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Surfshark vs ProtonVPN in 2022: Two Fresh VPN Providers Face Off

VPN services as new in the industry as Surfshark and ProtonVPN don’t always possess excellent capabilities. However, the two services defy the odds and are currently among the best VPNs on the market. In our Surfshark vs ProtonVPN review, we’ll dissect the two providers to help you pick the one that best suits your needs.

Samson Max
By Samson Max (Writer, Linking Editor)
— Last Updated: 2022-06-07T19:12:07+00:00 Facts checked by Jasna Mishevska

Surfshark and ProtonVPN haven’t been in the VPN industry for long, having been launched in 2018 and 2017 respectively. Despite being relatively young, they have proven to be competent VPN services, thanks to their commendable performance. In our Surfshark vs ProtonVPN, we’ll pit the VPNs against each other to help you pick one that best serves your needs.

Key Takeaways:

  • Surfshark delivers better performance than ProtonVPN in speed, features, pricing, security and privacy, server locations, customer support and user-friendliness. 
  • The two VPN services aren’t the best at streaming, but they still get the job done. 
  • ProtonVPN outperforms Surfshark on the torrent front only. 

We’ve shown what these services are capable of in our Surfshark review and ProtonVPN review. In this guide we’ll focus more on how the VPNs differ in terms of available features, speed, streaming and torrenting. Keep reading to get the details you need to make an informed buying decision. If you’re looking for a quick answer, then Surfshark dominates this comparison.

  • Yes, Surfshark is better than ProtonVPN. It has more advanced features, more servers, better security and privacy and is also easier to use.

  • Even though ProtonVPN is outperformed by Surfshark in nearly all VPN aspects. It’s still a trustworthy VPN. It offers solid security and has had no security or privacy breach in the past.

  • Despite being a relatively new VPN service, Surfshark has proven its worth as a reputable VPN.

$2.49 / month (All Plans)30-day money-back guarantee$4.99 / month (All Plans)30-day money-back guarantee
Surfshark ReviewProtonVPN Review
General
Payment methodsPayPal, Credit cardPayPal, Credit card
Accepts cryptocurrency
Simultaneous connections Unlimited 10
Supports split tunneling
Unlimited bandwidth
Free trial available
Refund period
Worldwide server amount3,200 +, 140 server locations in 95 countries1,000 + servers in 54 countries
Desktop OSesWindows, MacOS, LinuxWindows, MacOS, Linux, Chromebook
Mobile OSesAndroid, iOSAndroid, iOS, Android TV
Browser extensionsChrome, Firefox, Safari, 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-AES256-AES
VPN protocols availableOpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuardIPSec, OpenVPN, IKEv2
Enabled at device startup
Allows torrenting
No-logging policy
Passed DNS leak test
Killswitch available
Malware/ad blocker included
Support
Live Chat24/7
Email support24/724/7
Phone support
User forum
Knowledgebase

Surfshark vs ProtoVPN Detailed Comparison & Testing

We’ve structured our Surfshark vs ProtonVPN comparison like a nine-round boxing bout where each round represents a VPN aspect. The VPN services will lock horns in each round, and the VPN that emerges victorious will get a point.

However, if a tie occurs, both services will get a point. The VPN with the most points after the end of the ninth round will be our overall winner. 

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1. Speed

While all VPN services slow down your internet connection, the fastest VPNs ensure the drag is minimal. We speed tested both VPNs and laid out the results in the table below. Be sure to read our VPN speed comparison to learn more.

ProtonVPN vs Surfshark Speed Test Results

VPN:Download SpeedUpload SpeedPing Increase
Surfshark88%97%53%
ProtonVPN99%94%700%

Surfshark speeds are serviceable across the three parameters: download, upload and latency, and it’s no surprise it made it onto our top five fastest services list. ProtonVPN, by contrast, didn’t make it onto this list for a valid reason. 

Even though it has the fastest download speeds (of all the VPNs we tested) and upload speeds are almost on par with Surfshark, it causes a 700% latency gain. The rapid latency gain denies it a spot on the fastest VPN list and the point in this category.

2. Features

Surfshark device compatibility
Surfshark allows you to connect unlimited devices using a single account. 

The two VPN services come with all the standard VPN features, including a kill switch on all native clients and split tunneling that’s available for Windows and Android users. While both support app- and IP-based split tunneling, Surfshark has an advantage in that it allows URL-based split tunneling. 

Surfshark split tunneling
Surfshark VPN tools such as split tunneling give you more convenience when using the internet.

In addition, the VPN providers strengthen their basic core with different bells and whistles. They both come packed with an ad blocker (Surfshark’s CleanWeb and ProtonVPN’s NetShield) that blocks malicious domains, ads and malware. However, NetShield isn’t available in the free plan.

ProtonVPN NetShield
ProtonVPN offers excellent features such as NetShield and a kill switch, but they’re not clearly labeled. 

Beyond that, Surfshark offers unlimited simultaneous connections, which means you can share one subscription between friends and family. See our Atlas VPN review and Avira Phantom VPN review for other VPNs with unlimited connections. It also has NoBorders, camouflage mode and multi-hop VPN features, which we’ll elaborate on in the security section. 

Surfshark server options
Surfshark offers specialty servers such as multi-hop VPN, which enables double encryption for additional digital security. 

Surfshark has a leg up on ProtonVPN, thanks to its impressive suite of advanced VPN features. For this reason, it takes the point to cement its lead in our matchup. 

Round: Features
Point for Surfshark
Visit Surfshark2
Visit ProtonVPN0

3. Pricing

When it comes to pricing, the first thing to note is that ProtonVPN is a free VPN. However, like other VPNs’ free plans, ProtonVPN’s free plan comes with usage limits in the form of reduced speed and limited access to features. Surfshark doesn’t offer a free plan, but it has a seven-day free trial for Mac and mobile users. 

Plan:Monthly Plan 1 Year Plan 2 Year Plan
Free$0$0$0
Basic$5$4$3.29
Plus$10$8$6.63
Visionary$30$24$19.96

ProtonVPN has three premium plans: Basic, Plus and Visionary. The Basic plan has limited access to certain features, but the Plus plan gives you all the features (which is why we’ll be using it for the comparison). For example, you get two simultaneous connections with the Basic plan and ten simultaneous connections with the Plus plan. 

Surfshark pricing
Surfshark doesn’t offer a yearly subscription plan, but its two-year plan is more cost-effective. 

Two things stand out from the Surfshark vs ProtonVPN price comparison. While ProtonVPN is the cheaper option on the monthly plan, Surfshark wins the race on the extended plans. Surfshark’s two-year plan is more than $4 cheaper than ProtonVPN’s Plus plan, which is excellent. As far as the money-back guarantee goes, both VPN providers offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.

ProtonVPN pricing
The flexibility of ProtonVPN’s pricing model is great, but extended plans are pricey. 

This is a hotly contested round, with each VPN provider showing an advantage over the competitor. ProtonVPN is cheaper on the monthly end of things, but Surfshark topples it with cheaper extended plans. However, limited access to certain features on ProtonVPN’s lower plans tips the odds in favor of Surfshark. That said, if you don’t want to spend a dime on a VPN, ProtonVPN is a great choice.

Round: Pricing
Point for Surfshark
Visit Surfshark3
Visit ProtonVPN0

4. Security & Privacy

In this category, we evaluate Surfshark and ProtonVPN through the lenses of VPN protocols, encryption standards and privacy profiles. 

Surfshark and ProtonVPN Security Features

Both ProtonVPN and Surfshark support IKEv2, OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols on all major desktop and mobile operating systems. However, ProtonVPN’s IKEv2 protocol is only available for Android and iOS devices.

ProtonVPN secure connection
To facilitate a secure connection, ProtonVPN uses tried-and-tested OpenVPN and the modern WireGuard protocols.  

As far as encryption goes, all Surfshark’s protocols use the AES-256 cipher. ProtonVPN, on the other hand, supports AES-256 with OpenVPN and IKEv2 and uses ChaCha20 encryption with WireGuard (read our encryption guide to learn more). Both encryption types are uncrackable, so no need to worry with either.

Surfshark NoBorders mode
Surfshark VPN NoBorders mode is adept at bypassing internet censorship in restrictive countries.

Beyond the standard security features, Surfshark VPN offers additional tools such as: 

  • NoBorders mode — an anti-censorship tool that allows you to enjoy unlimited internet access in restrictive countries  
  • Multihop VPN — Sends your traffic through two VPN servers in different countries to add an extra layer of protection
  • Camouflage mode (obfuscation) — Makes your VPN traffic look like normal internet traffic, allowing you to use a VPN in restrictive countries where it’s banned

ProtonVPN comes with Secure Core VPN, a feature that mirrors the functionality of Surfshark’s multi-hop VPN, though only for select servers. Additionally, it offers a Tor over VPN tool that routes your traffic through the Tor network for an extra layer of protection.

Surfshark VPN & ProtonVPN No-Logs Policies

Both Surfshark VPN and ProtonVPN maintain a strict no-logs policy and don’t collect, store or share user data, traffic logs or IP addresses. However, Surfshark logs user ID and connection information related to the VPN server you’re connected to. Thankfully, the provider deletes that information after 15 minutes. 

Beyond that, Surfshark has a privacy tool known as Surfshark Incogni — software that streamlines the processing of data removal requests. While it’s a good addition, it only comes as a standalone tool and doesn’t impact the results in this category.

ProtonVPN privacy policy
ProtonVPN maintains a strict no-logs policy, but claims to use third-party networks that could record your IP.

ProtonVPN’s privacy policy has a caveat, too, in that the vendor claims to route traffic via third-party networks to bypass blocks on ProtonVPN servers (see ProtonVPN’s privacy policy for more). The silver lining to this ordeal is that you can turn off third-party network routing in ProtonVPN’s settings.

Both VPN providers cover the basic security features well. However, Surfshark has a slight edge in that its protocols are available on all native clients. Moreover, it has more advanced security features than ProtonVPN and is our winner in this category.

Round: Security & Privacy
Point for Surfshark
Visit Surfshark4
Visit ProtonVPN0

5. Streaming

ProtonVPN unblocks all the popular streaming services on the first attempt, while Surfshark takes multiple attempts to get into most of them. However, videos take a while to load and buffer with ProtonVPN, while we didn’t have that kind of issue with Surfshark.

ProtonVPN for streaming
ProtonVPN isn’t the best VPN for streaming because of video lags and buffering.

Can Surfshark VPN or ProtonVPN Unblock Netflix?

The VPNs’ story is the same with Netflix streaming. While ProtonVPN takes a single attempt to find a way into Netflix, you have to switch servers to find one that can unblock Netflix with Surfshark VPN. Regardless, the two providers made it onto our best VPN for Netflix list. This leaves the VPNs on equal footing when it comes to streaming, so we’re calling this round a tie.

Surfshark for Netflix
Although it takes several attempts to unblock Netflix, Surfshark is still one of the best VPNs for Netflix. 
Round: Streaming
No clear winner, points for both
Visit Surfshark5
Visit ProtonVPN1

6. Torrenting

We downloaded a 1GB test torrent file using both VPN services on a 3 Mbps internet. Given ProtonVPN’s incredible download speed, we expected it to outperform Surfshark.

VPN:Top Download speedDownload Time
ProtonVPN0.43 MB/s72 minutes
Surfshark0.45 MB/s73 minutes

The result took the gradient we expected, but the margin was negligible. ProtonVPN got the job done in 72 minutes, which is one minute faster than Surfshark VPN. For this reason, it takes the point in this category by the slimmest of margins. 

Round: Torrenting
Point for ProtonVPN
Visit Surfshark5
Visit ProtonVPN2

7. Server Locations

Surfshark has done an excellent job in building a network of more than 3,200 VPN servers in 65 countries. ProtonVPN has let novelty get in its way on this front, and currently, it has only around 1,600 VPN servers in 63 countries. Its free plan allows you to access 83 servers in 3 countries.

ProtonVPN servers
ProtonVPN’s fleet of servers isn’t as impressive as that of Surfshark.

Surfshark is the unrivaled winner in terms of both the server count and geographical distribution. In addition, the provider offers static VPN servers for free, whereas ProtonVPN doesn’t have static or dedicated IP servers (read our dedicated vs shared vs static IP guide to learn more). 

Round: Server Locations
Point for Surfshark
Visit Surfshark6
Visit ProtonVPN2

8. User-Friendliness

Surfshark features a decluttered user interface (UI), which makes it one of the best VPNs for beginners. Ease of use runs through every Surfshark VPN feature, and you won’t struggle to change servers, protocols or other settings.

On the other hand, ProtonVPN’s UI features a world map, which results in some visual clutter. The upside of this is that it uses color-coding to denote server load, making it easier to find an optimal VPN server.  

Surfshark Windows app
Besides being the best VPN for unlimited devices, Surfshark is one of the most user-friendly VPNs. 
ProtonVPN app
ProtonVPN isn’t as easy to use as Surfshark. 

Unfortunately, some features in ProtonVPN’s app aren’t labeled and can be difficult for first-time VPN users to find them. Overall, ProtonVPN’s desktop UI isn’t as refined and organized as that of Surfshark VPN and that adds a degree of difficulty to its use.

VPN Mobile Apps

Like its desktop versions, Surfshark’s mobile apps are easy to use. The only quibble is that the iOS app doesn’t come with a split tunneling tool, but this is a fundamental limitation of iOS rather than the VPN itself. ProtonVPN mobile apps are more organized than their desktop versions with clearly-labeled items that make them easier to use. Ultimately, we have to give the point to Surfshark, thanks to its clean UI, which makes it easier to use than ProtonVPN. 

ProtonVPN Android app
ProtonVPN mobile apps are easier to use than their desktop counterparts.
Round: User-Friendliness
Point for Surfshark
Visit Surfshark7
Visit ProtonVPN2

9. Customer Support

When it comes to customer support options, both VPN providers come with comprehensive knowledgebases, FAQ and email support. In addition, Surfshark VPN offers a live chat — a fast support channel for issues that require an urgent human touch, whereas ProtonVPN doesn’t offer this. 

ProtonVPN Twitter support
While ProtonVPN lacks a live chat support option, it offers support on Twitter and Reddit. 

To make up for the missing live chat support, ProtonVPN embraces social media, offering excellent support via Twitter and Reddit, though it’s not as immediate as a live support channel. For this reason, we have to give the win to Surfshark.

Round: Customer Support
Point for Surfshark
Visit Surfshark8
Visit ProtonVPN2

The Verdict

The battle between the new kids on the block ends in Surfshark’s favor with eight points compared to ProtonVPN’s tally of two. The matchup was kind of lopsided, as Surfshark delivered a performance ProtonVPN couldn’t match in seven of the nine categories. ProtonVPN went down without putting up much of a fight, claiming a solitary victory in the torrenting round. 

What do you think of our Surfshark vs ProtonVPN comparison? Have you used these services before? Is there a category you think the providers won, drew or lost unfairly? We’d like to hear about it. As always, thanks for reading.

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