Surfshark VPN is a relatively new company on the VPN scene that features many great options such as P2P download support and unlimited device installation!
With their affordable and competitive offerings, this provider has recently been recognized as the fastest growing VPN on the market today. It is one of the best VPNs of the moment according to our tests and their offer keeps getting better.
Surfshark VPN is primarily targeted at people looking for a cheap and powerful VPN, wanting to protect an unlimited number of devices or small and medium sized businesses needing to protect their online activities.
We’ll see why this ambitious provider could give some of its top-rated competitors a run for their money in the coming years.
As with all of the services we feature, Surfshark has undergone a series of independent tests to evaluate its security level, overall performance and ability to unlock geo-restricted content.
About Surfshark VPN
Founded in the spring of 2018, Surfshark VPN is the latest to enter the VPN provider market. The service is owned by the Surfshark LTD group.
In a short period of time, the British Virgin Islands-based company has managed to develop a powerful and very comprehensive VPN service. We think their service is comparable to industry leaders like ExpressVPN or NordVPN, although their network is currently significantly smaller (but growing rapidly).
To enter this already crowded market, with leaders established for sometimes a decade or more, Surfshark VPN relies on a host of advanced features (split tunneling, dual VPN, unlimited devices, Wireguard protocol, Surfshark One suite, etc.) as well as reliable security, good speeds and the ability to stream geo-restricted content.
Continue reading this test to learn more and find our conclusion on Surfshark at the end of the article!
Unlimited number of devices and support for all operating systems and devices
One of the greatest things about Surfshark is that it currently allows users to connect an unlimited number of devices simultaneously. It’s the only VPN on the market that allows you to protect as many devices as you want!
While some providers offer six to ten simultaneous connections, the industry standard is around five. The lack of restriction on the number of simultaneous connections is a big plus in our opinion!
With unlimited connections, you’ll be able to protect all the devices in your home, even if you have a large family. This is a feature that is often found in new providers looking to attract as many customers as possible.
Data is unlimited, peer-to-peer is allowed, and there’s a real no logging and activity policy, making it a perfect VPN for torrenting. This provider offers strong security with military-grade encryption, perfect transmission secrecy, a Killswitch feature, and protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks.
Other notable features include CleanWeb (ad and malware blocker), Bypasser (split tunneling creation feature), Multihop servers and traffic obfuscation.
Surfshark VPN Application Compatibility
Each Surfshark subscription gives you access to all of its native applications, available for macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android as well as some smart TVs.
The VPN software can be configured manually with Linux and some home routers. Browser extensions are available for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, but keep in mind that they will only protect browser traffic and not your entire device and its applications.
According to our tests, the compatibility with some connected TVs (Android TV in particular), routers or game consoles is not optimal, unless you go through a manual configuration.
Ease of use
Surfshark applications are very simple to configure and use. They are not the most aesthetic, although the company has made a real effort in this area, but they are simple to use and easy to navigate. For the purposes of this test, we tested both the Windows and macOS applications.
On the right, you have the option to choose your server by type of use (Specialty servers) or by country.
Surfshark VPN clients
The desktop application has a minimalist look that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. Once you have entered your credentials, you will be taken to the Surfshark VPN login window. You will then see a “Quick Connect” button and the location of the last server(s) used.
Note that clicking “Quick Connect” will not connect you to the server at the top of the list, but to the fastest server for your location, usually the one closest to you geographically. You can select “Locations” in the left column to display the list of servers.
The first choice the Surfshark VPN client offers you here is the optimal location, which is the same as the one offered by the “Quick Connect” option in the main screen. The servers are simply sorted alphabetically by country. An icon with a “V” above the country flag indicates the virtual servers used by Surfshark
When there are multiple location options available in a country, the city is also listed. There is no option to add servers to a favorites list, but you can see recently used servers at the top of the list, which is also useful.
In the upper right corner of the server list screen on the macOS app, you’ll find the MultiHop feature (left column for the Windows version). When you click on it, you’ll see a list of dual VPN options.
The destination country is the one from which your IP address will be assigned. 8 (macOS) and 13 (Windows) different locations is a pretty good selection compared to other providers that offer similar functionality.
The static IP tab allows you to always use the same IP address that you will share here with other users on the server you are connecting to.
The Mac application only allows you to use the IKEv2 or Wireguard protocols. Recently it offers the dark mode.
On macOS, click on the icon in the upper right corner of the screen to access the settings options. In the General section, you have the option to enable or disable certain options such as the Killswitch shutdown switch, the CleanWeb ad blocker and the NoBorders feature.
The application for Windows is very similar but a little more comprehensive. Clicking on the “Settings” icon at the bottom of the left column takes you to your account settings and the general options just below. The “Connectivity” option gives you access to the following options: log in at Windows startup, automatic log in, Kill Switch, Status Notification and automatic Wi-Fi protection.
The Advanced screen contains protocol options, NoBorders and incident reports. You can choose between automatic, OpenVPN and IKEv2 (no longer available since July 2022). Each protocol option is accompanied by a handy description of what you can expect from the connection in terms of speed and security.
Finally, you have access to the “CleanWeb” adblocker and “Bypasser” split tunneling features directly from the left column. The ByPasser (formerly Whitelister) option is not yet available for macOS, but it should be in the future.
Note that in general, the macOS application is still to be perfected and the Surfshark team would already work on a new version as complete as the one for Windows.
All in all, it is a very simple application and suitable for beginners. However, there are many advanced options to enhance security and customize the user experience.
The Surfshark mobile application is very similar in design to the desktop version. It just lacks a few features. On the main screen, you have a Connect button and a server drop-down list. The logo changes from blue to green once you’re connected, and you’ll see your new IP address as well as Killswitch enabled or not (by default it’s enabled in the mobile app).
The list of servers is pretty much the same as in the desktop app, except you don’t have the Multihop feature, so no dual VPN.
In the Settings screen, you will find the Kill switch and CleanWeb. Missing here is the “Bypass” split tunneling feature.
This is an easy to use app with enough features for beginners and even some more advanced users. You’ll have to go through the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store to download it.Performance
Strong network growth
Since its inception, Surfshark has continued to expand the number of available servers. Its network has grown from about 100 servers to more than 3200 and more in 95 countries in 4 years. A remarkable growth!
Although it still can’t compete with larger providers like NordVPN (with over 5500 servers) and CyberGhost (with over 6700 servers), it’s really quite decent for a newcomer. Their growth in this area is among the largest in the market today!
Regarding the number of countries covered, Surfshark is also doing well, about sixty countries in its network to date with servers spread around the world. These are mainly European countries, although there are 8 countries in Asia-Pacific, 6 in the Americas (including the United States and Canada), and a handful of others.
The majority of Surfshark’s servers are physical and run in “Ram-Only” (100% RAM, user data is not stored on disks), There are a few virtual servers that are clearly advertised via their application, and although they are rented, they are not shared with any other provider.
Switching from one server to another is simple and the connection usually only takes a few seconds. In addition to the usual list of servers, you have a MultiHop list, from which you can choose a pair of servers for a dual VPN connection offering better protection but worse performance.
Surfshark VPN servers
We tested several test servers (single connection) in the western United States, eastern United States, and the United Kingdom and France, performing a range of daily activities, such as streaming, browsing, and online gaming.
Using a VPN service can often turn simple tasks like streaming and browsing into frustrating experiences due to slow, unreliable connections that cause delays and excessive buffering time. But we haven’t encountered any problems with general Surfshark usage.
The fastest servers are really powerful which makes Surfshark VPN one of the fastest VPNs!
According to our tests on different Surfshark VPN servers, our upload and download speed was not too negatively affected and the ping is average! The VPN client connects to the servers rather easily and speed drops are minimal.
Does Surfshark work with Netflix?
Yes, Surfshark works with Netflix as well as other popular streaming sites. For Netflix, we generally focus on testing Netflix US, as it is the most popular library. Surfshark advertises easy access to 30+ libraries on their site!
Surfshark unblocked Netflix US on all the US servers we tested. We also tested it with other servers, Netflix was unblocked with every server we tried.
However, it should be noted that this does not always mean that you have access to the library that corresponds to the server location. Surfshark (and other providers) will redirect to the US Netflix library for some of the locations.
The ones we tested that didn’t redirect were the UK, France, Netherlands, India and Japan, so you can use Surfshark to access the respective Netflix libraries for those countries. You can always contact their technical support to ask them what is the optimal server to unblock the library you are interested in.
We tested the service with some other popular streaming services that are notoriously difficult to unblock. The results were positive as it was able to unblock Amazon Prime Video with a US server and Hulu was also accessible. In addition, a UK connection gave us access to BBC iPlayer.
Does Surfshark VPN work in China?
Yes, Surfshark works in China, but may not be completely reliable (this is true for most VPNs). Surfshark is clearly committed to giving users in China access to its service, although it’s hard to say that the service will be 100% reliable on an ongoing basis, given the tenacity of Chinese censorship.
The main problem with Surfshark is that the applications do not always work in China. So you will probably have to make manual connections at some point, which is not optimal.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult for VPN providers to escape the Great Chinese Firewall, and few are able to do so consistently. Many will say outright that the task is too difficult and they’ve almost given up, while others, like Surfshark, continue to struggle to offer free web access outside of that country.
To pass under the radar of Chinese censorship, Surfshark offers several very interesting options:
The “NoBorders” mode with a list of servers specially designed to pass the censorship filters
The “Camouflage” mode of server obfuscation, supposed to make the VPN connection undetectable
The Shadowsocks proxy which proved to be more difficult to detect than some common VPN protocols like OpenVPN.
Security and privacy
Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, where ExpressVPN is also located. It’s no coincidence that they’re both based in this country, and it’s clear that both companies recognize the benefits of being located in a jurisdiction where the government doesn’t require data retention or activity log reporting.
Surfshark takes privacy and security very seriously. In this section, we’ll explain what you can expect in terms of logging, 256-bit AES encryption combined with SHA512 authentication hashing and 2048-bit DHE-RSA key exchange, and leakage protection, as well as additional security features.
They mainly use diskless servers that run only on RAM as well as some virtual servers.
Latest 100% RAM servers
Like many other leading VPN providers, Surfshark has transitioned to state-of-the-art servers that are constantly updated with the latest technology and run 100% on RAM.
This means that the data that passes through their servers is not stored on a physical disk but in the RAM memory of the servers which are regularly rebooted to keep no trace of its user data.
Using virtual servers
A virtual server location is when a VPN server advertises a location, such as Costa Rica for example, when it is actually located somewhere else, such as the United States. We’ve looked at virtual server locations before, and there are pros and cons to using them.
In this review of Surfshark, we can clearly see that Surfshark uses some virtual server locations for the more remote regions.
Surfshark is transparent about this and clearly advertises the virtual locations in applications (unlike other vendors). You can identify the virtual locations in the Surfshark client because they are marked with a “V” for virtual on the country flag.
Surfshark does an excellent job of ensuring the privacy of its customers. For starters, it is based in the British Virgin Islands. This is an excellent privacy jurisdiction that is safely outside the Five Eyes surveillance alliances.
The BVI is politically and legally independent and has strict privacy laws. This makes it a popular jurisdiction for banks and privacy-oriented businesses.
Data registration and collection
This means that even if the company were required to turn over data, there would be no personally identifiable information to give. You are required to provide an email address upon registration, which is stored, but if you use a disposable email and pay in Bitcoin, there will be almost no record of your membership in the service.
For encryption, Surfshark uses the industry standard AES-256-GCM encryption with RSA-2048 key exchange. In addition, Surfshark offers the following VPN protocols:
OpenVPN – OpenVPN is generally considered the industry standard for VPNs, as it offers good performance, is open source and is considered very secure.
WireGuard – WireGuard is the newest addition to Surfshark and offers the fastest speeds and the latest encryption technology.
IKEv2 – This protocol is considered very secure and high performing. While it generally performs better than OpenVPN, it is not open source, which is a drawback.
Depending on the Surfshark application you use, you can choose from the available VPN protocols directly in the settings area. Surfshark currently supports the WireGuard VPN protocol on Windows, Mac OS, Android and iOS. For Linux, WireGuard support will be available later this year.
Fixed IP addresses
The company has recently started offering the possibility to connect to a static IP on some compatible servers, which is an advantage for users who need a fixed address for their service.
One of the biggest recent updates to the SurfShark application is the implementation of WireGuard.
With the latest version of the SurfShark VPN apps, you can easily enable the WireGuard VPN protocol directly in the settings, as you can see below.
WireGuard is supported directly in the apps for Windows, Mac OS, Android and iOS. WireGuard support with Linux will be available in the coming months, according to a support person we spoke with.
There are many benefits to using the WireGuard VPN protocol:
- Very fast download speeds
- Instant connections
- Seamless transition between networks, without losing the VPN connection.
- Latest encryption technology updates
- Small code base, which is easier to check and update than other VPNs.
In our testing, we found that all of these advantages were fully exploited by Surfshark for considerable speed gains! A good performing WireGuard VPN.
Protection against leaks and killswitch
Surfshark is also on par with its competitors when it comes to leak protection. DNS, IPv6 and WebRTC leakage protection is integrated. In addition, this provider uses private DNS servers instead of public ones, so you don’t have to worry about DNS queries like Google.
Surfshark provides a Killswitch that disconnects your device from the Internet if the VPN connection fails. This prevents you from browsing or conducting any other online activity without protection. The Killswitch feature is disabled by default in the Windows application, but can be enabled by clicking on the speed icon in the main screen, selecting Security, and enabling the kill switch.
It is enabled by default in the iOS app, but you can disable it in Settings. You won’t find a kill switch setting in the Android app, but it’s there and you can enable it in the phone or tablet settings.
Surfshark offers a few additional features that make this service better. First of all, there is the Bypass feature that can be controlled in the Security Settings tab. This is a split tunneling feature that allows you to “whitelist” certain applications or web pages to bypass the VPN.
A dual VPN feature (Multihop), when used, directs your traffic to two VPN servers. This adds an extra layer of protection for the privacy-conscious user, although it can slow down Internet traffic. Surfshark uses traffic obfuscation on OpenVPN traffic to mask your VPN connection and allow you to bypass VPN usage restrictions, such as in China.
Automatic WIFI protection is built into the apps, so you can configure the VPN to connect whenever it detects a WIFI connection. Finally, the service comes with CleanWeb, a feature that blocks ads, trackers and malware.
CleanWeb filter to block ads, trackers, malware and phishing domains
Surfshark has a useful and effective filtering feature called CleanWeb.
This feature blocks ads, trackers, malware and phishing domains, as well as blacklisted “suspicious links”. VPN ad blockers have some interesting advantages, as they can effectively block domains at the VPN server level through DNS queries, rather than relying on browser extensions.
You can enable CleanWeb in Surfshark settings. This feature is available in Windows, Mac OS, Android and iOS applications. This feature works really well according to our tests!
SurfShark offers recently, a complete security suite named Surfshark One. This suite includes 4 security tools that are the VPN Surfshark, an antivirus, the “Search” function and the “Alerts” function.
- The antivirus protects you in real time against unwanted files and many online threats.
- The “Alerts” function also allows you to monitor your email address and possible data leaks so that you can react quickly if your personal data is compromised.
- The “Search” feature allows you to search the web anonymously and limit ads and online targeting.
- The new service called Incogni that allows users to call Surfshark teams to contact online data brokers, to have your profiles removed from their databases.
Since the beginning of 2020, Surfshark offers the possibility to its users to activate a double authentication system (2FA) for more protection.
It is one of the first VPN providers to offer this feature and this did not escape our team!
Many VPNs are working to build trust in a growing industry by undergoing external audits. Surfshark is part of this positive trend. It was audited by Cure53, a reputable cybersecurity company based in Germany. Here’s what Cure53 concluded:
As the extremely low number of findings and their limited implications make clear, the results of this Cure53 evaluation of Surfshark VPN extensions position the product in a very good light. Two members of the Cure53 team, who reviewed the product in November 2018, can only conclude that the tested applications make an excellent impression and are not exposed to any security issues, neither in the privacy nor in the more general security area.
Note, however, that the audit was limited to Android and iOS browser extensions.
There are also a few verified no-logs VPNs that have undergone external audits to verify their logging policies. (Surfshark has not yet done so.) Some of the larger VPN services have undergone external audits to verify their no-log status.
The disadvantages of Surfshark
Let’s go over the few negatives we could find while testing Surfshark and their VPN client.
Inconsistent speeds on different servers
As highlighted in this test, the speeds and performance offered by the Surfshark VPN client are sometimes inconsistent from server to server using the Wireguard protocol.
Slower OpenVPN speeds
We ran numerous speed tests as part of this Surfshark review. The test results for the WireGuard protocol were good and are all displayed above.
There is one drawback with the speeds, however. We found that the OpenVPN protocol did not offer the best performance. While anyone can use WireGuard, some users may prefer to use OpenVPN for various reasons. OpenVPN is also the only protocol supported by Linux as well as in the multi-hop feature.
Limited support for VPN routers
Another drawback we found with Surfshark is that there is no dedicated VPN router app. Some VPNs, such as ExpressVPN and VyprVPN, offer a dedicated app that can be used with certain routers, with the right firmware. So it’s very easy to set up VPN on your private network, assuming you have the right router.
With Surfshark, however, there is no dedicated application for VPN routers. However, you can still use Surfshark with a router, but it can be complicated.
Plans and prices
Surfshark offers 3 packages of 1 month, 12 months and 24 months. If you opt for a monthly subscription, the price is 12.95$ per month, while a 12-month subscription costs $3.99 per month and a two-year package costs $2.95 per month (special offer).
Surfshark is more in the category of cheap VPNs without reaching the ultra-competitive rates of providers like PrivateVPN or Ivacy (except for the 3-year plan, which is still the cheapest we’ve encountered so far).
Surkshark accepts several payment methods: major credit cards, PayPal, Coingate, Alipay, and more. The ability to pay with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum or Ripple are good news for privacy-conscious users. The site uses CoinGate or CoinPayments platforms to handle such payments.
It also offers a 30-day money back guarantee which should give you plenty of time to decide if it’s right for you. Follow this link to test Surfshark VPN for free for 30 days!
By browsing the “Help” section of the Surfshark website, you will find information to assist you as you get started with their service. There are various installation guides, including manual connection guides, router tutorials and extension and application guides. In addition, you have an FAQ, although this section is not as comprehensive as it could be.
If you can’t find the answer to your problem via these various options, live chat is available to help you. However, the chat is only available in English at this time!
Even if you submit a form via email, you can expect a quick response from their customer support. We got a response to one request in less than an hour, and another in just under two. The live chat feature is outsourced to Zendesk, so those seeking the utmost privacy will prefer to use the email form.
Surfshark offers a “100% money back guarantee for your first 30 days of service.” policy if you decide to change your mind.
Our verdict on Surfshark
Simple secure VPN ideal for online browsing and streaming.
Surfshark is an excellent VPN whose meteoric growth in this industry cannot be denied. It offers solid performance, secure connection protocols and many additional options for an excellent price/performance ratio! It also allows you to protect an unlimited number of devices.
- Features: 9.4
- Performance and Security: 9.5
- Ease of use: 9.4
- Price: 9.5
- Reliability and Support: 9.3
- Support for all operating systems and devices + Unlimited connections
- Strict privacy policies
- Secure encryption and leak protection features
- WireGuard support (with fast speeds)
- Passed an independent security audit
- Secure server network running on RAM disk
- CleanWeb (ad blocker) and ByPasser (split tunneling) features
- Surfshark works with Netflix and other streaming services.
- Multi-hop VPN, plus additional features
- Great prices and money back guarantee
- 24/7 online support
- Independent audit performed
- Server network not yet developed
- Some slow servers via OpenVPN
- Limited support for VPN routers
- No connection to the Tor network
Surfshark is a provider that deserves to be better known and has the fastest growth in the market. This new player on the VPN scene has many assets to please and offers competitive prices!
Additional security features such as split tunneling, dual VPN, and an ad and malware blocker put this service on par with some top providers. An unlimited number of simultaneous connections completes this already comprehensive picture.
A very powerful VPN service that offers a full subscription at a competitive price with a 2-year contract! One of the best low cost VPNs on the market according to our team. You won’t regret its excellent value for money. We recommend it without hesitation to all our readers.
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