The ever-growing number of VPN providers on the market only makes your choice all the more difficult. Many VPN services claim to be the best. Some state they have the fastest speeds or the strongest security, for example. Needless to say, verifying such claims is easier said than done. This is where our in-depth VPN comparison posts should prove helpful!
We take two very popular VPN providers in Surfshark and Atlas VPN and put them under the microscope. This post breaks down features into easy-to-digest categories so you can quickly refer to whatever matters to you most. We’ll look at everything from their server speeds to the quality of their customer support. It’s through rigorous hands-on testing that we can then determine which VPN is best for you to use.
Don’t have enough time to read the full post? Here are some of the highlights of each VPN provider (while it was a close contest, Surfshark is the winner):
- Best value VPN on the market
- Fast speeds with unlimited bandwidth
- Works with over 30 Netflix libraries
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- MultiHop servers for extra security
- More than fast enough for streaming
- Unblocks popular streaming services
- Connect all of your devices at once
- Extra features including an ad blocker
Surfshark vs Atlas VPN pricing
|Subscription periods||One month||One month
|One year||One year|
|Two years||Three years|
|Special offer||Save 83 percent and pay $2.21 a month with Surfshark’s 24-month (+3 months free) subscription.||Get 82 percent off with the Atlas VPN three-year plan (pay $1.99 a month).|
|Highest price per month||$12.95||$10.99|
|Lowest price per month||$2.21||$1.99
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||30 days|
There are a number of similarities when it comes to the subscription plans of Surfshark and Atlas VPN. For starters, both offer monthly and annual subscriptions. However, while Surfshark has a two year plan, Atlas VPN has an even longer three year option. Generally speaking, the longer you’re willing to commit, the more you can save and that’s certainly the case here.
With Atlas VPN’s three year plan, you’ll get 82 percent off. As a result, you pay just $1.99 USD a month ($71.49 for the first three years). Surfshark also has a special offer. This comes with its two year subscription plan. It works out at $2.21 a month ($59.76 for the first two years), which is a discount of 83 percent. So while both discounts are similar, Atlas VPN is slightly more affordable long-term.
Not ready to commit for multiple years? An annual subscription with Surfshark is priced at $47.88. Atlas VPN is marginally cheaper at $39.42 yearly. Monthly VPN subscriptions are useful if you only need a VPN for a few weeks at a time (such as when on vacation). However, they quickly become more expensive if you stick with them for months at a time. Again, Surfshark costs more at $12.95 a month compared to $10.99 with Atlas VPN.
Regardless of whether you choose Surfshark or Atlas VPN, you’re protected with their risk-free 30-day money-back guarantees. You then have a full 30 days to try their services out for yourself and, if you change your mind, request a full refund for your money back.
Best Deal for Surfshark:Pay just $2.21 a month (a saving of 81 percent) when you choose the Surfshark two year subscription.
Best Deal for Atlas VPN:Get 83 percent off with the Atlas VPN three year plan (works out at $1.99 per month).
Surfshark vs Atlas VPN features
|Operating system apps||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV|
|Manual install devices||Set-top boxes, routers||Set-top boxes|
|Split tunneling||Yes, Windows and Android||Yes (Android)|
|Free extras||Browser extensions (Chrome and Firefox), ad-blocker, automatic wifi protection, MultiHop servers||MultiHop servers, ad blocker|
Any quality VPN will have desktop and mobile apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS at a minimum and Surfshark and ExpressVPN are no exception. Indeed, apps are also available to download for Amazon Fire TV and Android TV. However, if you’re on Linux, you’ll want to stick with Surfshark, which is the only one of the two with a Linux app.
There’s no limit to the number of devices you can connect at once with these VPNs. Most VPNs only allow up to a handful of simultaneous connections so Surfshark and Atlas VPN are particularly good choices for sharing with family. Feature-wise, both VPNs offer split tunneling so you can choose which apps use the VPN connection and which bypass it. This is available on Windows and Android with Surfshark but only Android on Atlas VPN.
Surfshark and Atlas VPN share a few more features in common including an ad blocker. You can also connect to MultiHop (Double VPN) servers which route internet traffic via multiple locations for an additional layer of security. Surfshark sets itself apart however with the option of browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
Streaming and unblocking
|Netflix||Yes, over 30 Netflix libraries including US and UK||Yes, multiple libraries including the US and UK|
|Amazon Prime Video||Yes||Yes|
There may be times, particularly when you travel on vacation, that you can no longer access your usual websites due to government censorship or copyright and licensing. This may include a news site, online banking account, or your favorite streaming service. The good news is that Surfshark and Atlas VPN are both highly consistent at bypassing geographic restrictions.
We tested both VPNs with various region-locked streaming services and had little trouble. Indeed, both worked with Netflix and we were able to access multiple libraries including the US and UK. In fact, Surfshark in particular is one of the best VPNs for Netflix and is able to access more than 30 libraries in total. Surfshark is one of the few VPNs that generally works with DAZN, but Atlas VPN is unable to bypass its particularly tough restrictions.
Which of these VPNs work in China?
Using a VPN isn’t always so simple in China due to the Great Firewall of China. The sophisticated censorship system blocks a wide range of websites and apps. This includes the websites of VPNs such as Surfshark and Atlas VPN. Like most VPNs, Atlas VPN is unable to navigate the wide range of techniques employed such as IP blocking.
Surfshark however, has a traffic obfuscation feature called NoBorders. By disguising your VPN traffic as regular web traffic, it’s able to evade detection by deep packet inspection. This is easily activated via a toggle button in the Settings menu. However, you’ll still need to make sure Surfshark is downloaded and installed ahead of your trip to China due to its website being blocked in China.
Setup and interface
|Automatic setup wizard||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS|
|Main location selection||List-based||List-based|
|Extra settings page||Yes||Yes|
With their beginner-friendly apps complete with automatic setup wizard, Surfshark and Atlas VPN make it quick and easy to connect to a server. The desktop and mobile apps alike offer a quick connect button which only requires a single click to connect (Surfshark even has tabs to let you connect to the fastest or nearest available server). Another similarity is that servers are ordered by country in an alphabetical list.
Surfshark’s desktop app offers a little more information in that it displays server load. You can favorite specific servers to find them more easily later. Atlas VPN’s desktop interface is that little bit simpler (although both are nice and easy to navigate). There is however a streaming tab in which you can find servers that are optimized for streaming sites. Surfshark has tabs for Static IPs and for its MultiHop servers.
Mobile apps tend to be even simpler than their desktop counterparts and this is the case for Surfshark and Atlas VPN’s Android and iOS apps. Instead of a side menu where you can access your settings, there’s a space-saving footer menu for accessing servers and settings. Once in settings, the various options can be toggled on or off.
Servers and performance
|Total number of servers||3,000+||750+|
|Server speed||324 Mbps||247 Mbps|
Surfshark comes out on top when it comes to both server quantity and speed. It continues to expand its network which now stands at more than 3,000 servers in 65 countries. In contrast, Atlas VPN only offers a little more than 750 servers in 37 countries at the time of writing. Chances are, either server network will more than meet your needs. Both have servers in countries including the US, Canada, UK, and Australia, for example.
However, Surfshark’s larger network means you can access even more geo-blocked content from countries including Argentina, Greece, India, and South Africa. More servers also means less load and improved performance as a result. This is reflected in the fact that Surfshark averaged 324 Mbps in our most recent speed tests. Atlas VPN averaged 247 Mbps.
Want to know where Surfshark and Atlas VPN offer servers? Here’s a list of countries covered by each:
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||✔|
|United Arab Emirates||✔||✔|
|VPN protocols||WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN||WireGuard, IKEv2|
|OpenVPN data encryption||AES-256||AES-256|
|OpenVPN control channel encryption||RSA-2048||RSA-4096|
|Cloaking technology||NoBorders obfuscation||None|
|App security||Kill switch||Kill switch|
|DNS status||Private DNS||Private DNS|
The main VPN protocol offered by Surfshark and Atlas VPN is WireGuard. This newer protocol is faster than rival protocols while maintaining a high standard of security. However, both VPNs also give you the option to use IKEv2, which offers decent speed and is ideal for mobiles thanks to its ability to quickly re-establish connections. It’s worth noting that Surfshark is the only one of the two that supports the open-source OpenVPN protocol.
Connections are secured with 256-bit AES encryption that renders your data effectively uncrackable. Both VPNs use private DNS servers so no third parties have access to your web history.
If the VPN connection were to drop, your data could become vulnerable. A kill switch prevents this by cutting your internet traffic should this happen. This is available via the Surfshark and Atlas VPN desktop and mobile apps. Of the two VPNs, only Surfshark offers obfuscation with its NoBorders feature. This helps you evade network restrictions.
|Headquarters||British Virgin Islands||United States|
|User details for signup||Email address||Email address|
|Anonymous payment options||Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple||Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple|
Like another top-rated provider, ExpressVPN, Surfshark operates out of the British Virgin Islands. One of the reasons for this is that there are no data retention laws. Atlas VPN however, operates out of the United States. This falls under the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, a group of countries that freely share intelligence information. However, Atlas VPN doesn’t keep identifying logs, so there shouldn’t be any compromising information to be found regardless.
Surfshark also operates a no-logs policy, although both VPNs do keep some connection logs. This aggregate data includes connection attempts, but there’s nothing to identify you as a user. You don’t need to provide much personal information to sign up with either Surfshark or Atlas VPN — only an email address. Better still, both VPNs allow you to pay in cryptocurrency should you wish (Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Ripple).
|Dedicated/static IP address possible||No||No|
With Surfshark and Atlas VPN, you’ll benefit from shared address allocation. All users on the same server share the same IP address. All online activity is mixed up as a result, providing a layer of anonymity. However, there are some drawbacks of sharing an IP. In particular, shared IP addresses are more likely to draw attention and become blacklisted as a result.
Some VPNs offer the option of a dedicated IP address (an IP address that is for your use only). However, neither Surfshark nor Atlas VPN has such an option. The closest thing that Surfshark has are its static IP addresses (your IP address remains the same each time you connect to the specific server in question). However, these are still shared with other users.
|Live chat||Yes||Yes (only with a paid subscription)|
|Average email response time||3 hours and half hours||45 minutes|
|Searchable knowledge base||Yes||Yes|
While Surfshark and Atlas VPN are easy to use thanks to their beginner-friendly apps, you may still have a few questions. The good news is that both offer 24/7 live chat and email support should you need it. Alternatively, you can search their respective help centers for setup guides, FAQs, and more. Surfshark stands out for having a very active YouTube channel (Surfshark Academy) with videos uploaded every week.
In order to test the email support offered by Surfshark and Atlas VPN, we sent each three emails. We then recorded the response time as well as the quality of the reply received. In both cases, our questions were resolved without issue. While Surfshark’s average response time is fairly quick (approximately three and a half hours), Atlas VPN has one of the fastest email reply rates we’ve come across. We received a reply in 45 minutes on average.
|Question||Response time||Number of emails||Question answered|
|Does Surfshark work in China?||Six hours||One||Yes|
|Will Surfshark slow down my internet speed?||Three and a half hours||One||Yes|
|How do I install Surfshark on my router?||One hour||One||Yes|
|Question||Response time||Number of emails||Question answered|
|Does Atlas VPN work in China?||35 minutes||1||Yes|
|Will Atlas VPN slow down my internet speed?||40 minutes||1||Yes|
|How do I install Atlas VPN on my router?||1 hour||1||Yes|
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
This was a relatively close contest because both VPNs excel in multiple areas. Atlas VPN provides fast speeds, strong unblocking, an unlimited connection allowance, and plenty of extra security features including MutliHop servers. However, there’s little it offers that Surfshark doesn’t (indeed, Surfshark also has all of the aforementioned features and more). It’s for this reason that Surfshark is our overall winner.
In particular, Surfshark is faster and has a much larger network of servers (over 3,000 in 65 countries). It’s also only marginally more expensive than Atlas VPN making it the best value VPN of the two. Whichever VPN you choose, you’ll benefit from a 30-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to try the VPN service risk-free.