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Surfshark VPN vs. NordVPN—Which One Provides Better Protection?

Ashley Ferraro, Product
Jun 17, 2024
 • 
10
 Min Read

In the fourth quarter of 2023, over eight million records were exposed during data breaches worldwide, underscoring the escalating need for greater online security. In response to this growing threat, virtual private networks (VPNs) have emerged as a robust solution. Among the numerous VPN services, NordVPN and Surfshark VPN have distinguished themselves through their exceptional features and performance. But which of the two should you choose?

This Surfshark VPN vs. NordVPN review will provide an in-depth comparison of the two, helping you decide on the best option for your needs. The article will also introduce an effective way to protect your financial information from potentially unauthorized third parties.

Disclaimer: The features mentioned in this comparison are accurate as of April 2024.  Each service provider may change their offerings, so consult their websites for the latest information.

Surfshark VPN vs. NordVPN—Comparing the Features and Performance

A hand holding a smartphone, displaying a VPN app with a green logo
Source: Privecstasy

NordVPN and Surfshark VPN are popular for many reasons. Five aspects distinguishing NordVPN and Surfshark VPN service providers from the rest are:

  1. Privacy and security measures
  2. Speed and performance
  3. Global server network
  4. Device compatibility and support
  5. User experience

Privacy and Security Measures

NordVPN and Surfshark VPN offer similar features. They employ AES-256—one of the best encryption protocols—to protect user data[1][2]. Because both support the WireGuard VPN protocol (NordVPN does it through NordLynx), the VPNs also use ChaCha20, the newer encryption protocol that might provide better speeds. NordVPN and Surfshark VPN also support OpenVPN and IKEv2 VPN protocols. 

NordVPN and Surfshark VPN are among the best VPNs on the market regarding features, giving their users access to: 

Feature Description
Double VPN (multihop)  Routes traffic through two VPN servers for extra encryption.
Ad, tracker, and malware blocking Surfshark VPN’s CleanWeb and NordVPN’s Threat Protection protect users from unwanted tracking, ads, and malware.
Dedicated IP Users can have a single IP address they can always use.
Private DNS  DNS queries are sent through private servers for extra protection.
Split tunneling Route parts of traffic through a regular connection when the VPN is on.
Kill switch Automatically stops traffic when the VPN connection drops. 
Onion over VPN  Provides support for accessing the Tor network. 

On top of these features, NordVPN also offers Meshnet, which allows remote access to all the users’ devices on the same network, and a Dark Web Monitor service, which helps users discover if their information appears on the Dark Web. Access to features might depend on the packages users choose.

Surfshark, on the other hand, has an IP rotator feature that periodically changes the users’ IP addresses without disconnecting them from the network. The IP randomizer feature gives users a new IP address each time they connect to a different website.

Speed and Performance

NordVPN and Surfshark VPN are recognized for their high-speed connections. Recent testing[5] found that using NordVPN caused only a 5.78% drop in internet connection download speed. With Surfshark VPN, the drop amounted to 7.76%, which is still an excellent result.

The upload speed test showed a bigger difference. With NordVPN, the drop was 4.11%, while it was 49.98% with Surfshark VPN. It’s important to note that VPN speeds are influenced by factors such as the protocol used, server congestion, and even the types of VPN features the user selects. 

Global Server Network

NordVPN operates over 6,300 servers across at least 111 countries[6]. The extensive network increases the possibility of users finding a server close to their location, which is crucial for maintaining high speeds and reliable connections. It also increases the chances of bypassing geo-restrictions as users can choose from a wide range of server locations.

Surfshark VPN has over 3,200 servers in more than 100 countries[7]. While this network is smaller than NordVPN's, it offers excellent coverage and diversity, ensuring good speeds and reliable connections for its users. 

Device Compatibility and Support

A smartphone displaying a security app, placed alongside earbuds, glasses, and a pencil, all on a wooden surface
Source: Dan Nelson

NordVPN and Surfshark VPN are compatible with a wide range of devices[8][9], including:

  • Desktop and laptop computers (Windows, macOS, Linux)
  • Mobile devices (iOS, Android)
  • Smart TVs and TV devices (Apple TV, FireTV)
  • Browsers (Chrome, Edge, Firefox)

A distinguishing feature is that Surfshark supports Xbox and PlayStation, providing a direct VPN connection for these devices. Even though NordVPN doesn't directly support gaming consoles, it offers users two alternative methods to access its services on their PS4, PS5, or Xbox[10]:

  1. Configuring NordVPN on their internet router
  2. Setting up a VPN-secured hotspot and connecting their gaming console to this network

A key advantage Surfshark users may get is unlimited device support[7], while NordVPN accepts up to 10 devices simultaneously[11].

User Experience

Both NordVPN and Surfshark VPN offer decent user experiences. Users can expect to set up the apps easily and enjoy a navigable interface that is map-based in the case of NordVPN and list-based in the case of Surfshark VPN. 

When it comes to customer support, both VPNs offer 24/7 live support and email support. They also have extensive knowledge bases with guides and tutorials.

Need More Protection Than NordVPN or Surfshark VPN Offer?

An illuminated lock on a black computer keyboard
Source: FlyD

One thing all VPNs have in common is that the protection they provide is not 100% of what you need to stay safe online. For instance, if you visit a fake website and provide payment details, they may get stored on the host’s servers, exposing your information to potential misuse in case of a data breach. 

That’s where virtual cards can be useful. They mask your actual financial details with random numbers at checkout, keeping your sensitive information safe even if the merchant’s website gets compromised. While some card issuers and banks like American Express® and Capital One® offer virtual cards, independent providers like Privacy offer advanced security and customization, making their virtual cards safer and more convenient.

Safeguard Your Financial Details With Privacy Virtual Cards

A person holding a gold credit card and browsing a shopping app on a smartphone
Source: Leeloo The First

Privacy is BBB-accredited, demonstrating a strong commitment to transparency and quality service. It allows you to connect your debit card or bank account and request virtual cards that you can use online the same way you’d use your regular payment cards. Privacy employs robust security measures, including:

  • Two-factor authentication (2FA)
  • Transaction monitoring
  • Strict data management practices

These measures are on par with those of reputable banks, providing additional security beyond what VPNs offer. The company also keeps its servers up to date and undergoes regular third-party compliance audits.

Privacy Card Types and Features

Privacy offers two types of virtual cards:

  1. Single-Use Cards
  2. Merchant-Locked Cards

The table below describes these cards in detail:

Card Type Description
Single-Locked Cards The card becomes invalid shortly after the transaction is made. It can be useful for one-time purchases or when shopping at an unfamiliar website for the first time.
Merchant-Locked Cards These cards are “locked” to a single merchant. Even if the card details are compromised, they cannot be used elsewhere. Since they’re reusable, they are ideal for transacting with your favorite vendors and subscription services.

You can pause or close your Privacy Virtual Cards at any time. You can also set a spending limit, defining how much a merchant can charge you. Privacy will decline any charge that goes above the preset limit, protecting you from potentially unauthorized transactions and unexpected fees. 

Convenience Features

Privacy virtual cards offer convenient features to make managing your online transactions seamless, such as:

  • Mobile app—With the Privacy mobile app, available for iOS and Android, you can create and manage your virtual cards on the go, including adjusting spending limits or closing a card directly from your phone.
  • Browser extension—The Privacy Browser Extension, compatible with Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari (or Safari for iOS for mobile users), allows you to manage your virtual cards directly from your browser. It includes an autofill feature that automatically enters your virtual card details when making a purchase online.
  • 1Password integration—Privacy offers integration with 1Password, a popular password manager. It allows you to store your virtual card details securely in 1Password, making it easier to manage and access your cards.
  • Card sharing—Privacy also allows you to share your virtual cards with family members and friends (or employees if you run a business), allowing them to use the cards while keeping your actual card details secure.

How To Get a Privacy Virtual Card

To get a Privacy Virtual Card, all you have to do is:

  1. Visit the signup page
  2. Enter the required Know-Your-Customer (KYC) details
  3. Connect a funding source, which can be your debit card or bank account
  4. Request a virtual card 

Privacy offers three monthly plans, each with unique features:

  • The Personal plan—Free for domestic purchases, this plan offers up to 12 virtual cards per month. It also includes card pausing/stopping, lets you set spending limits, and allows access to the mobile app and browser extension.
  • The Pro plan—It costs $10 per month and includes all features of the Personal plan. It offers up to 36 virtual cards per month, 1% cashback on eligible purchases (up to $4,500 per month), and priority support.
  • The Premium plan—It costs $25 per month and includes all the features of the Pro plan and up to 60 virtual cards per month.

Privacy Virtual Cards can be used at most vendors and websites that accept Visa® or Mastercard®, making them a versatile tool for online transactions.

References

[1] NordVPN. https://nordvpn.com/features/next-generation-encryption/, sourced March 24, 2024
[2] Surfshark. https://surfshark.com/features, sourced March 24, 2024
[3] NordVPN. https://nordvpn.com/features/, sourced March 24, 2024
[4] Surfshark. https://surfshark.com/vpn, sourced March 24, 2024
[5] Security.org, https://www.security.org/vpn/speed-test/, sourced March 25, 2024
[6] NordVPN. https://nordvpn.com/features/fastest-vpn/, sourced March 25, 2024
[7] Surfshark Customer Support. https://support.surfshark.com/hc/en-us/articles/360003069614-Server-locations#, sourced March 25, 2024
[8] NordVPN. https://nordvpn.com/features/vpn-for-multiple-devices/, sourced March 20, 2024
[9] Surfshark. https://surfshark.com/features/multiple-devices, sourced March 25, 2024
[10] Surfshark Support. https://support.nordvpn.com/hc/en-us/articles/20972465669393-How-to-use-NordVPN-on-gaming-consoles#, sourced March 25, 2024
[11] NordVPN Support. https://support.nordvpn.com/hc/en-us/articles/19476515228305-How-many-devices-can-I-use-with-NordVPN, sourced March 25, 2024

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