Surfshark vs. Proton VPN 2024: Minimum Price or Maximum Privacy?

Surfshark is a speedy and highly affordable VPN that’s ideal for users who value savings or customer service, while Proton VPN offers outstanding privacy and security — for a price.
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Best for Affordable Pricing

4.6
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Surfshark's website

VPN
Surfshark
83% off + 3 months free
  • All-in-one VPN app with 24/7 protection thanks to 3,200+ RAM-only servers in over 100 countries
  • Real-time malware defense, webcam protection, alternative ID creation, ad blocking, and more
  • One subscription covers unlimited devices for your entire household with access to 24/7 support

Best for Maximum Privacy

5.0
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Proton VPN's website

VPN
Proton VPN
  • Easy to use
  • A strict no-logs policy that’s been tested in court
  • More expensive than NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost

The VPN space is a crowded one — there is no shortage of options to choose from here. But this can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, more competition can make for better products. On the other, making a decision about which VPN to go with can be tough.

Surfshark and Proton VPN, two of the best VPNs, each have a lot to offer. The former is speedy and highly affordable. The latter is privacy-focused and has a rich history of building secure apps. Which one is right for you? Let’s find out.

In this article
Surfshark vs. Proton VPN at a glance
Surfshark vs. Proton VPN: prices
Surfshark vs. Proton VPN: features
Surfshark vs. Proton VPN: internet speeds
Surfshark vs. Proton VPN: compatibility and ease of use
Surfshark vs. Proton VPN: customer service
Surfshark vs. Proton VPN FAQs
Surfshark vs. Proton VPN: which is better?

Surfshark vs. Proton VPN at a glance

At first glance, Surfshark and Proton VPN have a lot in common: similar protocols, compatibility, server counts (and choice of VPN server location), and streaming support. Both also let you use a VPN for torrenting. Many of the key differences here are less obvious.

For example, Surfshark supports unlimited devices, while Proton VPN only lets you connect 10 at once. While that’s probably plenty, more is more. Surfshark also offers 24/7 customer support, whereas Proton’s is limited to more or less standard business hours.

In Proton’s favor, there’s a free plan available. This provider also has its own custom VPN protocol, Stealth, that may improve privacy by hiding the fact that you’re using a VPN. Surfshark is premium-only and uses WireGuard (also available with Proton).

How do Surfshark and Proton VPN compare?


Surfshark

Proton VPN
Price $2.19–$17.95/mo $4.99–$9.99/mo
Free plan
Max # of connected devices Unlimited 10
24/7 customer support
Compatibility Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Fire TV Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Android TV, Chromebook
# of servers 3,200+ servers in 100 countries 4,400+ servers in 91 countries
VPN protocol WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2 WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, Stealth
No-logs policy No logs No logs
Unblocks Netflix?
Torrenting support
Learn more Get Surfshark
Read Surfshark Review
Get Proton VPN
Read Proton VPN Review
Prices as of 06/26/2023.

Another notable difference is in the quality of customer service; we had a better overall experience with Surfshark. Combined with the 24/7 availability, Surfshark comes out way ahead.

Surfshark has 3,000+ servers in a variety of locations, including Europe.

Both providers have audited no-logs policies, but Surfshark is headquartered in the Netherlands, which is part of the Nine Eyes Alliance. This is a potential privacy concern. Proton VPN is located in Switzerland, which is much better from a privacy perspective.

Proton VPN has thousands of servers located worldwide, including many in Europe.

Finally, there’s the cost. Surfshark is significantly cheaper — basically half the price of Proton VPN. This automatically makes it the more attractive option for many and for good reason.

Proton VPN, on the other hand, hopes you’ll pay more for the experience of the team behind it. It’s the creator of the popular privacy-focused ProtonMail and other privacy apps.

Surfshark vs. Proton VPN: prices


Surfshark

Proton VPN
Price $2.19–$17.95/mo $4.99–$9.99/mo
Free plan
Best value plan 24-month plan for $2.19/mo (billed biannually) 24-month plan for $4.49/mo
Money-back guarantee Yes — 30 days Yes — 30 days
Learn more Get Surfshark
Read Surfshark Review
Get Proton VPN
Read Proton VPN Review
Prices as of 06/26/2023.

When it comes to pricing, Surfshark is quite a bit more affordable, but only if you go all-in on the full 24-month commitment. If you opt for the month-to-month plan, the tables turn and Proton VPN is actually the more affordable option.

Compared to other VPN providers, Surfshark’s lowest price is very competitive — in fact, it’s one of the cheapest options on the market. This makes it a fantastic option if you’re looking to save money on a VPN.

Proton is pricier than many of its competitors, but it does make up for this with a free plan, which Surfshark lacks.

Both Surfshark and Proton VPN offer 30-day money-back guarantees, which should be plenty of time to get a feel for the service and decide if it’s for you.

Winner: Surfshark is much more affordable, provided you’re willing to commit to a two-year plan. If you prefer to pay monthly, Proton VPN is the cheaper option.

Surfshark vs. Proton VPN: features

Feature
Surfshark

Proton VPN
Number of servers 3,200+ servers in 100 countries 4,400+ servers in 91 countries
No-logs policy No logs No logs
VPN headquarters Amsterdam, the Netherlands Geneva, Switzerland
Encryption AES-256-GCM AES-256 or ChaCha20
VPN protocol WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2 WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, Stealth
Kill switch
Split tunneling
Netflix support
Torrenting support
Learn more Get Surfshark
Read Surfshark Review
Get Proton VPN
Read Proton VPN Review
Data as of 06/26/2023.

Surfshark and Proton VPN both offer very similar feature sets. They’ve got similar protocols; both have WireGuard available as well as similar encryption. Both have kill switches, split tunneling (called Bypasser on Surfshark), and a slew of other features to enhance privacy and make browsing better.

Proton does stand out by offering the Stealth protocol, which is designed to help hide the fact that you’re using a VPN. Proton also uses ChaCha20 encryption when using the WireGuard protocol. This is similar in strength to AES-256.

Both VPN providers completed independent audits to verify their no-logs policy and other security and privacy features. Each has been open about the results of the audits, which appear to have gone very well.

A screenshot of the Surfshark VPN settings menu with the CleanWeb ad blocker option highlighted

Additionally, both Surfshark and Proton VPN come with ad blockers that help prevent malware. Proton VPN’s is called NetShield, and Surfshark’s is called CleanWeb.

NetShield is a Proton VPN feature that blocks ads, trackers, and malware on your device. You can choose to have NetShield block only malware or block all three.

Ultimately, the main distinguishing factor between the two is likely going to be Proton’s existing reputation for security and privacy. ProtonMail has long been the standard for secure email, and having a VPN from the same company may be a major selling point for some.

Surfshark vs. Proton VPN: streaming support

Platform
Surfshark

Proton VPN
Netflix
Amazon Prime Video
Hulu
BBC iPlayer
Disney+
HBO Max
Learn more Get Surfshark
Read Surfshark Review
Get Proton VPN
Read Proton VPN Review
Data as of 06/26/2023.

Both Surfshark and Proton VPN handle streaming well. They each work with all of the services we tested, including the most popular options listed above.

Surfshark successfully unblocked Netflix Japan for us as well as Netflix Canada, Australia, and UK.

The only thing worth noting is that Proton only guarantees streaming on the premium plan, so if you’re on the free plan you may be out of luck (or at least on your own should you encounter issues).

Proton VPN successfully unblocked Netflix Australia for us as well as Netflix UK, Japan, and Canada.

Winner: Tie. Both VPNs offer strong streaming support, and both work with all the major services.

Surfshark vs. Proton VPN: internet speeds

VPN connections tend to reduce internet performance. This is a natural result of routing your signal through distant servers. With some VPN services the change is small, while with others it’s more significant. We conducted internet speed tests to check how much of a performance hit each VPN causes.

Overall, both Surfshark and Proton VPN performed well. However, Proton showed significantly less performance reduction than Surfshark. That’s not to say Surfshark was bad, just that Proton was better.

Surfshark vs. Proton VPN speed test results

Server location
Surfshark

Proton VPN
US
  • Download: 17% slower
  • Upload: No change
  • Download: 6% faster
  • Upload: 4% slower
UK
  • Download: 30% slower
  • Upload: 2% slower
  • Download: 10% slower
  • Upload: 4% slower
AU
  • Download: 33% slower
  • Upload: 24% slower
  • Download: 19% slower
  • Upload: 6% slower
Learn more Get Surfshark
Read Surfshark Review
Get Proton VPN
Read Proton VPN Review

VPNs also tend to add to your latency, often to a higher degree than raw speed. This impacts response times and is especially rough on gaming. The tables turned here again with Surfshark showing better latency than Proton by a decent margin.

Surfshark vs. Proton VPN latency comparison

Server location Surfshark Proton VPN
US 20% worse 40% worse
UK 92% worse 171% worse
AU 114% worse 180% worse

Winner: Proton VPN wins for overall speed, but Surfshark VPN offers lower latency and might be a better choice for gamers.

Surfshark vs. Proton VPN: compatibility and ease of use


Surfshark

Proton VPN
Windows
macOS
Android
iOS
Linux
Router
Smart devices

Surfshark and Proton VPN are both compatible with nearly any device you could want to use a VPN on, including Windows, Mac, mobile, and others. Both VPNs also offer relatively simple user interfaces that make navigating easy.

We did find Surfshark to have a much cleaner interface overall, but this is mostly personal preference. The design and color scheme was lighter and felt less cluttered compared to Proton’s dark mode look. (Though Surfshark also offers a dark mode as well.)

Surfshark offers both a light mode (pictured) and a dark mode.

Winner: We prefer Surfshark’s interface, but both were easy enough to use and presented no major issues.

Surfshark vs. Proton VPN: customer service


Surfshark

Proton VPN
24/7 live chat
Phone
Email
Support forums
Online guides

Surfshark and Proton VPN offer the usual spread of customer service options, including phone, chatbot, live chat, and extensive online guides and social media resources. However, there are some notable differences here that sway things heavily in Surfshark’s favor.

First, Proton VPN doesn’t offer a 24/7 chat option — the hours are 3 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST. This is a big disadvantage. Second, and perhaps even more important, the rep from Surfshark gave us more useful information in a shorter timeframe than the rep from Proton VPN.

Surfshark vs. Proton VPN: payment options

Surfshark and Proton VPN both accept a large number of different payment options, which is both convenient and great for privacy.

Generally, to maximize privacy you want to pay with a method that can’t be traced to you easily, which means cryptocurrencies and the like are fantastic options. However, flexible credit card payments are also convenient.

Surfshark payment options

  • Credit card
  • PayPal
  • Sofort
  • Google Pay
  • Amazon Pay
  • Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin or ethereum

Proton VPN payment options

  • Credit card
  • PayPal
  • Proton credits (can be purchased with cash, bank transfers, or bitcoin)

Winner: Overall, Surfshark offers more payment options, which means more flexibility for choosing one that works for you.

Surfshark vs. Proton VPN FAQs


+

Is Proton VPN better than Surfshark?

Both Proton VPN and Surfshark have a lot to offer VPN users. We wouldn’t outright say one is better than the other — rather that they likely appeal to different audiences.

  • Surfshark has a clean interface, lots of great features, and an amazing price.
  • Proton VPN is more expensive, but comes from a company with a privacy-focused reputation and is headquartered in a neutral country (Switzerland).

Again, both Surfshark and Proton VPN performed well in our tests, including successfully masking our IP address and passing our WebRTC and DNS leak tests. We’re sure either one is an excellent choice.


+

Is Surfshark still a good VPN?

Surfshark is an excellent VPN option. It’s got strong privacy and security features, an audited no-logs policy, and one of the lowest prices of any VPN on the market. The customer service is also quite good.

Our only real concern is the location of its headquarters. The Netherlands is part of the Nine Eyes Alliance, and thus your data might not be as secure as with some other providers. Of course, with no logs, there should be nothing for Surfshark to share, but it’s worth mentioning.


+

Is Surfshark the best VPN?

Surfshark is one of the most affordable VPN providers on the market and offers good speeds and strong privacy features. However, it won’t be for everybody.

There are a number of excellent VPN options available, so we have a hard time giving a single one the title of “best for everybody.”


+

How trustworthy is Proton VPN?

From everything we’ve seen, Proton VPN appears to be very trustworthy. It’s got a verified no-logs policy and all the industry-standard security and privacy technologies we expect from a virtual private network. The company also has a long history of providing privacy-focused services, which makes us feel better about trusting it as a VPN provider.

Surfshark vs. Proton VPN: which is better?

Surfshark and Proton VPN both bring their A-game to the table. Surfshark has a lower price, better customer service, and a cleaner UI. Proton VPN has stronger privacy policies and better overall performance.

Ultimately, we think Surfshark is going to be the best option for most people, thanks mostly to the low cost. However, Proton VPN shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s hard to argue against a VPN from a privacy-focused company.

If you’re still undecided, you can also check out our ExpressVPN vs. Proton VPN review to see how these two top competitors stack up.

Unlimited Device Protection and Large Server Network
4.6
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Surfshark's website
VPN
Surfshark
83% off + 3 months free
  • All-in-one VPN app with 24/7 protection thanks to 3,200+ RAM-only servers in over 100 countries
  • Real-time malware defense, webcam protection, alternative ID creation, ad blocking, and more
  • One subscription covers unlimited devices for your entire household with access to 24/7 support
Author Details
Dave Schafer is a professional writer with a decade of experience specializing in cybersecurity. His expertise spans gadgets, technology, and the internet, with a focus on topics such as routers, hardware, and VPN product comparisons.