Surfshark vs Proton VPN: which VPN is better?
Many users agree that Surfshark and Proton VPN are some of the best VPN services available on the market. However, which one is better is a topic of continuous discussion.
For starters, Surfshark VPN is significantly cheaper and offers unlimited connections, making it an appealing option for frugal customers. Meanwhile, Proton VPN hails from Switzerland and has open-sourced its software, thus solidifying its reputation as a truly transparent service.
We won’t know for sure unless we conduct a thorough Proton VPN vs Surfshark comparison in various VPN-related areas. So join us as we overview how these providers fare regarding speed, security, streaming, usability, and more.
Surfshark vs Proton VPN
Although both services provide an impressive array of features at affordable prices, the overall bang-for-buck winner is Surfshark VPN. Starting prices are only $2.30/month, which is significantly lower than the $4.99/month Proton VPN requires.
Furthermore, Surfshark boasts a more extensive server network, better results when unblocking geo-blocked content, and faster speeds. However, Proton VPN is still an excellent and worthwhile service, especially if you’re concerned about confidentiality. After all, the service is based in privacy-friendly Switzerland, while Surfshark operates in the Netherlands, a member of the Nine-Eyes alliance.
|Surfshark VPN||Proton VPN|
|🥇 Overall rank:||#2 out of #36||#12 out of #36|
|🖥️ Servers:||3200+ servers in 100 countries||1800+ servers in 66 countries|
|📖 No logs policy:||No logs||No logs|
|💵 Pricing:||From $2.30/month||From $4.99/month|
|🔥 Coupons:||Surfshark VPN coupon 82% OFF||Cybernews VPN Coupons|
|🔒 VPN protocols:||WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2||WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2/IPsec.|
|🍿 Streaming services:||Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and more||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, HBO Max, Disney+|
|🖥️ Platforms:||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|📥 Simultaneous connections:||Unlimited||10|
|💁🏻 Support:||Knowledge base, 24/7 live chat, email support||Guides, FAQs, support tickets, subreddit|
Netflix and streaming performance
|Amazon Prime Video||✅||✅|
Surfshark and Proton VPN are excellent VPNs for streaming. Both have no trouble unblocking popular platforms like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more.
However, this isn’t the only setback that puts Surfshark ahead in this category. For starters, the service provides extra versatility with Smart DNS. This feature is essential if your home entertainment system doesn’t support VPN software and you don’t want to set up your router with a VPN.
Another perk is that one Surfshark account supports limitless device connections. That means you and your friends can unblock your desired streaming platforms without worrying about exceeding the connection limit.
Finally, the two providers reach common ground regarding connectivity and the absence of excessive lagging.
Plans and pricing
As mentioned previously, Surfshark is the clear winner regarding affordability. At least, that’s the case when comparing solely the VPN plans. However, customers of either service can opt for additional cybersecurity feature packages. But first, let’s look at the essential Surfshark vs Proton VPN plans side-by-side.
|Check latest Surfshark discounts||Check latest Proton VPN discounts|
While Proton VPN has a cheaper $9.99/month monthly plan, the more-extended subscriptions don’t provide significant discounts. Specifically, the annual plan costs $5.99/month, while the lengthiest two-year plan costs $4.99/month. As you can see, discounts max out at merely 50% off.
Conversely, Surfshark VPN starts more expensive on short-term plans yet slashes prices significantly if you grab more extended subscriptions. To be precise, paying monthly sets you back $12.95 each time. However, the annual plan costs $3.99/month, while the 2-year subscription costs $2.30/month. If you do the math, discounts reach a whopping 82%.
One vital detail that could sway budget-conscious buyers is the fact that Proton VPN has a worthwhile free plan. Unsurprisingly, it comes with certain limitations, but it’s a good way of getting familiar with the service. And if you’re ready for the premium subscription, Proton VPN accepts credit cards, PayPal, and Bitcoin.
On the other hand, Surfshark VPN lacks a costless plan. Luckily, there’s an alternative method of risk-free introduction in the form of the 7-day free trial. It’s available on either the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Moreover, Surfshark’s more diverse payment options include credit cards, PayPal, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, Giropay, WebMoney, and cryptocurrencies.
Finally, whichever VPN you choose, your premium subscription is secured with a generous 30-day money-back guarantee.
Surfshark vs Proton VPN: which is more secure?
|Encryption||AES-256-GCM and Chacha20Poly1305||AES-256 and ChaCha20|
|Based in||The Netherlands||Switzerland|
|IP and DNS leak protection||Yes||Yes|
Both VPNs provide airtight digital protection. They are considered some of the most secure VPNs on the market. Utilizing these services masks your activities with virtually-uncrackable AES-256 encryption and reliable Secure Hash Algorithms (SHA).
A few key differences between Surfshark and Proton VPN make it challenging to define which is superior in overall security.
For starters, Surfshark is based in the Netherlands, a member of the Fourteen-Eyes alliance. They have, however, conducted an independent audit of its logging policy (by Deloitte auditing firm). Plus, Cure53 reviewed its browser extension and server infrastructure. Speaking of which, the entire network runs on RAM-only server hardware, which can be considered a huge boon regarding data integrity.
On the flip side, Proton VPN operates from Switzerland, an undisputed haven if you’re looking for absolute confidentiality. Moreover, a third party (SEC Consult) thoroughly audited the no-logs policy. And if you’re curious about details, you’re free to look through the code because everything is open-source.
It’s crucial to elaborate on the difference between standard and RAM-only server technology to clarify why Surfshark has the superior infrastructure.
Most VPN providers use standard data centers that utilize hard drives. The thing with hard drives is that they store data permanently, meaning information is accessible even when the hardware is unplugged. So, in the unlikely event that an intruder should gain access to the server, they could potentially siphon a fair bit of data. Alternatively, malicious software could wreak havoc for extended periods before it’s noticed and patched out.
As the name suggests, RAM servers utilize Random Access Memory. This memory is used only when the server is running. Once the hardware is shut down or rebooted, it returns to a clean slate. That leaves no chance for malware or user data to persist.
So far, Proton VPN hasn’t upgraded its fleet to take advantage of RAM-only technology, leaving Surfshark the better choice if you prioritize hardware superiority.
It’s clear that Proton VPN adheres to more robust privacy practices. For starters, it operates from Switzerland, a country known for its confidentiality and non-compliance with foreign authorities. Furthermore, reliable third parties confirmed that the no-logs policy isn’t just lip service. Finally, apps are open-sourced and available for public scrutiny.
Surfshark is severely lacking in this area when compared to Proton VPN. Firstly, the service is based in the Netherlands, a member of the Nine-Eyes alliance. Secondly, its audit repertoire lacks an independent overview of the logging policy. What’s more, the software is closed-source, although that’s the norm among VPN services. The one upside is that Surfshark supports anonymous payment via various cryptocurrencies, while Proton VPN only accepts Bitcoin.
Ultimately, neither service has done any misdeeds that would make it completely untrustworthy. But if you’re looking for a provider with third-party verification rather than empty promises, go with Proton VPN.
Currently, both Proton VPN and Surfshark have been independently audited by third-party firms. The two services adhere to strict no-logs policies and don’t collect any personally identifiable information. Additionally, both are transparent and provide warrant canaries to notify customers about data requests from foreign entities.
Speed comparison: Surfshark vs Proton VPN
Connection speed is arguably the most important factor when picking a VPN service. After all, slow connectivity negatively impacts all other activities, such as web browsing or video streaming.
Thankfully, these two VPNs go above and beyond to provide lightning-fast upload and download speeds. A clear sign of that is the inclusion of the WireGuard tunneling protocol. With it, Surfshark retained 88% of initial connection speeds, while Proton VPN – 84% on average.
According to our speed test tool, when stacking Surfshark and Proton VPN against each other, Surfshark appeared to be faster in most locations as well. The only location where Proton VPN was speedier was Australia, which is surprising considering that the tests were performed from Europe.
|31% (299 Mbit/s)||31% (301 Mbit/s)|
|73% (705 Mbit/s)||64% (619 Mbit/s)|
|86% (829 Mbit/s)||62% (599 Mbit/s)|
|93% (894 Mbit/s)||58% (557 Mbit/s)|
|60% (575 Mbit/s)||69% (666 Mbit/s)|
|29% (283 Mbit/s)||30% (287 Mbit/s)|
|70% (671 Mbit/s)||61% (586 Mbit/s)|
|83% (799 Mbit/s)||67% (643 Mbit/s)|
|68% (656 Mbit/s)||61% (590 Mbit/s)|
|53% (506 Mbit/s)||63% (602 Mbit/s)|
Additionally, both providers have implemented proprietary means of improving efficiency. With Proton VPN, you have VPN Accelerator. Meanwhile, Surfshark uses SDN (Software Defined Networking) technology. In short, Proton VPN’s technology reduces inefficiencies in tunneling protocol code, while Surfshark users connect to a unified server network, rather than separate servers.
However, surface-level analyses are nothing compared to real-life testing. As such, we took both for a spin in various regions to see which grants greater average connection speeds. And as you can see in the table above, Surfshark performed much better than Proton VPN.
Customers of either VPN have no shortage of tools for tackling various nuisances across the web. Unsurprisingly, there are differences in naming conventions, device support, and implementation. But the point is that you’ll be hard-pressed to find problems that Surfshark and Proton VPN can’t conquer.
Double VPN (Multi-Hop)
Most users will have their needs met with a regular VPN connection. But if you’re a human rights activist, whistleblower, or seeking asylum from oppressive governments, you’ll need multiple layers of encryption. These critical scenarios are precisely what Double VPN is for. Luckily, both VPNs of this comparison grant this feature.
Surfshark calls this tool MultiHop, which gives you an array of connection options with predefined entry and exit locations. The feature is available on desktop and mobile devices.
With Proton VPN, the perk is called Secure Core. One noticeable difference is that there are only three entry country options (Switzerland, Sweden, and Iceland) but much more exit options. And just like with its opponent, the feature is available on computers and mobile phones.
Sometimes, it’s pertinent to limit your VPN traffic exclusively to a single app. Alternatively, you might need some apps excluded from the tunnel. Whichever scenario it is, split tunneling is the tool for the job.
Proton VPN did not rebrand this feature, while Surfshark felt the need to call it Bypasser. Other than that, the two are practically identical. They have excellent customization options and are available on Android and Windows devices.
Besides changing your location, VPNs have the power to alter your browsing experience by filtering out malicious web domains and blocking malware. While this sounds simple, it accomplishes many great things, such as ad blocking, tracker blocking, and phishing attack mitigation.
There’s no standard naming convention among VPN services for this feature. As such, providers come up with their own labels. Proton VPN calls it NetShield, while Surfshark refers to it as CleanWeb. Furthermore, these tools are exclusive to desktop and mobile devices. The newly updated Surfshark's CleanWeb 2.0 is also available on your browser extensions (Chrome, Firefox, Edge).
One of the most widespread ways of restricting VPN users is by blocking VPN server IP addresses. However, this isn’t very effective if providers frequently renew their hardware with fresh IPs. As such, some online services and networks take things to the next level and block everyone from using virtual private networks.
You’ll encounter such blanket limitations at schools, workplaces, and country-wide in oppressive regions like China. Thankfully, the best VPNs provide a workaround in the form of VPN masking. In short, these tools further obfuscate your VPN traffic and make it appear as regular HTTPS activities.
Proton VPN can bypass VPN blocks by enabling the Stealth protocol on Android, iOS, and macOS. With Surfshark, the perk is called NoBorders mode and is supported on Windows, Android, iOS, and macOS.
The two services can cover other cybersecurity areas if you’re willing to commit to a more substantial subscription. But since these tools are optional, we didn’t consider their efficacy when finalizing our Surfshark vs Proton VPN comparison.
Proton VPN delves beyond cybersecurity and provides tools for keeping your digital assets and activities private. The aptly-named Ultimate package unlocks Proton Mail, Drive, and Calendar. These tools are self-explanatory and allow anonymity enthusiasts to encrypt practically every facet of their digital lives.
On the other hand, the Surfshark One bundle includes Antivirus, Alert, and Search. This trifecta is responsible for blocking viruses, notifying you about data leaks, and allowing depersonalized online searches.
Surfshark has almost twice the number of servers and country locations than Proton VPN under its belt. To be precise, Surfshark VPN commands 3200+ servers across 100+ countries. It’s important to note that these impressive region numbers are achieved with the help of virtualization. Meanwhile, Proton VPN operates a bare-metal fleet of 1800+ servers across 66+ countries.
You’ll be happy to know that both providers also offer specialty servers. Surfshark customers can choose from MultiHop and Static IP locations, while Proton VPN provides Secure Core and Tor servers for improved security.
Although both options are great VPNs for torrenting due to their excellent speed and security, Surfshark gains the edge over Proton VPN. The deciding factor was the absence of any limits on P2P traffic, allowing users to achieve optimal connectivity anywhere.
Meanwhile, Proton VPN permits torrenting only on a handful of servers in countries where P2P is legal. This limitation can result in slower download speeds for users in specific locations.
Proton VPN could have gained the upper hand if it permitted P2P traffic on the free plan. Sadly, that’s not the case, making it unsuitable as a free VPN for torrenting.
Platforms, interface and ease of use
|Supported OS||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS|
|Other software and devices||Android TVs, Amazon Fire devices, Chromebook||Android TVs, Amazon Fire devices, Chromebook|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave||N/A|
The two services are practically identical regarding device and platform compatibility. Customers unlock fully-featured desktop and mobile applications, plus specialized apps for certain streaming devices (Android TV and Amazon Fire TV). However, you also have the option to protect alternative devices via manual router configuration.
Besides that, Surfshark gains the edge over Proton VPN in this category in two ways. Firstly, one Surfshark account permits limitless device connections, while Proton VPN allows only 10. The second blow comes in the shape of Surfshark VPN browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.
The desktop apps of our two contenders took somewhat different approaches in realizing their application vision.
Proton VPN users can pick their desired server location using the detailed world map, a menu in the bottom left, or the search bar above it. The main menu also includes buttons for enabling essential features (Secure Core, kill switch, NetShield, port forwarding) and displays detailed information about the VPN connection. However, extensive customization options are tucked away in the top-left hamburger menu.
Overall, the application is intuitive, modern-looking, and packed with information. Go with Proton VPN if you want to feel like the captain of a spaceship.
On the flip side, Surfshark took the minimalist approach and kept the main menu with just the essentials. There’s no map for choosing server locations, only the list, and a search bar. Meanwhile, a small side panel on the left keeps the settings menu for customizing your connection and enabling other features. It also nests Search, Alert, and Antivirus.
Surfshark is preferable if you like a tidy application with separate compartments while keeping the main menu uncluttered and to the point.
If you want a seamless experience between desktop and mobile, Surfshark is the way to go.
The mobile app looks almost identical to the aforementioned desktop version, with the side panel moving to the bottom. Some features are absent, although some exclusive ones, like GPS Spoofing, make an appearance.
Unsurprisingly, a tiny mobile screen can’t accommodate the bonus information the Proton VPN desktop version brings. However, you can still pick your connection location via the map or by scrolling through a list of countries.
|24/7 live chat||✅||❌|
|Guides and articles||✅||✅|
There’s a slim chance of running into VPN-related issues regardless of which service you purchase. However, these problems are barely an inconvenience if you can quickly resolve them by reaching out to experts. And as you know, the swiftest way to do that is via 24/7 live chat.
Sadly, Proton VPN lacks this option, leaving it to play second fiddle to Surfshark VPN. But if you prefer written guides and tutorials, both providers will suit your needs.
Surfshark vs Proton VPN – which one wins?
|Ease of use||✅||✅|
The results are in and Surfshark has emerged victorious. Despite its lower price, the service outshines Proton VPN in areas like speed, server network, and streaming performance. In other categories, the two are on-par or just marginally different.
However, we must note that Proton VPN will appeal to staunch privacy enthusiasts due to its residence in Switzerland and open-source software. But if you want the best price-to-performance ratio, go with Surfshark VPN.
More VPN guides from Cybernews
ExpressVPN vs ProtonVPN: select a better VPN
PureVPN vs ExpressVPN: which one wins?
Which is better, Surfshark or Proton VPN?
All things considered, Surfshark is better than Proton VPN. The former is cheaper, faster, and supports Unlimited device connections. On the other hand, Proton VPN has an above-average price but struggles to significantly outmatch Surfshark in terms of streaming or digital security.
Is Proton VPN trustworthy?
Yes, Proton VPN is trustworthy because it is transparent and a veteran of the VPN industry. For starters, it employed a third-party to audit its no-logs policy. Additionally, all software is open-source, allowing tech-savvy users to verify Proton VPN’s claims. Finally, the provider is based in privacy-respecting Switzerland.
Does Proton VPN work with Netflix?
Yes, Proton VPN works with Netflix and can reliably unblock exclusive foreign content. Supported libraries include the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and Switzerland. However, it’s not the best VPN for streaming and can be considered too expensive if that’s your primary goal.
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