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NordVPN vs Surfshark: See Which Provider Stands Out? (Updated)

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NordVPN vs Surfshark

NordVPN and Surfshark VPN are popular and the best top-rated VPN providers. NordVPN has provided excellent service to users for a decade, while Surfshark is a new brand that entered the scene a few years ago. But, because of its top-notch privacy and impressive performance, it has become somewhat equivalent to big industrial names such as NordVPN and Express VPN in a very short time. 

In Feb 2022, Nord Security and Surfshark announced that they were merging. In a blog post, the companies said that both would continue to work as separate companies and separate VPN infrastructure despite the merger. The food for thought here is, “will this merger impact the privacy and security provided by both the VPNs? Will they manage to outshine each other, or will they remain at the same levels?” The best way to see which provider stands out is to compare the VPN providers in-depth regarding privacy, security, streaming, and torrenting aspects. 

A Comparison of Privacy and Security Features

A VPN’s primary purpose is to maintain your online security and privacy, for which a VPN uses various features. Thus, you must look for the extra features that a VPN offers. The following table highlights the security and privacy-boosting features offered by NordVPN and Surfshark VPN.

FeaturesNordVPNSurfshark
Kill switch
Split Tunneling
Ad/Malware blocker
Obfuscation Technology
Double VPN
Tor Over VPN
IPv6 leak protection
Dedicated VPN
IP and DNS leak protection
No Borders
Public Wi-Fi protection
RAM-only servers
SOCKS5 proxy
Multi-factor authentication
NordVPN vs Surfshark VPN comparison table.

The above table shows that this category has a close match. Most of the advanced features are found in both VPNs. Both VPN providers have an integrated kill switch that protects from VPN leaks. It allows you to block ads or suspicious web pages and prevents your devices from malware invasion.

Both the VPN providers offer Tor compatibility too, to help users in anonymous browsing. You can use the Onion over VPN feature to use the Tor browser and connect to the dark web. Similarly, if you want to enhance your security, the double VPN feature will get the job done for you. However, in contrast to Surfshark VPN, Nord VPN has more Tor-centric features and servers. Moreover, it has a more extensive selection of double VPN connections, giving it a lead over Surfshark. NordVPN provides a dedicated IP address guaranteeing greater anonymity, but it comes at an additional price. You can use it to access the online banking services, stream and download torrents more securely.

NordVPN and Surfshark also offer some extra supported features. Surfshark additional features include Surfshark Alert and Surfshark Search. But, NordVPN’s additional features are much more advanced and consist of a password manager, file encryption software, and a business VPN. These features come with an extra cost but are worth using. Thus, for providing a range of security and privacy features, NordVPN is the winner in this category. 

Privacy

A reliable VPN protects your activities from all online threats and snooping eyes. To ensure that no one can see your activities, a VPN avoids monitoring, logging, or sharing your data with agencies or third parties. Moreover, it also belongs to a country that doesn’t impose harsh data retention laws that violate users’ privacy. In short, to have a better understanding of the privacy a VPN might offer, it is best to look into its jurisdiction and the logging policy

Jurisdiction

Tefincom & Co, S.A., a company in Panama, owns NordVPN. Panama is one of the most secure locations to operate a VPN because it doesn’t follow any data retention laws. Also, the country is not subjected to any other regional anti-privacy laws. Moreover, Panama isn’t a member country of the five eyes, nine eyes, and 14 eyes alliance. The VPN company won’t be storing and sharing your data with the intelligence agencies of other countries. 

In contrast to this Surfshark VPN has a shady jurisdiction in the Netherlands. Admittedly the VPN provider at first was located within the safe jurisdiction of the British Virgin Islands. However, the young company is now undergoing major corporate development which also involves changing its headquarters to the Netherlands which favors better business growth. 

Since the Netherlands is a part of the nine-eyes alliance and it also has its local data retention laws such as the Dutch Intelligence and Security Services Act (Dragnet Act), it raises significant privacy concerns. However, Surfshark claims to have looked closely into the matter. According to the VPN provider, the Netherlands offers a friendly and liberal political environment and a legal system, allowing them to continue being a truly no-logs VPN. Moreover, it also claims that the GDPR applies to the Netherlands further helps protect data privacy and security.  

Logging Policy

Looking into the logging policy helps users determine if the VPN ensures user privacy or not. A VPN’s logging policy also specifies the privacy level. The best VPN is the one that follows a strict no-log policy that’s backed with a log audit report. Otherwise, a VPN logging data is the same as ISPs or any other surveillance agency logging user data since the VPN provider might also sell it to third parties. Both NordVPN and Surfshark VPN are secure VPNs with a strict no-logs policy backed by a log audit report.

According to NordVPN’s privacy policy:

NordVPN privacy policy

It is evident that NordVPN follows a zero-logging policy. Moreover, it has undergone an independent log audit process twice to prove its stance. The PwC firm audited the VPN’s logging policy after the company’s name was under the radar after one of its servers got hacked. In 2019, VerSprite audited NordVPN’s apps and declared it a genuinely private VPN. 

Surfshark VPN also follows a no-log policy and doesn’t log the users’ IP addresses and other browsing data. The privacy policy states that:

Surfshark VPN privacy policy

Like NordVPN, Surfshark hired Cure53 to audit their log policy. The audit results prove that Surfshark won’t keep any record of your activity logs and browsing data. Also, the same company audited its infrastructure but detected no security flaws. Therefore, it is safe to use. 

Privacy Verdict

Both Surfshark and NordVPN follow a no-log policy, however, NordVPN has a safer jurisdiction than Surfshark. Surfshark enjoys a cleaner reputation because it hasn’t been a subject of any hacking incident like NordVPN, however, its jurisdiction is skeptical. But since both VPNs have their log policy audited, they maintain your digital privacy. However, as NordVPN has undergone a more in-depth log and application audit, and it also has a secure jurisdiction it stays ahead of Surfshark. 

Security

Ensuring online security is one of the most critical uses of a VPN. Since online monitoring, data collection, and surveillance have recently become a norm, it has become crucial to enable online security using a secure VPN. The best way to gauge the security provided by a VPN is to look into its encryption methods and tunneling protocols.  

Encryption

NordVPN and Surfshark use military-grade AES-256 bit encryption that’s uncrackable and makes it impossible for anyone to know about your activities. Besides this, NordVPN also uses a 4096-bit RSA key and SHA-512 hash key, while Surfshark uses 2048-bit RSA. Though it is slightly less, it won’t compromise your online security. 

Protocols

NordVPN and Surfshark use similar, secure and fastest VPN protocols. Both service providers support OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols. The IKEv2 boosts speed and is best to use on mobile devices. Likewise, the OpenVPN protocol also improves speed and security and works on all supported devices. The only difference is that NordVPN uses the proprietary NordLynx protocol, and Surfshark uses WireGuard. But as NordLynx is built around the WireGuard technology, it won’t make much difference. The only reason these protocols stand out is that Nord has worked on NordLynx to eliminate the security issues present in WireGuard.

Security Verdict

NordVPN and Surfshark are among the most secure VPN providers that use the industry’s highest encryption standards. By using such strong encryption, both VPNs signify that by no means a hacker, ISP, or other prying eyes can see what you’re doing. Moreover, they use advanced tunneling protocols to boost the security levels further. The only difference is between the authentication keys and the choice of protocols. 

As a whole, there’s close competition in this category. But if authentication keys matter for you, NordVPN will lead this category again. 

Streaming and Torrenting

Along with ensuring security and privacy online, VPNs help mitigate several issues regarding streaming and torrenting, such as ISP throttling, bypassing geo-restrictions, and maintaining online anonymity. However, not all VPNs are capable enough for this. Many VPNs don’t support torrenting since it often falls under a gray area. Similarly, ever since Netflix started imposing VPN bans, many VPNs don’t work well on streaming platforms. The best VPN for streaming and torrenting enables fast speeds and security through dedicated servers and various features. 

Streaming

NordVPN offers a global server comprising more than 5200 servers in 60 countries. Also, its speed is super-fast, consistent, and without any significant lagging. All these factors ensure an excellent streaming performance. With NordVPN, you can unblock streaming content from Amazon Prime, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Disney Plus along with Netflix. It unblocks 19 Netflix libraries, including the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, and hence is one of the best VPNs for Netflix. 

Like NordVPN, with Surfshark, you can stream the UK and US Netflix in HD quality. Surfshark also allows you to access the blocked streaming content from Amazon Prime, Hotstar, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Hulu. The VPNs offer a Smart DNS feature and can watch the streaming content on any device even if it doesn’t support the VPN connection. Moreover, you can use obfuscated technology to bypass the restrictions and enjoy a seamless streaming experience. 

 The only difference is in the number of the server network. The VPN provider comes with less server network than NordVPN. It consists of 3500 servers in 65 countries, that’s half the number of NordVPN, and hence, the speeds are not blazing-fast. 

Torrenting

Since torrenting can cause several privacy and security issues thus, it’s necessary to use a VPN that’s compatible with torrenting. NordVPN and Surfshark both allow unrestricted torrenting. They offer torrent-supported features like P2P servers, active kill switch, split tunneling, and torrent IP leak protection, ensuring a safe and fast torrent downloading process. 

But NordVPN is a better choice to consider. It has thousands of dedicated P2P servers located in Canada, France, the UK, the US, and other countries. In comparison, Surfshark has only 18 dedicated P2P servers. As the server network determines speed, NordVPN offers a consistently faster download speed than Surfshark. In addition, NordVPN also provides a SOCKS5 proxy that provides flexibility during torrenting. 

Streaming and Torrenting Verdict

NordVPN and Surfshark support streaming and torrenting. You can use both on any streaming platform to access the blocked content. Also, the VPN providers bypass the Netflix proxy error and ensure a fantastic streaming experience. 

You can use it on famous torrent clients and download torrents from blocked websites. But, NordVPN comes on the top in both streaming and torrenting. It’s because of its extensive server network, fast speed, and extra features. Surfshark should expand its server network to attract a large user base. 

Final Thoughts

NordVPN and Surfshark are top-quality VPN providers similar in security, privacy, and performance. Both offer utmost online protection to the users and allow them to stream and download whatever they want. But NordVPN is the overall winner as it has a slight edge over Surfshark in all the categories discussed in this article. 

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Rebecca James is an IT consultant with forward thinking approach toward developing IT infrastructures of SMEs. She writes to engage with individuals and raise awareness of digital security, privacy, and better IT infrastructure.

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