When Surfshark VPN arrived on the VPN scene a few years ago, most of us were skeptical.
We thought it would be another failed attempt with poor speeds, poorer encryption, and a no-logging policy about as trustworthy as your average politician.
It was soon clear this was not your average VPN start-up. Surfshark VPN reviews revealed competitive speeds, budget subscriptions, cutting-edge security, and impressive agility in terms of bypassing geographical restrictions.
That was back in 2018.
Much has changed since then. In February, Surfshark VPN introduced two-factor authentication and in July, it threw out all its hard drives and shifted its servers onto RAM only.
If there’s one thing you can say about Surfshark VPN – it never seems to stop evolving.
So how is the mature, two-year-old Surfshark VPN measuring up against the competition?
Is it still capable of high-speed connections?
Is Surfshark VPN’s comparatively limited server network still managing to get around blocks on streaming sites like DisneyPlus and BBC iPlayer?
Even more importantly, can Surfshark VPN guarantee an anonymous browsing experience?
I wrote my first Surfshark VPN review shortly after its initial launch and was, by and large, impressed by it.
I was keen to find out if it had managed to maintain its functionality – or improve upon it – so I decided to take the company up on its offer of a seven-day free trial for mobile devices, and installed the VPN onto my Samsung Galaxy A10.
Want to know what my verdict was? Keep reading. Or, if you don’t have time, just check out the highlights of this Surfshark VPN review below, and then, if you’re suitably impressed, head here to sign up with Surfshark VPN.
Surfshark VPN – The Highlights
Streaming – unblocks all popular streaming sites, including Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, HBO Go, Hulu, DisneyPlus, and Netflix. It also provides fast and reliable connections so you can watch without interruption.
Gaming – fast connections and protection for an unlimited number of devices put Surfshark VPN firmly in the top five VPNs for gaming.
Torrenting – Every single one of Surfshark VPN’s servers is optimized for peer-to-peer traffic, giving users fast and easy access to torrent software and streaming players alike.
Traveling – Although Surfshark VPN’s server network is more limited than some, its geographical distribution of servers is widespread, delivering global protection to international travelers.
|SERVERS||1,700+ servers in 63 countries|
|LOGS:||Independently audited no-logging policy|
|STREAMING:||Unblocks Netflix, DisneyPlus, BBC iPlayer,|
|TORRENTING:||P2P & Torrenting Allowed|
|SUPPORT:||24/7 Live Chat|
|SECURITY PROTOCOLS:||OpenVPN, L2TP, IKEv2, Shadowsocks, Wireguard|
Getting Started with Surfshark VPN
Surfshark VPN doesn’t waste time prettifying its user interface, focusing instead on providing fast connections. The result is somewhat stark, but easy to navigate.
I thought NordVPN and ExpressVPN were quick and easy to download, but Surfshark VPN blew them out of the water.
It took seconds to download the Android app and, within a couple of minutes, I was connected and speeding through cyberspace like a shark in pursuit of the annual sardine run.
There are no settings hidden away behind a hamburger menu. Instead, icons at the bottom of the screen direct you to server locations, features, and settings.
The locations menu is self-explanatory, while the features option is where you go to activate the Whitelister split-tunneling tool and the CyberSec ad and malware blocker.
The settings menu is where you would go to activate the kill switch or change your security protocols and data encryption method.
In some Surfshark VPN reviews, you’ll find its interface criticised for being too minimalist. In my mind, it’s simply uncluttered.
Surfshark VPN Features
Most Surfshark VPN reviews remark on its impressive toolkit, which contains a variety of security and privacy features not found in your average VPN.
Much like NordVPN’s DoubleVPN feature, Multi-Hop connects users via two secure servers instead of one.
This provides an extra layer of security which makes your real location and online activity even harder to trace.
In many instances, it has a negative effect on speed simply because your data is diverted twice instead of one. In certain situations, however, Multi-Hop can have a positive effect.
By connecting to a nearby server before winging your way across the Atlantic Ocean to connect to a European server, you can reduce lag and enjoy faster speeds.
Not all ad blockers work as efficiently as others but Surfshark VPN’s CleanWeb tool does a great job of blocking adverts, malware, and trackers.
In doing so, it also boosts browsing speeds by preventing those annoying pop-ups that slow down your browsing experience.
If like me, you primarily use mobile data, it will even save you money as you won’t be wasting it on adverts and banners.
Whitelister is Surfshark VPN’s split-tunneling tool. It’s very simple to use. Just select the apps you want to bypass the VPN tunnel and, voila, you can send internet traffic via Serbia while keeping your online banking app firmly in American cyberspace.
Few Surfshark VPN reviews mention these new tools, as they were only introduced last year.
BlindSearch is a “bare-bones ad-free, zero-log private search service”.
It uses Bing API to generate the best results while keeping the user secure.
Both BlindSearch and HackLock are add-on features which cost an additional $0.99/month on top of your subscription.
This breach detection tool scans online databases for any evidence that your email address has been leaked or stolen.
It’s understood that Surfshark VPN will eventually develop this tool into a fully operational identity theft protection service, although no details have been released as yet.
In addition to these features, Surfshark VPN also gives users tools to check that their VPN connection is watertight and not leaking DNS or WebRTC data.
Surfshark VPN Review of Speeds and Servers
The first Surfshark VPN reviews marvelled at its lightning speeds and speculated that they wouldn’t last.
Now, it’s attracted thousands of users, all of whom are still enjoying competitively fast connections.
Its generally believed that VPNs with large server networks can more easily produce high-speed connections. Why? Because each server has less traffic to deal with so there’s no congestion.
Surfshark VPN’s server network is average in terms of numbers, with 1,700+ servers but it still produces speeds that put some of the biggest VPN providers to shame.
When I performed my initial speed tests for this Surfshark VPN review, I first attained a baseline level by testing it with no VPN connection. I then compared the speeds of Surfshark VPN and NordVPN. Below are my results:
Some VPNs, namely TunnelBear and NordVPN, have more servers but they struggle to compete when it comes to both speed and geographical diversity.
Others, like ExpressVPN, leave Surfshark VPN and most other VPNs dead in the water on both counts.
|VPN PROVIDER||SURFSHARK VPN||NORDVPN||IPVANISH||TUNNELBEAR|
Surfshark VPN doesn’t specify how many servers it has in each country but it seems to have the US all sewn up. That means you can watch all American sports, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL without worrying about regional blackouts.
All in all, in doing the research for this Surfshark VPN review, I feel confident in saying it’s done an impressive job of maintaining consistently fast speeds.
This is partly attributable to its ever-increasing server network which has more than doubled since its inception.
Surfshark VPN Review of Apps
As most Surfshark VPN reviews will inform you, you can download a Surfshark VPN app onto the following devices:
- Apple TV
- Fire TV
Surfshark VPN also has browser extensions available for Chrome and Firefox.
There is also a free DNS changer on offer which will, Surfshark VPN claims, “make your browsing more secure, block ads & malware” and access parental control features via DNS.
The only thing that’s missing is a dedicated router app, although Surfshark VPN can be manually installed and provides step-by-step instructions on how to do so.
Surfshark VPN Streaming
One of the most important criteria in any Surfshark VPN review is its ability to bypass geographical restrictions and access streaming sites.
When DisneyPlus first launched in the US, European fans were eager to get a look in. DisneyPlus was adamant that they would have to wait until the service rolled out later in the year.
Suddenly, thousands of users were hunting down a VPN that had the power to circumnavigate DisneyPlus’ stringent geo-blocks. And who do you think was one of the most consistently successful? Surfshark VPN.
It proved its agility at a time when the likes of CyberGhost VPN and ExpressVPN were struggling to give their European users a sneak preview of The Mandalorian.
Whether you’re in Texas, USA, Twickenham, UK, or Tshwane, South Africa, Surfshark VPN will reliably access:
- Amazon Prime
- BBC iPlayer
Not only can Surfshark VPN create a fake IP address that will enable users to access content that isn’t available in their own region, but it also produces speeds that are fast enough to stream high-definition content without lag or buffering.
If, like most of us, you want the whole world to be your streaming oyster, why not give Surfshark VPN a whirl? It’s consistent, fast, and affordable, solving all your streaming problems for less than $2 a month.
Gaming with Surfshark VPN
In normal circumstances, you should no more play with sharks than you should knives but, in the case of Surfshark VPN, it can help you deliver your best game.
Like streaming enthusiasts, gamers like fast speeds, strong security, and the ability to bypass geographical restrictions. Few VPNs can deliver all three.
According to most Surfshark VPN reviews, it’s both fast and furious – like me when I’m playing Call of Duty – it offers excellent protection when gaming and on voice chat services like Discord and TeamSpeak.
A low ping rate minimizes lag while a fast upload time gives you a competitive advantage.
Surfshark VPN will guard against the Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks that haunt the gaming industry.
With its ability to sneak past geographical restrictions, using Surfshark VPN to mask your IP address means you could access new games before anyone else, giving you a notable advantage.
Similarly, you can pick up games for a portion of the price they’re selling for on your local marketplace.
Try connecting to a Surfshark VPN server in India, Singapore, or Thailand and maybe you’ll find the game you’ve been hankering after at a price you can afford.
Surfshark VPN P2P and Torrenting
Surfshark VPN reviews regularly highlight this VPN’s P2P-friendliness, with file-sharing traffic permitted on all its servers.
Not only does it open its entire network up to torrents, but it also provides high-speed connections and the necessary security to keep you safe while torrenting.
It won’t leak or log your data and works efficiently with P2P clients such as BitTorrent, uTorrent, and Vuze, among others.
Many users who’ve shared their thoughts in Surfshark VPN reviews report improved torrenting speeds.
This is because Surfshark VPN hides your online activity from your internet service provider (ISP).
Those that were previously throttling bandwidth to deter torrenting, can no longer see what you’re doing and therefore don’t throttle your speeds anymore.
SurfsharkVPN even claims that your ISP won’t even know you’re using a VPN, thanks to its “proprietary stealth technology”.
One final security measure that ensures Surfshark VPN’s status as one of the best VPNs for torrenting is the built-in kill switch.
This acts as a safety switch, severing all connections with the internet the moment the VPN connection drops. This guarantees that your ISP will never catch onto your file-sharing fetish!
Surfshark VPN Review: Scaling the Great Firewall of China
Some countries have stringent internet censorship rules and widespread government surveillance.
China is one of the worst offenders and makes life even harder for its citizens by blocking access to a range of sites, from social media to news sites, search engines to streaming sites.
The Chinese government also makes it difficult for VPNs to operate there.
Surfshark VPN, however, has managed to provide a reliable service in the Far East by using the Shadowsocks encryption protocol to circumvent internet censorship.
Surfshark VPN uses this tool to make encrypted travel look more like ordinary traffic, allowing it to pass under the radar and over the Great Firewall of China.
Surfshark VPN Review of Privacy
Even as VPN users, we probably aren’t as worried about privacy as we ought to be. In fact, according to the 2018 GlobalWebIndex report, it’s not privacy that draws us to VPNs – its entertainment!
So, while bypassing geographical restrictions is the most important thing for most VPN users, closely followed by speed, anonymity is vital for over 30% of users. Without robust privacy and no-logging policies, a VPN can’t deliver that anonymity, so let’s take a look at what Surfshark VPN reviews have revealed about its abilities to keep secrets.
Operating out of the British Virgin Islands, where there are no mandatory data retention laws, Surfshark VPN doesn’t need to keep secrets, because it never has any in the first place.
Like ExpressVPN, Surfshark VPN has recently adapted its entire server network to run on RAM only.
This boosts security even further by ensuring that nothing is ever written to a hard drive, and can therefore never be retrieved.
Surfshark VPN’s no-logging policy states:
“We do not collect IP addresses, browsing history, session information, used bandwidth, connection time stamps, network traffic, and other similar data”.
Surfshark VPN hasn’t had the chance to prove its no-logging policy in court, as ExpressVPN has, nor has it been verified by an independent auditor.
On the plus side, it hasn’t been the victim of a data breach nor leaked its customers’ sensitive data all over the internet either.
I feel inclined to trust Surfshark VPN, although I’d feel even more inclined if they did perform an independent audit of their no-logging technology and volunteered some answers to the CDT’s Signals of Trustworthy VPNs.
Surfshark VPN Security
Surfshark VPN may not have had its no-logging status audited, but it did get cybersecurity firm, Cure53, to take a look at its browser extensions.
The audit report concluded:
“that the tested applications make a very robust impression and are not exposed to any issues, neither in the privacy nor in the more general security realms”.
Certainly, Surfshark VPN uses the latest AES 256-bit encryption, and it just redesigned its entire server network so it now runs purely on RAM. But what about its security protocols?
Most VPN’s opt for OpenVPN as its default protocol, but Surfshark VPN never swims with the school, so it uses IKEv2/IPSec instead.
IKEv2/IPSec is, in many Surfshark VPN reviews, rated as the best protocol for mobile devices, because of its ability to adapt to a different network.
It can also maintain a consistent VPN connection regardless of how many times the user switches networks.
OpenVPN is also available and changing protocols is a breeze.
Shadowsocks isn’t regularly seen among common VPN protocols and certainly isn’t supported by big names like ExpressVPN or NordVPN.
Shadowsocks has been around since 2012 and “is a free and open-source encryption protocol project, widely used in mainland China to circumvent Internet censorship”.
Surfshark VPN recommends using this protocol only to “overcome the restrictions of the so-called Great Firewall of China”.
It’s also worth noting that the Shadowsocks protocol is only available on the Windows and Android apps.
Just as Surfshark VPN has speed on its side, it’s also got security all sewn up.
Surfshark VPN Review of Pricing
Surfshark VPN’s pricing tiers range from one of the most expensive, to one of the cheapest, depending on the subscription length.
While a one-month plan will set you back $11.95 per month, a three-year subscription costs just $1.94 per month, undercutting most of the competition.
As we mentioned earlier, if you want access to Surfshark VPN’s latest privacy tools, HackLock and BlindSearch, you’ll have to hand over an additional $0.99 per month for the privilege.
Surfshark VPN is one of the few VPNs to offer a completely free trial, although this is only available through Google Play and the Apple App Store. You will also have to enter payment details before you can access the free trial.
Surfshark VPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee period available for other users, which is standard among most VPNs.
How does Surfshark VPN’s prices compare to other leading VPNs?
If you’re looking for a reliable and affordable VPN and don’t mind making a long-term commitment, Surfshark VPN’s 3-year deal is tough to beat.
The only concern is, being so new to the VPN scene, will Surfshark VPN continue to evolve fast enough to maintain its competitive edge? I think so but if you’re not convinced, why not try it for yourself?
Surfshark VPN’s Coupons and Discounts
With its standard prices being so affordable, Surfshark VPN’s not big on discounts and coupons, although it currently offering the following:
Surfshark VPN Customer Support
Surfshark VPN appears to have modeled its online help section on ExpressVPN’s. The result is an easy-to-navigate, set of tutorials, troubleshooting solutions, and FAQs.
Each tutorial gives a set of simple, step-by-step instructions with screenshots so you know exactly which interface you’re after.
The last time I wrote a Surfshark VPN review, it had discontinued its 24/7 live chat service, earning it a black mark at the time.
It has since reinstated this service and it is both efficient and informative. The customer support representatives are friendly and knowledgeable and you can expect a response almost instantly.
Customers and potential customers can contact Surfshark VPN via Facebook and expect a response within an hour.
If you prefer a video tutorial to written instructions, head over to the Surfshark VPN channel on YouTube, where you’ll also find useful advice on how to avoid phishing scams and bypassing geo-restrictions on popular streaming sites.
As with its security, Surfshark VPN ticks all the right boxes when it comes to customer support.
In writing this Surfshark VPN review, I have discovered the following benefits of choosing this VPN provider:
- Access all the main streaming sites
- Enjoy high-speed connections
- Rates as one of the best VPNs for torrenting
- Simple interface makes it easy to operate
- Includes added extras like the CleanWeb adblocker
- Additional privacy tools available
- Strong customer support
- Robust privacy and no-logging policies
- Located in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands
- Offers unlimited simultaneous connections
- Cost-effective long-term pricing plans
All in all, Surfshark VPN is snapping at the heels of the best VPNs in the world and is as fast and powerful as its namesake.
Surfshark VPN FAQs
Can Surfshark VPN access DisneyPlus?
Yes. Since its launch back in November 2019, Surfshark VPN has been one of the few to offer consistent access to DisneyPlus. Furthermore:
“Every Surfshark VPN server except the Netherlands and India will take you to the US region of Disney Plus”.
Does Surfshark VPN support torrenting?
Yes. Every one of its 1,700+ servers is P2P friendly.
Is Surfshark VPN good for gaming?
Surfshark VPN is both fast and secure enough to give you a good gaming experience, although its sometimes high ping rate may frustrate the more competitive gamers out there.
Can I get Surfshark VPN for free?
If you download the apps for either iOS or Android devices from the relevant store, you’ll get seven days’ free protection.
All other apps come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
As a newcomer to the VPN scene, Surfshark VPN has taken the industry by storm, producing speeds fast enough to compete with the likes of ExpressVPN.
It’s secure, privacy-friendly, and surprisingly agile when it comes to bypassing geographical restrictions.
It may not have the biggest server network in the world but what it has, it uses efficiently, giving users all over the world access to high-speed, secure connections.
It even has a special protocol for navigating the Great Firewall of China.While it hasn’t yet knocked ExpressVPN off its number-one slot, this Surfshark VPN review goes to show that it’s certainly in with a chance.