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Surfshark Review

article by Nicky Hoseck author January 16, 2019
our score
Well known for their stealth and speed, sharks have been making surfers lives a misery for hundreds of years. Fortunately, in the virtual world, secrecy and pace are both highly sought after so that must mean Surfshark VPN VPN is giving the market leaders a run for their money... or are they?
pros
  • Otherworldly speeds
  • Minimalist interface
  • High levels of encryption
  • Excellent server locations
  • Efficient online support
  • Competitive long-term price plans
cons
  • No Mac app
  • No Tor network or obfuscated servers
  • Monthly price could be more competitive
Surfshark VPN has been making a big splash since its inception and, even as a new kid on the block, is proving its mettle
Nicky Hoseck, author
Mobile Protection Mobile IKEv2 protocol
Online transaction protection- Super Affordable Pricing
Virus, Spyware & Malware Protection CleanWeb Anti-Malware Included
Server Locations MultiHop Servers Routing
Monthly Plan Try Now >>
$ 11.95 /mo
  • Strict No Logs Policy
  • Unlimited Devices
  • Diamond-Strong Protection
Try Now >>
Special Promotion
24 Month Try Now >>
$ 1.99 /mo
  • Strict No Logs Policy
  • Unlimited Devices
  • Diamond-Strong Protection
Try Now >>
12 Month Try Now >>
$ 5.99 /mo
  • Strict No Logs Policy
  • Unlimited Devices
  • Diamond-Strong Protection
Try Now >>

It would seem that, with significant tenacity, Surfshark VPN is doing exactly that so we thought we’d take a closer look at the belly of the beast to find out what it’s all about.

Surfshark VPN has been making a big splash since its inception and, even as a new kid on the block, is proving its mettle. High speeds and water-tight encryption, along with unlimited devices and excellent geo-blocking navigation are just a few of Surfshark VPN’s most tempting features. While the price may still be a little high, this VPN has all the benefits of being situated in the British Virgin Islands and therefore outside the conglomerates that insist on specific data retention laws. Your secret is so safe with Surfshark VPN that not even they will know what you’re hunting online.

Ease of Use Ease of Use

Surfshark VPN prides itself on its simplicity, and their installation and setup processes both reflect this. The interface is similarly stripped down to its bare bones, making it easy for beginners to get to grips with. Literally, Surfshack will create a secure tunnel to cyberspace with just the click of a button which, for the more technologically challenged among us, is all we could ever ask for.

To slim down their interface to this level, Surfshark VPN opted to make most of its advanced privacy and security features default, along with an inbuilt malware, adware and tracker blocker. There are still customizable features, however, like the MultiHop function which gives the secrecy-obsessed the ability to channel their traffic through two separate, secure servers, making it virtually impossible to track.

The staff at Surfshark VPN have been busy trying to develop apps for all platforms and, although they’re not quite there yet, we’re impressed with their Router app which can protect your whole household in one go. Unfortunately, the Mac app isn’t up and running yet, although you can still use SurfShack VPN with a Mac, the set-up process is just a little more complicated. Having said that, SurfShack has published set-by-step instructions on their website, making the whole experience a little more streamlined.

For Android and iOS users, Surfshark VPN has opted for an IKEv2 protocol which is both less draining on your battery power and can also keep you connected even if your phone is switching between Wi-Fi and mobile hotspots.

Once set up and connected, you can modify your browsing experience to suit your needs via the settings button. This will not only give you information about your subscription but also gives you access to a range of choices, from having Surfshark VPN start up automatically when you connect to a remote server, to enabling the Kill Switch and CleanWeb anti-malware features.

More advanced users can also select their preferred protocol, switching between UDP and TCP.

Not only is Surfshark VPN minimalist in design, but it’s also seriously lightweight, with the Windows app coming in at only 10MB or so. This means it will function effectively even on older devices and operating systems. Being small means it’s also fast to install, taking just a matter of seconds in most instances.

Although it may be low on megabytes and simple in design, Surfshark VPN performs consistently well, delivering high speeds and reliable connections all over the world. Uite how they manage this with so few servers is something of a mystery, although strategic locations have quite a bit to do with it.

Before we throw ourselves in at the deep end, however, let’s have look at some of Surfshark VPN’s other features and then we can decide if this really is the biggest threat in the rough waters of the best VPNs.

speed Speed

With just 500+ servers, Surfshark VPN’s something of a small fish in a pond when compared to VPN giants like ExpressVPN or CyberGhost VPN. Despite this, they manage to maintain otherworldly speeds that are so fast, you barely notice the difference between having the VPN on or off. This really throws down the gauntlet to the VPN community, few of which have managed such a feat.

Evidently, Surfshark VPN had a clear goal in mind when creating their VPN – they wanted to offer technology capable of delivering fast video content without hiccups or lag time. Impressively enough, they seem to have done just that. Want to binge watch Peaky Blinders on Netflix or get a dose of British humor on BBC iPlayer? No problem. Unlike some other VPNs, Surfshark VPN seems to have got navigating geo-restrictions down pat and coasts onto streaming sites without a care in the world. If your internet speed is good, to begin with, then with Surfshark VPN, you should be able to watch the latest 4k content available online.

Having made some grand claims about how effective Surfshark VPN is for streaming, we were pleasantly surprised to find they were true. Not only did Surfshark VPN maintain excellent speeds streaming through Netflix and other similar sites, but it also produced consistent speeds from a variety of different servers.

Connecting to Netflix from Japan is almost unheard of so, although Surfshark VPN’s test speeds in that locale weren’t the greatest, the fact that it could access the site’s USA library at all was cause for celebration. Reading so much good stuff about them in this review may make you believe Surfshark VPN have some secret powers, in all likelihood, they just aren’t bigger enough for online giants like Netflix and Hulu to really worry about. Still, they’re still made impressive progress and are leaps and bounds ahead of many of their competitors.

Speed tests have also produced consistently good results, even though relatively obscure locations like Warsaw. All speeds tested were remarkably consistent with and without the VPN, with the closest and quickest connection, as recommended by Surfshark VPN, even giving ExpressVPN a run for its money. Although connecting to a US server was considerably slower, it still gave us a seamless streaming experience.

With speed like this, you can do whatever you like, and Surfshark VPN makes that even easier by allowing torrenting and P2P traffic. Forget about energy drinks – Surfshark VPN will give you wings!

Privacy Privacy

One of the highlights of recent technological developments is being able to shop or bank online while still snuggled up, safe and sound in bed. With Surfshark VPN, you can do precisely this while being as secure and warm in virtual reality as you are in the physical one. Although simple on the outside, under the skin of this streamlined VPN is some excellent encryption that will provide a safe and constant connection on pretty much any device.

The high standard of online security is backed up with one of our favorite privacy policies to date. Presented in an easily digestible manner, Surfshark VPN has divided their privacy policy into sections, making it easier for the user to find the information they want. In very straightforward language Surfshark VPN makes it clear that they do “not process any data related to the online activity of our users”.

As we mentioned earlier, being situated in the British Virgin Islands is also a huge plus when it comes to privacy, as you’ve probably heard from ExpressVPN who are also stationed there. With no laws pertaining to the collection and storage of data and a complete absence of foreign intelligence operations, BVI is situated outside the 14 Eyes group, giving Surfshark VPN the freedom to protect your privacy to the end.

The only other way in which your privacy could be compromised would be via a DNS leak. However, Surfshark VPN’s network has been proven to be extremely airtight, keeping your IP address and geographical concealed no matter what. Although they originally launched without a Kill Switch, Surfshark VPN has now added one in, making sure your connection closes the moment there is a drop in your VPN connection. This is ideal for users who love torrenting and aren’t always around to pick up on connection issues.

Overall, while you might not want to get into the water with a shark, it would seem you’ll only get into hot water without one in cyberspace.

features Features

The most outstanding feature of Surfshark VPN isn’t it’s speed, although many of you were probably thinking that. The thing that really makes Surfshark VPN stand out from the crowd is their unlimited simultaneous connections. Anyone who’s spent a bit of time researching VPNs will tell you this is more of a legend than a reality… until now. Admittedly, some other VPNs do offer unlimited connections, but only at a price.

Like most other VPNs, Surfshark VPN also offers unlimited bandwidth and unlimited data, along with split tunneling which enables you to send some traffic through the secure VPN and access other sites directly. With speeds being so good with Surfshark VPN, this feature may become a little obsolete, but we like the way they think nonetheless.

Still, in something of an embryonic stage of development, Surfshark VPN has still got some growing up to do and its immaturity shows in some respects. For example, although not all its servers are torrenting or P2P friendly, it doesn’t actually tell you which ones. Nevertheless, they will kindly keep your connection secure even if you attempt to torrent on a server that restricts P2P traffic. Rather than cutting you off, they just redirect you which is great, in a way, but will impact on speed.

Another slight negative about Surfshark VPN is that they have yet to develop any Tor networks or obfuscated servers, although they do offer their own version of a double VPN with their MultiHop feature. Although they are undoubtedly in the pipeline, we’d love to see them fast-tracked into service. As we mentioned earlier, there isn’t yet an app for Mac either, but you can still use Surfshark with Mac by following the instructions on the website. Surfshark VPN has also been busy developing Firefox and Chrome extensions which are welcome additions to their fleet.

In terms of security, Surfshark VPN is using as strong as encryption as the best VPNs out there and offer the additional CleanWeb feature that will keep you clear of unwanted adverts and protect you against malware threats.

Designed for receiving data fast and efficiently, Surfshark VPN is proving itself as a VPN for streaming, while backing it up with some serious security features. Given what we’ve seen so far, Surfshark VPN will be snapping at the heels of the market leaders in no time.

Pricing Pricing

Looking at their standard one-month pricing plan doesn’t really impress anyone. Priced up there with the big hitters, ExpressVPN and NordVPN, a standard one-month subscription with Surfshark VPN will set you back $11.95 per month, the same as NordVPN and one dollar a month less than ExpressVPN. This isn’t what we would usually expect from a newcomer but, to be fair, the fact they give you unlimited connections kind of makes up for the lofty price tag.

Surfshark VPN has nonetheless kept their pricing plans simple and user-friendly and their current offer of a two-year plan for $3.49 is extremely competitive, with only NordVPN offering a better deal. If they just brought their standard pricing down a couple of dollars, they’d probably corner the market.

Having said that, another feature Surfshark is lacking is a free trial. While the company does have a 30-day money-back guarantee in place,  they don’t offer a free trial as such, something we think could really boost in the interest in their products.

Surfshark VPN is as committed to protecting your privacy during payment as they are once you’ve signed up, so they make it easy for you to purchase a subscription without giving too much personal information away. Use PayPal or Cryptocurrency to secure your Surfshark VPN service anonymously without ever revealing your banking details or email address.

Surshark’s generosity in offering unlimited connections justifies their high monthly premiums, making their service cost-effective for those with a household full of vulnerable appliances. If you’re just looking for a VPN to cover your smartphone or laptop, however, Surfshark VPN may not be worth it.

Support

It may seem silly to even mention that Surfshark VPN has a 24/7 online customer support service, but, astonishing as it may seem, some VPNs have yet to make this commitment to their consumers. Not only is it there, but it also works incredibly quickly. We sent through a trial message and it was answered by a friendly virtual helper within seconds. The straightforward answer answered the question without fobbing us off with sales pitches or excuses and, once the matter was resolved, the chat ended.

Although not as comprehensive or as inviting as ExpressVPN’s FAQ section, the help section of Surfshark VPN’s website is easy to navigate and provides concise answers to questions about the technical side of the product, as well as any queries about your account or subscription. Although it could do with a little more meat on its bones, as it stands, Surfshark’s FAQ section is informative and helpful.

We really like that Surfshark has made the extra effort in providing online setup tutorials for each of their apps, including one on how to access OpenVPN with a Mac, but they do need to bulk up the information on their website a bit more. Based on the customer support response, however, we’re confident that Surfshark VPN is committed to helping their customers and knowledgeable enough to do so.

Bottom Line Conclusion

Overall, Surfshark VPN is a welcome addition to the world of VPNs. An up-and-coming star that has shown intelligence in its server locations and levels of encryption and an uncanny ability to secure high speeds without high numbers of servers. An impressively low lag time makes this the ideal VPN for heavy data users so, if you do a lot of streaming or torrenting using multiple devices, this might be the answer for you. The CleanWeb function makes for pleasantly ad-free browsing experience, while the MultiHop option gives you an extra layer of protection when you need it.

With consistent connections and reliable speeds across the globe, Surfshark has proven itself more than capable of connecting from heavily censored countries, like China, and more than equal to the geo-restrictions of sites like Netflix. Can’t help wondering what Surfshark will look like when its all grown up.

By allowing unlimited simultaneous connections on all their paid plans, SurfShark has distinguished themselves from the crowd. Compared to other multi-device options, Surfshark VPN is also extremely affordable. In a perfect world, we might like to see Surfshark develop a cheaper option for users only wanting to connect one or two devices, making their pricing more competitive at the same time.

As a young company, there are still a few issues Surfshark need to address, like the provision of obfuscated servers and the provision of specifically allocated, and labeled P2P servers. At present, however, they’re off to an impressive start and we’re excited to see where Surfshark VPN will be in a year’s time. We’re betting that they’ll be tearing through the virtual waters, hunting down their rivals at an alarming speed.