Surfshark VPN Review 2021

Surfshark is a VPN provider that launched in 2018 and has quickly become a favorite. Surfshark is a VPN with strong encryption and very user-friendly software. The low price and user-friendly operation make Surfshark a fantastic VPN.

There is no doubt that this startup is on par with companies like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, among other long-time champions.

The shorter plans are relatively expensive, but if you sign up for two years, you’ll get one of the best monthly plans: just $2.49 per month. And with regular offers and discounts, you may be able to get even cheaper rates.

Surfshark offers all the basics, like AES-256 encryption and over 3,000 servers, but you also get a lot of additional features like MultiHop, which lets you surf multiple servers at once.

You also get split tunnels, which are great for torrenting and split connections, as well as added extras like ad blocker (which admittedly isn’t as good as a dedicated app) and a kill switch. The kill switch could be improved in our opinion, though, as it is quite cumbersome.

In terms of protocols, Surfshark’s published policy is impressive, and its British Virgin Islands base is a plus. However, while it did run a test of browser extensions in 2018, we’d like to see another test of the entire suite.

Speeds are impressive when using WireGuard, peaking at around 200 Mbps in the UK and US. Even on congested servers, speeds are perfectly acceptable, but we were disappointed with OpenVPN speeds of around 100 Mbps. That’s not a big deal, though, and most users will be using WireGuard anyway.

In terms of streaming, Surfshark really shines and should unlock Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and many other services. There is absolutely nothing to improve on this front. Torrenting is also offered, though not advertised, and the extensive P2P support means you should be able to get good speeds anywhere.

Surfshark’s app is intuitive and simple – perhaps too simple for die-hard VPN veterans, but easy to use for most users. The mobile app is no different, with a stable connection, friendly interface, and ease of use. The unlimited connections policy becomes very useful when you start adding all your mobile devices.

Customer service is great, with articles and live chat. The articles are not the golden rule, but they are sufficient for most questions. The live chat is extensive, and although it is mostly scripted, the operator will go off script and give useful advice in deeper situations.

Overall, Surfshark is a very capable VPN, and its appeal is only increased by its surprisingly affordable price.

Features Data

Over All Rank

#2

Speed

9/10

Average Speed

71 Mbps

Video Streaming Support

4K UHD Video Conferencing

Streaming

10/10

Netflix

Yes

Other Streaming Services

Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney

Security

9/10

Encryption Type

256-bit AES

Kill Switch

Yes

Log Policy

No logs

Protocols

WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, Sadowsocks

Value for Money

9/10

Lowest Monthly Cost

$2.49

Money Back Guarantee

30 Days

As important as security is, speed is equally important. Whether you need a VPN to watch your favorite shows on Netflix or to work, you want a fast connection.

Unfortunately, VPNs are inherently designed to slow down connections. That’s a tradeoff you’ll have to make for security. Think of it as another hurdle you need to overcome to achieve full online anonymity.

The Best VPN is the one with the slowest connection.

Speed can be affected by device type, your location, and a number of other factors. The best VPN providers are the ones that can work around these factors, and according to our tests, Surfshark is one of them.

We tested the speeds on 3 of their most used servers in the UK, New York and Hong Kong and found the following.

On the London server, we were able to achieve download speeds of 20 Mbps(On average) and upload speeds of 8 Mbps(On average)

On the New York server, download speeds were around 70 Mbps(On average) and upload speeds averaged 9 Mbps(On average)

On the Hong Kong server, download speeds averaged 40 Mbps(On average) and upload speeds averaged 2.5 Mbps(On average)

While these speeds can’t compete with the big boys like Express VPN and NordVPN, they’re still pretty impressive. They’re solid in the top 10, especially considering they stay high even if you’re in a remote area. Surfshark also has a fast connection button.

There is one drawback: when we tested the speeds at different times, we found that they sometimes dropped significantly. If you just want to use a VPN for fun, this may not matter much, but if you need it for work, it can affect performance.

Time Period Cost Per Month Total Cost

1 Month

$12.95
$12.95

6 Months

$6.49
$38.94

24 Months

$2.49
$59.76

After Surfshark’s 30-day free trial expired, we have a few options when it comes to paid subscriptions. Basically, all subscriptions offered us the same features, such as the ability to connect as many devices to Surfshark as we wanted at the same time. The only difference in the subscriptions was the length of the term, i.e., one month, six months or two years.

Surfshark is not only secure with its two-year package, it also costs only $2.49 per month, making it pretty much the cheapest.

Surfshark currently offers several so-called “multi-hop” connections. This means that users connecting to the Surfshark network have the option of routing through two VPN servers in a row. This adds an element of anonymity and provides more security.

In addition, the core network covers 61 countries and has a network of over 1,000 servers worldwide. That’s pretty good for an emerging provider.

Netflix works, so there’s probably not much more to say about it. One thing to note is that there is a slightly noticeable delay when loading Netflix pages, caused by increased pinging from remote servers. A bit annoying, but streaming still works fine.

  • Jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands
  • Encryption: RSA-2048, perfect forward secrecy
  • No leaks found
  • Shutdown switch included

I like that Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, which is often considered a privacy-friendly country because it has no surveillance data sharing agreements with other countries. Although the BVI is a territory of the United Kingdom, it is a separate jurisdiction from the United Kingdom and has no data retention laws. And its national supreme court has in the past taken a stance against requests for business records from abroad.

Although it’s nearly impossible to verify whether a VPN logs usage data, Surfshark acknowledges in its privacy policy that it goes beyond typical VPN practices by not storing location-based connection logs and giving you the option to opt out of the default diagnostic crash report. Still, I would have liked the policy to be more detailed.

Encryption is AES-256-GCM standard and supports Perfect Forward Secrecy, which means that encryption keys are changed frequently to avoid security risks. The company provides a useful kill switch feature that prevents network data from leaking outside the secure VPN tunnel if the VPN connection fails. Surfshark’s browser plugins for Chrome and Firefox were also independently tested by security research firm Cure 53.

No IP addresses, DNS or other data that could identify users was compromised during testing. I also didn’t detect any WebRTC leaks, which is common with VPNs due to widespread and known browser issues. Even if you don’t need it, it’s worth noting that Surfshark offers a special browser extension to prevent further WebRTC leaks.

If you’re worried about DNS privacy on your phone, Surfshark also offers a standalone app called Trust DNS from the Google Play Store that, in short, redirects requests for website information from your browser and sends it to Surfshark instead of your ISP. Redirecting DNS information this way can help you get past the censorship barrier and keep the telcos out of your business.

There are several ways to establish a VPN connection. Surfshark offers the OpenVPN protocol in Android, iOS, Linux and Windows apps. The excellent IKEv2 protocol is also available on all platforms (except Linux) and is the default protocol for macOS.

For years, we preferred OpenVPN because its open-source roots were scrutinized for potential vulnerabilities. OpenVPN’s successor is WireGuard. Like OpenVPN, WireGuard is open source, but uses newer technology and is said to be much faster than other protocols. We look forward to Surfshark making WireGuard available for its Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows apps in 2021.

Surfshark excels in usability and their software is very easy to use as there are some super handy options. Also, their customer support is easily accessible. Our experience with Surfshark has led us to the following conclusions.

  • Surfshark is a very user-friendly VPN
  • Surfshark’s software is intuitive and easy to understand
  • Intuitive and easy to use interface
  • Surfshark’s software is intuitive and easy to use
  • Unfortunately, Surfshark is not very well suited for Linux users
  • Surfshark’s customer support is responsive and handled by real people
  • Surfshark is one of the cheapest VPN providers and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Lack of multi-language support for some languages

Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands – one of the best places for VPN services. That’s because it’s a privacy-friendly place, outside the jurisdiction of monitoring associations like Five Eyes and far away from EU directives. Even if you are one of the most wanted criminals in the world, your data is pretty safe in the BVI.

On the other hand, if you get a warrant, Surfshark doesn’t have much data to give out. As stated in their privacy policy, they do not collect information about your identity or online activities when you join their service. They also don’t limit how many connections you can have at the same time. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that they do not monitor how many active connections you have at any given time. This further undermines the credibility of their promise.

Surfshark has already been tested on several streaming platforms, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+. The good news is that the VPN service can unblock region-locked content on these platforms, especially Netflix in countries like Japan, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US. The tests were conducted on Android smartphones.

However, connection speeds and servers can vary greatly. When we tested our connection while watching Netflix in Chicago, we saw speeds of 500 Kbps, which isn’t great when you’re trying to stream series (more on that later). However, thanks to Surfshark’s multiple server locations across the U.S., we were able to test again in San Francisco and got a relatively big speed boost to 5.17 Mbps. That’s about right.

Surfshark also has a NoBorders feature, which means it can bypass any censorship or geographically restricted sites or content, whether in the UAE or Hong Kong. Users say that Surfshark is also a trusted VPN option in China, which is known for its government-restricted content and VPN blockers. So, if you want to bypass country-specific content, Surfshark is the right choice for you.

  • Since Surfshark is compatible with all major operating systems, you should have no problem installing it on your device
  • Surfshark VPN is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, and many other major devices
  • Speaking of other devices: I was able to download Surfshark without any problems and install it on my FireStick within a few minutes

Setting up Surfshark on Kodi was also easy. I just had to run it in the background before launching Kodi. In case you were wondering, yes, you can easily set up Surfshark on Roku devices and routers.

Surfshark has software/apps for PC, Mac, iPhone, Android, Amazon Fire TV, and Linux. The desktop app can be downloaded from the website. Mobile and Fire TV apps can be downloaded and installed from their respective app stores.

Surfshark also offers browser plugins for Chrome and Firefox browsers that are easy to install and use. Just remember that they only provide activity for your specific browser traffic. Other apps and torrents are not protected by Surfshark for their activity.

CleanWeb (Ad blocker) and Whitelister (Split tunneling) features

Surfshark has some cool features built in, which I tested for the Surfshark review. First, let’s take a look at CleanWeb’s features.

CleanWeb is a filter that blocks ads, trackers, malware and phishing domains.

Surfshark has a useful filtering feature called CleanWeb. The feature blocks advertisements, trackers, malware and phishing domains, as well as blacklisted “suspicious links”. The VPN ad blocker has some nice advantages, as it can effectively block domains via DNS lookups on the VPN server, instead of relying on browser extensions.

You can enable CleanWeb in the Surfshark settings. The feature is available in the apps for Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS. Below is a description of the CleanWeb feature that I tested for this review using the Windows client, which worked flawlessly.

Like CleanWeb, the whitelist feature can be enabled directly in the settings panel of the Surfshark app. This tool allows you to “select applications or websites and IPs to bypass the VPN”.

This can be useful in certain situations. For example, if you have a streaming service that blocks VPNs, it can be useful to bypass VPNs only with that application.

When it comes to the service industry, nothing stands out more than the relationship with the customer. Surfshark offers 24/7 live chat support for customers anywhere in the world. They can help you quickly and in a friendly manner, sharing the information you need and offering solutions to help you.

Every request is treated like a premium member or subscriber. Their customer service is definitely a plus when it comes to subscriptions.

You can cancel Surfshark VPN at any time by contacting their customer support. 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you cancel soon, you can ask for a full refund. If you cancel because you need a different feature or a different server in a different location, you can check our reviews of the best VPNs for alternatives.

  1. Contact customer support: Use live chat or email customer support
  2. Ask to stop recurring payments: With Surfshark, all subscriptions are automatically renewed
  3. Request a refund: If you are within the first 30 days of your subscription, you can request a refund under the company’s money-back guarantee. If you are outside of this window, you can still cancel your automatic payments and continue using the service until the end of the monthly or subscription period

Pros and Cons

Pros
  1. Rewinds all Netflix content and more
  2. 2-year plan is very affordable
  3. Many advanced features and add-ons
  4. Fast connection
  5. Unlock Netflix in the US, UK, Canada, France, Japan, etc
  6. Fast growing global server network
  7. Excellent internet privacy and security protection
  8. Provides kill switch and ad blocker protection
Cons
  1. No content on the customer support page
  2. Monthly subscription is expensive
  3. No flagged streaming or P2P servers in the application

What information do I need to open an account with Surfshark?

Surfshark only requires your email address and credit card number, PayPal, Google Pay or Amazon Pay, or cryptocurrency payment information. If you use a disposable email address and pay with cryptocurrency, you can maintain complete anonymity.

Can I use Surfshark on my smartphone?

If your smartphone runs on Amazon Fire TV or Android TV, you can install Surfshark directly on your smartphone.

If your smartphone runs another operating system, you can still use Surfshark on your router to protect your smartphone’s connection. You can also use your smartphone to access geo-blocked content using your provider’s Smart DNS service, but without the encryption protection that a VPN service provides.

Will Surfshark hide my real IP address?

Yes, Surfshark is very good at hiding your real IP address. It routes your internet connection through a VPN server that is located somewhere else in the world. This temporarily assigns a new IP address to your connected device, hiding your real IP address.

Can I use Surfshark VPN to watch Netflix?

You can watch Netflix with Surfshark VPN. The solid connection speed should not cause any issues when streaming Netflix content. You can also use Surfshark VPN to bypass zone locks that restrict access to certain content.

Will Surfshark slow down the network?

It is important to note that all VPNs can affect the internet speed by introducing additional processes, such as connecting to different servers. Surfshark is one of the few VPNs that can keep the internet speed constant. They offer the most reliable servers that allow you to connect to the Internet efficiently while the VPN performs the necessary tasks.

Many VPNs try to stand out by specializing in one area. Surfshark stands out by being good at almost everything. Surfshark is often praised for maintaining consistent connection speeds, meeting or exceeding industry-standard encryption and security protocols, and offering unlimited simultaneous connections. It is more expensive than some of its competitors and the company behind the product is questionable, but surfshark largely achieves its goal of being an all-in-one VPN solution.

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