Surfshark Review 2020 – It’s Affordable, But Is it Safe and Fast?
Surfshark is an all-rounder VPN service that works with Netflix / torrenting and costs only $2.21/mo. For all its unique capabilities and proprietary features, it has earned a rating of 4.4/5.0, 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 1,700+ servers in a little over a year. Some of these servers even make Surfshark accessible in China.
All in all, there is very little that is problematic in Surfshsark, which is why I highly recommend this VPN. For its excellent performance and features, it has earned 4.4 out of 5.0 stars in this Surfshark VPN review.
Surfshark detailed video review
If you don’t wish to read the entire review, check out this short video review of Surfshark.
Streaming – Is Surfshark good for streaming?
Yes, Surfshark VPN is one of the best choices available for streaming. This is seriously impressive considering that most VPNs nowadays are unable to 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 found it working flawlessly.
Does Surfshark work with Netflix?
Yes, Surfshark works efficiently with Netflix. 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.
I also managed to unblock the U.K library of Netflix too. What’s even more impressive is the fact that Surfshark can unblock 16 different Netflix libraries. Speaking of Netflix, here’s how you can watch Surfshark with Netflix.
Does Surfshark work with BBC iPlayer?
Yes, BBC iPlayer 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.K, Manchester server.
Does Surfshark work with Hulu?
Yes, 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.
Does Surfshark work with Disney Plus?
Yes, 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.
Speed – How fast is Surfshark?
Downloading speed is one area where Surfshark needs to improve. Despite offering 1700+ servers in 63 countries, In my speed tests, I found Surfshark to deliver burdened down downloading speeds on every server that I tested with my 100 Mbps connection.
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.
Just check out the table below:
|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 was still able to download large torrent files quite quickly and watch Netflix in HD quality. For more in-depth speed test results, you can check out my complete guide on the Surfshark speed test.
Surfshark U.S server speed
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.
Surfshark U.K server speed
The speeds on the U.K London server were slightly better. If we talk about download speed, Surfshark VPN managed to achieve 25.5 Mbps download, 91.09 Mbps upload, and 251 ms pings. Considering the overall speed test results, Surfshark performed quite well.
Is Surfshark Good for Torrenting?
Yes, Surfshark is a fast, safe, and overall good solution for torrenting. 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.
If we talk about speeds, Surfshark really impressed me with its overall decent connection speeds. During my testing, I managed to download an average size torrent file relatively quickly without abrupt connection drops or speed fluctuations.
Security – How secure is Surfshark?
Surfshark VPN is one of the most secure VPNs in the industry. 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.
Let’s go through each of these features in detail, shall we?
Surfshark VPN Protocols and Encryption
The dedicated desktop app of Surfshark packs in two VPN protocols, IKEv2, and OpenVPN with a variation of TCP and UDP. Speaking of OpenVPN, the iOS app of Surfshark VPN now supports OpenVPN protocol.
Surfshark has also recently added Shadowsocks protocol in the Windows and Android apps, but it is still in the beta testing phase.
The IKEv2 protocol is although fast and offers excellent smartphone compatibility, it isn’t the safe protocol out there. In fact, there is evidence of the NSA actively exploiting this protocol. OpenVPN, on the other hand, is the industry benchmark and the safest protocol currently used by VPN providers.
If we talk about encryption, Surfshark VPN uses AES-256-CBC/AES-256-GCM cryptography standards. This level of encryption is also extremely proficient and can thwart even the most advanced hackers.
Surfshark’s Multihop Feature
With Surfshark’s Multihop feature, you can establish a chain of VPNs and take IP masking to the next level. For instance, you can connect to Surfshark’s servers in France and the United Kingdom simultaneously and virtually appear in two different 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.
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:
Surfshark VPN Kill Switch
Surfshark VPN also comes with a built-in Kill Switch feature that prevents IP leaks in case your VPN service suddenly stops working. This feature is so smart, it automatically kills your internet whenever you lose connecting with the VPN server.
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.
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 the fact 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.
No border is a Surfshark feature designed for countries with strict regulations against VPN usage and heavy online censorship (think China, for example).
Surfshark’s website doesn’t explain this feature in much detail other than the fact that enabling NoBorders in a country with internet restrictions will prompt Surfshark to generate a list of special servers that are likely to access the internet unhindered from your region.
So if the Great Firewall of China or the Bamboo Firewall of Vietnam is giving you problems accessing the web, you can try switching on the NoBorders feature and get past local restrictions.
Private DNS and Leak Protection
Private DNS is a feature that basically routes all your network request through Surfshark’s DNS servers instead of using default DNS servers used by your ISP.
Many VPN services use third-party DNS services which is always a risk, because not every DNS service provider follows strict privacy standards that you can expect from a trusted VPN.
Private DNS takes any reliance on third-party service providers out of the equation, solidifying your privacy and removing any holes in your connection that may contribute to inadvertent privacy leaks.
Leak protection, on the other hand, prevents accidental IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks from exposing your true identity.
Here’s how Surfshark performed in my leak test:
IP Leak Test
For the IP leak test, I connected to the New York server before visiting IPleak.org. The screenshot below is not showing my original IP address:
DNS Leak Test
To test for DNS leaks, I connected to the U.S server again but this time through Chandler city. Again, the screenshot below is not showing my original IP address:
WebRTC Leak Test
Lastly, I tested the Surfshark VPN for WebRTC leaks using the US server. The screenshot below shows that ip8.com did not expose my WebRTC information:
Trust DNS is a DNS resolver app for Android and iPhone that is available totally free of cost. This is an excellent new addition from Surfshark. With Trust DNS, you can gain access to those websites in your country that are restricted through DNS blocks imposed by the government.
In addition, it also provides a basic level of privacy from surveillance and online tracking. Of course, Trust DNS cannot offer the same level of unblocking capabilities and privacy features of Surfshark’s full-fledged VPN, it is still an excellent app to get around restrictions and privacy threats free of cost on Android.
Surfshark Camouflage Mode
Surfshark’s Camouflage Mode basically masks your internet traffic and prevents your ISP and anyone else from spying on you. Although this feature is advertised as a “mode”, there is no option available inside the app to toggle on or off.
Hacklock is a security feature that scans the web to prevent possible damages and alerts you in case your email gets leaked. This feature sends you real-time alerts anytime your passwords or emails are breached. Hacklock is not bundled in regular Surfshark subscription plans and needs to be purchased as an add-on for $0.99/month.
BlindSearch is a feature that searches the web privately & efficiently with no ads or logs. This feature can provide you with unbiased and organic search results. In other words, BlindSearch basically allows you to browse the web n incognito mode without pesky advertisers manipulating your buying behavior.
Both Hacklock and BlindSearch are part of the “privacy beyond VPN” offering of Surfshark and can be activated for $0.99/month in addition to the regular Surfshark subscription.
Does Surfshark keep logs?
- IP addresses
- Browsing history
- Session information
- Used bandwidth
- Connection timestamps
- Network traffic and other similar data
This is seriously impressive considering the fact that Surfshark only collects emails, encrypted passwords, billing information, and order history. This is pretty standard and cannot pose a threat to user privacy.
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 reported only two security vulnerabilities which were promptly fixed.
The initiative taken by Surfshark is highly commendable as not every VPN service submits its apps for autonomous inspection.
Surfshark Warrant Canary
If you don’t know, a warrant canary is basically a small document that informs customers of National Security Letters, Gag Orders, and any Warrants that the provider has received to date.
Impressively, Surfshark has not received any subpoena or orders to disclose customer information as of October 28, 2020:
0 National Security letters;
0 Gag orders;
0 Warrants from a government organization.
Does Surfshark work in China?
Yes, Surfshark is among the very few VPNs working in mainland China. In fact, it’s servers in Hong Kong managed to unblock pretty much any Chinese content I tried to access.
Surfshark offers servers in every continent except for Antarctica. The way Surfshark manages to do this is 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.
You can connect to Surfshark’s physical and virtual server locations by paying attention to the new icons on the official website.
Pricing – How much does Surfshark cost?
Surfshark’s 24-months plan costs only $2.21/mo only and comes with an 83% Off. The 1-month plan is priced at $12.95/month, while the 6 months subscription will cost you $6.49/month.
It is one of the most affordable VPNs out there if you opt for its 24-months plan.
Here is a list of all Surfshark budget-friendly pricing plans:
|$2.21/mo||24-months +3 months FREE||83% discount|
As you can probably tell, Surfshark’s 24-months 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
Is Surfshark VPN Free?
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.
What is the Surfshark refund policy?
Surfshark offers an extensive 30-day money-back guarantee. This is great since you can get a complete refund in case you end up not satisfied with the service.
That said, there are a couple of things worth noting in the Terms of Service section if you plan on getting a refund. For instance, refunds are not eligible on purchases made through gift cards or prepaid cards.
For more information about Surfshark refunds, check out this article on canceling a Surfshark subscription.
Compatibility – Is Surfshark Compatible with My Device?
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 a bunch of other mainstream devices. Speaking of other devices, I easily managed to download and setup Surfshark on FireStick in a matter of minutes.
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|
Surfshark Reliability & Customer Support
Surfshark’s offers featured rich apps for most operating systems. The entire time I tested its apps for a variety of 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.
Surfshark Usability & User Experience
Surfshark VPN boasts user-friendly apps for a variety of devices. These apps sport new versatile design and are extremely easy to navigate. Everything is snappy and options are very easy to find.
In the middle of the app, you get a quick-connect button that connects you to the best server closest to you. 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 the 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.
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 truly impressive. I also like the fact that Surfshark works exceptionally well with Netflix and offers 1700+ servers for only $2.21/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 4.4/5.0 rating.
This concludes my Surfshark review. Leave me a comment, or read our unbiased VPN reviews 2020.
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