Surfshark VPN Review

surfshark review

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VPN services will give you exactly what you pay for. And when we looked at the thoroughly low prices of the Surfshark VPN (you can get it for only $2.49/month), we felt a bit frustrated with how good it can really be. Moreover, Surfshark appeared only several years ago, so, it’s understandable if you have doubts about its quality and security.

To find out whether it is as good as people say, we tested all aspects of its work. We checked the connection speed, security level, server locations, compatibility with various platforms, etc. We also looked into Surfshark’s privacy policy and tested the quality of customer technical support.

To tell the truth, the service impressed us, despite the fact that it wasn’t perfect. The provider offers a huge selection of premium features. However, some of them have minor flaws. While we would like to have better stability, we could not ignore its extremely low price.
So, let’s see what we liked and what we didn’t like about Surfshark VPN.

Pros

  • Great privacy and strict no-log policy
  • A bunch of security features
  • Attractive prices, a lot of available payment options, and a full refund within 30 days
  • Unlimited number of connected devices
  • Working on any device and ease of use
  • Variety of supported streaming services and torrent networks
  • Extensive server infrastructure
  • Ability to work in almost any censored country
  • Fast and informative technical support

Cons

  • Slow connection speed
  • Feature-limited browser extensions

Surfshark

2. What We Liked About Surfshark VPN

2.1 Great privacy and strict no-log policy

Surfshark does not store your IP address, browsing history, session data, or any other data by which you can be identified. I have been pleasantly impressed with the accessibility of the service’s privacy policy. Each article has a summary of the most important information, in simple and easy-to-understand words. I can’t help but respect this dedication to transparency and the willingness to go the extra mile to make sure that users understand the ins and outs.

To be sure that the service works following the strict privacy standards, we looked into Surfshark’s privacy policy. We liked that it is written in accessible and understandable language. What did we find out?

Surfshark does collect and store (in encrypted form) your email address and password, as well as the basic payment information needed to create an account. If you do not like this idea, you can sign up with an anonymous email address and use anonymous payment methods like cryptocurrency, for example. This will help you to use the service without sharing any personal information.

Surfshark also collects diagnostic reports and anonymous analytics on how you use the app. However, you can opt out of this with a few clicks. Data about your location is collected when you use the Auto-Connect feature, but Surfshark does not share this information with third parties.

Finally, the service collects data on how you use the Surfshark website. This includes anonymous analytics related to traffic, cookies, and web beacons. At the same time, we were surprised that Surfshark’s privacy policy includes information on how to disable these features.

The British Virgin Islands jurisdiction

Currently, the service is operated by two companies: Surfshark Ltd. and Surfshark B.V. The first one is established in the British Virgin Islands, and the second one, in the Netherlands. If you subscribed to the service before October 1, 2021, you contract with Surfshark Ltd. and if you subscribed after this date, with Surfshark B.V.

No matter which company you have contracted, they both are governed by the laws of the British Virgin Islands. This is an ideal location for any VPN service as this country has no laws that require Internet platforms to keep their customers’ data.

In addition, the British Virgin Islands are also not part of any of the intelligence alliances. So, they do not have to share data with countries such as the United States, Canada, France, and Australia who can strictly monitor their citizens. Therefore, no government will force Surfshark to start collecting its customers’ data and sharing it with third parties.

Warrant Canary

This page allows you to find out whether the Surfshark team has received a court order to share user data. The more transparent a company is, the more it can be trusted. Therefore, it’s great that Surfshark does not hide this information. The Surfshark team updates this page daily, so you will always be aware of whether anyone wanted your data.
However, the service follows the strict no-logging policy. So, they simply have no data to share with anyone.

2.2 A bunch of security features

surfshark features

Military-grade encryption. The service uses industry-standard AES-256 encryption, which is virtually impossible to break. This is the same level of encryption that governments and the military use to protect their sensitive information.

RAM-only servers. The Surfshark server network is based entirely on servers without hard drives. So, all the data is automatically deleted when the servers are shut down or rebooted. This feature allows preventing data leaks.

Four security protocols to protect your online activity. While IKEv2 and OpenVPN are standard options, Surfshark supports the WireGuard protocol in applications for all major operating systems. The Shadowsocks protocol is especially useful for people living or using the service in countries with strict internet censorship.

MultiHop servers for dual VPN connections. The MultiHop feature encrypts your data twice, routing it through two servers instead of one. This extra layer of protection makes it even harder for attackers to trace your true location. However, while MultiHop servers are secure, they may reduce your connection speed.

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Whitelister/Split Tunneling. Split tunneling is a useful feature that allows you to choose which sites and apps should bypass the VPN connection. In the Surfshark app, this feature is called Whitelister. We were pleased with how it works despite being only available on Windows and Android apps.

Kill Switch. Surfshark offers an emergency internet disconnect feature in all its official apps. If your VPN connection drops, the kill switch will block all internet traffic until you reconnect to the VPN server. Surfshark allows to manually enable/disable this feature in the app settings.

Camouflage Mode/Obfuscation. In this mode, the app masks your encrypted Internet traffic. As a result, the web platform doesn’t see that you’re using a VPN. It’s especially useful in countries where VPNs are limited or forbidden. This mode is enabled by default in every app that uses the OpenVPN protocol.

NoBorders. The technology automatically detects restrictions applied to your network and analyzes which servers are best suited to your situation.

GPS spoofing on Android. The app automatically updates your location data on your device to match the location of the server you’re connected to.

Invisibility to other devices (Windows and Android). This feature will allow you to become invisible to other devices on your local area network (LAN). Although this can be set up manually on most operating systems, the process will usually take a long time and will consist of several steps. With Surfshark, it will take you less than 30 seconds.

CleanWeb. This feature blocks ads, malware, and trackers. When we tested the future, it successfully blocked all ads and alerted us of any fraudulent attempts. We were able to watch videos and read the news without interruptions, as well as safely browse files on torrent trackers.

Two-factor authentication. Enable this feature to reduce the risk of your account being hacked.

HackLock. The feature will alert you when your email addresses or passwords are in a leaked database. The service costs $0.99 per month.

BlindSearch. The BlindSearch feature is available when you get a HackLock subscription. It is an ad-free search engine that never saves your search history.

TrustDNS. This is a free app for iOS and Android devices. TrustDNS connects you to a public DNS server instead of the DNS server assigned by your ISP.

To test Surfshark’s built-in leak protection, we connected to random servers in different countries around the globe. For each connection, we run the leak test on IPLeak.net. We were pleased to see that no IPv4, IPv6, WebRTC or DNS leaks were detected on any servers tested.

Surfshark

2.3 Attractive prices, a lot of available payment options, and a full refund within 30 days

The best thing about the service is the affordable pricing. And it is among the cheapest VPN providers on the market.

1 month 6 months 24 months
$12.95 per month $6.49 per month $2.49 per month
Billed every month. Save 50%.

Billed $38.94 every 6 months

Save 81%. Billed $59.76 now, and annually after 24 months.

 

The longer your subscription is, the more favorable price you get. To get the lowest price, you have to buy a two-year plan. Anyway, this is even lower than some competitors provide in their three-years plans.

Surfshark accepts a lot of payment methods: credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover), PayPal, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple), and other regional methods. You can also get a subscription via Apple iTunes/App Store.

All plans provide you with the same set of features. Moreover, they are protected by a 30-day money-back guarantee. This is a great option to test the services and cancel the subscription if you didn’t like the service for any reason.

The company will refund you if you purchase any method except for iTunes, App Store, and Amazon. In this case, you will have to follow the refund policies of these services. Gift cards are also not refunded.

What we liked the most is that Surfshark refunds cryptocurrency payments. You will be refunded in dollars equivalent.

For testing, we contacted the support team via the 24/7 online chat to request a refund. The statement that Surfshark wasn’t right for us was enough for the refund to be approved the same minute. We received our money back after a few days.

Surfshark

2.4 Unlimited number of connected devices

surfshark unlimited devices

With a Surfshark subscription, you can connect any number of devices. This is one of the best things about Surfshark, if not the best.

Compared to most VPN services which limit the number of connected devices to 5-10, Surfshark can be very convenient for families with more devices in use.

2.5 Working on any device and ease of use

Surfshark works on all popular platforms and operating systems, so you can easily use the service on all your devices. Official apps are available for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and Amazon Fire Stick. Also, you can download extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. In addition, you can configure the VPN connection on smart TVs, game consoles, and routers.

Surfshark is a very convenient service. Its apps feature a clever and user-friendly design that won’t confuse even the complete novice. Applications for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android work almost identically, which is very convenient if you use devices on different platforms.

We tested the apps on Windows and Android, as well as the Microsoft Edge extension. Let’s look at them in more detail.

Windows

After the launch, you can create an account or log in with your existing one. Then, you’ll see the welcoming information and basic settings.

surfshark windows

surfshark windows connect

On the home screen, there is basic information about your connection and the recently used locations. This info is on the right side. There are also three quick-connect options here. On the left, you’ll find four additional tabs: Antivirus, Alert, Search, and Settings.

surfshark windows interface

All the locations are divided into three groups: regular services, static IP, and MultiHop. Virtual servers are marked with V. You can also check the server latency and load. If you have any questions about this section, tap on the info button to read the explanations.

surfshark windows countries

surfshark windows countries-1

surfshark windows settings

The Settings area includes three sections: My Account, General, and Support. The My Account section displays the information about your account: email, password, validity term.

In the General section, you can change and configure any app parameter: interface language, connectivity options, security protocols and features, and other advanced tools.

surfshark windows account settings

surfshark windows account settings-1

surfshark windows account settings-3

In the Help tab, you can read guides, access the 24/7 online chat, and report a bug.

surfshark windows troubleshooting

When you select the server, the app will display your new IP address, location, connection time, and transferred data. The app will notify you about the established connection.

surfshark windows connect

Android

There are two ways to install an Android application: Play Market or APK file on the Surfshark website. The interface is very similar to Windows and other platforms.

After the launch, you can create an account or log in with your existing one. After doing this, you’ll see the welcoming information and basic settings.

On the home screen, there is basic information about your connection and the recently used locations. There are three quick-connect options. Also, there are three additional tabs: Locations, One, and Settings.

surfshark android connect

In the Locations tab, all the locations are divided into three groups, like in Windows: regular services, static IP, and MultiHop. Virtual servers are marked with a V. You can also check the server latency and load. If you have any questions about this section, tap on the info button to read the explanations.

surfshark android countries

surfshark android countries-2

surfshark android countries-3

surfshark android countries-4

In the One section, you can read additional information about the service, including VPN, Antivirus, Search, and Alert.

The Settings section includes three tabs: Settings, Account, and Help. The first one allows configuring the app, connection, and advanced features.

The Account tab displays the information about your account: email, password, validity term. Here, you can also connect to other devices. In the Help tab, you can read guides, access the 24/7 online chat, and report a bug.

surfshark android settings

surfshark android settings

In the settings, you can change and configure any app parameter: interface language, connectivity options, security protocols, and features, etc. It’s a great advantage over many other VPNs.

surfshark android application settings

surfshark android connectivity

surfshark android reporting

surfshark android advanced settings

When you select the server, the app will display your new IP address, location, connection time, and transferred data.

surfshark edge connected

Edge

The Microsoft Edge extension is basically the same and looks similar to the VPN app. To start using the service, you have to enter your email and password, or can create a new account.

In the menu, you can select the location and apply basic settings. We’d say that it is still better to use an extension with an installed app.

surfshark edge start screensurfshark edge locationssurfshark edge settingssurfshark edge connect

Other platforms

Surfshark has official applications for Linux (Ubuntu and Debian), Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android TV. Unfortunately, the service does not offer applications for routers. However, you can manually install Surfshark on any OpenVPN or L2TP compatible router.

Browser extensions will encrypt your browser traffic and hide your real IP address. However, all of your activity outside of your browser will remain unencrypted. Because of this, we recommend always running the Surfshark VPN app before using a browser extension.

For game consoles, the service offers Smart DNS technology. This doesn’t encrypt your data like a VPN, but it can change the virtual location of your device. Don’t forget that Smart DNS only unlocks the US content.

Conclusion

All the apps and extensions have a similar interface and set of features. You no longer have to spend time getting used to four different apps if you use different devices. If you have some questions, read the extensive knowledge base or contact the support team.

Surfshark

2.6 Variety of supported streaming services and torrent networks

Surfshark is a great VPN for unblocking streaming sites around the world. It gives access to popular services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, and HBO Max without problems.

We were also able to unblock BBC iPlayer, ZDF, Canal+, ABC Australia, and CBC Canada. Although some servers did not work at the first attempt, we never had to change servers more than twice to successfully establish a connection.

As for P2P networks, the service does not reduce the connection speed when you download torrent files.

surfshark torrents

2.7 Extensive server infrastructure

surfshark servers

Surfshark counts more than 3,200 servers in 65 locations. In other words, you can access local and international websites from anywhere in the world.

While Surfshark does not have the largest server network, it is good enough for a premium VPN. Although the service cannot compete with some other VPNs with bigger infrastructure, Surfshark is ahead of many other services.

Most of Surfshark servers are in the U.S. That is good because this is the country with the most popular streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. Other countries with more servers include the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, and India. So, you can always find a server close to you, no matter where you are.

While all Surfshark servers are physical, some of the regions are virtual. For example, if you want to connect via Albania or Chile, you’ll get a local IP, but the server that will maintain the connection can be in Germany or Colombia. This doesn’t affect speed or privacy but be aware that if you use one of the virtual regions, you might see the site you want in an unexpected language.

Some servers provide you with the local IP address. This option is useful for those who don’t want to pass CAPTCHA checks to verify identity to access. Surfshark offers static IP servers in 5 locations: Japan, Singapore, Germany, the USA, and Britain.

Also, the entire server network supports the P2P protocol. You can safely download torrent files.

2.8 Ability to work in almost any censored country

Some countries have strict censorship rules. The list includes China, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Turkmenistan, Ethiopia, etc. Visiting these countries or living there means that you cannot access some popular international services like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and many others.
The company promises that in most cases, you can access the censored resources using the Surfshark app. If for any reason the connection fails, you can try manual configuration. The support team will help you with that.

2.9 Fast and informative technical support

surfshark support

The technical support is available in the form of a help center, online chat, email support, and ticket system.

The Surfshark Online Help Center is full of useful information, including explanations of how the service works, how-to guides, detailed tutorials, and a decent section with popular questions. Despite being quite detailed, instructions are not overly complicated.

If you can’t find the answers on the website, Surfshark can help you in the 24/7 online chat. You can also use the ticket system or send your question by email.

We tested the ticket system and online chat. The team replied quickly and the answers were friendly and informative. In the online chat, they replied in a few seconds, and via the ticket system, it took them several hours. We are completely satisfied with the work of the support team.

Surfshark

3. What We Didn’t Like About Surfshark VPN

3.1 Slow connection speed

High connection speed is one of the most prominent features of any VPN service. Is Surfshark good when it comes to connection speed? We wouldn’t say so. We connected to servers in different locations around the globe and run the speed test on Speedtest.net by Ookla. What did we find out? Here are the speed results.

  Ping, ms Download, Mbps Upload, Mbps
Direct 13 60.51 60.71
Regular servers
Albania 52 43.76 3.22
Belgium, Brussels 53 18.53 3.36
Cyprus 106 15.95 2.34
France, Bordeaux 80 16.46 2.60
Georgia 256 12.01 1.82
Germany, Frankfurt 47 11.90 3.16
Iceland 99 9.41 2.06
Slovakia 64 5.14 4.21
Spain, Valencia 85 9.71 1.98
Sweden 97 7.42 2.04
Turkey 91 10.65 2.00
UK, London 56 8.43 2.97
US, Boston 207 8.54 0.70
US, Atlanta 155 11.32 1.74
US, Denver 179 11.09 1.27
US, San Francisco 277 3.54 0.34
US, Chicago 156 10.98 1.51
US, Seattle 213 23.08 0.92
Canada, Vancouver 212 21.20 0.76
Argentina 406 14.73 0.91
Brazil 268 15.50 0.53
Costa Rica 321 15.01 0.50
Australia, Brisbane 344 12.05 0.13
New Zealand 338 15.01 0.35
Hong Kong 238 12.14 0.82
Indonesia 199 14.03 0.37
Thailand 234 5.06 0.72
Japan 299 14.40 0.60
Kazakhstan 80 11.52 0.37
India, Chennai 234 10.11 1.32
UAE 159 23.07 0.32
Israel 571 1.25 0.51
Nigeria 148 18.97 1.43
South Africa 214 16.94 0.83
Static IP servers
Germany, Frankfurt #3 97 2.15 1.46
Japan, Tokyo #12 290 5.44 0.61
Singapore #1 219 11.58 0.43
UK, London #4 91 6.44 2.14
US, New York, #2 134 29.13 1.53
MultiHop servers
US > Portugal 385 16.16 0.43
Netherlands > US 157 18.71 0.98
France > Sweden 352 0.39 0.14

Generally speaking, Surfshark is a slow VPN. We were especially frustrated by upload speeds. These are much lower than the download ones, and in many cases, they didn’t exceed 1 Mbps. Not good at all in 2021. This means that this service will definitely not be comfortable for video calls. At the same time, download speeds were quite comfortable for browsing and even streaming in HD.

3.2 Feature-limited browser extensions

If you plan to use the browser extensions, you will lack the full set of available features. Thus, you will not be able to change the protocol, kill switch, and other security tools. We advise installing a standalone application for a better user experience.

4. Surfshark VPN Review Conclusion

Surfshark is a convenient, reliable, and functional VPN service that can help to access censored content from anywhere in the world. It will provide you with everything you can expect from a premium VPN service: many advanced security features, an extensive server network, the ability to bypass any restrictions, and a strict no-log policy. They also provide impressive high-quality technical support.

However, the connection speed is not the strongest point of this VPN. We expected a much better result.

Surfshark

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