Surfshark Review

Surfshark is an interesting provider in that it shows a lot of promise with some exotic features, yet suffers on some important fronts. That said, there is a lot to like about this Netflix-unlocking, split-tunneling and malware-blocking VPN, as you can read in our Surfshark review.

By Samuel Chapman
— Last Updated: 28 May'20
2020-05-28T08:35:35+00:00
Table of ContentsRating
Features
87%
Very Good
Pricing
88%
Very Good
Ease of Use
87%
Very Good
Speed
75%
Good
Security
89%
Very Good
Privacy
88%
Very Good
Streaming Performance
85%
Very Good
Server Locations
82%
Good
Customer Service
81%
Good
User Reviews & Comments

Very Good
Starts from $ 199 per month

Surfshark, a relative newcomer to the VPN scene, has wasted no time making a name for itself. In less than two years, Surfshark has built a network of more than 1,000 servers in over 60 countries. For this Surfshark review, we examined the virtual private network from every angle, rating it on its features, UI, speed, security, privacy and more.

The VPN service was founded fairly recently in the British Virgin Islands in 2018. The BVI, with its progressive data privacy laws, is a popular spot for VPNs to set up shop; our best VPN pick ExpressVPN is based there, too (check out our ExpressVPN review for more details).

Surfshark is a tightly secured, easily affordable VPN. We especially like that every subscription has unlimited simultaneous connections and that split tunneling is presented in a way that’s easy for any user to understand. Plus, the VPN works on Netflix and all major streaming services. However, there’s room for improvement in several areas.

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths:

  • Accesses all major streaming services
  • Unlimited devices on every plan
  • Several unique features
  • Split tunneling
  • Servers in underrepresented locations

Weaknesses:

  • No user forum
  • No free plan
  • Middling streaming speed

Alternatives for Surfshark

cloudwards rating
$ per month
top features
  1. 1
  2. /month
    • PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, Amazon Pay
    • Unlimited Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit SurfsharkSurfshark Review
  1. 2
  2. /month
    • PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin
    • 5 Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit ExpressVPNExpressVPN Review
  1. 3
  2. /month
    • Credit card
    • 6 Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit NordVPNNordVPN Review
  1. 4
  2. /month
    • PayPal, Credit card
    • 7 Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit CyberghostCyberghost Review
  1. 5
  2. /month
    • PayPal, Credit card
    • 5 Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit TorguardTorguard Review

Features

87% - Very Good

Surfshark’s feature set checks a lot of the boxes we’re looking for in a VPN. There’s a kill switch, which cuts off your internet if the VPN connection drops for any reason. You can also set the VPN to start when booting up, name trusted WiFi networks and maintain your private connection through user switches.

Surfshark also allows split tunneling, although it’s described by the VPN as a “whitelist.” It’s the same principle, though, speeding up browsing by connecting to trusted sites outside of the VPN. Whitelisting is only available on Windows and Android, but other users can access it via browser extensions (read our StrongVPN review to learn about another service with split tunneling).

Surfshark has a couple of features that keep it from being eclipsed by its more established competitors. First among these is its ad blocker, CleanWeb, which blocks malware, pop-up ads, trackers and suspected phishing websites. It’s a great side perk of the VPN, even if its catch rate isn’t 100 percent.

Surfshark really distinguishes itself with MultiHop, its double VPN feature. It lets you route your connection through more than one server, putting extra protective layers between your IP address and prying eyes. So far, there’s only 13 of these connections — mostly confined to well-served countries — but it’s still an intriguing feature we’d like to see expanded.

Finally, there’s NoBorders, a new feature that claims to allow you to get online in restrictive countries that usually block VPNs. We weren’t able to travel to a totalitarian country to see if it works, but we assume it makes it more difficult for third parties to tell if you’re routing traffic through a VPN, likely using the Shadowsocks protocol.

Premium Features

Surfshark recently added a couple of premium privacy features, which it sells in a bundle for $0.99 per month on top of your regular plan. One of those features is BlindSearch, Surfshark’s ad-free, zero-logging search engine based on the Bing API.

The other bundled feature is HackLock, a fledgling identity-theft protection service that aims to someday compete with Norton LifeLock

We’re pretty impressed by Surfshark’s feature set. It combines a full suite of basic VPN functionality with some intriguing additions. 

Although it’s hardly the only VPN that has an ad blocker (see our CyberGhost review) or that connects through multiple servers (see our NordVPN review), it does a great job of bundling all these features together in both an accessible and affordable way.

Surfshark Features Overview

Starts from$ 199per month

General

Payment methods
PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, Amazon Pay
Accepts cryptocurrency
Simultaneous connections
Unlimited
Supports split tunneling
Unlimited bandwidth
Free trial available
7 days
Refund period
30 days
Worldwide server amount
1,040 servers in 63 countries
Desktop OSes
Windows, MacOS, Linux
Mobile OSes
Android, iOS
Browser extensions
Chrome, Firefox
Can be installed on routers

Streaming

Can access Netflix US
Can access BBC iPlayer
Can access Hulu
Can access Amazon Prime Video

Security

Encryption types
256-AES
VPN protocols available
OpenVPN, IKEv2, Shadowsocks
Enabled at device startup
Allows torrenting
No-logging policy
Passed DNS leak test
Killswitch available
Malware/ad blocker included

Support

Live Chat
24/7
Email support
24/7
Phone support
User forum
Knowledgebase

Pricing

88% - Very Good

Surfshark has only one plan, which includes all its features, no bandwidth limits and unlimited simultaneous connections for your registered devices. That one plan varies in price depending on how long it lasts, with longer subscriptions saving money. There’s no free plan, so if you’re looking for a no-cost VPN, head over to our list of the best free VPN services instead.

1 Month
  • Unlimited GB bandwidth, Unlimited devices
  • Unlimited GB Bandwidth
  • Unlimited Included Devices
  • Bitcoin
1 Year
  • Unlimited GB bandwidth, Unlimited devices
  • Unlimited GB Bandwidth
  • Unlimited Included Devices
  • Bitcoin
1-year plan $ 5.99/ month
$71.88 billed every year
2 Year
  • Unlimited GB bandwidth, Unlimited devices
  • Unlimited GB Bandwidth
  • Unlimited Included Devices
  • Bitcoin
2-year plan $ 1.99/ month
$47.76 billed every 2 years

Although prices are middling at the monthly and annual levels, Surfshark’s two-year plan is the lowest-priced on the market. If you’re looking to save more on a one-month subscription, check out our Ivacy review.

Surfshark offers a seven-day free trial of its app on every mobile platform, which you can access by downloading the app. There are no free trials for any other features, though each subscription level comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. The bundle of Surfshark’s “security suite” features, HackLock and BlindSearch, adds $0.99 per month to whatever tier you’re on.

Surfshark offers a good range of payment methods. You can use credit or debit cards, PayPal, Google Pay or Amazon Pay. If you’d rather use an untraceable cryptocurrency, Surfshark accepts bitcoin, ethereum and ripple.

Ease of Use

87% - Very Good

Surfshark’s main control panel launches with its list of server locations open. You can choose to hide this menu, but that button is rather small and the list might be a bit disorienting for a first-time VPN user.

You can opt to ignore the menu and use the “quick connect” button, which automatically finds the fastest connection. Note that this isn’t always the server that’s physically closest to you. For us, Surfshark found a faster one slightly farther away. It’s nice to know the VPN is vetting its network, and it proves Surfshark’s big server list is more than a gimmick.

Using the server list isn’t too complicated. There are three tabs that help you select different kinds of servers: “locations” for variable IPs, “static” for static IPs and “MultiHop” for extra-secure connections through multiple servers.

You can make any server a “favorite” to return to it easily. You can also use the lightning-fast search bar to look for a specific location. This feature was especially welcome after dragging ourselves all over a world map for our TunnelBear review.

Preferences

All the other features are located in the “preferences” panel, grouped into six tabs. The “general” tab manages the kill switch and lets you control when the VPN will automatically turn on or off.

The “networks” tab allows you to name and toggle trusted WiFi networks. The “features” tab lets you turn the CleanWeb malware and ad blocker on and off. If you’ve paid extra for HackLock and BlindSearch, you’ll also control those features from here.

The “account” tab lets you manage basic aspects of your account without opening a browser window. The “updates” gives you several options for how to receive Surfshark updates, including whether you want only stable releases, when to check for updates and how often to download updates.

Finally, the “advanced” tab lets you choose whether to send crash reports and whether to use NoBorders, the feature that’s intended to help you circumvent firewalls that restrict browsing. There’s also an option to change your protocol — though, oddly, this is still there even if you’re on a platform that supports only one protocol.

Note that these screenshots are from the macOS version of Surfshark. The Windows version organizes options more visibly, in large panels on the left-hand side of the UI. This is where you’ll find the whitelist if you’ve got it.

Surfshark’s UI is friendly overall, once you get used to it. More advanced VPN users might be disappointed by the amount of control, but what there is, is very well organized. In later versions, we’d like to see the tabs organized more clearly, since it’s not always obvious which category a certain feature falls under, making some of them difficult to find.

Speed

75% - Good

We used speedtest.net to test the effects of Surfshark on browsing speed, starting with a Surfshark server as close to our unprotected server as possible. The table summarizes our results.

Server Location:Ping (ms)Download (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)
United States (unprotected)1915.332.35
United States (protected)6811.312.20
Iceland2395.831.99
Spain1825.152.32
India3195.861.90
South Africa3325.882.39

We also tested three of Surfshark’s MultiHop servers. Those results are in the following table, with the unprotected U.S. connection added for comparison.

Server Location:Ping (ms)Download (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)
United States (unprotected)1915.332.35
Canada to United States10210.602.21
United States to Netherlands1687.772.21
Singapore to Hong Kong2518.362.16

Surfshark maintained about 75 percent of unprotected download speed when browsing in similar locations. That’s great performance, and although it diminished with distance, the VPN never dropped below about 33 percent of optimal speed. That puts it about in the middle of the VPN pack for speed impact.

The MultiHop connections turned out very well during the speed test. Latency was longer, which is to be expected, but download speeds were unaffected — and even improved, in some cases. This is likely due to the fact that Surfshark only has MultiHop connections through servers in more reliable locations. Regardless, our test shows that adding extra security to your streaming won’t cost much speed.

If you’re connecting close to home, Surfshark’s latency is acceptably low for gaming. What earns it more points, though, is that every connection we tested beat the 5Mbps threshold recommended for streaming. In general, it’s better for video than for games. For a comparison, see our lists of the best VPNs for gaming and the best VPNs for streaming.

Security

89% - Very Good

Surfshark supports three protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2 and Shadowsocks. See our VPN protocol breakdown for more about how protocols affect VPN security. OpenVPN is a trustworthy open-source protocol that’s a popular choice for many VPNs. IKEv2 is the fastest protocol and is great at restoring dropped connections, making it an ideal choice for mobile devices.

Shadowsocks is a proxy designed specifically to get around restrictive firewalls, especially China’s. That’s really all it’s good for, so we don’t recommend using it otherwise. For encryption, Surfshark relies on AES-256, which is a pretty sure bet. Since we last reviewed Surfshark in November 2019, it’s added ChaCha, an alternate cipher that often performs better on mobile devices.

Surfshark is easily secure enough for torrenting, and it can even stand up to the Great Firewall of China with its use of Shadowsocks. See our list of the best VPNs for torrenting to learn how it stacks up.

After running Surfshark through tests to check for IP address, DNS and WebRTC leaks, we found no problems. That’s no surprise, though. Surfshark has made solid choices here, and it’s great that it’s added a new encryption option. It might be nice to see more protocols down the road, but that’s the only downside we can see.

Privacy

88% - Very Good

Surfshark helpfully includes highlighted summaries at the beginning of every section of its privacy policy. This makes it easy to get the gist of its privacy promises: the VPN will not log any of your browsing data.

It does save your account and billing info, and it also uses Google Analytics for marketing purposes, though the privacy policy includes information on how to opt out. Surfshark shares data with third parties that help keep it running, including ad managers, payment processors and support contractors.

The company’s big selling point on the privacy front is that it’s headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, a territory that currently has some of the world’s best online privacy laws. There’s always the danger that a law might be passed later, but for now, it’s a great place for Surfshark to be sitting.

We checked to see if Surfshark has ever been caught harvesting user data and learned that the company had its browser extensions independently audited by the German firm Cure53. The audit found only two minor weaknesses and no instances of data logging. The audit didn’t look outside of the extensions, but it still makes us cautiously optimistic.

We also like that Surfshark doesn’t have a parent company that might ask it to compromise its ideals. The only real count against it is that it saves independent identities in order to advertise itself. Otherwise, this is a VPN that will guarantee you privacy.

Streaming Performance

85% - Very Good

Right now, Surfshark is fully capable of accessing any streaming service, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer. However, you might have to switch between a few servers in your country before one gets through. Our first two tries on Netflix with a U.S. server were blocked, but the third worked without a hitch.

Once you’re in, performance matches the results of Surfshark’s relatively strong speed tests. If it’s not fast enough for you, though, try one of our other best VPNs for Netflix.

Server Locations

82% - Good

The number of servers Surfshark can access has fluctuated here and there, but at the time of writing, it has 1,040 servers in 63 countries. That’s impressive for a VPN with less than two years under its belt, but we’re more interested in geographic diversity than quantity.

Fortunately, Surfshark looks promising in this regard, as well. Although more than half of its servers (36 out of 63) are located in Europe, it also serves four countries in South America, one in Central America, three in Africa, three in the Middle East, two in Central Asia and four in Southeast Asia.

It’s worth noting that Surfshark added several servers in underserved locations (including Libya, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Indonesia and Thailand) since we last reviewed it in November 2019. The speed of new additions makes us hopeful there will be more IP addresses added soon.

For now, we rate Surfshark’s server location options as promising, but not quite there yet. If you want the widest possible geographic range of servers, HideMyAss is the industry leader. You can jump over to our HideMyAss review to find out why that’s both a good and a bad thing.

Customer Service

81% - Good

We were sorry to see that there’s no way to get directly to Surfshark’s help page from within the desktop VPN. That’s a small thing, but it goes a long way toward making the process friendlier.

Getting help with Surfshark starts with its knowledgebase. The last time we did our Surfshark VPN review, it was still very new, and we dinged it for having only nine articles in its entire self-support section. It’s clearly taken the criticism well, since the knowledgebase has grown far more extensive in just a few months.

Immediately after clicking “help,” you’ll find eight buttons that lead straight to basic setup guides. The FAQ follows, then buttons for three categories of articles: tutorials, general and billing. Each section includes a good range of articles. Unfortunately, there still isn’t a forum.

Surfshark’s 24-hour live chat assistance is managed by Zendesk. We asked a question and got a courteous and helpful reply almost instantaneously. Being first in the queue during U.S. West Coast business hours was a great feeling, and even though Surfshark is obtaining it through a third party, we won’t complain.

Next, we tested the ticket submission system with a different question. We received an automated confirmation email within a minute. The actual answer took about 10 hours and was full of detailed and actionable advice. All in all, the customer service with Surfshark is a great experience, though the lack of a forum still stings.

The Verdict

The task for Surfshark in its first two years of life is to make the case that the crowded field of VPNs needed one more jostling for your attention. It’s still too early to say whether it has succeeded, but it’s taking all the steps it needs to: growing fast, competing with available services on features and price, and introducing features few other VPNs offer.

Other VPNs have multi-server connections, split tunneling and ad blockers, but Surfshark rolls them all together in an intriguing and compact package. It’s also private, secure and strikingly affordable, especially with its unlimited device guarantee for all subscriptions. Where Surfshark does fall short, it’s shown the capacity to quickly improve.

Let us know what you think in the comments. Thanks for reading.

Surfshark FAQ

  • Is Surfshark VPN Any Good?

    Surfshark is a solid VPN with a fast-growing server network and no noteworthy flaws. It’s safe, secure and relatively low-impact. It’s also decent for streaming and gaming, and the price is reasonable.

  • Who Owns Surfshark VPN?

    Surfshark Ltd., a company based in the British Virgin Islands, owns the Surfshark VPN. Outside its work on Surfshark and other privacy products, not much is known about the company, though there have not been any reports of it violating users’ trust.

  • Is Surfshark Easy to Use?

    Yes. If it’s your first VPN, you can hit “quick connect” and get straight to browsing. However, more seasoned users might be a little frustrated by the relatively small amount of control options.

  • How Much Does Surfshark VPN Cost?

    Surfshark costs $11.95 per month. You can save money by buying a one-year plan for $71.88 or a two-year plan for $47.76. It also provides a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Surfshark Review

A slow but solid service.

Surfshark is an interesting provider in that it shows a lot of promise with some exotic features, yet doesn't deliver on some core abilities. That said, there is a lot to like about this Netflix-unlocking, split-tunneling and malware-blocking VPN, as you can read in our Surfshark review.
Starts from$ 199per month
Visit Surfshark

5 thoughts on “Surfshark”

  1. Hello

    Do not buy it. I had installed software on 3 PCs, notebook and android and all starts to have problems with internet, network… even if surfshark is not connected… Software is piece of crap. I paid for 24 months and I want refund after few days more than 30 days and the reject to refund.
    Do not trust SurfShark. Pay a little more and everything will at least work which won’t with surfshark!

  2. I do agree with you. Surfshark has some minor issues because of being so new, but they, also, have some great potential. I like how smooth and quick the connection is on their Windows app. My only issue was that I wasn’t able to set it up on my router as it needed one of the legacy protocols that they do not support. Though, the speed is great for me. The drop wasn’t even anywhere close to yours. I mean I tested it just now and the server that is almost 2000 miles away gave me just 18% drop. Overall, I like the service and can’t wait to see them develop into something even better.

  3. Surfshark User Rating

    Yeah, their knowledge-base is still quite small, though I found quite a lot of advanced features such as kill switch, clean web, split tunneling, multihop and the one that allows you pick on what network/s you get auto-connected and on which ones you don’t. I don’t really use the kill switch and multihop but I really like the other two. Also, the apps seem to be fool-proof, which I appreciate a lot as this one is my second VPN and I only used the other one for a couple of months before switching to Surfshark.

  4. Surfshark User Rating

    Been a subscriber for over four months. Not much to complain about really, speeds are good, I like these extra features and especially the price. Only down side could be that they do not have a linux app.

  5. Surfshark User Rating

    Surfshark is really bad. I had so many problems with it that I had to write it off as a loss. The problems included slow internet speed, not able to connect to email and certain popular websites,etccc The worst was not being able to login to my account. It kept saying ” can’t check credentials “. I do not recommend this vpn.

Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Surfshark Review

A slow but solid service.

Surfshark is an interesting provider in that it shows a lot of promise with some exotic features, yet doesn't deliver on some core abilities. That said, there is a lot to like about this Netflix-unlocking, split-tunneling and malware-blocking VPN, as you can read in our Surfshark review.
Starts from$ 199per month
Visit Surfshark
Top
Top