Last Updated on November 29, 2019 by Larious
Surfshark is a relatively young VPN service incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, which gives it a serious advantage over competitors headquartered in areas with mandatory data retention laws or within reach of numerous international spy organizations, including the Eyes network.
Surfshark’s rise has from zero to hero has been nothing short of outstanding and has quickly become a favourite amongst VPN users worldwide since joining the market in 2018. A secure, no-logs VPN with high speeds, it’s ideal for streaming & torrenting. It’s extremely competitively priced, simple to use and allows users to protect an unlimited number of devices.
Launched in 2018, this VPN service has become one of the best VPNs just over a year. Today Surfshark is also the best regarding price and quality correlation.
There is no other technically advanced provider in the market at such a low price (from $1.99 per month).
Surfshark is still inferior to some leading VPN services in the number of servers.
However, it excels in the number of used technologies and additional security features. It is an incredibly fast and feature-rich VPN ideal for streaming, online gaming, torrenting, and other data-heavy operations.
Speed & Performance
Surfshark VPN surprised us with its performance. During our tests, we were able to connect to different servers in just a couple of seconds, no matter the physical distance. For this Surfshark review, our testing team in Belgrade, Serbia, screened 20 different servers across multiple continents.
Surfshark is relatively new to the VPN scene and to their credit have some of the most reliable servers we have tested offering very consistent connections at all times.
In terms of out and out speed, they are no baby shark, but they are not quite as nippy as some of their competition. We are hopeful that they will continue to improve in this area and are excited to see how they continue to grow and develop.
Saying this, they are by no means slow! You will have no problems streaming HD content, take part in P2P file-sharing or merely browsing the internet, so unless your main focus is speed, don’t be deterred!
When it started out, Surfshark only had a native Android app plus extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Today, the extensions are still available, but there are also native apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Fire TV Stick, and Linux, which is a considerable improvement that demonstrates the company’s dedication to elevating its services.
Surfshark also provides smart DNS service for your smart TVs and can be configured to work on routers (AsusWRT, DD-WRT, Tomato, Netgear, TP-Link, and Linksys) and gaming consoles as well (PS and Xbox). The smart DNS service has to be enabled through your personal online account. The company will send you an email notification when your smart DNS is set.
At the moment, Surfshark operates 800+ servers in 50+ countries and each server has the so-called “camouflage” mode, which is also sometimes referred to as the obfuscation ability. This allows users in countries with heavy censorship to hide their VPN traffic and gain access to the most popular platforms and services restricted in their parts of the world.
Unlike any other VPN provider, Surfshark provides its users with unlimited simultaneous connections, which is beyond impressive. Apart from this, the company guarantees unlimited speeds, bandwidth, and server switching. The software is optimized for streaming and fast and effective content delivery.
Safety & Security
In addition to being reliable, Surfshark features enterprise-grade infrastructure, which allows you to protect your online traffic and keep your personal and generated data away from prying eyes.
The software supports OpenVPN and IKEv2 (default on all of its apps) connection protocols. This is a smart decision since PPTP, L2TP, and similar protocols are seriously outdated. Surfshark encrypts your traffic with AES-256 cipher, which is literally unbreakable and also used by the military and financial institutions (banks, for example). This configuration allows you to remain perfectly safe while connected to unsecured public Wi-Fis as well.
If you require an additional level of security, you can use the MultiHop feature, which allows you to route your VPN traffic through multiple servers (countries) at once and take your footprint masking and ID protection to a whole new level. However, multi-hopping will significantly slow down your Internet connection, so this feature is recommended only if your Internet is very fast and if you absolutely need it (politicians, journalists, and individuals who handle sensitive data on a regular basis).
The software comes with the Whitelister app that enables you to control the extent of the VPN protection on your Windows and Android devices. In other words, you can create exceptions that go around your encrypted tunnel, which is especially useful for online banking apps that should not be used with a VPN.
Surfshark has implemented an automatic killswitch in its Windows, macOS, and iOS apps, which is a big plus compared to the previous version of the software. Note that the killswitch is not enabled by default, so if you want to use this feature, you have to turn it on in the settings menu. There is also an ad-blocker.
Finally, the company keeps a warrant canary on the official website that currently sits at exactly ZERO warrants, gag orders, and National Security Letters.
Logging & Privacy
Surfshark collects the following user data:
Personal information – This includes your email address, encrypted password, payment information, and order history. This data is collected to create and manage your account, provide customer service, respond to requests, follow up on orders, process orders, and comply with legal requirements.
Diagnostics – In order to gauge the overall usage of its official website/software and provide its users with efficient support, Surfshark uses Google Analytics. This software collects your anonymous traffic data (which pages you visit and for how long, browser/network type…), your IP address, and unique user-resettable advertising identifiers provides by third parties like Google Play, for example. Note that you can opt-out of personalized ads at any given moment.
Cookies and web beacons – First of all, you can turn off all cookies if you prefer not to receive them. However, this might limit the usability of the official website and prevent you from accessing certain features. Web beacons are used to confirm the receipt of the company’s emails and help create a more personalized experience for the user.
When it comes to third parties, Surfshark cooperates with marketing service providers, payment processors, storage and infrastructure providers, ad service providers, live chat support providers, and security service providers. The company will never share or sell your personal information unless ordered to do so by law.
As previously stated in this Surfshark review, this VPN is not subject to any mandatory data retention laws, so technically, nobody can exert any pressure on the company in order to obtain user data. The British Virgin Islands are still under UK jurisdiction, but there have not been any cases of the government directly influencing the BVI authorities to hand over any sensitive information.
Thanks to its incredible speeds and the ability to unlock geo-restricted platforms, Surfshark provided us with a very smooth streaming experience across multiple services. We were able to connect to Netflix US/UK/Japan/France/Italy/Germany/Australia, Hulu, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, and Crunchyroll and stream content in HD without any lag or buffering issues. If streaming is your primary reason for purchasing a VPN, Surfshark is definitely a premium option that provides seamless, lag-free sessions in full HD.
Surfshark does not only support torrenting but actively encourages it. Although specializing in streaming, Surfshark is also a pretty vocal supporter of P2P filesharing. Every single one of the available servers is P2P-ready, so you can access P2P traffic from anywhere in the world.
Plans & Pricing
With a price tag of $1.99 + 3 months free, Surfshark’s monthly subscription is not overly budget-friendly, but you can get affordable VPN protection by opting for its annual plan and paying $5.99 per month instead ($71.88 billed every year). Finally, if Surfshark is all you ever wanted in a VPN, you can go with the 2-year option and pay just $1.99 per month ($47.76 billed every two years).
The company accepts credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and American Express), Alipay, and major cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple), which allows you to remain completely anonymous during purchase. The company no longer accepts PayPal. Every subscription plan comes with a generous 30-day money-back guarantee.
Surfshark’s customer support is available 24/7/365 and you can reach the support team via email/support ticket system or use the live chat feature on the official website. The team is more than forthcoming and ready to answer all the questions you might have at any given point.
Alternatively, you can consult the official FAQ section, which is not overly detailed and should definitely be reworked. In other words, we do not need the company to tell us what a VPN is, we want to learn more about its service and specific features. There is also a pretty impressive collection of step-by-step manual configuration guides, which will definitely come in handy if you decide to tinker with different platforms.
Surfshark Pros And Cons
As we wrap up this Surfshark review, here’s a quick overview of the features that wowed us and the aspects of the service that could use some improvement.
- Very fast
- Optimized for streaming
- Excellent security configuration
- No logs
- No identity leaks
- Works with Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer…
- Ad block
- Accepts cryptocurrencies
- 24/7 live chat support
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Expensive 1-month subscription
- Static IPs