Surfshark review (2021) – An excellent VPN for an excellent price
Surfshark is a VPN provider that started back in 2018 and has quickly become a favorite of ours. Surfshark is a VPN with strong encryption and very user-friendly software. The low prices and user-friendliness make Surfshark a fantastic VPN. Without a doubt, this starter is already on par with long-term champions such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
Our experience with Surfshark
|Very easy to use and install||No option to manually select a specific server in a country|
|Usable on an infinite number of devices||The difference in speeds between servers can be quite large|
|Only secure protocols available and no logs||Leaves something to be desired on Linux|
|Netflix works in all countries|
|Downloading torrents is allowed|
|Excellent speed during regular internet use|
|Useful extra features such as AdBlocker, NoBorders Mode, Camouflage Mode, and Whitelister (Split tunneling)|
|Great customer service|
As far as we’re concerned, Surfshark is an excellent VPN provider that’s on par with today’s largest and most popular VPNs. Its low prices, accessible software, and useful extra features prompted us to place Surfshark high in our rankings.
- 10 or more
- Torrenting allowed
- Works with Netflix
- Zero logs
- Credit card
Speed – How fast is Surfshark?
The results of the speed tests were fantastic. We experienced no issues during everyday use. In some situations, Surfshark even proved to be faster than some of our other VPN providers. So, to sum it all up, these are our findings:
- Surfshark is a VPN with above-average internet speeds and fantastic performance during everyday use.
- The speed tests show great results for download speed
- Streaming videos and downloading files are quickly done with Surfshark
Surfshark speed test results
These are the speed test results we found when testing Surfshark. Please note that these results always vary depending on your location, internet provider, and time of day. To take these variables into account, we’ve also included a speed test of our own connection without VPN as a benchmark.
Speed without a VPN (Speedtest.net):
These are the speedtest.net results of our own connection without using a VPN.
Speed with a local server (Speedtest.net):
These are the speedtest.net results of our connection when we connected to the fastest server, closest to our testing location. We did this test to show the speeds a server close to your location might reach (also depending on your data plan of course). The closer the server is to your actual location, the smaller the detour your data has to take. This means the delay will generally be smaller.
As you can see, our ping increased, although this will barely affect your experience. While both the download and upload speeds have dropped, these results will barely be noticeable in practice. Your internet connection will still be very fast. This is a very good result.
Speed when connected to a distant server (Speedtest.net):
These are the speedtest.net results of our connection when we connect to a random Surfshark VPN server that’s far away from us (in this case the USA).
As you can see, this server’s ping is much higher. At the same time, however, the download speed has remained pretty much the same as with our local server. The upload speed has dropped significantly. Even so, Surfshark has shown some of the best and fastest speed test results of any of the VPNs we’ve tested so far.
Please note: the difference between servers does not mean the quality of the American servers is worse than that of our local servers. It just shows that servers far away from you affect your speed more than servers that are close. The American servers are still of very good quality, and they are perfect for watching American Netflix.
Speed during daily use
Because of the test results, especially those of the US server, we were very curious about Surfshark’s performance when it comes to internet speeds. The VPN didn’t disappoint: it worked fantastically during everyday use. We tested Surfshark VPN whilst surfing, watching Netflix, downloading torrents, and playing online games, and it surprised us every time.
While browsing, we didn’t notice Surfshark’s effect on our internet speeds at all. Websites loaded quickly. E-mailing, downloading attachments, and browsing social media all went very quickly. We had no issues watching videos on YouTube and Netflix, either. Netflix even appeared to buffer faster than with other VPN providers. We can confidently say that Surfshark works excellently for streaming (especially Netflix).
Downloading torrents went effortlessly as well. We managed to download relatively large files in no time. What’s more, Surfshark even noticed we were using a torrenting program and automatically switched from a regular VPN server to a specialized P2P server to facilitate the downloading. We found this to be very user-friendly.
Likewise, we didn’t experience any lag while gaming. We used both local and US servers without noticeable delays. Even when playing an online first-person shooter, we noticed no difference in terms of reaction speed.
Safety – How secure is Surfshark?
We found Surfshark to be a relatively secure VPN provider. 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
- Surfshark is a secure VPN with very strong encryption protocols (OpenVPN, IKEv2, Shadowsocks, Wireguard, and L2TP)
- It’s possible to connect to two VPN-servers (MultiHop)
- Surfshark allows you to turn on a kill switch to protect your internet connection when the VPN-connection drops
- Surfshark does not keep logs
- You can pay with Bitcoin to create a Surfshark 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 use anonymized information to determine their server load and spot possible connection issues
Surfshark has AES-256-bit encryption and uses, among others, the two safest protocols right now: OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec. This shows they clearly aren’t willing to compromise when it comes to their users’ security. On top of this, Surfshark also offers a protocol that was specifically designed to circumvent censorship, specifically, censorship in China: Shadowsocks. This protocol is an encrypted proxy.
In particular cases, users also have the possibility to L2TP, although Surfshark warns that this isn’t as secure as other protocols available. It can be a lot faster than OpenVPN, though.
Surfshark has recently rolled out the new WireGuard protocol for all users of Android, Windows, iOS, macOS, and Linux. Wireguard uses the ChaCha20 encryption algorithm. The strength of this open-source VPN protocol lies in its ease of use, security, and high speed.
To switch to using WireGuard, Surfshark users need to update their apps to the latest version. They can then choose the protocol manually from the settings.
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 they don’t need any information. Just like most other providers, they’ll 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 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 any connection issues. These issues aren’t traceable to a specific user and only concern the general use of their servers and service. In addition, Surfshark doesn’t appear to be keeping any logs. As mentioned previously, they have a strict ‘no-logs’ policy, and we couldn’t find anything in their regulations that contradicts this.
Furthermore, Surfshark recently switched to a RAM-only server network, which means that there is no longer any data on physical servers. This form of storage also ensures that data is automatically deleted when you disconnect. Your data will therefore only be stored temporarily and cannot be retrieved afterwards. More and more VPN providers are switching to RAM-only servers because it offers more privacy.
In addition, Surfshark is one of the first VPNs to offer two-factor authentication (2FA). This means logging in happens through two steps, which is an effective way to protect yourself against all kinds of online attacks. You can read more about two-factor authentication here. For Surfshark Alert users, this two-step authentication is mandatory, while the ‘normal’ Surfshark user can choose to use it for extra protection.
What information does Surfshark need?
All you need to do to create an account with Surfshark is provide the VPN with your email address and a password. Therefore, if you make sure neither 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 PayPal instead, you will have to share some information about your PayPal account in order to complete the payment.
Usability – How user-friendly is Surfshark?
Surfshark excels at user-friendliness. Their software is very easy to use, because it has a couple of super convenient options. On top of that, their customer service is easy to reach. Based on our experiences with Surfshark, we arrived at the following conclusions:
- Surfshark is a very 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 is unfortunately not that great for Linux-users
- Surfshark’s customer support is quick to respond and manned by actual humans
- Surfshark is one of the cheapest VPN providers and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee
- Multilingual support is lacking a few languages
Surfshark website and installation
The Surfshark website is well-organized, not too busy, and all the important information is right at your fingertips. They’ve kept the ‘My Account’ section of the website as simple as possible. There are a couple of buttons for downloading software for specific devices and operating systems. You can also see when your subscription will end, and there’s a button for changing your password and one for logging out. As a result, managing your Surfshark account is very easy.
Installing Surfshark is incredibly easy and straightforward. 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 something like this:
- Choose a subscription and go through the order process
- Log in to the Surfshark website
- Click on the icon of your operating system
- Open the .exe file you downloaded
- Go through the steps of the installation wizard
- Open the Surfshark software by clicking on the hyperlink
- Log in with the login information you created for your account
- If you want, select a server, then enable Surfshark
Surfshark’s design and ease of use
The design and ease-of-use of Surfshark’s software might be some of the best features of this VPN. Once you’ve signed in, you won’t be overwhelmed by countless options and settings. Instead, you’re only shown those things that matter to the average VPN user. All options and settings include a clear description and all menus are easy to navigate.
Surfshark doesn’t require you to manually select the right server for whatever you plan on doing online. Simply connect to Surfshark’s VPN and it will automatically recognize when you’re about to download a torrent and switch to a P2P server. In this case, you won’t have to manually select a P2P server, as the program will do it for you. Moreover, 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 very well-performing and user-friendly VPN.
Surfshark and Mac
Since a recent Surfshark update, the software also works perfectly with the Apple M1 chip. This means you no longer need additional software to run Surfshark properly on newer macOS products. It also means your battery will last longer.
Surfshark and Linux
Surfshark is also available for Linux users. Specifically, the terminal app is available to Ubuntu and Debian users. Unfortunately, this does not even come close to the amount of Linux options of competitors like NordVPN and ExpressVPN. Users of other distros can make use of manual OpenVPN servers, however. Below you can read a short summary of our experience with using SurfShark on a Debian system.
The number of servers available to Linux users is somewhat limited compared to Surfshark’s overall server network. Rather than the complete number of servers, Linux users have access to about 102 servers spread across 61 countries. Unfortunately, the quality of your connection depends quite strongly on which server you select. Some of Surfshark’s servers can compete with the best VPN-providers out there. Other ones barely manage to achieve a quarter of your normal internet speed. As such, be sure to run a quick speed test when you connect to a new server to check if you have one of the good ones.
More worryingly though, Linux users tend to suffer from DNS leaks or transparent proxies while connected to Surfshark. This problem can be resolved if you are particularly savvy with Linux, or with the help of customer service. Nevertheless, the problem shouldn’t be occurring in the first place.
The user-friendliness, however, is fine. The installation is a piece of cake and the selection of commands you have to learn is limited and intuitive. Surfshark also includes a number of neat extra features, such as an automated selection of the best available server, a kill switch, multi-hop, and the ability to easily switch between UDP and TCP servers. Unfortunately, these extra features do not make up for the DNS leaks, transparent proxies, or uneven quality of available servers. Moreover, quite often, these features aren’t even available. Because of all these negatives, SurfShark is not on our list of the best VPNs for Linux.
Pricing and payment methods
Surfshark is very reasonably priced. It’s one of the cheapest options around. As with most other VPNs, you receive a discount when you subscribe for a longer period. A monthly subscription costs $12.95 per month, a 6 month subscription costs $6.49 per month, and a 2-year subscription costs only $2.49 per month. On their website, these prices are also available in euros, AUS/CAN dollars, Chinese yuan, and British pounds.
Surfshark also offers the option to purchase two additional privacy functionalities for an additional $0.99 per month. These are Surfshark Alert and Surfshark Search. Surfshark Alert scans the web and warns you when your email address has been leaked, and Surfshark Search is a way to search without seeing ads or logging your information.
Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to users who haven’t broken the Terms of Service. Moreover, 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)
- Amazon Pay
- Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies (using CoinGate or CoinPayments)
- Other local payment options, such as Direct Debit.
Please note: The main currency Surfshark uses is the dollar. This explains why the price you may see in other currencies (the pound e.g.), depending on where you live, constantly changes a little bit. This depends on whatever the dollar’s value is at a given moment.
Surfshark has excellent customer support. When we tried the chat function on their website, we were assisted by an actual employee within the space of a minute. Our problem was that we couldn’t watch 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. We didn’t receive any automated responses from a bot. This is a relief compared to the customer support at certain other VPNs.
Surfshark’s server network
These are the conclusions we arrived at regarding Surfshark’s server network and locations:
- Surfshark has an excellent server network of 3200+ servers across 65 countries
- All servers are compatible with P2P traffic
- You don’t have to select a P2P server manually
- There is a multitude of American servers and all of them appear to work with Netflix
- Surfshark has special MultiHop servers that allow you to connect to two VPN-servers at once for double protection
- Surfshark doesn’t provide users with an option to get a Dedicated IP-address
Number of servers and locations
Surfshark has 3200+ servers across 65 countries. You can find Surfshark servers in the following countries:
- Europe: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom
- The Americas: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Paraguay, United States
- The Middle East and Africa: Israel, Nigeria, South Africa, United Arab Emirates
- Asia Pacific: Australia, Azerbaijan, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
Dedicated IP address
So far, Surfshark doesn’t offer the possibility to request a dedicated IP address. However, you’ll usually connect to the same server and same IP address when choosing a specific server. But this isn’t always the case: if you select the ‘optimal location’ option, chances are you’ll get a different server each time. That’s because Surfshark looks at the amount of traffic on various servers and selects the server that works best at that moment.
With a recent update, however, Surfshark has added some servers with a ‘static’ IP-address. This means the IP-address of these servers will always be the same. Though we wouldn’t recommend using them as of this moment, because they seem to be shared and not dedicated.
In theory, however, you could use these servers to get access to websites and apps which block you if you log in from a different IP address than you normally do, while still enjoying some added protection, because of Surfshark’s VPN tunnel and encryption. We have not tested ourselves whether this actually works well though, so we can’t guarantee this is a viable and good way to get access to these services.
Update: Surfshark has stated very recently that offering their users dedicated IP-addresses is “on their roadmap”. They even encourage users interested in this feature to contact them, adding that “the more requests we get – the faster a new feature is delivered”. You can express your interest in this feature by contacting Surfshark’s customer service.
In addition to the standard possibilities, Surfshark also offers useful extra features:
- Surfshark offers various features that block ads, whitelist websites and offer increased levels of security
- Both US servers and servers of other countries worked with Netflix
- Surfshark gives you access to about 18 different Netflix libraries
- You can download torrents with Surfshark safely and easily
- Surfshark has a NoBorders Mode for areas with strict censorship, GPS-Spoofing options, and a Camouflage Mode that prevents your ISP from seeing that you are using a VPN
MultiHop, Whitelister and CleanWeb
All three of these Surfshark features functioned properly when we tried them. CleanWeb was able to block ads that managed to slip even past our regular adblockers. The MultiHop option provides some additional security but does have a negative impact on your internet speeds. After all, your traffic has to go through two VPN servers instead of one. The Whitelister for apps and websites allows you to connect to specific apps and websites you trust using your own IP address instead of that of the VPN server (Split tunneling). This could definitely prove convenient in some situations.
On top of that, Surfshark has recently added two new options: Surfshark Alert and Surfshark Search. Surfshark Alert is an option you can use that will notify you when your email or passwords might be in danger of being compromised. Surfshark Search is Surfshark’s answer to the anonymous search engine DuckDuckGo. However, both Surfshark Alert and Surfshark Search are paid expansions of the normal Surfshark subscription.
Surfshark and Netflix
Surfshark aims to unblock Netflix for all VPN users. During our tests, all US servers appeared to work with Netflix. Aside from that, Surfshark also allows you to access the content of other local versions of Netflix. Surfshark actively focuses on making the libraries of about 30 countries available to its users. These countries include the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Italy, Norway, Germany, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Poland, France, Canada, Turkey, Sweden, Singapore, Taiwan, Portugal, Thailand, Russia, and the Netherlands.
If you use a different server location to visit Netflix, you’ll automatically be sent on to the American (US) version of Netflix. On their website, Surfshark mentions that you can ask them about any Netflix library you’d like to access but isn’t on their list. They might be able to unlock it for you.
Netflix likes to block servers when they find out that they are VPN servers. This can sometimes make accessing Netflix with a VPN quite difficult. However, in our experience, with Surfshark this issue is usually solved by simply selecting a different server.
In case you still can’t reach Netflix with this clever system, don’t hesitate to contact Surfshark. Their customer support live chat works effectively and can usually help. They might give you advice about which server to choose or try to solve the issue from their side. Usually, they’re able to help you out in a few minutes. In short, Surfshark is very suitable for streaming and Netflix.
Surfshark and torrents
Surfshark has specialized P2P servers that keep you extra secure while 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 connect you to a P2P server. We even suspect it might automatically connect you via MultiHop servers. This means added protection against prying eyes.
NoBorders and Camouflage Mode
Surfshark also has two different VPN modes on top of their regular VPN service. These are Camouflage Mode and NoBorders Mode. Camouflage Mode ensures that even your ISP cannot see that you are using a VPN. NoBorders Mode is a mode in which, even in areas of strict censorship, you can use the Internet freely.
Recently, Surfshark has added a GPS spoofing function to its service. GPS spoofing allows you to change your virtual location, even when it isn’t based on your IP address. Surfshark’s GPS spoofing option is only available on Android for now.
Surfshark Compared to Other VPNs
Surfshark is a VPN-provider that came out of nowhere and quickly took one of the top spots in our top 5. In fact, it’s a very good VPN-provider for a very cheap price, which makes it an excellent choice for most VPN-users. But how does Surfshark compare to the other top-VPNs? Read the articles below to find out.
Do you have a question about Surfshark? We’re here to help. Simply click the question you’re interested in and the answer will appear.
Surfshark is a very secure provider. It uses the two safest and well-known protocols, OpenVPN and IKEv2. Surfshark does not keep logs and only needs your email address in order to create an account. Moreover, their headquarters are located on the British Virgin Islands, which is a plus for the privacy of all its users. However, they do seem to operate from the United Kingdom.
Surfshark works with Netflix perfectly. When you use their servers, you’ll be able to access the Netflix library of fifteen different countries, including the US, the UK, France, Germany, and Turkey. If you use a Surfshark server that isn’t located in one of these fifteen countries, you’ll automatically be sent on to the American version of Netflix.
Surfshark is one of the cheapest and best VPN providers of the moment. You’ll be able to get a two-year subscription for just $2,49 a month. A 6 month subscription comes down to $6.49 a month, while a monthly subscription will cost you $12.95.
Surfshark barely appeared to affect our internet speed during our daily use. Even so, speed tests prove that this isn’t the fastest VPN on the market, which would be ExpressVPN. We noticed a significant decrease in both download and upload speeds. However, this decrease wasn’t very noticeable when we extensively used this VPN ourselves.
The easiest way to do this is by using a Windows PC with Windows 10 which has Surfshark VPN installed. After this, you can use your PC as a mobile hot spot and connect your smart TV to it. This way, your smart TV will be connected to Surfshark, just like your PC. This is a very simple process, consisting of only 4 steps. Read here how this method works in detail.
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