Surfshark vs NordVPN: Which VPN Takes the Lead in 2022?

NordVPN vs Surfshark Featured
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NordVPN vs Surfshark: A Quick Overview

We’ve tested NordVPN and Surfshark to help you determine which of these two amazing VPNs is better for you. We’re comparing them across all important categories and keeping tabs on winners in each one. Our testing circuit includes security, speed and performance, logging practices, pricing, user-friendliness, and customer service.

Let’s take a look at our winners for each category:

  • Security: NordVPN
  • Speed: Surfshark
  • Privacy: A Tie
  • Price: Surfshark
  • Ease of use: NordVPN
  • Customer Service: NordVPN

In our opinion, NordVPN is a better VPN service at the moment. Surfshark remains our #2 choice, though, and we believe it could catch up to Nord with some extra polish.

Want to know more about the test results and our comparison? Then read our full report below.

NordVPN and Surfshark are both popular, high-quality VPNs. NordVPN is an established household name, while Surfshark is the “new kid on the block” whose low prices and sheer quality have skyrocketed this provider to the very top of the VPN market. The recent merger with NordVPN is the greatest testament to this claim.

Even so, we still wanted to know which VPN excels, not only in terms of price and functionality, but also in terms of speed, security, ease of use, and customer service. We tested both VPNs extensively and compared their respective features.

Which of the two is a better option for you? Keep reading to find out.

Surfshark vs NordVPN: Functionality, Features, and Other Options

Servers5,400+ servers in 60 countries3,200+ servers in 65 countries
Torrents/P2P Support
Simultaneous connections6No limit
Operating systemsWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, LinuxWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux
ProtocolsOpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, NordLynx (WireGuard)OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard
PriceFrom $3.99 per monthFrom $2.30 per month
Log policyNo logsNo logs
Money-back-guarantee30 days30 days
DNS Leak Test
Tor over VPN
Obfuscated servers
Double VPN
Dedicated IP
Kill Switch
Split tunneling
Diskless servers
Malicious website blocker
Custom DNS option
Online tracker blocker
Link to websiteGo to NordVPNGo to Surfshark

NordVPN vs Surfshark: Which VPN Is More Secure?

Good VPNs have to protect you from all online threats. This includes hackers, international spy agencies, and even your ISP. They’re all looking to control your personal data, either to monitor you or sell it to marketers. Your VPN needs to deal with this harsh landscape and keep your online presence anonymous at all times.

With that in mind, let’s see how NordVPN and Surfshark can help you stay safe online.

Connection protocols

VPN protocols determine the security, speed, and flexibility of your VPN. NordVPN and Surfshark support very similar protocols. The only difference between them is that NordVPN uses a proprietary protocol instead of WireGuard.

Surfshark and NordVPN both work with the following tunnels:

  • OpenVPN (TCP/UDP): Very fast and secure open-source protocol. It supports any TCP or UDP port, which makes it ideal for dealing with online censorship. Note that the TCP connection is slower but almost impossible to block (even by the Chinese Great Firewall). UDP is faster but less resilient.
  • IKEv2: Another secure and fast protocol with a unique twist. Namely, IKEv2 is extremely resilient to network switches and will never drop connection during the transfer. It’s the best choice for mobile users, people who travel a lot, and generally, people who deal with a lot of unsecured networks.
  • WireGuard/NordLynx: Surfshark offers WireGuard. The “vanilla” version of WireGuard is lightning-fast but supports only UDP connections and can have some privacy issues. It’s a very young protocol that’s still in development so we prefer when VPN providers take basic WireGuard and “iron out the kinks” in-house. This is exactly what Nord does with their proprietary protocol NordLynx, which is based on WireGuard. It takes WireGuard’s amazing speeds and simplicity while eliminating its privacy issues. WireGuard is faster than OpenVPN and much more difficult to hack. Its tiny codebase makes it easier to inspect and troubleshoot. On the other hand, attackers have fewer vulnerabilities to exploit.

This is an excellent list of the strongest VPN protocols out there. OpenVPN still remains the most popular option, but we believe it’s slowly getting overshadowed by WireGuard and NordLynx. IKEv2 remains a top choice for mobile devices.

In other words, NordVPN and Surfshark are both ideal for secure online gaming sessions, streaming in full HD, torrenting, and anything else you can think of. Even so, we prefer NordVPN’s NordLynx over Surfshark’s WireGuard.

Encryption and extra features

Both NordVPN and Surfshark encrypt your traffic with 256-bit ciphers. OpenVPN and IKEv2 use AES as an encryption method while WireGuard and NordLynx use ChaCha20. This is considered top-level security by modern international standards. Both services implement an automatic kill switch that will cut your internet connection and prevent data leaks if your VPN falters and disconnects.

Here are some other amazing security features supported by both NordVPN and Surfshark:

  • Threat blocking: Both VPNs can block malware, ads, and trackers from the clients themselves. This is vastly superior to regular adblocking extensions, since they can also deal with suspicious apps on your device. The specific features are called “Threat Detection” (NordVPN) and “CleanWeb” (Surfshark).
  • Obfuscated (or stealthy) servers: Obfuscation disguises your VPN traffic to look like regular browsing. VPN-blocking firewalls can’t stop VPN traffic they can’t see. SurfShark calls this feature “Camouflage Mode“. Note that both services support obfuscation only with OpenVPN.
  • Double VPN (or Multi-Hop): This feature allows you to route your VPN traffic through multiple servers instead of just one. With a double VPN, even if someone manages to hack the first VPN tunnel, they will only hit another VPN server (instead of your real IP). This is ideal for beating censorship in countries like Russia. However, double encryption will also drastically affect your speed and performance. So, we don’t recommend using this feature unless you absolutely have to.
  • Split-tunneling: If you don’t want to use your VPN with some trusted apps or networks, split-tunneling lets you exclude them from VPN protection. In other words, it lets you access the internet directly (without VPN servers). This results in higher speeds, since you won’t have encryption to worry about. Surfshark calls this feature the “Bypasser,” which can be confusing since it sounds like something that deals with censorship or geo-restrictions.

Surfshark has also recently launched its Nexus update. This feature unifies its entire server network and should offer interesting options like rotating your IP every couple of minutes and switching between servers without dropping the connection.

Conclusion: the most secure VPN

NordVPN and Surfshark offer more security features than we can count. They are both excellent when it comes to online safety, but we have to give Nord the upper hand, albeit by a very thin margin. We prefer Nord’s implementation of WireGuard, which we see as the future of VPN technology. Having said that, you can’t go wrong with either of these services.

Most secure VPN: NordVPN

VPN Provider vs Provider Winner Security Banner NordVPN

Surfshark vs NordVPN: Which VPN Is Faster?

We tested the speed of both providers to see which VPN is faster. To do this, we first had to check our own internet connection without a VPN to set the speed benchmark. Our baseline measurements are provided in the following screenshot.

Speedtest no VPN

The test results for both NordVPN and Surfshark are provided in the table below (best scores listed in bold).

Speed metricNordVPNSurfshark
Download speed local server (Mbps)257.20381.40
Upload speed local server (in Mbps)388.64265.15
Ping local server9 ms4 ms
Download speed international server (in Mbps)146.64372.46
Upload speed international server (in Mbps)27.2419.02
Ping international server78 ms78 ms

During daily internet use, we didn’t experience any speed drops or disconnects with either NordVPN or Surfshark. Nevertheless, we can see a clear difference emerging from the test results. Surfshark scores much better on download speed, and NordVPN scores slightly better on upload speed. Since download is more important to most users, Surfshark gets the win in the speed category.

Fastest VPN: Surfshark

VPN Provider vs Provider Winner Speed Banner Surfshark

NordVPN vs Surfshark: Which VPN Handles Data Better?

Security and privacy go hand in hand. We looked at the company behind the VPNs, primarily their location, logging practices, and data safety procedures. Good encryption means very little if a VPN provider logs your data and sells it to third parties. Below you’ll find details regarding the degree of privacy provided by NordVPN and Surfshark.

NordVPN’s privacy details

  • NordVPN is based in Panama, which has no mandatory data retention laws. This allows it to implement a true no-logging policy.
  • You can create your NordVPN account simply by providing a viable email address.
  • Bitcoin payments are supported, which is an almost anonymous way of purchasing your subscription.
  • Nord Security has undergone an independent audit performed by one of the “Big 4” auditing firms called PricewaterhouseCoopers AG. The results confirmed that Nord takes its zero-logs policy quite seriously.
  • Since NordVPN uses diskless RAM servers, no data can be stored on them. Even if someone was able to access such a server, it would be of no use to them.
  • NordVPN also comes with a SmartDNS service that keeps your DNS queries 100% anonymous. ISPs can see and record every site you visit and how you interact with them. They usually keep this data for years and will hand it over when requested to do so by the government.

Surfshark’s privacy details

  • Many believe that Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands while operating from the UK. However, the company is actually headquartered in the Netherlands. This is a 9 Eyes country that collects information on its citizens and shares it internationally. That’s why it’s so important for Surfshark to implement a full no-logging policy, which it does — for the most part.
  • All you need to register with Surfshark is an email address.
  • Surfshark also allows you to pay with cryptocurrency. Consequently, you don’t have to link your account to a personal payment method.
  • The company was the first to receive the AV-Test seal of approval. AV-Test is a renowned German cybersecurity research institute.
  • Surfshark also uses diskless RAM servers. In terms of privacy and security, their setup rivals that of NordVPN.
  • They also have a SmartDNS feature available.

In terms of privacy, we find the distinction between the two VPNs too small to declare a clear winner. In our opinion, this category is a draw.

Most privacy-minded VPN: Tie

VPN Provider vs Provider Privacy Banner Tie

Surfshark vs NordVPN: Which Provider Is Cheaper?

As the table below shows, Surfshark’s cheapest plan is more affordable than NordVPN’s. NordVPN’s monthly subscription is a bit cheaper, but Surfshark clearly offers a better deal on longer plans. The monthly costs for the various subscriptions are provided in the table below.

1 month$11.99$12.95
6 months$6.49
1-year plan$4.92$3.99
2-year plan$3.99$2.49

Please note: With long-term subscriptions, you usually pay once for the entire subscription period. Therefore, you would be billed per subscription period and not per month. Also, even though we try to keep this table up-to-date, prices may fluctuate. Always visit a VPN provider’s website to see the current price.

The cheapest VPN: Surfshark

VPN Provider vs Provider Winner Price Banner Surfshark

NordVPN vs Surfshark: Which App Is Easier to Work With?

In our list of top VPN providers, all providers are actually very user-friendly. Therefore, this section is based more on taste and user preference than on one option being objectively better than the other. Below we briefly discuss the appearance of both NordVPN’s and Surfshark’s software and the ease of their installation processes.

Differences between NordVPN’s and Surfshark’s appearance

Like CyberGhost, Surfshark prefers to display a list of its available VPN servers. NordVPN, on the other hand, opts to display a map by default, with the option to display the servers in a list, if preferred. Therefore, with NordVPN you actually have the best of both worlds. An intuitive map, and a more in-depth list.

We also find the structure of NordVPN’s “settings” page a little clearer. Plus, NordVPN has an option to “pause” the VPN’s connection for a couple of minutes, which is very user-friendly.

Screenshots of NordVPN’s and Surfshark’s software are provided below.

NordVPN and Surfshark VPN client software side by side

Both VPNs work intuitively and are suitable for almost any user. We do think that NordVPN has a couple of neat features and options that make it just a little bit more user-friendly than Surfshark.

Installation process

NordVPN’s and Surfshark’s installation processes are almost identical to each other. Once you’ve created an account, you log in to the website and download the appropriate file for your operating system. You open this file, after which the VPN will be installed. All you need to do after that is log in with your chosen credentials.

On smartphones or tablets, you can download the VPN app from the provider’s website or from the App Store or Google Play. After downloading and installing the app, you only have to give it permission to adjust your network settings. When you click “Agree,” the VPN will be ready to go.

Most user-friendly VPN: NordVPN

VPN Provider vs Provider Winner Ease of Use Banner NordVPN

Customer Service: How Well Are Users Supported?

The quality of a VPN provider’s customer service can also be important. For the majority of users, the software will work just fine from the start. However, if something goes wrong, you should be able to get help. We contacted NordVPN and Surfshark with several questions and these are our findings:

  • NordVPN and Surfshark both offer live chat support.
  • Both support agents were able to provide us with appropriate answers. NordVPN was quicker to respond and was more thorough in its response.
  • Both NordVPN and Surfshark have a support database containing the answers to frequently asked questions and helpful guides.

The difference between the customer service of these two providers was very small. However, NordVPN’s team was a bit quicker and more thorough. So, we give NordVPN the win.

VPN with the best customer service: NordVPN

VPN Provider vs Provider Winner Customer Service Banner NordVPN

NordVPN or Surfshark: Which VPN Is Better?

NordVPN and Surfshark are very similar to each other in terms of security and performance. They’re both excellent VPNs, but NordVPN has a slight edge, in our opinion. The list below provides the winner of each category:

  • Security: NordVPN
  • Speed: Surfshark
  • Privacy: A Tie
  • Price: Surfshark
  • Ease of use: NordVPN
  • Customer Service: NordVPN

As you can see, Surfshark is a clear winner in terms of speed and price. However, Nord reigns supreme when it comes to security, ease of use, and customer service. Consequently, we can say that NordVPN is a better VPN than Surfshark.

Our pick
Our pick
Only $2.98 a month for a two-year subscription with a 30-day money-back guarantee!
  • Excellent protection and a large network of servers
  • Nice and pleasing application
  • No logs
Visit NordVPN
Safe and anonymous internet for only $2.21 a month
  • Very user-friendly and works with Netflix and torrents
  • 30-day money-back guarantee. No questions asked!
  • Cheap with many extra options
Visit Surfshark

Would you like to see the other VPN comparisons? Then click on one of the links below:

NordVPN vs Surfshark: Frequently Asked Questions

Have some specific questions about our NordVPN vs Surfshark comparison? Just click on one of the FAQs below to expand the answer.

No, although both VPNs put up a good fight. NordVPN offers better service in terms of security, user-friendliness, and customer support. Surfshark is a bit faster and its long-term subscription options are cheaper. Having said that, they’re both excellent VPNs, and you can learn all about them in our NordVPN vs Surfshark comparison.

Yes! Surfshark is near the top of our list of the best VPNs out there. It’s lightning-fast, secure, and easy to use. According to our in-house testing, it’s the fastest VPN currently on the market. Learn all about this amazing service in our complete Surfshark review with hands-on testing.

No. NordVPN replaces your real IP address with a fake one while encrypting your traffic. This means that your online traffic cannot be traced back to you as an individual. Even if someone tries to track you, all they’ll see is complete gibberish (encryption scramble) and a fake IP address. Learn more about this amazing service in our full NordVPN review.

Tech journalist
Djordje is a cybersecurity copywriter with an extensive background in law and marketing. He was a team leader in a company specializing in content creation in the field of technology. His main interests include legal frameworks for censorship on all levels and the place of VPNs and other cybersecurity software on that spectrum.