Surfshark vs. Windscribe

Whether you’re using a VPN for privacy, Netflix, or torrenting, Surfshark or Windscribe may be a more suitable option.

By
&
Aliza Vigderman Gabe Turner Chief Editor
Last Updated on Jan 11, 2021
By Aliza Vigderman & Gabe Turner on Jan 11, 2021
By
&
Aliza Vigderman Gabe Turner Chief Editor
Last Updated on Jan 11, 2021
By Aliza Vigderman & Gabe Turner on Jan 11, 2021

Surfshark

  • No-logs VPN company based in the Virgin Islands
  • Allows unlimited connections, double VPN and split tunneling
  • Choice of OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2P2, Shadowsocks & more
Editor's Rating
9.2
/10

Windscribe VPN

  • Netflix access in U.S and U.K
  • Double-hop encryption
  • Static, shared IP addresses
Editor's Rating
8.7
/10

Surfshark and Windscribe are some of the best VPNs we’ve ever tested, so putting them head to head was an interesting process, to say the least. While Surfshark is definitely the larger VPN network with over six times the number of servers as Windscribe, the latter will work better for some people. Let’s get started!

Surfshark Browser
Surfshark Browser

What They Have In Common

With either VPN, you can expect the following features.

  • Kill switches: Have you ever had a VPN disconnect just as you were starting to browse on some sensitive websites? With both Surfshark and Windscribe, if they disconnect suddenly, they’ll also shut down your web browsers and apps with it, a failsafe option to maintain your privacy.
Surfshark Kill switch
Surfshark Kill switch
  • Torrenting: Both Surfshark and Windscribe are great VPNs for torrenting, so if you want to download non-copyrighted material, you can hide it all with either VPN.
  • Split tunneling: With both VPNs, we could route some of our web traffic directly to the public Wi-Fi network to save on bandwidth.
  • AES-256: Both VPNs used AES-256 to encrypt our devices’ IP addresses and our online browsing activity. Currently, AES-256 is the highest standard for encryption.
  • Multi-hop: On top of the AES-256, both Surfshark and Windscribe encrypted our data a few different times through multiple servers. And when it comes to encryption, the more, the merrier.
  • Static IP addresses: Now, one thing we weren’t thrilled about was the fact that whenever we connected to the same server, whether it was one of Surshark’s or one of Windscribe’s, the VPN changed our IP address to the same one every time. We prefer dynamic versus static IP addresses, so this was a drawback of both.
  • No DNS or WebRTC leaks: On a more upbeat note, we didn’t see our IP addresses or the domain names of the websites we’d visited show up in any leak tests, so both VPNs performed their main functions without error.
WebRTC Leak Test With Surfshark
WebRTC Leak Test With Surfshark
  • Unlimited devices and simultaneous connections: This isn’t always the case for VPNs; many limit us to five or even one devices, so we were really happy to use Windscribe and Surfshark on all of the devices we own (and at this point, we’ve lost count).
  • Browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox: If you only want your browser encrypted and not any web apps, then you may prefer to use a browser extension versus a mobile application. We’re Chrome-users, so we tested out both VPNs’ Chrome extensions, although they have extensions for Firefox, as well. Sure, nearly 64 percent of internet users worldwide use Chrome, but we don’t want to forget about the four percent on Firefox, either.1
  • Compatible with iOS, macOS, Windows, Android, and Linux: In the same vein, both VPNs worked with all of the major operating systems that we’ve come to expect.
Compatible Devices and Browser Extensions Windscribe Surfshark
Android phones
Android TV X
Chrome
Fire TV Stick X
Firefox
iOS
Linux
macOS
NAS X
Opera X
Routers X
Windows
Xbox X

The Case For Surfshark

Now that we’ve discussed their common features, let’s get more into what sets these VPNs apart from one another. We’ll start with Surfshark, which has a higher overall rating than Windscribe for the reasons listed below.

  • Five Eyes non-member: Since Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, they’re not subject to the jurisdiction of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes. These surveillance alliances can legally mandate that companies give governments customers’ data, so it’s ideal that a VPN is headquartered in a non-member country. Windscribe, on the other hand, is based in Ontario, Canada, a Five Eyes member.
  • More servers and more locations: While Surfshark has over 3,200 countries in 65 locations, Windscribe’s network is much smaller, with a little over 500 servers in about 60 countries. Of course, you’ll want to check the actual locations of these servers to find one that’s best for your needs; our page on Surfshark’s pricing lists all of the countries that they have servers in. To view the same information for Windscribe, go to their website directly.2

Tip: Connecting to a server close to you means faster speeds, so for quick browsing, try to find the server closest to your current location.

  • Stricter logging policy: We’ll admit that we were pretty pleased with both Windscribe and Surfshark’s privacy policies. As you can see below, neither VPN logged our web activity or private IP addresses, which is what we care about the most. However, Windscribe logged slightly more information than Surshark like our bandwidth and timestamps, so for the most privacy, Surfshark takes the cake.
Data Logged Windscribe Surfshark
Username X
Email address
Password
Billing information
Order history X
Diagnostics X
IP address X X
Browsing history X X
Bandwidth X ✓* Total amount of bytes transferred in past 30 days
Timestamps X ✓* only of last activity
Network traffic X X
Number of parallel connections X ✓* only while connected

Dive Deep: To learn more about Windscribe and Surfshark’s respective privacy policies, read our Windscribe review or our Surfshark review.

  • Netflix on all servers: While only Windscribe’s servers in the U.S and the U.K allow for Netflix use, Netflix works on all of Surfshark’s servers. Explore some other VPNs that we’ve deemed the best VPNs for Netflix.
  • Faster on Mac: Surfshark is one of the best VPNs for Mac-users that we’ve tested. In our speed tests, it only increased our latency by two percent, while Windscribe increased latency by 67 percent. Especially if you’re looking for a VPN for gaming, latency can make a huge difference in your final purchase decision.
  • Compatible with Fire TV Stick apps, Android TV, and Xbox: Looking for a VPN for the Fire TV Stick, a VPN for Xbox, or a VPN for Android TV? Without a doubt, choose Surfshark over Windscribe, as the latter lacks these compatibilities.
  • Lowest monthly cost with a two-year plan: Comparing these two VPNs’ pricing is a bit confusing, as Windscribe has a free version that we detailed below. But in terms of VPNs with full-service, Surfshark has the lowest monthly cost with its two-year plan, which breaks down to only $2.49 a month. Plus, with Surfshark’s Black Friday deal last year, they threw in three extra months, bringing the monthly cost down to $2.21. Gotta take advantage of those holiday deals!
Monthly Cost By Term Length Windscribe Surfshark
Free VPN ✓* 10 GB/ month and servers in 10 countries 30-day trial
1 Month $9 $12.95
6 Months n/a $6.49
1 Year $4.08 n/a
2 Years n/a $2.49
  • Longer money-back guarantee: Finally, Surfshark gave us 30 days after purchasing their VPN to get a full refund, while with Windscribe, that was limited to three days. Learn more about Windscribe’s policies on our Windscribe pricing page.

The Case For Windscribe

But don’t get us wrong; Surfshark isn’t better than Windscribe in every respect. Rather, there were some areas where Windscribe outshined Surfshark, and we’ve listed them all below.

  • Faster on Windows: While Surfshark took the cake for Mac, Windscribe is a better VPN for Windows. Connecting both VPNs to our Windows 10 Acer Aspire 5, we saw latency increase by about a third with Windscribe compared to 2,742 percent with Surfshark. Ouch.
Windscribe App
Windscribe App
  • Lower price on a month-to-month plan: Scared of commitment? We’re not judging you. If you don’t want to sign up for a long-term contract, then Windscribe is actually a cheaper option, with a $9 option compared to $12.95 with Surfshark. Especially if you need a VPN for a short period of time, Windscribe is a better option.
  • A browser extension for Opera: Sure, Opera may only be the choice for two percent of internet-users, but Windscribe didn’t forget about it, unlike Surfshark.
  • Compatible with routers and NAS: Rather than setting up Windscribe on each and every one of our devices, we connected it to our router, which extended the encryption to all of the devices on its network. This wasn’t an option with Surfshark, nor was NAS-compatibility.
  • Better mobile app: Whether it was for iOS or Android, Windscribe’s mobile apps worked better than Surfshark’s. With all of the customer reviews from the App and Google Play stores combined, Windscribe’s apps ranked about six percent above Surfshark’s.
  • Free version: While Surfshark’s free trial only lasts 30 days, Windscribe has a completely free version of their VPN. However, it has some limitations that their paid service, and all of Surfshark’s services, lack, such as:
    • Monthly data limit: When we tested out the free VPN from Windscribe, our VPN’s data consumption was limited to only 10 GB per month.
    • Server limit: Rather than having access to all of Windscribe’s 500 servers, we were limited to 10.

    Again, if you need a VPN for very limited purposes, Windscribe could work for you, and you won’t have to pay a penny.

Which One Is Better?

If we had to choose one, we’d choose Surfshark over Windscribe for its privacy jurisdiction, stricter logging policy, and its universal Netflix access. That being said, Windscribe is a better choice for some people, depending on what you’re looking for. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

Surfshark is a better choice if you are looking for…
  • Fast Mac speeds: We saw 65 percent less latency when we connected Surfshark to our Macbook Pro compared to Windscribe.
  • More privacy: Based in a Five Eyes non-member country, Surfshark won’t log any information about your web activity, while Windscribe holds onto bandwidth and timestamps for a period of time.
  • Long-term use: Unlike Windscribe, which has the longest term length of only a year, Surfshark offers more affordable plans if you sign up for two years (and, depending on when you buy, you could get three more months for free).
But go with Windscribe if you want…
  • Short-term use: If you only want a VPN for a specific, one-time purpose, download Windscribe’s free VPN, which limits data and servers used.
  • Completely free version: While Surfshark’s free trial ends after 30 days, Windscribe’s free version never ends although again, you’re limited in terms of total bandwidth and available servers.
  • Fast Windows speeds: Windows-users will enjoy fast speeds with Windscribe connected; in our testing, it affected our latency and upload speeds less than Surfshark.

Want more VPN comparisons? Read about Surfshark vs. ExpressVPN, Surfshark vs. NordVPN, or Windscribe vs. NordVPN. Or, compare all of the VPNs that we’ve tested on our VPN comparison page. Good luck!

Citations
  1. GlobalStats. (2020). Browser Market Share Worldwide – December 2020.
    gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share#monthly-202011-202011-bar

  2. Windscribe. (2021). Current Status.
    windscribe.com/status