Whenever we talk about VPNs a few names always pop out. Everyone knows about them. Uses them. And recommends them too. Surfshark isn’t one of those VPNs. Well, at least it wasn’t up until recently. That is not surprising at all. Surfshark was a relatively new VPN and it didn’t have as many features as the other established VPNs. This however has started to change. In fact, I would even go ahead and say that Surfshark is almost as good as the other VPNs if not better than them. In this SurfShark review we will see what changed all these things. We will thoroughly check out everything that Surfshark has to offer. So let us begin our review of Surfshark.
TL;DR: Surfshark is totally awesome and you should go for it.
Surfshark VPN Review
Visit Surfshark’s official site and you will see that they have really upped their game. They have an impressive list of features. Their claims are also very bold. And they top it all with an unbelievable pricing. So we will do an in-depth review and see if they really stand by their claims. We will see if it is able to match its pricing with its performance. So let’s jump right into it.
When it comes to a VPN, the thing that is on most people’s top priority is Privacy. I mean this is one of the main reasons people decide to use a VPN. Any VPN that claims to be one of the best, needs to provide a fully secure connection. Let us see what features Surfshark has for this purpose and how it performs in terms of protecting the privacy of its users.
The protocols a VPN supports decides how much effective the VPN is. These protocols enable the VPNs to safely send the user’s data through the internet. This is necessary for browsing websites, using social media, or do just about anything else online. They make sure that the user’s connection remains private no matter what. A tunneling protocol is simply a way to transfer information from point A to point B. It may offer an underlying layer of encryption, but it is not considered secure.
However a VPN protocol is different from the tunneling protocol. It has many extra functionalities. It performs end-to-end encryption and also authenticates the traffic data. It also uses obfuscation of the data which helps in hiding the traffic that the VPN is serving.
Surfshark, like most other premium VPNs, supports all of the commonly used protocols. Here’s a little more info about the protocols Surfshark uses, taken from its official site.
IKEv2: IKEv2 (short for Internet Key Exchange version 2) is a fast and secure protocol that tends to work best when the server you’re connecting to is physically nearby. It was developed by Cisco and Microsoft security engineers and it is very popular among mobile users. Availability: macOS, Android, Windows, iOS and Fire TV applications.
OpenVPN: OpenVPN is an open-source protocol, which means that it is constantly being developed and improved by security professionals around the world. It’s fast, secure, and often works best for long-distance connections or desktop operating systems. Availability: Android, Windows, iOS, Fire TV and Linux applications.
Shadowsocks: Shadowsocks is an encrypted proxy that was designed specifically to help people overcome the restrictions of the so-called Great Firewall of China. It works great for that purpose, but if you are not in a restricted country, you’re better off using either OpenVPN or IKEv2. Availability: Android and Windows applications.
Any of these protocols are more than capable of providing you with a secure connection. So as long as you using one of these protocols, you don’t really need to worry about your privacy. In case you are wondering how to access these different types of protocols and switch between them, these are the steps:
- Go to the settings page of your VPN client.
- Once there, you will find an Advanced section. Go there.
- Here you will find all of the available protocols. Select the one you wish to use.
These steps are all the same for every platform. You can follow these on iOS, Android, Windows, etc and change the VPN protocol.
Surfshark doesn’t support the other two common protocols L2TP & PPTP. They are both outdated and don’t provide enough security. Both L2TP & PPTP are what Surfshark calls old-school tunneling protocols. When it comes to security, both of these don’t offer adequate security. They are obsolete.This is why Surfshark recommends to avoid them.
Surfshark also doesn’t support Wireguard, which is considered to be the fastest VPN protocol. According to Surfshark, even though Wireguard claims to be fast and secure, it still requires further testing to determine whether these claims hold up. Which is why they don’t support Wireguard for the time being. Surfshark by default uses IKEv2 but you can change it to OpenVPN if you want to.
Encryption is another key aspect of a VPN that is often overlooked when checking out a VPN. The level of encryption a VPN provides while serving the traffic determines how secure the connection is. This is necessary so that your ISP or any other 3rd parties are not able to see what you are doing. Most VPNs do a great job in this. I mean they should cause that’s one of the main reasons a VPN is used. Surfshark like all other premium VPN uses an Advanced Encryption Standard(AES) encryption. This encryption uses a 256-bit key for encryption which makes it even more secure. It would take about a billion years for a supercomputer to decrypt something that has been encrypted by AES 256. So rest assured, no one can find out your online activities.
So as expected, Surfshark did exceptionally in terms of the users’ privacy. Their up to date VPN protocols made sure the connection was secure and private and with their Advanced Encryption Standard ( AES ) encryption they made sure that the users’ data remain private.
If there’s one thing that Surfshark lags behind in comparison to the other premium VPNs, it is the no of servers it has. It has a total of 1040+ servers in 61+ countries spread across all continents. This is nowhere close to no of servers that the other big players have. This however doesn’t mean that Surfshark is at a disadvantage here. It’s 1040+ servers more than does its job. All of its servers have a Private DNS. They are also very P2P-friendly and have a strict no-log policy.
It has multiple servers in each of the following regions:
- The Americas
- Middle East
- Asia Pacific
While Surfshark has fewer number of servers as compared to the other VPNs, it still manages to provide its users with an equally good experience. It does so by having a high-speed server that is fully secure and has advanced encryption.
No matter how secure a VPN is, if it doesn’t have enough speed then it’s of no use. So we checked out what the speeds that Surfshark is capable of. For this we did the following things. We first measured our speed before connecting to the VPN. This was our result.
We got a download speed of 62.04 Mbps and an upload speed of 55.96 Mbps. This is equivalent to 7.75 MBps & 6.99 MBps. The response time we got was 4 ms. So now that we have established the speed of our connection, let’s see how a VPN affects this.
For the first scenario, we chose the Quick Connect option of Surfshark. This is supposed to find the server that best suits you and connects you to it. So here are the results.
The VPN connected us to it’s Los Angeles, CA server. The download speed was 44.58 Mbps and an upload speed of 39.00 Mbps. This is equivalent to 5.57 MBps & 4.87 MBps. So, there was about a 30-35 percent decline in the download speed as well as the upload speed. This is pretty good considering we were using a VPN. The only thing that took a hit was the response time, which increased by about13 times. This is something expected of a VPN. In fact, I would say it was impressive that it wasn’t in the 100s. Let us now check out the speed in the United Kingdom.
For this, we were connected to its London, UK server.
This time there was an even greater decline in both the download speed as well as the upload speed. The download speed was 36.02 Mbps and an upload speed of 37.93 Mbps. This is equivalent to 4.51 MBps & 4.74 MBps. However, as a result of the distance of the user from the server is huge, the response time was poor. The download and upload speed were fine and could still be used for streaming High Definition content. Next we connected to a server in France.
We were connected to the server in Paris, France. This time we got even lesser download speed than we got in the London, Uk server. The upload speed however remained about the same. The download speed was 28.36 Mbps and an upload speed of 38.33 Mbps. This is equivalent to 3.54 MBps & 4.79 MBps. The response time was also more than the last time. This speed is still fast enough for streaming, downloading and other browsing activities. For our final test, we connected to a server in India. Here were its results.
Okay now, this was surprising. It got a very good download and upload speed, considering how far its servers were from our location. The download speed was 32.86 Mbps and an upload speed of 33.00 Mbps. This is equivalent to 3.98 MBps & 4.12 MBps. The speed was faster than than the server in France but less than the one in London. This speed is also fast enough for streaming, downloading and other browsing activities.
So the recommended speeds for streaming on Netflix are
- 0.5 Megabits per second – Required broadband connection speed
- 1.5 Megabits per second – Recommended broadband connection speed
- 3.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for SD quality
- 5.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for HD quality
- 25 Megabits per second – Recommended for Ultra HD quality
In all the countries that we connected to, we got a speed which was more than what Netflix recommends for Ultra HD quality. So it will be safe to say that there won’t be any issues while streaming on Netflix or other streaming platforms like Prime Video or Hulu.
Throughout our test we got pretty stable connections. The speeds were also consistent and there weren’t any network failures while we were connected. So overall, we got fairly good speed, no matter which server we were connected to.
4. P2P Support
P2P, also known as peer to peer connection, is what is used for downloading torrents. As most of you might know, downloading torrents can be tricky. You might get in trouble for this. In fact, it is illegal to download torrents in someplace. You might also get notices from your ISP for the same. So hiding your identity while downloading torrent can be considered a safe choice.
So using a VPN for torrenting is kind of a necessity. It helps you in keeping your connection anonymous while you are downloading or seeding a torrent. Some ISPs also throttle the connection speed if they sense that you are downloading a torrent or uploading it.
Surfshark, like most other VPNs does a pretty good job of downloading a torrent. But what makes it better than the others is their compatibility. Surfshark is compatible with all P2P clients. This includes, but not limited to, torrent clients such as uTorrent, BitTorrent, BitTorrent, Vuze, Deluge and many other clients. All these clients support the Kill Switch function of Surfshark (More about this later ). They have also very fast torrenting speeds. So the torrenting experience using Surfshark will be pretty good and secure. Neither your ISP or any other Government agencies will be able to see what you are doing, thanks to the VPN.
5. Geo Unblocking
With an increase in the number of streaming services available, the number of shows in each is decreasing. So as a result many shows now aren’t available to stream in a particular region but are available in some other region. This is given rise to a completely new use of VPNs. People have now started using VPNs so that they can unblock these Geo restrictions and what shows and movies that are not available in their region. However, Netflix is able to recognize whether or not someone is using a VPN or not and hence will not serve them the blocked content.
This wasn’t a problem with Surfshark VPN. We were able to access Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu from different regions without them ever detecting that we were using a VPN.
The Libraries we accessed during our tests were:
- Netflix: USA, UK, India, France, Japan
- Amazon Prime Video: USA, UK, India & Canada.
- Hulu: USA
We were able to do High Definition content streaming in all these regions using Surshark. There were very little connection problems. It was also completely buffering free. The servers available in each country were:
- UK servers for Netflix UK
- India servers for Netflix IN
- Italy servers for Netflix IT
- Canada servers for Netflix CA
- Germany servers for Netflix DE
- Australia servers for Netflix AU
- France servers for Netflix FR
- Netherlands servers for Netflix NL
- Brazil servers for Netflix BR
- For Netflix US you get all servers excluding the UK, Japan, India, Italy, Canada, Germany, Korea, Netherlands, Turkey, France, Australia, Brazil, or Singapore.
During our testing we never encountered any problems while Geo-unblocking contents in any of the streaming services we used and so ExpressVPN gets a 10 in this section.
6. Bypassing Censorship in China
China has one of the highest amounts of internet restriction among all countries. It also has some good anti-VPN tech that mostly succeeds. Not all VPNs work in China. Very few VPNs can bypass this. Surfshark is one of them.
Surfshark uses one of its features call NoBorders to bypass this type of censorship. It uses the open-source Shadowsocks protocol for this purpose. So you can access the internet in China through Surfshark VPN without risking giving away your identity.
7. Logging Policies
So you used a VPN and managed to keep your traffic and activities safe from your ISP. However, your VPN provider still has our data and there’s no saying what they can do with it. This is one of the biggest concerns most people have while buying a VPN. What if your VPN provider is tracking and logging your activities? What stops them from selling your data? Almost every VPN you will find out their straight out claims that it doesn’t log any data. And this is a bit misleading in our opinion. Because in order to function properly, there are a few user data that a VPN needs to have. But in case of some VPNs there is no transparency as to what they log and what they don’t.
Surfshark has a strict no-logging policy that it really follows. They don’t collect any of the sensitive user data. They also mention what they collect and why they need to collect it. This is what’s mentioned in heir website about their logging policy.
A no-log VPN is the only reliable VPN
We are committed to protecting your privacy online, wherever you go and whatever you do. For us, no-logs is a no-brainer.
In short, a no-log VPN like Surfshark does not keep track of your online whereabouts or actions in any way. This includes:
● IP address
● Browsing history
● Used bandwidth
● Session information
● Network traffic
● Connection timestamps
Personal information that we collect
● Email address and encrypted password
● Basic billing information and order history
Why do we need this information?
We need your email in order to help you fix any issues that you may encounter.
We need your billing information to successfully create your account. Your billing information will include your payment amount, currency and the date of the payment, as well as what you chose to purchase. You can also opt for total anonymity and pay with cryptocurrency.
Anonymous information we collect for diagnostics
● Aggregated, anonymous performance data
● The frequency of use of our services
● Crash reports on apps
● Unsuccessful connection attempts
Why do we need this information?
We only collect the bare minimum amount of technical data, so we can fix any technical issues in a whim. None of this data can be tied to your account.
From this it’s clear that Surfshark doesn’t make any claims of not logging user data. They however take a more transparent direction. Instead of making such claims, they mention what they track. They also go ahead and explain why they need those data that they track. This data will in no way compromise you or your privacy. If you Want to be even more anonymous, Surfshark also accepts Cryptocurrency as a mode of payment. So you can pay using that if you want to completely hide your identity.
8. Other Features
Now that we have looked at all the important aspects of Surfshark, let us look at a few other features that it has.
A Domain Name System(DNS) is a kind of identity that every website has on the internet. A DNS is nothing but a string of numbers also called an IP address. Each IP address is linked to a URL which is easier for a human to remember. How this is relevant is that many VPN providers use third-party a DNS. These 3rd party DNS aren’t encrypted. They are vulnerable to manipulation, and hence don’t provide the same level of security.
Surfshark uses a Private DNS. All the DNS queries of the users go through an encrypted tunnel. These queries are then resolved on the same VPN server the user is connected to. This means that there are no activity logs, no connection logs, no DNS blocking and no third parties sniffing.
Surfshark also has a DNS Leak protection system. So it makes sure that none of your data is leaked. So your privacy always remains protected by Surfshark.
VPN Kill Switch
Surfshark also has a network kill switch function. So if your VPN connection ever gets interrupted or the connection drops unexpectedly, this will protect you. In such cases where your VPN connection drops unexpectedly, Kill Switch disconnects you from the internet, safeguarding your privacy. Network Lock will immediately stop any kind of traffic from either entering or leaving your device. This way even if your VPN connection fails, Surfshark will make sure you are protected. According to their website following are the benefits of its Kill Switch feature:
- Protect your sensitive data in case your VPN connection drops
- Make sure your traffic is always encrypted
- Guard your identity against hackers and snoopers
- Make sure you’re secure in a heavily restricted country
- Make sure your torrent downloads are invisible to your ISP
MultiHop Double VPN
Surfshark has another feature that it calls MultiHop. Here the user will be connected to multiple countries or servers. Each country acts as a layer. In each layer the data is encrypted again. This means that the data will be encrypted multiple times. It is also known as Double VPN. This enables you to connect via two different VPN servers. Both these servers are located in different countries. Hence, the data will be more secure. So by connecting via two different VPN servers, MultiHop adds an extra layer of security for the user.
We talked a little about NoBorders when we were checking out the bypassing of censorship in China. In order to bypass countrywide restrictions or VPN blocking, Surfshark uses what they call NoBorders. It reshapes the users’ traffic in such a way which makes it look like the user isn’t using a VPN at all. Thus it is able to bypass countrywide restrictions or VPN blocking.
Camouflage Mode makes sure that the users’ connection always remains private. It makes it so that even the user’s internet provider can’t tell that they are using a VPN.
CleanWeb is Surfshark’s attempt at protecting the user from malicious websites as well as intrusive ads. This makes the web very clean for the user and hence the name. Here are the benefits it provides:
- Block intrusive popups & ads: It prevents annoying ads and pop-ups from blocking your whole screen.
- Discard suspicious links: It filters all malicious websites and allows only safe and malware-free websites to go through.
- Prevent phishing attempts: It blocks fake websites that are created for phishing purposes and protects the users from it.
- Reduce data Use: Since it removes all unnecessary adds and websites, none of those will be loaded and reduce the wastage of the users’ data
Whitelister is Surfshark’s split tunneling feature. It allows the user to exclude specific apps or websites from connecting via VPN. Whitelister creates separate tunnels on the same network. One of them leads through a VPN which means it is secure. The other one has no VPN protection. It is just like a regular connection. This means some of the user’s traffic will be sent through an encrypted VPN tunnel, while the other traffic will be sent through the regular network.
Not all applications and websites require you to use a VPN. For example, some web services from your local IP addresses. Some services might also require you to turn off your VPN. So what happens if you have to access both at the same time. This is where Whitelister is useful. It lets you exclude certain traffic from the protection of your VPN. This will protect all connected devices or applications except for those specifically excluded.
9. Independent Audit
Surfshark makes some very bold claims. But they went a step ahead and had their claims verified by security experts. They hired independent web security testers Cure53 to examine their browser extensions. Here are the results.
“Two members of the Cure53 team, who examined the scope in November 2018, can only conclude that the tested applications make a very robust impression and are not exposed to any issues, neither in the privacy nor in the more general security realms.”, the report concludes.
“To sum up, Cure53 is highly satisfied to see such a strong security posture on the Surfshark VPN extensions, especially given the common vulnerability of similar products to privacy issues.” – Dr. Mario Heiderich, Founder & CEO of Cure53
Surfshark really exceeded most expectations and even went ahead and got audited to further back their claim.
10. Supported Devices
Surfshark is available for a large no of devices and platforms. These include:
- Desktop & Laptops: macOS, Windows, Linux
- Phones & Tablets: Android, iOS
- Browsers: Firefox, Chrome
- Smart TVs: FireTV, Apple TV
- Consoles: Xbox, Play Station
11. Customer Services
Customer service plays a very important role in the success of a VPN. A bad customer service would mean that the user will never renew their subscription. So as expected, Surfshark has incredible customer support. It has a 24/7 live chat support. It also has a ticket system where you can report your problem in detail. Surfshark’s support team is outsourced. It also has a searchable knowledge database. They also have email support in case their chat support isn’t available.
During our experience with their customer service, we found them to be responsive, and friendly. Their 24/7 live chat support team was also very friendly and informative.
When it comes to subscription plans, Surfshark has three different options. Surfshark is very. It has one of the best deals any VPN provider has ever offered. All three plans come with the same premium features but differ only in their subscription period. So let us see of the plans offered by Surfshark.
- Monthly: This is Surfshark’s shortest plan is their most expensive one. It costs $11.95 for its monthly plan. It is billed monthly and costs $143.40 for a full year. It is in no way the ideal plan. This should only be chosen if you require the VPN only for a short period of time.
- 1 Year Plan: This is where Surfshark starts getting aggressive with its pricing. This plan costs a total of $71.88 for a full year. The per month cost for this plan is $5.99. This plan accounts for a 50 % saving which is a total of $71.52. This plan is billed once every year.
- 2 Year Plan: Surfshark straight up steals the show here with a too good to be true deal. At $47.76 for 2 years this is the as good a deal anyone can ever get. In fact this plan is cheaper than the 1-year plan of Surfshark itself. So imagine this, you will be getting an extra year of subscription for $24.12 less. I know that sounds made up, but believe me that’s true. The per month cost for this plan is an unbelievable $1.99. The plan is billed once in 2 years. So if you are looking for an affordable VPN plan this is it.
*Again all these plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. So if you don’t like what they have to offer, you can have your money back.
Surfshark just crashed every other competition with such aggressive pricing. It is the perfect VPN for anyone who is just starting out. And needs an affordable as well as function-rich VPN.
You can get a 2 years plan of Surfshark VPN for only $1.99/month thanks to my Exclusive Discount! Surfshark VPN is a powerful, secure VPN solution that’s super fast, it has over 1000 super fast servers and it’s a steal at that price! It’s also one of the best VPN’s for Netflix and travel. The Surfshark Pricing is amazing because you can get a whole 83% Discount by using this link.
Surfshark Free Trial
Surfshark doesn’t a free trial on their website. That being said, if you sign up for Surfshark using this link you have a 30 days money back guarantee + 83% Discount and you can always get a refund if it doesn’t work.
Surfshark VPN FAQs
How much does Surfshark cost?
- 1-month Subscription – $11.95/month
- 1-year Subscription – $5.99/month
- 2-years Subscription – $1.99/month
The “Per month” cost goes down if you pick a longer plan. For example, by paying for 2 years you pay $1.99/month vs $11.95 monthly.
Does Surfshark have a free plan?
Surfshark VPN isn’t free and you can’t get a free trial either. That being said, if you sign up for Surfshark VPN using this link you have a 30 days money back guarantee + 83% Discount and you can always get a refund if it doesn’t work.
How much is Surfshark monthly?
Surfshark VPN costs $11.95 if you choose to pay monthly. However if you pay for the 2 years NordVPN plan you only pay $1.99/month and save 83%!
Is Surfshark VPN worth the money?
Surfshark VPN is a powerful, secure VPN solution that’s super fast, it has over 1000 super fast servers and it’s definitely worth the money.
Surfshark VPN Review 2020 Verdict
Surfshark really exceeded all our expectations. It had a very secure connection, the speeds were great. It was able to unlock multiple streaming libraries and bypass countrywide censorship and restrictions. It also had tons of other features that further enhanced the users’ experience. It also had a very strict no-logging policy, so that users don’t have to worry about their private information. And to top it all it had one of the most affordable subscription prices that I have come across recently.
Surfshark really surprised us as to how good it was given that it is so relatively new to the market. We would like to conclude by saying that Surfshark is one of the best VPNs that are out there and is totally worth your money. It provides the best price to performance ratio. So if you are looking for a VPN, we would totally recommend you to go for Surfshark.