Surfshark vs. ExpressVPN: Which One Wins?

VPN security

Surfshark vs. ExpressVPN: Which One Wins?

A VPN is fast becoming a must-have accessory for safe secure internet access. Virtual private networks provide a secure and private channel for data exchange between your devices and the internet. In addition, they mask your true identity and location by supplying an IP address from anywhere in the world you want. 

There is a wide range of free and premium VPNs that offer varying levels of protection for your online data. For this reason, it’s really important to evaluate the features of the VPN you choose to use.

In this article, we compare two of the most popular VPNs, Surfshark and ExpressVPN. Which one wins? Let’s find out which VPN is worth choosing. 

NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN: Side-by-Side Comparison

What is it?A virtual private network (VPN)A virtual private network (VPN) 
Primary UseProviding a private and secure connection for the exchange of data onlineProviding a private and secure connection for the exchange of data online
Initial Release20182009
Current ReleaseSurfshark 2023 4.10.1Windows: 4.1
iOS: 11.28.0
Android: 6.7 
Linux: 1.4
Influential DevelopersNordVPN s.a.Kape Technologies
Operating SystemsWindows, Mac, Android, iOS, LinuxWindows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux
Compatible DevicesSmartphones, laptops, PCs, smart TV, router, consoles, media streaming devicesSmartphones, laptops, PCs, smart TV, router, consoles, media streaming devices
LicensingCommercial proprietary softwareGNU (General Public License v2.0)
Country Company RegisteredNetherlandsBritish Virgin Islands
Number of Customers1 million+3 million
Number of Servers3,2003,000+
Number of Countries with Servers10094
Encryption StandardAES-256 encryptionAES-256 encryption standard
Data Retention/Logs?NoNo
Number of Devices per SubscriptionUnlimited5
Streaming Services UnblockedNetflix, HBO Max, Apple TV, iPlayer, FirestickNetflix, Hulu, Disney+, DAZN, iPlayer, Amazon Prime
Money-Back Guarantee?Yes, 30-dayYes, 30-day

Surfshark vs. ExpressVPN: Which One Wins? 

Surfshark is a relatively new entrant to the VPN market, having been launched in 2018. As a subsidiary of NordVPN, it benefits from the resources and technologies of a much larger company.

But is it ready to take on the juggernaut that is Express VPN? Let’s take a closer look to see which one wins.

Servers and Locations Available

Right now, Surfshark is located in the Netherlands with more than 3,200 servers in 100 countries. This is great for accessing location-restricted content from all over the world. Surfshark also can provide its million-plus users with ample bandwidth and speeds for its service.

ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, a jurisdiction that allows it to operate a strict zero-data log policy for all its users. Its server numbers and locations are comparable to Surfshark and, notably, it does not have servers in China, making it popular for bypassing the great firewall of China!

VPN Speeds

Both ExpressVPN and Surfshark are capable of providing subscribers with high-speed internet connectivity around the world. This is primarily because of the large number of countries that have servers for each VPN provider. You can expect to be able to stream, play video games, file share, or teleconference without the inconvenience of buffering. 

Encryption Protocols Used

Express VPN and Surfshark use the most secure AES-256 encryption, to ensure that transferred data cannot be hacked as it travels between your device and the internet. In addition, Surfshark blocks malware and ads, which is a feature that ExpressVPN does not have.

ExpressVPN and Surfshark also ensure that your IP address does not leak as it is routed through its servers. Both VPN providers have a kill switch that will drop your connection if your IP address becomes exposed. 

Unblocking Streaming Services

The UK’s BBC iPlayers is one of the world’s hardest streaming services to crack, but both Surfshark and ExpressVPN can credibly present devices as having a UK IP address, wherever you are in the world. 

You should be able to confidently watch restricted content from the territory of your choice on the best streaming platforms, including:

  • Netflix 
  • HBO Max
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Amazon 
  • AppleTV
  • Disney+
  • Hulu 

The Number of Devices You Can Connect

Surfshark allows you to connect an unlimited number of devices on a single subscription, while ExpressVPN limits users to just five. This is a major disadvantage of opting for ExpressVPN especially if you want your entire family to use their devices on a subscription. Hopefully, ExpressVPN will become more generous in the near future. 


Surfshark is also about a third of the price of ExpressVPN. It has been marketed as a budget-friendly option with costs as low as $2.30 per month compared to $6.67 per month for ExpressVPN. You can try either VPN for 30 days for free, due to a reliable money-back guarantee.

ExpressVPN is the more expensive platform, but it has a variety of great features to keep you secure.

About Surfshark

Surfshark is a Netherlands-based VPN that was founded in 2018. Its first product was a VPN for iOS devices. Other services offered by Surfshark include: 

  • An ad blocker
  • A private search tool
  • A data leak detection system
  • An Android DNS resolver called Trust DNS

It merged with Nord Security. However, both companies still operate independently. Surfshark has been consistently highly rated by external auditors and independent IT security organizations. CNN named Surfshark as the best VPN of 2020, and in 2022 it was one of CNET’s Best Overall VPNs.

About ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is owned by Express Technologies Ltd., a subsidiary of Kape Technologies, based in the British Virgin Islands. The company was originally set up by serial entrepreneurs, Peter Burchhardt and Dan Pomerantz. It has been operating for over 14 years. 

ExpressVPN is internationally popular because of the high degree of subscriber privacy it offers and its strict no-logs policy. This was highly publicized by incidents with China and Turkey, which have tried and failed to access user activity or connection logs.

In 2020, ExpressVPN released a new VPN protocol called Lightway that has enhanced connectivity speeds while reducing server power consumption. In 2021, the company was purchased by Kape Technologies. 

Surfshark vs. ExpressVPN: 4 Must-Know Facts

  • British company Kape Technologies owned by the Israeli billionaire, Teddy Sagi, acquired Express VPN in September 2021. 
  • Kape Technologies also owns CyberGhost VPN and the VPN review site Webselenese.
  • NordVPN is a Lithuanian company that was started in 2012 by tech entrepreneur Tomas Okmanas and others.
  • NordVPN also has a browser extension for Google Chrome.

Final Thoughts

Though ExpressVPN is a longstanding market leader for VPNs, challenger company Surfshark has the stronger offer. For a third of the price of an Express VPN subscription, you can have an equivalent level of security and connectivity, but with additional features and unlimited devices. 

Surfshark is much better value for money and working hard to retain your custom. Knowing that it has the resources and expertise of NordVPN, a more established, reputable company inspires confidence. However, they still have a long way to go to match the subscriber numbers and reach of ExpressVPN.

Frequently Asked Questions

My VPN does not work with Netflix. What should I do?

If a VPN is not allowing you to unblock Netflix or other streaming services you can troubleshoot by refreshing your connection, clearing the cache and cookies on your device, or updating the VPN app.

How can I find my IP address?

You can find your IP address by typing “What’s my IP” into Google. Google will display your IP address.  You can usually find the IP address of your device in the Network & Internet settings of most devices.

Are free VPNs safe?

Free VPNs are often not the most secure. They often do not own their own servers and may route your data unencrypted. Also, many free VPNs log and sell user data. For confident surfing, it is better to use a reputable paid-for VPN service with a no-log policy.

Are VPNs illegal?

VPNs are legal in most countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Countries, where VPNs are restricted or illegal, include:

  • Belarus
  • North Korea
  • China
  • Iraq
  • Iran
  • Turkmenistan
  • Belarus
  • Uganda

Will a VPN drain the battery on my devices?

Yes. Using a VPN on a smartphone or other battery-powered device will increase power consumption by 10 to 15 percent.

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