Surfshark vs Norton: Which is the Better VPN in 2023

Surfshark vs Norton: Which is the Better VPN in 2023

July 26, 2023 privacy 0

Norton is one of the oldest and most reputable leads in cybersecurity, releasing a wide range of consumer products, including antiviruses and cloud backups since 1982. One of its most recent releases is the Norton Secure VPN – which can be purchased as a standalone product or integrated with its Norton 360 antivirus suite.  

Surfshark, in contrast, is one of the youngest VPNs in the world. It launched in 2018 but has quickly become one of the best VPNs available. 

So, how do Norton Secure VPN and Surfshark compare? Do you go with the industry veteran or the young, agile upstart? 

We’ve tested both VPNs side-by-side to see which one offers the best security, privacy, speed, access to content, and much more. This quick guide breaks down our findings and shows you what each VPN offers (beyond their respective sales pitches). 

Surfshark vs. Norton – Which is best? 

Surfshark is superior to Norton Secure VPN in every aspect. 

Its server network is bigger, faster, and more secure than Norton’s. It can access more content, works well with torrenting apps, and offers unlimited device connections on a single plan.  

Surfshark is also better value, with a simpler pricing structure and lower-cost long-term plans. 

While Norton has a stellar cybersecurity reputation, it has a lot of work to do when it comes to providing a modern VPN. 

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Surfshark offers much better value than Norton, with monthly, yearly, and two-yearly plans covering unlimited simultaneous device connections. 

Surfshark’s two-year plan includes an 83% discount, working out at $2.39 rather than $12.95 per month. Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on every plan.

With Norton, you can choose between monthly and annual subscriptions, with prices varying based on the number of devices connected. The monthly plan works out at $4.99 per device, and the annual plan includes a 40% discount if you sign up for 10 simultaneous devices. Norton, however, offers a 60-day money-back guarantee. 

Surfshark is cheaper than Norton on most plans, has a much simpler price structure, and covers unlimited device connections – making it much better value all-round.

Winner: Surfshark

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Which has better features? 

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In terms of features, Surfshark is the clear winner. 

Surfshark supports Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Amazon Firestick, and Linux. Norton doesn’t support Firestick or Linux. 

Surfshark allows you to install its VPN apps on unlimited devices, while Norton restricts you to a maximum of 10. In addition, Surfshark provides free extras such as ad-blocking, malware scanning, and automatic Wi-Fi protection, which adds multiple layers of protection. 

Norton Secure VPN has a built-in tracking blocker that stops advertisers from tracking your online activity but doesn’t block ads from showing on YouTube or other websites.

Both VPNs offer split tunneling, which lets you route certain websites and apps through the VPN while keeping others on your local network. This is handy if you want to access overseas content while still using your local banking app, for example.

We’re only scratching the surface here. As you’ll see throughout this review, Surfshark is full of innovative security, privacy, P2P, and streaming tools completely missing from Norton’s VPN.

Winner: Surfshark

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Are routers supported? 

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Surfshark and Norton Secure VPN both support router installations. Setting up a VPN on a router means every device connected to your home Wi-Fi will be automatically routed through the VPN’s encrypted network without individual installations.

Norton Secure VPN supports routers with OpenVPN client firmware, including AsusWRT, DD-WRT, and Tomato. With Surfshark, you can connect to OpenVPN servers on AsusWRT, DD-WRT, and Tomato routers and on GL.iNet, MikroTik, and Netgear routers.

However, installing a VPN on a router is quite technical. Surfshark includes comprehensive tutorials for doing it correctly, which are much better than similar resources offered by Norton. 

So, Surfshark supports more routers, offers better instructions, and, once installed, performs much better than Norton.

Winner: Surfshark

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What websites do they unblock? 

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Surfshark has one of the best reputations amongst VPNs for accessing global content. Based on our tests, this reputation is well-deserved. 

Surfshark’s Smart DNS feature and other advanced tools allow you to access big streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, CBS, and Sky Go from anywhere in the world. You can also use the Stealth Mode feature to hide the fact you’re even using a VPN. 

In contrast, Norton has limited access to streaming content. It can only access Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and ITV. It also lacks the advanced features included in Surfshark as standard. 

Surfshark is also much faster than Norton, so you can stream in HD buffer-free on most sites. 

Both VPNs can access other typically restricted websites, including social media and news sites, which are often blocked in countries with heavy internet censorship. 

But if you plan on accessing streaming content, Surfshark is the clear winner.

Winner: Surfshark

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Netflix libraries

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Surfshark is the ideal VPN for Netflix enthusiasts looking to stream international content. It can access basically every regional Netflix library around the world, including top libraries like the US, UK, Germany, Japan, France, and Canada.

In contrast, Norton only managed to access the US and UK Netflix libraries during our tests. This is likely a result of its smaller server network and lack of dedicated servers for streaming.

Winner: Surfshark

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Torrenting capabilities

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Norton Secure VPN and Surfshark both support torrenting, which is excellent news if you want to download files via peer-to-peer (P2P) networks. They also provide strong encryption and security features, ensuring complete privacy and anonymity while you’re torrenting.

Surfshark offers various torrent-friendly features, including port selection, port forwarding, and an automatic kill-switch. With port selection, you can choose which port to use for your P2P traffic. Port forwarding allows you to connect directly to others for faster downloads, resulting in speedier torrenting. An automatic kill-switch blocks your internet if your VPN connection is disrupted for even a second, so no data is leaked to your internet service provider. 

Additionally, Surfshark provides faster and more secure connections for torrenting with dedicated P2P servers.

With Norton Secure VPN, you can use torrenting apps, but there are some limitations. Most concerning, Norton is based in the US, which means it could be subject to the country’s strict data retention laws. There are no dedicated torrent servers on its network, so you have to rely on regular servers that aren’t optimized for torrenting. And it doesn’t facilitate manual port selection – so it’s much slower than Surfshark when torrenting. 

Surfshark is ideal for its dedicated P2P servers, port forwarding, faster connections, and better overall privacy tools. Also, it’s not based in the US.

Winner: Surfshark

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Setup & usability

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Surfshark and Norton Secure VPN have notable differences in setup and usability. 

Surfshark offers more native VPN apps for popular devices, including Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, and Amazon Firestick. 

They both provide comprehensive step-by-step installation guides on their websites, making setting up your VPN on any device easy. 

Surfshark also offers instructions for its manual configuration options, kill-switches, and obfuscation settings (used to boost your privacy). Norton’s documentation is much less comprehensive. 

Both Surfshark and Norton Secure VPN provide 24/7 customer support for troubleshooting or setup assistance.

Surfshark has a more user-friendly setup with more platform and device support, better instructions for more advanced features, and responsive 24/7 hour support.

Winner: Surfshark

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Mobile features

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Surfshark and Norton come close in terms of iOS and Android features, with easy-to-use mobile and tablet apps.

However, Surfshark stands out for offering unlimited simultaneous connections on a single account and including more advanced features. 

For example, its CleanWeb feature blocks all ads on your device (including your browser and apps) while warning you of malware, spam, and malicious websites. 

Surfshark’s advanced features, unlimited simultaneous connections, and 24/7 customer support make it a better choice than Norton Secure VPN.

Winner: Surfshark

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Performance & speed

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Surfshark has 3,200+ servers in 100+ countries, while Norton’s 2,000+ servers are spread across just 29+ countries. This makes Surfshark’s network faster and more reliable globally. It can also accommodate many more users without getting congested and slowing down. 

Throughout our tests, Sursfhark’s network averaged speeds of roughly 323.60 Mbps compared to Norton’s 186.7 Mbps. That’s a 2x difference. 

Surfshark is the clear winner. It provides a faster, more reliable experience than Norton anywhere in the world. 

Winner: Surfshark

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Surfshark offers a suite of advanced security features that outmatch Norton on every front. 

Surfshark supports a wider range of VPN protocols, including L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, IKEv2, WireGuard, and Shadowsocks. It also offers more advanced leak protections, including webRTC, DNS, and IPv6. 

In addition, Surfshark offers advanced features like (adding an extra layer of security by routing your connection through multiple servers) and CleanWeb (blocking ads, trackers, and malware). Norton Secure VPN does not offer similar features. 

Both Surfshark and Norton run their own DNS servers instead of relying on third parties like Google or your internet service provider to process your DNS queries. This reduces the risk of your data being intercepted by third parties.

Surfshark offers significantly superior security than Norton, with more advanced features that are still user-friendly for beginners and don’t compromise on speed.

Winner: Surfshark

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Surfshark is located in the British Virgin Islands, a country known for its strong privacy laws. Norton is based in the United States, a founding member of the Five Eyes global surveillance alliance, raising significant privacy concerns.

Norton and Surfshark both maintain limited connection logs from users, but their data storage policies differ. Surfshark gathers anonymized, aggregated data that excludes any personal information, enhancing its network efficiency while preserving your privacy. Norton Secure VPN, on the other hand, logs your IP address, bandwidth usage, limited personal details, and more – all of which could be used to identify you and track your online activities.

Surfshark has been independently audited by an outside firm to confirm the legitimacy of its privacy claims. Norton Secure VPN has never been audited by a third party, so you have to rely on the company’s reputation and claims alone.

Both Surfshark and Norton Secure VPN require you to provide an email address when signing up. However, Norton requires more information like billing details and phone numbers. 

As for anonymous payments, Surfshark accepts Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple. Norton Secure VPN doesn’t accept any of these payment methods.

Overall, Surfshark stands out for its privacy-friendly location, independent audits, minimal sign-up requirements, and anonymous payment options.

Winner: Surfshark

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Customer service

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Both VPNs offer money-back guarantees that allow you to test their service risk-free. Surfshark’s money-back period lasts 30 days, and Norton’s lasts 60. 

Both Norton and Surfshark offer 24/7 live chat support, but Surfshark responded much more quickly to our questions and provided more detailed solutions. 

Surfshark is also faster than email. It has a response time of two hours and 28 minutes compared to Norton’s four hours and 36 minutes.

Both VPNs offer extensive knowledge bases covering frequently asked questions and troubleshooting tutorials. But Surfshark’s human support is much better and faster in its responses.

Winner: Surfshark

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Methodology: How we compare VPNs

We rigorously test every VPN featured on ProPrivacy – including the ones we don’t recommend. 

You can use our strict criteria to make a more informed decision and learn what the different features offered by VPNs actually mean. 

Here’s a quick sample of our most important criteria.

  • Server network: We only recommend VPNs with global networks of fast, secure servers located in many different countries. This guarantees good connections anywhere. 
  • Speed: We test every VPN to ensure it’s fast enough for HD streaming, gaming, video calls, and anything else that needs a buffer-free connection.
  • Excellent security: Look for VPNs with military-grade encryption, DNS/IPv6 leak protections, automatic kill-switches, numerous VPN protocols, and much more. 
  • Privacy tools: Ensure your data is never recorded or shared, thanks to RAM-only servers, IP address masking, stealth modes, and other tools. 
  • Access content: The best VPNs work with every popular streamer, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Now TV. 
  • Good value: VPNs don’t have to be expensive, so stick to providers with low-cost, simple plans and generous money-back guarantees. 
  • Easy to use: Top VPNs have simple, intuitive, and beginner-friendly apps for every major device. 
  • Customer support: Look for 24/7 live chat support, extensive knowledge bases, video tutorials, and lively communities of users. 
  • Transparent privacy policies: Make sure your VPN is trying to sneak anything past you, slyly sharing or selling your data to brokers and advertisers. 

 To get an in-depth look at each feature and how we review them, read our VPN review process


Deciding between Surfshark and Norton Secure VPN isn’t difficult. 

Surfshark is a modern VPN offering advanced security and privacy tools, exceptional speed, and uninterrupted access to the best content from around the world. Norton Secure VPN is basic, outdated, and generally unimpressive. 

You can try Surfshark risk-free for 30 days and see how well it performs. 

Or, if you’re still undecided, read some of our other most popular VPN comparisons: 

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