Surfshark Review 2021 – It’s Affordable, But Is it Safe and Fast?
Surfshark is an all-rounder VPN service that works with Netflix / torrenting and costs only $2.49/mo. For all its unique capabilities and proprietary features, it has earned a rating of 9.5/10, To find out everything that's good and bad about Surfshark, check out this in-depth review.
Surfshark VPN is no longer the new kid on the block. I’ve seen this British Virgin Island-based VPN grow from just 100 to 3200+ servers in a little over a year. Some of these servers even make Surfshark accessible in China.
There’s a lot to love about Surfshark. To start, Surfshark is a secure VPN offering strong encryption, speed, unblocking ability, privacy, and much more for just $2.49/mo .
Surfshark guarantees that it maintains no logs of privacy-sensitive information of users, claiming that Cure53’s independent audit is legitimate. It is also safe to use and offers amazing security features, as I also tested and verified its policy.
Overall the results were impressive – Surfshark is a great VPN service that has a lot to offer and is super affordable too.
However, there is still a little room for improvement, if we talk about speeds and server networks, considering its server coverage is smaller than most VPNs. I would recommend ExpressVPN if you want global server coverage and fast speeds.
Surfshark Features – August 2021 Update
|Number of servers||3200|
|Number of IP Address||3,200+|
|Does it keep logs||No Logs|
|Number of devices per subscription||Unlimited Devices|
|Does it include a kill switch?||Yes|
Streaming – Is Surfshark good for streaming? ⭐9.0
Yes, Surfshark VPN is one of the best choices available for streaming. This is seriously impressive, considering that most VPNs nowadays cannot get past the firewalls and VPN-blocking technologies implemented by popular streaming services.
I tested Surfshark with streaming services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video and found them working flawlessly.
|Amazon Prime Video||Crave|
|HBO Go||Peacock TV|
|HBO Max||Fubo TV|
|Sky TV||Channel 4|
Does Surfshark work with Netflix and other streaming services?
Yes, Surfshark works efficiently with Netflix. It supports 30+ Netflix libraries from all over the world. For Netflix U.S, I connected to the U.S St. Louis server of Netflix and streamed the famous “300” movie. Surfshark not only played the movie within seconds but also delivered HD picture quality.
Surfshark Unblocking Netflix US – all 24 US servers worked perfectly!
I also managed to unblock the U.K library of Netflix too. Speaking of Netflix, here’s how you can watch Surfshark with Netflix.
Another strange thing I experienced when accessing international libraries with Surfshark is that most EU servers redirected to Netflix US. It was quite confusing for me. I decided to contact customer support about it and they clarified that it is perfectly safe to use EU servers to watch Netflix US and Surfshark do that to facilitate their users.
Customer support clarified that Surfshark servers are configured to automatically open US Netflix for regions that they don’t support.
Basically, you can use servers in Europe that are close to you to access Netflix US, instead of using long-distance US servers which will definitely affect your connection speeds. This was very surprising to me and convenient too. I tested Netflix US on Sweden and the Czech servers and there was no Netflix proxy error. But if we compare it to other streaming VPNs like ExpressVPN, I would say Surfshark lags behind when it comes to unblocking regional Netflix libraries, as it automatically redirects you to US Netflix.
Apart from the US and UK Netflix, Surfshark did manage to unblock popular Netflix libraries as shown in the table below:
|Netflix Libraries||Working (Yes/No)||Speed drop (%)||Buffering|
|Netflix US||✔||12% decrease||No|
|Netflix UK||✔||5.3% decrease||Minimal|
|Netflix IT||✔||1.3% decrease||No|
|Netflix DE||✔||1.7% decrease||Minimal|
|Netflix AU||✔||48% decrease||Minimal|
|Netflix JP||✔||26% decrease||No|
|Netflix KR||✔||18% decrease||Minimal|
|Netflix FR||✔||5.2% decrease||No|
|Netflix CA||✔||9.7% decrease||No|
|Netflix PT||✔||3.7% decrease||No|
Amazon Prime Video works flawlessly with Surfshark. During my test, everything streamed in HD quality, and I did not encounter any errors whatsoever while connected to the U.S Chicago server. However, I had to switch 5-6 servers before, trying my luck with the Chicago server that worked with Amazon Prime US. I could also unblock the Canadian library, and had no luck with the French library.
Surfshark only managed to unblock the US and Canadian Amazon Prime Video Libraries. I could not unblock France content.
Hulu works quite well with Surfshark. During my testing, pretty much any U.S server I connected to easily managed to unblock Hulu. As for picture quality, I managed to stream multiple shows in HD quality.
Surfshark easily unblocked Hulu on its Bent server and I could stream in HD quality without buffering.
Surfshark works brilliantly with Disney Plus. I managed to get the best performance with Surfshark’s Denver, Detroit, Boston, Atlanta, and New York servers. Again, all of the content that I streamed on Disney plus played in 1080p HD quality.
Surfshark unblocking Disney+ on its New York server with high video quality.
Similar to Netflix, if Surfshark cannot unblock a regional Disney+ library it will automatically redirect you to the US Disney+. But as the content is somewhat similar in all regions, so that should not be an issue. Also, the US Disney Plus library is the biggest, so you won’t be missing out on much.
Before accessing Netflix or any other streaming content with a VPN, we recommend that you clear your browser cache, cookies, and history one time.
Apart from Netflix, other popular streaming services, which include BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and Disney Plus, are also accessible in 1080p HD quality. I could also stream geo-restricted BBC iPlayer content using Kodi Addon with the UK server (Manchester was faster than London).
I had no issue unblocking sites with Surfshark. However, it did act up when I tried to unblock Hotstar. I had to change several servers and it finally unblocked on my 7th attempt. During testing, the speeds were extremely slow and there was alot of buffering. It could be due to the distance, but the video kept buffering and it was unwatchable.
Surfshark also offers something scarce these days with many VPN providers. While I was testing different websites with its servers, I noticed that if I enabled its CleanWeb adblocker feature, it would stop all those annoying ads from popping up. It made my streaming and browsing experience very smooth.
Speed – How fast is Surfshark for Online Activities? ⭐8.5
Downloading speed is one area where Surfshark needs to improve. Despite offering 3200+ servers in 63 countries, I found Surfshark to deliver burdened down downloading speeds on most servers that I tested with my 100 Mbps connection in my speed tests. We checked three things in speed tests:
- Download speed is the speed at which you receive data from the server. It is important to load pages, streaming and more.
- Upload speed is how fast you are sending data to the server, for example, during social media, sending emails, video calling and more.
- Ping is the time it takes for the data to travel. It is measured in milliseconds. Lower pings mean low latency and high responsiveness. It is important for gaming.
But on the other hand, I can’t complain about its uploading speeds. While Surfshark struggled to exceed the 25 Mpbs downloading speed mark, it managed to deliver uploading speeds in the upper 80s to the 90s range.
First, I checked my connection speed without connecting to Surfshark as a basis for speed comparison for other locations. The tests were run from Madrid, Spain. I ran these tests on my Windows 10 laptop.
Speed without VPN (Madrid, Spain)
|Download Speed (Mbps)||80.24|
|Upload Speed (Mbps)||98.3|
Local Servers Speed
Using Surfshark’s “Fastest Server” option I connected to a server in Valencia in Spain and experienced a slight slowdown in speeds.
|Download Speed (Mbps)||68.09 (15% decrease)|
|Upload Speed (Mbps)||92.6 (5.7% decrease)|
It’s normal to experience a slight decrease in your speed when you connect to a VPN. But somehow, Surfshark kept giving very high upload speeds and very low download speeds as I experienced a 15 percent decrease in download speeds.
|Download Speed (Mbps)||38.05 (52.5% decrease)|
|Upload Speed (Mbps)||93.07 (5.3% decrease)|
Next, I tried Lisbon – Portugal server that was not too far from my actual location and got somewhat similar results – low download speed and very high upload speeds with lower pings.
Even with very slow speeds, it didn’t affect the performance as I prepared myself for. For example, I could stream Netflix without any major buffering or lags, and browsing was also fast. So, with local servers, you won’t have any problems with Surfshark.
Long Distance Server Speed
Next up, we tested Surfshark’s speed on long-distance servers. I did expect some speed loss because naturally, my data had to travel to the server that was at a long distance from my actual location.
First, I started with US servers. It took me 18 seconds to establish the connection with the US – New York server. The download speed that I managed to get on the U.S New York server was 24.09 Mbps, and the upload speed was 87.5 Mbps. While I had no complaint about the upload speed, downloading speeds could have been better.
United States (New York):
|Download Speed (Mbps)||24.09 (69% decrease)|
|Upload Speed (Mbps)||87.5 (11% decrease)|
United States (Los Angeles):
|Download Speed (Mbps)||25.17 (68% decrease)|
|Upload Speed (Mbps)||89.23 (10.3% decrease)|
I also decided to test the Australia server speed as it’s very far away in comparison to my actual location (15,700 km from Spain). I had similar results with low pings.
|Download Speed (Mbps)||25 (68% decrease)|
|Upload Speed (Mbps)||93.25 (5.1% decrease)|
|Download Speed (Mbps)||25.81 (66% decrease)|
|Upload Speed (Mbps)||93.42 (5 % decrease)|
Just check out the table below for an overview:
|Server location||Download speed||Upload speed||Pings|
|Australia – Perth||25 Mbps||93.25 Mbps||132 ms|
|Canada – Montreal||25.17 Mbps||92.09 Mbps||265 ms|
|Germany – Frankfurt||25.67 Mbps||92.5 Mbps||117 ms|
|Hong Kong||25.67 Mbps||93.25 Mbps||264 ms|
|India||25 Mbps||93 Mbps||211 ms|
|Italy – Milan||25.67 Mbps||95.67 Mbps||263 ms|
|The United Kingdom – London||25.5 Mbps||91.09 Mbps||139 ms|
|The United States – New York||24.09 Mbps||87.5 Mbps||251 ms|
|United Arab Emirates||24.92 Mbps||91.75||234 ms|
While Surfshark managed to offer slow downloading speeds in my speed test, I could still download large torrent files quickly and watch Netflix in HD quality. You can check out my complete guide on the Surfshark speed test for more in-depth speed test results.
Is Surfshark fast enough for Gaming?
Surfshark is a good option for gaming, but the speeds can be inconsistent sometimes as can be seen above. Also, during testing, some servers gave me error messages and took a long time to load. When I used the “Fastest Server” features, the speeds were not that great, as compared to the manual selection of servers that were closer to my actual location. For example, on long-distance servers like Australia, I experienced noticeable lags.
I tested Surfshark on the basis of download speed, upload speed, and ping on different servers.
- Download speed is how fast you receive data. Fast download speed will give you more time to respond when the other player attacks you.
- Upload speed is how fast you send data. Fast upload speed means you will have more time to attack the other player.
- Ping is also called latency. It measures how much time it takes for the data to reach its destination. The higher the pings, the more lag you will have during gaming.
For smooth gaming, it’s best to have a download speed of at least 15 Mbps, upload speed of at least 1 Mbps, and the lowest pings possible. At first I used its Fastest Server feature and it connected me to its Spain. After loading Overwatch, it connected me to its Europe game server. When the game first loaded, it was laggy, but after a few minutes in, it ran pretty smoothly and I was able to play it without interruptions.
I then tried connecting to Surfshark’s Singapore server to test its performance. It gave a decent speed (36.21 Mbps) considering its was a long-distance server. However, during testing, Surfshark reduced pings when I tried its Singapore server.
However, on Australian servers, I experienced connectivity issues as I was unable to load the game. I tried multiple times, and received the following error message, and even after waiting 10 minutes, it wouldn’t load.
This error could be due to an issue with the game at the time, but it worked perfectly fine on other servers like Singapore. I could easily play Overwatch on the long-distance server ( I tested the Singapore server as it gave me the lowest pings at 48 ms). You can also try other servers like the US and Canada, but speeds fluctuate a lot on North American servers so you might experience some connectivity problems.
I tested gaming speed on the Singapore server because I wanted to test servers in Asia as they have always given me high download speeds and lower pings – a perfect combo for gaming. Honestly, I would personally recommend using ExpressVPN for gaming because it offers better speeds (you can check our ExpressVPN speed test results), and it has more server locations (94+ countries).
Surfshark Server Network
Surfshark has over 3200 servers in 65 locations. It is not bad, but if you compare it with other VPNs like Private Internet Access (which has over 35,550 servers in 77 locations) then this isn’t a huge network. Also, if you want global coverage, then you can also go for ExpressVPN that has 3000 servers in 94 countries and over 160 cities.
Most of Surfshark’s servers are located in the United States, spread out in 24 cities. Meaning, Surfshark is a great option for users who want to unblock American streaming sites and bypass geo-blocks. Apart from the US, Surfshark also has a big server network in Europe with multiple servers in all major countries like the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and France.
Surfshark also offers physical servers in countries with heavy internet restrictions and censorship like Russia, Turkey, and Vietnam. Most VPNs dont offer servers in these locations, so if you live in one of these locations, you can use Surfshark to surf the web freely by connecting to an international server.
Virtual Server Locations
Surfshark also has virtual servers in multiple locations including Chile, Argentina, and Costa Rica. It is mostly available in countries where it has become difficult for VPNs to provide their services due to restrictions and political instability. When you connect to one of these virtual servers, it actually connects you to a physical server that is located outside the region. It not only gives you more options but also boosts your speeds.
Each virtual location in Surfshark’s app is marked with a ‘v.’ However, keep in mind that virtual locations might result in higher pings because to establish the connection, your data has to travel to a physical server that is outside your region. During testing, it took me some time to connect to the Chile server.
Surfshark’s Static IP Address
Surfshark also offers static servers that give you the same IP address every time you connect. These servers are located in 5 countries: Singapore, Germany, Japan, the US, and the UK. This is very convenient when you instantly want a connection and dont want to complete the CAPTCHA code every time you log in to your banking apps. I tested the same static IP server and was asked to confirm my identity during the first login attempt on my banking app.
What’s best is that these static IP servers are P2P friendly so you can torrent, and also choose from MultiHop servers for extra protection.
Security – How secure is Surfshark? ⭐10.0
Surfshark VPN is one of the most secure VPNs in the industry. It offers the best encryption, VPN protocols, and additional features. If you go through the features list of Surfshark, you’ll see that this provider offers unbreakable AES 256-bit encryption, leak protection, Kill Switch, secure protocols, along with additional features to keep you safe and secure.
Surfshark relies on AES-256, Advanced Encryption Standard (sometimes also referred to as Rijndael algorithm), to encrypt all the data that goes through the network to and from your device. This is the same encryption standard that the United States uses. This encryption standard is responsible for providing you DNS and IPv6 leak protection so that neither your Internet Service Provider nor any third-party entity can see your personal activity or data.
AES 256-bit encryption is the best in industry and is used by governments and the military to protect their data. Therefore, you can bet that with Surfshark, your ISP will not be able to see your online activities.
Surfshark RAM-Only servers
Unlike other premium VPNs, Surfshark has 100% RAM-only servers that are diskless and automatically wipe all the data the moment you switch off the VPN. This is the best feature a VPN can offer because it prevents breaches and attacks from third parties. Thus giving you an additional layer of privacy.
Surfshark VPN Protocols
Taking about protocols, currently, it offers five different protocols for VPN connection which is very useful in case Surfshark displays connection issues.
- IKEv2: This protocol tends to work best when you connect to a nearby server. During testing, it also gave decent speeds on long-distance servers as well. It comes with an auto-connect feature which makes it a great choice for mobile phone users. IKEv2 is available on Windows, iOS, Android, macOS, and FireTV Surfshark apps.
- OpenVPN: OpenVPN is a popular choice among security professionals because it is one of the most secure protocols available. It has two versions, UDP and TCP. UDP is faster and ideal for gaming, streaming, and video calls. TCP, on the other hand, is a bit slower.
- Shadowsocks: Shadowsocks is a proxy that is ideal for people living in heavily censored countries like China, UAE, and Egypt. You will not be able to use IKEv2 in these countries, so Shadowsocks is a great backup protocol.
- WireGuard: WireGuard was first released in 2016, and similar to OpenVPN, it is also Open Source. It uses state-of-the-art cryptographic technology, which makes it faster to deeply, more stable, and 4 times faster than OpenVPN. Surfshark offer this protocols for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS device application only.
While OpenVPN would be a preferred choice for speed and reliability, and one can say it is the top choice for selecting the connection protocol, WireGuard is slowly advancing toward becoming the next big thing.
It is expected that more and more VPN providers will switch to WireGuard connection protocol in the future. For a more in-depth comparison, do check out our Wireguard vs. OpenVPN comparison.
OpenVPN protocol is used to transmit data, transmit data from the US, and compare it with WireGuard, the latest technology and is incorporated by Surfshark for transmitting data is faster.
I tested speeds on these protocols to see which one was faster. During testing, OpenVPN (UDP) gave extremely slow speeds as compared to IKEv2 and WireGuard.
On OpenVPN, my average speed was 46% slower than IKEv2. Meaning, if you have heavy internet usage, its best to choose IKEv2 as it was the fastest. You can also select the automatic protocol option and Surfshark will automatically choose the best protocol based on your need.
The dedicated desktop app of Surfshark packs in four VPN protocols, IKEv2, Shadowsocks, WireGuard, and OpenVPN, with a TCP and UDP variation. Speaking of OpenVPN, the iOS app of Surfshark VPN now supports the OpenVPN protocol.
Surfshark has also added Shadowsocks protocol in the Windows and Android apps and can be manually configured on Mac and iOS devices. It is an encrypted proxy that is created for users residing in countries with a high level of censorship and internet restrictions like China, Egypt, and the UAE. It acts as a backup in case the OpenVPN stops working.
The IKEv2 protocol is, although fast and offers excellent smartphone compatibility, isn’t the safe protocol out there. In fact, there is evidence of the NSA actively exploiting this protocol. On the other hand, OpenVPN is the industry benchmark and the safest protocol currently used by VPN providers.
Surfshark Leak Test Results
I tested 10 Surfshark servers (the UK, US, France, and Italy) and found no DNS, IP or WebRTC leak.
DNS leak protection is mandatory as it ensures that your data is being routed via Surfshark’s DNS servers instead of your Internet Service Provider’s DNS servers. Similarly, IPv6 leak protection ensures that the network’s IPv6 is not leaking your real location.
Surfshark offers private DNS and IP leak protection on all its servers when using IPv4 stack. It is the most common type of IP, while IPv6 is the newer format. We also checked through customer support and they confirmed that Surfshark doesn’t support IPv6, so you could experience some leaks. But during testing we experienced no leaks.
You can disable IPv6 on your devices, but it might cause some apps to not work properly. This is very crucial as Surfshark is a top VPN, because with premium VPNs like ExpressVPN or NordVPN you don’t have to worry about IPv6 or IPv4.
Before I can trust my privacy with Surfshark, I decided to take some leak tests using IPleak.net. Here’s how Surfshark performed in my leak test:
I was satisfied with the results as neither my DNS nor IPv6 was leaking after connecting to Surfshark. I recommend checking your connection to make sure it is secure.
Surfshark Automatic Kill Switch
Surfshark VPN also comes with a built-in Kill Switch feature that prevents IP leaks if your VPN service suddenly stops working. This feature is so smart; it automatically kills your internet whenever you lose connecting with the VPN server. In case of any VPN connectivity issues, it will deactivate your internet connection and reactivate it automatically. This way no information will be leaked in case of any sudden connection drops.
I tested out this feature by downloading a torrent file and then disconnecting from the VPN server midway. As soon as I disconnected from the VPN server, Surfshark automatically disabled my internet connection. The automatic kill switch feature is available in Surfshark’s browser extensions and also all other apps.
Surfshark’s Multihop Feature
With Surfshark’s Multihop feature, you can establish a VPN chain and take IP masking to the next level. For instance, you can connect to Surfshark’s servers in Germany and the United Kingdom simultaneously and virtually appear in two different locations. It sends you traffic through two server locations instead of one which is amazing.
However, MultiHop servers slowed down my speeds significantly. That’s natural as your traffic passes through 2 servers that are in 2 locations.
This feature can add an extra layer of security to combat advance online surveillance. In terms of performance, I found the Multihop feature to be not all that slow. Despite being connected to two different servers, I didn’t notice too much of a speed drop.
No border is a Surfshark feature designed for countries with strict regulations against VPN usage and heavy online censorship (think China, for example). As soon as the NoBorder feature detects the situation mentioned above, it will present you with a special list of servers that you can connect to.
Surfshark Camouflage Mode
This mode makes your encrypted traffic look like regular traffic under deep packet inspection (DPI) so that nobody can see you’re using a VPN. It is a convenient feature to use if you connect behind a strict firewall or an Internet Service Provide that restricts VPN usage.
Basically, Camouflage mode makes your VPN traffic look like normal traffic, so you can surf the internet undetected and it also helps avoid VPN bans. This is really helpful when using public Wi-Fi like in libraries and cafes, where some sites are blocked. I tested on a public Wi-Fi in a library and it instantly unblocked Netflix and Disney + without any hiccups.
You dont have to manually enable the Camouflage mode as it is automatically enabled when you connect to the OpenVPN protocol. OpenVPN is available on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux.
Surfshark also offers a 2FA feature, also known as Two-Factor Authentication. It adds an additional layer of security to your Surfshark account. To enable 2FA on Surfshark, you will have to open its official site on your browser and log in using your credentials. After that go to “Account Settings” and click on “Turn on 2FA.” After that, you can either set it up with your email id, or authentication apps like Google Authenticator.
I chose the Google Authenticator method because it is super private and is also recommended by Surfshark. All you have to do is download the Google Authenticator app from Google Play Store or App Store if you are using an iOS device. Just scan the QR code and it will register your site. Now, every time you log in, you will need to enter the code from the authenticator app. But remember the code is only valid for 30 seconds, after that it generates a newer one.
Surfshark VPN CleanWeb
CleanWeb is a built-in feature of Surfshark VPN that blocks ads, trackers, and malware. I particularly love this feature because it actively blocks annoying advertisements.
Here’s a screenshot of Surfshark’s CleanWeb feature in action:
To enable the CleanWeb feature on Surfshark’s extension, simply click on the feature and enable it. It comes in handy as you won’t have to see intrusive ads when browsing online anymore. It also detects malicious websites and phishing scams to protect your device.
Surfshark GPS Spoofing
Apps and websites use GPS to locate users instead of using IP addresses. This way advertisers target you with ads. However, it is an issue when it comes to the online privacy of users and unfortunately, a VPN is not enough. But, Surfshark has solved this problem by offering a GPS Spoofing feature.
This feature hides both your IP address and GPS location making it look like you are physically located in the same place as the server location. Therefore, no apps can track your whereabouts. However, this feature is only available on Android. To enable it, you can select the “Override GPS Location” feature under the advanced settings.
I tested this feature by connecting to its Chicago server. After enabling the feature, I went to Google Maps and it showed my location near Willis Tower in Chicago when physically I was in Spain. However, you cannot use it on games like Pokemon Go, because then it won’t be able to load any PokeStops, and the game needs your location.
In-App Features of Surfshark ⭐10.0
Apart from security features, Surfshark also offers tons of cool in-app features for its users. Here are some notable ones:
Surfshark WhiteLister Feature
As the name suggests, Whitelister is a split tunneling feature that allows you to custom exclude specific apps or websites from connecting via a VPN.
This feature is great if you prefer securing certain sensitive apps and websites while excluding other apps that you might use for streaming and general browsing.
One way Surfshark’s Whitelister feature stands out is that it can be used in a reverse manner. For instance, instead of just excluding apps or websites, you can even add apps or websites that you want to protect with the VPN.
To test out this feature, I added my browser to the list, and the Whitelister feature worked exactly as advertised.
With Surfshark, you can also make your VPN-enabled devices invisible to other devices that are on the same network. This feature offers an extra layer of privacy and is best when you are using public Wi-Fi and dont want to visible to others. Unfortunately, this feature is only available in Surfshark apps for Windows and Android. To enable the feature, simply go to Settings > Advanced > and turn on the Invisible to devices feature.
Surfshark Privacy Beyond VPN
Surfshark also offers a bundle add-on package called Privacy Beyond VPN that comes with 2 additional features and an extra cost of $0.99 per month in addition to the basic subscription cost. These features are:
- Surfshark Search is a private search engine that does not contain any ads or trackers like Google. You can browse and surf the web without feeling like someone is tracking all your clicks. It is very similar to DuckDuckGo, but with no ads.
- Surfshark Alert gives users immediate notifications in case their personal information is leaked. In case there’s a breach, you get an instant notification.
Surfshark’s Free Trust DNS
Surfshark also offers a free Trust DNS app that lets you change your DNS address for free. What’s best is that you can choose from 100+ public DNS servers and access websites that are blocked at the DNS level and even hide your online activity from your ISP. It is only available on Android and iOS apps.
If you want to connect to the public DNS server, you can easily do that with Surfshark’s app, but we recommend using Surfshark’s VPN server. One reason is that DNS proxy doesn’t offer the same level of protection and privacy as a VPN because it doesn’t encrypt your traffic and your IP address is visible. Second, you might not be able to unblock geo-restricted sites like Netflix because these servers are blacklisted.
Your Privacy and Surfshark ⭐10.0
In this heading, we will be looking directly into the relationship between your privacy and Surshark, how Surshark honors it, and what is a Warrant Canary.
Does Surfshark keep logs?
- IP addresses
- Browsing history
- Session information
- Used bandwidth
- Connection timestamps
- Network traffic and other similar data
This is seriously impressive because Surfshark only collects emails, encrypted passwords, billing information, and order history. This is pretty standard and cannot pose a threat to user privacy. Surfshark also won the Security Software Company of the Year Award at the 17th Annual 2021 Cybersecurity Global Excellence awards held on June 1.
If you are still doubting how much serious they are about protecting the user’s personal information and data, then you will be blown about the fact that they are using the servers with volatile (RAM) memory. The advantage of using a volatile (RAM) memory server is that as soon as it is shut down, all the data and information on it will be deleted as compared to the servers working on hard drives.
Surfshark is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, which, as we’ve discussed earlier, is a jurisdiction with no mandatory data retention laws. This is one of the most ideal locations for VPNs to be based in, as other famous VPNs like ExpressVPN is also based in BVI.
The British Virgin Islands is located outside the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliance – a group of countries sharing surveillance intelligence between one another. Not only are they a decentralized organization, but they are also transparent when it comes to disclosing their office locations. One of their representatives confirmed that they have offices in Germany, Cyprus, and the United Kingdom and employees working remotely from Finland, China, Lithuania, India, Netherlands, Ukraine, Philippines, and the US.
Surfshark Warrant Canary
If you don’t know, a warrant canary is basically a small document informing customers of National Security Letters, Gag Orders, and Warrants that the provider has received to date.
Impressively, Surfshark has not received any subpoena or orders to disclose customer information as of February 26, 2021:
0 National Security letters;
0 Gag orders;
0 Warrants from a government organization.
Independent Security Audit by Cure53
To make their service more transparent and secure, Surfshark recently carried out an independent audit of its service through a German cybersecurity organization called Cure53. The company tested the Chrome and Firefox browser extensions and there were no major security or privacy issues according to the audit report.
The initiative taken by Surfshark is highly commendable as not every VPN service submits its apps for autonomous inspection. However, no audit has been conducted on Surfshark’s logging policy or the VPN app itself. This is somewhat disappointing, as premium VPNs like ExpressVPN have been audited numerous times including their logging and privacy policies.
Is Surfshark Good for Torrenting?
Yes, Surfshark is a fast, safe, and overall good solution for torrenting. Although Surfshark doesn’t specify which servers are P2P optimized, but if you are not connected to a P2P server, when you open a torrent client like uTorrent, it automatically connects you to the best server for torrenting. Therefore, with Surfshark you don’t have to manually connect to an optimized server.
I wanted to test this feature myself, so I connected to Italy server (not optimized for P2P) and ran leak tests using IPleak.net and saw that my IP and DNS locations was set to Milan, Italy. After opening uTottent, I checked my IP and DNS locations again, and found that my IP was still the same, but my DNS was set to the Netherlands, which is optimized for P2P.
However, I did notice that this automatic server switch game me slower download speeds as compared to when I manually selected P2P servers. For example, on local P2P optimized servers, my average speed was 4.1 Mbps and the file downloaded within 12 minutes. On Italy server, my speed was 2.5 Mbps and it took 23 minutes for the file to downlead.
With security features such as 256-bit encryption, a strict no-logs policy, and leak protection, Surfshark allows you to safely download torrents from anywhere in the world using its dedicated P2P servers.
Surfshark also has an amazing feature for users who are very keen on torrenting. It offers whitelist capabilities through its “Whitelister” feature. This feature allows the user to single out your torrent client, enabling it to channel the traffic through the VPN. In contrast, your other internet traffic is channeled through an internet service provider network.
If we talk about speeds, Surfshark really impressed me with its overall decent connection speeds. I managed to download an average-sized torrent file relatively quickly without abrupt connection drops or speed fluctuations during my testing. However, my I usually use ExpressVPN for torrenting because it not only offers fast speeds, but also offers SOCKS5 proxy that boosts download speeds.
While we always recommend using Surfshark for secure and anonymous torrenting, we also understand that not everyone can afford a premium VPN provider. Therefore, you can check out our list of best free VPNs for torrenting, in case you wish to continue downloading torrents at zero cost.
Does Surfshark work in China?
Yes, Surfshark is among the very few VPNs working in mainland China. In fact, its servers in Hong Kong managed to unblock pretty much any Chinese content I tried to access.
Surfshark manages to do this because it uses a mix of both physical and virtual servers. This way, even if Surfshark VPN doesn’t offer a physical server in Albania, for instance, its virtual server location can still give you access to all regional content available in Albania. This is exactly how Surfshark’s Hong Kong server compensates for the nonexistent Chinese server.
If you are having issues downloading Surfshark in China, you can set it up manually which works all the time. Customer support is also available in case you need help setting it up on your device. Surfshark also works in other countries with internet restrictions like Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the UAE.
Surfshark uses NoBorders Mode and Camouflage Mode that are made for bypassing the Great Firewall of China. The Camouflage Mode hides your VPN traffic and makes it look like normal traffic so you can bypass VPN blocks imposed by ISPs.
Similarly, the NoBorders Mode detects VPN blocking technology and firewalls and helps select obfuscated servers so you can get unrestricted access to the internet. On top of that, you can also use the Shadowsocks proxy to bypass heavy censorship and restrictions in China.
Surfshark User Experience ⭐10.0
The Surfshark app is really easy to use. It is clean with a lot of white space and the layout is simple as everything is within reach after a few clicks. You dont have to dig deep into the app for advanced settings. It features a somewhat similar app across all platforms including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Meaning, you dont have to spend time getting used to different versions. Even its browser extension is very simple and lightweight.
Another great thing about Surfshark’s app is that it has a little description below each feature for those who are new to VPNs. It is helpful for understanding the feature and what it does. Similarly, Surfshark’s app is available in 15 languages including German, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Spanish.
There were few things that bugged me. For example, whenever I used the auto-connect feature, I experienced slow speeds, and when I connected to a server of my choice manually, the speed was perfect. Just like CyberGhost, Surfshark can also include a list of optimized servers for P2P, Gaming, MultiHop, and more so the user can choose one based on his needs instead of going on a wild goose chase.
Similarly, at first, I could not find server information like ping time, server load, and more. After contacting customer support, I found out that to view individual server information you need to disconnect from the VPN. This is very helpful as you can choose the fastest server with lower pings.
Unlimited Simultaneous Device Connections
Surfshark is one of the few premium VPNs that allow you to connect as many devices as you want with a single Surfshark subscription. This is a great value for money because most VPNs restrict device connection between 5-10. This feature makes it a great choice for large families.
What’s best about Surfshark is that you can connect different kinds of devices with it at the same time and you will not experience any effect on the performance – making it one of the best VPN for multiple devices in 2021.
I tested the performance by configuring Surfshark on my router and connected it with my laptop, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and desktop computer. I did not see any change in the performance.
You can also check out the IPVanish full review as it also offers unlimited simultaneous connections, just like Surfshark.
Compatibility – Is Surfshark Compatible with My Device? ⭐9.0
Since Surfshark is compatible with all major operating systems, you should have no issue installing it on your device.
Surfshark VPN can be used with Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, and many other mainstream devices. Speaking of other devices, I easily managed to download and setup Surfshark on FireStick in a matter of minutes. Also, with its extensive refund policy, Surfshark is no doubt the best VPN for FireStick.
Setting up Surfshark on Kodi was also easy too. I just had to run it in the background before launching Kodi. And if you’re wondering, yes, you can easily set up Surfshark on Roku devices and routers as well.
Here’s a complete list of Surfshark compatible devices:
|Desktop & Laptops||Phones & Tablets||Browsers||Smart TVs||Consoles|
|macOS – 10.12 or newer||iOS – 10.3.3 or newer||Chrome||Fire TV||Xbox|
|Windows – 7 or newer||Android – 5.0 or newer||Firefox||Apple TV||PlayStation|
Surfshark VPN boasts user-friendly apps for a variety of devices. These apps sport a new versatile design and are extremely easy to navigate. Everything is snappy, and options are straightforward to find.
You get a quick-connect button that connects you to the best server closest to you in the middle of the app. You also get a server list on the left-hand side of the app. You can either search for your desire server location or pick specialty servers supporting Static IPs or MultiHop.
Accessing advanced features is also easy with Surfshark. From the settings menu, you can change language, switch to dark mode, or get help.
If you dig in even deeper, you can access the Connectivity tab and the Advanced tab to run speed tests and enable features like Kill switch, NoBorders or switch to a different protocol.
Overall, Surfshark is designed with newbies in mind.
Native VPN apps for Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, Linux and more devices
Surfshark’s apps on all major platforms is easy to use and navigate around. There are only slight differences in the layout, but the features and navigation is the same in all the apps. However, if we talk about features, some are limited to Windows and Android devices only like Device Invisibility and WhiteLister.
Windows app can easily be resized and used in the mini-mode where you can only see the VPN connection, but on macOS, you cannot resize the app.
Similarly, the Android app has some exclusive features like GPS Spoofing as discussed above. It also features a native kill switch for added reliability and security. Surfshark is compatible with Windows 7 and above, iOS 10.3.3 or up, Android 5.0 or up, and macOS 10.12 or up.
Surfshark is one of the few VPNs that support the latest Apple M1 chip in the new versions of MacBook or iMac. So, the users will now have a better experience, long-lasting battery life, and what’s best is that no software updates are required.
Surfshark apps are also available on Linux Ubuntu and Devian distro. You can use OpenVPN protocol on Linux devices, as the app is very basic so you can set up additional features manually (like an automatic kill switch).
Surfshark Browser Extensions
Surfshark also offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Browser extensions only include limited advanced features like CleanWeb, and they only encrypt your browser traffic. Meaning, the apps that you use outside the browser won’t be protected by the VPN. That is why we recommend using Surfshark’s app instead.
Surfshark browser extensions are available in 9 languages including English, German, French, and Japanese. Its extension is easy to use and takes lesser time to connect to a server as compared to the app. However, if you are an Apple user, you are better off using ExpressVPN, as it is the only premium VPN offering extension for the Safari browser.
Router Compatible but with certain limitations
You can use Surfshark with your router, but it needs to be manually installed with firmware that includes OpenVPN and L2TP client pre-installed on the device. If your router’s firmware doesn’t support OpenVPN, you can install the new one but it’s a very technical and complicated process, so proceed with caution.
If we talk about limitations, well, you won’t be able to use advanced features that are available on Surfshark’s app. For instance, only a few routers support split tunneling and the ability to choose different VPN protocols like WireGuard.
Similarly, when it comes to changing server location, you will have to manually configure the VPN on your router each time you want to change the server location. Therefore, switching servers is not as easy as in the app. If you want to use a VPN on your router, you are better off with ExpressVPN as it offers pre-configured routers and easier to set up. You can also check out Surfshark’s website as it has detailed guides and tutorials on how to set up Surfshark on routers.
Also Works with Xbox, PlayStation, Smart TVs, and Apple TV
Surfshar also works with devices that don’t have native support for a VPN like gaming consoles, Smart TVs, and streaming devices. I tested its SmartDNS on PS4 and was able to unblock Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Disney+. You can also connect these devices to Surfshark using a router or configuring a VPN on your PC and then sharing the internet connection to these devices.
However, keep in mind SmartDNS is not as secure as the VPN, because it doesn’t encrypt your traffic. It only changes your IP address to give you access to the blocked sites. Therefore, it doesn’t offer security and privacy as a VPN. You can also use this VPN with Apple TV and other Smart TVs.
Surfshark Set up & Installation
Setting up and installing Surfshark is very easy and straightforward. I tested Surfshark installation on my Windows, Macbook, Android, and iOS (iPhone) devices. It was very simple as I simply had to go to Surfshark’s website and download the app.
Setting up Surfshark on a Windows computer is a 3 steps process: Sign in and subscribe to a plan, enter your email address and payment method. Just go to Surfshark’s website and download the app for Windows or your respective device.
Once you are at the download page, simply click “Download Now” and the installation will be automatic. I was able to set up Surfshark’s app on my device within 30 seconds. After the download is done, open the app and log in using your credentials.
What’s best is that setting up Surfshark is as easy on other devices including Android and iOS. It is also faster as the installation process is all automatic, so it took only about 15 seconds to set everything up on my iPhone.
After the app has finished downloading, you just need to log in using your email and password, and you’re good to go. It was the same process for Android smartphones, tablets, and iOS devices. Installing the browser extension is simple as you just have to go to Chrome Web Store and search for Surfshark and click “Add.”
Setting up Surfshark’s Smart DNS on my PS4 was also very simple and quite easy. All I had to do was log into my Surfshark account on the web browser, go to Smart DNS, and my IP was automatically registered. I was then given DNS codes that I simply copied onto my PS4’s network settings. And that’s it. I also used the same method on Samsung TV, other Smart TVs (Apple TV, LG TV), and Xbox.
If you want to use Surfshark on devices like Chromecast or Roku, you can either set it up manually on your router or share your VPN-enabled internet connection from your PC by setting up a hotspot.
Surfshark Compared with Top Alternate VPNs
Comparing VPNs side-by-side can help you make the best decision for yourself and also indicates the caliber of the provider you’re looking at. Here’s how Surfshark compares to two other top-rated providers, NordVPN, PIA, and PureVPN.Check out Surfshark vs NordVPN for a detailed comparison.
Pricing – How much does Surfshark cost? ⭐10.0
Here is a list of all Surfshark budget-friendly pricing plans:
The basic monthly subscription price, which is $12.95 per month, can seem quite expensive than the other VPN provider. If you purchase the six-month subscription in one go, then the price comes down to $6.49 per month – still pricey – but if you go for the two-year subscription, then that where Surfshark beats many of its competitors with a meager price of just $2.49 a month.
As you can probably tell, Surfshark’s 24-month subscription plan is the most affordable option to get. If we talk about payment methods, you can purchase a subscription for Surfshark through:
- Credit cards
- Google Pay
- Amazon Pay
- Cryptocurrency (i.e. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple).
Surfshark Refund Policy
Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out for 30 days free of cost and cancel it to get a refund. It does however come with exceptions. Users who have signed up for the VPN via App Store, Amazon, or iTunes cannot get a refund. The same goes for gift card payments. In such cases, the user will have to contact the specific store for a refund. That said, there are a couple of things worth noting in Surfshark’s terms of service section if you plan on getting a refund.
One great policy of Surfshark is that, unlike most paid VPNs, Surfshark also refunds payments made with cryptocurrency. Users who paid for Surfshark with cryptocurrency will be given an equivalent amount in US dollars based on the change rate at the time of refund. During testing, we got a confirmation email regarding cancellation within 2 hours, and the refund was received on the 8th day. Therefore, Surfshark’s refund policy is pretty good.
For more information about Surfshark refunds, check out this article on canceling a Surfshark subscription.
Surfshark Reliability & Customer Support ⭐9.0
Surfshark offers featured rich apps for most operating systems. The entire time I tested its apps for various operating systems, I never noticed any crashes. But in case any of Surfshark’s apps fail to work properly, try the tips mentioned in this Surfshark not working article.
Surfshark’s customer support is quick and helpful. You can not only contact their support team through live chat, but you can also get help through email support.
Their customer support representatives are responsive and knowledgeable. I asked their support agent Edd a simple question and immediately got a response back within seconds:
Aside from that, Surfshark has a detailed Help section on its website where you can find troubleshooting guides, installation tutorials for popular devices, and helpful FAQs.
However, I was really disappointed that Surfshark’s live chat feature is not as consistent as one offered by ExpressVPN that is easily accessible on the site and always available. Recently, I have not been able to access Surfshark’s live chat feature and decided to contact support via email about it.
I was disappointed to find out that Live Chat Support is restricted in certain regions now. Their email support is as efficient as I got an immediate response from Surfshark’s team within 5 minutes. Nonetheless, it’s not the same thing as live chat support.
Reddit opinion about Surfshark
If you head over to Reddit, you will also find multiple users who will praise this service for what it actually is – a customer-centric product determined to provide online anonymity with access to global content. Let’s take a look at a Reddit review left by one of their satisfied users.
Naturally, the Reddit user also left some negative remarks as well.
Final Verdict – Do I recommend Surfshark?
Yes, I highly recommend Surfshark. There’s a lot that I like about Surfshark VPN. The fact that it offers fast speeds with barely any speed drops is awe-inspiring. I also like that Surfshark works exceptionally well with Netflix and offers 3,200+ servers for only $2.49/mo.
However, I still wish to see more servers added to the list—especially a dedicated server for China. I’m also a bit skeptical about the Trustpilot reviews of Surfshark. Something tells me not all reviews are legitimate – not sure about that. But considering overall features, pricing, customer support, and trustworthiness, Surfshark is one phenomenal VPN service and thoroughly deserves the 9.5/10 rating.
This concludes my Surfshark review. Still in confusion? If you want a VPN that has more global coverage, then ExpressVPN is a great choice, NordVPN is also a good choice for streaming and torrenting. You can also use our guide for the best free VPN for PC.
FAQs on Surfshark
Yes, Surfshark is safe to use. Surfshark offers military-grade encryption which is uncrackable and is used to protect sensitive data. Surfshark also has a strict no-logs policy so it doesn’t store any user data offering online privacy.
Yes, Surfshark VPN offers a 7-day free trial, but only for the Android and iOS apps. One thing to note is that you will have to provide your credit card information to avail of the free trial. If you’re curious how to get the free trial of Surfshark, check out this separate blog on Surfshark free trial. By using Surfshark’s free trial you can also access geo-blocked streaming platforms like Netflix US, Hulu, Disney+, and more. It is also a great free VPN for Popcorn Time.
You can use as many devices as you want with Surfshark. One best part about Surfshark is that unlike most premium VPNs it allows unlimited simultaneous connections, so you can use Surfshark on as many devices as you want.
Yes, Surfshark offers native apps for FireStick devices including FireTV. You can directly download it from the Amazon App Store.
Surfshark doesn’t offer native apps for Smart TVs and Apple TVs. You can either use its Smart DNS feature to unblock streaming sites or you can set up Surfshark on your router and use it on your Smart TVs.