The VPN industry is booming, and there are loads of great virtual private network service providers to choose from. In this Surfshark vs ExpressVPN review, we’ll take a detailed look at these two elite VPNs to see how they compare and help you make an informed decision.
We’ll examine all the key aspects of Surfshark and ExpressVPN — including speed, performance, pricing, servers, and top features — and see which VPN comes out on top. Let’s jump right in!
What are Surfshark & ExpressVPN?
Surfshark and ExpressVPN are two of the best VPN service providers in the industry. Both VPNs provide unparalleled online security by encrypting your data, hiding your IP address and physical location, and protecting you against malware, spyware, trojans, and hackers.
Apart from enhancing security and ensuring privacy, VPNs also enable unrestricted access to the internet. Both Surfshark and ExpressVPN allow you to access geo-restricted content, whether it’s a website that’s unavailable in your location or a TV show that’s not available in your country’s Netflix library.
On top of that, VPNs can increase your internet speed by preventing ISP throttling. If your internet service provider’s network is under heavy load, it might enforce a bandwidth limit on your connection, preventing you from reaching the download/upload speeds you’re paying for. A VPN like Surfshark hides your online activity from your ISP, removing any speed restrictions.
VPNs also provide complete anonymity, meaning trackers, advertisers, cybercriminals, and even your government can’t see what you’re doing online. This makes Surfshark and ExpressVPN a great choice for online gambling, watching adult content, and torrenting movies and games.
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN Pricing
Not all VPNs are created equal — some VPN service providers provide more value for money than their competitors. Here’s a breakdown of Surfshark vs ExpressVPN pricing plans, so you can determine which VPN suits your needs and budget.
First up, Surfshark.
Surfshark is one of the most affordable VPNs on the market. The two-year pricing plan starts from $2.49/month, but the company offers users 2 months for free on top of the 24 months they pay for. That’s an incredible 82% discount compared to a standard monthly subscription plan that starts from $12.95/month.
Apart from world-class VPN protection, you’re also getting ad and malware protection, real-time alerts, MultiHop connectivity for extra security, and a Bypasser (split tunneling) with all pricing plans.
If you want to add an additional layer of security, for just $1.49/month, you can also include a Surfshark Antivirus, secure Surfshark Search, and real-time alerts in your subscription.
This is incredible value for money compared to other leading VPN providers. For example, ExpressVPN’s standard annual plan starts from $6.67/month, which is nearly double what you’d pay for Surfshark with all the add-ons.
If you don’t want to commit to an annual plan, ExpressVPN offers two more options — a monthly plan at $12.95/month and a six-month plan at $9.99. You’ll have access to all of ExpressVPN’s features — both basic and advanced — regardless of which subscription plan you opt for.
Surfshark and ExpressVPN both offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you an opportunity to try out the VPNs risk-free for up to a month. Within the first 30 days, you can request a full refund if you’re unsatisfied with the VPN for any reason.
Speeds & Performance of Surfshark & ExpressVPN
When choosing a VPN, speed and performance are the first things you should pay attention to. No matter how good a VPN might be at safeguarding your online data and protecting you from harmful programs and cyber threats, it isn’t worth it if it drastically slows down your connection speed.
This isn’t a concern with Surfshark VPN, considering it’s one of the fastest VPNs on the market, with speeds ranging from 390 Mbps to a whopping 980 Mbps on local servers.
All of Surfshark’s servers are connected to at least a 1 Gbps port, with some boasting an impressive 10 Gbps. In plain English, that means you’ll enjoy lightning-fast speeds on any server you connect to.
The speed and stability of its servers make Surfshark one of the best VPNs for gaming, torrenting, and streaming online content.
ExpressVPN is no slouch either, with an average speed on U.S. servers of 385 Mbps. This VPN service provider followed in Surfshark’s footsteps and has also upgraded a portion of its servers from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps for faster speeds and more reliable connections to servers across the globe.
Which is Best for Netflix & Streaming?
Surfshark VPN is one of the best VPNs for Netflix since it can unblock access to Netflix’s libraries in a dozen different countries, including the U.S., UK, Canada, Italy, Australia, and Japan. You can also use Surfshark to access geo-restricted content on HBO Max, Hulu, Disney Plus, BBC iPlayer, and other popular streaming platforms.
The speed and stability of Surfshark’s servers mean you will be able to watch your favorite TV shows and movies without loading or buffering, no matter where you are.
ExpressVPN is also a great option for streaming online content. It can unblock dozens of Netflix libraries, as well as geo-restricted content on Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and even Amazon Prime Video.
Both VPNs support unlimited bandwidth and never throttle your connection, ensuring an uninterrupted online streaming experience. We’re happy to recommend both Surfshark and ExpressVPN if you need a VPN to access geo-restricted content.
Servers & Locations
We’ve already mentioned that Surfshark reaches incredible speeds on local servers. This is excellent news for anyone living in North America and Europe, thanks to Surfshark’s excellent server distribution.
Surfshark has over 3,200 servers in 95 different countries, with 600 being located in the U.S. alone. This enables users to connect to a nearby server and experience superb online protection without sacrificing speed or performance.
All of Surfshark’s servers are RAM-only, meaning the data is only cached during your session and is deleted as soon as you disconnect from a server. In other words, nobody can monitor your online activity or access any of your data since it isn’t stored or logged on Surfshark’s servers.
ExpressVPN also boasts wide coverage, with 3,000+ servers in 94 countries. On top of a widespread server fleet, ExpressVPN offers virtual server locations in a number of countries. Essentially, this feature displays your IP address as if it were registered in the country you chose while actually connecting you to a server that’s physically closer to you and gives you faster speeds and better performance.
The virtual server locations are excellent for accessing geo-restricted content. For example, if you’re located in Germany and want to access Netflix’s U.S. library, a virtual server will remove geo-blocks by displaying a U.S. IP address while still connecting you to the fastest available server in Germany.
Both ExpressVPN and Surfshark provide a myriad of useful features to ensure maximum user security, privacy, and anonymity when using the internet.
Both VPN providers offer industry-standard AES-256 encryption, secure VPN protocols, split tunneling, kill switch, IP address masking, and unlimited bandwidth.
That said, let’s take a look at a few of the unique features of Surfshark and ExpressVPN that make them two of the best VPN apps on the market.
Let’s take a closer look at Surfshark first.
Surfshark Camouflage Mode
Once you turn Camouflage Mode on from the Surfshark VPN settings, you’ll make it essentially impossible for anyone to track you or monitor your online activity. This mode ensures complete privacy, meaning not even your ISP or government can take a sneak peek into what you’re doing online.
Moreover, this feature ensures that nobody can tell that you’re using a VPN. In other words, even websites with built-in protection against VPNs won’t be able to restrict your access since they’ll be none the wiser.
If you’re sick and tired of annoying ads or afraid of malware and phishing attacks, you’ll love Surfshark CleanWeb. This add-on blocks ads, prevents tracking so advertisers can’t retarget you in the future, and protects you from any form of cyber attack.
If you’re not connected to Wi-Fi, ads can quickly drain your mobile data. By automatically blocking ads and pop-ups — both in your browser and within the apps you’re using — CleanWeb ensures the sites you’re visiting load faster and saves you money on mobile data.
If you don’t want anyone to know what you’re searching for online, opening an Incognito window on your browser is not enough. Google and your internet service provider will still have access to your browsing history, which means advertisers will as well.
If you want to browse the web without anyone looking over your shoulder, Surfshark Search is a must-have. This secure search prevents any form of tracking or targeted ads, while simultaneously providing you with relevant organic search results.
Impressive, but now let’s see what ExpressVPN has to offer.
ExpressVPN Threat Manager
Whenever you visit a website or use an app, you leave a digital footprint. This information is often used by third parties to get insight into your online habits and interests, so they can serve you targeted ads and try to sell you anything they think you’re likely to buy.
ExpressVPN’s Threat Manager prevents this from happening. The VPN has an extensive list of websites that either use trackers or are listed as malicious, so it automatically prevents your device from communicating with these websites. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to access certain websites — it simply prevents them from collecting as much of your data as they normally would.
One thing to note is that the Threat Manager is currently only available for iOS, macOS, and Linux. So, if you’re an Android or Windows user, you won’t have access to this invaluable feature.
ExpressVPN Lightway Protocol
Lightway is a modern VPN protocol developed by ExpressVPN in order to improve speed and further enhance security. It runs faster compared to other VPN protocols and uses less battery, meaning you can always leave the VPN on.
Lightway relies on wolfSSL, a C-language-based library that’s built for optimal speed and maximum security. This allowed ExpressVPN to engineer a light protocol with about 2,000 lines of code, making it easier to audit, update, and fine-tune for better performance.
ExpressVPN Private DNS
ExpressVPN has its own private, encrypted DNS servers that prevent DNS hijacking, leaking, blocking, and filtering. In other words, nobody can prevent your access to certain websites or track your online activity by taking a look at the DNS query you’re using to access specific websites online.
DNS stands for Domain Name System, and is essentially a directory of all websites and services. A DNS is typically run by your internet service provider (ISP), and you have to use it to look up the IP address of the website you want to visit. This means your ISP has some logs of your online activity.
A private DNS relies on powerful encryption to ensure complete privacy, so nobody can ever access your activity and connection logs, not even your ISP or government.
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN Safety & Security
The safety and security of users’ online data should be the number one priority for every VPN service provider. Both Surfshark and ExpressVPN take user security very seriously — they rely on the uncrackable AES-256 encryption standard and offer multiple secure VPN protocols to choose from.
On top of standard VPN protection, Surfshark offers a variety of additional features that act as an extra layer of security. We’ve already mentioned Surfshark CleanWeb and Camouflage Mode, but there are other security measures in place, such as a killswitch, private DNS and leak protection, IP randomizer, and real-time alerts.
Surfshark VPN also provides RAM-only, obfuscated servers and adheres to a strict no-logs policy, meaning your data is hidden from third parties, and the company never keeps any activity logs.
ExpressVPN is equally committed to user privacy and security. It runs an encrypted DNS on every server, features a built-in Network Lock killswitch that keeps your data safe even if your VPN connection drops, and it doesn’t keep any activity or connection logs.
The difference between Surfshark vs ExpressVPN in terms of security comes in the form of unique add-ons. Apart from the VPN, Surfshark provides an antivirus, a secure search engine, real-time alerts, and security reports.
If you want iron-clad security, we believe Surfshark is a slightly better option.
Privacy & Audits
Surfshark’s server infrastructure and dedication to user privacy and security have been proven twice by an independent audit run by the reputable German cybersecurity firm, Cure53. The audits have revealed no major security flaws, and the two general vulnerabilities discovered by the auditing firm were promptly fixed.
ExpressVPN has also passed security audits conducted by three different auditing firms — F-Secure, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and Cure53. The audits have all confirmed that ExpressVPN’s servers are completely secure and that the company doesn’t collect or store any activity or connection logs.
In other words, both Surfshark and ExpressVPN are reputable VPN providers that provide superb security and maximum privacy to their users.
Compatible Operating Systems & Devices of Surfshark & ExpressVPN
One of the worst things that can happen when choosing a VPN is buying a subscription and then realizing the VPN isn’t compatible with some of your devices. That said, this isn’t a real concern with Surfshark and ExpressVPN, as they’re both compatible with virtually any modern PC, laptop, mobile phone, and router.
Surfshark has dedicated VPN apps for all operating systems, as well as browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. Here’s a full list of compatible operating systems and devices:
- macOS — Sierra 10.12 and later (High Sierra, Mojave, Catalina, Big Sur, Monterey)
- Windows — Windows 7, 8, 10, and 11
- iOS — iOS 10.3.3 and later
- Android — Android 5.0 and newer, Android tablets, and smart TVs
Not only will you be able to use Surfshark VPN on virtually any device, but you’ll also be able to connect the VPN to as many devices as you want with a single subscription. In other words, there is absolutely no limit to the number of devices you can protect with Surfshark VPN.
ExpressVPN also boasts great compatibility, so you should have no trouble installing it on every device you’re using, including your TV and games consoles. Here are the details regarding ExpressVPN’s compatibility:
- Windows — Windows 7, 8, 10, and 11
- macOS — Monterey, Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, and High Sierra
- Linux — Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Raspberry Pi OS (32-bit only), Linux Mint, Arch
- iOS — iOS 12 or higher
- Android — Android 5.0 and newer
- TVs — Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, and Android TVs
While offering great compatibility, you can only connect ExpressVPN to 5 devices per account. In a typical four-person household, this would only cover everyone’s mobile phones and one PC or laptop, leaving all other devices unprotected.
You only need to take a look at the plethora of 5-star user reviews online to see that Surfshark’s customer support is among the best (if not the best) in the industry. The company’s customer support agents are often praised for their speed of response, technical knowledge, professionalism, and, most importantly — patience.
If you’re not particularly tech-savvy or encounter any issue with Surfshark VPN, you can connect with a support agent on Live Chat and receive professional help and support on the spot. You can also send them an email, if you prefer, and receive a detailed response within 24 hours.
ExpressVPN also offers stellar customer support, available 24/7 via Live Chat and email. Their support agents are experienced professionals who can help you resolve any issue with ExpressVPN as quickly as possible.
You’ll also find plenty of useful guides and tutorials in ExpressVPN’s Support Center on their official website.
Is Surfshark or ExpressVPN the Best VPN?
ExpressVPN is a great choice for online security, and it’s decently fast, especially on nearby servers. However, there are a few downsides of ExpressVPN that you should be aware of.
All of ExpressVPN’s pricing plans come with all features included. While that does sound excellent on paper, it means you’re paying for every feature whether or not you intend to use it. As a result, ExpressVPN’s subscriptions are on the expensive side, especially compared to Surfshark and other more affordable VPN service providers.
On top of that, you can only install ExpressVPN on up to 5 devices. If you want to protect all of the devices in your household, you’d likely have to create another account and pay the subscription fee again.
Surfshark, on the other hand, doesn’t impose any limit on the number of devices you can connect the VPN to. It’s faster on local servers too, with speeds reaching up to 980 Mbps, compared to ExpressVPN’s average speed of 385 Mbps.
Here’s a Surfshark vs ExpressVPN head-to-head comparison table:
macOS Linux Android iOS Xbox Playstation Router Browser extensions macOS Linux Android iOS Xbox Playstation Router Browser extensions
US speed range
Number of servers
390 Mbps — 980 Mbps
385 Mbps average
All things considered, we’d say that Surfshark is clearly the best VPN of the two, at least for the time being.
Overall, this Surfshark vs ExpressVPN battle definitely concludes in Surfshark’s favor.
Surfshark gives you more control over what features you want to include in your subscription, doesn’t impose artificial limits on the number of devices you can connect the VPN to, and is slightly faster.
If you’re looking for maximum online security and complete privacy and anonymity without sacrificing speed and reliability, Surfshark VPN is our No. 1 choice.