Surfshark Review

Surfshark Review
Surfshark

Overall
4.5









  • Price









  • Service









  • Apps









  • Speed









  • Policy









Summary

Surfshark is now a giant of the VPN sector and has already made big inroads into what is already a crowded market. But while there are some areas where Surfshark is up there with the very best, there are also a few places where it still has room for improvement.

Pros

  • Unlimited concurrent connections.
  • Strong encryption.
  • Great range of features.
  • Decent download speeds.
  • Works with US and UK Netflix.
  • Unblocks lots of services.

Cons

  • Logging policy not audited.
  • Uses virtual locations.
  • Registered in the EU.


Surfshark VPN exploded onto the VPN scene in a big way a couple of years ago. It is one of the few recent VPN newcomers to really challenge the big names in the industry.

But now Surfshark has been around a while, how does the service match up to established VPN services?

Our Surfshark VPN review puts it through its paces and reveals where it delivers and where there is still room for improvement.

Service

Speeds

Download speed

Speed is one of the most important aspects of any VPN service and in testing we found Surfshark to perform well against other VPN companies.

All local connections offered excellent speeds and allowed us to carry out daily tasks and more intensive ones like video streaming without issue.

Servers further afield did see some speed loss but not by much and would still be able to perform most everyday online tasks. However, the speeds were a little inconsistent.

We tested Surfshark on a regular UK household internet connection to try and gain an indication of the sort of average VPN speeds you could expect. To do this, we accessed various websites and downloaded a test file using a regular UK household internet connection.

Our regular connection speed at the time of these speed tests was 204.8 Mbps. The average speed test results we gathered were as follows on each VPN server:

  • UK – 159.2 Mbps
  • France – 131.4 Mbps
  • Netherlands – 153 Mbps
  • Switzerland – 152.9 Mbps
  • Sweden – 92.9 Mbps
  • New York, US – 73.9 Mbps
  • Australia – 31.8 Mbps

From our internet speed test results, the speeds are impressive and comparable, although not quite as fast as some of the top VPN providers.

You should be aware this is merely a glimpse of speeds at a set time under specific conditions.

The actual speeds you achieve will depend on many factors and could be lower or higher than our results. Server location will always determine the speeds you get, no two VPN servers are the same. Server load is also something that will affect speed alongside VPN server locations.

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Logging

Surfshark's website claims they have a strict no-logs policy and clearly states that “We don't monitor or log anything you do when you connect.”

This is technically true as they do not log any browsing history but it is not quite the full story.

A quick glance at their Q&A document reveals that they do keep logs of all user's email address and billing details, such as credit card information.

This practice is not unique and you can use an anonymous email address and pay with cryptocurrency to get around this.

More worrying is that they also record some anonymous, aggregated stats.

This includes things like performance information, frequency of use of the system, unsuccessful connections, and crash reports although Surfshark is quite vague about the details.

The problem with anonymising data like this is that it is often possible to de-anonymise it again. The lack of transparency about how the data is collected, what it is collected for, and who can see what is certainly not ideal.

However, they don't log incoming and outgoing IP addresses, online activity, downloading or purchasing histories, geolocation data, bandwidth used, session information, connection timestamps, or web traffic, which is better than some of their competitors.

Surfshark's no-log claims haven't been tested in an independent audit. The only audit carried out by Surfshark is on their browser extensions and their server infrastructure.

Simultaneous Connections

Surfshark offers unlimited simultaneous connections, which means it allows you to secure as high a number of devices with this VPN as you like on a single account.

This was unprecedented when Surfshark launched but a few other VPN companies have decided to join them. It seems likely that most other VPNs will end up following suit sooner or later, but for now, allowing an unlimited number of devices to be connected is a big USP for Surfshark.

Jurisdiction

Surfshark is headquartered in The Netherlands.

They claim there are no local laws that require Surfshark to collect any data about their users. Previously they were registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Quite why they made this move is unknown. However, it now puts them under the jurisdiction of the EU and in a ‘9-eyes' country.

Customer Service

Surfshark offers the usual email support but also a 24/7 live chat customer service that is quick and responsive, easy to use, and staffed by people who are helpful and appear to be first-language English speakers.

If there was one small criticism of the live chat service, it was the tendency to stick to pre-prepared answers which can mean they are sometimes not as flexible to unique issues as they might be.

The support page on the Surfshark website is also comprehensive and features advanced setup and installation tutorials, troubleshooting guides, FAQs and much more. We did find their search feature was not as useful as it might have been, but really this is a minor fault.

Is Surfshark VPN any good?

Surfshark is available across the world and has received pretty good reviews. Review websites such as Trustpilot show that the service received high marks, currently averaging at 4.3/5.

Most reviews show user satisfaction, with 66% of them describing it as ‘Excellent,' and giving it 5 stars. Around 17% gave it 4 stars, describing it as ‘Great.' 7% of users thought it was ‘Average,' while only 4% described it as ‘Poor.'

However, there is also 7% of the VPN users who only gave it one star, describing it as ‘Bad.'

These users complained about the lack of the option to unsubscribe without requesting it directly from customer support. Most unsatisfied users also complained that it doesn't work with all websites that they use.

Those who liked it, however, praised its low price and large server network, as well as its ease of use.

Is Surfshark better than NordVPN?

While individually, we can like one service more than another for whatever reason, we wanted a more objective answer. This is why we used the community's input from sites like Trustpilot and added the data to our own ratings and reviews.

In our own tests, NordVPN scored 4.6/5, while Surfshark's score in this review is 4.4/5 which means we can't say that it is better than NordVPN. However, it is close and there are some areas where Surfshark performs better.

The main letdown for Surfshark is its logging policy.

NordVPN is fully audited meaning its no-logging policy has been confirmed by a third party. Meanwhile, Surfshark still collects too much for our liking.

Server Locations

Server locations

Surfshark currently offers 3,200+ VPN servers in 65 different countries.

This includes numerous locations in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Americas as well as a pretty impressive spread across the Middle East and Africa as well. You'll have no problem getting a new IP address.

This is a very impressive server count and even better, we have also confirmed that these servers are all either owned or rented and operated by Surfshark themselves.

Does Surfshark use Virtual Servers?

Yes. They do use virtual VPN servers on the Surfshark network and are quite open about the fact.

They argue that this isn't a problem because they do still own the physical servers and most users won't notice the difference.

However, they do admit that it means they might not connect you to the nearest server because it sees a virtual server as its physical location and also online database updates might be slow. This means sometimes websites appear in the wrong language when a new virtual server is added.

If you have read our extended guide to Virtual Locations, you will know that virtual servers can also create other problems. They can affect connection speeds on the physical server they are connected to and in some circumstances, they can also pose a security risk too.

Surfshark only lists three countries as offering virtual locations; Argentina, Chile, and Costa Rica. But their website suggests that their German connection could be located in France, which implies that they are actually used far more widely.

Using a virtual location isn't a massive problem but they are still not ideal and we would prefer to see Surfshark stick to physical servers.

Does Surfshark work in China?

Last year, Surfshark introduced a new feature called NoBorders mode.

Once you enable NoBorders mode, which is done through the advanced settings page, you can access a special list of connection points that will allow you to be connected to Surfshark in all sorts of different restrictive regions including, supposedly, Communist China.

They have also added the Shadowsocks VPN proxy to its service in recent months too. Shadowsocks is an encrypted proxy that is largely used by people inside Communist China to get over the Great Firewall.

Shadowsocks only unblocks browser traffic and doesn't encrypt, but for many people stuck inside Communist China, this is a lifeline as it allows them to access vast numbers of websites and reams of information that the regime routinely blocks.

We retest Surfshark inside China regularly and at the time of writing, it is still working well, although it is not the best for use there.

Top Tip

Check out our list of VPN services that work in China.

Does Surfshark offer Dedicated IP Addresses?

In our Surfshark VPN review, we found that Surfshark doesn't offer dedicated IP addresses. But it does have static IP servers (an option on some of its apps).

A Static IP (static servers) means that when you reconnect to the same location, Surfshark VPN will endeavour to reconnect you to the same IP Address if at all possible.

If you don't enable this feature or the app you are using doesn't offer it, IP Addresses are offered on a round-robin basis which means you are unlikely to get the same IP address twice running.

Does Surfshark have Double-Hop servers?

Surfshark provides a range of double-hop connections which they call ‘MultiHop'.

These can be accessed from the locations sections of their Surfshark app, where you will see a tab for MultiHop at the top of the page.

Double-hop servers are VPN connections that reroute your network traffic through two different servers for additional security and privacy protection, this is sometimes known as a double VPN.

Double VPN connections usually have slower internet speeds than a regular VPN connection, but if privacy and security are important to you, they are well worth a try.

Surfshark VPN offers MultiHop in various countries and they all performed well in our tests. If you need that extra bit of VPN security, Surfshark can offer it.

Security and Safety

Protocols & Encryption

Protocols and encryption

Surfshark offers OpenVPN, IKEv2, Shadowsocks, and the newer WireGuard VPN protocol to all users.

IKEv2 is its default protocol on all apps which is a little unusual as OpenVPN is the one most VPN providers go with. However, you can switch to this if you want to.

For users in countries that block access to lots of content like Communist China, Russia, and Iran, the Shadowsocks protocol is also available to help them get around online restrictions.

WireGuard is a more recent addition, which promises faster speeds and more security than even OpenVPN. The option is there for Surfshark users if they so wish.

To protect your VPN traffic, Surfshark uses 256-bit AES encryption as standard across all apps and platforms with a SHA512 authentication hash and 2048-bit RSA key for handshaking.

AES 256 is unbreakable and is the minimum level we would expect. It also provides optional ChaCha encryption for Android users.

DNS Leak Testing

DNS leaks can compromise your online privacy and let people see your online activity so VPN services need to take them seriously.

Surfshark is one VPN provider that does. Each server has private DNS leak protection when using IPv4 which adds another level of security to their service.

The results are evident in our tests. We didn't find any DNS leaks at all. We also tested Surfshark for IP and WebRTC leaks and discovered no problems with these either.

Surfshark DNS leak test

Are there any Surfshark security incidents?

No. Surfshark is still a young VPN service, but so far there have been no security scandals that have made it into the public domain.

We have also not seen any user complaints about privacy and security breaches yet either.

Is Surfshark safe for Torrenting?

Not only does Surfshark allow torrenting, but it also claims to be the best VPN service around to use for it too.

A VPN is essential when downloading BitTorrent files because it stops your ISP from throttling your service and keeps your connection to the torrent client private and secure.

Torrenting is permitted across its entire server network and the service is also compatible with all the major P2P clients.

It also claims to offer lightning-fast torrenting speeds, a quick and reactive kill switch, and a whitelister to make sure all torrenting apps work.

This means you can use Surfshark to torrent anything you want and as often as you want, which is ideal.

Top Tip

Check out these other VPNs suitable for torrenting.

Who owns Surfshark?

Nobody previously knew who owned Surfshark which was definitely problematic.

More recently they slipped in on their website that their CEO is Vytautas Kaziukonis, information that previously wasn't publicly available. They've also further gone on to list other higher level members of the team, who like Kaziukonis all appear to be Lithuanian nationals.

Kaziukonis has in the past 12 months become a more vocal and visible entity giving interviews and appearing in promotional material. Quite why the Lithuanian who appears to be based in the United Kingdom was kept quiet in the early years is unknown.

There are no other names available and no phone numbers available for you to contact Surfshark.

Apps

Apps

Mobiles Apps

All of the Surfshark VPN apps are consciously minimalist in design. This is usually something to be praised but we did feel that Surfshark's mobile apps were perhaps a little bit too bare.

Using Surfshark to make a VPN connection on your mobile device is straightforward with apps available for Android, iOS, and Chrome devices. We tested both the iOS app and the Android apps. They were simple enough to download from the Apple app store and Google Play store respectively.

There is a single-click quick-connect button screen that connects you to the fastest available server for your location. The ‘Fastest Server' button opens up a list of servers which you can choose from.

Surfshark Android app

The settings menu and features icons in the corner directs you to optional advanced features like the kill switch and CleanWeb. You can choose from all the VPN secure protocols on offer and the Android app allows you to switch between encryption types too.

Surfshark mobile settings

We didn't like that “Track anonymous app usage data” and “Collect anonymous crash data” are turned in by default.

However, the GPS spoofing option is impressive and extremely useful for those streaming content from other countries.

Generally speaking, both the Surfshark mobile apps are clean and reasonably straightforward to use and do the basics well. They'll work on all mobile networks too.

Desktop Apps

Surfshark VPN has desktop apps for WindowsMac, and Linux devices. We tested both the Mac app and Windows app and again downloading & installing Surfshark was simple enough.

The desktop app both worked in much the same way as Surfshark's Android app.

There is a simple home screen with a quick connect button (to automatically connect you to the best server) and options to access the server list, which also included the multi-hop servers. The settings button allows you to toggle the optional features on or off.

Surfshark Windows

A nice little feature was discovered when you right-clicked the Surfshark system icon. This displays a miniature app window that allows you to connect to the fastest server, choose a recent location, or open the full VPN app interface.

As with the mobile app, there was nothing ostensibly wrong with this app, but we did prefer the mobile edition.

The minimalist style, however, won't be to everyone's taste and you may even miss a map style view that others offer.

Other Apps

Surfshark VPN offers apps for Linux users and a dedicated Amazon app that lets you use it with the Firestick and Fire TV devices. This is good news for streamers, cord-cutters and Kodi users especially.

Top Tip

Check out our round-up of the 7 best VPNs for the Fire TV devices.

There are also apps for Apple TV and other Smart TVs available too as well as a Smart DNS feature for Xbox and Playstation users.

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Does Surfshark support browser extensions?

Yes. They currently offer browser extensions for both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

These can be downloaded from these browsers respective web stores and will protect your browser activity and history but none of the other activity on your device.

Usefully, you can download and install both browser extensions with just two clicks.

Does Surfshark support VPN Routers?

Yes. If you want to install Surfshark onto a VPN-enabled router, you can do so but you will have to follow a manual setup guide.

The good news is that these are well written and simple to follow.

Most routers that can support OpenVPN are covered, but there are a few models that might require you to set up custom DD-WRT firmware. There is a guide for this too.

The Invizbox 2 VPN router comes pre-configured to use Surfshark out of the box.

Do Surfshark VPN apps have any other features?

There are plenty of Surfshark features for users to sink their teeth into.

They have a kill switch and a built-in DNS leak protection system as standard. The kill switch will cut your internet connection if you ever lose connection to the VPN.

The unique No Borders feature is an excellent little tool that actively looks to see if your network has any restrictions, such as state censorship.

If it finds any, it automatically changes the location you are connected to in order to ensure you can access everything. This could be great for users in counties like Communist China, Russia, and Iran.

The No borders mode requires different set-ups for different apps, but all the details are readily available in their help section.

There is a Camouflage mode that masks the fact that you are using a VPN from websites and even your ISPs. There is also a Whitelister tool (split tunneling feature) that allows you to specify certain apps and sites not to run through the VPN – a process known as split tunneling.

Surfshark also bundles in a tool to help you block ads, malware, and trackers. Theirs is called CleanWeb and from our testing, it seemed to do a pretty decent job.

They also offer Surfshark Search which will allow you to search the web in true incognito mode, and Surfshark Alert, which alerts you if your passwords have been breached.

The only other feature that Surfshark makes a bit of a fuss over is their independent security audit.

This was carried out by Cure 53 and came back with some glowing reports. But it should be stressed that this audit only covered Surfshark's browser extension and later their server infrastructure, crucially, not their apps or logging policy.

How do the apps compare?

Surfshark's apps are clean, user-friendly, and effective. We are generally very impressed with all of them.

If there is a downside, it is that they are still very minimalist in design but their features have increased.

This will suit some users down to the ground, but not others. It is a matter of personal taste in the end, but we weren't totally sold on the desktop version.

Streaming

Streaming

Surfshark has focused a lot on enabling its VPN to unblock as many streaming services as possible. This is not as easy as it may sound because many streaming services go out of their way to prevent VPNs from being able to unblock them.

Unlike some VPNs, they have not optimised certain servers for streaming but attempted to make their entire network streaming-friendly.

They have enjoyed a great success so far, but you have to remember that this is still a young VPN and to have got as far as they have is no mean feat.

Does Surfshark work with Netflix?

Yes. Surfshark can unblock Netflix.

It can unblock Netflix from the UK, India, Italy, Norway, Germany, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Poland, France, Canada, Turkey, Sweden, Singapore, and the Netherlands by connecting to any VPN server in those respective countries.

It can also unblock US Netflix too with any server other than those located in one of the countries mentioned above.

There's a total of over 30 different Netflix services that Surfshark can unblock.

Is Surfshark good for Netflix?

Yes, Surfshark works great with Netflix. It has a number of features and strengths that make Surfshark's ease of use for streaming either movies or TV shows on Netflix excellent:

  • Great speeds (according to our speed tests)
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • A large server network spanning around the world
  • A huge number of servers
  • Ability to unblock Netflix and similar streaming platforms

The fact that it covers so many countries means that you can even unblock some rather unique content, such as Japan's Netflix by using a Japanese IP address.

Does Surfshark work with BBC iPlayer?

Yes. You can stream content on the BBC iPlayer when connected to Surfshark servers based in the UK (giving you a UK IP address while masking your real IP address).

Again, speeds and reliability are good.

If you do encounter any problems, which we did on one occasion, there are tips on their website and their customer support team were able to tackle the problem in just a few minutes.

Does Surfshark work with Disney+?

Yes. You can access all the regional Disney+ services when you connect to a Surfshark server in the respective country.

Speeds and reliability are good and there is some great support if you encounter any problems.

Does Surfshark work with Amazon Prime?

Yes, but the only Amazon Prime video service that Surfshark can currently unblock is the US version.

You will need to connect to one of their US servers to do this. If you want to connect to another country's Prime service, unfortunately, Surfshark can't help you yet.

Can Surfshark unblock other streaming services?

Yes. Surfshark is able to unblock things like Hulu, ITV Player, Sky Go, Peacock and much more. There are also loads of international services from countries around the world able to be unblocked.

In our tests, there weren't too many streaming services it didn't work with. But, if you have a specific one you want to use it for, it is worth checking with their customer support team first.

30-day money-back guarantee

Prices and Plans

Prices and Plans

Surfshark is a very cheap VPN provider, it offers monthly, six month, and bi-annual Surfshark subscription plans with big discounts for those willing to sign up for longer, but no free trial. Their prices are:

  • Monthly – £9.52 a month ($12.95 /mo)
  • 6-Months – £4.77 a month – billed as £28.62 every 6 months. ($6.49 /mo)
  • 2 Year – £1.83 a month – billed as £43.92 every 24 months. ($2.49 /mo)

These prices are extremely competitive now but we strongly advise you to opt for the 2-year deal since it offers by far the best value for money. But be aware being locked into a service for so long does come with pitfalls.

There is no free trial but Surfshark offers a solid money-back guarantee and accepts all the major credit cards, several crypto-currencies, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Amazon Pay.

Surfshark also offers plenty of local payment options which is really useful in regions like South America or others where traditional ‘western' payment systems are less common.

How does the price compare?

Surfshark is cheaper than almost all other VPNs.

It is definitely one of the most cost-effective VPNs on the market right now and with their service improving all the time, they are becoming one of the best value for money VPNs out there.

Verdict

Verdict

Our review concludes that Surfshark is now a serious contender to the market-leading VPNs.

It lets itself down a little with its no logging and privacy policy and we would like to see improvements in this area sooner rather than later. Sadly, they are now registered in The Netherlands which puts them in the 5, 9, and 14 eyes jurisdiction.

Its use of virtual servers is not ideal either and its apps are not to everyone's taste, although they are quite easy to use.

But everything else in the service is first class and given what a relative newcomer they are, we are impressed.

They have good download speeds (verified by our speed test) and a large network of reliable VPN servers, AES 256 bit encryption with a built-in kill switch, split tunneling, and brilliant customer service with live chat.

Surfshark works well with Netflix, has great apps that work on almost any device including; Windows 10, iOS, Android, Mac, Linux, and many more. It is priced affordable too.

Our review concludes that this is a seriously good VPN and for the low prices they charge, it is a high-quality and high-value VPN.

They also have great security features such as moving to use a ram only server network.

Not to forget they allow you to connect as many devices as you want, giving all your devices private internet access.

If you are looking for a VPN, Surfshark is a great option to choose.

30-day money back guarantee

Do you agree with our Surfshark review? I would love to know so pop a comment below with your experiences.

Other reviews to consider:

Author: David Spencer

Cyber-security & Technology Reporter, David, monitors everything going on in the privacy world. Fighting for a less restricted internet as a member of the VPNCompare team for over 5 years.

Away from writing, he enjoys reading and politics. He is currently learning Mandarin too... slowly.

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