NordVPN vs Surfshark (2020): Which One is Better?

Winner

You can get NordVPN for $3.49/month. It uses a strong 4096-bit RSA key to let your device communicate with the VPN securely and privately. It’s a premium service provider with lots of useful features.

4.8/5

VS

Loser

In contrast, you can get Surfshark just for $1.99/month. It uses 2048-bit RSA keys that are still secure, but slightly less so. However, Surfshark has fewer servers than NordVPN. Both NordVPN and Surfshark offer a kill switch on every platform.

4.2/5

I work in the digital space, so I take cybersecurity very seriously.

A VPN is a must for my work, otherwise, mine and my clients’ files are at risk.

But with so many VPNs available on the market, it was hard for me, as I’m sure it is for you, to choose the best VPN provider.

Eventually, I narrowed it down to two – Surfshark and NordVPN.

Surfshark and NordVPN Comparison

NordVPN has better speeds, makes use of high-level AES-256 bit encryption and OpenVPN to protect their connections. In contrast, Surfshark uses a 2048-bit RSA key, which is still secure, but not secure as NordVPN’s. Surfshark and NordVPN both offer a kill switch on every platform. However, NordVPN takes the lead for streaming.
Surfshark vs NordVPN comparison

Highlights

SurfsharkNordVPN
Rating4.2 of 5
4.2/5
4.8 of 5
4.8/5
PriceView Best PriceView Best Price
JurisdictionBritish Virgin IslandsPanama
Logging PolicyNo-logging policyNo-logging policy
Download Speed Reduction
26-50%25-42%
Servers & Countries1000+ servers in 60+ countries5639+ servers in 60+ countries
Torrenting / P2P
YesYes
Kill Switch
YesYes
Encryption256-bit256-bit
Customer Support24/7 Live Chat + Email24/7 Live Chat + Email
Simultaneous ConnectionsUnlimited6 devices
Supported PlatformsWindows, iOS, MacOS, Android, Linux, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chrome, FirefoxWindows, iOS, macOS, Android, Linux, Chrome, Firefox
Visit:Go with SurfsharkGo with NordVPN

Privacy & Jurisdiction

CriteriaSurfsharkNordVPN
JurisdictionBritish Virgin IslandsPanama
Logging policy
No-logging policyNo-logging policy

Both NordVPN and Surfshark are headquartered in privacy-friendly jurisdictions – Panama and British Virgin Islands, respectively. Neither country is signatory to the Five Eyes or 14-eyes agreements.

This means that the companies aren’t obliged to provide any government with access to customers’ data, thus ensuring your privacy.

The no-logging policy of NordVPN is clearly outlined in its privacy policy.

It doesn’t monitor, log, record, store or transfer your activities, such as traffic logs and IP addresses.

Surfshark’s privacy policy specifies that the company doesn’t collect IP addresses or browsing history, except for how frequent you use the service, which can’t really be used to identify you.

That’s the essence of an effective no-logging policy. However, it does specify that Surfshark may update the policy at its discretion, and continued usage signifies agreement.

For me, this was an issue since I don’t have time to conduct periodic checks of privacy policies, unless I’m notified. I see this as a drawback.

Privacy Winner: NordVPN

Security

NordVPN uses NGE (Next Generation Encryption) in IKEv2/IPsec. The ciphers used to generate Phase1 keys are AES-256-GCM for encryption, coupled with SHA2-384 to ensure integrity, combined with PFS (Perfect Forward Secrecy) using 3072-bit Diffie Hellmann keys.

In contrast, Surfshark supports OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, as well as Shadowsocks protocol for Window.

NordVPN and Surfshark both are able to unblock the US Netflix and offer a kill switch.

FeatureSurfsharkNordVPN
VPN Protocol
OpenVPN, IPSec, IPv6, IKEv2, Shadowsocks (beta)OpenVPN, IPSec, L2TP, PPTP
DNS Leak TestProtectedProtected
Encryption256-bit256-bit
Kill SwitchYes except AndroidYes

I ran two DNS Leak tests (through IPv6 and DNSLeak) on both VPNs to check whether there were possibilities of an IP leak. Fortunately, neither NordVPN or Surfshark were leaking.

NordVPN has a kill-switch enabled which you can customize manually, across all platforms.

Surfshark offers an automatic kill switch, but only on iOS. It doesn’t currently offer a kill switch on Android devices.

This was a drawback for me since I use an Android tablet for work.

Security Winner: NordVPN

Countries & Servers

If a VPN has a wide server coverage, it provides you with more chances to access country-specific content and set up your speed to your liking.

The closer a server to your actual location, the better speed you have.

With Surfshark, you have a choice of over 1000 servers in 60 countries.

For a VPN that’s only been on the market for a year, that’s very impressive.

NordVPN, on the other hand, has 5639 servers in 60 countries.

That means a very wide server coverage in specific countries.

This can be particularly handy for users in large countries like Russia or China.

Servers & Network Winner: NordVPN

Cost & Payment Methods

Since Surfshark is quite new to the industry, it’s understandable that it wants to stay competitive by offering lower prices than other providers, to compensate for lack of goodwill assets.

Its most expensive plan is $47.76, valid for 24 months. Compared to NordVPN’s $119.76 for the same time, Surfshark’s rates are much more competitive.

Surfshark also allows for PayPal payments, which NordVPN discontinued.

NordVPN Subscribtion Plans

3-year plan

$ 3
49
per month
  • $125.64 billed every 3 years
  • No logs policy
  • Connect 6 devices at the same time
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Most popular

2-year plan

$ 4
49
per month
  • $119.76 billed every 2 years
  • No logs policy
  • Connect 6 devices at the same time
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

1-year plan

$ 6
99
per month
  • $83.88 billed every year
  • No logs policy
  • Connect 6 devices at the same time
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

1-month plan

$ 11
95
per month
  • $11.95 billed every month
  • No logs policy
  • Connect 6 devices at the same time
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Surfshark VPN Subscription Plans

2-year plan

$ 1
99
per month
  • $47.76 billed every 2 years
  • Connect unlimited devices at the same time
  • 7-day money-back guarantee

1-year plan

$ 5
99
per month
  • $71.88 billed every 1 year
  • Connect unlimited devices at the same time
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

1-month plan

$ 11
95
per month
  • $11.95 billed every month
  • Connect unimited devices at the same time
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Pricing Winner: Surfshark

Speed & Performance Test

When I tested both companies for speed, the European servers close to me worked much quicker than the American or Canadian servers.

ProviderAvg. PingAvg. Download SpeedAvg. Upload Speed
NordVPN112 ms65 Mbps38.5 Mbps
Surfshark77 ms60.03 Mbps26.32 Mbps

NordVPN Speed Results

NordVPNPingDownloadUpload
Connected to US server187 ms56 Mbps29 Mbps
Connected to Dutch server37 ms74 Mbps48 Mbps

Surfshark Speed Results

SurfsharkPingDownloadUpload
Connected to US server126 ms48.99 Mbps21.48 Mbps
Connected to Dutch server28 ms71.06 Mbps31.16 Mbps

Speed-wise, NordVPN has shown significantly better results across the board.

From what I’ve seen in TorGuard vs NordVPN comparison too, the European servers were working as well as I could expect, with only marginal speed reductions. With Surfshark, the speed reduction was significantly higher.

Winner for Speed: NordVPN

Streaming Suport

PlatformSurfsharkNordVPN
WindowsYesYes
iOSYesYes
macOSYesYes
AndroidYesYes
LinuxYesYes
Firefox plug-inYesYes
Chrome plug-inYesYes
Fire TVYesOnly with router
Apple TVYesOnly with router

If you’re someone who frequently streams video content but has limited access to streaming service, a VPN is the answer. Netflix and Hulu are the most popular services, but I also like BBC iPlayer, so it was important for me to find a VPN that could stream all three.

Both NordVPN and Surfshark do exactly that. However, not all servers work with streaming platforms. With Surfshark, Hulu was available on every server I tested, just as promised by their FAQs. Surfshark provides instructions on how to connect to a specific server to stream country-specific Netflix content.

I found that to be quite helpful and happy to report that their instructions worked, albeit not without speed loss.

NordVPN also performed very well when I tried to access Netflix, Hulu and iPlayer.

For the latter, you need to connect to a U.K. server for both Surfshark and NordVPN.

Same for accessing ITV.

Streaming Winner: Draw

BitTorrent/P2P

Global Nework and Reach

NordVPN’s package includes specialized servers for P2P sharing – torrenting.

These specialty servers are meant to keep your file sharing secure.

This USP is a major draw for NordVPN as a favourite for torrenting.

After testing a couple of P2P servers, I have to agree.

Surfshark also allows for torrenting. In fact, the company claims that their product is “torrent-friendly” in its entirety. And since it allows for unlimited simultaneous connections, you can stream on your laptop and torrent on another device at the same time.

However, Surfshark doesn’t have as many servers as NordVPN, and therefore, there’s a bigger danger of overcrowding. The speed was also slower than NordVPN’s.

Best for Torrenting: NordVPN

Dedicated IP

A dedicated IP address is helpful when you consistently need to access the same server.

It doesn’t change over time. NordVPN subscription includes Dedicated IP service for addresses in the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and France.

This feature is great for those of you that need to consistently access files on the same server.

Surfshark doesn’t offer dedicated IP support at this time.

Winner: NordVPN

Dedicated IP Winner: NordVPN

Multi-Platform Compatibility

PlatformSurfsharkNordVPN
WindowsYesYes
iOSYesYes
macOSYesYes
AndroidYesYes
LinuxYesYes
Firefox plug-inYesYes
Chrome plug-inYesYes
Fire TVYesOnly with router
Apple TVYesOnly with router

When using Surfshark, I could connect to an unlimited number of devices at the same time within the subscription. I could use my iPhone, my Android tablet and my Windows-enabled laptop at the same time with no problem.

Surfshark also works on Linux and there’re plug-ins for Chrome and Firefox browsers.

For Fire TV and Apple TV, the website provides very straightforward instructions.

For me, this USP was a strong argument in favour of Surfshark.

NordVPN allows connections on up to six devices at a time. Those devices can be Windows, iOS, MacOS, Android and Linux. Like with Surfshark, browser extensions are available.

I found that all my devices connected to NordVPN were working perfectly at the same time.

If you want to connect more devices and use Apple TV with a VPN, NordVPN recommends special VPN-enabled routers at a discount.

Compatibility Winner: Surfshark

Reliability & Customer Support

Both NordVPN and Surfshark have a Live Chat feature to help you solve any issues or answer your questions 24/7. I found the support team of both services ready to answer my queries instantly – they were about kill-switch on various devices that support the VPN services.

However, I felt that the answers I received from Surfshark’s customer support was more comprehensive. The manager took the time to explain the issue with the kill switch, rather than link me to a blog entry which is what’s happened with NordVPN.

While the blog entry was interesting, I would’ve preferred an immediate response.

Customer Support Winner: Surfshark

Winner: NordVPN

The most important thing in a VPN is the privacy and security of your online activities.

In this comparison review, both providers scored very high on that front.

However, the clear winner is NordVPN, thanks to its additional security features and wide server coverage that Surfshark currently doesn’t have. The Surfshark is ahead of NordVPN, however, in terms of pricing and customer support.

Test both services for yourself and decide which one YOU prefer!

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