Disclaimer: Partnerships & affiliate links help us create better content. Learn how.
As more VPNs sprout into the world, choosing the best provider is no easy feat. So, that’s where we come in. Perhaps you’re looking for a VPN to avoid internet speed throttling or one to heighten your streaming experience by unlocking geo-restricted content. Either way, there’s surely a VPN service that will fit your personal needs.
In this comparison, we take you through Surfshark and NordVPN. Both are premium providers making serious waves in the VPN industry. And after breaking down their pricing and features, we determined Surfshark as a solid option but NordVPN as the overall winner in this battle.
- 7-day free trial
- Split-tunneling for increased speeds
- Automatic kill switch
- No IPv6 support
- Customizable ad-blocker
- Browser extensions for Chrome & Firefox
- Slick UI for easy use
- Vast array of security features
- Massive list of high-speed U.S. servers
- P2P optimized servers & unblocks Netflix
- Manual setup required to work in China
- No free version
Surfshark vs. NordVPN: Performance
If you’re looking for fast speeds, it’s important to understand that your connection can vary depending on which server you use within a VPN’s network. And, performance is more than just your connection speeds. For a complete picture, we take into account each VPN’s speed stats, network size, and traffic support.
While neither VPN scores low in this category, NordVPN inches slightly ahead. During our speed tests, Surfshark actually outperformed NordVPN – improving my speeds where NordVPN caused roughly an 18% speed loss. Still, NordVPN proved valuable with nearly twice the number of servers that Surfshark had and optimized servers for P2P traffic, streaming, and obfuscation measures.
Both providers perform well, but NordVPN offered better overall options for a user that wants to do more than just hide their IP address.
Surfshark vs. NordVPN: Privacy
One primary reason people seek a reliable VPN is that they offer high-level security to keep personal data private. There’s no question Surfshark and NordVPN prioritize digital privacy for their users. So, to determine the overall winner in this category, we took a closer look at each of their HQ locations, third-party audits, and security features.
Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, which is a territory that does not fall under the jurisdiction of the 5,9, or 14 Eyes. Countries actively in this jurisdiction must comply with law enforcement and share intelligence on users when requested. NordVPN floats in the same boat as Surfshark and is not based in any of the Eyes’ authority with its headquarters residing in Panama.
Digging into third-party audits is an effective way to understand how authentic a VPN is from a user perspective. Independent companies conduct these audits by researching and testing a VPN’s privacy features and policies. They then report their findings to the public so potential users can confirm the validity of a provider’s claims. We were able to find that NordVPN was recently audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Cure53 completed audits for both NordVPN and Surfshark in 2021.
Top-tier providers tend to add high-grade security features on top of the basic VPN functionality to appeal to more customers. And Surfshark definitely doesn’t cut itself short when it comes to digital security. They provide their users with security features like industry-leading AES-256 encryption, an automatic kill switch, DNS leak protection, and scanning features to prevent cyber attacks and cultivate a safer browsing experience. NordVPN speaks for itself when it comes to reliable, digital security. Their premium features include customizable encryption protocol options (OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, or WireGuard/NordLynx), CyberSec for protection against malware and phishing attacks, a password manager (NordPass), and file encryption with cloud storage (NordLocker).
Ultimately, both are admirable security sources so it’s up to your personal preferences in choosing the best VPN service for your device.
Surfshark vs. NordVPN: Logging
Along with transparent privacy policies, logging is another policy users look at when hunting for a trustworthy VPN provider. And after researching Surfshark and NordVPN, we’re able to confirm both follow a strict zero-logs policy.
Surfshark confirms that it does not keep a record of user connection and web browsing data. But, they do store user email addresses, encrypted passwords, and billing information for troubleshooting and transaction purposes. Surfshark does accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as payment options if you’d prefer to keep your billing information confidential.
NordVPN’s zero-logs policy is backed by RAM-disk mode technology for its servers. Essentially, this makes it impossible to record and store user data on its server. One feature advancing NordVPN above Surfshark is their Double VPN, which routes a user’s traffic through two VPN servers. Allowing for double encryption and double the protection compared to other premium VPNs.
Surfshark vs. NordVPN: Streaming
If you’re a binge-watching, streaming enthusiast, this section is for you. To get the full scope of Surfshark’s and NordVPN’s streaming abilities, we tested international server connections to access geo-restricted content.
Many users speak highly of Surfshark for streaming and now we understand why. With Surfshark, you can unlock 30+ Netflix libraries, which top most premium VPN providers, and access other geo-restricted streaming platforms like BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Prime Video, HBONow, Hulu, DAZN, Hostar, Sky Go, YLE Areena, and AbemaTV. In truth, if you’re looking for a VPN for just streaming purposes, Surfshark is a reliable option.
When it comes to NordVPN, they’re rather vague on the specific libraries it can access—even when stating its ability to “unlock international content”. In testing, NordVPN unblocked Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, and BBC iPlayer. But it’s worth noting that NordVPN urges its users to follow copyright regulations and they do not promote their service to bypass those rules. However, there’s no denying their 5,200+ servers across 60 countries open a lot of possibilities in the international streaming realm.
Surfshark vs. NordVPN: Which is better?
Both VPN providers have a lot to offer but there’s one who is the champion. Surfshark certainly was able to win a few races by hairs. Nevertheless, NordVPN earns the gold medal for the overall event.
- Server Network: NordVPN
- Performance: NordVPN
- Price: Surfshark
- # of Devices: Surfshark
- Privacy: NordVPN
- Logging: NordVPN
- Streaming: Surfshark
Surfshark is no doubt a dependable VPN provider. Especially if affordability, simultaneous connections, and streaming are at the top of your mind. NordVPN trails closely behind in those three aspects but is the clear winner when considering everything a premium VPN should offer.
NordVPN covers all the bases. They offer a massive sum of high-speed servers, plans for every budget, 6 device connections, first-rate privacy, transparent logging, and the ability to unblock geo-restricted streaming content. If you’re still torn, read into our reviews for Surfshark and NordVPN or explore the VPN deals page today.