Surfshark Review – Affordable and Packed with Features
Preceded by its reputation of being one of the most budget-friendly VPNs on the market, Surfshark brings to the table much more than just sheer affordability. The service itself claims to be the best all-rounder on the market. And, at first glance, these claims are far from unfounded. The VPN works excellent for streaming, torrenting and is loaded with great privacy and security features. On top of this, they offer a massive network of over 3,200 servers, each secured with private DNS.
However, its remarkably cheap price point comes into the foreground only if you decide to commit to their two-year plan. This prompted us to go more in-depth and assess every aspect of this VPN service. To help you determine whether or not Surfshark is worth your subscription, we’ve researched everything from supported protocols to security and privacy features and much more. Here are the results of our comprehensive Surfshark review.
TL; DR – Table Overview of Crucial Surfshark Features
- Very affordable long-term subscription plan
- Full of great features (NoBorders, Whitelister, Kill-switch, Multi-hop, etc.)
- Intuitive and easy-to-use apps
- Reliable and stable network speeds
- Excellent customer support
- Independent audit conducted only for browser extensions
- Expensive short-term subscription
How Fast is Surfshark? – Speed and Performance Test
Surfshark is known for providing above-average speeds suitable for all online activities. More importantly, their speeds are consistent, stable, and reliable. From our subjective standpoint, the first noticeable thing that popped up was how intuitively all of their apps are designed.
When you open up any app and want to connect to Surfshark, you’ll have plenty of options to pick from. The app allows you to browse an A-Z list of Surfshark’s locations or use the search bar to find the desired server quickly. Besides this, there are a few user-friendly quick-select settings such as “Fastest server”, “Nearest server”, “Static IP”, and “MultiHop”. Rest assured, we’ve extensively tested each of these options to bring you detailed and accurate performance results.
To ensure our tests are uncompromised by any outside factors when testing Surfshark’s speed and performance, we used a dedicated network suitable for 1-2 users. Before examining the VPN’s speed, we ran a couple of tests of our connection to establish a baseline value we can use to compare the results. Here’s how our network performs without Surfshark:
After establishing a base speed of our network, the first thing we tested was Surfshark’s automatic “Fastest server” location speed:
Afterward, we tested how Surfshark performs when we select the “Nearest country” recommended location:
Following this, we also wanted to try out Surfshark’s MultiHop server performance. Here’s how Surfshark performed when running our connection through two VPN servers:
Lastly, we manually selected a server located on the other side of the globe. Here’s how Surfsark executes remote server connections:
Even when we ran our network connection through two Surfshark VPN servers, the network was still very usable. Not only this, but the upload speed didn’t even budge a bit. After several dozen speed tests in total, we were very pleased to see how fast and stable Surfshark across the board. It performed well on every test and proved to be an excellent service for both local and remote server connections.
Surfshark Servers – Locations and Availability
Looking at numbers alone, Surfshark falls somewhere in the middle range of the VPN market, with around 3200 servers in 65 countries worldwide. But, aside from the numbers alone, Surfshark can boast a top-quality server network. This is because all of their servers are equal to each other.
Regardless of which Surfshark server you choose to connect to, you can always expect the same level of service. Each server is secured by private DNS and supports P2P activities. Moreover, each server also offers extension support and works with OpenVPN and IPSec/IKEv2.
In 2020, Surfshark became one of the first providers to completely switch its infrastructure to a diskless server network that runs only on RAM. Although this isn’t the information that many VPN users pay attention to, it’s a crucial aspect of maintaining complete online privacy. Running all servers on RAM means that any information on the server itself is wiped every time it’s turned off.
Lastly, we should note that Surfshark also includes a handful of virtual servers. Fortunately, if you prefer to avoid such servers, you can do it without any inconveniences, as the vast majority of their servers are exclusively physical ones.
Is Surfshark Safe? – Analysis of their Security Features
Yes, Surfshark offers all of the necessary tools and features to provide you with a safe VPN experience. If you want to find out in more detail about each security trait their apps come with, here’s a rundown of all Surfshark safety features:
- Camouflage Mode – Their Camouflage Mode is a traffic obfuscation feature used to mask your VPN traffic into normal traffic. You can use it to eliminate any VPN traces on your network and protect against sites and services that block standard VPN ports.
- Private DNS on Each Server – This VPN offers private DNS on each server. This allows for even better privacy protection, as ISPs won’t have any records of your DNS requests when using this VPN.
- CleanWeb – Surfshark’s CleanWeb blocks all malware and ads before they can load. It protects you against phishing attempts and protects your data while ensuring better browsing speeds.
- Multi-hop – Similar to NordVPN’s “Double VPN” feature, Surfshark’s Multi-hop routes your connection through two different VPN servers. This helps add an extra layer of security by protecting your traffic and private data even more reliably.
- Whitelister – Surfshark’s exciting take on the classic split-tunneling feature, the Whitelister supports both split tunneling and inverse split tunneling. It allows you to choose apps, URLs, or IPs to bypass a VPN or only to use with a VPN.
- Kill-switch – Available on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, Surfshark’s kill-switch protects your identity by cutting off your network in case of any sudden connection drops.
- NoBorders Mode – This is Surfshark’s proprietary solution for bypassing severe network restrictions. You can use the NoBorders mode on Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS to unblock streaming sites and censored platforms more efficiently.
While not a feature you can tailor on its own, it’s worth mentioning that Surfshark also offers top-notch encryption. Their network connections are protected by AES-GCM-256, combined with perfect forward secrecy and asymmetric authentication.
Does Surfshark Log User Data?
No, Surfshark does not collect or log any user data. In this regard, they don’t obtain any information regarding your IP address, the VPN servers you use, network traffic, browsing, downloading, or purchasing history. The only data this VPN keeps a record of are the user’s email address and information regarding billing.
The company had also undergone an audit from the renowned Cure53 back in 2018. However, this audit only covered their browser extensions and left a lot to be desired in all other apps.
Although this is a good step towards ensuring full transparency, we’re still missing a complete audit of all of their apps three years later. This is something we’d like to see in the near future, as it would help solidify this VPN’s reputation as one of the more trustworthy options on the market.
Surfshark Available Protocols
VPN protocols are necessary rules used to set a connection between the VPN service and the end-user. The above-featured screenshot taken from their Windows app shows all of this VPN’s available protocols. With that said, let’s take a closer look at each of the Surfshark supported protocols:
- IKEv2 – Suitable if you’re going for speed over security, this protocol is at its best when you’re using it on local and nearby servers. Surfshark supports IKEv2 on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Fire TV applications.
- OpenVPN (TCP vs. UDP) – Surfshark supports both TCP and UDP when it comes to OpenVPN. If you’re looking for a fast and secure protocol, especially for long-distance connections, this is the best option to go with when using Surfshark. OpenVPN is available on macOS, Android, Windows, iOS, Fire TV, and Linux Surfshark applications.
- WireGuard – Simpler than OpenVPN, this protocol has become a popular feature among many top VPNs on the market, including Surfshark. It works on only 4,000 lines of code and is easier to manage. Wireguard is available on Surfshark apps for Windows, Android, iOS, and macOS.
- Shadowsocks – Designed to be used in heavily-censored and authoritarian countries, this VPN protocol isn’t the best all-around option, as it only covers your browser traffic when using it on Surfshark apps. That said, it’s the perfect option if you want to bypass strong restrictions, such as the Great Firewall of China. Shadowsocks is available only on Android and Windows apps.
As you can see from the screenshot above, the default setting on their apps is “Automatic”, which allows the VPN to select the best protocol for you automatically. Although there’s no checking when which protocol this is when connected, the default is usually OpenVPN or Wireguard.
How Reliable is Surfshark for Streaming?
Surfshark is one of the best VPNs for those looking to stream reliably. It can access any Netflix library you choose and is fast enough to support stable streaming in Full HD. We’ve tried loading up content in the US, the UK, Australia, and Japan, and this VPN worked without a hitch on each server.
Not only this, but our tests also found that Surfshark can go around any geo-block we throw at it. After testing Surfshark on HBO GO, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, the BBC iPlayer, and Disney+, we found that this VPN had no problems accessing each of these sites on every try.
All of this is mainly possible thanks to Surfshark’s NoBorders Mode and Camouflage Mode, which are designed to work on even the most stringent streaming platforms. Moreover, their CleanWeb setting allows you to block any annoying midroll ads and enjoy advertizer-free content. Overall, Surfshark can stand up to the top VPNs on the market in terms of its streaming capabilities.
Surfshark P2P Support – Can You Torrent Using this VPN?
If you’re looking for a reliable VPN for torrenting, Surfshark is one of the best options on the market. What makes Surfshark the ideal VPN for torrenting and P2P file sharing is that all servers support P2P activities. Unlike most VPNs on the market, which only support P2P file sharing on specific servers, Surfshark provides you with the great convenience of torrenting on any server of your choice.
But, to see just how well Surfshark works for torrenting, we wanted to test it first-hand. We conducted the same procedure as when testing their speed. First, we downloaded a file without a VPN to determine our base network’s P2P performance. Here’s how it fared:
After downloading the file without a VPN, we connected to Surfshark’s “Fastest server” option and downloaded the same file again. Here’s how Surfshark performed for torrenting:
Comparing the two images above, you can see a noticeable drop down in download speed. That said, it’s still very much functional, reaching close to 3/5s of our original download speed. However, it was surprising to see that Surfshark actually helped improve the upload speed by over 50 percent.
Unfortunately, Surfshak doesn’t offer a port forwarding feature as of yet. This is something they’ll hopefully look into adding in the near future, as it can significantly improve their status as a top VPN for torrenting.
How Expensive is Surfshark? – An Overview of Their Pricing Plans
Similar to most VPNs on the market, Surfshark offers three subscription plans. These are the monthly, 6-month, and 2-year subscription plans. Let’s take a close look at the price point of each Surfshark plan:
As you can see from the image, if you opt for a monthly subscription plan and go month-by-month, Surfshark ranks very high as one of the most expensive VPNs out there. However, the story is completely different for those who opt for their longest plan.
If you commit to 24 months right away, the service comes out less than two and a half bucks per month. This makes Surfshark one of the best-priced VPNs on the market, as no other VPN offers so many features at such a low subscription price.
If you decide to purchase a Surfshark subscription, you’ll be able to choose from over a dozen international and local payment providers, depending on your location. Some of the most convenient and popular payment solutions this VPN offers include credit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and crypto payments.
Can I try Surfshark for Free?
No, as of writing this Surfshark review, you can’t find any free trial offers for this VPN. That said, Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can essentially try out their service for free, without any risks. Keep in mind that if you bought Surfshark with a prepaid or gift card, or through iTunes, the App Store, or Amazon, you can’t get your money back.
Surfshark Apps and Extensions
As one of the most user-friendly and reliable VPN services on the market, Surfshark has created intuitive and streamlined apps for every major platform. After testing each one, we bring you a detailed overview of each Surfshark app and extension:
Surfshark for Windows
The Surfshark Windows app is extremely easy to use and is the most versatile Surfshark client than other apps. The Windows client allows you to tailor connectivity and advanced settings and personalize the app in a way that suits you the best. Surfshark’s Windows app works with Windows 7 or newer OS.
It can support speeds of up to 1Gbit and comes with all of the necessary features you would look for in a risk-free privacy app like this. The Windows app comes with all of the recognizable Surfshark features. This includes the Whitelister, CleanWeb, NoBorders, MultiHop, and a built-in kill-switch.
Surfshark for macOS
macOS devices are designed with speed and usability in mind, and Surfshark perfectly emphasizes these features. Created in a similar fashion as the Windows app, but more streamlined, the macOS app boasts equal features and capabilities.
You can download the appropriate app for your macOS device directly from Surfshark’s site or the Mac App Store. Keep in mind that Surfshark requires at least a macOS 10.12 (Sierra) to work on your device.
Surfshark for Android
What makes Surfshark one of the best all-around VPNs is that it can offer the same features and settings across all supported platforms, not just desktop clients. With that in mind, Android users can enjoy the safety of a kill-switch, choose between all Surfshark-supported protocols and use the VPNs MultiHop feature.
On top of this, if you’re an Android user, you can also use the Override GPS Location setting to match your GPS location to your VPN server location. Surfshark makes VPN use on Android very streamlined and is undoubtedly one of the best VPNs on the market when it comes to mobile apps.
Surfshark for iOS
iPhone devices are generally regarded as the more privacy-friendly option than Android ones, but they aren’t without a flaw. A VPN for iOS, such as Surfshak, has everything necessary to protect your iOS user experience without impacting iOS’ inherent speed and streamlined usability.
Just like the macOS app is similar to its Windows counterpart, the iOS app has many characteristics identical to those of the Surfshark Android app. Private DNS on each server, built-in kill-switch, and topflight VPN protocols are all features you can count on with the Surfshark iOS app.
Surfshark Browser Extensions
As of writing this Surfshark review, this VPN offers two browser extensions, for Chrome and Firefox. This is slightly less than we’ve used to seeing from other VPN services. However, the quality of each of their two supported extensions is on par with the best VPNs on the market.
If you opt to use the Surfshark browser extensions, you can still rely on many of the service’s key features, including all of their 3,2000+ servers. Additionally, you can benefit from their features and settings, such as private DNS on each server, CleanWeb, and more. Keep in mind that the browser extensions only cover the browser traffic. This makes them suitable for activities such as streaming, but not P2P file sharing.
Surfshark for Routers
Surfshark also allows you to route your entire network through a VPN and secure all of your devices in one go, just by setting up the service on your router. Setting up Surfshark on your router is relatively straightforward.
The only thing you have to check first is if your router supports Surfshark and whether it will work if you update its firmware. Surfshark supports a long list of routers and even offers several pre-installed flash routers.
Surfshark Apps for Other Devices
Aside from major platform support, Surfshark also provides you with the necessary tools to secure many of your other home entertainment devices. You can set up this VPN on both XBOX and Playstation, as well as Linux devices. Moreover, Surfshark apps are also compatible with a wide variety of smart TVs and work both with Apple TV and the Amazon Fire TV app.
For most of these, particularly consoles, you’ll have to configure the DNS settings manually. But this isn’t a challenging task, as Surfshark provides detailed guides on how to do so on each of the platforms mentioned above.
How to Install Surfshark?
The specific installation steps will vary slightly depending on what platform you’re using. That said, Surfshark apps are very easy to install on every device. All you have to do is follow several simple steps. Here’s how to install Surfshark on your devices:
- Visit Surfshark’s site and select a pricing plan
- Download the app from Surfshark’s site
- Install the app and input your login credentials
- Choose a server you want to connect to and start using Surfshark!
Surfshark Customer Support and User Experience
Surfshark offers very reliable customer support, available around the clock, every day of the week. They provide a massive Help Center, including a troubleshooting section, useful guides, general information, and an FAQ page.
Their troubleshooting section is divided into separate topics, allowing you to easily browse through and find helpful articles covering your problem with the VPN. The majority of articles are very detailed and can provide you with enough useful information so that you don’t even need to contact their support service.
That said, if you do decide to reach out to Surfshark customer support, you can do so by submitting a request or contacting them through live chat. Regardless of which channel you opt for, you’ll have to give out your email for verification purposes.
If you go with the former option, you can expect to wait a few hours before getting a response. For that reason, if you have an urgent query, it’s best to open up live chat support, as you can get an agent online within seconds.
Regardless of which channel you opt for, you’ll have to give out your email for verification purposes. We’ve reached out to their support staff several times and have always been met by a friendly and professional agent.
Surfshark User Reviews on Google Play
Surfshark maintains its reputation as one of the most popular VPNs for Android users. With over 22,000 user reviews on Google Play and an average grade of 4.3, the VPN fairs very well among the general user base. What we especially liked seeing while browsing user reviews was how responsive Surfshark was to negative reviews and user questions.
No matter how big or small the user complaint was, their staff diligently replied with helpful tips, links, or contact information. This shows just how much effort this VPN puts into ensuring customer satisfaction. Let’s take a look at the most recent relevant comments Surfshark users have left on Google Play:
What does Reddit Think of Surfshark?
Even though Surfshak doesn’t have an active Reddit community like some of its competitors, you can find many useful threads on this platform regarding their services. The majority of Reddit users praise this VPN for its speed, reliability, and intuitive app clients.
Although there are some complaints, they are few and far between. The general consensus on the platform is that Surfshark is a top-quality VPN. Here’s a screenshot from one of the most popular Surfshark-related topics:
Is Surfshark A Good VPN? – The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a top-notch VPN that you’ll just use for a month or two, you might as well pick ExpressVPN or NordVPN over Surfshark, as both come at a premium price, with the former two offering a slightly better service on all fronts compared to Surfshark. However, if you’re looking for a long-term VPN solution, Surfshark is an unbeatable option, as it offers the best all-around features at its price point.
When you sign up with Surfshark’s two-year plan, you’ll be able to enjoy a fast, reliable, and secure service suitable for torrenting, streaming, and all other online activities. Plus, they have created some of the most intuitive VPN apps you can find, support unlimited connections per user, and provide 24/7 customer support. For a budget-friendly deal, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Where is Surfshark based?
Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, same as one of the other top VPNs in the industry, ExpressVPN. As such, it falls under the jurisdiction of the British Virgin Islands, which has no data retention laws and has very strong privacy legislation.
Can Surfshark be trusted?
Yes, Surfshark is one of the most trustworthy VPNs on the market. It comes with all of the necessary features and settings to keep you protected at all times. Regardless of your online needs, this VPN can provide a safe and private experience.
Can Surfshark bypass Netflix restrictions?
Yes, Surfshark is very efficient in bypassing Netflix’s geo-blocks. Thanks to its useful features such as Camouflage Mode and NoBorders mode, this VPN can power through even the most resilient location-based restrictions.
How many simultaneous connections does Surfshark support?
Unlike the bulk of its competition, Surfshark allows you to connect an unlimited number of devices simultaneously. You can protect as many devices on as many different platforms at once as you choose to.