ExpressVPN vs Surfshark Comparison 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 ExpressVPN vs. Surfshark to learn which provider emerges victorious.
Pricing and Discounts
|Subscription Period||1 Month||1 Month|
|6 Months||1 Year|
|1 Year||2 Years|
|Special offer||3-Months Free on a 1-Year Plan||84% Off on a 25-Months Plan|
|Highest price per month||$12.95||$11.95|
|Lowest price per month||$8.32||$1.99|
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.
For the monthly, you pay a high cost of $12.95. However, if you opt for an extended subscription, you can get better discounts and gain better value from ExpressVPN.
For instance, the 6-months plan costs $9.99/mo, totaling to $59.95. And, for the best value, you can go for the yearly that reduces the costs to $8.32/mo, totaling to $99.95 for 12-months).
Surfshark, on the other hand, is incredibly budget-friendly. Compared to ExpressVPN, the monthly subscription will only set you back by $10.95, which is not bad at all.
Plans of longer duration further bring down the costs. For instance, if you go for Surfshark’s 1-year plan, you will have to pay $5.99/mo, giving you a discount of 50%.
If you want the best value from Surfshark though, go for their 2-year subscription. It starts at a minimal $1.99/mo, meaning you only take out $47 from your wallet for a 24-month plan.
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.
Get This Best Deal for ExpressVPN: Reduce the costs by a 35% discount
Get This Best Deal for Surfshark: Save 84% on their 2-year special
|Operating System Apps||Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV/Firestick, some routers||Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Linux, and Fire TV|
|Manual Install Devices||Some Routers, Set-Top Boxes||Linux, Routers, Set-Top Boxes|
|Split Tunneling||Yes (Desktop Apps Only)||Yes (All Apps)|
|Free Extras||Media Streamer Smart DNS, browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari||Shadowsocks 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.
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.
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.
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
|Automatic Setup Wizard||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Amazon Fire TV|
|Main Location Selection||List-based||List-based|
|Extra Settings Pages||Yes||Yes|
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.
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.
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.
|VPN Protocols||PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN||L2TP, IPSec, IKEv2, Shadowsocks, OpenVPN|
|OpenVPN Data Encryption||AES-256-CBC||AES-256-CBC|
|OpenVPN Control Channel Encryption||RSA-4096||RSA-4096|
|Cloaking Technology||Cipher Block Chaining||Shadowsocks|
|App Security||Kill Switch||Kill Switch and DNS/WebRTC/ IP Leak Protection|
|DNS Status||Private DNS||TrustDNS|
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.
|Headquarters||British Virgin Islands||British Virgin Islands|
|Sign Up Information||Email Address||Email Address|
|Anonymous Payment Methods||Bitcoin and Mint||Various 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.
|Static IPs||None||6+ Locations|
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.
|Searchable Knowledge Base||Yes||Yes|
|Average Email Response Time||33 Minutes||25 Minutes|
|Live Chat Support||Yes (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:
|Question||Initial Response Time||Number of Emails||Question Answered|
|Can ExpressVPN be traced?||15 Minutes||1||Yes|
|Does ExpressVPN store Logs?||18 Minutes||1||Yes|
|How to Watch Netflix with ExpressVPN?||55 Minutes||1||Yes|
|What features does ExpressVPN offer for torrenting?||47 Minutes||1||Yes|
|Question||Initial Response Time||Number of Emails||Question Answered|
|Does Surfshark work with Netflix?||20 Minutes||1||Yes|
|Is Surfshark good for Torrenting?||25 Minutes||1||Yes|
|Does Surfshark work in China?||30 Minutes||1||Yes|
|How to activate obfuscation?||24 Minutes||1||Yes|
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.