Surfshark Review

There was a time when VPNs were only used by a small group of tech-savvy users, with most of us blissfully leading our happy VPN-less lives. Over the years, the general public became painfully aware of the rising need for protection against intrusive governments, ISPs, and agencies, as well as malicious third parties. Now, VPNs are widely used next to password managers, antivirus software, and other cybersecurity tools.

Today, we’re bringing you our Surfshark review. Surfshark is one of the more popular VPN providers around, although not quite as favored as the industry titans like NordVPN or ExpressVPN. With so many big guns around, the people behind Surfshark had to work hard to make their VPN stand out in such a crowded market.

Thankfully, our tests showed they managed to do so, with great connection speeds, advanced privacy features like multi-hopping, no logs policy, the ability to unblock streaming services, and torrent-ready servers

Key features:

  • MultiHop feature routes traffic through multiple servers
  • Unblocks Netflix and other streaming service
  • Transparency and No Logs Policy
  • Can connect unlimited devices

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Vast number of servers
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Affordable two-year plan
  • Rich features
  • High-cost base subscription plan
  • Subpar Kill Switch

Company Background

Surfshark is a relative newcomer to the VPN market. They launched in 2018, with the company being based in the British Virgin Islands. Most VPN reviews look into where a company is headquartered, as the VPN provider has to abide by that country’s data retention laws.

Thankfully, the British Virgin Islands are a privacy-friendly country, and not a member of the 5/9/14 Eyes alliances. This means that Surfshark isn’t forced by the government to release any user information. Even if they were, their no logs policy prevents them from doing so, as they have no information to divulge.

Features Overview

Before we delve further into our Surfshark VPN review, let’s take a look at what a VPN does.

As with any Virtual Private Network (VPN) software, Surfshark’s main purpose is to create an encrypted tunnel between the device you use to connect to the internet and the VPN provider’s servers. By routing your connection through these servers, the VPN spoofs your location, making it appear as if you’re connecting from the location the server you’re connected to is located in, not your actual location.

This makes it harder for ISPs – and consequently governments and malicious users – to track your online activities. Good VPNs hence hide your true location and IP address and conceal your browsing history.

Furthermore, due to their ability to trick ISPs that you’re accessing the internet from a different location, the best VPN software is used to circumvent country restrictions for certain sites, access geo-locked libraries for Netflix and similar services, or access censored content in privacy-intrusive countries like China. Let’s take a look at what Surfshark offers in its packages.

Servers

One of the first things we look at when reviewing VPNs is their server infrastructure – the number of servers and their distribution across different countries and continents. The size of the server network has an effect on your internet speed, the ability to access geo-locked content, and so forth.

At the time of writing this review of Surfshark, it had over 1,700 servers in 63 countries and 160 locations. When compared to other VPN providers, it falls somewhere in the middle. While there are certainly providers with much bigger server networks, like NordVPN which boasts over 5,000 of them, Surfshark’s network should be more than enough for most users.

Some VPNs utilize virtual servers in places where they cannot install hardware ones or deem it not safe to do so. Surfshark only has a couple of them – the servers for Albania, Costa Rica, Chile, and Slovenia are virtual ones.

Furthermore, Surfshark has completely migrated its servers to RAM-only ones. We were pretty happy to see this during our review of Surfshark VPN, as RAM-only servers further increase the overall security of data stored within them.

Speed

The number and distribution of servers aren’t everything of course. The quality and speed of the connections the VPN provides are paramount and greatly influence your overall experience on the web. While users whose original internet speeds are greater generally don’t encounter too many problems with VPNs that decrease speed, especially if they primarily use them for browsing, However, if your internet isn’t that quick and/or you intend to use the VPN for torrenting or HD streaming, speed falloffs can ruin your day.

After conducting our Surfshark VPN speed review, it became evident that Surfshark isn’t the quickest VPN around. From our original download speed of 50 Mbps, we experienced 10-25 Mbps losses, depending on how distant the server we connected to was far from us. However, these speed losses are not extreme at all, as even with the biggest reductions in speed, we had no issues streaming Netflix in HD or downloading files.

As we’ve mentioned, the biggest speed losses were when we connected to the furthest servers. When connecting to Australia servers, the speed fell down to 25 Mbps. However, a 50% loss isn’t that bad considering the distance, and we felt no noticeable impacts on our browsing and streaming experiences. Those with lower original internet speeds might find Surfshark slow, and review other options.

Connections

Ok, Surfshark isn’t the speediest VPN around. To be honest, that’s not how they market themselves either. One of the main advantages Surfshark has over its competitors is in the number of devices you can simultaneously connect to your VPN with one account.

Most VPN services impose a limit on how many devices you can connect to a VPN within the confines of a single subscription. NordVPN, for example, limits you to 6 connections, while ExpressVPN allows 6 simultaneous connections. Surfshark however, allows unlimited connections with all its pricing plans. That means that you can connect all your PCs, laptops, tablets, and phones to the Sufrshark VPN at the same time, allowing you all-round protection.

In our Surfshark USA review, we found this to be invaluable. Protecting your browsing habits and hiding your location/IP on the PC isn’t worth much if your phone isn’t protected as well. Hence, if you own multiple devices, or you want to protect your entire household, Surfshark is the optimal choice. While there are a few other VPNs out there that also offer unlimited connections, they’re mostly niche ones – no other big provider has this.

Streaming

As we’ve mentioned previously in this review of Surfshark VPN, one of the main uses of VPNs is to unlock region-specific libraries on streaming services like Netflix. For example, those living in Europe do not have access to the same movie and TV show libraries as those in the US and vice versa.

Thankfully, Surfshark works perfectly with Netflix. It unblocks a slew of regional libraries, including the most coveted one – US. Due to the speed not falling off too much, we were able to stream in HD without a problem as well. Beyond Netflix, Surfshark successfully unblocks Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO GO, and the BBC iPlayer.

Torrenting

Another common use of best VPNs is to allow safe torrenting. In most countries, torrenting is illegal with legal consequences of various degrees. In order for a VPN to be good for torrenting, it needs to have P2P-ready servers and not leak any IP and DNS information from its users.

Surfshark ticks all of those boxes, meaning you can safely use it for torrenting or other P2P services. Of course, not all of their servers are P2P, and hence your torrenting speed might depend on the proximity of these servers to you.

Privacy

VPN protection is all about privacy. Keeping your location, IP, and browsing habits safe from third parties – governmental or not – is the core value of any VPN. However, the best VPN providers too have to operate within the confines of local and international laws – especially data retention ones.

We’ve already covered that Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, a privacy-friendly country. However, in the case that a VPN provider does end up getting a warrant for user information, it’s important that the company does not keep any information that can be tied to a particular user, preventing anyone to connect a location, IP address, or browsing history to any individual.

Worry not, during our VPN Surfshark review we confirmed that it has a strict No Logs policy, meaning that they do not keep any information that can endanger its users. Even if they were served a warrant or someone breached their servers, they could not use the stored data to identify users.

Additionally, they’ve recently updated their privacy policy to be more clear and understandable. The only information kept by Surfshark is the email you use to register, billing information, and your password, all of which are kept safe and encrypted in their servers.

As another step towards transparency, a hallmark of all the best VPN services, Surfshark has a Warrant Canary page up on their website, where they display the number of any government-issued warrants or gag orders. They update the page constantly, and they have received 0 warrants so far.

Security

Besides having a No Logs policy, Surfshark has great all-round security, making sure that none of its users are ever compromised. We’ve already covered their switch to RAM-only servers, which increases overall security.

Furthermore, all connections and communication with Surfshark servers are protected by 256-bit encryption, preventing anyone from tapping into these connections. Additionally, in our Surfshark review, we’ve checked whether Surfshark has any IPv6 or DNS leaks when we connected to their servers. The leak tests are available online for free, and we recommend using them when testing out any VPN you might choose. We were happy to see that Surfshark passed the tests and that there are no leaks when using their VPN.

As is the case with most trusted VPN providers, Surfshark has an Automatic Kill Switch feature. The kill switch automatically disconnects you from the internet in the case your VPN fails to connect. This prevents you from accessing the internet and leaking your information accidentally while your VPN is down.

What makes Surfshark one of the top VPNs around is the MultiHop feature. This allows you to connect to multiple Surfshark VPN servers at once before going online, further masking your identity and location, and protecting your privacy.

For people traveling into privacy-intrusive countries, the No Borders mode automatically detects this and offers secure servers to connect to. If you wish to access sites without VPN you can add them to the Whitelist – useful for sites that do not allow VPN connections. However, some sites can be tricked to believe you have a regular connection instead of a VPN one via the Camouflage Mode.

Unfortunately, as we discovered in our Surfshark review, the VPN does not provide access to the Tor network and the dark web websites.

Surfshark also boasts two more useful features – Hack Lock, which scans internet databases to check whether any of your credentials were leaked online, and CleanWeb which serves as an ad blocker. It also has a search engine of its own that provides unfiltered, ad-free search results.

VPN Protocol

Surfshark supports two VPN Protocols – OpenVPN and IKEv2. OpenVPN is the golden standard now, widely lauded for being reliable, but IKEv2 also gets the job done. On Surfshark apps, IKEv2 is the protocol used.

User Experience

When we were conducting our Surfshark VPN review for Android and Windows we immediately noticed that the user interface is another field this VPN excels in. The desktop software boasts a modern, slick design that’s extremely enjoyable to use. Contrary to some VPNs that bombard you with dozens of clickable features on the home screen, Surfshark’s UI is surprisingly clear, with all the features neatly packed and intuitively placed.

This kind of layout makes Surfshark especially appealing for new users who otherwise might be taken aback by the sheer amount of options on the screen. On the left bar, you can see the list of available servers, with a search field on top which you can use to find any feature you need.
Traditionally, there’s a Quick Connect button that connects you to the closest/quickest server to you.

In our Surfshark VPN Android review, the apps turned out equally pleasant to use. Surfshark also has great platform availability Besides being available on Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, and iOS, you can use Surfshark with Chrome or Firefox, as well as tablets and some smart TVs.

Related Products

Most of the features we covered previously all included across all Surfshark pricing plans. The only paid add-on is the Additional Privacy pack which costs an additional $0.99 per month. With it, you get the Hack Lock tool, which scans the haveibeenpwned.com database to check if your credentials are compromised, and the Blind Search option, which allows you to search the web without ads and logs.

Customer Support

Next up in our Surfshark review is the customer support. In case you run across any issues, their support staff can be contacted either via live chat or through email/online tickets. If you don’t want to wait for an agent to reply, you can consult their comprehensive knowledge base and FAQ section on the site.

Pricing

There are three different pricing plans available with Surfshark. They all have absolutely the same features, the only difference being the length of the subscription and the price per month you’ll be paying.

The one-month subscription will set you back $11.95/mo. This puts it somewhere in the medium-high range when it comes to pricing, as other top VPN services like NordVPN cost $10.64/mo, while ExpressVPN is $12.95.

If you decide to subscribe for longer periods, the monthly price is naturally cheaper. For a 12-month subscription, you’ll only be paying $5.99 each month, while a 2-year sub gets the price down to $1.99 per month – the cheapest VPN pricing plan we’ve encountered so far.

Surfshark has no free plan, but its service can be tested out through the 7-day free trial (requires you to provide a credit card). There is a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you end up not being satisfied with the VPN.

How Does Surfshark Compare to Other VPN services?

surfshark logo surfshark review 2020
  • MultiHop feature routes traffic through multiple servers
  • Unblocks Netflix and other streaming service
  • Transparency and No Logs Policy
  • Can connect unlimited devices
Price $11.95
protonvpn logo protonvpn review 2020
  • High-End Encryption
  • Secure Core Features
  • Unblocks Netflix
  • P2P Servers
Price $$8/month
avast VPN logo
  • Kill switch
  • AES 256 bit encryption
  • DNS leak protection
  • DNS leak protection
Price $$3.99/month

Conclusion

Surfshark is, without a doubt, one of the best VPN providers around. While it might not be the quickest around and doesn’t have the largest server base, the multitude of security features like MultiHoping make it a great choice for privacy-oriented users. It seamlessly unblocks Netflix and other streaming services, allows torrenting, and lets you connect unlimited devices – what’s there not to like?

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Vast number of servers
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Affordable two-year plan
  • Rich features
  • High-cost base subscription plan
  • Subpar Kill Switch

FAQ

Is Surfshark VPN any good?

Surfshark covers all the bases of a good VPN – privacy and security features, unblocks Netflix, allows torrenting, and goes around censorship.

Who owns Surfshark?

As covered in our Surfshark VPN review, the location of their HQ is the British Virgin Islands, and the company is owned by Surfshark Ltd.

Is Surfshark better than NordVPN?

NordVPN is a tad bit quicker and has a larger server base, but Surfshark allows unlimited devices to connect, so it boils down to personal preference.

Does Surfshark work for Netflix?

Yes, Surfshark unblocks regional Netflix libraries without a problem, including the US one.

Does Surfshark hide your IP address?

Yes. During our Surfshark review, we’ve checked the Surfshark servers for any DNS or IPv6 leaks and there were none.