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ExpressVPN vs. Surfshark: Which is the better VPN in 2022?

It’s important to understand what the best VPN is for you so that you get the best value from your subscription, as well as all the features you need. There are dozens of different VPN services out there making the process feel even trickier. If you’re not sure where to begin, don’t worry. We’re on hand to simplify the buying process.

Right now, two big names in VPN providers are ExpressVPN and Surfshark. You’re likely to have seen these names across the internet when looking for a VPN, but how do you know what works best for you? They can look very similar at first glance, but there are some key differences here, from features to pricing. Read on while we guide you through everything you need to know about both VPN providers. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses so while one service may be ideal for one consumer, the other may prove better for you. By the end, you’ll know what to do and how to get the best VPN for your needs.

ExpressVPN vs. Surfshark: Devices

A close up of a computer monitor displaying a generic VPN.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s important to be able to use a VPN on as many devices of yours as possible. Both ExpressVPN and Surfshark make it possible to set things up at a router level which means anything connected to your network is automatically covered by the VPN. Instructions are fairly simple and straightforward so even if you’re not particularly tech-savvy, you’ll be able to do it.

However, if you prefer to protect devices individually, there are extensive options here. ExpressVPN offers support for up to five devices connected at once. Surfshark does something quite remarkable for a VPN — it offers support for an unlimited number of devices. Based on that, you may never need to change anything at the router level (although it might prove more convenient). In reality, you’ll probably end up doing a little of both, depending on the devices you possess.

When it comes to app support, both offer an extensive amount of apps. ExpressVPN provides apps for PC, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. However, it lacks support for a dedicated app for Amazon Fire TV Sticks or Android TV — something other VPN providers sometimes support. That means you’ll definitely need to set up ExpressVPN at a router level for maximum support in most cases.

Surfshark offers the usual selection of apps. There’s support for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. Again, like ExpressVPN, there’s no dedicated app for Android TV, but users can download an Amazon Fire TV stick app which is sure to be useful. Also, as is the case with all VPNs, there’s no direct Apple TV VPN app but you can set things up via settings instead. Both VPN providers offer extensive browser support including a Chrome VPN, support for Firefox, as well as support for Microsoft Edge.

Winner: Surfshark

ExpressVPN vs. Surfshark: Features

Both ExpressVPN and Surfshark aren’t short on the key features you may need for browsing securely online, circumventing georestrictions, or similar. Both promise a strict no-logs policy with ExpressVPN and Surfshark both based in the British Virgin Islands. Notably, ExpressVPN regularly has third-party audits to guarantee its safety while Surfshark does not. However, this is unlikely to bother the average user as both services should be highly secure and privacy-conscious.

When it comes to features, ExpressVPN should keep the bulk of customers happy. Besides its extensive app support, it offers leak protection and a network lock kill switch. That means if your connection drops for whatever reason, you’re blocked from reaccessing the internet until you restore it, ensuring no data or information can inadvertently get through during a blip. It also offers a split tunneling feature which means users can browse from two connections at once. For instance, they can check out the latest shows via a different country on Netflix through one connection while using their local connection to check out recent news instead. ExpressVPN also provides a private DNS along with obfuscated servers to help users evade internet censorship via repressive regimes.

Surfshark is fairly similar. It has leak protection and a kill switch, along with split tunneling, and a private DNS feature. There are obfuscated servers too in the form of a camouflage mode too. It goes a few steps further though. It also offers a double VPN service so that users can be extra hidden while browsing online, by hiding behind twice as many VPNs. Alongside that, it also has a CleanWeb feature which blocks ads, trackers, malware, and pretty much everything else you don’t want to deal with. A NoBorders mode is aimed at dealing with any network restrictions you may come across alongside that. Two-factor authentication keeps your account safe, while you’re using it too, reassuring anyone a little extra concerned about their security.

When it comes to finding the best VPN for streaming, both are quite well matched. ExpressVPN and Surfshark work well as a Netflix VPN but they also offer support for services like BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, and quite a few others too. If you’re looking to watch as much streaming content as possible, either service is a good option.

Winner: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN vs. Surfshark: Speed

Assessing speed with a VPN is a complicated matter. Speeds vary wildly depending on the servers used, the protocols involved, and sometimes what you’re doing online. Your location can play a valuable role here too. Fortunately, both VPN providers offer decent speeds thanks to plenty of high-quality protocols and numerous servers.

ExpressVPN offers 160 VPN server locations across 94 countries, amounting to around 3,000 servers in all. Alternatively, Surfshark offers over 3,2000 servers across 65 countries. While the number of countries catered for may be lower, both companies still offer the key locations you are most likely to use. As always though, check that a country you may need is available before hitting the subscribe button. For the most part, all major countries are listed here.

ExpressVPN supports its Lightway protocol, OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP/IPsec, while Surfshark uses WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKE2v2. Which one you choose will definitely affect your speeds. Typically, WireGuard and Lightway are the fastest protocols and often, users found Surfshark to be much faster than ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN is still one of the speedier options out there but, compared to Surfshark, it’s a little slower as the WireGuard protocol generally is a little more fine-tuned than Lightway.

When using other protocols, ExpressVPN has the edge however but, again, there’s not much here to divide the two. Both are reliably speedy and an equally good bet when downloading files or streaming content. While there are slight dips compared to your ordinary ISP speeds, you won’t exactly suffer here. Both companies offer support for torrenting files across all servers although Surfshark offers up some dedicated servers for torrenting which could potentially boost speeds.

Winner: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN vs. Surfshark: Price

VPN deals are richly available from both services. After all, the VPN market is a highly competitive one and pricing is often one of the biggest selling points for any VPN. While neither ExpressVPN nor Surfshark offers a VPN free trial, they do offer money-back guarantees which should give you time to see how they perform for you.

Both ExpressVPN and Surfshark offer a 30-day money-back guarantee so there’s plenty of time to check them out before committing to a full subscription. Just remember to get in touch with customer support if you change your mind. Once you subscribe to a plan remember, as always, the longer period of time you commit to, the better value the offer works out.

ExpressVPN is priced at $13 per month on a month-by-month basis. The price drops to the equivalent of $10 per month if you go for the six-month plan which costs $60 every six months. Alternatively, commit to a 12-month plan and things get even cheaper. The price drops to just $6.67 per month, billed at $100 per year. Also, at the moment, you get three months free included. All ExpressVPN plans are payable via all major credit cards, Paypal, as well as Bitcoin. Using Bitcoin means a better level of anonymity if you need it.

Surfshark costs the same amount on a month-by-month basis as ExpressVPN — $13 per month. However, its 6-month plan works out cheaper. It’s the equivalent of $6.49 per month, billed at $39 every six months. That’s ideal if you need a medium-term solution but don’t want to pay too much. Surfshark’s best value plan, however, is its 24-month plan. There’s no 12-month plan but instead, you can pay $60 for the first 24 months. It works out as the equivalent of only $2.49 per month, making it substantially cheaper than a lot of competition. Much like ExpressVPN, users can pay via all major credit cards, Paypal, and Bitcoin. It’s also possible to pay with Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and others too.

Winner: Surfshark

ExpressVPN vs. Surfshark: Verdict

Simply put, whether you go with ExpressVPN or Surfshark, you should be very happy with what each provides. Both VPN services offer extensive privacy-conscious features while also making it simple to use advanced options like split tunneling or simply downloading files quickly.

Both also offer plenty of servers and protocols so you should always be able to find a connection that works for you. While ExpressVPN has the edge when it comes to third-party audits, neither should be an issue security-wise for the majority of users.

There’s also the huge advantage of being able to use unlimited devices with Surfshark although this is less of an issue if you plan on changing settings via your router rather than on each device individually.

Instead, the main distinguishing feature between ExpressVPN and Surfshark is the pricing. Surfshark is simply a fair bit cheaper than ExpressVPN on all plans other than the rolling monthly contract that we would recommend everyone avoids. With two years worth of Surfshark costing just $60 compared to $100 for a year’s worth of ExpressVPN, users save a lot by sticking with Surfshark. Even if you only need a year’s worth of a VPN, Surfshark is still cheaper than going for ExpressVPN. Combined with generally better speeds and a few extra features like a double VPN, it’s hard to not go with Surfshark. It has the edge in enough ways to make it a far more tempting proposition.

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Jennifer Allen
Jennifer Allen is a technology writer with over 10 years of experience. She primarily writes about the best deals coverage…
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