February 24, 2024
Surfshark and ExpressVPN are two of the best VPN services on the market today. Each of them offers fast speeds, excellent security, and a variety of privacy-enhancing features. They’re both reliable and trusted, but which one is best for you? Luckily, we’ve created this comprehensive VPN comparison to help you address this question and make an informed decision.
ExpressVPN is a top-rated VPN with more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries. It’s renowned for its lightning-fast connection speeds, reliable support, and cutting-edge security features, making it suitable for novice and seasoned VPN users alike. Surfshark, while relatively new, has quickly established itself as a major VPN provider with a broad network of over 3,200 servers in 100 countries. It offers competitive pricing, easy-to-use apps, and advanced features like CleanWeb and leak protection.
We’ve analyzed their strengths and limitations to help you find out which VPN to choose. But before we dive into the nitty-gritty, here’s a table to help you examine the similarities and differences between the two VPN services.
|British Virgin Islands.
|No logs - independently audited.
|No logs - independently audited.
|3,000+ in 94 countries.
|3,200+ in 100+ countries.
|Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, gaming consoles, routers, Web browsers, and more.
|Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, routers, and Web browsers.
|Kill switch, split tunneling, anti-tracking, private DNS, and more.
|Kill switch, split tunneling, private DNS, CleanWeb, and more.
|OpenVPN, Lightway, L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2.
|WireGuard, IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN.
|Gaming, torrenting, Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more.
|Gaming, torrenting, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and more.
|24/7 live chat, email support, troubleshooting guides, and more.
|24/7 live chat, email support, knowledge base, setup guides, and FAQs.
|49% OFF + 3 Months FREE
|82% OFF + 2 Months FREE
|9.5 out of 10
|9.3 out of 10
In this comparison article, we’ll help you explore how Surfshark and ExpressVPN differ in terms of background, security, functionality, and pricing. We’ll also cover various aspects like speed, performance, server locations, ease of use, customer support, and more.
You can use the table of contents below to quickly access information on specific aspects of these VPNs. But we recommend reading the entire article to better understand what each VPN offers. That said, let’s begin our Surfshark vs ExpressVPN comparison to find which VPN is a better fit for you.
It's crucial to take the service provider's history, jurisdiction, and reputation into account when selecting a VPN. Ideally, you should choose a VPN based outside the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance with no history of privacy incidents. Let's evaluate Surfshark and ExpressVPN in these areas and see how they stack up.
ExpressVPN has been around since 2009 and is based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). As a British overseas territory, the BVI has neither data retention laws nor mandatory data-sharing agreements with other nations. This means that ExpressVPN isn’t legally obligated to log your data and share it with government agencies.
In late 2021, ExpressVPN was acquired by Kape Technologies – a company known for its contentious marketing practices and sale of user data. The acquisition raised concerns among security experts, but we haven’t seen it affect ExpressVPN’s user privacy measures so far. The VPN service also goes through regular independent audits to verify its no-logs commitment.
In December 2017, Turkish investigators seized one of ExpressVPN’s servers, which they allege was used to hide relevant details regarding a Russian ambassador’s assassination. The investigation verified ExpressVPN’s no-logs service since the authorities couldn’t find any user data on the server.
Surfshark is a relatively new VPN that has quickly risen in popularity for its excellent performance, affordability, and extensive set of features. The company was founded in 2018 and is based in the privacy-friendly jurisdiction of the Netherlands. Similar to the BVI, the Netherlands falls outside the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliances and isn’t legally required to share user data with intelligence agencies.
In February 2022, Surfshark merged with Nord Security, which is the parent company of the top-rated NordVPN. Despite the merger, Surfshark and Nord Security still operate independently and rely on separate infrastructure and product development plans.
Just like ExpressVPN, Surfshark has a strict no-logging policy that’s independently audited by Cure53. The company has no history of past data leaks and offers advanced features like CleanWeb and MultiHop to protect your privacy. However, the VPN hasn’t been tested in high-risk situations or real-world scenarios like ExpressVPN.
It’s difficult to determine a winner in this section as both ExpressVPN and Surfshark have strong backgrounds and are based in privacy-friendly jurisdictions. Both VPNs operate under a no-logs policy and have had no past data leaks.
Therefore, if you’re looking for a more well-established service, you should get ExpressVPN, as it’s been around for over a decade. However, if you’re comfortable with a newer, inexpensive, yet reliable VPN, you should get Surfshark.
Depending on the number of devices you intend to use, you should choose a VPN that’s compatible with all major platforms and devices. In this section, we’ll explore ExpressVPN’s and Surfshark’s cross-platform compatibility and take a look at the devices they support.
|ExpressVPN (Try now)
|Surfshark (Try now)
|Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS.
|Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS.
|Android, iOS, Amazon Kindle, Blackberry, NOOK eReaders.
|Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari.
|Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge.
|Aircove, DD-WRT, Tomato, TP-Link, D-Link, ASUS, Linksys, NETGEAR, Huawei.
|AsusWRT, DD-WRT, Tomato, and others.
|Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, PlayStation, Roku, Xbox, Nintendo Switch.
|Smart TVs, gaming consoles, and more.
ExpressVPN is a versatile service that offers native apps for a wide range of devices and platforms. You also get extensions for all popular Web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge. We were glad to know that these Web extensions aren’t just proxies, which is usually the case with most VPN extensions. If you want to know more about VPNs and proxies, check out our VPN vs Proxy comparison to learn their main differences.
Additionally, ExpressVPN offers support for some routers, which will protect all the devices connected to your network. You can only connect up to 5 devices at once using a single ExpressVPN subscription, which is much less than what Surfshark offers.
Surfshark provides extensive device and platform coverage, with dedicated apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux. In addition to the desktop and mobile apps, you get extensions for popular browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.
Just like ExpressVPN, Surfshark is also compatible with a range of routers and offers detailed guides and instructions on how to set up the VPN on your router.
A standout feature of Surfshark is that it supports unlimited simultaneous device connections on a single license. This is particularly handy if you want to use the VPN on all your devices without worrying about any limits.
When it comes to platform and device compatibility, the two services are neck and neck. Both offer browser extensions and are compatible with a wide range of routers.
However, Surfshark stands out in this category for its unlimited simultaneous connections. Therefore, you should get Surfshark if you want to protect multiple devices with a single account.
Setting up and using a VPN should be an effortless process. Ideally, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes to install and start using a VPN on your device. Let’s see how Surfshark and ExpressVPN compare in this category.
Installing ExpressVPN on your device is a breeze, thanks to its detailed installation guides and simple user interface. You can download the relevant app directly from ExpressVPN’s website and follow the instructions. The installation process generally takes only a few minutes to complete.
So even if you’re in a restrictive region like China, ExpressVPN offers you alternative ways to get the installation files. So, you get more than enough resources to install and use ExpressVPN anywhere and on any device.
Once installed, the app is easy to navigate, even if you’ve never used a VPN before. If you want detailed instructions, check out our guide on how to download, install, and use ExpressVPN on 60+ supported devices.
Just like its competitor, Surfshark’s installation process is straightforward, with native apps available for a wide range of platforms and devices. To install the VPN, you need to download the relevant app from the Surfshark website, sign in to your account, and follow the on-screen instructions. Once you've installed the app, you can instantly connect to a server of your choice or customize your settings.
Surfshark also offers manual configuration files and alternative URLs to access the app’s download page in restrictive countries. With comprehensive guides and helpful instructions, Surfshark is equipped to help address any issues you may encounter during the installation process.
In terms of installation and initial configuration, there’s no clear winner. Both VPNs have excellent device coverage and provide comprehensive installation guides and resources.
However, we suggest you get ExpressVPN if you’re living in or traveling to a restrictive country like China. This is because ExpressVPN offers comprehensive support for restrictive regions and consistently bypasses network firewalls and limitations. That said, you won’t see much of a difference if you decide to get Surfshark.
It’s important to look beyond just the fundamental features when choosing a VPN. You should consider advanced features like anti-malware and ad-blockers to enhance your security and privacy. In this section, we’ll compare how ExpressVPN and Surfshark fare against each other in terms of prominent features.
|ExpressVPN (Try now)
|Surfshark (Try now)
|DNS Leak Protection
|IPv6 Leak Protection
|YES (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS)
|YES (Windows, Android)
|YES (premium add-on)
|YES (premium add-on)
|Unlimited Server Switches
ExpressVPN offers a robust set of features that cater to the needs of most users. It includes an automatic kill switch that halts your Internet connection in case the VPN connection drops, thus preventing your data and identity from being exposed. It also provides DNS and IPv6 leak protection, ensuring that your DNS requests and IP address remain hidden when using the VPN.
With the split tunneling feature, ExpressVPN allows you to choose which websites and apps go through the VPN connection and which ones use the normal Internet connection. Split tunneling is useful when you want to access local websites and services while still using the VPN for other online activities.
It’s worth mentioning that ExpressVPN doesn’t support dedicated/static IP addresses, so you may want to look elsewhere if you need a consistent IP address. Furthermore, ExpressVPN doesn’t offer an ad-blocker as a standard feature. However, it’s compatible with popular third-party ad-blockers like AdBlock Plus and uBlock Origin.
Surfshark offers all the basic VPN features and some advanced features that make it a worthy competitor to ExpressVPN. It has an automated kill switch that provides continuous data protection, even when your VPN connection drops. The VPN also ensures your online privacy by offering protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks.
Like ExpressVPN, Surfshark offers a split tunneling feature that lets you choose which apps and websites route through the VPN tunnel and which ones don't. However, one feature that gives it an advantage over ExpressVPN is CleanWeb. It’s a built-in ad-blocker and anti-malware feature that eliminates harmful ads and malware attacks.
Another standout feature of Surfshark is its support for dedicated/static IP addresses. You can currently get a dedicated IP from 5 countries on your Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android devices for an additional fee. Furthermore, it supports unlimited simultaneous connections with a single subscription, making it an ideal choice for large households with many devices.
Although both VPNs offer a comprehensive set of features, Surfshark goes beyond the basics with its CleanWeb feature, dedicated IP option, and Surfshark One. These features give Surfshark a slight edge over ExpressVPN.
Therefore, we recommend you to get Surfshark if you need dedicated/static IPs and built-in protection from intrusive ads and malware.
A VPN’s server count and infrastructure go a long way toward providing a seamless browsing experience. In this section, we’ll compare Surfshark and ExpressVPN in terms of their server networks.
ExpressVPN offers an extensive network of over 3,000 servers in 90+ countries. The servers have decent geographic diversity and are spread across key locations in Asia, North America, Europe, and South America. It also uses an industry-leading server technology called TrustedServer, which runs its entire network of servers on volatile memory (RAM).
Furthermore, this VPN stands out by offering multiple 10 Gbps servers and a limited number of virtual server locations. Its network primarily consists of bare-metal servers, which ensures reliable performance. Additionally, all ExpressVPN servers are optimized for streaming, torrenting, and gaming, guaranteeing a seamless experience with these activities.
With ExpressVPN, there are no restrictions on server switches. You have the freedom to switch between servers as much as you want. It takes just a few seconds to disconnect and connect to another server. In other words, this VPN ensures a smooth and fluid experience overall.
Surfshark runs a growing network of over 3,200+ servers in 100 countries around the world. Similar to ExpressVPN, the entire server network is run on a RAM-only server architecture that stores data for as long as it’s connected to a power supply.
The provider also offers specialized MultiHop servers that enhance your privacy by routing your traffic through multiple servers at once. However, with MultiHop servers, you’ll almost always experience slower speeds because the data has to travel farther before it reaches its destination.
Additionally, Surfshark employs virtual servers and discloses them using a small “V” next to the server name. We were glad to know that all Surfshark servers, including virtual servers, adhere to the same zero-logs policy.
We pick ExpressVPN as the winner in this category as its servers are better optimized for speed and provide a stable connection for a wide range of tasks. It uses RAM-only servers and supports streaming, torrenting, and gaming without lag or buffering.
Therefore, you should get ExpressVPN if you want a service that can offer stable speeds and reliable connections for all use cases without fail.
A VPN's user interface plays an important role in providing a seamless user experience. In this round, we evaluate the user experience and user interface of ExpressVPN and Surfshark to see which one comes out on top.
ExpressVPN offers a sleek and minimalistic interface with a focus on simplicity and functionality. The app’s home screen displays a big power button that connects you to a server instantly. It also shows the VPN’s connection status and location, as well as the option to quickly connect to a different server.
The interface makes it easy to select your desired location by tapping on the “selected location,” which opens a list of countries and cities that you can connect to. You can then scroll through the server locations or simply search for a city or country using the search box.
The minimalist design and user-friendly interface also allow you to easily navigate through settings. To access the application settings, tap on the “hamburger” icon and customize them to your preference. The settings menu lets you enable or disable various features, like the kill switch and split tunneling.
Surfshark offers a modern interface with all the necessary features located on the main home screen. The home screen contains a large power button on the right-hand side that quickly connects you to your desired server location. You may either connect to the fastest or nearest location by tapping the “Quick Connect'' button or choose from a list of “Recently Used” servers.
The left-hand side of the app’s interface shows additional features like Surfshark Alert and Antivirus, as well as the VPN’s settings panel. Like ExpressVPN, Surfshark also offers plenty of customization options to enhance your experience. It lets you personalize the app’s appearance and set favorite server locations for easy access. In addition, you can enable or disable features like the CleanWeb, kill switch, and split tunneling from the settings menu.
While Surfshark’s user interface may not be as polished as ExpressVPN's, it still provides a premium VPN experience.
Therefore, our recommendation is to get ExpressVPN if you prefer a smoother interface that offers a seamless user experience.
Both Surfshark and ExpressVPN claim to offer support for media streaming, gaming, and torrenting. But how well do they perform in these categories? Let’s find out!
ExpressVPN is renowned for its powerful media streaming capabilities. It can reliably unblock all popular streaming platforms, such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+, and more. ExpressVPN also offers a smart DNS tool called MediaStreamer, which lets you stream content on devices that don't support VPNs.
In terms of torrenting, ExpressVPN supports P2P traffic on all of its servers. The only downside is that it doesn’t support port forwarding. However, it isn’t a deal-breaker, as there are usually plenty of seeders available, especially for healthy torrent files. If torrenting is your primary activity on a VPN, here’s how you can use ExpressVPN for torrenting.
ExpressVPN also provides adequate gaming support. Despite the lack of dedicated gaming servers, it delivers fast speeds and stable connections for online gaming. Its extensive network of over 3,000 servers helps reduce lag and latency, thus ensuring a seamless gaming experience.
Like ExpressVPN, Surfshark also excels in media streaming. It can unblock all the major streaming platforms, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and more. To equal ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer, Surfshark offers a Smart DNS feature that lets you access content on devices that don’t support VPNs.
Surfshark also supports P2P traffic on all its servers, making it an excellent choice for torrenting anonymously. You can connect to these servers by typing “P2P” in the location search field on the home screen. It also uses powerful encryption and a proven zero-logs service to protect your torrenting activity.
In terms of gaming support, Surfshark is no different than ExpressVPN. While it doesn’t offer any dedicated gaming servers, its excellent combination of fast speeds and strong security features makes it a good VPN for gamers.
In this round of the Surfshark vs ExpressVPN comparison, you can see that they have a lot in common. Both VPNs can unblock almost all streaming platforms and offer fast and stable connections to play games with minimal latency. Each VPN also comes with advanced security features that you need to torrent safely.
If you get ExpressVPN, you’ll get lightning-fast speeds and powerful unblocking capabilities that can even bypass the Great Firewall of China. Similarly, you get much of the same features if you decide to get Surfshark.
Keeping your online activities private is the primary job of a VPN. Let’s see how ExpressVPN and Surfshark compare in terms of security and privacy.
ExpressVPN offers a range of security features that make it the go-to option for privacy-conscious users. It features an automated kill switch and uses AES 256-bit encryption with the OpenVPN protocol, which is considered the industry standard for VPNs.
Apart from the OpenVPN protocol, ExpressVPN also supports IKEv2 and L2TP/IPsec. It has even developed a proprietary protocol called Lightway, which is optimized for speed and security.
The company operates under a strict no-logs policy, so it doesn’t keep any record of the websites you visit or activities you carry out online. Its no-logs policy has been independently audited more than once, adding an extra layer of trust to its service.
Another standout feature of ExpressVPN is its RAM-only servers. These servers maximize your privacy by wiping all data when the server is rebooted or turned off. RAM-only servers don't store data permanently, so even if authorities seize a server, they won't find your data to identify you.
Surfshark combines basic VPN security features with a plethora of advanced features, making it one of the most secure VPNs on the market. It uses an automatic kill switch to prevent data leaks in case your VPN connection drops. Like ExpressVPN, it also uses AES 256-bit encryption, which is the most advanced encryption technology available today.
Additionally, Surfshark supports several VPN protocols, including OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard. Its no-logging policy has undergone independent security audits, which verified its no-logs claims.
Following in the footsteps of ExpressVPN, Surfshark upgraded all its servers to RAM-only profiles in July 2020, further showcasing its commitment to user privacy. Surfshark also equipped its servers with the MultiHop feature, which routes your traffic through multiple servers for added security and privacy.
Surfshark’s feature, called Camouflage mode, hides your VPN traffic and makes it appear like regular Internet traffic. It also offers a NoBorders mode, which bypasses censorship and allows you to access content in restrictive regimes.
It’s tough to declare a clear winner in terms of security and privacy, as both VPNs offer unique features and strengths. ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol, for instance, provides optimized performance with faster speeds and secure connections.
Surfshark’s Camouflage mode, on the other hand, amplifies your security by disguising your VPN traffic as normal Internet traffic. Although, the added security may come at the cost of speed.
Fast and reliable connections are absolutely necessary for a VPN service, especially for activities like streaming, gaming, and torrenting. In this round, we’ll evaluate Surfshark and ExpressVPN and see how they compare in terms of speed and performance.
ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs available on the market. In our tests, it consistently provided fast upload and download speeds without sacrificing security and privacy. We experienced a speed reduction of 12.4% on average, which is the lowest when compared to other VPNs.
Even when connected to distant servers, the service maintained its reputation for fast speeds. Also, connecting to servers only takes a few seconds, thanks to ExpressVPN’s use of “Parallel Connections.”
A major factor contributing to ExpressVPN's fast performance is its proprietary Lightway protocol, which is optimized for speed and security. With the Lightway protocol enabled, you can stream 4K content without experiencing any significant buffering or lag.
Surfshark is quickly gaining a reputation in the VPN space for its impressive speed and performance. In our tests, Surfshark offered consistently fast speeds with minimal lag or buffering, even during peak traffic times.
Like ExpressVPN, Surfshark performed well with both nearby and remote servers. Although we noticed a speed drop of 21.3% on average with Surfshark, it’s still much better than what other VPNs offer today.
Moreover, connecting and disconnecting the servers was almost instantaneous, resulting in a seamless experience.
As our tests showed, you’ll get fast and reliable connections with ExpressVPN, whether you choose nearby or remote servers.
Surfshark isn’t bad, either. However, ExpressVPN’s use of the Lightway protocol gives it a slight edge over Surfshark and pretty much any other VPN out there in terms of speed and performance. So if you prioritize speed and performance, you should get ExpressVPN.
The level of customer support provided by a VPN can be a deciding factor for many users when choosing between VPNs. In this section, we’ll take a look at the customer support offered by ExpressVPN and Surfshark to help you decide which one is the right service for you.
ExpressVPN provides top-notch support to ensure a smooth and hassle-free customer experience. The company offers 24/7 live chat support with knowledgeable representatives who can provide assistance with any issues you may have.
In addition to live chat, ExpressVPN offers email support and a dedicated support center with FAQs and troubleshooting guides. It also maintains an active blog, which covers a range of security topics and issues related to using a VPN.
Surfshark offers 24/7 live chat support, which is manned by helpful representatives who can assist you with any concerns. It also provides a comprehensive support center that includes setup guides, tutorials, and FAQs.
Furthermore, Surfshark’s blog shares a wealth of security wisdom and updates the information from time to time. Overall, Surfshark offers reliable support, with a helpful team and a range of resources to help you address any issues or questions.
Picking a winner in terms of customer support between these two VPNs is a tough call. If you get ExpressVPN, you’ll have the convenience of 24/7 live chat support as well as comprehensive installation guides and FAQs.
Similarly, if you decide to get Surfshark, you’ll gain access to a team of knowledgeable representatives, plenty of setup guides, and helpful resources.
Pricing is a crucial factor when choosing a VPN service. In this section, we'll compare Surfshark vs ExpressVPN in terms of pricing and see which VPN offers better value for money.
ExpressVPN offers a variety of pricing plans to fit any budget or need. The monthly plan is the most expensive option, priced at $12.95, but there's also an annual plan for $99.95 that provides an incredible 49% savings over the monthly rate. The annual plan comes with 3 free months as well, dropping the price further down. ExpressVPN also offers a 6-month plan for $59.95.
As far as free plans go, there’s only one way to avail a free trial. If you’re an iOS or Android user, you can sign up for a 7-day free trial of ExpressVPN without paying anything upfront. ExpressVPN also offers a generous 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans in case you’re dissatisfied with the service.
A range of payment options are available with ExpressVPN, including credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and UnionPay, among others. This lets you choose the method that suits your preferences.
Surfshark offers multiple plans to choose from, starting with the basic plan at $12.95 per month. However, their most popular choice is the two-year plan at just $59.76 ($2.30/month), which provides an 82% discount over the monthly plan. The two-year plan also includes 2 extra months, making it one of the best-value VPNs available on the market today.
In addition to the monthly and 2-year plans, there’s also an annual plan for $47.88. Similar to ExpressVPN, Surfshark provides a 7-day free trial for Android, iOS, and macOS platforms. If you’d like to try it on a different platform, you’ll have to go with the 30-day money-back guarantee.
Surfshark supports multiple payment methods, including credit cards, PayPal, Google Pay, and cryptocurrencies, depending on your region and personal needs.
In terms of pricing, both ExpressVPN and Surfshark offer competitive pricing plans, with discounts available for long-term plans. The basic plan for both VPNs starts at $12.95 per month, but Surfshark has a more affordable 2-year plan that offers an 82% discount over the monthly plan.
Ultimately, it comes down to which subscription plan and payment option best fit your budget and needs. If you’re looking for a basic plan or an annual plan, we recommend you get ExpressVPN with a 49% discount and 3 free months. For a 2-year subscription, you can never go wrong if you get Surfshark.
ExpressVPN and Surfshark are two of the most popular and highest-rated VPN services available on the market today. The two VPNs are closely matched in terms of quality and overall performance, but ExpressVPN outshines Surfshark in several key areas.
To see why, let’s take a look at the individual scores of each VPN in different aspects based on the reviews published on our website.
|ExpressVPN (Try now)
|Surfshark (Try now)
|Background, Jurisdiction & Reputation
|Supported Platforms & Devices
|Installation & Initial Configuration
|Server Count & Infrastructure
|UI/UX Design & Ease of Use
|Media Streaming & Torrenting Support
|Security & Privacy
|Speed & Performance
ExpressVPN rises above the competition when it comes to security and performance. It packs a robust suite of features, including top-notch speeds, excellent streaming capabilities, and industry-leading security and privacy features, into a single package.
And even though Surfshark is a decent alternative, it doesn’t strike the same balance between performance and convenience as ExpressVPN. So, make the move and sign up for ExpressVPN to get the most out of your online experience.
This concludes our Surfshark vs ExpressVPN comparison. If you have any questions or doubts, make sure to share them in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!