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




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 vs NordVPN.

NordVPN uses a 4096-bit RSA key, has better encryption, so your device would communicate with NordVPN more privately. Surfshark uses 2048-bit RSA keys, less secure, but still safe enough.

Are the two as good as they claim to be?

I tested both and wrote a review – keep reading to find out!

Rating4.2 of 5
4.8 of 5
PriceView Best PriceView Best Price
JurisdictionBritish Virgin IslandsPanama
Logging PolicyNo-logging policyNo-logging policy
Download Speed Reduction
Servers & Countries1000+ servers in 60+ countries5639+ servers in 60+ countries
Torrenting / P2P
Kill Switch
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

What to Consider When Choosing One VPN Over Another

If you work in the digital space like me, or just want to ensure your online privacy (it is your fundamental right!), a VPN is a good way to do it.

However, before choosing a provider, there are several things I would consider, and you should too.

Privacy, Encryption & Security

A VPN’s primary purpose is to protect your privacy and keep your online activities secure.

Therefore, it’s important to verify a service’s relevant features before committing.

A 256-bit encryption is considered the strongest.

A genuine no-logging policy is what a lot of VPNs promise. It means that they don’t retain records of your online activities to ensure your digital privacy. It’s worth double-checking, however, whether such guarantees of a VPN service are real and there aren’t any hidden clauses in the privacy policy that stipulate to the contrary.

A functioning no-logging policy should also be accompanied by a kill switch.

If your connection unexpectedly breaks, it ensures that your online activities remain cloaked from your ISP.

No Speed Loss

Naturally, we all want our privacy. But we also would prefer to not lose our connection speed as a result of security measures. A good VPN provider would keep speed disruption to a minimum.

However, the speed factor is also affected by a server you choose.

More on that below.

Support & User Experience

I don’t like my software being too “clunky”, and I prefer having help available when there’s an issue. A VPN’s interface should be easy to use and compatible with your device.

A round-the-clock customer service feature, such as Live Chat, is also important because they can provide urgent support if something goes wrong.

What You Get for the Price

I usually make sure to check a product’s value for money, and a VPN service is no exception.

There are usually several options, depending on how long you’re willing to commit for.

A free trial or a money-back guarantee would help you make a more informed choice.

Surfshark and NordVPN Comparison

Privacy-Friendly Jurisdiction & 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.

Winner: NordVPN

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

Security Test

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

The OpenVPN protocol available for both VPN services uses 256-bits encryption which scrambles your traffic. NordVPN uses a 4096-bit RSA key for private communications between your device and VPN. It’s the most secure key available. Surfshark uses 2048-bit RSA – also a very secure key, but less secure than the 4096-bit.

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.

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.

Winner: NordVPN

Commercial Terms

Offers available
  • $11.95 per month, billed every month;
  • $71.88 per 12 months;
  • $47.76 per 24 months
  • $11.95 per month, billed every month;
  • $83.88 per 12 months;
  • $119.76 per 24 months;
  • $125.64 per 36 months.
Free trial/money-back guarantee7-day trial on mobile app – but credit card info required.7-day trial; 30-day trial for 36 months option.

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 (you can use a coupon code), Surfshark’s rates are much more competitive. Free trial is available for both providers, although Surfshark’s only works on a few platforms.

Surfshark also allows for PayPal payments, which NordVPN discontinued.

Winner: Surfshark

Speed Tests

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

Speed before VPN7 ms98 Mbps53 Mbps
NordVPN Dutch Server37 ms74 Mbps (-25%)48 Mbps (-10%)
NordVPN US server187 ms56 Mbps (-42%)29 Mbps (-45%)
Surfshark UK server28 ms71.06 Mbps (-26.5%)31.16 Mbps (-45%)
Surfshark US server126 ms48.99 Mbps (-50%) 21.48 Mbps (-60%)

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

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: NordVPN

Streaming Tests

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 NordVPN and Surfshark.

Same for accessing ITV.

Winner: Draw

Torrenting Test

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 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.

Winner: 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

Customer Support & UX

Live Chat Feature

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.

Winner: Surfshark

Devices & Platforms Supported

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.

Winner: Surfshark

So, Which One is Better?

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

In this NordVPN vs Surfshark 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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