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. It offers strong encryption, great speeds, and user-friendly software at attractive low prices. That’s certainly an impressive combination that secures Surfshark’s spot on our list of best VPNs.
Surfshark initially began with just an Android app and a browser extension. Today, it’s one of the most well-known and reliable VPNs out there. Moreover, it got its first independent audit the very year it was released, followed by AV-Test’s seal of approval in 2019. These are indeed laudable achievements, so we were eager to put this premium VPN to the test and see how it fairs in practical everyday use. Want to know all the details? Check out our full Surfshark review below to read all our findings regarding key aspects like speed, security, privacy, and more.
Surfshark VPN: Short Review
- Easy to use and install
- Excellent speed during regular internet use
- Works with Netflix across countries
- Cheap VPN with premium features
- Usable on an unlimited number of devices
- No logs
- Useful extra features such as AdBlocker, NoBorders Mode, Camouflage Mode, and Whitelister (Split tunneling)
- Downloading torrents is allowed
- Great customer service
- No option to manually select a specific server in a country
- No dedicated IP
- Linux version needs improvement
Considering these aspects, Surfshark is an excellent VPN provider that’s on par with long-term champions such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN. Keep reading for more details. If you’d like to check out Surfshark VPN immediately, click the button below to go directly to their website.
- Torrenting allowed
- Works with Netflix
- Zero logs
- Credit card
Speed – How Fast is Surfshark?
We saw some pretty fantastic results in our Surfshark speed tests. We didn’t face any issues during everyday use and could browse, stream, and download without any hiccups. In fact, Surfshark is much faster than a lot of other VPNs we’ve tested. To sum it all up, here are our main 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 is a breeze with Surfshark
Surfshark speed test results
We ran several speed tests on Surfshark VPN using speedtest.net. The aim was to try different Surfshark servers and see the impact on download and upload speeds. Our results are summarized in the table below. Please note that speeds may vary for you depending on your location and the existing speed of your internet connection.
The first row shows our internet speed with no VPN connection while the second row shows the speeds when we let Surfshark automatically connect to the fastest server available. The rest are servers from specific countries.
|Server||Download (MBPS)||% Download||Upload (MBPS)||% Upload||Ping (MS)|
|The U.K (London)||87.91||92.8%||87.80||92.6%||14|
|The U.S (New York)||85.91||90.7%||49.88||52.6%||80|
As you can see, for most servers, there was barely any impact on our upload and download speeds. Surfshark has shown some of the best and fastest speed test results of any of the VPNs we’ve tested. Even though, for some servers that are geographically further away, the upload speed reduced significantly, the download speeds remained high. This ensured a seamless browsing and streaming experience.
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 VPN features secure connection protocols (OpenVPN, IKEv2, Shadowsocks, and Wireguard) with strong encryption.
- 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 Shadowsocks, an encrypted proxy specifically designed to bypass censorship in China.
Further, Surfshark has recently introduced WireGuard protocol for all users of Android, Windows, iOS, macOS, and Linux. Wireguard uses the ChaCha20 encryption algorithm and is state-of-the-art among VPN protocols. WireGuard has under 4,000 lines of code (while OpenVPN has 400,000), which makes it easier to manage and configure. In fact, even NordVPN’s proprietary NordLynx protocol is based on WireGuard.
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.
Finally, Surfshark also offers perfect forward secrecy, no matter what protocol you choose.
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.
A kill switch is an essential security feature for any VPN. It instantly “kills” your internet connection if your VPN stops working for whatever reason. This prevents data leaks (like your IP address) and keeps you protected when your VPN falters. Surfshark offers a kill switch on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. You can turn it on by going into the settings in the Surfshark app.
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 a completely anonymous purchase, 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
Many VPNs tend to falter when it comes to macOS, but Surfshark rides the wave pretty well. It worked seamlessly on a MacBook Pro with macOS Big Sur. Moreover, since a recent Surfshark update, the software also works perfectly with the Apple M1 chip, so you don’t need additional software to run Surfshark properly on macOS. Also, as mentioned in the pricing section above, you can take advantage of a seven-day free trial on Mac.
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.
Surfshark 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 extra 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.
Further, Surfshark also offers a seven-day free trial on macOS, iOS, and Android. To get this, simply download the Surfshark app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, sign up for an account, register your payment method, and start the trial. Your card will only be charged after seven days, unless you choose to cancel. In case you accidentally keep a subscription, you’re still eligible for Surfshark’s 30-day money-back guarantee, so it’s a win-win.
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 VPN 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.
Surfshark VPN Options
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.
These are explained in further detail below.
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 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 content.
Surfshark VPN for torrenting
Surfshark has specialized P2P servers that help you download torrents securely. 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 is Surfshark’s version of “obfuscation technology.” It’s primarily designed to disguise your VPN traffic to bypass any content filtering and make it more difficult to monitor your activities. It runs automatically when you pick OpenVPN (TCP or UDP) as their protocol.
NoBorders Mode is a mode in which you can use Surfshark and access the internet freely even in restrictive regions. When Surfshark detects any kind of restrictions on your network, it automatically enables the NoBorders mode. This gives you a selected list of servers that perform well despite network restrictions.
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
To conclude, Surfshark is an excellent VPN for most users. It’s reliable, secure, fast, and works well for browsing, streaming content, downloads, and torrents. At the same time, it boasts great features like a kill switch, ad blocking, GPS spoofing, access to varied Netflix libraries, etc. Moreover, its affordability makes it a great alternative to using free VPNs that often come with limitations.
Although it’s a fairly recent entrant into the VPN space, Surfshark holds its own in the league of top providers. We’re sure you’ll have an amazing experience with it, but in case you want to compare it with other options, we’ve got detailed articles covering just that. Check out the links below to find out how Surfshark holds up against the other VPNs we recommend.
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. Surfshark does cause a decrease in both factual download and upload speeds. However, this decrease did not affect our browsing, streaming, or downloading activities, which makes Surfshark a good VPN for everyday use.
The easiest way to do this is by using a Windows PC running Windows 10 with Surfshark VPN installed. Use your PC as a mobile hotspot 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 four steps. Read here how this method works in detail.
Yes, Surfshark and other VPNs are perfectly legal in most countries, including the United States, most of Europe, and other western nations. However, some countries such as China, Russia, and Iran may have bans and restrictions on VPN usage. Check out this guide to learn more about the legalities of using. VPN.
Yes, Surfshark hides your IP address so you can browse anonymously. This prevents third parties from getting hold of your IP and deriving information about you. Surfshark also has a smart kill switch that ends your internet connection if you lose contact with a VPN server. This prevents leakage of your IP.
Surfshark is not a free VPN, but it is very affordable, with a two-year plan amounting to just a couple of dollars per month. This is really attractive given the premium security features and good speed that Surfshark offers.
Yes, Surfshark is a pretty good VPN for torrenting. It offers decent download speeds and ample security for anonymity.
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