The most incredulous thing about Surfshark is that it is new to the market. For a VPN this new, its success and popularity are rather stunning. In just two years, Surfshark has risen to become a household name among the top tier VPNs. It is reputed to offer top-notch services at very pocket-friendly prices. There are many praises for its outstanding security and privacy services, speed, unblocking prowess, its usefulness in torrenting, and a host of other features.
While there are many positive reports out there about the newbie VPN, I decided to run a test myself to discover what’s so special about Surfshark and why it successfully toppled other longtime VPNs to make it into the top tier. Based on my findings, I have cumulated a review for Surfshark.
Surfshark was founded in 2018 and has since risen to become a household name among VPNs. Its headquarters is in the British Virgin Islands, from where it operates its no-logging policy. It has over 1,700 servers spread out around the world, in 112 locations, across 63 countries. Its servers are fast and reliable.
Surfshark uses the best encryption security globally (the AES 256-bit) and has other great security features that keep its users safe and their privacy intact. It has apps for prominent platforms, including mobile, PC, gaming consoles, and browsers. The service offers excellent prices and plans. In all, Surfshark seems like a perfect option for any VPN lover. But, can it withstand thorough testing? Let’s find out.
Surfshark boasts extensive network coverage. They have 1700+ servers in 112 locations, covering around 63 countries. Below is a breakdown of their coverage in different areas.
- 3 countries (The United States, Canada, and Mexico)
- 28 server locations
- 36 countries (including the United Kingdom, Spain, and France)
- 52 server locations
- 2 countries (Australia and New Zealand)
- 6 sever locations
- 15 countries (including India, Japan, and Hong Kong)
- 16 server locations
- 1 country (Costa Rica)
- 1 server location
- 5 countries (Including Brazil, Argentina, Chile)
- 5 server locations
- 3 countries (Libya, South Africa, and Nigeria)
With such a broad reach, Surfshark can connect you to a server in any part of the world. While the number of servers they offer may not compare to what some other top tier providers offer, their servers are efficient and provide strong connections, any day, any time. They also provide dedicated servers for Netflix, which makes them an excellent choice for streaming.
Their servers are strong, fast, and reliable. It may not compare to other VPNs in number, but it offers excellent service.
Speed and Performance
The speed of a VPN is critical as it determines whether you can carry out tasks like streaming and torrenting easily. The only way to ascertain how fast a VPN is to run a speed test. I carried out some tests on Surfshark consistently over two weeks, and here is what I found. Before connecting to a VPN, I tried to check my speed test. The results would make it easy to ascertain how fast Surfshark is. These were the results of my speed test when I connected without Surfshark:
Download: 40.90 Mbps
Upload: 14.75 Mbps
Ping: 50 ms
Then, I tried to connect to Surfshark using the Quick Connect feature, which is supposed to connect you to the best server available at the moment. These were the results of my speed test after connecting to the recommended server (United States)
Server: US (Chicago, IL)
Download: 25.80 Mbps
Upload: 20.55 Mbps
Despite the reduction in download speed, the service was still very efficient for huge tasks such as streaming, gaming, and torrenting. I tried connecting to other United States servers, and the speed test was just slightly lower than the results above. However, they were still good enough to handle streaming, gaming, and torrenting.
I connected to a UK based server, and these were the results.
Server: EU (London, UK)
Download: 20.10 Mbps
Upload: 3.35 Mbps
Ping: 114 ms
While this result is lower than that of the local US severs, it was still good enough to handle my internet activities, including streaming and torrenting. Not bad at all.
The last speed test I carried out using Surfshark was for a Japanese based server. Below are the results of the test.
Server: Asia (Tokyo, JP)
Download: 12.95 Mbps
Upload: 15.40 Mbps
Ping: 138 ms
The results were lower (especially download speed). However, I was still able to stream and torrent. Overall, the network was reliable, and speeds were consistent. There were no speed drops, lags, or connection failures. Overall, the speed of Surfshark is efficient enough for any regular Internet user and is great for carrying out high-traffic activities like streaming, torrenting, or gaming.
Also, do take note that these results will vary depending on your location and regular Internet speed.
When Speed is Down
This is something we would all experience at one time or the other. Here are a few tips for troubleshooting a slow network.
- You can change your server. It could just be that you have picked an overloaded server. There have been times when I saw a significant change in speed by just changing servers. Switching servers will solve the problem if that is the case.
- You can also check the security protocol you are connected to. Sometimes, you may just be connected to a slower security protocol by default. The IKEv2 is the fastest security protocol that Surfshark offers. Changing to this security protocol can improve your speed significantly.
Safety and Security Features
Safety and Security are essential aspects that every VPN ought to get right. Going through what Surfshark offers when it comes to safety and security is impressive. I tested all their safety and security features and can say they provide exemplary security. They use the AES 256-bit advanced encryption for their security. This encryption standard, also known as the Rijndael Encryption Algorithm, is the best globally and is also hack-proof. This makes it impossible for anyone to bypass their encryption.
The service also has a few other unique security features, which I have listed below. I tried out all these features and found them to be working.
The Kill Switch (which was rarely needed since the connection only dropped once or twice in two weeks) works well. Immediately, there was a break in connection; the Kill Switch became activated and stopped all data transfer. If you live in an area where the network and connection prove problematic, the Kill Switch would be one feature that would delight you.
The Whitelister is the split tunneling function on Surfshark. With this feature, I was able to whitelist some apps and websites to work outside the VPN covering. This made it easy as I did not have to turn off the VPN just to use a few sites.
Camouflage mode is primarily for people in parts of the world where there are restrictions to using the VPN. It makes your IP address look like a standard IP address. This would attract less suspicion to you. When this mode is turned on, your traffic will still be encrypted. Your IP address would also change. But it would look normal for every other person. To check if this was true, I ran some DNS and IP leak tests. The IP address was different from that of the server I was using. It looked normal. The Camouflage mode worked perfectly well.
The No Border mode is a unique feature that lets you use Surfshark in restricted regions. Once you activate the No Border mode, you would be automatically connected to the best server that can help you bypass any restrictions.
The Multihop feature lets you connect using two VPN servers in two different locations. This masks your real IP address more as anybody who would try to track your activity would end up with two confusing IP addresses, which are not your original location. I tested this feature, and it works perfectly well.
The Clean web function blocks all ads, trackers, malware, and phishing attempts you would typically encounter on the web. This feature ensures that you enjoy a clean online experience.
The Hacklock feature alerts you anytime your data is leaked anywhere online. This helps you stay a step ahead of the hackers every single time.
Another issue that concerns security is the external audit that Surfshark carried out, using Cure53. There were no severe inadequacies found with Surfshark. The audit was done just on their Chrome and Firefox Web extensions. Below is Cure53’s final Verdict.
“Cure53 is highly satisfied to see such a strong security posture on Surfshark VPN extensions, especially given the common vulnerability of similar products to privacy issues”.
This is a step that almost no top tier VPN has taken. From a newbie, that’s a tremendous show of confidence, credibility, and transparency.
Surfshark offers excellent safety and security features. It provides features that are not available to even top tier VPNs. That’s not bad for a newbie VPN. You can rest assured of your cyber safety when using Surfshark.
Anonymity and Privacy Features
There are many reasons why Surfshark should get an “A grade” when it comes to anonymity. For most top tier VPNs, the drill for privacy is simple— set your headquarters in a location with no stringent data privacy laws and operate a no-log policy. Surfshark meets all of these conditions. Their headquarters is in the British Virgin Islands, a zone free from all privacy laws. They also operate a no-logging policy, which means that they do not keep any data from your Internet sessions or activities.
With that, it would have been enough. But the newbie came to surpass the status quo. They brought in a new feature called the Blind search. This feature lets you search the web without using the regular search engines. This means no data can be collected from your search; thus, making your search results always clean. I tested this feature for myself, and the results were impressive. They drew up a clean slate on my history on the regular search engines.
Surfshark offers great anonymity and privacy to its users. You can rest assured your data won’t be leaked.
Having great services is not enough. These services must be accessible on multiple platforms. Surfshark supports all major platforms with a dedicated app. The platforms supported include Android, iOS, macOS, Linux OS, Windows, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV, Xbox, PlayStation, Trust DNS, and a host of others. Surfshark is accessible on all of these many devices and easy to use. It connected seamlessly on all the major devices I tried with, including an Android Tablet and my Xbox.
Also, Surfshark has no limit to the number of devices that can log in simultaneously using an account. I connected so many devices to the service to give it a try, and I ran out of devices to connect. This surpasses what all other top tier VPNs offer. The best any other VPN offers simultaneously is ten devices. This puts Surfshark in a whole class of its own when it comes to platforms. Nobody could ever beat that. They could only meet up.
Streaming and Torrenting
Streaming and Torrenting are significant reasons why people opt for VPNs. Any good VPN service would make provisions for streaming and torrenting. I tried out Surfshark on both streaming and torrenting, and the results are very impressive.
Surfshark passes the average speed test for streaming. Users from around the world can stream seamlessly using Surfshark. While the speed tests are good, that’s not all that’s needed to be considered fit for streaming. The ideal VPN must be able to unblock geo-restricted content. Most people use a VPN to unblock the United States version of Netflix and other content on different streaming platforms like Disney+, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, etc.
According to their official site, Surfshark claims to offer 15 Netflix libraries, including the United States and Japan.
I tested Surfshark, and it was able to unblock the US Netflix and Netflix in other countries. I successfully used it to unblock Hulu, Disney+, Youtube, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer. The speed was incredible, and I was able to stream without any hitch or glitch. You also have unlimited bandwidth. What more could you need for streaming?
While torrenting may be legal, it can get really ugly when it comes to copyright materials and security. These are the two significant reasons why it’s advisable to use a VPN when torrenting. I tried out Surfshark for torrenting. I went on their site to see what they claim to offer when it comes to torrenting. They offer P2P servers for torrenting, unlimited bandwidth, and great speed.
Carrying out my tests, I found this to be true. Their servers are P2P servers, and they offer very great speed for torrenting. Their encryption and security are top-notch, so you have nothing to fear.
A disclaimer: You might not be able to use Surfshark for torrenting in places where the practice of torrenting is not legal. It would be best to connect to servers in locations where torrenting is allowed.
Overall, Surfshark is an excellent option for streaming and torrenting with great speed and great unblocking prowess.
Plans and Pricing
Another place where Surfshark excels is its plans and pricing. They offer affordable, pocket-friendly prices and plans that beat the deals that other top tier VPNs provide.
- The Monthly plan starts at $12.95 per month.
- The 6-month plan starts at $6.49 per month, letting you save 50 %.
- The 24 months plan starts at $2.49 per month, letting you save 81 %.
After considering their plans and prices with what they offer, it would be fair to say you can’t find a better deal in the market at the moment. The fact that they let you log in simultaneously on an unlimited number of devices is simply mind-blowing. That alone is enough to justify the pricing and various plans.
You can make your payment using your Credit card or PayPal. They also offer alternative means of payment, including Bitpay, a platform that lets you make anonymous payments using Bitcoin or other acceptable Cryptocurrency forms.
They also offer a 30-day back-money guarantee. While this is good, I do not see any reason to activate the money-back guarantee as their top-notch services satisfied most of my VPN needs.
When it comes to Pricing, there are very few VPNs that can offer something as good as what Surfshark does.
I particularly love it when services keep their website and other interactive platforms, simple, and customer support responses arrive quickly. In this regard, Surfshark is doing great.
Application Interface and Accessibility
Unlike most VPNs out there who offer a limited amount of services on one platform and more on another, Surfshark services are quite uniform over a range of different devices. For most VPNs, what you get on the mobile interface is usually a shadow of what is offered on the laptop platform. It is not so with Surfshark. I checked their services across a range of devices, and the result was utterly surprising. The Android and iOS versions are not so different from what is available on the Windows and Mac versions. The mobile app of Surfshark can fully rival the laptop applications of some VPNs.
The interface of their applications is neat across all platforms. The apps are straightforward and easy to use because of its intuitive and user-friendly interface.
For customer support, Surfshark has a host of resources on its website that can help you handle any difficulties you may be facing. They have blog posts, tutorials, and FAQs that can prove to be very helpful. These would often be sufficient to help you solve any challenge you might be facing as these resources are straight to the point and easy to understand. They were written in a simplified manner to solve your problems.
However, when you need to contact the customer support directly, it might prove futile. It takes time to answer when they do, and they are also quite dodgy, which is not a good thing at all. If the site’s resources don’t solve your problem, getting their agents to attend to you through chats and emails may not prove easy.
Is the VPN Any Good for China?
The Great Wall of China has successfully restricted a lot of VPNs from getting past it. Since the nation runs an anti-VPN policy, most VPNs are not able to penetrate through. Being a new VPN, it would be a plus if Surfshark can access China.
The test for China turned out positive. Surfshark works in China, a place where most top tier VPNs have failed. This is because of its unique features like the Camouflage mode, which makes your IP address look regular, and the No Borders function allows you to connect to servers in restricted locations. Surfshark also has dedicated high-speed servers near China that makes it easy to stream premium geo-restricted content from China.
Also, Surfshark protects the Chinese user with excellent security and privacy measures. The AES 256-bit encryption, which is the best in the world, is used for encrypting your data, making it impossible for their activities to be monitored. They also operate a no-log policy. This makes it impossible to trace the user’s data as it is not stored at all.
The Whitelister also makes your activities less suspicious. If all of the users’ activities were untraceable, this might arouse suspicions. But with the Whitelister, the Chinese user can choose a list of apps and websites that can bypass the VPNs connection. So while your other activities are not traceable, your normal activities are traceable. This reduces suspicion and lets the user access the regular websites that might malfunction when using a VPN.
The conclusion is simple. Surfshark is a great option for China as it can get past the ironclad walls of China.
Pros and Cons
Now that you have gotten a full scope of what Surfshark can do, I will outline its pros and cons.
- Safety & privacy
Surfshark offers impeccable safety and privacy. Their encryption technology is top-notch. They use the best security protocols available, and they offer a host of other features that goes a long way in ensuring the user’s safety. Their no-log policy is absolute and effective. Since they are based in the British Virgin Islands, there is no cause for alarm over security and privacy laws.
- Available on many platforms
Surfshark is available on almost any platform. They cater to mobile, laptop, gaming consoles, TVs, etc. They also allow unlimited devices to log in simultaneously using the same account. That’s something to beat.
- Good speed
Whether it is streaming, gaming, or torrenting, Surfshark offers a speed capable of handling any high-end traffic activity. Their servers provide great speed from anywhere you are in the world.
- Strong server presence
They may not have a billion servers. But they have servers all around the world. You can connect to their servers any day, any time, and get a good reception. The servers are strong and reliable.
- Smooth streaming & great unblocking prowess
For streaming, Surfshark is efficient. It offers unlimited bandwidth and can also unblock geo-restricted content on diverse streaming platforms. It’s a good choice for unblocking Netflix(for US, UK, Japan, etc.), Hulu, Disney+, YouTube, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, and others.
- Great prices and plans
The plans and pricing offered by Surfshark are almost unbeatable. When you further compare their prices with the services they offer, you can tell it’s a deal worth taking.
- Works in China
Surfshark works in China, and all its services and features are readily accessible there. They have dedicated speed servers for China.
- Smooth user experience
In all, they offer a smooth experience for users. There is no glitch or hitch, and their applications are easy to use.
- Dozens of extra features
Discussing all the other extra futures that Surfshark offers would take another article. These simple but essential features set them apart from the rest of the pack.
- Dodgy customer service
This has to be first on the list. Their customer care doesn’t live up to expectations, not even the one they set for themselves. It was difficult to access their customer care, and even when I got through, they were quite dodgy.
Recommendations and Conclusion
Overall, Surfshark is a great VPN. While they may not be the best in every category, they are fast gaining ground and almost trying to out-do some “big VPNs.” They offer the best security services available. Surfshark is great for streaming, for torrenting, and gaming. Their prices and plans are perfect. They are available on almost all platforms and offer unique features not common to other VPNs. Surfshark is an excellent choice. You can choose it anywhere, anytime.