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Surfshark CleanWeb: What Is It & How to Use It?

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Surfshark’s CleanWeb is an ad-blocking technology developed by the VPN service provider, ensuring you get a cleaner experience on the web.

However, Surfshark maintains that CleanWeb doesn’t block all kinds of ads but only malicious ones from threat actors and aggressive advertisers.

Additionally, Surfshark developed CleanWeb 2.0 to block malware and pop-ups and monitor for data breaches.

I’ll show you how to get and enable these ad blockers in the rest of this guide.

How Does CleanWeb Differ From CleanWeb 2.0?

CleanWeb and CleanWeb 2.0 are both developed and maintained by Surfshark.

Likewise, at their core, they’re both designed to block ads and create a safer internet experience.

However, they differ in how you can install them, what devices they work on, what additional content they block, and how to get them.

I’ve summarized the top differences in the table below.

Criteria CleanWeb CleanWeb 2.0
Availability VPN app VPN browser extension
Works on? PCs and smartphones Browsers (Firefox, Edge, and Chrome)
Content blocked Ads Ads, pop-ups, malware
Data breach monitoring? No Yes
Pricing Included in the VPN plan Included in the VPN plan
Blocks video ads? No Yes

How Much Does Surfshark’s CleanWeb Cost?

Surfshark doesn’t price its CleanWeb and CleanWeb 2.0 services separately but bundles them into its VPN plans. Hence, you can get any of the Surfshark Starter, Surfshark One, or Surfshark One+ plans, which’ll come with the ad blockers.

Screenshot MS 1 1
Image for illustration only. Design, deals, and details may differ. Click on the image for current info.

If you’re interested in the VPN service alone, choose the multi-year Surfshark Starter plan. This ensures you get the best savings on the VPN and can enjoy the bundled ad blockers cheaper for years.

How to Enable Surfshark CleanWeb?

Surfshark’s CleanWeb works across PCs, smart TVs, and smartphones.

I’ve included guides to help you enable it on these devices:

How to Use Surfshark CleanWeb on Mobile?

You only have to toggle the CleanWeb setting on your mobile device, and it’ll be ready to block ads when you next browse the internet.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Get a Surfshark account. Use these discounts for savings.
  2. To be sure your ad blocking works, I recommend opening an ad-ridden website. I used KHOU 11 for this demonstration.
  1. Download and install the Surfshark mobile app. I’ll use an iPhone for this demo, but the steps are similar on Android phones.
  2. Tap the Surfshark app to open it.
  1. Log in with your username and password. You can also log in with a code if you’re logged in on another device.
  2. Tap “Settings.”
  3. Tap “VPN settings.”
  1. Toggle “CleanWeb.”
  1. Tap “VPN” to return to the home page.
  1. Connect to any server. I’ll connect to the US–Houston server for this example since that’s where I can get KHOU 11.
  2. Wait for the connection confirmation.
  3. Once connected, confirm that the Surfshark app notes that CleanWeb is active.
  1. Reload the website page you opened in step 2 in a new tab.
  2. Surfshark’s CleanWeb ensures the ads don’t show up anymore.

How to Use Surfshark CleanWeb on PC?

Enabling CleanWeb inside the Surfshark VPN app ensures it works the next time you connect to a VPN server.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Got a Surfshark account? Buy one with these HUGE deals before they expire.
  2. Download and install the Surfshark PC app. I’ll grab the Windows app for this guide, but the steps are similar across other PCs.
  3. Optional: Find an ad-ridden website (local news website, maybe) and open a page to ensure ads are on it. You’ll need this for initial tests.
advertisement on punch
  1. Launch the Surfshark PC app and log in with your credentials.
  2. Click “Settings,” then “VPN settings.”
locating vpn settings on surfshark using pc
  1. Toggle “CleanWeb” ON.
enable cleanweb on surfshark using pc
  1. Click the VPN icon, then connect to any server. I’ll click “Quick-connect” this time to get the fastest server.
selecting quick connect button on surfshark
  1. Wait for the connection confirmation.
  2. Confirm that the Surfshark VPN system registers CleanWeb after the connection.
enabled cleanweb on surfshark
  1. Reload the page you opened in step 3 if you followed it. Otherwise, enjoy your ad blocking.
  2. With Surfshark CleanWeb active, the ads won’t load at all.
ad blocked on punch using surfshark

How to Use Surfshark CleanWeb on Smart TV?

You can set up Surfshark for your smart TV via its smart DNS, installing it on a router, setting it up as a virtual router connection, or installing the VPN on a Fire TV stick connected to your smart TV.

Of these setup methods, only the virtual router setup method and Amazon Fire TV stick installation allow you to enable CleanWeb on smart TVs.

In either case, here’s how to set up the advanced Surfshark ad-blocking tech:

  1. Buy a Surfshark account for your smart TV using these discounts.
  2. Install Surfshark on your Windows PC (for the virtual router setup) or Amazon Fire TV stick (check the video below).
  1. For PC users: Set up your PC for VPN sharing. The video below will help you.
  1. Toggle the CleanWeb settings on your device.
    1. Amazon Fire TV stick users should follow the mobile guide above. The Fire TV stick uses an Android version, making its apps like mobile apps.
    2. PC users should follow the guide above to toggle CleanWeb.
  2. Connect to a Surfshark server to start blocking Smart TV ads, keep Samsung TV browser ads at bay, and protect your LG TV from static streaming ads on YouTube.

How to Enable Surfshark CleanWeb 2.0?

Surfshark CleanWeb 2.0 blocks more ads and content, but it can only be installed at the browser level.

Here’s how to get it up and running:

  1. Got a Surfshark account already? Buy one cheaper with these discounts, otherwise.
  2. Go to the Surfshark website and click “Download.”
download tab on surfshark website
  1. Scroll and click your browser from the listed device types. I’ll use my Google Chrome browser for this example.
surfshark compatible with chrome firefox and edge
  1. Click “Download extension.” Downloading from here is essential to avoid getting copycat extensions on your browser’s extension store.
download surfshark extension
  1. Click “Add to Chrome.”
selecting add to chrome button for surfshark extension
  1. Click “Add extension” to confirm.
selecting add extension for surfshark
  1. Click the extensions icon, then the pin near “Surfshark VPN Extension.” That way, you can always easily access the extension.
pin surfshark extension
  1. Click the Surfshark extension, then click “Log in.”
surfshark account log in
  1. Enter your email and password details (obtained from step 1 above) to log in.
surfshark extension authenticated successfully
  1. Once again, click the Surfshark extension icon to open the dashboard.
  2. Click “Settings,” then “CleanWeb Settings.”
locating surfshark cleanweb settings
  1. Toggle the options you want ON.
surfshark cleanweb settings options
  1. Browse any website you want, ad-free

The best thing about CleanWeb 2.0 is that you don’t need to connect to a Surfshark server to get it working. On top of that, it doesn’t leave ad remnants/empty space when it blocks ads. Instead, it wipes out the ads entirely like they were never there!

How to Test Surfshark’s CleanWeb?

I’ve included different tests for the Surfshark CleanWeb so far, but no definitive video ad block tests or ad blocking score tests yet.

So, let’s see how this tool stands up against the toughest ads on the internet.

Test #1 – Video Ads

You can test if CleanWeb or CleanWeb 2.0 works for video ads by following the steps below. I’ll use my PC for this guide since that’s the platform where both CleanWeb types can be tested:
  1. Disable CleanWeb 2.0 and disconnect from your Surfshark VPN.
  2. Launch a video on an ad-supported platform. I’ll use Plex and YouTube for this example.
    1. Plex
ad on plex
    1. YouTube
ad on youtube
  1. Enable Surfshark CleanWeb via the VPN app. Follow the PC guide above to do this.
  2. Remember to connect to a VPN server to activate CleanWeb.
  3. Open the ad-supported video platform you chose again to see if CleanWeb blocks the ads.
    1. Plex
plex ad with surfshark cleanweb
    1. YouTube
youtube ad with surfshark cleanweb
  1. Now, disconnect from the VPN.
  2. Enable CleanWeb 2.0.
  3. Visit the same ad-supported video websites.
    1. Plex
plex ad with surfshark cleanweb 2.0
    1. YouTube
ad block on youtube with surfshark cleanweb 2.0

As you can see, Surfshark CleanWeb blocked no video ads, while CleanWeb 2.0 blocked some video ads.

I also noticed that CleanWeb 2.0 is less intrusive, allowing me to watch VPN-sensitive YouTube channels like Formula 1, which don’t work when the app version CleanWeb is enabled.

Test #2 – Static/Dynamic Ad Test

Static and dynamic ads pop up on a page, usually alongside text or a video, after you load a website. They might be static in that they don’t change or dynamic in that the ad interface reloads to show a new ad at intervals.

Following the stepwise guides above, you’ll see different ways to determine whether CleanWeb 2.0 or the basic version works against these ads.

In summary, they both do, but CleanWeb 2.0 does a better job of eliminating all traces of the ad from the web page. Whereas, CleanWeb only keeps the ads from loading, but the empty space where they once were isn’t cleaned out of the page.

Test #3 – Ad Blocker Tool Tests

Ad blocker test tools help see how efficient an ad blocker is against different ads.

We’ll enable and run both CleanWeb versions for this test via the tool.

Here goes:

  1. Enable Surfshark CleanWeb via the VPN app. Don’t connect to a server yet.
enable cleanweb on surfshark using pc
  1. Disable CleanWeb 2.0. Alternatively, launch another browser on which you haven’t installed the Surfshark extension.
surfshark extension disabled
  1. Go to an ad blocker tool. I’ll use AdBlock Tester for this demo.
  2. Note the score.
adblock test score without surfshark cleanweb
  1. Connect to a Surfshark server, then re-run the test.
adblock test score with surfshark cleanweb
  1. Disconnect from the VPN.
  2. Enable CleanWeb 2.0.
  3. Repeat the ad block tester test.
adblock test score with surfshark cleanweb 2.0

In all the iterations of this test I ran, CleanWeb 2.0 came out on top.

It excelled best in blocking video ads and gifs, where CleanWeb sometimes struggled.

Surfshark CleanWeb Not Working? 4 Fixes & Solutions

During my Surfshark CleanWeb tests and usage, it sometimes didn’t work as planned.

In other instances, the feature kept the sites and platforms I wanted to use from working correctly.

In case you notice any of these, try these troubleshooting tips.

Update Your Apps

Apply to: CleanWeb and CleanWeb 2.0

You might need a Surfshark app update to get the CleanWeb working correctly.

Or, you may need a browser update to get CleanWeb 2.0 working right again.

So, check for a pending app update on both ends before anything else.

Change Connection Protocol

Apply to: CleanWeb

I couldn’t connect to my Surfshark VPN (on Windows) with CleanWeb active on some networks. However, this only happened over WireGuard, and the issue was resolved once I switched to OpenVPN.

Here’s a guide to switch your connection protocol on Surfshark:

  1. Open the Surfshark app.
  2. Click Settings > VPN settings.
locating vpn settings on surfshark using pc
  1. Scroll to “Protocol,” toggle it, and choose another protocol.
selecting wireguard protocol on surfshark
  1. Return to the VPN homepage and connect to a server.

Disable Temporarily

Apply to: CleanWeb and CleanWeb 2.0

Disabling CleanWeb or CleanWeb 2.0 temporarily allows you to determine whether it’s the problem.

For instance, I can’t watch the Formula 1 YouTube channel once CleanWeb is enabled.

But I can watch all videos on the channel with CleanWeb 2.0 enabled.

I only found out after disabling the ad blockers to check if they were the culprit.

Contact Customer Support

Apply to: CleanWeb and CleanWeb 2.0

If nothing else works, Surfshark has a 24/7 live chat system ready to attend to any issues you have.

locating chat with us tab on surfshark

Contact the customer care reps, discuss your unique scenario with them, and they’ll work with you to find a solution.

Best Surfshark CleanWeb Alternative

Surfshark’s app-based CleanWeb is no slouch, but it interferes with unblocking some websites and may not work as intended on platforms like Plex and YouTube.

So, I researched and tested a few alternatives. One stood out!

NordVPN – Threat Protection

adblock test score with nordvpn

NordVPN’s Threat Protection maintains similar scores to the top-tier CleanWeb 2.0.

This translates to blocking Plex video ads, even though CleanWeb 2.0 failed.

However, Threat Protection struggled against YouTube video ads and could only block the image. So, the audio still came through. But remember that this is the app-based solution, which fares better than Surfshark’s basic CleanWeb.

On top of that, NordVPN’s Threat Protection also offers protection against malware. Whereas Surfshark only has such on its extension-only CleanWeb 2.0.

Hence, leaving your iOS devices and non-browser apps exposed to malware and trackers.

Finally, NordVPN’s Threat Protection is optimized to play nicely with many sites and tools. You’ll rarely run into an unblocking issue because it’s active.

Interesting Reads:

FAQs

Surfshark CleanWeb consumes less mobile data, saving you the internet bandwidth that would have gone towards loading ads.

Because many websites now use floating video ads, even on mobile, Surfshark’s CleanWeb can save you a considerable sum on monthly mobile data costs.

It’s advisable to always leave Surfshark CleanWeb and CleanWeb 2.0 on whenever possible, as they help you maintain a cleaner web experience, ward off trackers, keep ads at bay, and alert you to dangerous websites.

However, CleanWeb may sometimes interfere with elements on web pages like YouTube or cause some online platforms to not work correctly.

In such cases, you can temporarily turn it off.

The app-based Surfshark CleanWeb doesn’t block YouTube video ads but can block static text ads layered over some videos. Luckily, the browser extension-based CleanWeb 2.0 blocks YouTube video ads, preventing them from loading and allowing users to enjoy an ad-free, YouTube Premium-like experience.

Want a Cleaner Web Version? Use Surfshark CleanWeb!

I tested a lot of other VPN-supported ad blockers, and they didn’t come close to this one. You should also consider that Surfshark offers its ad blocker as a free add-on to an already affordable VPN package!

Plus, with the newly-designed CleanWeb 2.0 blocking YouTube ads, you’ll never go back to the ad-ridden internet once you’ve had a taste.

Grab these Surfshark discount offers before they expire and start enjoying your time on the web better.

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