surfshark-logo

Surfshark Review 2021: A Lightweight feature-packed VPN

SurfShark Review
  • Pricing
  • Features
  • Security
  • Speed
  • Servers
  • Streaming
  • Support
4.7

Summary

Surfshark is a relatively young VPN that offers security, speed, and privacy that benefits users when surfing the internet. It is an incredibly fast and feature-rich VPN ideal for streaming, online gaming, torrenting, and other data-heavy operations.

Pros

  • 30-day money-back guarantee 
  • 24/7 live chat
  • Optimized for streaming
  • Advanced encryption
  • No logs
  • DNS leak protection
  • Ad-block feature
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • Unlimited devices
  • Torrenting allowed
  • Unblocks Netflix geo-restrictions
  • Safe and secure
  • Works with Netflix, YouTube Red, and BBC iPlayer
  • Accepts Cryptocurrency payments

 

Cons

  • Lacks a free trial
  • Average speed
  • Monthly plans are expensive

Surfshark VPN is a new, virtual private network (VPN) service and it is located 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.

Unlike some providers, which specialize in specific services, Surfshark advertises itself as a great VPN for any purpose.

Surfshark offers all the desirable perks, including military-grade encryption, impressive high speeds, the ability to unblock content (websites and regional), 24/ 7 customer support, affordable subscription rates and a whole lot more. 

This Surfshark review is designed to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the Surfshark VPN protocols, features, customer service, and functionality.

Before going any deeper into this topic, you might want to spend a few minutes to get to know this technology. If you didn’t know, VPNs come with numerous benefits where the most important one is safeguarding your private data on the Web.

They can make you anonymous online and even battle throttling imposed by your ISP. However, this doesn’t mean that any VPN will do the job – as there are different degrees of success. So, let’s see how Surfshark VPN ranks in the best VPN services.

Pricing and Plans

surfshark-Pricing

Surfshark offers three subscription plans. There’s a month-to-month subscription, which comes in at $11.95, and is a pretty expensive option if you’re on a budget.  

There’s also an annual plan that retails at $5.99/month, which will save you up to 50% annually. And there’s a 2-year plan, which is $1.99/month. This is obviously the best value of the bunch, but you’re also committing to something for 24-months, with no guarantee that service will be as solid in the future as it is today.  

Payment Methods

As far as payment options are concerned, they’ve partnered with Stripe and Norton to accept a number of major credit and debit cards. PayPal, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, Ali Pay is also a Payment option.

surfshark-payment-options

Surfshark VPN is amongst a handful of VPN’s that accepts Bitcoin payments and other major cryptocurrency options.

is an excellent payment channel if you’re looking to conceal your online identity, even during the payment process. Surfshark doesn’t have a free trial but instead offers a 30-days money-back guarantee.

Surfshark Features

1. CleanWeb

CleanWeb

CleanWeb is a built-in feature of Surfshark VPN that Block intrusive popups & ads, Discard suspicious links, Prevent phishing attempts, trackers, and malware Save your mobile data by removing ads. I particularly love this feature because it actively blocks annoying advertisements.

2. Use Surfshark on Unlimited devices

surfshark-multi-platform

Connect & use all your family devices simultaneously. You can protect as many devices as you’d like at once.

While some of the biggest names in the VPN game have strict limitations on how many devices you can tunnel through the network at one time, SurfShark does not.

They let you connect unlimited devices. This gives you the opportunity to use the VPN with all of your computers, phones, tablets, routers, smart televisions, and more. You’ll be able to browse privately across all of your Internet-capable devices.

Other platforms for Surfshark

Surfshark-platforms

You can set it to open upon startup from your PC and devices or use the Quick Connect button. Surfshark supports Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS devices.

There’s an extension for use with Chrome and Firefox browsers. It can also be configured with routers or as TOR-Over-VPN for maximum security. 

The VPN has instructions for configuring your router as well, so you could use it to protect your entire home network.

3. Whitelister

Whitelister

Whitelister is Surfshark’s split tunneling feature that allows you to exclude specific apps or websites from connecting via a VPN. It Allows specific apps & websites to bypass the VPN. Works great with mobile banking apps.

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 the fact 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.

4. Kill Switch

Kill-switch

Surfshark has a great kill switch that will automatically deactivate your internet connection if your VPN connection drops unexpectedly.

This allows the VPN to protect your privacy by ensuring your online traffic is always encrypted and is a critical feature for any secure VPN to have.

My tests have shown the Surfshark kill switch to work reliably each time I deliberately disabled my VPN connection.

5. Camouflage Mode

Camouflage Mode makes sure that even your internet provider can’t tell that you’re using a VPN. Stay private, always. The Camouflage Mode helps to hide your IP address from your Internet Service Provider.

This can prevent warnings and data throttling that often occurs due to online activity that ISPs deem inappropriate or against their terms of service.

6. MultiHop

MultiHop

Multihop is Surfshark’s version of Double VPN—which gives you an extra layer of protection by directing your traffic through two encrypted servers before you reach your final destination.

It Connects via multiple countries at once to take ID protection & footprint masking to a whole other 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.

7. NoBorders mode

NoBorders-mode

The NoBorders Mode works the same way as Camouflage Mode which should mean the Internet should be open to everyone. However, This mode allows us to successfully use Surfshark to web users who live in restrictive countries.

8. Hacklock

Hacklock is a security feature that scans the web to prevent possible damages and alerts you in case your email gets 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/mo.

blind search is a feature that searches the web privately & efficiently with no ads or logs. 

This feature can provide you with unbiased and organic search results. In other words, BlindSearch basically allows you to browse the web incognito mode without pesky advertisers manipulating your buying behavior.

10. GPS spoofing

This allows users to protect their online presence with an extra layer of protection not only by changing their IP address, but also the device’s physical GPS location.

It’s an optional feature that is not on by default and can be enabled from the app settings. Surfshark’s GPS spoofing virtually changes users’ actual GPS location by connects to one of the VPN servers.

When GPS spoofing is activated, any app that will request the user’s physical coordinates will be overridden by the coordinates of the selected VPN server.

This means that a web service that wants to access a user’s GPS data will think that the user is, for example, in the US instead of its real location, the UK.

Privacy and Security

1. Strict no-logs policy

The privacy policy confirms that Surfshark does not collect any usage or connection data.

The provider only stores the following information:

  • Your account email address (used only for customer service purposes)
  • Your password (encrypted)
  • Basic billing information

If you’re looking for total anonymity, you can avoid providing personal billing information by paying with a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.

The only part of the logging policy we aren’t fans of is that Surfshark may collect unique advertising identifiers from third parties for marketing purposes and user analytics.

This isn’t a major concern, however, since you can reset your advertising identifier or opt-out of this data collection at any time in your app settings.

Overall, Surfshark has a transparent and privacy-friendly logging policy. None of the following information is collected:

  • IP addresses
  • Browsing history
  • Session information
  • Bandwidth used
  • Connection time stamps
  • Network traffic

Surfshark is well away from the 14 eyes. In fact, their HQ – the British Virgin Islands – has no data retention laws.

This means that Surfshark’s user information is safe from those who wish to sweep it under you. Furthermore, their data protection ensures that no foul play can be done.

2. Surfshark’s Past Data Leaks

Taking a closer look at any VPN’s data leak history is imperative. This gives you a clear indication of whether you should trust it or stay away as far as possible. Well, you should know that this puts Surshark in the best possible position – as it comes with a clean slate.

Even though this VPN doesn’t have the same age as some reputable VPNs, it managed to stick to its promises. There aren’t any reports of data collection or data breaches in the past.

3. Hide your IP

surfshark-hide-ip

Protect your privacy by hiding your real IP address that can be connected to your digital identity. Your IP can reveal a lot about you: your location, torrent downloads, and even comments online.

By using this Surfshark feature you can hide your IP, hide your real location, Secure your digital privacy, Stay anonymous online, Protect your online activity and safeguard your privacy.

4.Private DNS

Surfshark goes above and beyond when it comes to DNS leak protection. DNS leaks are relatively common with VPNs. They happen when your computer decides to make a DNS request, or domain name system request, through unsecured channels.

When this happens, the entire VPN service is rendered useless because that request comes from your IP address.

To make sure that this doesn’t happen, each and every one of Surfshark’s 1040+ servers has its very own private DNS. This ensures that requests are made through the VPN, not your unsecured IPS connection.

5. Leak protection

Surfshark also boasts a tightly sealed hull. It bears no cracks or chinks that allow info to leak and compromise your IP address. No, this VPN made sure that whatever information their user has is kept private.

I ran Surfshark through six different tests to see whether or not it leaked my IP and DNS information.

  • https://ipleak.net/ (none found)
  • https://www.perfect-privacy.com/check-ip/ (none found)
  • https://ipx.ac/run (none found)
  • https://www.perfect-privacy.com/dns-leaktest/ (none found)
  • http://dnsleak.com/ (none found)

Surfshark VPN Speed

Server speed is a key structure for any VPN provider. Why toil through slow server speed when there are other VPN providers that do it better, right? For Surfshark’s case, it’s not a problem.

There was good news all round. We had no connection failures, connection times were fractionally faster than average, and all servers returned IP addresses for their advertised locations.

UK download speeds were as much as we could expect, at 64-66Mbps on our 75Mbps test line. 

To see how fast Surfshark could go, we also tried measuring performance from a 475Mbps connection in the US. These results were mixed, but Surfshark peaked at a median speed of 110Mbps.

That’s more than good enough for most connections and devices, but other VPN providers have done much better. Private Internet Access’ lowest result across four test runs was 314Mbps, for instance, and it peaked at 452Mbps.

Server Locations

surfshark-Server

At the moment, Surfshark operates 1040+ servers in 60+ countries and each server has the so-called “camouflage” mode, which is also sometimes referred to as 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.

Support

Support

If Surfshark doesn’t work for you, the support site has setup and installation tutorials, troubleshooting guides, FAQs and other resources to point you in the right direction.

While there’s a little useful content there, it’s mostly related to setup, for example including guides to setting up the service to run on various routers.

When we searched for more details on Surfshark’s own features, we found most were described in the same one or two lines used on the main website.

Fortunately, if you have any issues, support is available 24/7 via live chat.

Streaming

According to Surfshark’s website, the VPN is great for streaming geo-blocked content. And it’s true.

If you think about it, Surfshark being a solution is not so surprising. Until recently, the VPN was simply too small to warrant the attention of streaming giants.

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.

Torrenting

we know the risks of torrenting, don’t we? It’s totally forbidden in some countries and you could face hefty fines if you were caught sharing files or using the P2P protocol.

Yes, It allows torrenting so you won’t break their terms and conditions if you’re downloading torrents. Simply connect to any server and launch your torrent client to get started. It’s also good to know that the speeds were good at the time I wrote this review.

Protocols & Encryption

surfshark-vpn-Protocols

VPN tunneling protocols are a technology that helps VPNs safely send your data through the internet. Surfshark use IKEv2/IPsec is a default protocol on all of its apps but If you prefer, you can still select and change anytime to below protocols.

  • IKEv2 – the fast favorite on mobile OS
  • OpenVPN – a reliable open-source classic
  • Shadowsocks – top choice in restrictive countries

Whether you’re typing in credit card information or sending a simple message on a social media platform, all of the data you send through the VPN tunnel is encrypted.

Surfshark uses military-grade encryption. More specifically, it uses AES 256-bit encryption. This is the encryption method used by top government agencies.

Does Surfshark work in China?

Last time I checked in on Surfshark, I was skeptical that it could be a reliable service in China. The reason was the list of available tunneling protocols, which only included OpenVPN and IKEv2.

One of the features of the Great Firewall of China is that it employs Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to detect VPN traffic within the network. OpenVPN is known as particularly vulnerable to DPI, and Surfshark had nothing else to offer.

The situation has completely changed now. Since the introduction of the Camouflage and NoBorders modes, Surfshark is now capable of disguising VPN traffic.

These features switch from the default tunneling protocol to OpenVPN with the XOR patch, scrambling your traffic and confusing the censors.

Final Thoughts

Surfshark is a powerful and low-priced VPN with an array of advanced features. There are some issues, too, but the service has seen some major improvements over the past year, and it deserves to be on your VPN shortlist.

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