Surfshark Review 2019

BEST FOR: Highly secure VPN with great performance

  • Unlimited connections
  • Zero logs
  • Works with Netflix
  • Based in the BVI
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Surfshark Overview

Joel Timothy

Last updated: 10 April 2019

Surfshark is a relatively new VPN, but it has already established itself as one of the best VPNs in the market. It claims to be the “fastest no logs online VPN,” and it stays true to the statement. The VPN is surprisingly fast, and it works with the major streaming platforms including Netflix. In this Surfshark VPN review, we’ll take a closer look at the VPN to help you determine if it’s the right VPN for you.

Pros

What we liked

  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Based in the BVI & keeps zero logs
  • Works with Netflix and BBC iPlayer
  • Super fast speeds
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Simple but fully-featured apps
  • Excellent SmartDNS Service

Cons

What can be improved

  • A few connection issues
  • Can’t change protocols within the app

Security & Privacy

Security

Surfshark does not compromise on security, and they offer the very secure OpenVPN AES-256 bit encryption. This is in conjunction with RSA-2048 handshake, and HMAC SHA256 data authentication. Perfect Forward Secrecy is also implemented through the Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange (DHE).

The VPN offers two protocols:

  • OpenVPN (UDP & TCP)
  • IKEv2

  • IKRv2
  • OpenVPN

The Windows and Mac apps are based on OpenVPN, while the Android and iOS apps are based on IKEv2. Unfortunately, you can’t switch between protocols within the app, and for that, you will have to go manual. They provide very good guides on how you can set up the VPN manually on various devices and use the provided protocols.

Privacy

Surfshark has one of the most impressive privacy policies that we’ve come across. First, the VPN is based in the British Virgin Islands. The region does not have any obligatory data retention laws, and it’s also out of the reach of the invasive UK data retention laws. The country is also not a member of the 14-eyes countries’ club, which means intelligence agencies like the NSA don’t have any say over data in the area.

Surfshark maximizes their friendly location by offering a strict zero logs policy. They do not keep logs of any of your activities or connections, and their privacy policy is very clear about that.

Surfshark does not collect or gather any data that could be used to identify you as a particular user.

This includes:

  • Incoming and outgoing IP addresses
  • Browsing, downloading or purchasing history
  • VPN servers you use
  • Used bandwidth
  • Session information
  • Connection timestamps
  • Network traffic

The only data that Surfshark keeps about you is the email address you sign up with, which is used for purposes of connecting to the VPN, marketing, and troubleshooting. This is apart from the billing details you provide, just in case you ask for a refund. This is the minimal amount of data they can keep, but you can also register with a temporary email address and pay for the service via Bitcoin to maintain maximum privacy.

We also tested for any leaking issues that can compromise privacy when connected to Surfshark. We were glad to see that there were no WebRTC, DNS or IPv6 leaks, which means that your privacy is in good hands. The VPN has built-in protection for all these leaks.

Pricing & Payment

Surfshark has a few plans to choose from. All of these plans offer the same features, and the only difference comes in the subscription periods.

Monthly

$11.95

Per month

30-day money-back guarantee

most popular
2-year

Save
83%

$11.95

$1.99

Per month

Billed every 24 months

30-day money-back guarantee

Yearly

$5.99

Per month

30-day money-back guarantee

*Although we make every effort to ensure all prices are accurate, we cannot guarantee thet they are always up to date

  • The monthly subscription is $11.95/month
  • The yearly subscription costs $5.99/month, billed every 12 months at $71.88
  • The 2-year subscription costs $1.99/month, billed every 24 months at $47.76

From our point of view, the monthly subscription is somewhat highly priced, especially considering that the VPN hasn’t yet established a huge market base. Yet, while this VPN is new, Surfshark’s service and performance justify the price tag.

The yearly and bi-yearly plans are very well priced, and they offer a huge discount on the monthly price.

Payment Methods

Surfshark offers various payments methods. These include PayPal, credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, AMEX, & Discover), Alipay, Sofort, and cryptocurrencies.

The first two are the most common payment methods, so most users should be covered there. The fact that the VPN allows you to pay for their service using cryptocurrencies is also a very welcome move. This helps users who want an extra layer of privacy to remain anonymous through these payment methods.

Credit cards
Payment Service
Crypto Currency
Others
and more!

Money-Back Guarantee

Surfshark offers a generous 30-day money-back guarantee on their service. We checked their money-back guarantee terms very carefully, and we didn’t find any tricky clauses (e.g. maximum connections/bandwidth) like with some VPNs. However, you should be careful not to breach their terms of service, as that is the only condition for getting your money back.

To invoke the money-back promise, you just need to contact their customer support department via email at support@Surfshark.com or talk to the live chat agents by clicking the “Support” button at the bottom right corner of their website. It’s important to note however that they will first try to solve any problems you might be having with the service.

Free Trial

Surfshark does not have a real free trial, and the only free trial is the one given by Play Store and App store. Otherwise, you will have to rely on the money-back guarantee to test out the VPN on your computer or router.

Performance

During this Surfshark review the VPN performed quite well. Their VPN clients are simple but fully featured, and we didn’t experience any crashing. We didn’t notice any malfunctioning either as the VPN features, especially the kill switch, work very well.

The only performance issue we noted is that some servers take long to connect, but attempting to connect to a different server solved this issue in most cases.

Speed Test

To give you an idea of how fast Surfshark is, we performed various speed tests. We started with one which was conducted without a VPN connection. It was meant to be the benchmark for our VPN speed tests.

SurfShark

From there we connected to a nearby server.

SurfShark

And then a server considerably far away.

SurfShark

As you can see from our speed tests, Surfshark is incredibly fast. This is one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested. The speeds increase even more if you use the smartphone and browser apps, as they use the IKEv2 protocol instead of OpenVPN. We also noted that there’s no significant difference in speeds between a nearby server and a distant server when using a smartphone.

Whether Surfshark’s high speeds are just due to the few number of users remains to be seen.

This speed test was recently conducted on April 18, 2019.

Servers & Location

Surfshark may be a relatively new company, but they have really impressed us with how fast their server network is growing. At the time of testing the product, they already have a super impressive network of 800+ servers in 50 countries. Considering that it is a new VPN this is worth some praise. The number of servers is always increasing so the VPN is just becoming stronger.

They have servers in 32 European countries, 6 American countries, 8 Asian Pacific countries, and 4 Middle East and African countries. This is very good distribution, and you can access content from any region of the world. You can also be sure to get a server near you, helping you maximize speeds.

Surfshark network offers unlimited bandwidth and unlimited connections.

Features

Surfshark has some pretty impressive features both in the VPN client and in the underlying architecture. Here are the most notable ones.

Automatic WiFi Protection

This is a very useful feature that automatically encrypts a particular WiFi connection if you tell the VPN to do so. The app notifies you when you connect to a WiFi network and you can instruct it to launch every time your device connects to the network. This feature comes in handy especially if you regularly connect to a public WiFi hotspot.

Smart DNS

SurfShark lets you use overcome geo-restrictions even on devices that do not natively support VPN installation. This is through their Smart DNS service that can be set up on SmartTV, PS4, Xbox, Apple TV, etc. From there, you will be able to access services like Netflix US without even taking any speed cuts!

Kill Switch

This is one of the most useful features any VPN can offer. The Surfshark kill switch acts as a safety net whenever you lose your VPN connection for whatever purpose. It does this by discontinuing all your internet connections at that point, and this prevents exposure at that moment when you don’t have your safety suit on. Without a kill switch your ISP will know what you have been doing when you were connected to the VPN.

MultiHop

This is a great security feature that is only found in a few VPNs. MultiHop works by tunneling your traffic through two VPN servers in different jurisdictions, instead of one. This means that your traffic will be encrypted twice, and your privacy will be improved.

This feature can be useful in cases where the government uses advanced surveillance techniques to spy on users. It is also important when you are dealing with data that requires a high degree of security.

Currently, the available double-hop connections are:

  • France via UK
  • Germany via UK
  • Netherlands via US
  • Portugal via US
  • Sweden via France
  • UK via Germany
  • US via Netherlands

CleanWeb

CleanWeb is a feature within the Surfshark client that blocks ads, trackers, malware and phishing attacks. This means that your privacy and security are highly improved, and you can get some peace of mind knowing that malicious software will always be kept at bay. On mobile, it means that users will save mobile data and experienced increased browsing speeds.

Zero Knowledge DNS

Surfshark VPN uses their own private and zero-knowledge DNS. The term zer0-knowledge implies that unlike third-party and ISP DNS servers that collect your data and store it, Surfshark DNS doesn’t record any of your activities.

Features
Smart DNS
Bypass Netflix
Onion Tow Web Address
Split Tunneling
Stealth Technology/Servers
Allow Torrenting
Automatic Kill Switch
ipv6
Open Ports

Whitelister (Split Tunneling)

Surfshark has Whitelister, also known as split tunneling, a feature that allows you to exempt various apps from encryption. This means that you can exempt your browser when streaming through an app, such that your browsing speeds won’t be affected and you can still access local news. It is a helpful feature for select apps and websites that do not work when using a VPN.

Obfuscation Technology

This is a form of technology that disguises OpenVPN traffic as regular HTTPS traffic to avoid detection and blockage in highly censored regions. This means that you can use Surfshark in countries that block VPNs like Iran and China.

Unlimited Connections

Surfshark is the first VPN you’ll meet that doesn’t have a limit on the number of devices that you can connect simultaneously. This is one of their flagship features, and it may be responsible for the pricing of this VPN. You can take advantage of this feature and secure all your household devices, or even the whole of your small business!

Surfshark Device Compatibility

In this section, Surfshark has really taken giant steps. Just a few months ago, they were only offering an Android VPN client and browser addons. Now, the VPN is compatible with almost all common VPN platforms.

Surfshark can be installed on:

  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Android
  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Android TV

The Windows client is still indicated as Beta, but as you have seen in the performance section, we didn’t find any real issues with it. The Chrome and Firefox VPNs are some good additions as they offer a lightweight VPN experience.

Surfshark can also be configured on a router, though there’s no applet for that yet. Instructions on how to configure one manually can be found on the support page of the Surfshark website.

Surfshark Setup & User Interface

The Website

Surfshark VPN Review

Navigating through Surfshark’s website is quite easy, and so is getting information about the VPN. We noticed however that there are not many details about various functionalities of their features, even though the features themselves work quite well.

Getting started with Surfshark VPN

Signing up and running Surfshark is very easy, and the whole process should only take you about 5 minutes.

To sign up, just click the “Get Surfshark” button in the middle of the page, or the “Sign Up” button on the top right side. You will be taken to a page where you can choose your subscription plan, and you can even select the currency.

Surfshark VPN Review

From there, you only need to provide your email address and a payment method of your choice.

Surfshark VPN Review

Your account will be automatically created, and you’ll be given a system-generated password as well as an option to change it.

Surfshark VPN Review

You will then be redirected to the dashboard to help set up your VPN, and here’s how simple it looks.

Surfshark VPN Review

You can now choose the device that you want to use Surfshark with. You can even download it on all your compatible devices. For this Surfshark VPN review, we’ll work with the Windows and Android clients.

The Windows VPN Client

Downloading and installing the Surfshark Windows client is super easy, and it will only take you less than 2 minutes depending on your internet connection. On logging in, the automatic WiFi protection feature will detect any connect WiFi network and suggest protecting it.

Surfshark VPN Review

The VPN client has a very simplistic interface such that it’s very user-friendly, though it’s not so captivating to the eye. On the first interaction, we were glad to see that it can be resized to whatever size or shape you need.

By clicking the “connect” button, you will be connected to the best performing server depending on your location.

Surfshark VPN Review

Servers can be chosen from a list by clicking the server displayed on the main screen.

Surfshark VPN Review

To use the double encryption feature, just click “MultiHop” on the top right side of the client.

Surfshark VPN Review

Customization Options

Surfshark provides a lot of customization options for your connection. You can access them by clicking the “Settings” button on the top right side of the main VPN screen.  Under “Connectivity,” you can set your VPN to automatically start and connect to a server of your choice when the device starts. You can also set your preferred WiFi protection settings.

Under “Advanced,” you can select between OpenVPN UDP and OpenVPN TCP.

Most features are found under the “Security” tab. There, you can activate the Kill Switch, CleanWeb, as well as Split Tunneling.

Surfshark VPN Review

Connecting to a server with Surfshark Windows client takes about 15 seconds.

Surfshark Android App

The Surfshark VPN app for Android is available on the Google Play Store.

On logging in, the app isn’t impressive, just like the Windows client. It is however similarly very easy to use, as the two clients look similar and work almost the same way. You can easily change servers and even customize your connection from the settings button.

Surfshark VPN Review

Some features in the Windows client are lacking on the smartphone app, which is not a surprise as it is the case with almost all VPNs.

Surfshark VPN Review

Connecting to a server takes about 10 seconds, and your new IP address will be displayed on the upper side of the main screen.

Compatibility

China

Due to the obfuscation technology implemented in the VPN, Surfshark works in countries like China.

Netflix

Though very few VPNs work with Netflix, the best VPNs for streaming do. Fortunately, Surfshark is in this category. We tested the VPN using various US servers, and almost all of them work with Netflix. While connected, we tried streaming a TV show that is only available in the US.

BBC iPlayer

Surfshark also racks up points here as it works with BBC iPlayer as well, despite the company’s efforts to block out VPNs.

Devices

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows
  • Mac

Browsers

  • Chrome
  • Firefox

Others

  • Android Boxes
  • Router Configuration
  • DDWRT Router

Customer support

Surfshark is very impressive when it comes to their customer support service. First, they have a live chat team that operates 24/7/365. This is a rare feature to find in VPNs that are just starting out, and it shows the desire that the company has in making Surfshark a giant in the industry. Their live chat support agents are quite friendly and knowledgeable.

However, for more technical queries, you need to send them an email so that it can be forwarded to the IT department. Alternatively, you can head over to the FAQ section. Unfortunately, that section is the only weak point in their support system as it isn’t very detailed. The set up guides however are comprehensive and they are quite helpful in case you decide to tinker with different protocols or platforms.

We tested Surfshark’s customer support for this Surfshark VPN review. We were connected to a live chat agent within just 11 seconds of sending a message.

However, we noticed that there are certain periods that the live chat agents aren’t present, which is contrary to their promise.

Our email got a reply in 4 hours and 23 minutes.

Conclusion

After testing Surfshark VPN, we can conclude that the VPN has exceeded our expectations. With the kind of performance and features it boasts, this VPN surely deserves more recognition. With it, you will have one of the fastest no-logs VPNs, and you will enjoy Netflix and all other streaming platforms from any region. Considering that they have solid security, a 30-day money-back guarantee and are based in the BVI, we definitely recommend that you try out Surfshark VPN.

Written by: Joel Timothy

Joel is a tech writer and editor with a special interest in cyber security and internet freedom. He likes helping readers tackle tricky tech and internet issues, as well as maximize the boundless power of the internet.

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Questions & Answers

guymo
Admin
guymo

Do you keep any logs of my internet activities?

Answer
Surfshark value their customer's privacy, therefore none of your online activities are logged or monitored in their system.
Gary Don Helmick
Guest
Gary Don Helmick

Will this VPN work with Microsoft Edge Browser ?

Sarah Goldstein
Admin
Sarah Goldstein

You can use Surfshark with the Microsoft Edge browser by installing the VPN application and using it on your computer. There is no dedicated Surfshark app specifically for Microsoft Edge.

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