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Surfshark vs ExpressVPN: which VPN is better?


Surfshark and ExpressVPN are two very popular VPN providers in the VPN market. Each of them offers a wide variety of features, have great speed results, and are reliable options for streaming.

So it’s natural that we get to a Surfshark vs ExpressVPN comparison to name the best VPN out of the two.

For this review, we tested and compared Surfshark and ExpressVPN in terms of security, speed results, streaming abilities, and more. All that to compare their differences and name the best VPN option for you.

Surfshark vs ExpressVPN

Surfshark is a much cheaper option than ExpressVPN. The budget-friendly Surfshark costs only $2.30/month, while ExpressVPN is much more costly at $6.67/month. Also, another win for Surfshark is that it offers unlimited simultaneous connections and ExpressVPN caps the connections at 5 devices at once.

Additionally, Surfshark also offers more servers in more geographically varied locations than the competitor. So, you can enjoy a lot more geo-blocked content for a lesser price with Surfshark.

Surfshark VPNExpressVPN
⭐ Rating:
4.7
4.3
🥇 Overall rank:#2 out of #34#6 out of #34
🖥️ Servers:3200+ servers in 100 countries3000+ servers in 94 countries
📖 No logs policy:No logsNo logs
💵 Pricing:From $2.30/monthFrom $6.67/month
🔥 Coupons:Surfshark VPN coupon 82% OFFExpressVPN coupon 49% OFF
🔒 VPN protocols:WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPsec
🍿 Streaming services:Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and moreNetflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more
🖥️ Platforms:Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, FirefoxWindows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
📥 Simultaneous connections:Unlimited5
💁🏻 Support:Knowledge base, 24/7 live chat, email supportKnowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chat

Netflix and streaming performance

If you’re looking for a reliable VPN to unblock plenty of streaming sites, then both Surfshark and ExpressVPN are good options for you.

Additionally, Surfshark is one of the top providers on our best VPNs for Netflix list. So, you can be certain that with this VPN you’ll have no issues accessing different Netflix libraries worldwide.

When it comes to unblocking different streaming sites, the results are pretty impressive for both providers in this comparison.

SurfsharkExpressVPN
Netflix
Amazon Prime Video
BBC iPlayer
HBO Max
Hulu
Disney+
Youtube

Any popular streaming site is easily accessible with both Surfshark and ExpressVPN. Additionally, both VPN providers support streaming on all of their servers.

Surfshark-opens-Netflix-Canada

It’s important to add that the ability to bypass geographical restrictions is not the only criteria when it comes to evaluating a VPN’s streaming performance.

You see, there’s a feature called SmartDNS, which is really useful when you want to watch blocked content on devices that don’t support VPN connections. This includes smart TVs and gaming consoles.

Both Surfshark and ExpressVPN offer this feature (just keep in mind that ExpressVPN calls it MediaStreamer). We tested both services and discovered that they work perfectly and there were no issues in trying to access Netflix or any other streaming platform on the smart TV.

Wrapping up
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN streaming competition ends with a draw. You will be able to access global streaming content whether you choose Surfshark or ExpressVPN. Both providers unblock the most popular streaming platforms and have the SmartDNS feature.

Plans and pricing

Even with a quick look, it’s clear that Surfshark is the more budget-friendly choice compared to ExpressVPN subscription plans.

Both providers offer a variety of different plans and the longest-term subscription is always the cheapest, and here Surfshark is much cheaper in the long run.

Additionally, you can try both providers with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee to see which is the best for you.

PlanSurfsharkExpressVPN
1 month$12.95/month$12.95/month
6 months$9.99/month
1 year$3.99/month$6.67/month
2 years$2.30/month
Check pricingCheck pricing

The shortest plans are monthly subscriptions, here both Surfshark and ExpressVPN cost the same amount, and these options are the most costly.

Surfshark also offers a 1-year subscription for only $3.99/month, and then the cheapest option is the 2-year subscription for as little as $2.30/month.

ExpressVPN has a 6-month subscription that costs $9.99/month, and then a 1-year subscription that drops the prices to $6.67/month.

It’s worth mentioning that both provider offer 7-day free trials available on Android and iOS devices.

In terms of charging your subscription, both VPN providers offer quite a wide selection of payment options.

When subscribing to Surfshark, you can pay with a credit card, PayPal, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, and a couple of different cryptocurrencies.

Meanwhile, ExpressVPN also lets you pay with a variety of credit cards and PayPal. You can also pay with Bitcoin and a few other payment methods like WebMoney and UnionPay.

Wrapping up
Surfshark is the winner of the Surfshark vs ExpressVPN price comparison. The best deal that Surfshark has cost only $2.30/month, while ExpressVPN’s most budget-friendly option is at $6.67/month.

Surfshark vs ExpressVPN: which is more secure?

SurfsharkExpressVPN
EncryptionAES-256AES-256
HashSHA-512SHA-512
RAM serversYesYes
A member of the 5-Eyes Alliance?YesNo
No-logs policyNot auditedAudited
Kill switchYesYes
Ad blockerYesNo
DNS leak protectionYesYes

Security is the cornerstone of any VPN. As VPN applications handle your data, the wrong service might do more harm than good. Luckily for us, both Surfshark and ExpressVPN implement good security measures. However, there are some points to consider when choosing between these two providers.

Surfshark is based in the Netherlands, which is a part of the 5-Eyes Intelligence Alliance and the no-logs policy hasn’t been independently audited. However, the server infrastructure and the browser extensions have been audited by Cure53.

Additionally, Surfshark works on RAM-only servers, so there’s no way to store any user data. Also, Surfshark does have a strict no-logs policy in the terms of use.

On the other hand, while ExpressVPN has been independently audited, there are other concerns regarding the security of this VPN.

ExpressVPN was purchased by Kape Technologies and then came the report about certain concerns involving the company’s Chief Information Officer Daniel Gericke.

Wrapping up
Surfshark is the winner of the security features comparison. Even though, both Surfshark and ExpressVPN have pretty much the same security features available, the concerns about ExpressVPN’s ownership make this provider seem less reliable.

Infrastructure

Both Surfshark and ExpressVPN have completely ditched hard drive servers, making all of their infrastructures run on volatile memory (RAM). This means that there’s no hard drive to store your data on. What’s more, these servers get completely wiped out with every single reboot.

This is a guarantee that none of the user data is being kept for future use. Additionally, RAM-only servers protect user data from being stolen, hacked, or otherwise obtained by a third party.

Logging

In its privacy policy, Surfshark clearly states that it doesn’t collect any personal information on its users. In other words, your IP address, browsing history, network traffic, connection time stamps, and similar info is out of reach of anyone’s eyes.

Surfshark only keeps the information you used to create an account, which consists of your email address and encrypted password. It will also keep your billing information, however, you are free to subscribe by using cryptocurrency for an extra layer of anonymity.

Likewise, ExpressVPN doesn’t collect any personal information on its users like activity logs and connection logs. Similarly to Surfshark, it only collects the bare minimum of data like your email address and payment information.

Security and privacy audits

Third-party audits are a great way to determine whether a service truly delivers its promises.

Surfshark VPN has been audited by Cure53 (twice), which extensively researched its server infrastructure, browser extensions, and overall security of the tool.

ExpressVPN has undergone several different audits. This provider has been independently audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Additionally, ExpressVPN had Cure53 pen testing and source-code audit on their own routers (Aircover). Also, F-Secure audited their Windows app.

Speed comparison: which is faster, Surfshark or ExpressVPN?

For the Surfshark vs ExpressVPN speed comparison, we put the fastest tunneling protocols – WireGuard and Lightway, to the test.

The data in the table shows the average download and upload speeds from different server locations, like the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, and Japan. The distance to the server location also has an impact on the speed results.

  • Baseline: 454 Mbps download/ 456 Mbps upload
Surfshark (WireGuard)ExpressVPN (Lightway)
The US364 Mbps/ 379 Mbps237 Mbps/ 222 Mbps
The UK409 Mbps/ 463 Mbps251 Mbps/ 225 Mbps
Canada420 Mbps / 428 Mbps227 Mbps/ 215 Mbps
Germany396 Mbps/ 466 Mbps257 Mbps/ 265 Mbps
France410 Mbps/ 454 Mbps250 Mbps/ 240 Mbps
Japan241 Mbps/ 329 Mbps112 Mbps/ 52 Mbps

Surfshark’s WireGuard and ExpressVPN’s Lightway tunneling protocols are different protocols, but we’re comparing the two because they present the best that each provider has to offer.

From the data in the table, it is clear why Surfshark is one of the fastest VPNs on the market right now. ExpressVPN couldn’t compete with Surfshark in regards to the download and upload speeds. Each server location that was tested provided faster speeds with Surfshark.

In addition to the upload and download speeds, we’ve also tested the providers’ ping. In the three tested locations, it was once again found that Surfshark is the winner.

SurfsharkExpressVPN
The US~ 103 ms~ 104 ms
The UK~ 36 ms~ 44 ms
Japan~ 271 ms~ 307 ms

The results here were closer and ExpressVPN didn’t let up too much. However, in the end, Surfshark clearly had a lower ping, which leads to fewer lags and a more enjoyable browsing experience.

Wrapping up
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN speed comparison ends with Surfshark’s clear win. Overall, Surfshark averaged 373 Mbps download and 420 Mbps upload speeds, while ExpressVPN averaged 222 Mbps download and 203 Mbps upload speeds.

Features overview

SurfsharkExpressVPN
Split tunneling✅Yes✅Yes
Smart DNS✅Yes✅Yes
Stealth VPN✅Yes❌No
Ad blocker✅Yes❌No
Double VPN✅Yes❌No

Even though a VPN’s main function is to encrypt your traffic and fake your location, extra features can greatly benefit your everyday life. And Surfshark VPN is the leader here, offering a ton of features like CleanWeb and GPS Spoofing.

Split tunneling

When you connect to a VPN, all your traffic becomes encrypted and redirected. However, what if you only need a VPN on your browser or a specific app? That’s where split tunneling comes into play.

This feature gives you more choice over which applications and websites use VPN traffic.

Surfshark-Bypasser-Windows

Surfshark calls this feature Bypasser. You can pick and choose which apps need to go through a VPN tunnel and which don’t. During our testing, this feature worked really well and we successfully customized the list of apps that needed a VPN tunnel to work.

Currently, this feature is available on Windows and Android devices.

Meanwhile, ExpressVPN didn’t give this feature any fancy name, as you can find it under the Split tunneling tab.

ExpressVPN split tunneling

Nevertheless, here the split tunneling feature works just as well. Additionally, this feature is available on ExpressVPN’s Windows, Mac, and Android applications.

SmartDNS

SmartDNS is a feature that allows you to stream geo-blocked content on devices that don’t support VPN connections. With its help, you can finally watch your favorite Netflix shows on your PlayStation or a smart TV.

Whether you use Surfshark or ExpressVPN, you can activate this feature from your account dashboard. Just keep in mind that ExpressVPN calls it MediaStreamer.

Stealth servers

Stealth servers, also known as obfuscated servers, is a feature that lets your VPN connection go undetected. In other words, your VPN traffic looks just like regular traffic. This is especially useful in oppressive countries like China, however, stealth servers will also help you avoid throttling and will let you unblock websites more easily.

Surfshark-NoBorders-Windows

Surfshark calls this feature Camouflage mode. You can either select it manually or the service will kick in automatically when needed.

ExpressVPN switches to obfuscated servers as soon as it senses the need to do so, which means you won’t have to do anything by yourself.

Exclusive features

This part is dedicated to the features that are available only on Surfshark or ExpressVPN.

The router applet is a feature reserved solely for ExpressVPN users. That’s because this VPN offers a proprietary application for routers, which shortens the installation process. To install the VPN on your router, you’ll need to download ExpressVPN’s firmware and then upload it to your router.

To learn more about the features mentioned above, visit our ExpressVPN review.

With Surfshark, you can easily spoof your GPS location on Android so that it would match your selected country. In this way, you’ll trick the apps that can detect where you are. You can use this to your advantage with location-based applications like Tinder.

Additionally, Surfshark offers a double VPN feature called MultiHop. It redirects your traffic through two different VPN servers, which adds an extra layer of security.

To use MultiHop, simply open the corresponding tab and select the pair of servers you want to use.

Surfshark MultiHop

Another great feature is Surfshark’s CleanWeb, which functions as an ad blocker. It blocks malicious ads, pop-ups, online trackers, and dangerous websites. Keep in mind that you have to activate it yourself – it’s not turned on by default. However, keep in mind that an ad blocker is not antivirus software, so you’ll still need to get one to stay completely safe online.

Surfshark-Windows-CleanWeb

Lastly, it’s important to mention that Surfshark has released its own antivirus software. It’s still a pretty new addition to the security package, however, this antivirus is really effective when protecting your device in real-time from malicious threats. Additionally, the virus scan option will quickly and securely check your device systems for any possible threats.

To learn more about Surfshark features, visit our detailed Surfshark review.

Wrapping up
To sum up, Surfshark offers a broader variety of useful features to protect your data online and your device from malicious threats. Therefore, the Surfshark vs ExpressVPN feature comparison ends with Surfshark’s win.

Server locations

SurfsharkExpressVPN
Servers3200+3000+
Countries (total)10094
Americas1814
Europe4647
Asia Pacific2626
Middle East and Africa95
Virtual locationsYesYes
Specialty serversYesNo

While Surfshark and ExpressVPN offer a similar number of servers, Surfshark covers a slightly broader global coverage of server locations.

With more than 3200+ servers in 100 countries, Surfshark provides access to more various global content. To compare, ExpressVPN doesn’t let up too much with more than 3000+ servers in 94 countries.

However small, this is still a win for Surfshark. Additionally, to that, Surfshark offers specialty servers, while ExpressVPN doesn’t.

Wrapping up
Surfshark is the winner of the Surfshark vs ExpressVPN server comparison. Surfshark offers more servers in a broader list of countries – 3200+ servers in 100 countries. Additionally, only Surfshark has specialized servers.

China and countries with restricted internet access

When you travel to a country with heavy censorship and internet restrictions (like China), a good VPN becomes invaluable. Fortunately, both Surfshark and ExpressVPN implement their own measures to bypass internet censorship.

Surfshark uses obfuscated servers whose algorithms hide the fact that you are using a VPN at all. So you can bypass internet censorship or VPN restrictions.

Just like Surfshark, ExpressVPN uses stealth servers to help you bypass the Great Firewall of China and other online barriers. This technology will kick in automatically as soon as the VPN notices that it’s needed.

Wrapping up
Both Surfshark and ExpressVPN offer obfuscated servers feature so you can bypass harsh internet censorship or VPN restrictions.

Torrenting

No matter if you use torrents daily or once a month, you’ll need a good VPN for that. Fortunately, both VPNs will take care of your needs, as they support P2P connections.

Since both VPN providers support torrenting on all of their servers, it won’t be an issue to find the best server with good speed. So torrenting will be easy with either of the options here.

Wrapping up
Surfshark and ExpressVPN are both set up to perform well with torrenting. Both VPN providers support P2P connections on all of their servers, so you can easily find the server to have the best experience while torrenting.

Platforms, interface, and ease of use

SurfsharkExpressVPN
Supported OSWindows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOSWindows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
Other software and devicesAndroid TV, Fire devices, routersAndroid TV, Fire devices, routers
Browser extensionsChrome, Firefox, Brave, Edge
Chrome, Firefox, Brave, Edge
Simultaneous connectionsUnlimited5
Usability levelEasy to set upEasy to set up

There’s not much to complain about the variety of applications provided by Surfshark and ExpressVPN. The selection is almost identical with a couple of exceptions.

For example, ExpressVPB has a dedicated router applet. On the other hand, Surfshark has a dedicated app for Linux users, which is rare, and offers unlimited simultaneous connections.

Wrapping up
In conclusion, Surfshark is the winner of the ease-of-use comparison. While both Surfshark and ExpressVPN offer user-friendly apps, Surfshark gives infinite simultaneous connections and has a more modern app design compared to ExpressVPN.

Desktop apps

Surfshark’s apps are modern looking, easy to use, and nicely developed. The applications are also pretty easy to navigate and use even for beginners.

Surfshark-Windows-newer-interface

Both Windows and macOS versions don’t have the map interface, instead, Surfshark has a list of countries and servers for you to pick from. Additionally, the Windows app is slightly better than the macOS version, since the mac version lacks the bypasser feature.

Also, keep in mind that there are actually two apps for macOS, one available in the app store and the other – on the official site of Surfshark. The one you download from the app store is slightly better because it has more features and tunneling protocols.

Where Surfshark’s desktop apps shine is with the feature-rich graphical application for Linux users that is both easy to set up and use. A dedicated app for Linux isn’t a commodity even amongst the best VPNs for Linux.

On the other hand, if you like slick and modern applications, you won’t be too impressed by the Windows and macOS apps of ExpressVPN. However, if you manage to look past the appearances, you’ll actually find something worth exploring.

macOS app

The best thing is that both apps have the same features, which is quite rare, as most VPNs usually mishandle their macOS applications. Here, we have a kill switch, stealth servers, and all the other features mentioned before.

There’s also an app for Linux. Even though it’s not underdeveloped feature-wise, it doesn’t have a user interface and you have to navigate it through the command line.

Mobile apps

Similarly to the desktop situation, Surfshark’s Android app is superior to its iOS counterpart.

Surfshark-Android

The Android app has GPS spoofing and bypasser features, which the iOS version lacks. On the other hand, it doesn’t mean that the Apple version is completely useless – it still offers features like a kill switch and CleanWeb, to name a few.

Now, even though you wouldn’t call them eye candy, the mobile apps of ExpressVPN are decent in terms of functionality.

ExpressVPN Android

However, keep in mind that the iOS version is inferior to the Android application here as well, as it lacks a few features like a kill switch and split tunneling.

Customer support

SurfsharkExpressVPN
24/7 live chat
Email
Phone line
Guides or articles
FAQs

Friendly and competent customer support is a sign of good service, be it a VPN or an antivirus solution. And it’s nice to see that both providers put a lot of effort into it.

When using Surfshark, you’ll get help either by writing to the 24/7 live chat or sending an email ticket. As an alternative, you can also read through the knowledge base that has lots of questions answered or the FAQ page.

The situation is similar with ExpressVPN. It offers a huge knowledge base, FAQ, 24/7 live chat, and email support.

To sum up, both Sufshark and ExpressVPN won’t disappoint if you have any issues or need help. The live support options and extensive knowledge bases lead to a tie in this section.

Video review

Surfshark vs ExpressVPN – who wins?

CategorySurfshark VPNExpressVPN
Streaming
Price
Protection
Speed
Features
Servers
Restricted countries
Torrenting
Ease of use
Customer support

All in all, Surfshark is the better VPN service compared to ExpressVPN. It is not only among the best VPN providers but also offers better speed results, features options, server locations, is easier to use, and costs less.

However, ExpressVPN had its moments where this VPN provider could keep up with Surfshark. For example, streaming services, access to restricted regions, torrenting, and security features.

Ultimately, Surfshark is the better VPN when compared to ExpressVPN. It’s overall a faster and more secure option for your data protection, and you’ll get a lot more for a budget-friendly price.

4.9 /5
Special deal
-63% OFF
4.7 /5
Special deal
-82% OFF
4.3 /5
Special deal
-49% OFF

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FAQ

Comments

norm
norm
prefix 9 months ago
You want to know the truth... Privacy!!!!!! check out the parent company for expressvpn and you be the judge. Lets just say that express was bought by this company for 993 million dollars and the company was a far cry to privacy.............. Check it out , google it or just ask them yourselves. They will stall in telling you first of all and that should be a red flag right there..
wise
wise
prefix 1 year ago
Does VPN change your GPS location automatically? I always thought they do so but now I read about Surfshark offering GPS spoofing tool. What is that for? What about Expressvpn, does it offer something similar?
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 1 year ago
Hello, thanks for the comment! Here’s how it goes: even though a VPN changes your IP address, certain apps can still see your geo-location (like Pokemon GO). Thus, GPS spoofing helps you trick those apps into thinking you’re physically in another country. Unfortunately, GPS spoofing is a rare feature and most VPNs (except for Surfshark) don’t have it.
mushroom
mushroom
prefix 1 year ago
hi! good comparison! What would you say about Surfshark vs Nordvpn vs Expressvpn if you add another vpn service? I'm interested in openvpn protocol speed mostly, but would like to know the overall rating as well
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 1 year ago
Hello! Out of the three, NordVPN is currently the best one. When it comes to OpenVPN speeds, both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer great results.
which one
which one
prefix 1 year ago
Thank you for interesting expressvpn vs surfshark comparison. You got some pretty good insights here and it's sooo much easier to make up my mind now
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 1 year ago
Thank you!
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