Surfshark vs ExpressVPN in 2021

Ethan Payne
Ethan Payne | Writer
Last updated: August 20, 2021
Surfshark vs ExpressVPN comparison

Disclaimer: Affiliate links help us produce good content. Learn more.

On the VPN (Virtual Private Network) market, everyone knows about Surfshark and ExpressVPN. These two providers are trusted by VPN users worldwide due to their reliability, excellent security features, and consistency.

But which one of these VPN services is actually better? To find out, we have to compare Surfshark vs ExpressVPN and see what sets them apart from each other. So let’s start with a quick overview.

First off, both providers are based in the British Virgin Isles. Surfshark has over 3200 servers in 65 countries, while ExpressVPN has 3000+ servers spanning 94 countries.

Furthermore, Surfshark uses the fast WireGuard tunneling protocol, while ExpressVPN relies on its proprietary Lightway protocol. Additionally, both providers have kill switches, features against online censorship, and work reliably at unblocking content from around the world.

It will be a fierce battle, so stay tuned for a detailed breakdown of each category, starting with speed and servers.

Highlights

SurfsharkExpressVPN
Our rating9.4/10⭐8.2/10⭐
“Best for” nomineeBest overall, Best for Netflix, Best for P2P, Fastest VPNBest overall, Fastest VPN, Best for UK
Price starts from$2.49/month$8.32/month
ReviewSurfshark reviewExpressVPN review
WebsiteSurfsharkExpressVPN

Speed

By default, Surfshark uses the WireGuard tunneling protocol, while ExpressVPN uses its proprietary Lightway protocol. Both are known for their speed and security, but which one is better?

Keep in mind that for now, the results from our speed are using the OpenVPN protocol for ExpressVPN, while Surfshark is using WireGuard.

Surfshark VPN vs ExpressVPN: 14-Day Speed Average

More live data from our VPN Speed Test tool
Surfshark VPN ExpressVPN
USA server
Download Speed 704 Mbps 196 Mbps
Upload Speed 686 Mbps 425 Mbps
UK server
Download Speed 514 Mbps 135 Mbps
Upload Speed 415 Mbps 323 Mbps
Germany server
Download Speed 521 Mbps 239 Mbps
Upload Speed 508 Mbps 508 Mbps
Experience top speeds at an affordable price
For only $2.49/month, secure an unlimited number of devices and ensure blazing internet speeds with one of the best VPNs on the market.

Servers

SurfsharkExpressVPN
Servers3200+3000+
Countries65+94+
All physical serversNoNo
Owns all serversNoNo
RAM-only serversYesYes
P2P serversYesYes

In terms of servers, both providers have good overall coverage. Surfshark has 3200+ servers in 65+ countries, while ExpressVPN has 3000+ servers in 94+ countries. Additionally, you can use either service to torrent securely on whatever server you please.

However, one of the most stand-out features of these two providers is RAM-only server technology. It ensures that no data is stored on hard drives. Instead, it’s stored on RAM, meaning that all data on the servers is wiped when they’re rebooted.

Pricing

SurfsharkExpressVPN
Free trial7-day for macOS, iOS, AndroidNo
One month$12.95/month$12.95/month
Six Months$6.49/month$9.99/month
One yearN/A$8.32/month
Two years$2.49/monthN/A
Money-back guarantee30 days30 days
Payment optionsCredit card, PayPal, Sofort, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, cryptocurrencies, Giropay, WebmoneyCredit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, Paymentwall (AliPay, UnionPay, and more)

ExpressVPN is known as one of the most expensive services on the VPN market. On the other hand, users hail Surfshark as an affordable alternative with loads of excellent features. Additionally, Surfshark has a free trial available, something that ExpressVPN lacks. Other than that, both VPNs use a standard pricing plan and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

It’s abundantly clear that Surfshark is the winner in this category.

Surfshark pricing

Surfshark pricing plans

Surfshark has three subscription plans to choose from:

  • $12.95 for one month
  • $6.49/month for six months
  • $2.49/month for two years

The monthly price is quite steep. Meanwhile, the two-year plan is heavily discounted and a great deal overall. Plus, you can get a better price by looking for Surfshark coupon codes scattered across the web.

It’s important to note that a couple of Surfshark features, Surfshark Alert and Surfshark Search, are locked behind an additional $0.99/month cost. Despite that, this VPN is still significantly cheaper than its competitor.

Furthermore, there are plenty of payment options to choose from, including anonymous alternatives, such as cryptocurrencies.

ExpressVPN pricing

Expressvpn pricing

With ExpressVPN, you can choose between three subscription options:

  • $12.95 for one month
  • $9.99/month for six months
  • $8.32/month for one year

The monthly cost is the same as Surfshark’s, but the other plans are significantly pricier. At least it’s possible to find some ExpressVPN discounts online for a better price.

Thankfully, ExpressVPN offers a good range of payment options to choose from, including Bitcoin for anonymity.

Security

SurfsharkExpressVPN
EncryptionMilitary-gradeMilitary-grade
ProtocolsWireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2
Kill switchYesYes
DNS and IP leaksNo leaksNo leaks
Security featuresCleanWeb, MultiHop, Whitelister, Camouflage mode, NoBorders mode, Shadowsocks, Smart DNS, leak protectionTrustedServer, Stealth servers, Smart DNS, split tunneling, port forwarding, leak protection

Both Surfshark and ExpressVPN are some of the most secure VPN choices available. They have great selections of modern tunneling protocols and a wide array of solid security features.

Like any worthwhile VPN, these two are equipped with military-grade AES-256 encryption. Additionally, kill switches are available to ensure that no IP or DNS leaks occur under any circumstances.

Now let’s take a closer look at the unique features that each VPN adds to the table.

Surfshark security features

Surfshark features

First off, Surfshark offers three tunneling protocol options – WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2, which are all available on both desktop and mobile versions of the app. The best option is chosen automatically by default, but you can pick between them yourself.

Of course, the highlight of this provider is the excellent selection of security features:

  • CleanWeb blocks ads and malware to secure you from phishing attacks and other online threats. It also has the added benefit of saving mobile data and improving browsing speed.
  • Whitelister is essentially split tunneling. You can choose which apps should always be routed through the VPN tunnel. Alternatively, you can pick apps that should be excluded from the VPN. Additionally, this feature works with websites and IP addresses as well.
  • Alert is a bonus feature that notifies you in real-time about potential leaks and data breaches of your personal information.
  • Search is a private and unbiased search engine. It does not profile you, store any data, and delivers relevant results without any targeted ads.
  • NoBorders mode allows you to circumvent internet censorship and VPN blocking technology. If toggled on, it turns on automatically to get around any restrictions.
  • MultiHop enables you to pick servers with different entry and exit nodes.
  • GPS Spoofing is an Android-exclusive feature that matches your GPS location to your VPN locations, which most VPNs don’t offer on mobile devices.
  • Surfshark is also one of the few providers with RAM-only server technology, guaranteeing privacy on a technical level.

This quite an impressive arsenal. It’s also noteworthy because the Alert and Search features aren’t something you’d typically expect from a VPN.

ExpressVPN security features

expressvpn ui

On ExpressVPN, you can choose between four tunneling protocols – OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec (outdated), and the proprietary Lightway. Naturally, you can let the app pick one automatically or choose one yourself.

Now onto the security features that ExpressVPN offers:

  • Stealth Servers ensure that your VPN connection remains secure and hidden from various means of online surveillance and censorship.
  • With zero-knowledge DNS servers, ExpressVPN protects your DNS queries with an extra layer of security.
  • Split tunneling allows you to select which apps should go through the VPN tunnel and which should not.
  • Port forwarding allows you to open up your network ports to outside access more easily.
  • TrustedServer is the name of ExpressVPN’s implementation of RAM-only servers.

While it’s a good set of security and privacy features, you’d expect a bit more at such a price range.

Privacy

SurfsharkExpressVPN
JurisdictionBritish Virgin IslandsBritish Virgin Islands
LoggingNo-logs policyIndependently-audited and court-proven no-logs policy
Anonymous paymentCryptocurrenciesBitcoin

Looking at the privacy practices of these two services, we can see that they are squeaky clean. First off, both are operating from the privacy-respecting British Virgin Islands and outside the reach of the Five Eyes alliance. Additionally, both accept anonymous payment options. However, ExpressVPN accepts Bitcoin only, while Surfshark works with a wide range of different cryptocurrencies.

Furthermore, both providers have been audited extensively by third parties. To be precise, Surfshark had its server infrastructure and browser extension audited by Cure53. On the other hand, ExpressVPN’s server network was audited by PwC, while their extension was audited by Cure53. Also, let’s not forget that in 2017 Turkish authorities seized an ExpressVPN server and found nothing about the VPNs users.

All in all, this is the kind of verification that most VPNs need.

Device compatibility

SurfsharkExpressVPN
Major dedicated appsWindows, Mac, Linux, iOS, AndroidWindows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
Other dedicated appsFire TV & Fire Stick, Android TVFire TV & Fire Stick, Android TV, Chromebook, Routers
Browser extensionsChrome, Edge, FirefoxChrome, Edge, Firefox
Manual setupRouters, Chromebook, pfSense, Raspberry PiChromecast, Nvidia Shield, Kindle Fire, Nook HD
Simultaneous devicesUnlimited5

There are a few key differences to pay attention to when comparing Surfshark vs ExpressVPN regarding device compatibility. But first, let’s look at the common features.

Both providers have apps for the most-used platforms – Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. Additionally, they support FireOS and have dedicated apps for Amazon Fire Stick. Furthermore, browser extensions are available for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. Unsurprisingly, router configuration is also available on a wide range of firmware, such as DD-WRT, OpenWRT, AsusWRT, and more.

Surfshark device compatibility

Surfshark supported devices

The main thing that sets Surfshark apart from ExpressVPN is that it allows an unlimited number of connected devices on a single subscription. Such a feature is an excellent addition at such an affordable price.

Plus, the VPN is available and easy to use on most devices, making it a terrific choice for either one person or for sharing with friends and family.

ExpressVPN device compatibility

List of ExpressVPN supported devices

Despite its outlandishly expensive pricing plan, ExpressVPN only allows five simultaneous connections on a single subscription. This is especially jarring when you consider that cheaper VPNs allow a more significant number of simultaneous connections on average.
Plus, this also doesn’t synergize well with the fact that ExpressVPN supports an exceptionally diverse range of devices, such as:

  • Chromebook
  • BlackBerry
  • NAS (Network Attached Storage)
  • E-books
  • Gaming consoles like Playstation and Xbox

Furthermore, ExpressVPN has a dedicated app for routers, allowing you to protect your entire home network much more conveniently. This feature is a great perk if your priority is securing just your home, but a larger number of remote connections grants much more versatility. Nowadays, a VPN is used to secure yourself while on the go, not just at home.

Streaming

SurfsharkExpressVPN
Netflix USYesYes
Other Netflix librariesYesYes
Other platformsYesYes
Smart DNSYesYes (MediaStreamer)

There’s no denying that both Surfshark and ExpressVPN are excellent VPNs for streaming. They can unblock various Netflix libraries easily, and other streaming services, such as Hulu, BBC iPlayer, or Amazon Prime, are no problem as well.

Furthermore, both have Smart DNS features, allowing you to take advantage of these VPNs on devices that don’t typically support VPN applications. This way, you can unblock multiple streaming services without encrypting your traffic and sacrificing your speed.

Torrenting and P2P

SurfsharkExpressVPN
Allowed onAll serversAll servers
Free SOCKS5 proxyNoNo
Split tunnelingYes (Whitelister)Yes
Port forwardingNoYes

Unsurprisingly, the two services are top-tier VPNs for torrenting. Both allow unrestricted torrenting on all of their servers. However, they also lack SOCKS5 proxies to secure your P2P activities directly on your torrent client. Thankfully, split tunneling is available on both to select which apps should go through the VPN tunnel.

The one thing that allows ExpressVPN to inch forward is port forwarding support. Although not an essential feature for everyone, it provides extra versatility for those that want to take their torrenting game to the next level.

Surfshark vs ExpressVPN video comparison

Surfshark VPN review 2021 🔥 Is it a new BEST VPN !?
2021-01-08
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN vs Surfshark: Find out the BEST VPN in 2021
2020-10-10
ExpressVPN review 2021 🔥 Everything you need to know about ExpressVPN
2021-01-17

China

SurfsharkExpressVPN
Works in ChinaYesYes
Stealth VPNYes (NoBorders)Yes (Stealth Servers)
Tor over VPNNoNo

If you need a VPN for China, either VPN is a reliable tool for dealing with the Great Firewall. With Surfshark, there’s the NoBorders feature. Plus, there’s also a Shadowsocks proxy as a backup alternative, giving Surfshark a slight advantage in this regard. Meanwhile, ExpressVPN users can utilize the Stealth Servers feature.

Unfortunately, neither service has an integration with the Tor network. But that’s hardly an issue when the VPNs are strong enough by themselves.

Customer support

SurfsharkExpressVPN
24/7YesYes
Live chatYesYes
Phone LineNoNo
Email YesYes
KnowledgebaseYesYes

People use VPN software in a wide variety of situations. That means that VPN providers need excellent and knowledgeable customer service.

Luckily, both Surfshark and ExpressVPN have all the necessary means of helping their customers in dire situations. They have 24/7 live chat support, email communication, and extensive guides on their web pages. In addition, our interactions with their customer support agents have been pleasant, and our inquiries were answered efficiently.

Best VPN by category

Below is the list of all nine categories that we used to evaluate Surfshark and ExpressVPN. While you’ll mostly see wins and losses, there are some cases when both services ended up in a tie.

Surfshark🥇ExpressVPN🥈
Speed and serversWins✔️Loses❌
PricingWins✔️Loses❌
SecurityWins✔️Loses❌
PrivacyTieTie
CompatibilityWins✔️Loses❌
StreamingTieTie
TorrentingLoses❌Wins✔️
ChinaWins✔️Loses❌
Customer supportTieTie
Total wins5 out of 91 out of 9

The last line says is it all. Surfshark has won in 5 out of 9 categories and ExpressVPN managed only one win. However, three ties make the situation look less dramatic.

Surfshark vs ExpressVPN – which is better?

Surfshark and ExpressVPN are on equal terms in many areas, but a few crucial differences make Surfshark the better product.

Both VPNs are packing some serious tech under the hood, as connection speeds were blazing fast, and both utilize RAM-only servers, yet Surfshark offers slightly faster speeds.

Furthermore, this is especially impressive since Surfshark is significantly cheaper than ExpressVPN and provides more security features. Plus, it even allows unlimited simultaneous connections, while ExpressVPN offers a measly five.

Both VPNs take privacy very seriously and have been audited multiple times by well-known cybersecurity companies. They’re also great for other use cases as well, such as streaming and torrenting.

Overall, Surfshark offers the best price-to-effectiveness ratio. You may want to opt for ExpressVPN if you want an easier time installing a VPN on a router. But most of the time, you won’t go wrong by picking Surfshark.

Get Surfshark


You may also like to read:
Surfshark vs NordVPN
ExpressVPN vs NordVPN
Surfshark vs IPVanish
Best VPN for Roobet
Best VPN for Pokerstars


FAQ

Is Surfshark better than ExpressVPN?

Yes, Surfshark is better than Express. It’s cheaper, has more security features, and allows an unlimited number of connections.

Is Surfshark VPN any good?

Surfshark is an excellent VPN choice. It has fast tunneling protocols, exceptional security features and works reliably at unblocking geographical restrictions.

Is Surfshark better than NordVPN?

No. Surfshark is slightly behind NordVPN. It has less server coverage and isn’t as fast.

Top VPN providers
NordVPN
9.6 / 10
30-day money-back guarantee
Military grade encryption
Friendly support
Surfshark VPN
9.4 / 10
Strong encryption
Excellent performance
Unlimited simultaneous connections

Disclaimer: Affiliate links help us produce good content. Learn more.

9 comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Casks

    Why Does Surfshark collect login info and ExpressVPN doesn’t? How do they know if it’s you who’s logging in and that you have a subscription? And in general, it seems like they are logging completely different things but Surfshark is just clearer in what data they collect. But that’s just my perspective.


    1. avatar
      Ethan Payne Author

      Hello, Casks. Sadly, I don’t understand what you mean. Both providers do no keep any logs and are even using RAM-only servers to ensure that no information is stored on hard drives. Perhaps you should contact customer support to get a more in-depth answer. 


  2. Olis

    At the end of your review you have a comparison of surfshark vs expressvpn by category. I don’t understand, surfshark wins 5 and expressvpn wins only 1, how can expressvpn still get a rating of 8.4? Am I missing something here?


    1. avatar
      Ethan Payne Author

      Hello, Olis. The comparison at the end is a summary of how the two VPN services fare against each other. However, ExpressVPN is still an above-average VPN and deserves a high rating by itself. Meanwhile, Surfshark is an exceptional VPN and only a handful of VPNs can compete against it.


  3. Up once

    What kind of data logging can I expect for surfshark? I heard expressvpn logs data usage, what and when and where you connect (correct me if I’m wrong)


    1. avatar
      Ethan Payne Author

      Dear Up once,

      ExpressVPN doesn’t collect your connection logs, activity logs, or any other data that help identify you. It does collect versions of activated apps, connection dates (not times), VPN server locations, and the amount of data transferred per day.

      Surfshark collects email and encrypted password, billing information, diagnostics, Google Analytics data, cookies, and web beacons.


  4. Havana

    in my opinion, when it comes to Expressvpn vs Surfshark, it’s really really hard to compare because they seem to be two completely different entities with really different approaches to vpn service for people with completely different needs. you can actually use both because where one wins, another loses and vice versa.


  5. Nathan

    is surfshark better than expressvpn? yes, is surfshark cheaper than expressvpn? yes, can someone explain to me how expressvpn is still in the game with these prices?


    1. avatar
      Ethan Payne Author

      Hello, Nathan. Perhaps some users think that the price of ExpressVPN will give them a far superior product. However, more expensive VPNs aren’t always better.

Table of Contents:
Close
Share
Share
Thanks for your opinion!
Your comment will be checked for spam and approved as soon as possible.