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Surfshark VPN Review — Updated November 2020
Surfshark is still a relatively young VPN. However, this is not a big deal because new VPN providers come and go each month, but Surfshark has ridden its first wave out. Back in October 2019, Surfshark celebrated its first anniversary and has grown extensively since it first launched.
Surfshark headquarters currently reside in the British Virgin Islands, just west of Puerto Rico. Technically the British Virgin Islands is a colony of the United Kingdom, even though their laws and courts are much different.
When it comes down to privacy, the British Virgin Islands are do not require companies to keep electronic data, which is a big bonus for VPN services. Surfshark offers excellent customer service and terrific features. We believe that they can give any of their top competitors a run for their money.
Privacy and Security Features
We performed a complete review of Surfshark’s VPN service. We dove into their pros, cons, and pricing, and compiled the best-use scenarios for Surfshark VPN. Join us as we outline our findings in this Surfshark review. Let’s get into it!
A common complaint with VPNs is connection speeds. Since the information is transmitted through the VPN tunnel before it hits the server, there may be a speed loss. This occurs in all VPNs. However, many VPNs incorporate software to reduce this drop in speed.
Surfshark does a relatively good job of providing high speeds. Connection times are similar to what you would experience without a VPN if you connect to servers in nearby regions. Some users report experiencing slower speeds when connected to servers located in other parts of the world. While testing US upload rates on our 70Mbps test-line, Surfshark came in averaging 63Mbps — That’s pretty good!
Surfshark offers unlimited data, allowing you to use up as much data as you need. Unlimited data usage is excellent for P2P downloading. Using Surfshark OpenVPN involves installing software files on each of its servers. This is perfect for those who prefer to set up custom VPN settings.
Surfshark currently has over 1,000 servers spanning 60+ countries. Their servers are placed strategically around the globe to provide the fastest server speeds possible. These include North America and Europe, along with some in the Middle East, Africa, Oceania and more.
On average, most VPN services boast around 3,000 servers, so Surfshark does fall a little short in this category. However, as mentioned, the strategic placement of their servers allows them to provide competitive speeds, despite fewer servers. This said, Surfshark has only been in existence for a little over a year, so you can expect them to add more servers as their user base expands.
3. Tons of Apps and Platforms
Like any good VPN company, Surfshark offers applications for a wide range of operating systems. We should also mention that Surfshark offers router compatibility with select routers. You can use it with OpenVPN setup files, and there’s a long list of supported devices. Installing a VPN on a router can be a difficult and challenging task for some people. However, it can be incredibly easy with a useful guide. Installing a VPN on your router is well worth it, enabling you to protect all the devices logged onto your router at once.
What this means is that even if Surfshark is legally required to hand over data, there would be no way to identify a particular user from the data. The only information stored would be your email, and if you paid with an anonymous payment method, there would be no trace to you whatsoever.
One of the many reasons why people use VPNs, such as Surfshark, is to unblock streaming services. Surfshark will bypass geo-location restrictions on streaming services such as Netflix, Kodi, and others. This allows you to watch specific TV shows that are only permitted in another country. Although, companies such as Netflix have been able to stop some VPNs, the best VPN services have found a way to bypass it. Surfshark is among one of the few that allow their users to stream Netflix seamlessly.
Not only does Surfshark allow you to watch Netflix, but they also allow you to stream other services such as Hulu and BBC iPlayer. Keep in mind that this could change. These streaming services make a living from restricting content, so they will continue to implement new geo-restrictions. There is no guarantee that Surfshark or any other VPNs will be able to continue outmaneuvering these companies.
As previously mentioned, Surfshark does not keep track of logs, which is essential if you plan to download torrented files. This allows you to stay anonymous online. For the most part, everyone knows the penalties for torrenting, and some countries are more strict than others. Some countries ban it altogether, and others enforce significant fines if you are caught sharing torrented files or using p2p protocol.
Surfshark, however, is torrent-friendly. They do allow torrenting in their ToS, so you won’t be breaking any rules while using their services. Downloading torrents is simple, connect to any server and launch the torrent client of your choice. We’re not necessarily saying we endorse torrenting; only that Surfshark does allow for this.
Surfshark has a nifty little feature known as the kill switch, most VPNs use it, but it’s disabled by default, and you may have to turn it on within your client. A kill switch is especially useful if you are using your VPN primarily for torrenting. The kill switch works by disabling your internet connection momentarily when your VPN connection drops; this will block any data transfer without the VPN being active. The kill switch ensures that your privacy is safe and secure even when your VPN is momentarily disabled.
8. No DNS or IP Leaks
Surfshark includes all of the essential security features that we like to see included in a VPN. These features are DNS leak protection and automatic kill switches. With Surfshark, even if your VPN connection drops, they still keep your data protected with these features.
Surfshark also has more advanced protection features like MultiHop, which is Surfshark’s version of DoubleVPN. MultiHop gives you two layers of protection by sending your traffic through two encrypted servers before it reaches its final destination. Surfshark’s CleanWeb features keep you protected from tracking, malware, and phishing attempts.
Camouflage Mode utilizes obfuscated servers, which can bypass network firewalls and other internet blocks. This is especially ideal for users residing in a country with restricted internet access. This stops your Internet service provider from monitoring any of your activities. Camouflage mode works only on OpenVPN apps such as Windows Android iOS.
Surfshark takes its customers’ security and privacy very seriously. To put their VPN to the test, they hired a well-known cybersecurity firm, Cure53, to perform an independent security audit of their VPN.
Although some doubt that Surfshark’s security claims are valid, performing an independent audit goes to show that they take their security very seriously. Cure53’s public audit was extremely positive, discovering only two minimal issues with Surfshark that they did not consider to be all that important.
9. User-Friendly Interface
Surfshark’s apps and browser extensions are easy to use. Each of them has a clean and simplistic design that anyone can navigate.
Installation is also swift and straightforward. To set up a new device, you’ll have to enter your login details. Surfshark’s quick-connect option makes it simple for you to connect to a fast server, or you can select a server location manually with just a single click. There are other useful, more advanced features that will enhance your browsing experience, including adblocker. Advanced features are labelled visibly, and you can access them easily in the settings menu.
10. Compatible with TOR
VPNs are an essential security feature, and when used properly, are an invaluable tool. When using a VPN service with your TorBrowser, you become virtually unstoppable online.
Tor stands for The Onion Router, and it keeps your internet traffic anonymous by sending it through an extensive network of servers. These servers are known as nodes. This gives you total privacy and lets you visit websites that may be blocked in your specific region.
Although Tor gives you pretty decent protection, it’s not perfect. Some hackers can use compromised nodes designed to steal your data. This is where combining Tor with your VPN gives you an additional layer of security.
11. Fast and Knowledgable Customer Support
If you encounter any issues or questions about Surfshark, the best place to begin is Surfshark’s website. You’ll be welcomed by Surfshark’s live-chat option on the bottom-right corner of your screen. There is a real support rep designated to assist you 24/7. You will not have to wait for more than a couple of minutes. When testing, we found them to respond within two or three minutes. We have gathered a bullet-point list of all the ways you can contact Surfshark’s customer support below.
- Live Chat Support: As we mentioned above, you can benefit from Surfshark’s live support chat. Upon contacting them by live chat on multiple occasions, they were able to resolve any issues we encountered quickly.
- Setup Guides: Surfshark’s support center incorporates tutorials about how to install their application on your device. Although we are sure you will not encounter issues while installing and running this VPN on your phone, you may need these guides for installing Surfshark on your router.
- FAQs: Surfshark’s FAQ section isn’t as deep as we expected, although it did answer some of our general technical questions in detail.
- Support Tickets: Lastly, the most reliable way of receiving help from Surfshark is using their Support ticket system. You can do this by filling out a form found on their website. This allows you to outline your problem or inquiry in great detail and wait for their professional support team to respond to your question.
Ultimately, Surfshark has done an exceptional job of giving its customers a fast and reliable support system. And we are confident that they will answer your questions with a quick and detailed response.
12. Military-Grade Encryption
Privacy protection and security are where Surfshark shines. Surfshark utilizes military-grade AES 256 bit-key encryption. This allows you to surf the internet with complete confidence that your information is secure. They allow you to choose from a variety of security protocols, including IKEv2 and OpenVPN. These features are further bolstered by Surfshark’s MultiHop (DoubleVPN), which sends your server through multiple servers before reaching its final destination.
Disadvantages of Surfshark
We found no significant drawbacks to Surfshark, and still highly recommend them. However, this review would not be conclusive without a list of Surfshark’s disadvantage. These drawbacks are considered to be minor and do not negatively impact the quality of Surfshark’s VPN.
1. Server Speeds Can Vary by Location
When testing Surfshark, we did experience varied server speeds, depending on which server we used. For the most part, this was because we were testing servers that were halfway around the world, and speed decreases were expected. This said, we did experience decreased speeds on some US servers. It should be noted that the VPN speed did not slow down drastically, but it did drop off enough for us to notice while streaming in UltraHD.
2. 1-Month Subscription is Expensive
Surfshark is not one of the cheapest VPNs on the market, and rightly so. They have lots of features to make their VPN worthwhile. We consider Surfshark’s monthly plan to be fair, considering the quality of their VPN and added security features. This price becomes even more of a deal when you consider their discounts for new users. We would recommend you opt for their 12 or 24-month plans for the most substantial savings. You can always take advantage of Surfshark’s 30-day money-back guarantee if you are unsatisfied with their services.
Surfshark currently offers three subscription plans.
These plans include the same benefits, which is fantastic. But you won’t get any discount with your monthly plan. And even we have to admit it is pretty expensive. We recommend subscribing to their two-year plan for an 83% discount. One of the best features of this VPN is that it offers unlimited devices with each plan. You can protect all of your devices in your house with one VPN subscription. Apart from Surfshark, the highest multi-login VPNs that we have reviewed thus far have offered five devices.
Surfshark offers a variety of payment methods, including PayPal, credit card and cryptocurrencies. If you want to remain anonymous, Surfshark is perfectly OK with that. Surfshark currently does not provide its customers with a free trial, but you can use it risk-free for 30 days. We don’t believe that our review does justice to this fantastic VPN service, and we recommend that you try it out for yourself.
Do we Recommend Surfshark?
Yes, we definietly recommend Surfshark! Surfshark is an excellent VPN service, and we definitely recommend them. They keep no logs of your data, offer fast speeds, and give their users best-in-class protection with no IP leaks, and an independent audit to back it up.
They also offer unlimited simultaneous connections, fast and knowledgeable support and a variety of extras such as multihop, clean web, and wifi-connect. None of these are features that their competitors wouldn’t have, but they have grown their service to great heights in such a short amount of time.
They have a large assortment of servers, which is excellent, but better than that, each of these servers are secure bare-metal servers, which is fantastic.
Overall, Surfshark is an excellent company that puts its customers’ privacy and security at the forefront of its priorities.
Is Surfshark Compatible with Netflix?
Yes! Surfshark has no problems unblocking Netflix. This is a pretty significant feat, considering that many of their competitors lost their capability to unblock the streaming service. This is because Netflix has rolled out a VPN ban that affected multiple VPN services. Netflix is legally obligated to obey licensing agreements within each region that it is available in, and has begun to crack down on VPNs by blocking them whenever they are exposed.
Will Surfshark Work with my Router?
It depends. Surfshark currently only works with routers that run open-source firmware. This includes DD-WRT and Tomato. The only other stock routers that Surfshark supports is AsusWRT.
Does Surfshark Offer a Free Trial?
Yes! Surfshark does offer a free trial for mobile users. This is available when you download their app from the Apple or Google Play stores. Another way you can test out the full capacity of Surfshark’s VPN is by taking advantage of their 30-day money-back guarantee. When you purchase their VPN, you have 30 days to decide whether you are happy with the service. If at any point you are dissatisfied, you can request a full refund — no questions asked!