Surfshark VPN Review & Comprehensive Tests (2020)
Surfshark is a relatively young VPN that is giving its more established competitors a run for their money. The service promises to “secure your digital life” and provide you with “private access to the open internet”.
At a glance, the provider appears to have done their homework right.
The VPN comes with a robust feature suite packed in a sleek, easy to use client, at an attractive price.
At $1.99/mo, Surfshark is easily one of the most affordable VPNs in the market. But is it too cheap to be good?
Keep reading this Surfshark VPN review to find out!
I put the VPN through its paces and examined aspects like speed, Netflix access, connection leaks and more.
General Info & Features
|Jurisdiction||The British Virgin Islands|
|Speed Reduction||15 - 25 % On Average|
|Locations & Servers||61 Countries, 1040+ Servers|
|Encryption||AES 256-bit, OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP. PPTP|
|Price||View Best Price|
|Payment Methods||Credit Card, PayPal, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, Cryptocurrency|
|Refund Policy||30-Day Money-Back Guarantee|
|Simultaneous Connections||Unlimited Devices|
|Live Chat Support||Yes (24/7)|
|Supported Platforms||Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Routers, Smart TVs, Consoles|
What Is Surfshark VPN?
Surfshark is a new VPN that was launched in 2018.
It is owned and operated by Surfshark Ltd., a company registered and headquartered in the British Virgin Islands.
Despite being new in the industry, this VPN has been expanding at quite a rapid pace. Just a few years ago, Surfshark’s entire network consisted of less than 40 servers. Today, that number has turned into 1000+ servers spread across 60+ different countries.
So, it comes as no surprise that the company was voted as the ‘fastest-growing company’ at the 2020 Cybersecurity Excellence Awards.
Surfshark’s CEO is Par Kaz, and the CTO is Magnus Steinberg.
Privacy & Jurisdiction
The location of your VPN is critical, and so is its logging policy.
If your provider keeps your activity data or is based in a 14-Eyes country, then they can’t guarantee privacy from the authorities.
So, is Surfshark a safe VPN? Or does the VPN collect user data?
Are There Any Signs That Surfshark Keep Logs?
Surfshark advertises its product as a no-log VPN.
On their website, they state the following.
In addition to not collecting your browsing history, Surfshark makes it clear that they do not monitor or store IP addresses, connection timestamps, or any other data related to your online activities.
That said, the provider does keep the personal information you provide during signup. This includes your:
Surfshark also admits to collecting unique advertising identifiers from third parties such as Google Play, for marketing purposes and user analytics.
While this may appear troubling, the information is not personally identifiable and you can opt-out at any time by simply adjusting your Google Personalised Ads settings.
BVI Jurisdiction & Applicable Laws
Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which is an excellent location for a VPN. The country is not a member of the 14-Eyes or any other spy alliance.
Further, the BVI has privacy-friendly laws and does not require providers to retain user data.
Despite being located in VPN-friendly jurisdiction, Surfshark maintains a warrant canary that is updated daily.
So far, the company is yet to receive any national security letter or warrants from the government.
Surfshark uses this warrant canary to circumvent gag orders and warn users.
If the statement isn’t updated as expected, you should treat that as an indication that something is amiss.
How Secure Is Surfshark?
In regards to security, Surfshark has a lot to offer.
It’s well equipped and easily beats many big-name providers – and it does so by a mile.
Tunneling Protocols & Encryption
Surfshark protects your online traffic with bank-grade AES 256-bit cipher, which is virtually impenetrable. The encryption effectively guards against brute force attacks and will keep you safe when connected to unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
The VPN comes with three protocols in its armory, including:
OpenVPN remains highly secure, and it’s the protocol I recommend.
IKev2 delivers a strong performance as well and is a perfect alternative if you seek speed.
While technically not a VPN protocol, Surfshark’s Shadowsocks proxy is likewise effective. It completely obfuscates your online traffic, making it almost impossible to detect. It’s popular in China and works well against the Great Firewall of China (GFC).
Other Great Security Features
Recently, the provider had their browser extensions audited by the Germany cybersecurity company, Cure53.
While the report did yield two vulnerabilities, both were rated with “low severity” and the auditors concluded that the “applications make a very robust impression and are not exposed to any issues, neither in the privacy nor in the more general security realms”.
Privacy Beyond VPN
Surfshark further goes beyond what you would typically expect from a standard VPN and provides additional privacy solutions that you can purchase separately.
These features include:
As mentioned, Surfshark uses leak prevention technology to prevent your real identity and physical location from being exposed.
To find out how effective it is, I connected to the New York, US server and tested for IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks.
As you can see in the screenshot, Surfshark assigned me 22.214.171.124 as my public IP.
IP Leak Test
I can confidently say that Surfshark does not expose your IP information.
I used ipleak.org to conduct the test, and the VPN passed without issues.
DNS Leak Test
Using ip8.com, I tested for DNS leaks, and Surfshark aced this test as well.
In addition to the New York server, I tried several others, and none exposed my DNS address.
WebRTC Leak Test – WebRTC Tool
Virus & Malware Test
After testing for each of the different VPN leaks independently, I didn’t stop there.
I also ran Surfshark through virustotal.com to check for viruses and other malware.
Again, the VPN received a cleaned bill of health.
Speed and Performance
Slows speeds can be frustrating.
We all like our videos to load quickly and not just that but also stream without buffering.
Unfortunately, when you’re connected to a VPN, your connection speed will likely drop. Blame it on the VPN encryption.
However, with the right VPN, this speed loss should be barely noticeable.
So, how does Surfshark perform?
How Fast Is Surfshark?
To see how well the VPN performs, I first measured my baseline internet speed.
I was using a 100 Mbps connection and the speeds at the time were 97.84 Mbps download, 48.15 Mbps upload, and a ping of 14 ms.
I then connected to several Surfshark VPN locations and the average results were as outlined below.
Note: I was testing the VPN from Europe, so keep that mind when looking at the different server speed results.
|Ping||Download Speed||Upload Speed||Speed Reduction (Download)|
|Base Line Data||14 ms||97.84 Mbps||48.15 Mbps||0%|
|Nearby Server||48 ms||82.97 Mbps||43.61 Mbps||-15.20%|
|Connected to the US||194 ms||73.52 Mbps||36.27 Mbps||-24.86%|
|Connected to the UK||69 ms||80.44 Mbps||40.02 Mbps||-17.78%|
|Connected to Canada||171 ms||71.39 Mbps||37.84 Mbps||-27.03%|
|Connected to Australia||254 ms||65.64 Mbps||32.19 Mbps||-32.91%|
As you can see, Surfshark delivered fast connection speeds, especially when connected to nearby servers (Europe).
However, the VPN did suffer a bit when connected to distant servers (Australia), but overall, I was pleased with its performance.
A good VPN can help you unlock a whole new world of content.
But while many VPNs will bypass simple geo-restrictions like those deployed by YouTube and social media platforms, only a few have what it takes to access services like Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu, HBO, and Prime Video.
Naturally, I checked to see if Surfshark makes the cut. I connected to different servers, in different locations and tried to access some of the popular streaming services today.
|Amazon Prime Video||Working|
Does Surfshark Work With Netflix?
Netflix is the leading streaming service in the world right now. It offers a large and varied collection of movies and TV shows that you can binge on.
However, the Netflix content library varies depending on where you are located, with American residents getting the upper hand.
Surfshark works reliably with Netflix, and by connecting to its US servers, you can easily access American Netflix.
In total, I tested 5 servers – New York, Boston, Miami, Detroit, Chicago – and all worked on the first try.
Below I was streaming “Dexter”, an American Netflix exclusive crime drama TV show.
Besides Netflix US, I was able to access 19 other libraries, inlcuding UK, CA, AU, DE, SE, and JP. Surfshark also provides access to Hulu, HBO GO, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video.
Not every VPN supports torrenting, and many of those that do, they only do so on countable servers. Then there is the issue of security and privacy.
Yes, torrent poisoning is a thing. If your VPN is plagued with connection leaks, it may be only a matter of time before you get a DMCA notice.
Is Surfshark Good For Torrenting?
Surfshark is excellent for torrenting. The VPN comes with bulletproof AES 256-bit encryption and strict no-log policy. Additionally, Surfshark features perfect forward secrecy, which protects your torrent traffic from past and future vulnerabilities.
Surfshark is also fast and provides unlimited bandwidth, allowing you to download large downloads without worrying about speed drops.
You can use Surfshark with virtually all P2P clients, including µTorrent, Vuze, and Deluge. It’s also compatible with BitTorrent players such as Popcorn Time, Ace Player, Stermio, and the popular VLC media player.
All Surfshark servers are P2P friendly, but you’ll get top speeds while using their servers in:
Countries and Servers
Surfshark offers around 1040+ servers in 61 countries.
While the VPN cannot compete with the likes of NordVPN and ExpressVPN in terms of the sheer number of servers, you simply cannot dismiss it.
Surfshark has server locations in almost every continent, including the Americas, Europe, the Asia Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East.
However, it’s worth noting that the provider uses a mix of physical and virtual servers. While this may not sit well with some users, it does allow the VPN to cover more locations.
The servers are nicely organized, and if you are not in the mood for scrolling, there is an easily accessible search bar that you can use to find your desired server.
Surfshark VPN groups the Static IP and MultiHop servers separately and it makes it quite easy to save and access your favorite servers.
And if you need to make a quick connection, all you have to do is click either the ‘Fastest server’ or ‘Nearest Server’ option.
Does Surfshark Work in China?
Surfshark is one of the VPNs that work in mainland China.
It allows you to access sites like YouTube, Facebook, Gmail, and hundreds of others that are unavailable in the country.
Remember, the internet in China is not only heavily censored, but also through the use of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), the authorities actively detect and block VPN traffic.
Surfshark surely bypasses the Great Firewall of China thanks to its robust NoBorders feature and Camouflage Mode (obfuscation) capabilities.
When it comes to compatibility, Surfshark is unrivaled.
You can use the VPN on almost any primary device you can think of.
Supported platforms include:
Surfshark can also be set up on routers, which allows you to cover devices that lack inbuilt VPN functionality.
With routers, the setup process is a bit more involved, but the provider has easy-to-follow set up tutorials that you can use.
If you are not up for the hassle, you can alternatively purchase a router with Surfshark pre-installed. Available options include the Asus RT-AC5300, GL iNet GL-b1300, and Netgear R6400.
How Many Devices Does Surfshar Allow at a Go?
While most providers will limit you to 5 or 6 connections per license, Surfshark allows you to cover an unlimited number of devices.
So, if you are looking for a family VPN that will protect all your home devices, Surfshark is an excellent option.
Reliability & Customer Support
When your VPN develops issues, you want them addressed quickly so you can continue using the internet safely. It’s, therefore, essential to ensure your provider has a customer service that can guarantee that.
Surfshark offers multiple support options, but just as is the norm in the VPN industry nowadays, their live chat is the most reliable.
It’s available 24/7, and their support reps are responsive and knowledgeable.
Surfshark also has a decent email ticketing system where you can leave a message and have one of their team members contact you.
Their website also has helpful resources like FAQs, a media center, and a knowledge base section where you can find setup tutorials, billing, and general information.
User Experience & Usability
Surfshark offer native clients for many of their supported platforms.
The apps are intuitive and straightforward to use, something which makes the VPN appealing to beginners.
Here is how the Windows and Android apps look:
But the Surfshark doesn’t cater to beginners only.
Under the hood, the VPN spots advanced configuration options which make it ideal for seasoned users as well.
Features like Auto-connect, kill Switch, Start with Windows, as well as your choice of VPN protocol, are all customizable.
Surfshark also incorporates an in-built split-tunneling feature, which they’ve aptly named the ‘Whitelister’. Basically, it enables you to whitelist certain sites and IP addresses and cause them to bypass the VPN.
While Surfshark is not going to win awards for aesthetics, their apps spot a modern and well-organized interface. Their desktop clients feature a ‘dark theme’ mode, which I thought was a nice touch.
Surfshark does not neglect the small stuff, either.
When you visit their official website, you’re met with a pleasant greeting in your local language. The site itself is well designed and quite easy to navigate.
How Much Does Surfshark Cost?
Surfshark packages are very affordable. They offer three plans to choose from, with huge discounts for long-term subscriptions.
Current pricing plans include a monthly package, a 12-month package, and a 24-month package.
- $11.95 billed every month
- $42.00 billed every 24 months
- $71.88 billed every 12 months
While Surfshark is overall quite cheap, their month-to-month subscription is steeply-priced. However, the yearly plan allows you to save up a whole 50%, while the 2-year plan comes with an incredible 83% discount.
While the Privacy Beyond VPN features are priced separately, the provider uses the same customer-oriented pricing strategy that has come to define Surfshark.
Surfshark affords its customers flexibility with payment methods.
You can purchase your subscription using any of the following:
Does Surfshark Have a Free Trial?
Surfshark does not provide the standard free trial. However, they do have a money-back guarantee that allows you to test the service risk-free for 30-days.
Surfshark maintains a transparent refund policy.
They guarantee you the right to claim a refund within the first 30 days following your subscription. However, you should keep in mind that not all payments are refundable.
If you make your purchase via the Apple App Store or using prepaid cards or gift cards, you won’t be able to get your money back.
Is Surfshark VPN Any Good?
Yes absolutely. Not only does it provide secure encryption, but also, the provider maintains a stringent no-logging policy. And if you are looking to bypass geo-restrictions, Surfshark does so with ease. The VPN also delivers fast speeds, which makes it perfect for streaming, torrenting, and online gaming.
Who Owns Surfshark VPN?
Is Surfshark Easy to Use?
How Much Does Surfshark VPN Cost?
Pricing varies depending on how long you commit to using Surfshark.
Their month-to-month subscription will set you back $11.95, but if you opt for the long-term 2-year plan, the cost drops to just $1.99 per month.
Can I Use Surfshark VPN on My Router?
Yes, you can use Surfshark routers. However, not all routers are compatible.
So, before you get your router, you should make sure it comes with DD-WRT, AsusWRT, Mikrotik, Sabai, and GL.Inet firmware.
Is Surfshark More Secure Than ExpressVPN?
On the jurisdiction front, Surfshark and ExpressVPN are pretty much tied since both are based in the Virgin Islands. Again, the two VPNs offer similar encryption and top security features such as MultiHop, internet kill switch and DNS/IP leak prevention.
However, with privacy solutions such as HackLock and BlindPass, Surfshark manages to be slightly more secure than ExpressVPN.
Do I Recommend Surfshark?
Yes, I definitely recommend Surfshark.
The VPN has grown at a tremendous rate, and does not show any signs of slowing down soon. It delivers fast connections, robust encryption, and advanced anonymity at a budget-friendly price.
Surfshark also has an extensive server network and it works reliably with Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
To be honest, there isn’t much not to like about this VPN. And when you factor in their unbeatable price, it’s easy to see why it stands out.
If you are looking for a VPN that offers excellent value for money, then Surfshark is the perfect fit. The VPN also ticks all the right boxes when it comes to streaming and online privacy.