Surfshark Review 2019: A New VPN that Packs a Punch!
Surfshark is one of the new entries in the world of online privacy. Despite that, this prodigal VPN is already making waves due to its impressive features and powerful performance.
With its ultra-fast servers and intuitive apps, this service is gradually catching up to the best VPN Providers.
Admittedly, the prospect of a new VPN providing smooth service excites me a great deal. However, for the interest of privacy-seekers around the world, I have put on my skeptical hat for this Surfshark VPN review. Let’s see how it performs.
Look out for any other newcomer VPN in the industry in our top VPN reviews.
Want to use filters instead of reading the whole review? These are…
Surfshark is still finding its feet in the domain of an online privacy. Despite being a proactive privacy brand, Surfshark has some demerits as well.
Here is the list of different advantages and disadvantages those relate with this British Virgin Island service that includes:
+ Strong Points of Surfshark
Honestly speaking, every VPN does have some strong points and weak points. These points transform the success of VPN services to another level. These are as follows:
The British Virgin Islands: Jurisdiction does not belong to 14 Prying Eyes
The best thing, which I found during this Surfshark review, was its jurisdiction.
You might be wondering why it has so much importance.
If your VPN service exists in any of the 14 eyes countries, chances are that they have to abide by data retention regulations.
If you do not know about 14 eyes territories, read our exclusive guide.
These countries retain users’ information as they compel organizations those who operate under their jurisdiction.
The same does not go for Surfshark as the brand strictly follows its own data protection policy in the right way.
Surfshark Logging Policy
You can use Surfshark without fearing about its logging policies. The British Virgin Island service follows the policy of no logging in true letter and spirit.
I had to perform extensive research regarding Surfshark logging policy. However, I was delighted to know that the provider does not have a controversial logging background.
As I already mentioned, Surfshark belongs to British Virgin Island, the brand does not follow any specific data retention rules.
To know more about different types of logging policies and other VPNs logging practices, read our detailed VPN logging policies guide.
Generally, VPN services do retain some information about their customers.
Most of the times, they store the email address, billing information and some other data that helps them improve their service.
This is very much the standards in the VPN industry. Netizens should not tolerate any service retaining their personal information without clearly informing about this beforehand.
The information stored by this VPN cannot be used to track your location.
Moreover, to put the cherry on the top, the VPN provider is based in British Virgin Island, a place with no mandatory data retention laws.
How reliable is it?
The reliability of a VPN stems from its ability to function without breaking, and delivering good performance in a consistent way.
When I tested the service after Surfshark VPN download, I found it working smoothly without disconnecting out of the blue or fluctuating in speeds. In addition, it does not suffer from DNS or WebRTC leaks, which consolidates its place as a secure and trustworthy VPN provider.
As such, Surfshark is a reasonably reliable and high-performing VPN provider.
What is Warrant Canary?
A warrant canary is a method in which a VPN informs its customers that a secret government has issued a subpoena against them.
In reality, it works as a litmus test for numerous VPNs.
Through warrant canary, you can check the number of inquiry orders and national security letters VPNs have attained about their users.
Luckily, Surfshark has not received a single inquiry order about their subscribers.
- 0 National Security Letter
- 0 Gag Order
- 0 Warrant from a Government Institution
Surfshark VPN Free Trial
The providers offer a 7-day free trial for its iOS and Android versions.
For these devices, there is no refund policy, which only exists for desktop systems.
I do not think that is too big of a problem.
This is because a 7-day trial is a good enough time for a user to decide whether the service is worth purchasing for the full version or not.
For more details read our Surfshark free trial blog.
However, you cannot avail such luxury on other devices like Windows and Mac.
To attain free trial benefit on above-mentioned devices, you will need to subscribe to any of the given pricing plans.
Security Features: Tools against Online Threats
The ultimate goal of a VPN is to keep your connection safe from the prying eyes of vigilant agencies and hackers.
Hence, in this part of the review, I will discuss the features that arm this VPN to protect your private information.
Allowed VPN Protocols and Encryption
The dedicated client of Surfshark packs OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols along with AES 256-bit encryption.
OpenVPN is the industry standard protocol and is widely considered as the best technology for securing sensitive data. Meanwhile, IKEv2 is less capable than OpenVPN but it used by smartphone users as it requires less battery than the latter.
The encryption level offered by the provider is also extremely proficient and can thwart the most advanced hackers.
With multihop, you can establish a chain of VPNs and make yourself untraceable on the web.
Understandably, some you might consider this feature a bit of an overkill. But consider this; we never know what government agencies are up to these days.
Maybe they are working on tools that can make normal VPN connections looks like child’s play. Maybe they have already achieved this feat.
Whatever the case is, multihop does provide you an extra layer of security. Something that can come in handy against advanced surveillance techniques.
CleanWeb is a built-in feature of the VPN that blocks ads, trackers and malware. This tool keeps malicious software away from your device, thus providing you with peace of mind.
The client of this VPN comes with an in-built Kill Switch that prevents IP leaks. It does this by killing your internet whenever you lose the VPN connection.
Unlimited Simultaneous Connections
I previously mentioned that this VPN is a bit expensive. Well, perhaps this feature makes it worth your while.
Surfshark puts absolutely no limitation on how many simultaneous connections you can establish.
This means that you can secure the entire household or even a small business with a single VPN account.
Other Important Features
Surfshark has amazed its existing subscribers to a whole new level. Currently, they have increased their list of features with other notable benefits that include:
- No border
- Private DNS and leak protection
- Compatibility with TOR
- Compatibility with router
- Camouflage mode
- IP masking
For instance, you want to bypass VPN protection when it comes to visiting certain sites and services but do not know how to do it.
Surfshark has solved this problem to a certain degree. All you have to do is to avail “Whitelister” feature.
The said benefit enables you to circumvent VPN tunneling feature a great deal.
No border is another enticing feature that adds value to Surfshark reputation. When you enable such benefit on your devices, you can use Surfshark in restrictive countries haggle-free.
Private DNS and Leak Protection
Through private DNS and leak protection feature, Surfshark secures every single server to another level.
Compatibility with TOR
What makes Surfshark different from the other services is its TOR compatibility. You can use both TOR and the British Virgin Island service at the same time.
Compatibility with Router
Luckily, you can install Surfshark on your Router without any hassle. However, your router must support OpenVPN protocol.
With camouflage mode, you can spoof your locations even from your ISPs. As a result, they cannot trace your online activities.
You can protect your digital privacy to great lengths by masking your original IP addresses.
Surfshark has also maintained its official site in different languages like ExpressVPN, PureVPN and others that fulfill the online privacy needs of users globally.
These languages are:
P2P / Torrenting Compatibility
Like Netflix, torrenting allows you to watch a wide variety of content. It can also be used to download software, eBooks and what not. But, there is a downside to this seemingly harmless tool.
While you download a torrent, your connection remains exposed to a barrage of harmful entities.
To conduct torrenting in a secure manner, you need a VPN.
However, some VPNs strictly prohibit downloading torrents through their servers.
Thankfully, Surfshark is not one of those VPN providers. It provides P2P compatible servers that allow you to download torrents without a worry in the world.
Unblocking Netflix is not as simple as it used to be.
With the streaming giant putting its foot down against geo-dodging software, the VPNs are falling like a House of Cards in front of Netflix’s firewall.
So, are there still some services that can unblock the popular streaming site? Well, Stranger Things have happened.
To see if Surfshark has the capability to unlock the hidden treasures on Netflix, I conducted several tests in my blog Surfshark Netflix.
The result showed that this VPN unblocks geo-restricted content on Netflix without much difficulty.
I guess this an aspect of the VPN service, where Surfshark takes the crown.
I connected to its US server and was able to watch the show, Hawaii Five O.
However, I had to face buffering issues while streaming the content.
IP Leak & DNS Leak Tests
Without IP leak and DNS leak testing, you cannot be sure about your online privacy.
Therefore, you must pass your VPN service through various different testing tools.
I tested Surfshark to check if the provider leaks my IP and DNS information or not.
When I checked Surfshark IP leak feature through IPleak.org, I received below-mentioned result:
Note: I connected to the US server before performing IP leak test.
When I used DNSleak.com to evaluate Surfshark DNS leak support, I found the following result:
Note: I connected to the US server before performing DNS leak test.
In order to know about different types of VPN leaks including IP, DNS, and others, check out our exclusive VPN leak test guide.
Independent Security Audit by Cure53
Surfshark is taking all the right measures to become one of the most transparent VPN services in the market.
Recently, Cure53 a German cybersecurity organization performed an independent audit. The company tested its Chrome and Firefox browser extensions.
There were only two security vulnerabilities found in their extensions as per the findings.
You can consider these weaknesses in the form of unencrypted HTTP link usage in invitation mail and insecure HTTP protocol usage in the proxy configuration.
The initiative taken by Surfshark is highly commendable as not every VPN service submits its apps for autonomous inspection.
Interestingly, Tunnel Bear also submitted its apps to Cure53 for an inspection purpose during the year 2017.
The speed test results for Surfshark were obtained using a base Internet connection of 30 Mbps. I tested the UK and US servers for this Surfshark VPN review to see how it performs on the two most commonly used servers across the world.
The download speed in the UK server measured more than 21.57 Mbps whereas the upload reached 18.83 Mbps. This is not exceptional but still remarkably good considering the base speed is 30 Mbps.
The US speed dropped a bit, clocking 18.98 Mbps on download and 15.32 Mbps on upload.
As such, the speed performance is decent. However, the real test of Surfshark will lie in its consistency in the long run, since VPNs decline in performance when their customer base increases.
SurfShark Servers: Fast and Furious
The server list of this VPN is expanding so fast than it is hard to keep up.
As of today, the VPN is boasting 800+ servers from 50+ countries. Believe me, the numbers were a lot lower just a few months ago.
As it shows above, almost the entire planet is covered with this VPN’s servers.
The providers have included servers from all continents except Antarctica (Of course).
Regardless of how impressive the server list is, it all gets down to the actual performance of the servers.
Now, this brings me to an important point; the servers of this VPN are exceptionally fast.
While using this VPN for streaming video content, I experience no buffering at all.
The gaming experience was also seamless with little to no lagging.
Despite all this, I would like to put my skeptic hat back on and remind the readers that Surfshark is a relatively new service.
This means that it has a low number of users, which usually results in a faster speed.
We will have to wait and see how this VPN holds up once the subscriber count eventually increases.
Customer Service: 24/7 Live Chat
To get help from the providers, users can turn to the support section of the provider’s website. Here, they will find useful information in the form of FAQs, Setup guides and other tutorials.
But if these options prove to be insufficient, users can contact the VPN in two ways:
- 24/7 Email Ticketing
- Live Chat
Now, lots of VPN services claim to provide 24/7 Live Chat and sometimes, this claim is nothing more than a farce. Surfshark on the other hand, live up to its promise.
You can contact the agents of this VPN at any time of the day and they will be at your assistance.
Surfshark Pricing & Plans
Surfshark offers three simple plans whose price depends on the duration of your subscription.
All of these plans come with a complete of features offered by the VPN.
Quite simply, the VPN offers the following packages:
- $11.95 for a month
- $5.99/month for 12 months
- $1.99/month for 24 months
As you can see, this is somewhat standard pricing strategy where the longer plans offer superior discounts.
But to be blunt, even the yearly plan of this VPN is rather expensive. $5.99 a month for the annual package is a bit too much, especially considering that this VPN is relatively new in the industry.
For the given price, there are other established brands, offering similar features.
However, you can avail Surfshark coupon code to get exciting discounts on different packages.
They also have a proven track record, so is Surfshark worth it? This Surf Shark VPN review answers your question.
When it comes to payment options, this VPN is pretty well rounded.
You can pay for the subscription with PayPal and a wide variety of credit cards.
The privacy-conscious customer can also opt for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Surfshark Partnership with CoinGate
Surfshark has collaborated with CoinGate a cryptocurrency payment processing company to accept litecoin payments through the lightning network.
This is another milestone achieved by the VPN provider as it endorses its own stance of preserving users’ privacy to new heights.
According to the viewpoint of Surfshark’s chief marketing officer Magnus Steinburg,
The core premise of Surfshark is the privacy of our users. Most privacy enthusiasts, and especially crypto owners, will always likely choose cryptocurrencies to subscribe to our service. Therefore, it is essential that such transactions would happen in a timely manner, and CoinGate’s Lightning Network will us help us achieve that
Surfshark refund policy applies to desktop versions of the app i.e. for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS.
The money-back guarantee is valid for 30 days if you are unsatisfied with the service.
But in order to receive the said refund, one has to comply with Terms of Service of the VPN.
In addition, the subscribers who used gift cards or prepaid cards at the time of purchase are not eligible for refunds.
Cross-Platform Availability: Works on Multiple Devices
Until very recently, the VPN was only available through the Android app and its browser extensions. The Android app was still a work in progress and the Surfshark extensions provided minimalistic security to the users.
However, all that has changed now. Surfshark has recently released dedicated clients for Windows, iOS and has updated the Android app. Although the Windows app is categorized beta version, it is still a solid VPN client.
Surprisingly, there is no app available for Mac OS users and they have to set up this VPN manually on their system. Same is the case for the Linux users.
On a related note, the providers have also made the VPN compatible with DD-WRT, Tomato and AsusWRT routers.
Surfshark for Chrome
Surfshark VPN extension for browsers includes one for Chrome.
The Chrome app offers quite basic features and is essentially a proxy add-on.
You can use it to bypass geo-restrictions but don’t except any strong security or privacy mechanisms from it.
Surfshark Review: Ease of Use
This VPN has designed a user-friendly client for Windows that comes with several nifty features. The app sports a simplistic outlook and is extremely easy to navigate.
Although still a beta version, the app has advance security tools such as a Kill switch, CleanWeb and Split Tunneling.
The thing that impressed me most about this client was that it connected and disconnected almost instantly. Usually, this is an area where many VPN clients struggle.
While using the VPN for this Surfshark VPN review, I discovered that Kill switch and CleabWeb features are not automatically turned on.
Hence, make sure to enable these features from the setting section for an extra layer of security.
Overall, Surfshark has quite a modest user interface that is extremely simple to use for the nonprofessional. It might seem too bland to users that are accustomed to fancy visuals, but it gets the job done without any gimmicks.
Now I do not know about you guys, but simplicity has a charm of its own. So, I think Surfshark has done a great job keeping it simple and intuitive to use.
How to Install Surfshark?
Surfshark is very easy to install:
- Visit Sufshark’s pricing page
- Choose a suitable subscription plan
- Create a new account
- Choose the payment method
- Download the installer file
- Start installation
- Launch the VPN and enjoy its amazing features
How to use Surfshark with Firestick?
The latest feature Surfshark has added in its armory is its FireStick app.
The app allows you to accomplish your media streaming cravings through anonymity and online protection both.
If you are a newbie in the field of online privacy, you do not need any rocket science to achieve your mission.
You can easily install Surfshark on your Firestick devices and continue streaming your favorite media stuff anonymously.
How to use Surfshark with Kodi?
The same goes for Kodi as well. The famous open source media streaming software exclusively delivers a program add-on by the name of VPN Manager.
This program add-on supports numerous VPN services but sadly is not compatible with Surfshark.
However, you may use Surfshark with Kodi through the dedicated VPN app.
Check out our detailed Surfshark on Kodi guide to use the VPN service on the popular media software stress-free.
Does Surfshark work in China?
If your VPN service does work in China, it adds a certain value to your VPN provider’s goodwill. Fortunately, Surfshark is proudly offering China working feature to its subscribers.
In case you are planning to move to China for any reason, Surfshark becomes an interesting privacy choice. To get an accurate official response, I contacted its customer support.
The response was instant and up to the point. According to them, you can opt their Windows as well as Android app to secure your digital existence in China.
Likewise, you will need to install the service on iOS and MacOS platforms manually.
Still, Surfshark has surprised its subscribers to a certain degree. It is not a joke to defeat Chinese great firewall restrictions with such ease.
That said official authorities have started blocking different VPN sites in China.
This is the reason you cannot access VPN services without using their mirror sites.
In this case, Surfshark has not disappointed its Chinese users.
As per their official response was given on Reddit, Surfshark is workable on Windows and Android devices.
You can use Surfshark’s mirror site to avail its services in China.
Similarly, you will be able to use Surfshark Mac and iOS apps in the coming months in China.
The service is trying its level best to release the apps for these platforms in China as soon as possible.
If you read the above Reddit thread in detail, you would realize that different users have appreciated its efforts in bypassing Chinese restrictions.
Surfshark has turned out to be a budget-friendly choice for VPN users in China.
Unfortunately, China is not alone when it comes to blocking different VPNs in the country.
Other countries like Russia, UAE, Iran, and Oman do not support the online freedom right of their netizens.
Consequently, you may not use your preferred VPN services in such countries straightaway.
In this situation, the role of obfuscation feature comes in handy. The said benefit allows you to combat numerous censorship tactics imposed by the number of governments all over the world.
You can read an exclusive guide that discusses how you can bypass VPN blocks and why obfuscation is necessary.
– Areas of Improvement
Honestly speaking, every VPN service has some drawbacks and Surfshark is not an exception at all.
They have to improve their performance in terms of speeds, parent company, and protocols.
Unbearable Connection Speeds
Without appreciable servers’ speed, you cannot achieve your streaming objective.
When it comes to streaming Netflix and other media services, Surfshark has let down its customer surely.
If you are able to attain average streaming speed after putting all the hard yards, you still cannot watch your desired content.
You will take some time to swallow this harsh reality.
Background of Parent Company is Unknown
Surfshark has not done something extraordinary when it comes to finding their parent company.
When I explored their official site in detail, I could not find any information that relates to company background.
Surfshark will have to come up clean as their users have to know about their background.
Once they have defined their background, they may grab more attention from its potential users in a better way.
Surfshark Trustpilot Review
Surfshark has received outstanding reviews so far from users on Trustpilot. Although there are only 17 reviews published on the website yet because it is still a new product, there is not a single poor or even average review yet.
This is extremely promising and highlights the excellent performance of the VPN. I hope it continues to live up to the expectations of users in the future as well.
Surfshark Reddit Review
Of course, this review would be incomplete without a quick look at Reddit, the home of vocal VPN subscribers.
A user on reddit confirms that Surfshark works in China.
However, keep in mind that Chinese censorship tactics are unpredictable and it is better to keep a Surfshark VPN download file before you travel to China.
It is hard to say how long this will last.
Now, I conclude my Surfshark review here. There are many things, which I liked about them.
But naturally, there are some other things that must be dealt accordingly.
Surfshark entices customer’s interest with blazing fast servers, cross-platform compatibility, powerful security features and easy access to geo-locked content.
Over and above, this VPN has taken customer support to another level with its 24/7 Live Chat support. And not to forget, its server list is growing in tandems.
If not all this is enough to pique your interest than your thirst for online privacy might be insatiable.
I complete this review by recommending this VPN to all the readers. Hop on the bandwagon and enjoy the ride.