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Surfshark vs Windscribe

Surfshark vs Windscribe in 2024: VPN Newcomer vs the Best Free VPN

Surfshark and Windscribe are known as two cheap VPNs, but there’s more to them than affordability. This Surfshark vs Windscribe comparison shows you how the VPNs stack up against each other and which one is best for your needs.

Samson KiarieWisdom SablahSamuel ChapmanEugenie Tiu

Written by Samson Kiarie (Writer) & Wisdom Sablah (Writer)

Reviewed by Samuel Chapman (Writer, Editor)

Facts checked by Eugenie Tiu (Editorial Assistant)

Last Updated: 2024-03-07T17:12:25+00:00

All our content is written fully by humans; we do not publish AI writing.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

4.55
4.15
  • Strong security suite options
  • Solid security
  • Excellent speeds
  • Generous free plan
  • Flexible paid plans
  • Stellar security & privacy
$2.19 / month(save 85%)(All Plans)
$5.75 / month(save 36%)(All Plans)

Key Takeaways: Surfshark and Windscribe Compared

  • The main difference between Surfshark and Windscribe is that Surfshark is more feature-packed and has a larger server network.
  • Surfshark is also better at unblocking websites and streaming providers.
  • Windscribe is a good choice if you want a free VPN for gaming, or if you regularly connect to servers on other continents.

Surfshark is one of the best cheap VPN services, while Windscribe is one of the best free VPNs. Which one should you go for? In this Surfshark vs Windscribe head-to-head matchup, we’ll compare these popular VPN providers to help you decide. 

While important, there’s more to these services than affordability. We’ll focus on the features and performance of the VPNs to help you decide which is better for activities like secure browsing, streaming and gaming. If you want the short version, we recommend Surfshark if you need a cheap yet full-featured VPN. Windscribe is better if you don’t want to pay for a VPN. 

  • 08/23/2022

    Updated Windscribe pricing: the paid plan increased to $5.75 per month from $4.08. The Build-a-Plan minimum purchase also increased to $3 from $2. Also updated Windscribe’s free data cap to 15GB due to it offering 5GB extra permanently when you tweet about the service.

  • 09/05/2022

    Updated the comparison to reflect the latest VPN speed tests results.

  • 10/05/2023

    We’ve restructured this article to focus on use cases and add up-to-date information.

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How Did We Rate Surfshark vs Windscribe?

We arrived at our conclusions by comparing these two services across various categories, including speeds, pricing, security and privacy features. We’ve divided our comparison into similarities and differences to help you compare. 

Windscribe vs Surfshark: Similarities & Differences

$2.19 / month(All Plans) 30-days money-back guarantee$5.75 / month(All Plans) 3-days money-back guarantee
ReviewReview
General
Payment methodsPayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, Amazon PayPayPal, Credit card
Accepts cryptocurrency
Simultaneous connections Unlimited Unlimited
Supports split tunneling
Unlimited bandwidth
Free trial available
Refund period
Worldwide server amount3,200 in 95 countriesservers in 69 countries
Desktop OSesWindows, MacOS, LinuxWindows, MacOS, Linux
Mobile OSesAndroid, iOSAndroid, iOS, BlackBerry
Browser extensionsChrome, Firefox, EdgeChrome, Firefox, Opera
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
VPN protocols availableOpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuardOpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard
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

Similarities

Let’s explore the features Surfshark and Windscribe have in common. 

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Platforms, Interface and Ease-of-Use

Surfshark and Windscribe have clients for all the major operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Android, iOS and Linux. They also have apps for popular browsers, including Google Chrome, Firefox and Edge. You can use both Surfshark and Windscribe on DD-WRT and Tomato-supported routers, automatically protecting all your home devices. 

Windscribe compatibility
Windscribe has apps for desktop and mobile, as well as browsers.

We found both Windscribe and Surfshark’s apps clean and well-organized. All the important menus are easy to find, making them good picks for both VPN rookies and veterans. However, Surfshark is the more beginner-friendly VPN, since it has descriptions of each feature and button. Plus, Surfshark’s interface is a little more aesthetically pleasing and has a modern feel. 

Encryption and Protocols

Surfshark and Windscribe encrypt user data with the robust AES-256 encryption cipher. This is the same encryption protocol banks and the NSA use to safeguard data. 

Surfshark and Windscribe also offer the same protocols: WireGuard, OpenVPN (TCP and UDP) and IKEv2. We’ve broken down the benefits of these secure VPN protocols in our VPN protocol guide, but if you want a quick summary, WireGuard is best if you want fast speeds, OpenVPN has a longer security record and IKEv2 is best for mobile devices. 

Windscribe VPN offers two more protocols: Stealth and WStunnel. These protocols provide obfuscation for your VPN traffic and might be handy in countries with high internet censorship, like China. Surfshark’s obfuscation is available on the OpenVPN protocol. When you activate the OpenVPN protocol, it will automatically apply obfuscation to your traffic. 

DNS Leak Protection

Our tests show that Surfshark and Windscribe don’t suffer from DNS leaks. On substandard VPNs, DNS leaks can occur when you attempt to connect to the internet. DNS queries bypass the VPN server and become visible to your internet service provider and any other snoopers. Luckily, both Windscribe and Surfshark kept our IP address hidden all the time.

Kill Switch

Both VPN services have a kill switch, although Windscribe claims its Firewall is much more than a kill switch. After testing Surfshark and Windscribe’s kill switches, we can confirm they are about the same.

Surfshark’s kill switch is not enabled by default, and you can choose from two modes: a soft or strict kill switch. 

surfshark kill switch
Surfshark offers both a soft and strict kill switch.

Surfshark’s soft kill switch disconnects you from the internet when your VPN accidentally disconnects. It doesn’t work on apps or websites added to the Bypasser (split tunneling). Its strict kill switch disables your internet access until you connect to a VPN server. Not even apps in the Bypasser are spared. 

Windscribe’s kill switch works on similar modes with different names. The automatic mode operates like Surfshark’s soft kill switch: It disables your internet if your VPN accidentally disconnects. The “always on” mode functions like Surfshark’s strict kill switch. 

Ad Blockers

Surfshark and Windscribe both have ad blockers. Surfshark’s ad blocker is known as CleanWeb, and it’s effective at keeping ads, trackers and malicious sites at bay. Windscribe’s ad blocker is called R.O.B.E.R.T. It’s also good at stopping ads, trackers and phishing websites. 

However, R.O.B.E.R.T. is more flexible than CleanWeb. With R.O.B.E.R.T., you can set the VPN to block specific IPs and domains while allowing others. It can also block a wider range of sites upon request, including porn, gambling and fake news domains.

Simultaneous Connections

Surfshark and Windscribe both offer unlimited simultaneous connections. You can use both VPN providers on as many devices as you want. If you use a lot of devices or want to share your subscription with your family and friends, Surfshark and Windscribe are both good picks. 

Logging Policy

We were impressed by both Windscribe and Surfshark’s no-logging policies. Both adhere to a strict no-logs policy, meaning they don’t log sensitive user data that can be traced back to you. This includes your real IP address and what you do while using the VPN. Note, however, that Surfshark has more weight behind its policy (see “audits” below).

windscribe privacy policy
Windscribe states in its privacy policy that it doesn’t store details
regarding a user’s VPN connection.

One small difference between Surfshark and Windscribe is that Windscribe doesn’t require your email address when signing up. This reduces the chances of your VPN session being connected to you. However, if you use Windscribe’s free version, the VPN monitors your data usage (apparently anonymized) to enforce its limitations. 

Windscribe and Surfshark store your data on RAM-only servers, so any data the VPNs have on you is erased each time a server reboots. Even if hackers access the servers, there’s little chance of them finding anything about you. Plus, if authorities subpoena the VPNs to release user data, there’ll be nothing to share. 

Differences

In this section, we’ll walk you through the differences between Surfshark and Windscribe, emphasizing what each is best for. 

Speed

If you examine our speed test graphs, you’ll notice that Surfshark offers its best download speeds in locations near the user. We conducted our speed tests from the U.S., and Surfshark offered better speeds in the U.S. and the U.K., as well as a higher worldwide average.

Windscribe’s download speeds were much better in faraway locations like Brazil and Australia. If you frequently use a VPN to explore streaming in remote countries, or travel widely for work, it may be the better choice.

Download Speed (Higher is better)
Upload Speed (Higher is better)
Latency (Lower is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 05/19/24 to 06/16/24
Data for region:

Surfshark and Windscribe are on par when it comes to upload speeds. Both kept about 90% of our initial upload speeds across the board. This suggests that both services are good picks for uploading content while using a VPN, such as posting to social media or sharing your screen during a presentation. 

Windscribe has lower latency than Surfshark, indicating that Windscribe could be a better choice for gaming. From our speed comparison charts, Windscribe’s latency was 3ms in the U.S., while Surfshark’s latency was 111ms. If you have a Surfshark subscription and think that this is a deal-breaker for you, we have a guide on how to cancel Surfshark.

If you’re looking for a provider with stellar speed records, NordVPN is a good option. We have an article that looks at Surfshark vs NordVPN if you’re curious how the two stack up.

Plans and Pricing

Unlike Surfshark, Windscribe offers a free plan. This plan includes 2GB of data monthly for no charge. However, you can increase that to 10GB if you confirm your email address, and 15GB if you tweet about the service. It also gives you access to 11 server locations and a limited version of R.O.B.E.R.T., Windscribe’s ad blocker. 

If you want a VPN for only a month, Windscribe is cheaper. It costs $9, while Surfshark’s monthly charge is $15.45. However, Surfshark is more affordable than Windscribe on the yearly and two-year plans.

The yearly Surfshark subscription will cost you $2.79 per month, compared to Windscribe’s annual rate of $5.75 per month. Note that we’re talking about Surfshark Starter, the lowest tier, which includes just the full VPN service.

surfshark pricing
Surfshark offers a monthly, yearly and two-year plan.

Surfshark’s two-year plan costs $2.19 per month, which is one of the most affordable biennial rates on the VPN market. Windscribe doesn’t have a two-year plan but offers a unique Build a Plan option. This plan allows you to purchase server locations for $1 each, plus unlimited data for another $1. 

Windscribe updated pricing page
Windscribe offers a Build a Plan option, which allows you to
purchase a server location for $1.

You have to reach a minimum plan cost of $3, though. For example, you can purchase two server locations and unlimited bandwidth, meeting the $3 minimum. You can, however, edit your Build a Plan server locations anytime. Windscribe is a good option if you only need a specific IP address, such as a U.S. IP address for watching Hulu.  

In addition to its basic VPN plans, Surfshark offers Surfshark One and Surfshark One+ plans at higher prices. Surfshark One includes a private search engine, Surfshark antivirus, webcam protection, email breach alerts and online aliases. Surfshark One+ adds Surfshark Incogni, a tool for removing your information from data brokers.

Server Locations

In evaluating server networks, we consider server spread and server counts. The larger a VPN’s server network, the less the chances of server overcrowding or congestion. Surfshark offers over 3,200 servers in 100 countries. Comparatively, Windscribe has servers in 69 countries, but doesn’t state the number of servers.

All of Windscribe’s servers are physical servers, which means they are located in the same country as the IP address they give you. Physical servers are often more reliable, since a virtual server could turn out to be much farther away than you expect. Surfshark mostly uses physical servers but offers virtual server locations in about 20 less-popular countries, including Belize, Ghana and India.  

surfshark indian locations
Surfshark’s server list includes two Indian virtual servers.

Virtual servers are handy in countries where VPNs are banned. For instance, India now requires VPNs to log user data, forcing many VPNs out of the country. However, you can still get an Indian IP address through Surfshark’s Indian virtual server. This is a major reason Surfshark is one of the best VPNs for India

Double VPN

The double VPN feature lets you connect to two VPN servers instead of one, adding an extra layer of encryption to your traffic. We recommend this feature to activists and journalists who want to be doubly sure that their identity and location won’t be exposed in the event one server suffers a problem or hack. 

Surfshark and Windscribe both offer multi-hop servers, but there are significant differences. With Windscribe, you have to connect to a server location on the desktop app and a second location in the browser extension. The second server’s IP address will be visible to the websites you visit. 

surfshark dynamic multihop
Surfshark’s Dynamic MultiHop feature lets you create custom double VPN connections. 

Surfshark’s double VPN feature, called Dynamic MultiHop, is more flexible. You can connect to two servers on the desktop or mobile apps. Surfshark has preselected server locations that you can choose from, but unlike Windscribe and many other VPNs, Surfshark also lets you select both servers manually. 

Dedicated/Static IPs

Surfshark offers dedicated IPs, while Windscribe offers static IPs. When you connect to a VPN server, it normally assigns you to a shared IP address. However, such IPs can be blocklisted if a previous user has abused them. Plus, IP-sensitive sites like online banking services might flag them and require CAPTCHAs. 

Windscribe attempts to sidestep these issues by offering static IPs. Instead of offering different IPs each time you connect to Windscribe servers, Windscribe will assign you the same shared IP each time you connect. Because you pay extra for them, Windscribe’s static IPs are used by far fewer people, reducing the chance of them getting blocked. 

windscribe static ips
Windscribe offers data center and residential static IP addresses

Windscribe offers two kinds of static IPs. Datacenter static IPs are similar to its normal IP addresses. There are also residential static IPs, which make your IP look like a residential IP assigned by your internet service provider. The residential IPs are less likely to be blocked by IP-sensitive sites. 

If you want a unique IP, opt for Surfshark’s dedicated IP addresses. This feature offers you a fixed IP address that no one else uses. Surfshark offers dedicated IPs in the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands and Germany. You can get more dedicated IP locations from some of our best VPNs with dedicated IPs, though. 

Money-Back Guarantee

surfshark refund policy
Surfshark’s refund policy is clear and informative. 

Windscribe offers a three-day money-back guarantee on its plans. Its refund policy also states that if you’ve used more than 10GB of data, you’re not eligible for a refund. We suppose Windscribe’s free plan makes up for its limited money-back guarantee, but you won’t be able to test all features and servers on the free plan. 

Surfshark sticks to the industry standard of a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can get a full refund if you request it within 30 days of your purchase. Plus, unlike Windscribe, there are no data caveats with Surfshark. It’s worth noting that we tested both Windscribe and Surfshark’s money-back guarantees and got our money back — no questions asked. 

Audits

surfshark audit
Surfshark’s last audit of its no-logs policy was conducted by Deloitte. 

Any VPN can claim to uphold a strict no-logs policy, but it’s more trustworthy if that policy has been audited by a reputed third-party audit firm. Surfshark has passed more audits than Windscribe. Surfshark’s no logs policy and server infrastructure have been tested and given a thumbs up by Cure53 and Deloitte, two of the biggest audit firms around. 

Windscribe has stated that it’s undergoing an audit of its server stack by Cure53. However, it’s yet to publish the results of said audit. 

Headquarters

If a VPN keeps to its no-logs policy, where it’s located doesn’t matter as much, but it’s still best if the VPN provider you choose is in a country with data protection laws. We also prefer countries that are not part of the Five Eyes alliance. This alliance includes countries that use intelligence-sharing agreements to spy on one another’s citizens.

Windscribe is based in Ontario, Canada, which is part of the Five Eyes alliance. Surfshark is based in the Netherlands but operates under the laws of the British Virgin Islands, which has no mandatory data retention laws and is not part of Five Eyes. 

Streaming Performance

If you’re interested in a VPN for streaming, Surfshark is a better choice than Windscribe. From our tests, Surfshark was able to unblock all the major streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus. Notably, Surfshark was able to unblock each of the streaming platforms on the first try. Plus, we didn’t experience any lags while streaming in HD or 4K.

surfshark unblocking netflix us
Surfshark is able to unblock Netflix U.S. on the first attempt.

Windscribe is also a decent choice for streaming, but it’s not as reliable. We unblocked Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer on the first attempt. However, we needed multiple tries to access Netflix. We also had to switch servers to access Max and Disney Plus, and experienced some buffering wheels while streaming in HD. 

Innovative Security Features

Surfshark provides more innovative security features than Windscribe. For instance, Surfshark’s Nexus technology connects its whole network of servers into a single web. Surfshark uses this network to provide a rotating IP feature, which changes your IP address every five to 10 minutes. This makes your traffic more difficult to track. 

surfshark rotating ip
Surfshark’s rotating IP changes your IP address every five to 10 minutes. 

Surfshark is also working on a new feature known as the IP randomizer. Using the network of interconnected servers, the IP randomizer will give you a new IP address each time you connect to a website. This will also make it difficult for trackers to identify you. 

Customer Support

If you run into trouble while using Surfshark or Windscribe, there are several customer support options available on both. You can consult both providers’ knowledgebases to find answers to your queries. Thankfully, each knowledgebase is well organized and full of handy resources. 

Both providers offer email support. When we sent emails to both providers, Surfshark’s email agents responded within 24 hours, while Windscribe’s agents got back to us after about 48 hours. 

The main difference here between Surfshark and Windscribe is the live chat support. You can reach Surfshark’s live agents in seconds without interacting with a chatbot first. In contrast, Windscribe’s live chat is a chatbot called Gary, which can only answer queries by linking to  Windscribe’s knowledgebase. In our experience, these links were often irrelevant to our questions. 

windscribe gary chatbot
You can interact with Windscribe’s chatbot, but the answers might not be accurate. 

Which Is Better: Surfshark vs Windscribe?

Overall, Surfshark is better than Windscribe in most cases. It’s slightly faster and consistently unblocks all the major streaming services. Moreover, it has a larger server network spread across 100 countries. It also has better security features, including MultiHop and dedicated IPs.

Windscribe’s notable feature is its free version, which allows you to connect to servers in 11 countries and enjoy up to 15GB of free monthly data. Thanks to its low latency, Windscribe also seems like the better pick for gaming. 

If you want to learn even more about each VPN, read our Surfshark review and Windscribe review.

We Recommend Surfshark If You Want…

  • A VPN with a large server network: Surfshark offers over 3,200 servers in 100 countries. 
  • A VPN for streaming: Surfshark can unblock all the major streaming services without issues. 
  • A VPN for privacy and security: Surfshark adheres to a strict no-logs policy and has been audited several times. It also has advanced security features like a double VPN and dedicated IPs. 

We Recommend Windscribe If You Want…

  • A free VPN: Windscribe’s free version offers access to 11 free servers and up to 15GB of data per month. 
  • A VPN for gaming: Windscribe’s low latency suggests it might be a good choice for online gaming. 
  • A VPN with a customizable plan: Windscribe offers the Build a Plan option, which allows you to choose specific servers you want to use. 

If You Want to Consider Other Services, Check Out…

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The Verdict: Why We Think Surfshark Wins Overall

In this Surfshark vs Windscribe matchup, we crown Surfshark the overall winner. It offers better features and performance across the board. Whether you’re searching for a VPN to protect your privacy or for streaming Netflix, Surfshark offers servers that can unblock virtually any service and secure your traffic while at it.

Windscribe doesn’t have Surfshark’s long list of features, but it’s a good choice if you need a free VPN for casual use. 

FAQ

  • Surfshark is one of the best VPNs in the industry. It boasts servers in 100 countries, more than most VPNs. It also has many security and privacy features, including a strict no-logs policy, an ad and tracker blocker, and the ability to set up custom multi-hop connections.

  • Surfshark is better than Windscribe in many aspects. Surfshark has faster download speeds and is more reliable at unblocking streaming platforms. It also has more security and privacy features than Windscribe.

  • No, Windscribe doesn’t log personal user data. However, if you use Windscribe’s free version, it will record the total number of bytes transferred each month, along with your activity timestamps.

  • If you’re in the UAE, Surfshark is a better choice than Windscribe. Surfshark has a larger server network covering 100 countries. It’s also better for streaming and torrenting.

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