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

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
  • 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

  • Relatively expensive 1-month subscription

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 three protocols:

  • OpenVPN (UDP & TCP)
  • IKEv2
  • Shadowsocks

  • IKRv2
  • OpenVPN

The Shadowsocks protocol is a recent addition which is basically an encrypted proxy meant to help bypass government censorships. The protocol is open-source and was mainly developed to help users bypass the Great Firewall of China (GFW) since it can’t be easily detected and blocked.

However, Shadowsocks only encrypts browser traffic and so should only be used when OpenVPN doesn’t work.

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. Nevertheless, 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 payment 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 1040+ servers in 61 countries. Considering that it is has not been around for long, this is worth some praise. The number of servers is always increasing, so the VPN is just becoming stronger.

They have servers in 36 European countries, 7 American countries, 12 Asian Pacific countries, and 5 Middle East and African countries. This is a 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.

However, it’s important to note that some of these servers are Virtual. This means that a particular server is not located in the country whose IP address it offers. To avoid any inconvenience (especially ping), SurfShark clearly marks all virtual servers in the UI.

Both physical and virtual servers offer 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
  • Hong Kong via Singapore
  • Netherlands via Singapore
  • Netherlands via US
  • Portugal via US
  • Sweden via France
  • UK via Germany
  • UK via India
  • US via the Netherlands
  • US via Australia
  • US via Canada

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.

There’s also a recently-added reverse split-tunneling feature (reverse Whitelister) that allows you to choose only specific apps or websites to use 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.

Static IP Address

If you wish to have a specific IP address every time you connect online, SurfShark provides servers with static IP addresses. You can get a dedicated IP address from servers in Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US.

However, note that these IP addresses are not specific to one account, and so you may not get a personalized experience.

HackLock & BlindSearch

HackLock and BlindSearch are tools provided by SurfShark with an aim to enhance user privacy protection beyond a VPN domain.

HackLock is a breach detection mechanism that alerts a user when sensitive information such as digital credentials, credit cards, and security numbers leak online. With the feature, you can keep track of your digital presence and take the necessary measure in case of any leaks.

BlindSearch, on the other hand, is a private search tool that helps you prevent content manipulation by search engines based on cookies and other data that they have about you. This ensures that the results you get are purely organic.

Both tools are bundled together and are available for purchase as an add-on.

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!

Trust DNS App

To help users with privacy concerns steer away from free products that may turn out to be dangerous, SurfShark recently launched a free Trust DNS app for Android. The app is a secure DNS resolver that helps hide browsing activities and unblock some restricted sites. However, unlike SurfShark VPN, it doesn’t give a new IP address or encrypt your entire traffic.

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 Chrome and Firefox addons are 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 Website

Navigating through Surfshark’s website is quite easy, and so is getting information about the VPN. We, however, noticed that there are not much 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. After that, the will try to localize your language depending on the default language of your device. SurfShark currently supports localization with up to 8 languages: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, and Japanese.

Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be able to connect with the click of a button.SurfShark VPN Review

The VPN has a new versatile design that carries on with the deceptively simple look synonymous with the VPN, but it makes it even more user-friendly. From the home screen, you can easily access servers, features, and settings. You can also reduce the app to a mini mode that allows you to select a server and connect easily.SurfShark VPN Review

The location page has various options that allow connection to the nearest server, the nearest country, a static IP server, a multi-hop server, or a server you have favorited.SurfShark VPN Review

The features page has Clean Web, Whitelister, Hacklock, and BlindSearch. The last two need to be activated from the dashboard.SurfShark VPN Review

SurfShark Smartphone Apps

Surfshark provides a lot of customization options for your connection. You can access them by clicking the “Settings” button on the bottom left 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 enable the Kill Switch.SurfShark VPN Review

Under “Advanced,” you can select a protocol, activate ‘No Borders,’ and make your device invisible to other devices on the same network.SurfShark VPN Review

Connecting to a server with SurfShark Windows app takes 5-15 seconds.

SurfShark Smartphone Apps

Just like the desktop clients and browser addons, the SurfShark Android and iOS apps also received a major interface boost. The two apps look similar and are very easy to use.SurfShark Android & iOS apps

You can connect with the click of a button, and you can also change servers and customize your connection easily.SurfShark Android & iOS app servers

However, the Android app has more features and customization options. We inquired about this, and the team at SurfShark informed us that more features will be added to the iOS app in a month’s time.

Compatibility

China

Due to the obfuscation technology implemented in the VPN as well as the Shadowsocks protocol, Surfshark works in China and other countries with strict censorship.

Netflix

SurfShark VPN is excellent when it comes to unblocking content on Netflix. Instead of offering the US Netflix as most VPNs do, SurfShark unblocks up to 16 Netflix libraries at the time of this writing. These libraries include US, UK, France, Japan, Italy, Australia, the Netherlands, India, and other regions.

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 say that the VPN has exceeded our expectations. With the kind of performance and features it boasts, this VPN surely deserves more recognition. It is one of the fastest no-logs VPNs, and an account will let you 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.

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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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