Ex-Google, International tech speaker
Which VPN is better?
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New-Media and online expert, Venture Capitalist and investor
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With strong 256-bit encryption, a strict no-logging policy, and fast servers, Surfshark earns high marks for security, privacy, and performance – the three aspects of a complete VPN. As a new service hungry for subscribers, it also comes with great extras like unlimited simultaneous connections. HMA is just as fast and easy to use, however, and offers the advantages of an established service, including access to the most far-reaching server network on the VPN market.
HMA offers the nicer interface for torrenting, with a handy list of quick-access P2P servers. However, keeping partial logs and maintaining its headquarters in the UK (meaning it’s subject to Five-Eyes surveillance) make HMA less than ideal for torrenting fans. Meanwhile, Surfshark provides truly anonymous torrenting via its Netherlands servers. We’d like to see more P2P-friendly servers in other countries added in the future, though.
Both VPNs make things easy for Windows users, but Surfshark deserves praise for its minimalist design and excellent features such as split tunneling and private DNS settings. HMA gives you far more options for server locations, a real plus if you live in a region where most of the big-name VPNs don't operate servers.
HMA supports OpenVPN by default on Android, a big bonus that is unfortunately partially offset by a questionable logging policy. Surfshark’s Android app runs the IKEv2 protocol, which is a good (and often faster) alternative to OpenVPN, and grants you the privacy you’d expect from a premium VPN service.
Both VPNs impressed us on Mac, with polished clients and essential features like a kill switch. Surfshark's main advantages are a cleaner interface and less crowded servers. You may find HMA more appealing if you want greater server variety and a playful but functional design.
With Surfshark, you can connect unlimited devices at the same time, which is super useful for homes with a pile of iPads and iPhones. Add an optimized app with DNS leak protection to the mix, and you have a great iOS VPN. HMA also offers a user-friendly iOS client with a standard limit of five connected devices and very simple preconfigured profiles for common VPN uses.
HMA has 190+ US servers, but bigger isn’t always better – many of them are blacklisted by popular US streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu. Surfshark offers fewer servers distributed over nine US locations, but being a new service with a smaller user base, it’s currently unaffected by VPN blocking efforts, meaning that you get quick and easy access to American content.