Surfshark is a VPN service we found to breathe fresh air in the VPN world. It is ruthless with its performance and ensures user privacy.
It delivers plenty of other power-packed features, and the company is very close to delivering what they promise.
This service has dirt-cheap pricing plans and is quickly moving close to the top of the leaderboard with its offering.
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Being based in the British Virgin Islands, a network of 800+ servers in 50+ locations, multiple client apps and top-grade encryption, is all good, or is it all hype?
Here is our in-depth Surfshark VPN Review. By the end, we should know if this is the real deal, or it looks too good to be true.
- Streaming Services
- Torrenting and P2P file sharing
- Individuals behind restrictive internet borders (China)
Plans and Pricing
Surfshark appears to be a great deal in its offerings. When you look at the cost, it appears even better.
Billed as $69.99 every 36 months
Billed as $59.76 every 24 months
Surfshark does force you to go from monthly straight to two years.
Payment methods include Credit cards, crypto, Ali-pay, Dragon-pay, Ten-pay, and PayPal.
To make things better for users, there is a free trial for iOS, Android, and macOS. The service also comes with 30-day money-back guarantee users can use to test the VPN services on offer.
Surfshark is very secure and uses military-grade AES-256-GCM and SHA-512 encryption to protect data.
Protocols in use are the industry-standard OpenVPN and IKEv2, more advanced users may prefer more choice, but these are more than sufficient for most people’s needs.
Along with this is their DNS network, as well as built-in DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leak protection.
The Surfshark VPN uses its private DNS on each VPN server to reduce others’ spying on your online activities.
A handy double-hop feature can be used to bounce data through two servers before exiting the VPN network makes things even harder to trace back; this giving the ultimate privacy.
Another thing the company does to uphold user privacy is to have its system open for inspection.
The results can be seen through their “Warrant Canary.” Users can see if any government has approached the company and issued a subpoena or gag order to release user data.
The Warrant Canary for Surf shark is clean all the way through, and so far, they have received no national security letters, gag orders, or warrants from any agency.
There are plenty of VPN’s which claim they retain zero logs, but in reality, this is far from the case.
Surfshark follows in the steps of ExpressVPN and is based in the British Virgin Islands. Because this is under no 14-eyes jurisdiction, they are not obliged by anyone to retain logs.
If you dive into the FAQ pages, you will see that Surfshark claims they don’t keep any of the following: Incoming and outgoing IP addresses, browsing the history, downloads or purchase history, VPN servers connected to, bandwidth used, connection timestamps, or anything which relates to your network traffic.
If their FAQ is true, the only things they retain are your email address and billing information. That is very rare and impressive!
VPNs are built to retain anonymity and to be secure, but rarely will a provider appear willing to open its doors and allow an independent security audit.
Surfshark has gained plenty of credibility because they have done precisely this. Cure53 is a well-known web security firm who is the first choice for external audits of VPN’s.
They were asked to perform a security assessment of Surfshark’s browser extensions.
The results came back with two minor vulnerabilities marked as “low severity.”
These vulnerabilities were not even in the browser extensions, so the results returned; they were safe to use.
Although this was only on the extensions, it shows the company has faith in its services and what Surfshark offers its users.
Ease of Use
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Surfshark allows unlimited device connections for each account holder. This means there is more than enough connectivity for a home with multiple devices and users.
Although Surfshark has not been around for too long, it appears they have been very busy building client apps.
So far, they cover Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, Fire TV Stick. There is also support for Linux, Smart TV’s, game consoles and routers, all of which come with detailed installation guides.
Signing up for Surfshark is super easy. All you need to do is head to their web page and hit the red “Get Started” button.
You are on the plan page, and here you can change the currency you wish to pay in (AUD, CAD, CNY, EUR, GBP, and USD).
You then pick your plan and scroll down the page until you enter the second section, where you create your account by entering your email address.
From here, you choose your payment option and fill in your banking details.
You can then download the client installer, and you will receive your confirmation email with further details for your account.
This VPN has been designed to be as user-friendly as possible. Once you have an active account and downloaded the installer, it is time to run it.
As soon as the client app has been installed, it will ask if you wish to run the app, click yes, and it will open a box for you to add your login details.
Type your email address and password, and once the app opens, you can click a large green connect button. You will then be presented with a “Connection Secure” message.
The interface is clean and uncluttered, so it is straightforward to navigate around. It should be noted that some of the app’s features are not enabled by default; these can be quickly turned on by heading to the settings that are in the left-hand bar.
To make things super easy, some of the more common features are situated along the left-hand side. Here you will see your locations, CleanWeb, Whitelister, and Multi-hop.
When selecting a country to connect to, it may appear sparse, although it hides plenty of power. There are no favorites where you can save the best servers, but there is a recently used section.
The Android app comes with the same stripped-back interface, so you are looking at not much more than the “Connect” button and the Surfshark logo.
However, when tapping the icons toward the bottom of the screen, you can access most of Surfshark’s features.
Additionally, you can customize auto-connection rules by network, URL filtering, and the split tunneling feature that they call Whitelist.
Since the last look, the app has been updated and now comes with a killswitch, and you can change the protocols in use.
One feature specific to mobile devices is the option to “Use Small Packets,” this may help improve performance on some mobile networks.
Surfshark delivers many advanced features, which is remarkable for a new VPN service. There is smart Wi-Fi Protection where you can set what happens when you access a network.
The service can automatically connect every time or if only when the network is unknown. It can also ask what to do, or you can set it to take no action at all.
Surfshark comes with a useful kill switch; this, though, does need enabling, which you can easily do from the settings menu.
This disables internet access for any apps connecting until your VPN connection connects again.
The CleanWeb feature will block ads, trackers, and any malicious links. Although useful, during testing, it was still found that dedicated browser extensions were more effective and offered more control.
The Surfshark split tunneling feature is called Whitelister, and here you can select which apps go through the VPN and which ones travel via the regular ISP tunnel.
The No Borders feature aims to help users who are in strict countries (Surfshark now works in China); here, the VPN can be used in these restrictive regions.
To work alongside this is the “Camouflage” mode. This scrambles your traffic, so even local ISPs are unable to tell you are using a VPN service.
The Shark VPN has browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome. The Chrome extension will select the optimal server for your region as soon as you tap the icon in the corner of the screen and login.
At present, the way both the extensions work is as proxy services. They can secure your browser traffic, but don’t offer much more besides. For more security features, you will need to enable the client app.
Surfshark has a server location number that has risen to over 800, and they have this across 50+ countries. This is nowhere near as large as some VPN providers are, but some larger names cover fewer countries.
Although it may be a small network, they have covered some obscure locations, which makes things better for many more users. In the USA, you can change servers on a city level. This is an excellent help for streaming services.
When conducting speed tests, all the servers returned the IP address for their locations. However, there were a couple of ping tests, which were suggesting some servers might have other locations than advertised.
After running speed tests, it was found the download speeds for close and populated locations were well above average. UK’s performance was around 55-60 Mbps while the speeds around Europe were 40-50 Mbps.
Testing with US servers gave speeds of around 48-54 Mbps, and speeds for remote regions such as New Zealand and Australia were in the range of 30-40 Mbps. These are way above what many other competing VPNs offers or are capable of achieving. The speeds all over, including remote locations, should be fast enough to stream 4K videos.
One of the tests for any VPN service is the strength of their customer support. There are too many that rely on emails, and even then, they take an age to reply to. Surfshark starts strong, and already, they have 24/7 live chat support.
This feature is accessible from any page of their website and is brought by Zendesk, which is one of the major players in the chat scene.
This puts many well-known VPNs to shame, and it shows how serious this VPN provider is taking their operation.
It may be good to offer live chat, but customer service needs to expand quite a way beyond this, and at present, it can be seen to be one of Surfshark’s weaknesses.
While they include FAQ pages, detailed installation guides, and some helpful technical articles, these are not as in-depth as some and could do with expanding.
They cover the basics well, but there are times when users need much more than basic answers.
If customer service is one way to tell how good a VPN service is, then at the top of the list is bypassing geo-restrictions to access the US Netflix library.
The Surfshark website claims the service is ideal for bypassing these restrictions and streaming geo-blocked content.
While many companies claim this, in the case of this VPN, it’s true. This makes sense because Surfshark is still a small company compared to others, so they will be able to go underneath the Netflix radar.
While in testing, it was found that Surfshark could bypass restrictions in every region, including Japan, Canada, the UK, and the USA.
It was able to access everyone. This is a great start, but as they gain more popularity, they may, at some point, be caught out.
However, they are starting in the right way, and again, they put many other larger VPNs to shame by bypassing the Netflix test. They use Netflix access as one of their main selling points.
During testing, we did run a few other streaming service tests to make sure it wasn’t only this service that was allowing access.
YouTube was easily accessed, as was Hulu and a few others. One final test was with the BBC iPlayer, and it was good to find that this was easily accessed.
Torrenting on a few VPNs isn’t allowed, but for Surfshark, this isn’t the case, and they openly accept users to torrent through their servers.
With good speeds and no leaks of any kind, it is a secure option for torrenting.
With no discrimination against P2P file sharing, Surfshark makes a point that torrenters are more than welcome.
Our VPN review saw Surfshark deliver great performance and high levels of security. It comes with enough features that will satisfy most users in all areas. It is, however, still young and very much a work in progress.
Some things can change, but the company is heading in the right direction. This being said, it will be the way they cope with upcoming challenges to unblock Netflix to see how good they are in the future.
As it stands, they offer a very cost-effective service, which is better than many other seasoned VPN providers.