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NordVPN vs Surfshark
NordVPN vs. Surfshark
February 4, 2021
Choosing a VPN service can feel a bit like a roll of the dice. There are so many of them out there, and quite a few have very comparable feature sets and price points. On the surface level, it’s sometimes tough to tell them apart. So how do you identify the differences between them? How do you pick out the better VPN provider between, say, NordVPN vs. Surfshark?
No sweat: Choosing between NordVPN and Surfshark is what we’ll be doing today. NordVPN and Surfshark are two very popular VPN services with a lot of subscribers between them. Below, we’ll be placing the two side by side to see how they fare in various categories. After that, we’ll make a recommendation based on your preferences and needs.
The conventional thinking is this: The more servers a VPN provider has, the better the experience. Why is that? Because it allows for multiple servers in different countries, which gives you more location-shifting options. It spreads out user traffic, too, which can make for better performance and faster speeds.
Server counts are often a part of VPN service marketing. Services like NordVPN and Express VPN know customers pay attention to the number of servers, so they’re quick to brag about their own counts. But one of these two VPNs has a lot more servers than the other, and that could be a pretty big deal for you
NordVPN has an impressive number of servers all around the world, claiming more than 5,500 of them spread across 59 countries. That is a whole lot of coverage, and it enables NordVPN to offer multiple servers in many locations. When you get to Surfshark, however, that number drops hard. Surfshark does have server coverage in 63 countries, so more specific regions are supported than with NordVPN. But Surfshark only advertises itself as having 1,700+ servers. Across those 63 countries, those servers are spread pretty thin.
If you’re using a VPN, it’s highly likely that you care about security. The entire point of a VPN service is to encrypt your traffic and keep your data protected, right? A good VPN service will pay a lot of attention to this area to make sure it gets things right. Happily, we have some good news for you about both NordVPN and Surfshark. Both are pretty good options as far as security is concerned.
NordVPN is located in Panama, which means it has fewer data retention laws to worry about. NordVPN also has a no-logs policy. It supports many of the top VPN security protocols, including OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard, and SSTP.
Surfshark, meanwhile, is based in the British Virgin Islands. Much like NordVPN, you shouldn’t have to worry that Surfshark will have to hand data over to any government agencies. Surfshark, too, has a no-logs policy. And Surfshark supports many VPN protocols, as well, such as IKEv2, OpenVPN, Shadowsocks, and WireGuard.
If you plan on using your VPN service for streaming video or downloading files, you might care a lot about speed. If a VPN provider slows you down, that isn’t exactly optimal! You want to keep yourself protected, sure, but you also want to have the same kind of internet experience you typically do when not using a VPN. This is an area where NordVPN and Surfshark are neck-and-neck.
In our tests, NordVPN was able to buffer and stream video without issues, as was Surfshark. When downloading files on both, there wasn’t really much of a hit to download speeds either, though that could change depending on whether or not you’re connecting to servers that are further away. Neither NordVPN nor Surfshark implements any kinds of speed caps or bandwidth limits, so you don’t have to worry about being throttled or running out of data. In the end, neither service should keep you from getting close to your usual internet speeds (which, of course, ultimately rely on the local internet connection you’re using).
NordVPN is a pretty straightforward VPN service. It does the VPN things you’d expect, and it does those very well, but it doesn’t try to do a whole lot more. And you know what? That’s totally fine! There is a reason NordVPN is so popular: It works. People like it — including us, as you can see from our NordVPN review. NordVPN’s apps are fairly streamlined and can be used on a number of different platforms.
We do have to say, though, that Surfshark absolutely blows NordVPN out of the water when it comes to its feature set. Surfshark has the VPN service side of things, and that works pretty well on its own. But Surfshark also touts a built-in malware tool to prevent your computer from having unauthorized software installed. On top of that, Surfshark also includes an integrated ad blocker, and in terms of apps, it also supports many platforms with some well-made software.
And though NordVPN does offer some really cheap price points, surprisingly, Surfshark beats it out for longer subscriptions. If you go with service for just one month, NordVPN is the better deal. Pay for two years of service upfront, though, and your effective monthly rate becomes cheaper on Surfshark — which you can see for yourself by taking a look at Surfshark’s pricing.
What’ll it be, then? When it comes down to it, which VPN service is the better option: NordVPN or Surfshark? Which VPN service is right for you will depend on how you plan on using it and what you want to get out of it.
If you are giving priority to server count above all else, NordVPN is the clear winner there. But this hasn’t allowed NordVPN to pull ahead in speed, and both services work fine with Netflix. The better way to decide is to think about what you do — and don’t — want to be included in your VPN. Surfshark’s feature set is larger and includes bonuses like a fairly robust ad-blocking service. That’s a great reason to pick Surfshark; or, if you already have an ad blocker and prefer to keep things simple, it’s a great reason to pick NordVPN.
It’s hard to go wrong with either of these services, but each has its own appeal. The best VPN service for most users may or may not be the best one for you, so think about your own priorities and preferences — and then check out our reviews and comparisons to make the final call.
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