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 4.4/5.0, To find out everything that's good and bad about Surfshark, check out this in-depth review.
|Based in||BVI [SAFE]|
|Servers||3,200+ (65 Countries)|
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. Its excellent performance and features have earned 4.4 out of 5.0 stars in this Surfshark VPN review.
- 3,200+ servers in 64 countries
- Unlimited simultaneous logins
- Low-priced VPN
- Rarely seen multihop and split-tunneling tools
- Well-designed app
- Server network coverage is smaller than most other VPNs
- Some slow download speeds
Still in confusion? Have a look here to decide whether NordVPN or Surfshark.
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 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.
Does Surfshark work with Netflix and other streaming services?
Yes, Surfshark works efficiently with Netflix. For Netflix U.S, I connected to the U.S St. Latham server of Netflix and streamed the famous “The Bachelor” TV series. Surfshark not only played the series 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.
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.
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?
Downloading speed is one area where Surfshark needs to improve. Despite offering 1700+ servers in 63 countries, I found Surfshark to deliver burdened down downloading speeds on every server that I tested with my 100 Mbps connection in my speed tests.
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 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.
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. Surfshark VPN managed to achieve 25.5 Mbps download, 91.09 Mbps upload, and 251 ms pings if we talk about download speed. 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.
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.
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.
Taking about protocols, currently, it offers five different protocols for VPN connection which is very useful in case Surfshark displays connection issues.
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.
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.
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 Wireguard vs OpenVPN.
Surfshark VPN Protocols and Encryption
In this heading, we will discuss OpenVPN, which is used to transmit data, transmit data from the US and UK, and compare it with WireGuard, which is the latest technology and is incorporated by Surfshark for transmitting data is faster.
Starting with the US-based server and OpenVPN, we received 87.6 Mbps on our 100 Mbps Internet Service Provider speed.
When we conducted the same test with a US-based server and WireGuard, we received a speed of 89.5 Mbps.
We ran the same test with Surfshark UK-based based with OpenVPN and WireGuard connection protocols and received more promising results.
With the UK-based server connection using OpenVPN, our speed crossed the 90 Mbps speed mark.
With WireGuard, our speed crossed the 94 Mbps speed mark.
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.
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.
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.
DNS and IPv6 Leak Protection
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.
Before I can trust my privacy with Surfshark, I decided to take some leak tests. 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.
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.
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 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 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.
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 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).
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.
Hacklock is a security feature that scans the web to prevent possible damages and alert you if your email is 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 search tool that offers private and safe searches on the web. Unlike Google, this search tool is completely ad-free and offers organic yet relevant results. The other equally important advantage is that it has a zero logs policy for this feature. Due to the zero-logs policy, the results will not change according to your search history or preferences.
Your Privacy and Surfshark
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.
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.
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 promptly.
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 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.
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 offers servers in every continent except for Antarctica. 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.
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?
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 very low price of just $2.49 a month.
Here is a list of all Surfshark budget-friendly pricing plans:
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
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 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 many 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|
|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 Reliability & Customer Support
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.
In terms of obtaining the knowledge you need, a lot of improvements could be made in regards to how the articles are arranged. For example, if you type in “Android” to the search bar, you receive a list of articles related to Android issues, such as how to install Surfshark on an Android device.
Surfshark Usability & User Experience
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.
Surfshark Compared to Other 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 and ExpressVPN.
|Average Speed||75.34 Mbps||65.81 Mbps||77.34 Mbps|
|Encryption Type||256-bit AES||256-bit AES||256-bit AES|
|Record User Logs||No||No||No|
|Unblocks Netflix US||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Unblocks Amazon Prime Video||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Lowest Monthly Cost||$6.67 per month||$3.71 per month||$2.49 per month|
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 4.4/5.0 rating.
This concludes my Surfshark review. Leave me a comment, or read our unbiased VPN reviews 2021.
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.
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