Comparing two excellent VPN providers always comes down to nuances and incremental advantages. Both ExpressVPN and Surfshark are at the top of their game, but they cater to different audiences.
With that in mind, we tested both VPNs on six essential categories. Here’s the winner for each category:
- Security: Surfshark
- Speed: Surfshark
- Privacy: Surfshark
- Price: Surfshark
- Ease of use: ExpressVPN
- Customer Service: Surfshark
Surfshark gets the win as we believe it’s a more complete service. Even though Surfshark triumphed in the end, ExpressVPN still remains a better option for VPN beginners. Surfshark dominates all other categories at the moment.
Although both VPN providers have their respective audiences, we wanted to see which one comes out on top. Our testing circuit focuses on security, speed, privacy, pricing, user-friendliness, and customer support.
Each VPN service has its strengths and weaknesses — and our head-to-head comparison will identify them all. Keep reading to find out which of these two amazing VPNs is the best tool for you.
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN: Functionality, Features, and Other Options
|Servers||3,000+ servers in 94 countries||3,200+ servers in 100 countries|
|Simultaneous connections||5||Unlimited simultaneous connections|
|Operating systems||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux|
|Protocols||OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, Lightway||OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard|
|Price||From $6.67 per month||From $1.99 per month|
|Log policy||No logs||No logs|
|Money-back-guarantee||30 days||30 days|
|DNS Leak Test||✔||✔|
|Tor over VPN||✖||✖|
|Custom DNS option||✔||✖|
|Online tracker blocker||✖||✔|
|Static IP-address Servers||✖||✔|
|Anonymous search engine||✖||✔|
|Email leak notification||✖||✔|
|Automated HTTPS redirect||✖||✔|
|Data compression option||✖||✔|
|Link to website|
ExpressVPN vs Surfshark: Which VPN Is More Secure?
Your VPN service should protect you against spying agencies, hackers, and even the curious eyes of your ISP. Failing to anonymize your browsing and online traffic defeats the purpose of using a VPN. Let’s see where our contenders stand when it comes to essential security aspects.
ExpressVPN supports the following tunneling protocols:
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP): The most popular option due to its perfect balance between speed and security.
- IKEv2: The best option for mobile users and people who travel a lot, as it is the most resistant to network changes.
- L2TP/IPsec: A decent alternative when Lightway and OpenVPN are not available. It can rival them in speed, but not security.
- Lightway: ExpressVPN’s proprietary protocol is ideal for streaming, torrenting, and gaming.
This is an impressive list of protocols devoid of outdated options like PPTP and SSTP. Lightway offers blazing speed while adding obfuscation, TCP support, and boosting privacy. As such, it’s great for smooth streaming, private torrenting, and dealing with online censorship.
Surfshark VPN offers two of the same protocols, with a different third option:
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
- WireGuard: This new tunnel is best-suited for operations that demand sheer speed without sacrificing your security.
This is also a solid list, with WireGuard being the most attractive option. In our opinion, it represents the future of VPN tunneling, offering amazing speeds while maintaining solid security.
Encryption and extra features
Both Surfshark and ExpressVPN offer “stealth locations,” also known as “obfuscated servers”. These will disguise your VPN traffic to look like regular browsing. In other words, not even the finest deep packet inspection will be able to flag VPN users. This allows you to connect even in countries that have banned VPNs.
Surfshark has some extra security options that ExpressVPN doesn’t offer. First of all, it supports the so-called “double VPN,” a feature pioneered by NordVPN. This allows you to route your traffic through two VPN servers instead of one. Note that, even though it sounds like a great idea to have double the security, encrypting your traffic twice will result in considerable speed drops. Most regular VPN users don’t need this level of security. It’s primarily reserved for people dealing with super-sensitive and confidential business or state data.
Secondly, Surfshark has recently implemented its Nexus update, which promises better privacy, security, and speed. It also allows users to connect to their entire server network instead of individual servers. This means you can switch between servers and change assigned IPs without ever dropping your VPN protection.
Both ExpressVPN and Surfshark were independently audited and came out of these audits unscathed. ExpressVPN was fully audited by PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), one of the four biggest security auditing firms in the world. Surfshark’s VPN servers and browser extensions were inspected by a German company called Cure53. You can read more about the results of the audit in this report.
Surfshark takes a win in this category by a very thin margin. Both VPNs offer sophisticated security tools, but Surfshark simply has more of them. It feels like they’ve improved their product significantly over the past couple of years, while ExpressVPN pretty much stayed the same.
Most secure VPN: Surfshark
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN: Which VPN Is Faster?
To compare the speed of these two VPNs, we conducted our own speed tests. We first tested our own internet connection without a VPN to set the speed baseline. Check the screenshot below for the results.
We then tested international and local servers belonging to both ExpressVPN and Surfshark. The results are provided in the table below, with the fastest speeds entered in bold.
|Download speed local server (Mbps)||322.38||381.40|
|Upload speed local server (in Mbps)||171.11||265.15|
|Ping local server||8 ms||4 ms|
|Download speed international server (in Mbps)||139.68||372.46|
|Upload speed international server (in Mbps)||26.97||19.02|
|Ping international server||114 ms||78 ms|
Our testing shows that both VPNs provide enough speed for seamless day-to-day operation. You shouldn’t experience any speed drops during daily use. However, Surfshark is a clearly better choice for large downloads, HD streaming, and online gaming. Surfshark is also the fastest provider on our list of the best VPNs currently out there.
Fastest VPN: Surfshark
ExpressVPN vs Surfshark: How Do These VPNs Protect Your Privacy?
Third-party attacks aside, your VPN provider also has to protect you from itself. If they keep extensive logs, your data could still end up in the wrong hands. Even one of NordVPN’s servers got hacked in 2019 and leaked private encryption keys and configuration files.
With that in mind, let’s see how both Surfshark and ExpressVPN safeguard your privacy:
ExpressVPN’s privacy details
- ExpressVPN is one of the top no-logging VPNs out there.
- The company operates out of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which is a very VPN-friendly location. The BVI technically belongs to the UK, but it’s governed by its own laws. It also operates outside of any international data-sharing agreements and alliances. Lastly, it doesn’t have any mandatory data retention laws, which allows VPN companies to conduct business without any data logging.
- The TrustedServer technology means that their OpenVPN and IKEv2 servers run on RAM only (the so-called “diskless servers”). This means that they’re physically unable to store any data since they don’t have any hard drives.
- ExpressVPN has been independently audited by PwC and the results showed the company’s commitment to user privacy and anonymity.
- Recent developments around ExpressVPN have raised some potential privacy concerns. Namely, they were acquired by Kape Technologies, a company with a shady past. Furthermore, ExpressVPN’s CIO has been fined for his involvement in UAE’s Project Raven.
Surfshark’s privacy details
- Surfshark also has a strict “no logs” policy.
- Although many Surfshark reviews claim that it’s located in the British Virgin Islands, it’s actually headquartered in the Netherlands, which is a 9 Eyes country. The “Eyes Alliance” is a network of countries that effectively spy on their citizens and share the obtained data with each other. That’s why it’s so important that your VPN adheres to a solid no-logging policy, which Surfshark does, for the most part. However, if any info kept by Surfhark leaks out, it can be shared internationally.
- Surfshark has recently switched to a RAM-only server network. As with ExpressVPN servers, no data can be saved because it only exists temporarily.
- Surfshark is the first VPN that got the AV-Test seal of approval. AV-Test is a renowned independent research institute for cybersecurity from Germany.
Both providers don’t keep logs, operate on RAM-only servers, and were audited by renowned cybersecurity companies. However, recent events have thrown a shadow of concern over ExpressVPN. Therefore, Surfshark is a better VPN for privacy in our opinion.
Most privacy-minded VPN: Surfshark
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN: Which Provider Is Cheaper?
Surfshark’s most attractive feature is its extremely low price. It’s one of the cheapest premium VPN services that we recommend (with the exception of the occasional VPN deal). ExpressVPN, on the other hand, is known for its steep pricing policy. Check the available subscription options in the table below, which all show the price per month.
Please note: prices are susceptible to change. We try to keep this table up-to-date, but you should always check the prices on the official website of your chosen provider.
The cheapest VPN: Surfshark
ExpressVPN vs Surfshark: Which App Is Easier to Work With?
Both ExpressVPN and Surfshark clients are pretty beginner-friendly and easy to use. Having said that, let’s explore some of the differences in their apps, installation processes, and respective websites:
Differences between ExpressVPN’s and Surfshark’s appearance
The layout of ExpressVPN’s app is very clear and minimalistic. It features a large ON/OFF button with a shortcut to the server list directly underneath it. If you’re having trouble picking the fastest server, the client can identify it automatically for you. ExpressVPN’s client also provides some useful guidance on the available protocols. In short, you should have no problems choosing the right option for your needs.
Surfshark basically has the same layout as ExpressVPN. The home screen lets you pick between the “fastest server” and the “nearest country,” which is the same thing in 99% of the cases. However, Surfshark’s app is pretty scarce when it comes to explaining its various functions.
When it comes to their official sites, ExpressVPN offers in-depth info about the services, but can be challenging to navigate at times. Surfshark’s, in turn, is very easy to navigate, but doesn’t quite go as in-depth as ExpressVPN.
The installation process of both ExpressVPN and Surfshark is pretty intuitive and self-explanatory; you click on the downloaded file and follow the steps indicated on-screen.
In conclusion, we must say that both applications work well. However, Surfshark could provide a little more information about its various settings. That is why ExpressVPN narrowly wins in this category.
Ease of Use Winner: ExpressVPN
Customer Service: How Well Are Users Supported?
Good customer support is an essential piece of a premium VPN service. A good support team has to be able to solve your problems when all the FAQs and knowledge bases fail.
Here’s how ExpressVPN’s and Surfshark’s customer support fare in direct comparison:
- The support teams of both providers can be reached via live chat. We’re talking about getting in touch with an actual person, here, not an AI-powered chat widget.
- Surfshark’s operators were more knowledgeable during our interactions. ExpressVPN’s support team is more than willing to help, but they’re often unable to tackle complicated technical problems.
- Customer service is only available in English for both providers.
- Both sites offer extensive knowledge bases packed with useful setup and troubleshooting guides. However, both of their on-site FAQ sections feel a bit lacking.
Both services offer identical modes of customer support. However, Surfshark’s team feels more knowledgeable when it comes to technical issues.
VPN with the best customer service: Surfshark
Our Final Verdict: Is ExpressVPN or Surfshark Better?
Both Surfshark and ExpressVPN are excellent choices, so it really comes down to your specific needs. ExpressVPN’s user-friendly apps will greatly benefit VPN beginners. Having said that, Surfshark is better at everything else, in our opinion.
If you do a lot of heavy downloading, HD streaming, and online gaming, Surfshark is the tool for you. It also wins in the security and privacy departments. Lastly, its customer support team is more skillful at the moment.
Here are the results for each comparison category:
- Security: Surfshark
- Speed: Surfshark
- Privacy: Surfshark
- Price: Surfshark
- Ease of use: ExpressVPN
- Customer Service: Surfshark
In the end, Surfshark wins by a landslide. Would you like to subscribe to one of these providers? Just click the appropriate box below to go to either ExpressVPN’s or Surfshark’s website.
- Very easy to use VPN
- Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
- 3000+ servers in 94 countries
- Very user-friendly and works with Netflix and torrents
- 30-day money-back guarantee. No questions asked!
- Cheap with many extra options
Interested in more hands-on VPN comparisons? Check the best VPNs in direct comparison via the links below:
- ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN
- ExpressVPN vs. CyberGhost
- NordVPN vs. CyberGhost
- NordVPN vs. Surfshark
- CyberGhost vs. Surfshark
Do you have some additional questions about our ExpressVPN vs Surfshark comparison? Take a look at our list of the frequently asked questions below:
At the moment, we would say yes. ExpressVPN remains a better option for beginners, due to its simple VPN clients. However, Surfshark offers better speeds, security, privacy, and customer support. It’s an ideal choice for anything from gaming and torrenting to streaming in full HD. Read our full ExpressVPN vs Surfshark comparison for more details.
No, ExpressVPN is one of the top services on the market, but not the best. We strongly believe that NordVPN and Surfshark are superior products at the moment. Among them, they offer better speeds and security without raising any privacy concerns (unlike ExpressVPN). If you’re looking for the most well-rounded VPN service out there, we would recommend going with NordVPN.
Absolutely! Surfshark is an excellent option for anyone who wants real value for their money. It’s a cheap VPN with many different features and extra options, allowing you to stream US Netflix, download safely, and browse the internet without slowing down your connection. It defeats many other premium VPNs when you compare them directly. For more information, check out our full Surfshark review.