Surfshark review (2019) – An excellent VPN for an excellent price
Surfshark is a new VPN provider who has quickly become a favorite of ours over the last few months. This VPN service started in 2018 and is located on the British Virgin Islands. A quick look into Surfshark shows that they indeed have their head offices there, but that it’s likely that they operate from Britain.
Surfshark is VPN with strong encryption and very user-friendly software. Their low prices and the great ease of use make Surfshark a fantastic VPN. This VPN is therefore on par with champions such as ExpressVPN, NordVPN or CyberGhost.
- Simultaneous connections: No limit
- Operating systems: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux
- Protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2
- Logging policy: No logs
- Servers: 500 servers across 50 locations
- Price: From $1.99 a month
- Money back guarantee: 30 days
Speed – How fast is Surfshark?
Having a fast connection is a very important factor with VPNs. VPNs that offer good download and upload speeds allow you to enjoy all the advantages of a VPN without compromising on internet speeds. However, if a VPN is slow, it becomes unusable. Internet speeds can therefore make or break a VPN.
We have researched Surfshark extensively, and ran multiple speed tests. You can read about our findings below.
Speed test results Surfshark
These are the results of the speed tests we ran on Surfshark. The measurements were taken from the Netherlands. Please note that these measurements always vary per location, internet provider and time of day. For this reason, we also included a speed test of our connection without VPN as a benchmark.
Speed without a VPN (Speedtest.net):
These are the results from speedtest.net of our own connection without using a VPN.
Speed with a local server in The Netherlands (Speedtest.net):
These are the results from speedtest.net of our connection when we connect to the fastest Surfshark VPN server in the Netherlands.
Speed with a USA server (Speedtest.net):
These are the results from speedtest.net of our connection when we connect to a random Surfshark VPN server in the United States, for example to watch something on the American Netflix.
As you can see, the internet speeds are a little slower when we use Surfshark. The Dutch Surfshark server has a slightly higher ping and slightly slower download speed. With the US servers, this difference is quite large.
Speed during daily use
Because of the results of the US speed tests, we had our doubts about Surfshark’s internet speeds. Surprisingly enough, the VPN proved fantastic during everyday use. We tested Surfshark whilst surfing, watching Netflix, downloading torrents and playing online games.
When we were browsing like you would regularly, we didn’t notice Surfshark at all. Websites loaded quickly and emailing, downloading attachments, and browsing social media all went very fast. We also had no issues watching videos on YouTube and Netflix. Netflix even appeared to buffer faster than with other VPN providers. All this is quite remarkable when you compare it with the speed tests. Nevertheless, we can say with confidence that Surfshark works excellent for streaming.
Downloading torrents was effortless too. In no time, we had finished relatively large files. Surfshark even noticed that we were using a torrenting program: the VPN-server automatically switched from a regular VPN server to a P2P server to facilitate the downloading.
Likewise, we didn’t experience any issues with loss of speed during gaming. We were able to game on both Dutch and US servers without delays. When we played shooters, we noticed no difference in terms of reaction speed.
Conclusion speed Surfshark
The results of the speed tests weren’t fantastic, but they weren’t bad either. We experienced no issues during our everyday use, and in some instances Surfshark even proved faster than some of our regular VPN providers. So, finally, these are our findings:
- Surfshark is a VPN with good internet speeds during everyday use
- The speed tests show a slight to reasonably strong decrease in both upload and download speeds
- In our opinion, Surfshark is a VPN with above-average internet speeds, due to their fantastic performance during everyday use
Safety – How secure is Surfshark?
Internet safety might be the most important factor when choosing a VPN. That is why we are so happy with Surfshark. Surfshark takes every precaution necessary to guarantee a secure connection. In addition to secure servers with strong encryption protocols, they offer the possibility of connecting to the internet through two VPN servers at the same time. This means that you are even more secure. Surfshark also offers an option for enabling a kill switch, so should the VPN connection be lost, you can still browse and download without having to worry about security or prying eyes.
Furthermore, Surfshark is located on the British Virgin Islands, a very safe location for a VPN provider. The only downside is that they appear to be operating from Britain, where the privacy laws aren’t as good as you might think. This is why Surfshark doesn’t receive a perfect score from us when it comes to security. Nevertheless, this VPN is generally safer than most other providers.
Surfshark exclusively uses the two safest protocols: OpenVPN and IKEv2. Although this means they have a limited choice of protocols, the ones they do offer are very strong. They have not compromised on security.
Logging and privacy
Surfshark has a ‘no logs’ policy. They have made every effort to require as little personal information of you as possible for your VPN to work. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t need any information. Just like other providers, they will need your email address to create an account and payment information so they can process your payments. More on this later.
Secondly, Surfshark—like most VPNs—requires certain information that will allow them to monitor their service. For example, they use anonymized information to keep track of how busy their servers are and to see if there are connection issues. However, these issues don’t seem to be traceable to a specific user but only concern the general use of their servers and service. In addition, they don’t appear to be keeping any logs. We also weren’t able to find anything in their regulations that contradicts this.
What information does Surfshark need?
All you need to do to create an account with Surfshark, is give your email address and a password. Therefore, if you make sure these don’t contain any information about you, you’re good. If you want to remain even more anonymous, we recommend paying through an anonymous service such as Bitcoin. Should you choose to pay with a service like iDeal instead, you will have to give some information about your bank account in order to complete the payment.
Conclusion safety Surfshark
We found Surfshark to be a relatively secure VPN. The only downsides we ran into are things that pretty much every VPN struggles with. That is why we came to the following conclusions about Surfshark’s safety:
- Surfshark’s head offices are located on the British Virgin Islands, but they appear to operate from Britain, which is not ideal
- Surfshark is a secure VPN with very strong encryption protocols (OpenVPN and IKEv2)
- Surfshark does not keep logs
- You can pay with Bitcoin to create an account and you only have to give them your email address and a password
- Surfshark does not keep track of specific user data, but does make use of anonymized information to determine their server load and possible connection issue
Usability – How user-friendly is Surfshark?
Surfshark excels at user-friendliness. Their software is very easy to use, there are a couple of super convenient options. On top of that, their customer service is very easy to reach should you need any help with anything after all.
The Surfshark website
The website of Surfshark reminds us a little of the website of NordVPN. The website is clear, not too busy, and all information can easily be found. Besides key information such as ‘features’ and ‘pricing’, you can find a link to the FAQ in the footer. The FAQ section is very clear as well. Surfshark is a provider who focuses entirely on the VPN aspect and on getting the information as clear as possible for their users.
They’ve kept ‘My Account’ section of the website as empty as possible. There are a couple of buttons for downloading software for specific devices and operating systems, you can review when your subscription ends, and there is a button for changing your password and one for logging out. As a result, managing your Surfshark account is very simple.
They have made the procedure for installing Surfshark as straightforward as possible. On mobile devices, you can download the VPN app from the App Store or Google Play. On Mac or PC, simply click the relevant icon on the website:
The actual installation goes like this:
- Choose a subscription and go through the steps of the ordering procedure
- Log in on the Surfshark website
- Click on the icon of your operating system
- Open the .exe file that you downloaded
- Run through the steps of the installation wizard
- Open the Surfshark software by clicking on the hyperlink
- Log in with the login information you created
- If you want, select a server, and enable Surfshark
Surfshark’s appearance and ease of use
The appearance and ease of use of Surfshark’s software might be the best features of this VPN. You’re not overwhelmed with options. Instead, you are only shown those things that matter to the average VPN user. All options and settings include a clear description of what they do and all menus are easy to navigate.
Surfshark doesn’t require you to manually select the correct server for various purposes. Simply connect to Surfshark and it will automatically recognize when you are downloading torrents, for example. You won’t have to manually select a P2P server. All American servers appear to work with Netflix, and you can even effortlessly set up a double VPN tunnel. All these separate elements make Surfshark a fantastic, user-friendly VPN.
Pricing and methods of payment
Surfshark is very reasonably priced. As with most other VPNs, you receive a discount if you subscribe for a longer period of time. A monthly subscription costs $11.95 per month, a 1-year subscription costs $5.99 per month, and a 2-year subscription costs only $1.99 per month (these prices are also available in US/AUS/CAN dollars, Chinese yuan, and British pounds).
No matter which subscription you get, Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, and you can use the subscription on an unlimited number of devices. Payment methods include the following options:
- Credit card (Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Discover Card)
- Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies
Surfshark has an excellent customer service. When we tried the chat function on their website, we were assisted by a real person with one minute. We weren’t able to reach the American Netflix at first, but customer service was able to help us fix this in no time. We also appreciated the fact that we were talking to a real person on the other side of the chat. We didn’t receive any automated responses and were given friendly assistance. This is a relief compared to some other VPNs.
Conclusion usability Surfshark
Based on our experiences with Surfshark, we arrived at the following conclusions:
- Surfshark is a highly user-friendly VPN
- Surfshark’s software is intuitive and easy to understand
- Creating and managing an account is very straightforward
- Installing Surfshark’s software is easy
- Surfshark’s customer service is quick to respond and you are assisted by an actual person
- Surfshark is one of the cheapest VPN providers and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all their subscriptions
Server network Surfshark
Surfshark has quite a server network: they have over 500 servers across 50 countries and locations. This is very convenient for bypassing geo blocks. In most countries, they have multiple servers; they have an especially large number of servers in the US (most likely for Netflix).
In addition to regular servers, Surfshark also has P2P servers. If you are using a torrenting program, you are automatically connected to these servers. Furthermore, Surfshark gives you the option of connecting to two VPN servers at once. Your data will be processed through not one, but two VPN servers, for even more security and anonymity.
Number of servers and locations
Surfshark has 500 servers across 50 locations. These locations are:
|Canada||Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver|
|Costa Rica||San Jose|
|Germany||Frankfurt am Main|
|Hong Kong||Hong Kong|
|United Kingdom||London, Manchester|
|United States||Phoenix, Miami, New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Dallas, Buffalo, Manassas, San Francisco, Atlanta, Seattle|
|Vietnam||Ho Chi Minh City|
Dedicated IP address
So far, Surfshark doesn’t offer the possibility of requesting a dedicated IP address. However, you will usually connect to the same server and same IP address if you choose a specific server. But this isn’t always the case: if you select the ‘optimal location’ option, chances are you will get a different server each time. That is because Surfshark looks at the amount of traffic on various servers and selects the server that works best at that moment.
Conclusion server network Surfshark
These are the conclusions we arrived at regarding the server network and the locations of Surfshark:
- Surfshark has an excellent server network of 500 servers across 50 locations
- There is a multitude of American servers and all appear to work with Netflix
- Surfshark has special P2P servers, which you are connected to automatically
- It is possible to send your data through two VPN servers at the same time
In addition to the standard possibilities, Surfshark also offers a number of handy extra features. For instance, Surfshark has an optional kill switch, the possibility of connecting through two VPN servers at the same time (they call this MultiHop), a Whitelister that allows you to visit certain websites or apps without going through the VPN first, and a CleanWeb option that blocks ads, trackers and malware. On top of that, both Netflix and torrents work well.
MultiHop, Whitelister and CleanWeb
All three of these Surfshark features functioned properly when we tried them. CleanWeb was able to block ads that were allowed by our regular adblockers. The MultiHop option provides a bit of additional security, but does have negative impact on your internet speeds. After all, your traffic has to run through two VPN servers instead of one. The Whitelister for apps and websites allows you to connect with your own IP address to apps and websites that you trust. This can prove convenient in some situations.
Surfshark and Netflix
The nice thing about Surfshark is that all US servers appear to work with Netflix. It’s possible that the website doesn’t give you access to the log-in screen with the VPN on. You can easily solve this issue by logging in first and then turning on your VPN. If you refresh the page, you will have access to the American Netflix. Incidentally, Surfshark says this is a temporary issue that only a small percentage of users experiences.
Netflix also appears to work properly when you connect to the Surfshark VPN servers of other countries. All this makes Surfshark very suitable for streaming and Netflix.
Surfshark and torrents
Surfshark has P2P servers that keep you extra secure when downloading torrents. You don’t have to manually select these servers, they are automatically activated when you open a torrenting program. The VPN server will recognize the P2P traffic and will connect you to a P2P server. We even think that you are automatically connected with a MultiHop server. This means added protection against prying eyes.
Conclusion options Surfshark
- Surfshark offers various features that block ads, whitelist websites and offer added security
- Both US servers and servers of other countries worked with Netflix
- You can safely download torrents with Surfshark
Conclusion – Our experience with Surfshark
|Very easy to use||Software only available in English|
|Easy to install||No option to manually select a server|
|Only secure protocols available and no logs||The difference in speeds between servers can be quite large|
|Netflix works in all countries|
|Downloading torrents is allowed|
|Excellent speed during regular internet use|
|Useful extra features such as AdBlocker and Whitelister|
|Great customer service|
As far as we’re concerned, Surfshark is an excellent VPN provider who is on par with today’s largest and most popular VPNs. Its low prices, easy-to-use software and useful extra features prompted us to give Surfshark a very high score.