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Surfshark vs NordVPN

Surfshark vs NordVPN in 2024: Two VPNs, One Partnership

NordVPN and Surfshark will likely appear in any list of best VPN providers, but which is better suited for you? This NordVPN vs Surfshark comparison will reveal the best use case for each VPN.

Wisdom SablahSamuel ChapmanJasna Mishevska

Written by Wisdom Sablah (Writer)

Reviewed by Samuel Chapman (Editor)

Facts checked by Jasna Mishevska (Lead Fact-Checking Editor)

Last Updated: 2024-03-07T21:37:34+00:00

All our content is written fully by humans; we do not publish AI writing. Learn more here.

4.55
4.65
  • Strong security suite options
  • Solid security
  • Excellent speeds
  • Extensive security features
  • User-friendly desktop UI
  • Fast download speeds
$2.49 / month(save 83%)(All Plans)
$3.48 / month(save 73%)(All Plans)

Key Takeaways: NordVPN and Surfshark Compared 

  • The main difference between Surfshark and NordVPN is that Surfshark is cheaper while NordVPN is faster.
  • Both VPN providers are comparable in many departments, including security, privacy and streaming performance.
  • NordVPN has more servers overall, while Surfshark has servers in more locations. 

If you have to choose between NordVPN and Surfshark, you might not know where to start. At first glance, Surfshark’s cheap prices make it the obvious choice, but NordVPN’s array of security features might have you looking twice. We’re here to help. In this Surfshark vs NordVPN matchup, we compare the two VPNs across different categories.

Our comparison of two of the best VPNs will focus on what solution each virtual private network provides best. Our findings are based on years of using both VPNs for various purposes, including changing our IP address, streaming, gaming and encrypting our traffic. Need a sneak peek? NordVPN is faster, while Surfshark provides better value for money.

  • 09/05/2022

    Updated the comparison to include the latest VPN speed test results for both VPNs.

  • 10/08/2023

    We rewrote this article to focus on the use cases of each VPN provider and to update it with current information. 

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How Did We Rate Surfshark vs NordVPN?

We examined the VPNs across multiple categories, including speeds, price, security features, streaming ability and server network. In each category, we highlighted what each VPN does well and where it could improve. We’ll start with the similarities and then delve into the differences.

NordVPN vs Surfshark: Similarities & Differences

To get an overview of the main similarities and differences between Surfshark and NordVPN, check the table below.

$2.49 / month(All Plans) 30-days money-back guarantee$3.48 / month(All Plans) 30-days money-back guarantee
ReviewReview
General
Payment methodsPayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, Amazon PayPayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, Cash
Accepts cryptocurrency
Simultaneous connections Unlimited 6
Supports split tunneling
Unlimited bandwidth
Free trial available7 days on mobile
Refund period
Worldwide server amount3,200 in 95 countries5,800 servers in 60 countries
Desktop OSesWindows, MacOS, LinuxWindows, MacOS, Linux
Mobile OSesAndroid, iOSAndroid, iOS
Browser extensionsChrome, Firefox, EdgeChrome, Firefox, Edge
Can be installed on routers
Streaming
Can access Netflix US
Can access BBC iPlayer
Can access Hulu
Can access Amazon Prime Video
Security
Encryption types256-AES, ChaCha20256-AES, ChaCha20
VPN protocols availableOpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuardOpenVPN, IKEv2, NordLynx
Enabled at device startup
Allows torrenting
No-logging policy
Passed DNS leak test
Killswitch available
Malware/ad blocker included
Support
Live Chat24/724/7
Email support24/724/7
Phone support
User forum
Knowledgebase

Similarities

After reviewing both VPNs, we noticed that they share a lot in common. We’ll detail the similarities in this section. 

VPN Apps

NordVPN and Surfshark are beginner-friendly VPNs with native applications for all popular desktop and mobile devices. This includes Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS. They also have browser extensions for Chrome, Edge and Firefox. 

surfshark apps
Surfshark has major mobile and desktop operating system clients.

We consider both services to be good VPNs for smart TVs. Both include a smart DNS feature for streaming that changes your IP address without encrypting your connection. NordVPN has optimized apps for TVs that run on Android OS and Google TV. You can install Surfshark directly on Android and Fire TVs.

Thanks to their support for routers, both VPNs can protect other smart TVs and connected devices, like Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo Switch consoles. NordVPN and Surfshark support various router models, including DD-WRT, OpenWRT, Asus, Tomato and Linksys.

Streaming Performance

Surfshark and NordVPN are good choices if you need a VPN for streaming. In our time testing these VPNs with numerous streaming platforms, Surfshark and NordVPN have proven to be consistent performers. They get around blocks on all the major streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+ and BBC iPlayer.

streaming netflix with surfshark
NordVPN can unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other major streaming services. 

We tested both VPN services on lesser-known streaming providers like Sling TV, FuboTV, DAZN and Tubi TV. Unsurprisingly, we were able to get in without issue. Both VPNs gave us access to all the streaming services on the first go.

Encryption and Leak Protection

Both Surfshark and NordVPN encrypt user data with the all-important AES-256 encryption or an equivalent cipher like ChaCha20. These encryption ciphers are the gold standard, scrambling your data in a way that would take millions of years to crack.

Both providers guarantee DNS leak protection, ensuring that your IP address isn’t visible to your internet service provider (ISP) while connecting to the internet. We tested for DNS leaks using the IPLeak website, checking our IP address with and without a VPN to see if our location was exposed. The masked IP address showed up each time we had Surfshark or NordVPN active.

Kill Switch

A kill switch is a must-have failsafe because your VPN can disconnect accidentally, exposing your IP address. If your VPN connection drops, your internet service provider and anyone snooping on you can determine your original IP address and location.

NordVPN and Surfshark both have kill switches. NordVPN offers a system-wide kill switch, which disables your internet connection until a VPN connection is restored. There’s also an app-level kill switch that disconnects specific apps until the VPN reconnects. This is helpful if you’re using apps that demand higher security, such as a torrenting client.

nordvpn kill switch
NordVPN offers a system-wide and app-level kill switch.

Surfshark also has a system-wide kill switch known as a strict kill switch. When this kill switch is activated, you can’t get online at all without a VPN connection. In addition, Surfshark has a soft kill switch, which only disconnects your internet when the VPN disconnects.

Surfshark doesn’t explicitly offer an app-level kill switch, but there’s a smart way to exclude specific apps. Add the app to the Bypasser (split tunneling feature), and the kill switch won’t affect it.

surfshark kill switch
Surfshark has a strict and soft kill switch.

Money-Back Guarantee

Surfshark and NordVPN will both give your money back if you request a refund within 30 days of subscribing. If you have doubts about Surfshark or NordVPN, you can use the 30-day money-back guarantee to test it risk-free. This effectively becomes a 30-day free trial. 

Dedicated IP Address

You can get a dedicated IP address with either NordVPN or Surfshark. Purchasing a dedicated IP address means you’ll be given the same masked IP address every time you connect to the VPN. This reduces repeated verification requests like CAPTCHAs, keeps you off blocklists and makes it easier to access sensitive services like online banking.

Both VPNs offer dedicated IPs in several countries, including the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany, France, Australia, Japan, Canada, South Africa and Germany. We have a guide on how to use Surfshark’s dedicated IP.

Obfuscation

Surfshark and NordVPN provide obfuscation on certain servers and protocols. You’ll need obfuscation if you’re in countries that frown upon VPN use, such as China or Russia. These countries inspect your traffic to see if you’re using a VPN, a practice known as deep packet inspection (DPI). Obfuscation scrambles the data packets to make the VPN invisible by disguising it as regular traffic.

Obfuscation also helps you bypass VPN-blocking firewalls on some websites and networks. If you’re on the OpenVPN protocol, Surfshark’s obfuscation is available on all servers.

NordVPN takes a different approach, providing obfuscated servers in Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the U.S., the U.K., Sweden, Singapore, the Netherlands and Switzerland. 

servers nordvpn
NordVPN provides obfuscated servers in 14 countries,
making your VPN traffic look like regular traffic.

Customer Support

In our experience, both Surfshark and NordVPN provide excellent customer support. Each provides a vast knowledgebase with articles, FAQs, setup guides and troubleshooting guides. Surfshark goes a step further with “Surfschool,” which includes embedded YouTube videos for those who learn better that way.

surfshark help center
Surfshark’s help center includes YouTube guides in case you prefer videos.

You can reach out to Surfshark and NordVPN customer agents through email. We’ve tested both service’s email support for years and generally get a response within 24 to 48 hours. You can contact NordVPN’s customer support agents at [email protected], and Surfshark’s at [email protected]. You can also send email tickets through their respective help centers.

Surfshark and NordVPN both offer live chat support. We tested both, and they work about the same. You must interact with a chatbot before getting access to a live agent. We recommend typing “live agent” right off the bat, so the chatbot can redirect you to an actual support agent. When we finally got through, both live chat agents provided fast and useful responses. 

nordvpn livechat
NordVPN’s live chat agents provide quick
and helpful responses to queries.

Privacy

NordVPN and Surfshark swear by a strict no-logs policy. In simple terms, they don’t collect any sensitive data that can be traced to individual users. We did a deep dive into both service’s privacy policies, read between the lines and are happy to report that neither one shows any loopholes.

Both VPNs operate RAM-only servers, so even the minimal data they collect to render their services is wiped each time the servers reboot. 

NordVPN and Surfshark’s no-log policies have been audited and verified multiple times. NordVPN’s latest audit was conducted by Deloitte, while Surfshark’s recent audit was run by Cure53. Both VPNs feature in our roundup of the best VPNs for privacy

Differences

Now, let’s examine the aspects where Surfshark and NordVPN differ. 

Speed

We examine VPN speeds across three categories: download speeds, upload speeds and latency. All our tests for this comparison were conducted from the U.S.

Regarding download speeds, NordVPN is the better choice. In our VPN speed tests, NordVPN maintained a higher percentage of our initial download speeds than Surfshark in the U.K., Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Singapore and worldwide. Surfshark’s download speeds in the U.S. were slightly higher than NordVPN’s — that means it’s better close to home but falls off with distance.

Download Speed (Higher is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 03/22/24 to 04/19/24
Data for region:

The download trend suggests that NordVPN is better if you want to stream live sports and movies worldwide. Surfshark is better if you want to stream U.S.-based services with a U.S. IP address

NordVPN is also the preferred choice for any upload-related activity. From our tests, NordVPN maintained at least 90% of our original upload speeds, regardless of the location. Surfshark lost 40% of our upload speeds in Brazil and Singapore. 

Upload Speed (Higher is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 03/22/24 to 04/19/24
Data for region:

The results from our latency tests are interesting. Although Surfshark posts lower latency than NordVPN worldwide, it has higher latency in the U.S. and the U.K. The lower the latency, the better, and low latencies are vital for smooth online gaming. From our tests, NordVPN is preferable for gaming in the U.S. and U.K., while Surfshark is superior for other countries. 

Latency (Lower is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 03/22/24 to 04/19/24
Data for region:

Server Networks

We recommend choosing a VPN with a larger server network, especially if you’re a globetrotter. A massive server network reduces the chances of server overcrowding and slow speeds, and means you’re more likely to find a node near you. 

Surfshark has over 3,200 servers in 100 countries, while NordVPN offers over 5,000 servers in 60 countries. Surfshark has servers in more places, but NordVPN has more servers overall. In simple terms, Surfshark is better if you want a wider range of worldwide IPs to choose from. It has more server locations in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. 

nordvpn servers
NordVPN has a massive server network of over 5,000 servers in 60 countries. 

NordVPN’s servers are more concentrated in the U.S. and Europe than Surfshark. For example, NordVPN has over 1,970 servers in the U.S., compared to Surfshark’s over 600 servers. Server-wise, NordVPN is better for those who want U.S. and European IPs, while we prefer Surfshark for Asian, Middle Eastern and African locations. 

NordVPN uses all physical servers, while Surfshark offers a few virtual servers. These are marked with a “V” in the app. Virtual servers allow Surfshark to provide IP addresses in countries that have blocked or restricted VPN use. For instance, Surfshark has virtual servers in India, while NordVPN has none.

surfshark indian locations
 Surfshark has two virtual servers in India.

Pricing

Surfshark and NordVPN offer monthly, annual and two-year plans. Surfshark is cheaper than NordVPN on the extended plans.

The Surfshark Starter plan (the most expensive plan) will set you back $15.45 for a month. NordVPN’s Standard monthly plan costs $12.99. For yearly plans, Surfshark’s monthly rate is $3.49, while NordVPN’s offer is $5.74 per month. 

surfshark pricing
Surfshark’s two-year starter plan is one of the cheapest in the VPN space.  

Surfshark’s two-year plan costs $2.49 per month, while NordVPN’s costs $3.48 per month. In fact, Surfshark’s two-year plan is one of the best-value two-year plans in the VPN market, and it’s one of the main reasons we consider it one of the best cheap VPNs

Both VPNs offer suite pricing plans with other features for extra prices. Aside from Surfshark Starter, you can get Surfshark One, which includes identity protection features like real-time email address and credit card breach alerts, a private search engine, webcam protection, and anti-spyware and anti-malware protection. 

Sufshark One+ adds Surfshark Incogni to everything else Surfshark One offers. Incogni is a data removal tool that removes your data from brokers, company databases and people search sites. 

nordvpn pricing
NordVPN offers a monthly, yearly and two-year plan. 

NordVPN also offers a Plus and Complete Plan. Starting at $3.99 monthly, the Plus plan adds a cross-platform password manager and a data breach scanner. The Complete plan (starting at $5.19 per month) includes 1TB of encrypted cloud storage in addition to what you get with the Plus plan. Overall, Surfshark’s suite plans have more features and the extended plans are more affordable. 

Simultaneous Connections

If you need a VPN service only for your personal devices, NordVPN should be good enough; you can use it on up to six devices. However, if you want a VPN to share with friends and family, we recommend Surfshark. It offers unlimited simultaneous connections, so you can use it on as many devices as you’d like. 

Sharing unlimited device connections between your friends and family makes it even cheaper than NordVPN if you split the bill. 

Double VPN

Surfshark and NordVPN both offer a double VPN feature (Surfshark calls it Dynamic MultiHop, but it’s the same feature). The double VPN sends your traffic through two VPN servers instead of one, so your traffic is encrypted twice. We recommend double VPN for activists and journalists who want extra surety that their activity can’t be spied on.

nordvpn double vpn servers
NordVPN’s double VPN servers are available under its “specialty servers” section. 

NordVPN’s double VPN servers are available under “specialty servers.” When you click on the double VPN tab, it will automatically select the fastest server pair. 

Surfshark’s double VPN feature is more flexible than NordVPN’s. You can choose from 12 preset multi-hop server pairs, but you can also create custom server pairs. In all our years of reviewing VPNs, Surfshark is one of the few we’ve seen to allow this level of freedom.

surfshark dynamic multihop
Surfshark allows you to create custom multi-hop VPN server pairings.

Protocols

NordVPN and Surfshark offer similar secure VPN protocols, but each offers at least one the other doesn’t have. You can connect to the industry standard OpenVPN (TCP/UDP) on both VPNs. We recommend OpenVPN UDP if you intend to stream movies, play online games and use VOIP services with a VPN. OpenVPN TCP is better for regular browsing, emailing and file transfers. 

surfshark protocols
Surfshark offers the IKEv2, OpenVPN (TCP and UDP) and WireGuard protocols.

Surfshark offers the WireGuard protocol. As we explain in our VPN protocol guide, WireGuard is a lightweight and faster VPN protocol, perfect for data-intensive activities without sacrificing security. 

protocols nordvpn
NordVPN offers the proprietary NordLynx protocol,
which was built on the WireGuard protocol.

NordVPN offers NordLynx, which is its proprietary version of the WireGuard protocol. NordVPN created NordLynx with a double NAT system to reduce the chances of exposing your privacy while using WireGuard. We ran every speed test with NordLynx and got excellent performance.

Which Is Better: Surfshark vs NordVPN?

This is a close call. Surfshark and NordVPN offer similar performance in many use cases — perhaps unsurprising since they’re owned by the same company. Both VPNs can unblock all major streaming services. They also stick to a strict no-logs policy and offer critical security features like AES encryption, a kill switch and DNS leak protection.

However, Surfshark is the cheaper of the two. Apart from the monthly plan, all its plans are more affordable than NordVPN’s. Plus, unlike NordVPN, Surfshark allows you to connect to as many devices as you want. Surfshark also has a larger server spread, so it could be the better choice if you’re a digital globetrotter. 

NordVPN is the faster of the two VPNs. This makes it the go-to VPN for any activity that will consume lots of data, including streaming HD and 4K movies, streaming live sports, uploading content on social media and playing online video games. NordVPN has more servers than Surfshark, especially in the U.S. and Europe, giving you more server options.

We Recommend Surfshark If You Want…

  • A cheap VPN: Surfshark’s yearly and two-year plans are more affordable than NordVPN’s.
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections: Surfshark allows you to use one subscription on as many devices as you want. 
  • A larger server spread: Its server fleet covers 100 countries, the most we’ve seen of any VPN. 

We Recommend NordVPN If You Want…

  • A fast VPN: NordVPN offers fast connection speeds and low latencies in the U.S. and the U.K. 
  • A VPN with deep server infrastructure: NordVPN has over 5,000 servers and counting. 
  • A VPN with specialty servers: NordVPN’s suite of specialty servers includes obfuscated servers, double VPN servers and dedicated IP servers. 

If You Want to Consider Other Services, Check Out…

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The Verdict: Why We Think NordVPN Wins Overall

In this NordVPN and Surfshark head-to-head matchup, NordVPN takes the win — although by a very slight margin. It’s the faster of the two, making it a better pick for many use cases, including streaming, torrenting and gaming. It’s also the best choice for the U.S. and Europe, thanks to its massive server network in those areas.

Surfshark’s low prices make it a close contender. Add that to the fact that it offers unlimited VPN connections, and you have an absolute steal of a VPN. However, NordVPN’s prices are not exorbitant, and you can still use it with six devices at once. All things considered, NordVPN marginally edges out Surfshark.

If you’ve been a Surfshark user for a while and are looking for a change, you can check out how to cancel Surfshark and consider trying NordVPN instead. Otherwise, you can refer to our other guides such as Surfshark vs Windscribe.

FAQ

  • Surfshark is more affordable than NordVPN and offers unlimited simultaneous connections. However, NordVPN is faster than Surfshark and has more servers, especially in Europe and the U.S. 

  • Surfshark VPN is owned by Nord Security, the same company that owns NordVPN. 

  • Surfshark’s downside is that you might experience high latency on close servers. Plus, it doesn’t offer split tunneling on Mac or iOS.

  • ExpressVPN is the overall best VPN, but Surfshark VPN is highly affordable, while NordVPN is extremely fast.

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