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Surfshark vs. Windscribe: which to choose in 2023?

Choosing the best VPN can be difficult if you don’t consider yourself tech-savvy. In this comparison review of Surfshark vs. Windscribe, we simplify everything you need to know.

A person wearing an astronaut costume is standing against a backdrop with two speech bubbles above. One shows the Windscribe logo, and the other shows Surfshark’s.

Surfshark vs. Windscribe at a glance

Windscribe and Surfshark offer key VPN features, like obfuscated servers, split tunneling, and web filters. But Surfshark has more servers and packs more features like SmartDNS and an IP rotator, to name a few. Despite having a free alternative, Windscribe's paid version costs more in the long term.

Note: the comparison tests were made on August 22, 2023. Keep in mind that speed test results may vary on any given day.

Surfshark Windscribe
Devices Unlimited Unlimited*
Server countries 100 62
Protocols OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard OpenVPN, IKEv2, Wireguard
Cookie pop-up blocker check check*
Ad blocker check check*
Independent audits check check
10 Gbps servers check** check**
24/7 support check uncheck
Price $2.19/month $5.75/month
Money-back guarantee 30 days 3 days****

*Available only for the paid plan

**Available in specific locations only

***To be eligible for a refund, you must have used less than 10 GB on the paid plan

Experience online protection
with a lightning-fast connection
Server count & locations

Server count & locations

Your connection speed depends on server crowdedness and your distance from the VPN server.

Why crowded servers aren’t good:

If there are few servers, a single server has to host more people. This leads to less bandwidth “left” for a single user, which means worse speed. 

Why nearby servers are good:

A shorter distance from the VPN server means a shorter journey your data has to travel, resulting in faster speed.

That’s why you should look for a VPN with many servers worldwide, ensuring you have the highest possible speeds.

Here’s how Surfshark and Windscribe compare in terms of server count and locations:

Surfshark Windscribe
Country no. 100 62
Location no. 140+ 110+
Server no. 3200+ servers Undisclosed

Note: If you’re a free user of Windscribe, you can only access ten servers.

Key takeaway: Surfshark has access to more countries and more locations on its server list. Windscribe has yet to disclose its server list, and in sports terms, Surfshark gets a “victory by forfeit.”

Server speeds

We conducted speed tests to compare Surfshark and Windscribe VPNs.

To establish a baseline, we ran a test without a VPN and achieved speeds of 346 Mbps. We then tested a region that had the most available locations (the US) and used each provider’s fastest protocol — Wireguard.

Server speeds
Surfshark Windscribe
Download speed average 302.91 Mbps 170.12 Mbps
Upload speed average 120.44 Mbps 57.04 Mbps

Note: Remember that internet speed test results may vary. They depend on your location, proximity to VPN servers, and your ISP (Internet Service Provider). You should perform a VPN speed test on your own, which will yield more factual results.

Streaming performance

Streaming performance

Netflix provides us with the recommended download speeds to watch without buffering.

  • 3 Mbps to watch High Definition (HD) video (720p);
  • 5 Mbps to watch Full High Definition (FHD) video (1080p);
  • 15 Mbps to watch Ultra High Definition (UHD) video (4K).

Remember that most streaming services require similar download speeds if you want to stream smoothly and without buffering. 

We found that Surfshark and Windscribe are both excellent choices for watching content online. Windscribe even has streaming-dedicated servers called Windflix. However, they’re only available on the paid version.

Surfshark Windscribe
Netflix check check
Youtube check check
HBO Max check check
Apple TV check check
BBC iPlayer check check
Hulu check check
Disney check check

Key takeaway: Surfshark comes first in the speed test, but both VPN providers display great download speeds for uninterrupted and safe streaming on all major platforms.

Disclaimer: We prohibit using Surfshark services for any unlawful purposes as it is against our Terms of Service. Please be sure to act in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations of other service providers.

Stream safely uninterrupted
with 3200+ servers worldwide
VPN protocols

VPN protocols

Both Surfshark and Windscribe offer secure VPN protocols — OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard, the benchmark of speed and safety in encryption. Windscribe also offers two more — Wstunnel and Stealth.

Usually, it’s enough for a VPN provider to have WireGuard and IKEv2 protocols available because they offer the strongest encryption and fastest speeds. Other protocols may not be as safe to use.

Maybe that’s why Windscribe’s Wstunnel and Stealth protocol description reads: “Only use this if all other methods fail. May be handy in China.”

Protocol Surfshark Windscribe
WireGuard check check
IKEv2 check check
OpenVPN / UDP check check
OpenVPN TCP check check
Stealth uncheck check
Wstunnel uncheck check

Key takeaway: Both Surfshark and Windscribe offer industry standard protocols. Windscribe has two more options that could be useful in China.


A strict no-logs policy and headquarters in a country with no data retention laws are the two main things you should look at to make sure that your VPN provider is prepared to protect your privacy.

"We don't track what you do online" policy

A no-logs VPN service won’t track your activity online, keep information about it, or sell it to third parties. It only keeps a minimal amount of information necessary for providing the service.

You must provide your payment information to complete a transaction with any service. You may also need to create an account, so a username or an email address will be required. A no-logs policy promises that no other information will be collected and used.

Windscribe approaches the no-logging part a bit differently.

They log free users’ bandwidth usage and connection stamps to enforce free account limitations, prevent abuse, and weed out inactive accounts.

Windscribe also tracks the amount of bandwidth users consume and the number of parallel connections of paid subscriptions to prevent rampant abuse of account sharing.

We don't track what you do online policy
Headquarters locations

Headquarters locations

Windscribe’s headquarters are in Toronto, Canada, while Surfshark is based in the Netherlands.

Both locations are ideal for a VPN provider since they don’t have any data retention laws. This allows the providers to protect your privacy and stick to their no-logs policies.

Key takeaway: Both providers protect your privacy thanks to their no-logs policies and headquarters in countries with no data retention laws. But to ensure a smooth experience with their service, Windscribe has an exception — they track bandwidth usage, connection stamps, and the number of parallel connections.

Keep your privacy intact
without breaking a sweat


Audits are important because they show a level of trustworthiness and a provider’s commitment to transparency and user privacy.

Independent security audits are essential for backing up any claims made by a VPN provider. Audits can be a quick overview or an in-depth analysis of the provider. Bonus points if the company is audited by KPMG, Deloitte, Cure53, or PricewaterhouseCoopers, as these are the biggest names in the industry.

Surfshark audits

Surfshark audits

In 2018, Cure53 audited Surfshark’s browser extensions. They concluded the extensions “are not exposed to any issues, neither in the privacy nor in the more general security realms.” 

The 2018 audit did reveal two “low severity” vulnerabilities. These were quickly fixed and highlighted the transparency and commitment of the company.

In 2021, Cure53 conducted an independent audit of Surfshark VPN’s infrastructure. Again, no serious issues were found, and any raised concerns were swiftly rectified.

The 2023 Deloitte audit verified Surfshark’s no-logs statement.

Windscribe audits

In the 2021, Windscribe’s desktop app was audited by Leviathan. Leviathan stated: “Windscribe appears to be boldly noncompliant with the licenses of all open-source software utilized in its product”. In other words, Windscribe isn’t following the rules and requirements set by the licenses of the open-source software it incorporates.

Leviathan also found nine issues and a set of out of date dependencies that include known severe vulnerabilities.

The 2022 android app has been audited by Leviathan as well. This is what they had to say: “[…] it is clear that Windscribe’s engineering team needs effective tooling around secret management, as well as training around generating and handling secrets used in sensitive areas of code.” 

Windscribe app’s code is open-source, which is nice of them.

Windscribe audits

Key takeaway: To guarantee the high quality of their services, both Surfshark and Windscribe have undergone independent security audits.

Surfshark has audited the key aspects of a VPN — app functionality, the no-logs policy, and server infrastructure. However, Windscribe is yet to disclose any specific audit information about no-logging or server infrastructure.

Customer support

Customer support is an absolute must. Fortunately, Surfshark and Windscribe boast exceptional teams that are always ready and available to assist.

Customer service Surfshark Windscribe
Live chat check uncheck*
Ticket support check check
Email Support check check
Phone Support uncheck uncheck
Searchable knowledge base check check
Video guides check YouTube check YouTube

*Windscribe offers a chatbot instead of live support

Key takeaway: Both VPNs do a good job of maintaining different lifelines for those who need help. The differences? Windscribe offers a chatbot option instead of a live chat, and Surfshark no longer has a searchable knowledge base.

Security and encryption

Encryption-wise, both Windscribe and Surfshark use the industry-standard AES-256 cipher.

Surfshark Windscribe
VPN protocols OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard, Stealth, Wstunnel
OpenVPN data encryption AES-256 (all platforms), Chacha20Poly1305 (Android only) AES-256
OpenVPN control channel encryption RSA-2048 RSA-4096 (desktop only)
Cloaking technology NoBorders obfuscation Stealth protocols (Stealth and WStunnel)
App security Kill Switch (all platforms) Kill Switch (all platforms)
DNS status Private DNS Private DNS

Security features



You may notice that both providers offer similar security protocols and use the industry standard AES-256 encryption.

Although Windscribe uses a longer RSA key, encryption strength doesn’t decrease after 2048 bits, and using a 4096-bit key may briefly increase CPU usage during handshaking.

For Android users, Surfshark offers lighter encryption, ChaCha20Poly1305, that should result in better speeds.

Kill switch

Kill switch

Both providers offer the Kill Switch feature as an extra layer of protection. It disconnects your device from the internet in case of an unexpected VPN connection drop, ensuring your data and privacy are always protected.

Stealth servers

Stealth servers

Surfshark's obfuscated servers and NoBorders feature fully conceal internet activity, allowing users to avoid regional restrictions and censorship without revealing VPN usage.

Windscribe uses stealth protocols to make your VPN traffic seem like regular HTTPS traffic. It has the same effect with only one downside — it can’t be implemented on iOS.

Key takeaway: Even if Windscribe doesn’t have obfuscated servers, a similar level of privacy protection can be achieved with their stealth protocols. Whether you choose Surfshark or Windscribe, you’re safe with their top-grade encryption and security features.

Browse and chill
with the upper crust of security — AES-256 encryption

Extra features: Windscribe vs. Surfshark comparison

While the main purpose of a VPN is to safeguard user data and identities, premium VPNs have additional features to enhance the online experience. Here’s what Surfshark and Windscribe offer:

Feature Surfshark Windscribe
Ad blocker check check
Cookie pop-up blocker check check
Split tunneling check check
Browser extensions check check
Smart DNS check uncheck*
Double VPN check check
GPS spoofing check check
RAM-only servers check check
Threat manager uncheck check**
Unlimited simultaneous connections check check
Dedicated IP address check uncheck

*The Smart DNS feature is only available at their daughter company Control D; a subscription to their service costs $2-4.

** Only available as a browser extension

What do the extra features do?



Surfshark’s CleanWeb feature blocks malicious ads and websites, trackers, pop-ups, banners, and video ads.

It’s worth highlighting that CleanWeb is not an antivirus.

Windscribe has a feature that yields similar results, called R.O.B.E.R.T.

Split tunneling

Split tunneling

This feature allows you to select which applications access the internet using a VPN and which don't.

Both Surfshark and Windscribe offer the split tunneling feature. Surfshark users will need to look for Bypasser.

Smart DNS

Smart DNS

The feature allows you to avoid firewalls and censorship on devices that don’t usually support VPN connections. For example, your PlayStation or smart TV.

Double VPN

Double VPN

This feature adds an extra layer of security by routing traffic through two different VPN servers. Here at Surfshark, we call it Dynamic MultiHop.

GPS spoofing

GPS spoofing

You can trick GPS-based apps into thinking you’re elsewhere. This works for apps like Tinder, Pokémon Go, and more.

Windscribe users may recognize the feature under a different name — Location Warp.

Threat manager

Threat manager

This Windscribe feature prevents third-party tracking. It stops apps from communicating with third-party trackers or engaging in malicious behavior.

Dedicated IP

Dedicated IP

A dedicated IP is a unique, fixed IP address only you can use when connecting to your designated VPN server.

RAM-only servers

RAM-only servers

These servers operate solely on RAM and do not retain any data on hard drives. All data is lost upon reboot.

Key takeaway: Both providers offer overlapping features. However, Windscribe users may be charged more if they wish to use the smart DNS feature.


Despite offering a paid subscription, Windscribe got its foot in the game by being free. If you decide to go with the free version of Windscribe, just keep in mind that your server options will be limited to 10 countries.

Also, if you confirm your email address, your monthly data usage will be capped at 10GB. Without the email confirmation, the data is capped at 2 GB.

There is an option to ‘’Build Your Own Plan’’ where $3 are charged monthly, and you have to pay $1 for each new server location. If you want unlimited data while using Windscribe, you’ll have to pay an additional $1.

Plan Surfshark Windscribe
Free VPN 30-day trial Yes, but limited data usage
1 month $12.95/month $9/month
6 months uncheck uncheck
12 months $3.99/month $5.75/month
24 months $2.19/month uncheck

Money-back and refund policy: Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, while Windscribe is more strict with its refund policy. To receive a refund, you must have used less than 10GB on the paid plan, and ask for it within three days of purchase — otherwise, you aren’t eligible for a refund. Sheesh, Windscribe, pretty cold…

Key takeaway: Surfshark offers more plans and lower long-term pricing. If you need a VPN with access to many countries, Windscribe wouldn’t be considered an economical choice compared to Surfshark. Windscribe also has a stricter money-back policy.

Unlock a safer internet
without breaking the bank

Surfshark vs. Windscribe: the scores

Category Notes
Server count & locations Windscribe doesn’t disclose its server count, and Surfshark has more available locations.
Server speeds While running our tests, we found Surfshark to be faster.
Streaming performance Both providers have great speeds to ensure a buffer-free and safe streaming experience.
VPN protocols Windscribe has two more available protocols than Surfshark. This doesn’t necessarily translate into better security. The secret protocols serve as an alternative to obfuscated servers, a feature they lack.
Audits Both providers have demonstrated transparency through auditing. However, Windscribe’s audits have raised some concerns.
Customer support Surfshark offers live customer support while Windscribe doesn’t (yet). Other than that, both providers maintain different lifelines to help those in need.
Security and encryption Both services provide a similar level of security, with industry-leading encryption and security features.
Extra features Surfshark and Windscribe offer similar benefits via different features. However, the smart DNS feature may be pricier for Windscribe users.
Price Surfshark offers lower prices long-term and a more forgiving trial period than Windscribe.

Key takeaway: Both VPN providers are worthy of attention by maintaining user privacy, offering great speeds for streaming, and having RAM-only servers. However, while researching, we found Windscribe audits a little concerning. In addition, Windscribe users may pay more if they want the same features, server access, and unlimited bandwidth as the users at Surfshark.

Still not sure? Other comparisons

Still not sure? Other comparisons

Have a hard time making your mind up? Take a look at our in-depth Surfshark review and see how it compares to other big names in the VPN industry.


Which VPN is better than Windscribe?

Surfshark is a good alternative because it offers live customer support, dedicated IP addresses, and a better refund policy — a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Is Windscribe VPN good for gaming?

Windscribe’s download speeds are fast on nearby connections but less impressive on far-off servers. The free and premium versions offer sufficient speeds for HD streaming and gaming, but faster alternatives may exist.

Is Surfshark VPN good for gaming?

Surfshark is an ideal choice for gaming because it offers affordable VPN services with high performance, speed, player privacy, and device security.

How do I lower my ping using Surfshark?

Surfshark can reduce your ping if your internet service provider engages in bandwidth throttling or you’ve been connected to an internet station that’s further than necessary.

Surfshark may improve online gaming speed by redirecting traffic through a closer server and removing bandwidth throttling.

Is Surfshark a Chinese company?

No, Surfshark is not a Chinese company. Surfshark is a VPN provider which belongs to a Netherlands-based company of the same name.

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