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Surfshark vs NordVPN

Simon Migliano is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times and more.

Our Verdict

NordVPN is technically better than Surfshark. It’s faster on average, better at unblocking streaming services, and has marginally stronger security. However, it’s also more expensive. Although NordVPN wins overall, Surfshark isn’t far behind and is absolutely worth getting if you’re on a budget.

NordVPN and Surfshark on iOS

We’ve been testing VPN services for 8 years. In all of this time, Surfshark and NordVPN have always been amongst the very best VPNs on the market.

While the two services are very similar, we’ve found some marginal differences between them that may influence your buying decision in one way or another.

Quick Summary: Surfshark vs NordVPN

Here’s an overview of how Surfshark and NordVPN compare in 10 key testing categories:

Category Surfshark Rating NordVPN Rating Winner
Speed 9.1 9.7 NordVPN
Streaming 9.7 9.8 NordVPN
Security & Features 9.7 9.9 NordVPN
Privacy & Logging Policy 8.7 8.8 NordVPN
Torrenting 8.6 9.0 NordVPN
Ease of Use 9.7 9.5 Surfshark
Server Locations 9.9 9.9 Surfshark
Price & Value 9.4 8.5 Surfshark
Bypassing Censorship 9.0 6.7 Surfshark
Customer Support 8.5 9.7 NordVPN

In our tests, NordVPN performed better than Surfshark in six out of 10 categories. Most notably, it achieved a slightly better rating for streaming, security, and speed.

However, Surfshark still performs incredibly well compared to most VPN services. It’s got an outstanding rating of 9.2 overall, and it even outperforms NordVPN when it comes to ease of use, bypassing censorship, and server locations.

You can use the chart below to quickly compare Surfshark and NordVPN in different areas:

Radar chart comparison of Surfshark and NordVPN, with NordVPN mostly leading.

*Points closer to the edge signal a better rating in that category.

Both VPNs use industry-standard encryption, work to unblock international Netflix regions, and deliver fast connection speeds on average. Even their privacy policies and additional security features are similar. So which one should you use?

Choose NordVPN if You Need:

  • A versatile all-round VPN, regardless of the cost. NordVPN is slightly more expensive than Surfshark ($3.29 per month on its cheapest plan), but it’s technically better than Surfshark in most testing categories.
  • Fast international connection speeds. Using the NordLynx (WireGuard) protocol, we saw an average international download speed loss of just 14% when connecting internationally from the US.
  • Access to multiple Netflix regions. NordVPN and Surfshark both work to unblock almost every international streaming service, but NordVPN unblocks 8 more Netflix regions.

Visit NordVPN or read our full NordVPN review.

Choose Surfshark if You Need:

  • A great VPN for a cheaper price. Surfshark costs just $2.21 on its lowest-price subscription plan, and it’s not far behind NordVPN in any category.
  • Easy-to-use apps. All of Surfshark’s apps use a consistent, friendly design that looks great. We love the way it feels, and it’s simple enough for first-time VPN users.
  • Better server coverage. Surfshark has servers in -11 more countries than NordVPN, and it works in Russia, Turkey, Iran, and the UAE (unlike NordVPN).

In this guide, we’ve compared our test results from using both VPN services over several years, so you can see which VPN is best for you.

To compare more VPN services side-by-side, you can also use our VPN comparison tool.



Surfshark and NordVPN are both fast. They use a proprietary version of the WireGuard protocol and cause negligible speed loss on local and international connections. However, we recorded slightly faster ping and international download speeds using NordVPN.

Winner: NordVPN

Here’s a comparison of NordVPN and Surfshark’s speed test performance:

Surfshark NordVPN
Speed Rating 9.1 9.7
Local Download Speed 95Mbps 95Mbps
Average International Download Speed 83Mbps 86Mbps
Local Upload Speed 92Mbps 94Mbps
Ping 9ms 8ms
Time to Connect 3.4 seconds 8.4 seconds
Fastest VPN Protocol WireGuard WireGuard (NordLynx)

On local connections to servers in the US, both VPNs are incredibly fast, with speed losses of just 2% and 15% for NordVPN and Surfshark respectively.

However, NordVPN has the edge internationally — just. Its average international speed loss was 13% less than Surfshark. It’s not a big difference, but if you’re planning on connecting to far away servers often, it could add up over time.

Bar chart comparing NordVPN and Surfshark's download speeds

As you might expect, this difference is greater over longer distances. Connecting from the US to Australia, we measured average download speeds of 87Mbps with NordVPN and 85Mbps with Surfshark, which are both impressively fast results.

Both VPNs also delivered ping speeds of under 100ms between the US East Coast and the US West Coast, Canada, Germany, and UK. With latency times like this, you can expect a smooth, responsive experience with either VPN.

Put simply: both VPNs are optimized for speed. They both use protocols based on WireGuard, which can be twice as fast as OpenVPN thanks to more efficient data transmission.

They’ve taken measures to avoid congested servers, too. Surfshark caps its server load at 40% to prevent slowdowns, while NordVPN automatically connects you to the least-congested server.

If speed is your priority, you won’t have any issues with either VPN.



Surfshark and NordVPN both unblock every streaming service we tested them with, including Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, Max, and Netflix. However, NordVPN unblocks 8 more international Netflix libraries, making it slightly better for streaming overall.

Winner: NordVPN

Here’s a comparison of NordVPN and Surfshark’s streaming capabilities:

Surfshark NordVPN
Streaming Rating 9.7 9.8
US Netflix Yes Yes
No. of Netflix Libraries 9 17
BBC iPlayer Yes Yes
Max Yes Yes
Smart DNS Yes Unreliable

Surfshark and NordVPN both rank amongst our five recommended VPNs for streaming. They’re both far above average when it comes to unblocking regional restrictions, and they work with every major streaming service we tested:

Streaming Service Surfshark NordVPN
Amazon Prime Video Yes Yes
BBC iPlayer Yes Yes
Channel 4 Yes Yes
Disney+ Yes Yes
Hulu Yes Yes
ITVX Yes Yes
Max Yes Yes
Netflix US Yes Yes

NordVPN is slightly superior because it unblocks 8 more international Netflix libraries than Surfshark, including Japan, Brazil, France, South Korea, and Switzerland.

Testing NordVPN with US Netflix on macOS

Testing NordVPN with US Netflix.

You can see which Netflix libraries Surfshark and NordVPN unblock in the table below:

Netflix Libraries Surfshark NordVPN
Australia Yes Yes
Brazil No Yes
France No Yes
Germany Yes Yes
India Yes No
Ireland Yes No
Italy Yes Yes
Japan No Yes
Mexico Yes Yes
Netherlands Yes Yes
South Korea No Yes
Switzerland No Yes
Turkey Yes No
UK Yes Yes
US Yes Yes

NordVPN tends to perform more consistently, too — especially when it comes to UK streaming services and US Netflix. You might need to cycle through a few servers with Surfshark, whereas NordVPN tends to work on the first try.

There are some edge cases, though. We recommend Surfshark as the best VPN for Disney Plus, as it’s been particularly consistent in our testing. It also unblocks Hotstar India, which NordVPN cannot, making it the top choice for fans of Indian cinema.

NordVPN just about wins thanks to its consistency and Netflix capabilities, but it’s unlikely you’ll be disappointed with the streaming performance of either VPN.

Security & Technical Features


Surfshark and NordVPN both use OpenVPN or WireGuard with AES-256 or ChaCha20 encryption. They operate on diskless servers, and we did not detect IP leaks using either service. While both are secure, they do differ in some of their advanced features, where NordVPN is marginally superior.

Winner: NordVPN

The table below shows a comparison of NordVPN and Surfshark’s encryption and security features:

Surfshark NordVPN
Encryption & Security Rating 9.7
VPN Protocols WireGuard & OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec WireGuard & OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec
Encryption Cipher AES-256 & ChaCha20 AES-256 & ChaCha20
Kill Switch Unreliable Yes
Leak Protection Yes Yes
First-Party DNS Yes Yes
Colocated Servers No Yes
Diskless servers Yes Yes
GPS Spoofing on Android Yes No
Rotating IP Yes No
Ads and trackers blocked 77% 79%

Of the 52 VPNs we’ve tested, NordVPN achieves the highest rating for security and technical features, while Surfshark takes second place. You can trust both VPNs to protect your data, but they do differ slightly in the exact features they offer.

When it comes to the basics of security, the two VPNs are very similar. Both VPNs offer WireGuard and OpenVPN protocol equivalents, and IKEv2/IPSec for mobile devices. They also use ChaCha20 or AES-256 for encryption, which is the industry standard.

Testing NordVPN's encryption using Wireshark.

We tested both VPNs’ encryption using packet-inspection software.

Both VPNs use diskless servers, too, which means no data is stored on removable media. If someone were to steal a server, there would be no storage in it to hack, and no data available to read.

Importantly, NordVPN has a better kill switch than Surfshark. Surfshark’s kill switch is not enabled by default, and we found it leaked our IP address when changing servers on macOS devices.

Surfshark Kill Switch Test

Surfshark’s kill switch does not stop IP address leaks when changing servers on macOS.

Here’s a quick overview of each VPN’s unique security features:

Surfshark’s Advanced Security Features:

  • GPS spoofing. Available on Android, this enables you to bypass geographic restrictions in apps. We used it to watch blackout NHL games on ESPN+, amongst other things.
  • IP rotation. This changes your IP address every 5-10 minutes automatically, making it extremely difficult for someone to profile your activities.
  • Multi-Hop servers. This setting routes your data through two VPN servers, encrypting it twice.

NordVPN’s Advanced Security Features:

  • Two kill switches. If your VPN connection drops, you can choose to drop your entire internet connection or to only block traffic on selected apps.
  • Multi-hop servers. Like Surfshark, this feature routes your traffic through two different VPN servers.
  • Wholly-owned colocated servers. NordVPN is working towards owning and having exclusive access to all of its servers, rather than renting them from third parties.
  • Regular independent security audits. Combined with the bug bounty program, these offer great reassurance regarding NordVPN’s security claims.
  • Meshnet. This enables you to connect to the internet via your home PC when you’re away, so you get a residential IP address for free.

Though very similar, NordVPN’s advanced features give it the advantage for security.

Although it doesn’t support GPS spoofing or IP rotation like Surfshark, NordVPN’s commitment to colocated servers, regular security audits, and reliable kill switch makes it the better choice for the most security-conscious users.

Logging & Privacy


Both NordVPN and Surfshark have minimal logging policies that have been audited by third parties. Neither VPN records any identifying data, but Surfshark does record your VPN server location and individual connection timestamps, where NordVPN does not. Despite having the same parent company, only NordVPN operates out of a privacy haven.

Winner: NordVPN

The table below shows a comparison of NordVPN and Surfshark’s privacy and logging policies:

Surfshark NordVPN
Privacy & Logging Rating 8.7
Logging Policy No Identifying Data No Identifying Data
Jurisdiction Netherlands (EU Member) Panama (Privacy Haven)
Independently Verified Yes Yes
Warrant Canary Yes No

Surfshark and NordVPN are not strictly no-logs VPNs, but they keep a minimal amount of data, none of which can be used to identify you or your activity.

They both use diskless servers too, so even if a server were to be seized, it wouldn’t contain any data that could be recovered.

Here’s a summary of the data that both VPNs log:

Logged by Surfshark VPN Logged by NordVPN
Account Information Yes Yes
Browsing Activity No No
Date of Last Connection No Yes
Device Information No No
DNS Queries No No
Individual Bandwidth Usage No No
Individual Connection Timestamps Yes No
Number of Simultaneous Connections No No
Originating IP Address No No
VPN Server IP No No
VPN Server Location Yes No

Your public IP address is not stored by either VPN, but Surfshark does store the name of your WiFi network if the auto-connect feature is enabled. This might include sensitive information, such as a location or employer.

Surfshark also stores individual connection timestamps and your VPN server location, which NordVPN does not.

Deloitte has audited both VPNs and confirmed they do not store any additional information about users.

Due to the evidence, we’re confident that both VPN services are trustworthy and safe to use from a privacy point of view. However, NordVPN logs less data and is based in a more privacy-friendly jurisdiction, so it’s the winner in this category.

EXPERT TIP: We recommend you don’t subscribe to NordVPN’s dedicated IP address service. It gives you the same public IP address whenever you’re using the VPN, but this IP address is associated with your account information, including your email address.

Differences in Jurisdiction

Following a merger in 2022, Surfshark and NordVPN share a parent company called Cyberspace, which is incorporated in the Netherlands. NordVPN and Surfshark cooperate on developing technology, but they are operated separately.

Despite the Merger, NordVPN is still run by Nord Security, which operates out of Panama — a privacy haven with strong data protection laws. A NordVPN spokesperson told us that the merger does not affect NordVPN’s jurisdiction.

By contrast, Surfshark now operates out of the Netherlands, an EU country with invasive data retention laws. Although Surfshark says its headquarters does not affect its ability to operate a no-logs service, NordVPN still has a more privacy-friendly jurisdiction.



NordVPN has a faster average download bitrate, a better jurisdiction, a more reliable kill switch, and over a thousand more P2P-optimized servers. This makes it the better choice for torrenting, though Surfshark is still a safe choice if you’re on a budget.

Winner: NordVPN

The table below shows a comparison of NordVPN and Surfshark’s torrenting performance:

Surfshark NordVPN
Torrenting Rating 8.6 9.0
Average Download Bitrate 8.7MiB/s 9.8MiB/s
No. of P2P Servers 3,200 4,771
Logging Policy No Identifying Data No Identifying Data
Time to download a 20GB torrent 37 minutes 34 minutes
Kill Switch Yes Yes
Port Forwarding No No

Both Surfshark and NordVPN work well to hide your identity and activity when torrenting. They conceal your true IP address, use AES-256-bit or ChaCha20 encryption, and store no logs of your activities.

Surfshark Torrenting Tests

We tested both VPNs on torrent clients like qBitorrent.

Both VPNs have a kill switch, but you need to enable it manually in Surfshark, which is disappointing and adds room for error while file-sharing. We can’t recommend Surfshark for torrenting on macOS either, because its kill switch leaks your data when changing servers.

We found that NordVPN is faster for torrenting, too: it delivered an average download bitrate of 9.8MiB/s in our tests, compared to 8.7MiB/s using Surfshark. Neither VPN supports port forwarding, which often enables faster torrenting speeds.

Surfshark allows torrenting on all of its servers, while NordVPN limits torrenting activity to 85% of its server network. This might seem like a limitation, but NordVPN still has more torrenting servers to choose from simply because its server network is so large.

Torrenting is not allowed in 14 countries, including Argentina, Israel, and South Korea. If you try to torrent using servers in an unsupported country, NordVPN will automatically route your traffic through dedicated P2P servers in Canada and the Netherlands.

We don’t rule out either VPN for torrenting, as they both work well. However, NordVPN performs better overall: it causes minimal speed loss, and the experience is almost seamless.

Ease of Use


Surfshark and NordVPN both work on almost any device, but Surfshark’s desktop and mobile apps are easier to use. Surfshark offers unlimited simultaneous connections and a graphical interface for Linux, which is friendlier than NordVPN’s command line tool. While NordVPN’s interface looks great, the desktop windows are too large and finding a server is slower than it needs to be.

Winner: Surfshark

The table below compares NordVPN and Surfshark’s ease of use and device compatibility:

Surfshark NordVPN
Ease of Use Rating 9.7 9.5
Consistent App Design Yes No
Simultaneous Connections Unlimited 6
Desktop Apps Windows, macOS, Linux Windows, macOS
Mobile Apps Android, iOS Android, iOS
Browser Extensions Chrome, Firefox, Edge Chrome, Firefox, Edge
Streaming Devices Apple TV, Smart TV, Android TV, Fire TV Apple TV, Smart TV, Fire TV
Smart DNS Yes Yes
Router App No No

Surfshark and NordVPN both work with almost any device. There are apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, as well as browser extensions and a Smart DNS feature for devices that don’t support VPN software.

Unfortunately, neither VPN has a dedicated VPN app for routers, which means you have to install them manually.

Device compatibility across the two VPN services is almost identical. However, if you use Linux, Surfshark has a friendly graphical user interface (GUI) where NordVPN does not. If you’re a NordVPN user on Linux, you’ll have to use the Linux command line, which is significantly more difficult.

Surfshark also allows unlimited simultaneous connections, while NordVPN has a limit of 6 devices. This could make a big difference if you’re looking to share a subscription with friends and family.

Surfshark’s Apps Offer Consistent Simplicity

Surfshark’s desktop and mobile apps have a similar design and are a joy to use. They’re easy to navigate, and the interface is simple — except for the clutter of additional services Surfshark promotes in the main menu.

Servers are listed in alphabetical order, but the search bar gives you immediate access to a particular location.

Surfshark's app for Android and iOS

The settings use simple toggle switches, and there’s a dark mode to reduce eye strain. We would very much like to see the kill switch enabled by default, though.

Like NordVPN, there’s an auto-connect feature that starts the VPN when your device connects to WiFi. You can set it to connect to the nearest or fastest VPN server, or a specific country or city server.

NordVPN’s Apps Are Effective but Have Shortcomings

We rate NordVPN highly for ease of use, but there are some issues nonetheless. Its apps are less consistent across platforms, so it’s not as smooth an experience if you use multiple devices. There are buttons without labels, too, which are not always intuitive.

The mobile apps are easiest to use, with a quick connect button to connect to the fastest server. You can scroll the list of server locations easily, but the kill switch is hard to configure on Android.

NordVPN's apps for Android and iOS

We think the desktop apps take up too much screen space, which is particularly problematic on a laptop.

It can be frustrating to find a server on Windows, too. While the server list is always shown on macOS, you have to click to open it on Windows and scroll through the specialty servers first. This is particularly frustrating if you need to change servers often. Switching servers is much easier on Surfshark.

NordVPN’s presets are a great feature, though. They enable you to choose a server location, VPN protocol and website and create a shortcut on the app’s home screen. That means you can quickly launch Netflix Germany with the right VPN settings, for example.

While both VPNs are nicely designed and mostly easy to use, we find Surfshark more consistent overall.

Server Locations


Surfshark has servers in -11 more countries than NordVPN, with city-level server choices in 12 of them compared to NordVPN’s seven. For sheer choice of server locations, Surfshark is the clear winner.

Winner: Surfshark

The table below shows a comparison of NordVPN and Surfshark’s server networks:

Surfshark NordVPN
Server Locations Rating 9.9 9.9
Countries 100 111
Countries with City-Level Choice 12 7
Total Number of Cities 142 90+
Servers 3,200 6,328
Virtual Server Locations Yes No

Although NordVPN has 3128 more individual servers than Surfshark, it offers 40% fewer server locations. That means there are -11 fewer countries available to get an IP address from.

This is partly because Surfshark uses virtual servers, where NordVPN does not. These servers give you an IP address that appears to be in your desired country, even though the physical server is not. This comes with some potential limitations, but Surfshark marks its virtual servers with a ‘v’ in its apps so you can make an informed choice.

The distinction between Surfshark's physical and virtual servers

Surfshark distinguishes between physical and virtual servers with a ‘v’.

Surfshark also has more city-level server choices than NordVPN, as the table below shows:

Surfshark NordVPN
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Italy
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • UK
  • US
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • UK
  • US

Although NordVPN has servers in 16 US cities, Surfshark has 25, making it slightly more useful for unblocking regionally-restricted NFL or MLB games.

NordVPN City Level Servers on iOS

NordVPN’s US city servers on iOS.

Both VPNs offer multi-hop servers and static IP addresses, with minimal differences between the two.

There’s not much between the two VPNs in this particular category, but Surfshark wins thanks to the number of server locations on offer.

Price & Value


Surfshark is 33% cheaper than NordVPN on its cheapest monthly subscription plan. It’s excellent value for such a high-quality VPN, and you can use it for up to 67 days for free, too.

Winner: Surfshark

Here’s a quick summary of NordVPN and Surfshark’s price and payment options:

Surfshark NordVPN
Price & Value Rating 9.4 8.5
Best Price $2.21/mo over 27 months $3.29/mo over 2 years
Credit Card Yes Yes
Cryptocurrency Yes Yes
Money-Back Guarantee 2x 30 Days 30 Days
Free Trial 7 days (iOS & Android) 7 days (Android)

NordVPN isn’t expensive by any means, but Surfshark is one of the cheapest VPNs you can get, with a minimum monthly price of $2.21 per month if you pay for 27 months in advance. NordVPN costs slightly more, at $3.29 per month for two years.

After the initial offer period, Surfshark renews at $59.76 per year, but NordVPN costs a much higher $99.48.

Surfshark also has several generous options when it comes to refunds and free trials. There is a seven-day free trial of Surfshark on mobile devices, and you can also claim two 30-day money-back guarantees (with six months between each refund).

NordVPN only offers a seven-day trial if you sign up on the Android app. You can then use that trial on any device, but you can’t sign up for the trial on iOS, unlike many other VPNs. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, too.

Both VPNs support cryptocurrency payments for greater privacy, but neither accept cash.

The numbers speak for themselves, here. Surfshark offers phenomenal value and achieves a higher rating in this category.

Bypassing Censorship


Neither Surfshark nor NordVPN are particularly good at bypassing sophisticated censorship. Surfshark bypasses censorship in Russia, Turkey, Iran, and the UAE, but it only worked 18% of the time in China over the past 12 months. By comparison, NordVPN worked 5% of the time over the same period.

Winner: Surfshark

The table below shows how well NordVPN and Surfshark work for bypassing censorship:

Surfshark NordVPN
Bypassing Censorship Rating 9.0 6.7
Reliability in China (past 12 months) 18% 5%
Reliability in China (past 3 months) 57% 0%

Neither Surfshark nor NordVPN should be your first choice for bypassing censorship. There are better VPNs to bypass firewalls in China, Russia, and the UAE.

China and Russia have the harshest censorship regimes, and so are the biggest test of a VPN’s ability to bypass censorship.

Despite its NoBorders mode, we found that Surfshark only works in China 18% of the time. The VPN is not banned in Russia, though, so you can use it effectively there, and it also works in Turkey, Iran, and the UAE.

Surfshark Unblocking YouTube in China

We accessed YouTube from China using Surfshark 18% of the time.

While your choice might depend on where in the world you are, we’re awarding this category to Surfshark for the better user experience in multiple countries.

Customer Support


Surfshark and NordVPN both have a range of customer support options, including online guides, live chat, and email. We found NordVPN’s support to be much more knowledgeable, making it the winner for customer support.

Winner: NordVPN

Here’s a comparison of NordVPN and Surfshark’s customer support options:

Surfshark NordVPN
24/7 Live Chat Yes Yes
Initial Contact Chatbot Chatbot
Email Support Yes Yes
Phone Support No No
Online Resources Yes Yes
Video Tutorials Yes Yes
Setup Guides Yes Yes
Forum No No
Average Time to Respond 5 seconds 38 seconds

Surfshark and NordVPN offer similar customer support options. There are online guides, tutorial videos, chatbots, live chat support and email support.

The chatbots can be frustrating to deal with in both cases, but if they don’t work you can request human help.

Surfshark’s human agents reply quickly and are helpful, especially if you need tips for servers that will unblock streaming sites. However, the agents sometimes struggle with more technical queries. We recommend you email those types of queries instead.

NordVPN has excellent self-help guides for most technical queries, and their support team has better technical knowledge than we see from most other VPNs. In fact, it’s amongst the best customer support we’ve ever tested.

Overall Winner: NordVPN

Given they share a parent company, it’s perhaps not surprising that these two VPNs are so similar in so many categories.

NordVPN and Surfshark both offer best-in-class security features. They’re effective for protecting your privacy, unblocking streaming services, gaming, and torrenting. Frankly, the differences between them are fairly minimal.

However, NordVPN won in six of our tests, and Surfshark won in four.

We’re happy to recommend both VPNs, but the better choice is technically NordVPN. It’s faster, more reliable for streaming, and has better privacy credentials. Its jurisdiction means it is not subject to any data retention laws, and its plan to wholly own all its servers is admirable.

There are some circumstances in which Surfshark is the better choice. Its apps are slightly more approachable for beginners, it’s cheaper, and it offers IP addresses in more countries — so it’s the better choice for users on a strict budget.

If you’re struggling to choose, both VPNs offer a seven-day free trial on mobile and a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test them for yourself.