ExpressVPN vs SurfShark [Test Results 2020]
Statistics show that the rate of VPN usage is on the rise, as more and more people begin to understand the importance of protecting themselves online, and there are more commercial VPNs to choose from than ever before. Two of the top names in the business are ExpressVPN and SurfShark.
Both of these providers stand out for their speeds, security features, and streaming potential. But which one is the best value VPN for you? This is a question that a lot of people find themselves asking, and the truth is that both SurfShark and ExpressVPN have so much to offer, there’s not really a ‘bad choice’ between the two of them.
Still, in spite of their similarities and shared features, they do have some key differences in a few areas, and this side by side comparison will take a closer look at those areas in order to come to a definitive conclusion on which VPN is truly the best. Read on to learn more about these two leading services.
ExpressVPN vs Private Internet Access – Full VPN comparison
Top Selling Points – Let’s get to know them
To begin this SurfShark and ExpressVPN comparison, we’ll take a closer look at both of these VPN providers and see what helps them stand out as industry leaders. Let’s begin with ExpressVPN, which is well-known as one of the most popular VPNs on the market. ExpressVPN is able to offer immense speeds, boasting a sizable server network in more than 160 different locations, along with super security and privacy features too.
One of the key things most people focus on when choosing a VPN is security and safety, and ExpressVPN continues to lead the way in this domain. It has never suffered any serious data breaches or scandals, nor does it log user data. It’s based in the British Virgin Islands, which is one of the best locations around when it comes to data retention rules.
Interestingly enough, SurfShark is also based out of the British Virgin Islands, so it can match ExpressVPN in terms of not collecting any usage or connection data from its subscribers. Like ExpressVPN, it also boasts a pretty big server network, with over 1,700 servers in 60+ countries at the latest count.
SurfShark also has a few unique features, including a built-in ad-blocker and some malware scanning software too. It also offers an anonymous searching mode, and it has the benefit of allowing unlimited simultaneous connections, which is something that most major VPNs, including ExpressVPN, simply do not do.
One of the main selling points of any VPN is speed. Many people worry that a VPN will decrease their upload or download speeds, so they try to find a VPN provider with a large server network and an impressive track record in this area.
As mentioned above, ExpressVPN has a bigger server network than SurfShark, but how does this translate in terms of real-world usage and average speeds? Well, we ran some tests with both VPNs in order to find out.
The test results showed that ExpressVPN was the faster of the two providers, with average speeds consistently exceeding 100 Mbps. SurfShark’s speeds, meanwhile, register at less than half of that: around 40-45 Mbps, on average.
The speeds provided by SurfShark are still perfectly sufficient in most cases, and the exact speeds you get with any VPN will depend on the limits of your own internet location and which server you choose. However, for the purposes of this comparison, it’s clear to see that ExpressVPN is the fastest and the obvious winner.
Another area of contention when choosing a VPN provider is the price. Many people naturally want to save as much money as possible and not pay over the odds for a service they could get cheaper elsewhere. There are some very expensive VPN options out there, along with some cheaper choices too, so how about SurfShark and ExpressVPN? Which of the two offers better prices?
Well, in this area, ExpressVPN and SurfShark have quite a few similarities. They both offer three different subscription plans. You can choose between a monthly, yearly, or two-year plan on SurfShark or a monthly, six-month, or yearly plan with ExpressVPN.
With both providers, you get cheaper prices when you opt for longer plans, and there are some big discounts on the longest possible plan. The prices for the monthly plans are very similar with both providers, but as you go for the longer plans, we see some big differences, and SurfShark has lower prices on average per month.
Both companies allow you to pay in a variety of ways and both of them offer 30-day money-back guarantees too. SurfShark has the edge here, and it also offers a 7-day free trial for new users wanting to check out the service risk-free.
Another area in which we can compare different VPNs, like SurfShark and ExpressVPN, is in terms of features. Often, all VPNs do more or less the same thing, but they’ll come with a set of extra features designed to offer additional functionality to the user and add unique selling points to each service.
ExpressVPN comes with some great features, including browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, tutorials and guides for installing the service on a range of different devices like routers and gaming consoles, split tunneling capabilities with Windows, Mac, and Android, and apps for several different platforms too. ExpressVPN also provides obfuscated servers and a kill switch.
SurfShark more than matches ExpressVPN with its feature list. If you delve into the settings menu of your SurfShark app, you can find a range of extras like a kill switch, the No Borders anonymous browsing mode, and more. It comes with an ad-blocker and malware-scanner too, along with manual install potential on routers and set-top boxes. It also has apps for various devices like Android and iOS phones and Fire Sticks.
Overall, in terms of the SurfShark vs ExpressVPN battle, it’s difficult to pick a winner in this category. Both of these providers offer a lot of great features. ExpressVPN probably has a few more options overall for advanced users to set-up their VPN on more devices, but SurfShark does a great job with its ad-blocking and malware-tracking capabilities too.
One reason why a lot of people buy a VPN in the first place is that they want to be able to access streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer from all over the world, on their different devices, without being greeted with region restrictions and “This service is not available” messages on their screens. So how do ExpressVPN and SurfShark handle streaming?
Well, both of these VPN providers actually do really well in the streaming department. They’re able to unblock all of the major geo-restricted streaming platforms, including Hulu, Sky Go, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, NBC, ITV, and Netflix too.
In terms of specific Netflix libraries, which differ greatly from one country to the next, ExpressVPN is able to unblock the libraries for a lot of different countries including the US, the UK, France, Australia, Japan, and more. On the SurfShark side, it can also unblock the libraries for the US, the UK, and several other countries, but isn’t quite as extensive as ExpressVPN.
Thanks to the fact that ExpressVPN can unblock a few more libraries on Netflix than SurfShark and is a little more consistent overall when it comes to streaming services, it’s the winner in this category too.
Security and Encryption
Yet another reason why so many people choose to install VPNs on their computers, phones, and tablets is to protect themselves. There are a lot of risks of hackers and trackers out there, so it really helps to invest in strong online security to hide your data and encrypt your connections. Both ExpressVPN and SurfShark perform very well in this respect.
Both of these providers make use of leading 256-bit data encryption, which is the strongest currently available and effectively impossible to crack, but when we look a lot closer into the technical nitty-gritty, we see that ExpressVPN makes use of slightly more secure RSA keys, so it has a slight edge on SurfShark in this category.
In terms of VPN protocols offered to users, SurfShark provides the choice between OpenVPN, which is generally regarded as one of the strongest protocols around, as well as IKEv2 and Shadowsocks, which is still in beta for now. ExpressVPN, meanwhile, lets users pick between OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP.
Both of these providers offer kill switchers which cut your internet connection automatically if the VPN service gets interrupted in any way, helping to keep you 100% secure at all times, and they both have no logs policies. SurfShark offers its No Borders mode too, which allows you to browse anonymously, while ExpressVPN makes use of strong block chaining techniques to mask IP addresses and hide user info.
As well as security, many users want to find a VPN that can offer them peerless privacy too, hiding their connections, masking their locations, and keeping them totally safe from prying eyes, such as hackers, surveillance networks, or internet service providers. Again, we can see some impressive results from ExpressVPN and SurfShark in this aspect.
As stated earlier on, both of these providers are based out of the British Virgin Islands, which is one of the most private locations on Earth when it comes to data retention and protection laws. The islands aren’t a part of any big surveillance alliances, so you won’t need to worry about any outside agencies spying on your data.
Neither SurfShark nor ExpressVPN keeps logs of user data, either, so you won’t have to worry about your information being stored, sold, or used against you in any way. Both of them also allow you to sign up relatively anonymously, offering cryptocurrency payments for those who choose to use them.
Overall, both of these providers are pretty equally matched in the privacy space, although ExpressVPN does have slightly stronger security, which could help to protect your privacy a little more efficiently in the long run than SurfShark.
A lot of people like to share their VPNs with other members of the household, so everyone can connect to the servers and get their devices protected without the need to worry about paying for individual subscriptions or setting up unique networks for every member of the family. Some VPN providers make this easier than others by offering more simultaneous connections.
With ExpressVPN, you have the right to connect up to five devices at once. So you could have your PC protected while your spouse could be safe on their phone at the same time and your three kids could all be using their own devices under the protection of the VPN too. This is a pretty decent number of simultaneous connections, but it’s not as strong as SurfShark’s offering.
With SurfShark, you get unlimited simultaneous connections. This is almost unheard of in the VPN world, as most providers always impose some kind of limit (usually ranging between three and seven simultaneous devices), but SurfShark stands out from the crowd in a big way in this aspect, so if you like the idea of being able to connect as many devices as you like, this is a great option to choose.
In an ideal world, nothing will ever go wrong with your VPN and you won’t need to worry about contacting customer support. However, in the real world, it’s common for little issues to arise and people to have questions about how to use a certain feature or service. So, if you need to contact customer support, how do ExpressVPN and SurfShark handle this?
Well, ExpressVPN does a really good job. If you head over to their site, you’ll find a 24/7 live chatbox with friendly customer service agents standing by to help out. SurfShark does a similar job, also running its own live chat system, around the clock. Both providers also offer ticket support too, but we found in tests that ExpressVPN has way faster response times, usually getting back to people within an hour.
Both of these providers also have FAQ/Help Center sections on their sites to help you out with set-up and provide answers to lots of common questions. They’re both impressive, but we have to say that ExpressVPN’s tutorials and video guides are more comprehensive than anything on the SurfShark site for now.
ExpressVPN vs SurfShark – Which One’s Better?
Overall, it’s easy to see that both ExpressVPN and SurfShark are two of the very best VPNs on the market right now. They both excel in the key areas that matter the most to the majority of VPN users, such as speeds, streaming capabilities, security, and privacy too.
Both of them have their ups and downs. SurfShark is the cheaper option, for example, and does really well at offering endless simultaneous connections, while ExpressVPN has the edge in terms of streaming, download speeds, customer support, and one or two other aspects.
When we weigh up the individual categories, it’s clear to see that there’s only one winner. ExpressVPN is the better option of the two, boasting stronger customer care, super-fast speeds, and incredible ease of use overall, so we can strongly recommend it to the average user, but SurfShark is still a fine choice.