Surfshark has only been around for a few years so I was skeptical about its quality.
I wanted to check whether Surfshark could really match the performance of premium services like ExpressVPN (at only half the cost!) To find out, my team and I ran a series of rigorous tests on Android, iPhone, Windows, and Mac devices from around the world. I even asked one of my colleagues in China to test Surfshark from behind the firewall to see how well it performed.
In short, I was very impressed with Surfshark but it’s not 100% perfect. The provider offers an enormous range of premium VPN features, but some do have occasional performance issues. While I’d prefer a more consistent service, I can’t argue with Surfshark’s rock-bottom prices.
Note: This product is currently not available on our site.
Surfshark is a fantastic VPN for unblocking streaming sites around the world. It can easily access popular platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, Kodi, and HBO Max — see my full test results are below.
I could also unblock BBC iPlayer, DAZN (Germany and Canada only), NBC Sports, ESPN+, YouTube TV, Sling TV, fuboTV, Yle, and Abema TV. While not every server worked on my first attempt, I never had to change servers more than twice to establish a working connection.
Not many VPNs can overcome Netflix’s firewalls, so I was impressed that I could unblock Netflix in 15 countries. This includes the US (Atlanta, Charlotte, Latham, and Los Angeles servers), Canada (Montreal and Vancouver servers), UK (Glasgow, London, and Manchester servers), and Japan (Tokyo #1, #3, and #6 servers). My average speed was fast enough for 4K Ultra HD quality.
Helpful Tip: How to Avoid the Netflix Proxy Error Message
If you’re still seeing the Netflix proxy error message, I recommend clearing your browser’s cache. This is because Netflix checks the location data in your browser — and will block you if it doesn’t match Surfshark’s server location.
I successfully streamed Amazon Prime Video on every US and UK server. I recommend the Boston, Charlotte, and New York servers in the US, and the London and Manchester servers for the UK.
I conducted these tests on my Windows desktop and MacBook Pro. Unfortunately, Surfshark can’t unblock the Amazon Prime Video app on mobile or tablet.
I easily connected to Hulu on over 10 US servers, with my fastest servers located in Boston, Detroit, and Manassas. I only waited a few seconds for the movie Transformers to load in order to watch the entire film in HD with zero buffering.
I easily unblocked Disney+ in the US, Netherlands, and India. Unfortunately, I couldn’t access Disney+ in any other country — I’d be automatically redirected to the US site. In any case, the US library has the most content so I find it’s the best option for streaming the full range of movies and TV shows.
The best US servers for me were the Buffalo, Chicago, and Latham servers. I watched the movie Toy Story 4 in Ultra HD with just a couple of seconds of load time.
When I connected to Surfshark’s servers in the US, I downloaded and streamed Kodi add-ons like Popcornflix, Crackle, and Tubi. These add-ons are restricted to viewers in the US, so they’re not normally available to me in the UK.
I was especially impressed with the servers in New York, Toronto, and Vancouver. It never took more than 3 seconds to load a video, and I could even skip forward and back without any buffering.
I could access HBO Max on every US server. The videos were quick to load, and I didn’t experience any connection errors when I watched multiple episodes of the show Game of Thrones. I enjoyed the best streaming quality on the Boston, Dallas, Manassas, Miami, New York, and Tampa servers.
I used Ookla to run a series of speed tests while connected to global servers. Every test was performed from my location in the UK, where my standard speed without a VPN connection is 112Mbps on average
I was impressed by Surfshark’s fast speeds, especially when connected to servers in Europe and the US. While it’s not the fastest VPN on the market, I had no problem streaming and torrenting large files on every server I tested.
Unfortunately, my speed dropped by 49% when I connected to the furthest server 15,000km away in Australia. While I didn’t notice any difference as my original internet connection is extremely fast, this slowdown could be a problem if you have a slow ISP (Internet Service Provider).
If you’re looking for a fast VPN with consistent global speeds, ExpressVPN only slowed down by 25% when connected to an Australian server. Personally, I find Surfshark’s speeds are more than fast enough for most online activities — and you can always connect to a nearby server in order to get the best possible speeds.
I also suggest you make sure Surfshark’s connection protocol is set to WireGuard to achieve top speeds. This protocol is designed to improve connection speeds without compromising your data security.
I’m happy to report that I didn’t have any speed issues when gaming with Surfshark. As every gamer knows, it only takes a couple of seconds of lag to lose a hard-fought match. That’s why I’m especially picky when it comes to recommending a VPN for gaming.
In my tests, I connected to a New York server and launched Left 4 Dead 2 on Steam. Once the game was running, I ran a speed test — and my ping was 83ms! This ping speed is impressive, especially considering New York is over 5,500km away from my location in the UK. As a general rule, anything under 150ms is acceptable when playing online games.
During the game itself, I easily kept up with my teammates and hit targets in real time. I didn’t even have to lower the game resolution in return for faster speeds.
Speed determines how fast content uploads, so if you're torrenting or streaming, you want the speed to be somewhat identical to your regular internet speed. Since a VPN encrypts your data, it usually takes a bit longer to send your data back and forth, which can slow down your connection. However, if your ISP deliberately slows down your connection (also known as throttling) a VPN might increase your internet speed. Testing a VPN is somewhat pointless because new servers pop up and affect speed. Your speed can also differ according to your location, so your speed test might not match ours. Having said that, we tested the speed in numerous locations to provide you with the average.
Surfshark doesn’t have the largest server network, but it’s a decent size for a premium VPN. While it can’t compete with CyberGhost’s offer of over 6800 servers, Surfshark surpasses other competitors like VyprVPN (700+ servers) and PrivateVPN (150+ servers).
I’m pleased to see the majority of Surfshark’s servers are in the US, which is a popular location for streaming blocked sites like Netflix or Hulu. Other countries with a heavy server presence include the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, and India. It’s good when a VPN has a wide server distribution around the world — you’ll always be able to find a server nearby when traveling.
Surfshark even has physical servers in Russia, Turkey, Libya, and Vietnam. I was surprised by this — not many VPNs still operate in these locations due to infrastructural or political reasons. When I contacted the company to ask about Surfshark’s presence in these countries, a representative reassured me that all users are safe due to the strict no-logs policy.
Surfshark also offers virtual servers in Argentina, Chile, and Costa Rica. These virtual servers aren’t physically located in these countries, but your connection is routed through a nearby server and assigned a different IP address. Surfshark uses virtual servers to give you better access to countries where physical servers don’t meet rigorous security standards. This way, you can still connect to local content while maintaining top-tier encryption and data protection. The downside is that your ping may be higher — this is the time it takes for data to be sent and received from the server. You could find it takes longer for sites to load or (if you game online) you’ll experience lag.
Surfshark uses AES 256-bit encryption to secure all traffic sent through its servers. This level of encryption can’t be decoded by brute force attacks — in fact, there are no known ways to decrypt the data without the existing keycode. Even international governments and militaries use this encryption standard to protect their private data.
If you’re an Android owner, you have the additional option of using ChaCha20 encryption. When you activate ChaCha20 with the IKEv2 protocol, you can enjoy faster speeds on your Android device for data-intensive activities (like streaming in HD).
While it’s common to see VPN services offering the OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, it’s more rare to find WireGuard and Shadowsocks. I’m especially pleased with the inclusion of the latest WireGuard protocol on the Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS apps. It surpasses both OpenVPN and IKEv2 in terms of speed and security, and I recommend it for the best overall VPN performance.
If you prefer to stick with OpenVPN, you can still use it on Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and Amazon Fire Stick. The IKEv2 protocol is also available on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.
The Shadowsocks protocol is only available on the Windows and Android apps. This is an encrypted proxy, so it only protects your browser traffic and not your entire device (like OpenVPN and IKEv2). Surfshark’s site claims that Shadowsocks can bypass China’s Great Firewall, but I wasn’t successful during my tests.
The MultiHop feature encrypts your data twice by routing it through 2 servers (instead of 1). I tested MultiHop by connecting to the Singapore–Hong Kong server and checking my final IP address — which was Hong Kong. The extra layer of privacy makes it more difficult for malicious third parties to track down my real location.
I don’t recommend MultiHop for casual browsing as my speeds slowed down by 30% in comparison to regular servers. However, it’s ideal if you’re living in a country with strict internet censorship, researching highly sensitive topics, or highly conscious about your privacy.
Surfshark offers a range of static servers in the US, UK, Singapore, Japan, and Germany. These servers allow you to use the same IP address every time. It’s particularly useful if your VPN connection is often flagged as suspicious by certain sites — you won’t have to fill out endless CAPTCHA codes or answer security questions to verify your identity.
I tested multiple static servers in the UK by logging in to my local bank account, and I didn’t have to go through any extra authentication. However, I was surprised by the significant decrease in speed. When I ran speed tests, I found the static servers are approximately 50% slower than the regular servers.
The slower speeds are most likely due to overcrowding. I’d like to see Surfshark increase the number of static servers in the future, as it appears to be a popular feature with many users.
I like that Surfshark runs all its entire server network on volatile (RAM) memory. This means any server data is wiped automatically whenever a server is turned off. ExpressVPN is another top competitor that secures its infrastructure with RAM-only servers.
In contrast, the majority of VPNs operate their servers on hard drives, which retain data until it’s manually erased. This presents a serious security threat if someone were to hack or physically seize the server. Luckily, Surfshark has eliminated this risk as its RAM-only servers periodically delete all data with every reboot.
Split tunneling is a useful feature as you can choose specific websites and apps to bypass the VPN connection. Called “Whitelister” on the Surfshark app, I tested this feature and it works perfectly. I successfully streamed the TV show The Walking Dead on Netflix US while browsing for products on Amazon UK.
Unfortunately, Whitelister is only available on the Windows and Android apps. Very few VPNs support split tunneling on a wide range of devices, so this issue isn’t actually unique to Surfshark. Even the best services like ExpressVPN only offer split tunneling on the Android, Windows, Mac, and router apps (not iPhone or iPad).
I’m happy to see that Surfshark offers a kill switch across all its native apps. If the VPN connection ever drops, the kill switch blocks all internet traffic until you’ve safely reconnected to the VPN server. I tested Surfshark’s kill switch on Android, iPhone, Windows, and Mac, and it successfully shut down my traffic whenever I was switching between servers.
Unlike some VPNs with an automatic kill switch, Surfshark gives you the option to turn the kill switch on and off in the “General Settings” menu. I highly recommend leaving the kill switch on at all times for maximum security.
Many VPNs have robust encryption but still leak your private data to certain websites and apps. To confirm Surfshark offers in-built leak protection, I connected to random servers in the US, Australia and Germany. With each server connection, I ran tests on IPLeak.net — and I was pleased to see that my real IP address was secure each time.
Also known as obfuscation, Camouflage Mode hides the fact that you’re using a VPN by masking your encrypted internet traffic. It’s especially useful if your country bans VPNs — it prevents the authorities from analyzing your VPN traffic. This mode is automatically enabled on every app using the OpenVPN protocol.
Unfortunately, the native Mac app doesn’t offer OpenVPN.
NoBorders was specifically developed to work in countries with heavy internet censorship. It automatically detects restrictions placed on your network (like VPN-blocking technology) and analyzes which servers work best in your given conditions. However, my team and I had mixed results with NoBorders during testing. I was disappointed that Surfshark didn’t work well in China, although my testing team reported that it worked fine in Turkey and the UAE.
If you’re planning to travel to a restrictive country, ExpressVPN has proven itself to be the most reliable VPN (even in China). That said, I always recommend having a backup VPN since you don’t want to get stuck without one — and Surfshark is a good option for most countries.
NoBorders is easy to activate on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. It’s located under “Settings” and then “Advanced”. Once you’re there, simply tap the NoBorders button to switch it on.
Many mobile apps use GPS data to identify your location, which makes a VPN ineffective since it only changes your IP address. That’s why Surfshark’s GPS spoofing feature automatically updates your device’s location data to match the server location you’re connected to.
I tested this feature on my Samsung Galaxy smartphone and I can confirm it works with most apps, including Google Maps and Uber. Unfortunately, the game Pokémon GO could still identify my real location. I contacted Surfshark’s customer support team, who confirmed that the GPS override feature doesn’t work specifically with Pokémon GO. I’d like to see Surfshark continue to develop the technology so it’s more consistent and reliable.
This feature allows you to become invisible to other devices on your Local Area Network (LAN). While you can already do this on most operating systems, it’s a time-consuming manual process that requires multiple steps. That’s why I was pleased that I could become invisible with Surfshark in less than 30 seconds.
An increasing number of premium VPNs have started offering in-built blockers against ads, malware, and trackers — but not all of them work well. That’s why I was happy to see that CleanWeb blocks all pop-up, video, and banner ads on news sites like the Daily Mail and Forbes. I even noticed faster loading speeds as a result!
Overall, CleanWeb is a great feature but it does have a minor drawback — it fails to block some YouTube ads. I found this quite disappointing since I hate being interrupted by ads while I’m watching videos.
As well as its VPN service, Surfshark offers additional tools for extra protection online. While 2-factor authentication (2FA) and TrustDNS are included in the VPN subscription, you’ll have to pay a little extra for Surfshark Alert and Surfshark Search.
It’s rare to come across a VPN service that asks for extra authentication. However, Surfshark offers 2FA as an option on all its apps. I recommend turning 2FA on as it significantly lowers your risk of being hacked.
This is a free app for iOS and Android devices. TrustDNS connects you to a public DNS server instead of a DNS server assigned by your ISP (Internet Service Provider). ISPs can monitor and track your internet activity — and in countries like Australia, ISPs are even required to submit customer metadata to the government for 2 years.
While this is a decent app, I don’t believe it’s worth the effort of downloading. The Surfshark VPN app already offers DNS masking, as well as military-grade encryption and leak protection.
You can access both features on the dashboard of your account. Surfshark Alert immediately informs you when you’ve been the victim of an online data breach. Every day, it checks your personal information against a database of leaked email addresses, passwords, and credit cards.
Surfshark Search is a private search engine that blocks ads and trackers, allowing you to browse the internet more anonymously. I found it quite similar to DuckDuckGo.
To its credit, I found Surfshark’s privacy statement is very clear and easy to understand. This is exactly what you want to see from a quality VPN. The no-logs policy explicitly states that your browsing history, IP address, and other identifying data is never tracked, logged, or shared.
However, Surfshark does collect your email address, password (it’s encrypted) and payment details. If you don’t feel comfortable with this information on file, it’s easy to register anonymously by signing up with a throwaway email address and paying with cryptocurrency. Alternatively, you can email the support team and request your personal information be edited or permanently deleted.
Surfshark is owned by Surfshark Ltd and headquartered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). This is the perfect country for a VPN to be located — there are zero data retention laws and it’s outside the jurisdiction of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance. This alliance is a global intelligence-sharing network, and includes countries like the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, and more.
This is a single page on Surfshark’s website that alerts you when the company is working with law enforcement agencies. While Surfshark stresses that the no-logs policy prevents it from providing user logs, I like that I can still see whether any national security letters, gag orders, or government warrants have been issued.
To date, Surfshark shows that no private information has ever been disclosed or compromised.
An increasing number of VPN companies are now investing in third-party audits to verify their privacy claims — and Surfshark is one of them. In 2018, cybersecurity firm Cure53 was invited to independently audit the Firefox and Chrome browser extensions. I carefully read the report, and no major security or privacy flaws were uncovered.
While I’m satisfied with Surfshark’s efforts to secure its browser extensions, I’d like to see an audit on the VPN itself in the future.
Surfshark has excellent speeds and robust security measures for torrenting, but it doesn’t offer the most user-friendly experience. If you’re looking for the best VPNs for smooth torrenting, then I suggest either ExpressVPN or CyberGhost instead.
When I tested Surfshark, I downloaded multiple 5GB files on qBittorrent and Transmission in less than 20 minutes. This is impressively quick! I had a similar experience with PopcornTime, where my entire film loaded in HD quality after only 5 seconds of buffering.
However, I didn’t have an easy time connecting to a P2P server at the start of my tests. The Surfshark website states that you’ll be automatically connected to a P2P server in a torrenting-friendly country once you launch a BitTorrent client. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen — I connected to a regular server in Turkey, started torrenting on qBittorrent, and I was still on the same server.
I immediately reached out to customer support over 24/7 live chat, as I’d already started torrenting and I was concerned about my privacy. When a representative asked me to run tests on IPLeak.net, I saw my IP address was still in Turkey but the DNS server had changed to the Netherlands (I also found no leaks). According to the representative, I’d already been rerouted to a P2P server as the DNS address had changed.
While I was pleased that my torrenting traffic was secure, it was time-consuming to physically check my DNS address on an external website. To avoid the hassle, I recommend connecting to a P2P server from the “Location” tab instead. Just type “P2P” in the search bar and you’ll see a full list appear. The fastest servers will have a near-empty circle icon.
Your torrenting activity is completely safe once you’ve connected. Due to its strict no-logs policy, Surfshark doesn’t track, collect, or share your data with any third parties, including governments and legal authorities. Even better, the company is located in the British Virgin Islands, so it’s not legally required to retain data or submit logs to any of the 5/9/14 Eyes countries. All torrenting traffic is further protected by in-built leak protection, a kill switch, and the CleanWeb ad and malware blocker.
Unfortunately, Surfshark isn’t the best VPN to use in China. During testing, my colleagues could only connect to 1 server in Ireland and the connection failed after 30 seconds. This result surprised me, especially as I have friends in China who regularly use Surfshark to access blocked sites.
My colleagues were still unsuccessful even after troubleshooting attempts. Surfshark’s customer support representative recommended using the Shadowsocks protocol (only available on Windows and Android) or switching on NoBorders mode — neither of which worked.
Instead of Surfshark, I recommend ExpressVPN for China as it’s safe and highly reliable. However, you’ll find even the best VPN providers struggle to work 24/7 as China is constantly improving its firewalls. That’s why I think it’s always a good idea to have a backup VPN just in case your first option doesn’t work. Both ExpressVPN and Surfshark offer money-back guarantees, so it’s risk-free to download both services and ask for a refund if one of them doesn’t work.
Surfshark works on all popular platforms and operating systems, so it’s easy to use if you own multiple devices. You can download native apps for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and Amazon Fire Stick, as well as browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
I tested Surfshark’s native app for Windows, Android, iOS, and Mac. I especially liked how intuitive the apps are for beginners and experienced users alike. Each app offers the same features and functionality, although the layout is significantly different on each device.
Another bonus is that the desktop apps are available in 14 different languages, including English, German, Italian, French, Japanese, and Korean.
The biggest issue I had is the faulty “Connect” feature. When you click this button, you should be automatically connected to the fastest server. However, I found it was only accurate half the time.
I ran speed tests using the “Connect” button on servers in the UK, US, Germany, and Australia, and compared the results with my own manual server selection. The result was that I manually selected 2 servers that were faster than Surfshark’s “Connect” option.
|Surfshark’s “Connect” Feature||Manual Server Selection||Speed Difference|
|Australia||25.04 Mbps||26.32 Mbps||+5%|
|Germany||36.19 Mbps||33.25 Mbps||-8%|
|UK||35.12 Mbps||37.45 Mbps||+6%|
|US||30.46 Mbps||29.74 Mbps||-2%|
To guarantee the fastest speed each time, I recommend selecting a server yourself. t’s simple and easy to do this on the app, even if you’re completely new to VPNs. Every server location has a circle icon next to it that indicates the number of users — just choose a server with the emptiest circle to find the fastest server.
Surfshark has native apps for Linux (Ubuntu and Debian), Amazon Fire TV, and Amazon Fire Stick. Unfortunately, there are no apps for routers. However, you can manually install Surfshark onto any router compatible with OpenVPN or L2TP protocols.
If you don’t want to spend time manually configuring Surfshark onto your router, then I recommend you try ExpressVPN as it’s the only premium VPN with a dedicated router app. This makes the installation process quick and easy.
You can install Surfshark’s browser extensions onto Chrome and Firefox, which encrypts your browser traffic and hides your real IP address. However, anything you do outside of the browsers will be unencrypted. As a result, I always recommend turning on the Surfshark VPN app before using the browser extension.
Even though you won’t get VPN-level security with the browser extensions, it’s useful when you want to quickly change your IP address and access blocked content. I tested the browser extensions with Netflix US and I had no problems streaming the film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I also ran leaks tests on both the Chrome and Firefox browser extensions, and I found zero leaks.
The extensions for Chrome and Firefox are identical and similar to the VPN apps. Even the CleanWeb ad-blocker feature is still available, so I could browse news and shopping sites without being interrupted by ads. I was also impressed to find that 9 different languages are supported: English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, and Chinese.
There are no custom VPN apps for smart TVs, Apple TV, or game consoles — but Surfshark does offer Smart DNS. Smart DNS doesn’t encrypt your data like a VPN, but it can change the virtual location of your device. However, Surfshark’s Smart DNS only unblocks US content. This means you’ll have access to Netflix US, Hulu, and Disney+, but you can’t stream sites like BBC iPlayer (UK only).
Instead of using Smart DNS, I suggest installing Surfshark on your router. This provides VPN coverage to every internet-connected device in your household, which includes access to servers in 65 countries, military-grade encryption, and other security and privacy benefits.
One of Surfshark’s standout features is that it protects an unlimited number of devices at the same time. Most premium VPNs only offer 5 to 10 simultaneous device connections, which isn’t always enough to cover every device in larger households.
To test this feature, I connected to a UK server on a Windows laptop, 2 Windows desktops, an iPhone XS, a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, and 3 iPads. I’m happy to report that I didn’t have any connection issues and no major slowdown in speed. I only noticed some lag when 8 devices were connected at once, which is impressive as most VPNs slow down as soon as an extra device is added.
This makes Surfshark ideal for larger households (even with the small speed drop). You won’t have to pay for multiple VPN subscriptions, or pick and choose which devices you want to protect.
I expect excellent customer service when I pay a premium price. Surfshark offers the cheapest prices on the VPN market, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that customer service is top-notch.
You can contact customer support over email, an online form, or live chat. There’s a customer support representative available 24/7. However, if you prefer to troubleshoot problems by yourself, you can check out the setup guides, tutorials, and FAQs on the website.
I tested all of these support options to see just how helpful the company truly was. I found live chat is the best way to receive fast and detailed assistance. However, I didn’t need to look much further than Surfshark’s website for simple issues.
I was highly impressed by the friendly and fast responses. During my review, I tested the 24/7 live chat feature multiple times as I experienced some minor technical difficulties. For example, I couldn’t stream Netflix while connected to a US–Detroit server and I struggled to connect to a specialty P2P server when torrenting.
Fortunately, it only took a maximum of 2 minutes to speak to a customer service representative each time. The representative would provide me with step-by-step instructions and detailed explanations, and my problems were always successfully resolved.
The most convenient aspect of Surfshark’s live chat is that you can access it directly in the Windows and Android apps — you don’t have to visit the website. All you have to do is go to “Settings” and then “Get Instant Help” to get in-person assistance. Unfortunately, this feature isn’t available yet on iOS or Mac.
I sent several emails to Surfshark to enquire about its features, and I received detailed responses in less than an hour every time. I even used an email address that wasn’t associated with my Surfshark account, so I could test the responses if I wasn’t an existing customer.
While I’m pleased with the fast response times, I recommend contacting Surfshark over 24/7 live chat. It’s still much quicker as you can speak directly to a customer support representative, especially if you have any urgent technical issues.
Many VPNs have websites with help sections that are so badly organized that they’re barely usable. That’s why I was impressed that Surfshark’s “Help” section on its website is comprehensive and regularly updated. Most of the time I didn’t need to contact customer service as I could find answers to my questions here.