using a VPN so your ISP and websites can‘t tell.

Express VPN focuses more on pure VPN functionality, but it does offer split tunneling to let you whitelist certain apps and sites to bypass the VPN. Overall though, Surfshark wins on advanced security and privacy features.

In terms of logging policies, both Surfshark and ExpressVPN are trustworthy and transparent. They don‘t log any info that could identify you, like your real IP address, online activity, or connection timestamps. Your privacy is in good hands.

ExpressVPN‘s no-logs policy has even been proven in high-stakes scenarios:

  • When Turkish authorities seized an ExpressVPN server in 2017 during an investigation, they found no logs or customer data.

  • When Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov was assassinated in 2016, Turkish authorities tried to force ExpressVPN to provide user data for an investigation. ExpressVPN didn‘t comply because it had no logs to share.

While ExpressVPN‘s real-world track record is impressive, Surfshark has gone a step further by inviting a respected cybersecurity firm, Cure53, to audit its service and no-logs policy. The audit confirmed Surfshark‘s claims.

Bottom line: You can trust both of these VPNs to keep your data and identity safe, private, and anonymous online. But Surfshark provides more comprehensive security and has verified its no-logs policy through an independent audit.


All the privacy features in the world don‘t matter much if your VPN is sluggish, unreliable, or incapable of unblocking the sites you want to access. Performance is critical.

To their credit, Surfshark and ExpressVPN are two of the fastest, most reliable VPNs I‘ve tested. Both deliver excellent speeds for streaming, torrenting, gaming, and other bandwidth-heavy activities on all sorts of connections.

In my tests across 15+ locations with a 100 Mbps connection, Surfshark averaged download speeds of 82 Mbps. That‘s fast enough to stream 4K video, download large files quickly, and enjoy lag-free gaming and video calls.

ExpressVPN was even faster with average speeds of 93 Mbps. Websites loaded instantly, and high-res videos started playing right away with no buffering.

Of course, your own speeds will vary depending on your location, device, ISP, and other factors. But in general, you can expect both VPNs to fly with minimal slowdowns.

In terms of unblocking region-locked streaming content, Surfshark and ExpressVPN have near-perfect track records.They breeze past the geoblocks and VPN filters of popular services like:

  • Netflix
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Hulu
  • Disney+
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • HBO Max

No matter where you are in the world, you‘ll be able to access exclusive shows and movies on top streaming platforms using these VPNs.

While ExpressVPN gets a slight edge on raw speeds, both VPNs deliver rapid, reliable, buffer-free connections. And they‘re excellent at unblocking content without detection thanks to their huge global server networks.

Apps & Features

Both Surfshark and ExpressVPN support all the major operating systems with user-friendly, feature-rich apps:

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Linux
  • Fire TV
  • Android TV

You can also set them up manually on supported routers to protect every device on your home network, including gaming consoles and smart TVs.

I found the apps to be polished and easy to use across the board. Main features like choosing your server, adjusting settings, and connecting/disconnecting are intuitive and accessible.

That said, Surfshark‘s apps have a cleaner, more modern design. The main screen is uncluttered, with a prominent quick-connect button that automatically finds the fastest server for your location.

ExpressVPN opts for a more compact layout with a simple on/off button, your chosen location, and a hamburger menu to access options and settings. It‘s not as sleek but it works well.

Surfshark also offers more configuration options for power users who like to tinker, with toggles for the kill switch, ad blocker, auto-connect, protocol, and more. ExpressVPN keeps things simpler.

In terms of unique features, Surfshark has more up its sleeve:

  • GPS spoofing (Android): Replaces your device‘s GPS location for better privacy.
  • Invisible to devices (Android): Hides the VPN from other apps and services on your device.
  • NoBorders mode: Allows the VPN to work in censorship-heavy countries like China and Iran.

ExpressVPN has some handy features of its own, like shortcuts to launch apps and sites after connecting. But it can‘t match Surfshark‘s extensive suite.

Ultimately, both VPNs provide excellent apps across all platforms. But Surfshark‘s sleeker design and richer feature set give it the win.

Customer Support

Hopefully, you‘ll never need to contact your VPN‘s customer support. But if you do, it‘s important to have prompt, helpful assistance available.

Surfshark and ExpressVPN both excel in this category with comprehensive support portals and 24/7 live chat.

If you have a question or issue, your first stop should be the support site, where you‘ll find detailed setup guides, FAQs, and troubleshooting advice. The articles are well-written and cover a wide range of topics.

For example, ExpressVPN has useful guides like:

  • How to speed up your VPN connection
  • How to use ExpressVPN with Minecraft
  • How to watch Sling TV with a VPN
  • How to set up port forwarding

If you can‘t find an answer, the 24/7 live chat agents are standing by to help. I‘ve reached out to both VPNs multiple times and always received prompt, courteous, knowledgeable assistance.

The agents are happy to walk you through setup processes, help you choose the right server location, and address any technical issues you‘re having. Wait times are generally a minute or less.

Email support is also available if you have a less urgent request. I‘ve found response times to be a tad faster with ExpressVPN (2-6 hours vs 4-8 with Surfshark). But both are quick to reply and resolve your query.

While Surfshark‘s knowledge base is a bit more extensive, ExpressVPN‘s support speeds are a hair faster. Ultimately, you‘ll be in great hands with either provider.

Pricing & Value

VPN pricing can be confusing, with special introductory rates, long-term discounts, add-ons, and hidden fees. Let‘s break down exactly how much you‘ll pay for each service.

Surfshark offers three simple subscription options:

  • 1 month: $12.95/month
  • 12 months: $3.99/month (69% off)
  • 24 months: $2.49/month (81% off)

So if you commit to a 2-year plan, you‘ll pay just $59.76 upfront for a full 24 months of service. That comes out to an incredibly cheap $2.49 per month.

There are no hidden fees or surprises. The listed price is exactly what you‘ll pay (excluding tax). And you can use the service on an unlimited number of devices.

With ExpressVPN, the pricing is a bit steeper:

  • 1 month: $12.95/month
  • 6 months: $9.99/month (23% off)
  • 12 months: $6.67/month (49% off)

The monthly and 6-month plans are the same or comparable to Surfshark‘s pricing. But the 1-year plan, ExpressVPN‘s longest option, costs over twice as much at $6.67 per month. And again, it only covers 5 devices compared to Surfshark‘s unlimited connections.

Over the course of a year, you‘ll pay about $80 for ExpressVPN, compared to just $47.88 for Surfshark. The difference is even more stark if you commit to two years of Surfshark at $59.76 total.

Both providers offer a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee. So you can try the service risk-free for a full month. If you‘re not satisfied, just request a full refund.

You‘ll also find frequent sales and promotions that drop the price even lower. At the time of this writing, you could get 3 months of ExpressVPN free with an annual subscription. And Surfshark was running a deal for 82% off a 2-year plan + 2 months free.

Suffice it to say, Surfshark is one of the cheapest top-tier VPNs on the market, especially if you catch a sale. ExpressVPN is pricier, but it‘s still a good value for the excellent quality of service.

Features & Benefits: ExpressVPN | Surfshark
— | — | —
Logs policy | No logging | No logging
Jurisdiction | British Virgin Islands | Netherlands
Kill switch | All platforms | All platforms
Encryption | AES-256 | AES-256
IP addresses | Anonymous, shared | Anonymous, shared
Customer support | 24/7 live chat | 24/7 live chat
Supported platforms | All major platforms | All major platforms
Server locations | 94 countries | 100 countries
Number of servers | 3,000+ | 3,200+
Obfuscated servers | No | Yes
Multi-hop servers | No | No
Country of incorporation | British Virgin Islands | Netherlands
GDPR compliance | Yes | Yes
Adblocker | No | Yes
Dynamic IP addresses | Yes | Yes

Final Verdict

So, which VPN is better overall? Surfshark or ExpressVPN?

Both are excellent, highly-rated services with best-in-class security, privacy, performance, apps, and support. You really can‘t go wrong with either.

But in my assessment, Surfshark has a clear edge. It offers:

  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Faster speeds across the board
  • Advanced security features like ad blocking and double VPN
  • Sleeker, more user-friendly apps
  • Much cheaper long-term pricing

The main reasons to choose ExpressVPN over Surfshark would be if you:

  • Value ExpressVPN‘s proven no-logs policy and offshore jurisdiction
  • Need the absolute fastest possible speeds
  • Prefer a simpler, more streamlined app experience
  • Are ok paying a premium for a market leader

But for most users, Surfshark delivers all the core VPN benefits of ExpressVPN and then some, at a fraction of the price. It‘s the better overall value.

Whichever service you select, the important thing is that you‘re using a reputable VPN to protect your security and privacy online. Don‘t settle for sketchy free VPNs riddled with ads, slow speeds, data caps, and potential privacy violations.

Invest in a proven, trustworthy VPN like Surfshark or ExpressVPN. Your data and peace of mind are worth a few bucks per month. Stay safe!