Which is better ExpressVPN or Surfshark
It does not have to be difficult to compare VPNs. We pitted two of the most popular services on the market, Surfshark and ExpressVPN, against each other to see what they had to offer.
Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, are typically simple to use. However, there is a lot of complex technology at work in the background to make this happen, and many providers (understandably) want to inform potential customers about it. The issue is that unless you’re a computer networking expert, most of this will probably go over your head.
ExpressVPN and Surfshark are both excellent choices, and you won’t go wrong with either. ExpressVPN and Surfshark both work with popular streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, HBO, and others. Both VPNs performed well in our speed tests and provide strong security, but Surfshark has the upper hand in both of these categories.
If you want the best VPN for everything, go with Surfshark’s discounted two-year deal; it’s hard to beat in terms of value for money. ExpressVPNmay is a better choice if you need access to servers in a wider range of countries or are particularly interested in unblocking Netflix.
|Offers access to more than 1700+ servers across the globe||A decent network of fast and safe servers.|
|Can provide access to region-locked streaming services.||Offers exceptional security|
|A major focus is on the security and reach of servers.||Capable of unblocking all major streaming platforms across various regions.|
|No connection limit is present.||A first-ever VPN provider that accepts payment in Bitcoins.|
Price and Discounts
Surfshark and ExpressVPN both offer significantly lower prices for users who are willing to commit to longer subscriptions in advance.
If you sign up for ExpressVPN’s annual plan, you can almost cut its monthly price in half. Surfshark, on the other hand, goes even further, with two six-month subscriptions costing only $77.88. If you’re thinking about it, you might as well get the two-year subscription because it’s only $18 more. Every one of these VPNs comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Although you must pay in advance, this allows you to try them both out and receive a full refund if they do not impress you. Surfshark also now offers a 7-day free trial for users who sign up through Google Play or iTunes.
Both of these services provide excellent multi-platform support, with apps for all major operating systems and command line-based installers for Linux systems. Users can use browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, but keep in mind that these do not secure traffic from any of your other apps.
However, there are a few distinctions between Surfshark and ExpressVPN. Surfshark, for example, includes an ad-blocker and malware scanner, as well as tools that notify you of any data leaks. It also enables you to search anonymously. ExpressVPN, on the other hand, provides custom firmware for supported routers and, unlike its competitor, does not require configuration for use in countries with heavily censored internet access.
Surfshark has a significant advantage over ExpressVPN (and most other services on the market) in that it allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections. This makes it particularly appealing to those who want to share their VPN with their family. ExpressVPN only allows users to connect five devices at once, which should be sufficient for most users. We cannot test every streaming service available. As a result, there may be platforms that Surfshark can unblock but ExpressVPN cannot, and vice versa. However, in our testing, the only significant difference between these two VPNs was that ExpressVPN had access to a few more regional Netflix libraries. It should be noted that many services can only unblock Netflix US, if at all, so Surfshark stands out in this regard.
Many countries impose restrictions on access to specific websites. Having said that, China’s internet-filtering tools (collectively known as the Great Firewall) are among the most advanced in the world. As a result, the majority of VPNs are blocked and will not work on the mainland.
Fortunately, both ExpressVPN and Surfshark can circumvent Chinese internet restrictions. ExpressVPN does not require any special configuration, whereas Surfshark users may need to enable the NoBorders mode first (Settings > Advanced >NoBorders). The most important thing to remember is that the Surfshark and ExpressVPN websites are blocked, so you’ll need to download the app before traveling to China.
Setup and Interface
Surfshark’s desktop apps are simple enough. The main screen displays a list of your most recently used servers as well as a simple location-selection button. Certain options (such as the kill switch and NoBorders mode) are hidden away in the settings menu rather than on the features tab.
ExpressVPN’s app is very similar, though its quick-connect button is much larger and takes up the majority of the main screen. Because the settings menu is divided into several categories, you should have no trouble finding the options you require. Users can also add websites to their shortcuts and have a link to them appear after connecting for faster access. The mobile apps for Surfshark are nearly identical to the desktop versions. The only real difference is that the tabs are now at the bottom of the screen rather than on the left. Furthermore, some features, such as the NoBorders mode, are not available (although mobile users can still use the privacy-focused Shadowsocks protocol). Surfshark’s Android app, on the other hand, allows you to automatically match your phone’s GPS location to your server location without the use of any third-party apps.
Mobile ExpressVPN apps are very similar to their desktop counterparts, with the exception that, like Surfshark, they have a limited set of features. The settings menu contains only options for auto-connection, wifi protection, split tunneling, and protocol selection. Overall, the mobile apps are still simple to use and keep you just as safe as they do on a desktop computer.
Servers and Performance
We can see right away that there is a significant difference between these networks. However, ExpressVPN covers 94 countries, which is more than almost any other major VPN, so this should not be viewed as a failing on the part of Surfshark. Unfortunately, neither service provides a detailed breakdown of the servers it has in each region, so determining which is more reliable during peak times is difficult.
Both VPNs are fast enough for high-definition streaming. Surfshark is generally faster, with an average speed of around 70 Mbps compared to ExpressVPN’s 58 Mbps. Surfshark does, however, have a few servers that are noticeably slower than others, so you may need to try a few if your first choice doesn’t work as well as you’d like. While ExpressVPN has servers in far more countries, Surfshark covers a few locations that its competitor does not. These countries are, in particular, Paraguay, Libya, Nigeria, and the United Arab Emirates. Given the tumultuous political situations in these regions, it is likely that Surfshark is providing access through virtual servers. This simply means that the servers aren’t actually in the country you’ve selected; they’re just pretending to be.
Most people cannot tell the difference between a virtual and a physical server. However, they may result in your data being subject to different laws than you anticipated. This isn’t a big deal, though, because both ExpressVPN and Surfshark have a strict no-logging policy. To their credit, both providers provide a comprehensive list of their virtual servers.
Regardless of the service, users can connect using the OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols. Nonetheless, ExpressVPN supports the older L2TP protocol, which is more difficult to block but more secure. If you use Surfshark, you’ll also have access to the faster, more privacy-focused Shadowsocks protocol, as well as Lightway, an ExpressVPN-exclusive protocol.
Both service providers use 256-bit AES encryption, which is virtually impossible to break. However, ExpressVPN’s RSA keys are slightly more secure because they are 4096 bits long. In other words, they’re twice as long as Surfshark’s (though not necessarily twice as secure). Each has a kill switch that prevents traffic from being sent the moment your connection drops, ensuring you never browse unprotected.
Each of these services has its method of keeping you safe online. ExpressVPN employs cipher block chaining, which means that you can’t decrypt a packet of data unless you have access to the one before it. Simply put, your data cannot be read unless an attacker can crack the service’s encryption and capture your entire session’s traffic from the start. Surfshark, on the other hand, employs a unique NoBorders mode to allow you to browse freely. We’re not sure how this feature works, but other VPNs achieve similar results by reshaping your data to conceal the easily detectable signs of VPN traffic.
The table above makes one thing abundantly clear: these services take user privacy very seriously. Both ExpressVPN and Surfshark have their headquarters in the British Virgin Islands. This is a country with no mandatory data retention laws, and it is far from the 14 Eyes security alliance’s influence. Furthermore, neither keeps any logs that could be used to identify you personally.
Signing up for either VPN anonymously is possible by using a fictitious email address and paying with Bitcoin. Surfshark also accepts a few other popular cryptocurrencies.
Both of these services use a shared address system, which means that everyone on a given server has the same IP address. This protects your privacy by making it difficult, if not impossible, to determine which user visited which websites.
Neither VPN service provides users with a dedicated IP address. You can connect to the same Surfshark server each session, ensuring that you always have the same IP address. Similarly, neither provides a NAT firewall, owing to the fact that they block all incoming requests by default.
Surfshark and ExpressVPN both provide live chat and email support around the clock. There are also large, searchable databases that address the most frequently asked questions. If you prefer a video tutorial, check out the official Surfshark and ExpressVPN YouTube channels.
The majority of your questions will most likely be answered in a matter of seconds via live chat. Having said that, we wanted to see how responsive staff was when contacted in other ways. This way, we’d know how quickly you should expect a response if the helpdesk went down or you couldn’t access the company’s website.
Email inquiries were responded to extremely quickly by both providers. Indeed, these are among the quickest average response times we’ve seen. Furthermore, while some of their responses appeared to be pre-written, Surfshark and ExpressVPN both went into great detail about how to configure their services for use on an Amazon Firestick. Most importantly, they all encouraged users to contact them again if they had any further problems.
If we’ve learned anything from this testing, it’s that these are both high-end VPNs. ExpressVPN has fast speeds and a large network, and it can unblock a variety of popular region-locked services. Furthermore, it works in China! In other words, ExpressVPN is an excellent choice if you want to torrent, stream, or simply browse privately.
All things considered, we believe Surfshark is slightly superior. For one thing, it’s less expensive (if you sign up for six months or more). It’s also faster and can automatically block ads and trackers. Furthermore, this is one of the few major VPNs that allow you to secure an unlimited number of devices at the same time. Simply put, if you want a true zero-log VPN that can handle anything you throw at it, Surfshark is the way to go.
What distinguishes the competition between Surfshark and ExpressVPN is everything the two virtual private network options have in common. Both VPNs are known for providing private, no-logs services with competitive encryption and fast speeds. More specifically, they are both based in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands.
When it comes to privacy, you should look for a VPN that is headquartered or owned by a country other than the United States. While the British Virgin Islands is a UK territory, it is not explicitly subject to UK data retention laws or intelligence-sharing agreements. Sure, its status as a UK territory gives us pause when we consider the potential for privacy violations if political pressure is ever applied. But for the time being, we’re enjoying the island breeze.