ExpressVPN Vs Surfshark VPN Comparison 2020

Last updated: April 13, 2020
Muhammad Hamza Shahid

Muhammad Hamza Shahid

Read this comprehensive VPN comparison of ExpressVPN Vs Surfshark to find out which service is better at catering to user needs in 2020!

With Surfshark gaining huge prominence in the industry over a short period of time, many are wondering if the newcomer competes with the household name, ExpressVPN.

If you have the same contemplation, you are in the right place. Check out this in-depth comparison analysis of Surfshark Vs ExpressVPN to learn which provider emerges victorious.

Highlights

ExpressVPNSurfshark
  1. 3,000+ Servers in 94 Countries
  2. AES-256-CBC and AES-256-GCM
  3. Three Simultaneous Connections
  4. Apps for Windows, Mac, iOS & Android
  5. Verified No Logs Policy (Audited)
  1. 1040+ servers in 61+ countries
  2. Dedicated IPs available
  3. Unlimited Simultaneous Connections
  4. Apps for All Platforms/Devices
  5. Verified No Logs Policy (Audited)

Pricing and Discounts

After comparing the two services, it becomes clear that ExpressVPN is way more expensive. It offers three different plans to users: monthly, six months, and 1-year.

Special offer3-Months Free on a 1-Year Plan84% Off on a 25-Months Plan
Highest price per month$12.95$11.95
Lowest price per month$8.32$1.99
One-Year Price$99.5$71.88
Money-Back Guarantee30-Days30-Days

With regards to money back guarantees, both ExpressVPN and Surfshark offer a 30-day refund. You can avail them anytime under a month, if you are not satisfied with their service.

Features

ExpressVPNSurfshark
Simultaneous Connections3Unlimited
Operating System AppsWindows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV/Firestick, some routersWindows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Linux, and Fire TV
Manual Install DevicesSome Routers, Set-Top BoxesLinux, Routers, Set-Top Boxes
Split TunnelingYes (Desktop Apps Only)Yes (All Apps)
Free ExtrasMedia Streamer Smart DNS, browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and SafariShadowsocks Support, Hacklock, Blindsearch, NoBorders Mode, TrustDNS

In terms of features, both ExpressVPN and Surfshark very well surpass many providers in the industry. They stay updated to the latest in technologies and hacks to maximize performance.

With either provider, you have easy-to-use and intuitive apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Firestick, Nvidia Shield, and even routers.

Where Surfshark offers pre-configured routers, ExpressVPN adds a native client for DD-WRT and Tomato routers; you can install by installing their firmware.

ExpressVPN even adds a Media Streamer Smart DNS service for streamers, while Surfshark offers multiple security tools like NoBorders, BlindSearch, Hacklock, and Shadowsocks.

As far as simultaneous connections are concerned, ExpressVPN can only be used on 3 devices at a single time. Surfshark, on the other hand, offers unlimited multi logins.

Unblocking Capabilities

ExpressVPNSurfshark
NetflixYesYes
HuluYesYes
Sky GoYesYes
Amazon PrimeYesYes
BBC iPlayerYesYes
ABSYesYes
CBSYesYes
NBCYesYes
ITVYesYes
Channel 4YesYes

To my surprise, ExpressVPN and Surfshark are equally matched in terms of unblocking different streaming platforms. These Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and now even Disney Plus.

From either service, you can feel assured to face no hassles in streaming on VoDs in ultra HD quality, be it from the desktop clients or smartphone apps.

The only difference is that ExpressVPN takes several connection attempts on different servers before unblocking a streaming platform, whereas Surfshark is more seamless.

China

Again, both ExpressVPN and Surfshark do exceptionally well at bypassing the “Great Firewall” in China. Both providers utilize the “obfuscation” technology for maximum cloaking.

Where ExpressVPN markets it through its RAM-infrastructure servers, Surfshark offers a special “NoBorders” mode for the task. The best part of all; residents can instantly bypass all geographical limitations.

Since VPN apps are banned in the Chinese Play Stores, ExpressVPN and Surfshark even provide residents with a dedicated Chinese mirror website to download their apps hassle-free.

Users in China can download ExpressVPN from their dedicated Chinese page here: http://exp4links4.net/

Users in China can download Surfshark from their dedicated Chinese page here: https://shark-cn.com/

Setup and Interface

ExpressVPNSurfshark
Automatic Setup WizardWindows, Mac, Android, iOSWindows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Amazon Fire TV
Main Location SelectionList-basedList-based
Extra Settings PagesYesYes
Mobile FriendlyYesYes

Reviewing more than 180+ providers in the industry, I have seen the change different providers have brought into their apps to improve ease-of-use and intuitiveness.

ExpressVPN is one such provider that sticks to the old school and basics though. They have maintained their traditional design with minimal changes in the interface overall.

Most of these changes can be noticed in the menu and configuration options added. Otherwise, the list-based style of servers, visible connect button, and smart-locations placed at the bottom remain same.

ExpressVPN Interface

Surfshark as a newcomer in the industry has worked hard on creating user-friendly apps across all devices. Their GUI is exceptional and offers incentives to both: tech-y and novice users.

The apps are stable as well. Response time to a server is about 10 seconds right now, which is a considerably better than ExpressVPN. It does not take you long to connect to different servers.

Not to mention, Surfshark also presents you with the ability to connect to dedicated IPs directly within their apps, a feature that is missing with the costly ExpressVPN.

Surfshark Streaming Mode

Servers

ExpressVPNSurfshark
Server Countries9461
Total Number of Servers3,0001040

Reviewing VPN services means more than just looking at the pricing and features available. You also need to factor in total servers, number of countries support, and dedicated streaming/torrent servers if any.

ExpressVPN offers a huge listing of 3,000 servers in 94 countries worldwide with torrenting enabled on almost all. Streaming is still a little tricky and may take tries on different servers.

Surfshark, on the other hand, tends to offer a dramatically lesser count. They only have 1,040 servers in 61+ countries worldwide, but the performance is still quite superb.

Also, if we take into factor that Surfshark has only recently made its way into the marketplace in 2017, some leeway can given in comparison to a service with 10+ years in the industry.

Security

ExpressVPNSurfshark
VPN ProtocolsPPTP, L2TP, OpenVPNL2TP, IPSec, IKEv2, Shadowsocks, OpenVPN
OpenVPN Data EncryptionAES-256-CBCAES-256-CBC
OpenVPN Control Channel EncryptionRSA-4096 RSA-4096
Cloaking TechnologyCipher Block ChainingShadowsocks
App SecurityKill SwitchKill Switch and DNS/WebRTC/ IP Leak Protection
DNS StatusPrivate DNSTrustDNS

ExpressVPN supports three protocols: PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP). It uses AES-256-CBC ciphers with HMAC SHA-256 data authentication on the data channel.

AES-256-GCM ciphers with RSA-384 handshake and HMAC SHA-256 data authentication is used for the control channel.

Surfshark, on the other hand, is a big fan of the IKEv2 protocol and uses it as “default” across its iOS device. Other apps utilize the same “OpenVPN (UDP)” protocol as a default.

It utilizes AES-256-GCM ciphers, so no additional authentication is provided on the data channel, but it is incredibly secure.

For the control channel, Surfshark uses AES-256-GCM cipher with the TLS key exchange secured using RSA-2048. Perfect forward secrecy is provided by ECDH-(384?) key exchange.

Privacy

ExpressVPNSurfshark
HeadquartersBritish Virgin IslandsBritish Virgin Islands
Connection LogsNoneNone
Activity LogsNoneNone
Sign Up InformationEmail AddressEmail Address
Anonymous Payment MethodsBitcoin and MintVarious Cryptocurrencies

Both Surfshark and ExpressVPN have their headquarters in British Virgin Islands; an autonomous nation with a fair degree of freedom in matters governing its internal affairs.

In comparison to Britain, safe internet jurisdiction BVI does not impose mandatory data retention and mass surveillance laws. Neither is BVI a part of the 5/9/14 Eyes alliances.

There is no major issues with either VPNs logging policies either. In fact, ExpressVPN’s servers were seized following an attack on the Russian Ambassador of Turkey, but no details were revealed.

Similarly, there have been no cases involving Sufshark sharing personal details of users to government agencies. As far as anonymous payment options are concerned, both providers also support bitcoin.

Configuration

ExpressVPNSurfshark
Address AllocationSharedShared/Dedicated
Static IPsNone6+ Locations
DDoS ProtectionNoneYes
NAT FirewallYesYes

For configurations, Surfshark gains an edge over ExpressVPN. Where the BVI-based provider adopts a shared infrastructure and address allocation, Surfshark supports both: dynamic and static.

As a result, the BVI-based provider delivers more benefit to users, particular expats/travelers wanting remote access to office files, along with protection when accessing financial information.

It is important to note though that dedicated IPs are available as an add-on with Surfshark, so you do have to pay extra for them. However, the benefits of getting one give you greater value for your money.

Customer Support

ExpressVPNSurfshark
Video GuidesYesYes
Searchable Knowledge Base YesYes
Phone SupportNoNo
Email SupportYesYes
Average Email Response Time33 Minutes25 Minutes
Ticket SupportYesYes
Live Chat SupportYes (Outsourced)Yes (Outsourced)

Both ExpressVPN and Surfshark offer support via live chat, email, and a ticket system. Testing the live chat services revealed that responses were quite fast.

Email/ticket support did take some time with ExpressVPN (averaging at 33 minutes per reply), whereas Surfshark cut it shorter (averaging at 25 minutes).

We conducted these tests by sending each VPN three questions via email. Among them, two were general queries and two were a little more technical. See the statistics below:

ExpressVPN

QuestionInitial Response TimeNumber of EmailsQuestion Answered
Can ExpressVPN be traced?15 Minutes1Yes
Does ExpressVPN store Logs?18 Minutes1Yes
How to Watch Netflix with ExpressVPN?55 Minutes1Yes
What features does ExpressVPN offer for torrenting?47 Minutes1Yes

Surfshark

QuestionInitial Response TimeNumber of EmailsQuestion Answered
Does Surfshark work with Netflix?20 Minutes1Yes
Is Surfshark good for Torrenting?25 Minutes1Yes
Does Surfshark work in China?30 Minutes1Yes
How to activate obfuscation?24 Minutes1Yes

The Winner: Surfshark

Surfshark is the Winner

This may sound surprising, but Surfshark wins this comparison for quite a few reasons. Firstly, it manages to go head-to-head against ExpressVPN, despite being more budget-friendly.

Secondly, it offers more consistency for unblocking VoDs like Netflix, the NoBorders mode works smoothly in China, and Surfshark also provides dedicated IPs (missing with Express).

Surely, Surfshark does have to improve its server infrastructure and add more locations. Even so, the VPN did not give any speed-related issues and actually delivered amazing performance.

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