NordVPN vs Surfshark
Bottom Line NordVPN and Surfshark are very closely matched as providers of VPN services, each with its own particular strengths. Ultimately, which of them is better for you will depend on the specifics of your situation and needs.
If superb media and streaming performance, top-quality security and maximally secure privacy options are the most important considerations for you, the favored choice would be NordVPN. On the other hand, if you need superior per-device value and access to the VPN for the largest possible number of users — without sacrificing safety and functionality — the ideal choice is Surfshark.
In this review, we break down the key features of a good VPN to help you make an informed comparison between the offerings of NordVPN and Surfshark.
How We Evaluated NordVPN vs. Surfshark
The VPN market is flourishing, with plenty of competitors in the field advertising a multitude of features and services. Identifying the truly high-quality offerings is a matter of focusing on the core key indicators of high performance in a VPN. With clear information about how competing companies perform in those key metrics, both home and business users can make confident decisions about which VPN will serve their specific needs and objectives.
Common Features We Looked For
These are the four most important features we look for in a VPN. Keep in mind that, in addition to the presence or absence of these features, a lot about your eventual choice will depend on the specific uses you have for a VPN.
2. Server Coverage A VPN provides access to a network of servers. The more server coverage it has in more countries, the more your VPN will be able to spread out “server load” from multiple users and ensure reliable performance at all times. Having access to servers that are geographically closer to you will matter to the speed and performance of your VPN connection, so it’s important to be aware of the specific countries in which your VPN network has coverage.
3. Performance We evaluated performance features that will be key to the streaming capabilities of multiple team or household members using the same connection. That includes download speeds, monthly data limits and the number of devices that can be connected to the VPN simultaneously.
4. Price We look at how various plans are priced for a given VPN and how those prices work out as value-for-money when compared to features and services.
NordVPN vs. Surfshark Comparison
We spent over 10 hours researching and comparing NordVPN and Surfshark to see how they stack up on the four key metrics identified above. The breakdown is below.
Security & Privacy
NordVPN offers high-quality security, with standard AES-256-CBC encryption and frequently changed encryption keys. It uses the highly secure OpenVPN protocol (or, for macOS and iOS devices, IKEv2/IPSec as the default option, a little less bleeding-edge than OpenVPN but still a very secure protocol) and provides a customizable kill switch feature that can shut down certain apps in the event of a VPN drop-out, ensuring they don’t keep functioning and transmitting data outside of the VPN’s protected environment. Its site filter blocks out broad swathes of malicious sites, and its optional tracker blocking provides added protection against ad tracking, improving performance for its users. Its Double VPN mode allows users to route traffic through two servers instead of one for some added protection.
Although NordVPN has experienced a recent hacking event in 2018, the company has mounted a comprehensive response to that breach, which compromised no user-identifying information. It has been made clear that the company has a genuine no-log policy for users’ activity. Added to all this, there are clear advantages in NordVPN’s headquartering in the privacy-friendly jurisdiction of Panama which does not maintain surveillance-sharing agreements with any other countries.
Surfshark matches the 256-bit encryption and automatic kill switch features of NordVPN, and it provides a MultiHop mode similar to the Double VPN feature. It also features a HackLock tool that scans for possible breaches of emails and passwords and has its own private, ad-free search tool called BlindSearch. Both NordVPN and Surfshark are able to camouflage VPN traffic — in Surfshark’s case using Camouflage Mode, but with Surfshark, this capability is only functional on Windows, iOS and Android.
NordVPN’s server coverage is extensive, including over 5,200 servers in more than five dozen countries. Most of that coverage — just over 80% of its server count — is concentrated in the Americas and Europe. Surfshark matches this network for geographical breadth, present in 63 countries, but doesn’t have the same depth of support. It sports only just over 1,700 servers by comparison. This network is most concentrated in North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. While both VPNs are strong in this category, the extraordinary number of servers supported by NordVPN gives it a clear edge.
The use of any VPN can slow the performance of your local internet, cutting it by half its normal speed or even more; one of the trade-offs of using this kind of technology is that lossless internet is a rare experience. A high-performing VPN will have less impact on your internet’s performance, and NordVPN does well to reduce speed by only around 20-30% on average, delivering reliable speed while averting any interruptions or sudden drops in service. Surfshark, despite its small network, exhibits average losses of around 27% and similarly reliable connectivity. These speed losses can vary considerably with the distance of a server from the user’s home, and local servers can deliver much higher speeds; this is particularly true with NordVPN.
Both NordVPN and Surfshark can be used to unblock and stream services like Netflix and BBC’s iPlayer — with NordVPN defaulting to optimized servers for that kind of traffic and delivering overall better quality, along with superior server coverage and tools for accessing specialty servers — and both are designed for user-friendliness and ease of installation. Both companies sport 24/7 customer service that’s generally quick, responsive and informative via both live chat and ticketing systems.
While the edge for pure speed and bandwidth ultimately has to go to NordVPN, Surfshark enjoys one particularly standout performance advantage. While NordVPN connects six devices per license in normal circumstances, Surfshark’s licensing is considerably more generous, offering unlimited device connection with every license. This alone might make it the better pick for some users’ needs in the long run.
Both NordVPN and Surfshark are priced very reasonably, especially given the advanced features they offer. For per-device cost-effectiveness, Surfshark with its unlimited device connections per license is hard to beat. NordVPN also delivers extraordinary value for money when comparing its very reasonable monthly prices with a list of features and all-around performance and server coverage that rank among the best offerings on the market. Both companies offer access to all the same features regardless of the plan you select, and both offer both free trials and 30-day money-back guarantees. On the whole, it’s hard to pick decisively between them; which pricing packages look better for your purposes will depend on your specific needs.
|Free Trial||30 days||7 days|
|Multi-Year Plan||$3.49/month (3-year plan)||$1.94/month (3-year plan)|
Overview: NordVPN vs Surfshark
NordVPN and Surfshark are closely competitive VPN services that deliver excellent security, performance, user-friendly functionality and reasonable pricing. Both of them deliver speed and features that put them in contention with the leading bracket of VPN providers on the market. Either is a strong VPN choice, so the choice between them will depend mostly on which specific traits are most important for your needs. The table below summarizes what each company offers for the main features of a VPN.
NordVPN vs Surfshark Comparison Table
|Customer Support||24/7 Live Chat and Ticketing Support||24/7 Live Chat and Ticketing Support|
|Platform/Browser Compatibility||All major devices and browsers||All major devices and browsers|
|Server Coverage||5,200+ servers in 62 countries||1,700+ servers in 63 countries|
|Number of Devices||6 per license||Unlimited|
|Security Encryption||256-bit AES||256-bit AES|
|Kill Switch||Yes (Customizable)||Yes|
|Learn More||Visit NordVPN||Visit Surfshark|