Surfshark Reviews and Expert Opinion - December 2019

Surfshark
Excellent!
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What do we look at?

Surfshark Overview

If you found a VPN that advertised tons of premium features, while costing only a fraction of what many other major VPNs charge, would you be a little suspicious? I certainly was.

Surfshark claims to maintain great speeds, be incredibly secure, unblock Netflix, and offer 24/7 support. A budget VPN that offers as much as Surfshark does seems a little fishy. So I signed up to this VPN and tested it against other popular VPNs to see if it really delivers.

I was surprised to see that Surfshark really does live up to its claims of being a consistent and reliable service, both in terms of security and performance. It was great for streaming, torrenting, and gaming, which makes it superbly value-for-money at its low price. My biggest complaint with it was its relatively small server count, so there’s really not much that Surfshark can’t satisfy.

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Can Surfshark Unblock Global Content?

For its price, I was certainly surprised at how well Surfshark did at unblocking all major streaming sites. Not only was it able to access global content, but I also managed to stream in HD with minimal buffering times!

Netflix — Unblocked

Netflix has some of the tougher geo-restrictions to bypass. This is why so many VPNs fail when it comes to getting around Netflix’s proxy streaming error. Fortunately, Surfshark’s not one of them.

I tested Surfshark with Netflix in 14 different countries, including the US, UK, France, Italy, Brazil, and Australia, and Surfshark was able to stream Netflix with all of them.

Watch all your favorite US Netflix shows with Surfshark

Stream Netflix with Surfshark

BBC iPlayer — Unblocked

This service was a little tougher to trick. My first attempt to connect was a total failure, and I was given an error message when trying to watch something. But I didn’t give up, and decided to give another server a try.

Surfshark failed to bypass iplayer

I failed to connect to the BBC iPlayer when using a server from Manchester

I switched to a server located in London and after a quick reload, I managed to get it to work! While it took a minute or two, I was able to watch Peaky Blinders, Heartbreak Holiday, EastEnders, and other great BBC shows with Surfshark.

Surfshark bypassed BBC iPlayer geo-block

But with a little work, I was watching Peaky Blinders in no time!

Stream BBC iPlayer with Surfshark

Vudu — Unblocked

Once again, Surfshark did an awesome job getting around Vudu’s geo-restrictions and I was able to watch it using all of the US servers I tested.

Sur

Watch movies like The Mask of Zorro — for free — on Vudu with Surfshark

Stream Vudu with Surfshark

Pros

  • Passed IPv6, WebRTC, and DNS leak tests
  • Located in the British Virgin Islands
  • Safe from the 5/9/14 Eyes
  • No-logging policy
  • Bypass Netflix’s geo-restrictions
  • Unlimited torrenting on all servers
  • Military-grade encryption
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Camouflage Mode
  • Works in China
  • Connect an unlimited number of devices at the same time
  • Maintains great speeds
  • Dedicated P2P servers for faster downloading

Cons

  • Could use more servers and locations
  • Email and ticket support weren’t responsive
  • When quick connecting, it doesn’t always pick the fastest server

Important to know

British Virgin Islands
2018
No
30 days guaranteed
windows mac linux android ios router

Contact Details

[email protected]
surfshark.com

Speed8.7

Surfshark’s speeds may not be the fastest on the market, but I was impressed at how consistent they were across the world. The speeds were more than good enough for me to stream and torrent as much as I wanted.

I ran Ookla’s speed test while connected to different servers around the world to see how well Surfshark’s speed held up across distances. But before running my test, I checked what my base speed was so that I could see how other servers across the globe compared:

  • Base location: Brazil
  • Ping: 22 ms
  • Download speed: 15.61 Mbps
  • Upload speed: 9.41 Mbps

Surfshark base speed from Peru

My base download speed before connecting to a VPN

The speed was affected quite a bit once I was connected to different servers across the globe. Here are the results of my tests:

Brazil — São Paulo

This is the server that was automatically chosen by Surfshark as the fastest available location (although it wasn’t). Given my base speed, Brazil did pretty well, although its upload speed wasn’t great.

  • Ping: 192 ms
  • Download Speed: 13.60 Mbps (12.9% slower)
  • Upload Speed: 0.70 Mbps (92.6% slower)

surfshark speed test brazil

The results of my speed test from Brazil

UK — London

When I connected to London, Surfshark did a great job at maintaining its speeds. Even though I’m currently 9,966 km (6,193 mi) away from the city, I only experienced a minor drop in my speed.

  • Ping: 191 ms
  • Download speed: 12.82 Mbps (17.9% slower)
  • Upload speed: 2.24 Mbps (76.2% slower)

surfshark speed test UK

Surfshark maintained great speeds when connecting to London

US — Miami

Surfshark also did well when connecting to an American server in Miami. This time, the VPN was nearly able to match the base speed. These speeds are excellent for HD streaming, gaming, and torrenting.

  • Ping: 89 ms
  • Download speed: 14.05 Mbps (10% slower)
  • Upload speed: 7.60 Mbps (19.2% slower)

surfshark speed test usa

When connected to Miami, Surfshark’s speeds didn’t change much

Japan — Tokyo

With Tokyo being 15,992 km (9,937 mi) away from my current location, I didn’t expect Surfshark to do well — and I was wrong. Surfshark only had a reasonable drop in speed considering the servers were nearly 16,000 km away!

  • Ping: 265 ms
  • Download speed: 12.40 Mbps (20.6% slower)
  • Upload speed: 1.92 Mbps (79.6% slower)

surfshark speed test usa

Even with huge distances, Surfshark does well

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Why Most Speed Tests are Pointless & How We Correctly Test VPN 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.

Servers8.7

Every VPN needs servers, and, generally, the more servers there are the faster the service will be. This is an area in which Surfshark did… alright.

With more than 800 servers spread across 50+ countries around the world, Surfshark has pretty good coverage. But with NordVPN’s 5,700+ servers, and ExpressVPN’s 3,000+ servers, it wouldn’t hurt if Surfshark added a few more to stay competitive.

Even though Surfshark has fewer servers than some competitors, my tests have shown that you shouldn’t really notice it given its ability to maintain consistently great speeds.

Surfshark’s servers do cover an impressive number of locations. These include countries across Europe, the Americas, and Asia, and even some more obscure locations within the Middle East and Africa.

Server Types Available

You’ll be given several different types of servers to connect with when using Surfshark. Each of these is either suited for a specific purpose, adds enhanced security, or will increase your traffic speeds.

The 4 server types offered by Surfshark are:

  • Physical: These servers are physically located in the location you’re connected with.
  • Virtual: The IP address on these servers will match the country you’re trying to connect with, even though the server may be located elsewhere.
  • P2P: While you can use any of Surfshark’s servers for P2P downloading, these are optimized to deliver faster download speeds.
  • MultiHop: Connect through 2 different VPN servers at the same time for extra security.

surfshark server types

The four server types offered in Surfshark

Torrenting

Torrenting is one more area that Surfshark does well in. When downloading a torrent using this VPN, you’re able to do so using any one of its 800+ servers. This is in stark contrast to some other VPNs (such as NordVPN) that only allow P2P downloads on some servers. Its P2P specialty servers also boast the best speeds for torrenting.

Surfshark has no data or bandwidth caps when you’re downloading, and is compatible with popular torrenting software, such as uTorrent. During my tests, I received the fastest speeds for downloading torrents when connected to servers within the US, Germany, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, the UK, or Canada.

Get Surfshark for torrenting

Server Locations

Albania
Argentina
Australia
Austria
Belgium
Brazil
Bulgaria
Canada
Colombia
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
See all supported locations...

User Experience9.0

This is one of the simplest VPN apps I’ve ever used. I was able to buy, install, set-up, and start using the VPN in under 5 minutes.

Once you have the app installed and you’re logged in, it only takes one click to get connected with the fastest server. Once you click “Connect”, Surfshark will find the optimal server for your given location and have you connected within seconds.

surfshark one click connect

Simply click connect, and Surfshark will find and connect to the fastest server for you

If you’d like to connect with a server that’s located within a specific country, Surfshark makes that easy too. All you have to do is click the “Locations” button in the menu on the left side of the app window, and choose the country or city that you’d like to connect with.

Surfshark also gives you the option to choose the fastest server with just one-click. 

graphic showing surfshark location tab

Go to the “Locations” menu, and choose a country to connect with.

The company offers an app for just about any platform you may be using. Whether you want it for Android, Chrome, iOS, Firefox, Fire TV, Linux, macOS, or Windows, Surfshark has an app specially designed for you. With a little effort, you can also set it up on your router, Xbox, or Playstation.

The Signup Process

Signing up for Surfshark is quick and easy. Simply choose a plan, enter the email address you want to be attached to your account, and input your payment details. Afterward, you can download and set up the app.

Depending on the device you’re using, this process may vary a bit, but Surfshark does a great job of walking you through it. But if you do run into any problems, the Help Center on the website should assist in resolving them.

Security

Surfshark doesn’t disappoint when it comes to security either. From military-grade encryption to Camouflage Mode and a strict no-logging policy, Surfshark seems to really value its customer’s security.

I was also particularly impressed to learn that Surfshark hired an independent security firm, Cure53, to conduct an audit on its browser extensions. Not many VPN providers subject themselves to independent audits, so this move by Surfshark shows how committed they are to users’ security.

To make sure the company lives up to all its claims, I investigated its security features and how well they would keep you safe online.

No Leaks Detected

On Surfshark’s website, they claim that the service uses private DNS on each server and, therefore, is safe when it comes to DNS leaks. Even though I’m a pretty trusting person, I still wanted to make sure this claim was accurate. So I ran 5 different tests checking for DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks.

Good news — Surfshark was easily able to pass all of them. My true location was never leaked, which means you can trust this VPN will not compromise your private information.

surfshark passed dns leak test

My true location in Brazil was not leaked when using Surfshark
surfshark pass leak test
With Surfshark, you also don’t need to worry about IPv6 and WebRTC leaks

Advanced Encryption

When you use Surfshark, your data will be protected by IKEv2/IPSec and OpenVPN tunneling protocols, while using AES-256-GCM encryption. OpenVPN is the gold standard when it comes to a secure VPN protocol. And AES-256 encryption is so reliable that it’s also used by the US government, and other top-of-the-line VPNs — such as ExpressVPN.

No-Log Policy

Surfshark has an explicit no-logging policy that ensures your internet traffic will remain secure. When you’re using Surfshark, the only personal information that’s ever stored is:

  • The email address used to sign up
  • Your account password
  • Payment information

Surfshark’s policy promises that the following personal information is never collected:

  • Browsing history
  • Amount of bandwidth used
  • IP address
  • Network traffic
  • Session information
  • Connection time stamps

This ensures that even in the highly unlikely scenario that a governmental organization approached Surfshark demanding your info, the company still wouldn’t have anything to offer. And if you use an email address that’s not attached to your name, and pay with a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, you can easily stay anonymous.

Warrant Canary

Another feature that really won my trust over was Surfshark’s warrant canary. This is a way for the company to legally inform users (like you and me) when governments secretly request for user information. To date, Surfshark shows that no private information has ever been disclosed or compromised.

This fully transparent disclosure certainly earns them points, but it’s also good to know that the VPN is secure and safe.

Surfshark Warrant Canary

Safe from the 5/9/14 Eyes

Surfshark is well outside the jurisdiction of any 5, 9, or 14 eyes country. Like ExpressVPN, Surfshark is located in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). The BVI is the perfect place for a VPN to be located, as it has no data retention or reporting laws to worry about. Surfshark also has a no-logs policy which ensures it won’t store your personal information.

Bypass the Great Firewall of China

As China is constantly getting better at detecting — and blocking — VPN traffic, only some of the better VPNs will work. Surfshark is among them.

The service offers obfuscation through Camouflage Mode, which hides VPN traffic by making it look like regular unencrypted traffic so it won’t be blocked. Surfshark also offers something called “NoBorders.” You can use this feature to bypass government censorship, as well as access geo-restricted content. When activated, NoBorders detects when you’re connected to a restricted network, and redirects your traffic automatically.

surfshark no borders

You can turn on the NoBorders feature from the settings menu

Not only can you bypass the firewall using Surfshark’s regular VPN protocols, but now you can use the new Shadowsocks protocol to access tons of China-restricted websites (such as Youtube, Google, Facebook etc.). Nearly impossible for the Chinese government to block, the Shadowsocks protocol was recently added to Surfshark’s Windows and Android apps.

As you can see, when it comes to bypassing China’s (or any other country’s) firewalls, Surfshark equips you with many tools you plenty of options.

Other Security Features

Surfshark has several other features to help keep you safe while online. Some of the more notable ones include:

  • Kill switch
  • CleanWeb™ ad and malware blocker
  • Whitelister™ split tunneling feature
  • Built-in WebRTC, IPv6, and DNS leak protection
  • Double-VPN through the MultiHop feature
  • Auto-connect to VPN when you start your device
  • BlindSearch™ — a log and ad-free private search engine
  • HackLock™ alerts you if your emails or passwords are found in a leaked database
  • Protect an unlimited number of devices simultaneously

Support9.4

Surfshark has three options for contacting customer service: email, tickets, and live chat. There should be a representative available 24/7 to resolve any problems you may have. There’s also a thorough Help Center, with a variety of setup guides, tutorials, app guides, and a FAQ section. We tested all of these support options to see just how helpful the company truly was.

Through my tests, live chat seemed to be the best way to contact customer service. However, for most simple issues, I didn’t need to look much further than Surfshark’s Help Center.

Email Support

I submitted several different questions to Surfshark’s email support at [email protected] and I’d have to admit, I was pretty disappointed. The company failed to get back to me at all and left me feeling a bit ignored.

Live Chat

When I tried Surfshark’s live chat feature, I was impressed with the service I got. I sent several questions through the chatbox, and each time I was speaking directly with a customer service representative within a minute or two.

Based on the thoroughness and accuracy of the replies, it clearly wasn’t a chatbot but a real human on the other end (something that’s all too rare nowadays).

surfshark live chat

All the queries I sent through live chat were answered quickly and professionally

Request Ticket

Support failed again when I tried to contact them through the ticket system. Surfshark claims that it’ll get back to your request ticket within 24 hours, but it didn’t follow through with this promise. Over 48 hours after I sent my questions, I still didn’t have a single response.

How We Test Customer Support and Why Should You Care

We personally test the customer support team of every VPN we review. This means asking technical question through the live chat feature (where applicable) and measuring the response time for email questions. Whether you need to connect to a specific server, change your security protocol, or configure a VPN on your router, finding a VPN with quality customer support should be important to you.

Pricing9.2

This is one category where Surfshark really stands out from the competition. For around the price of a cup of coffee each month, you can use Surfshark to protect all your devices.

And while it may have the price tag of a cheap VPN, the service is comparable with most premium options.

Surfshark offers three different subscriptions: 1-month, 1-year, and 2-years. All plans will give you the same great features, the only difference between them being the time period and the price.

The longer you subscribe to the service the bigger the discount you’ll receive. Subscribing for two years offers the biggest savings, at 83% less than the month-to-month rate! And since you can use the VPN on an unlimited number of devices, you, your family, and even your friends, can benefit from this VPN with a single subscription.

Surfshark accepts all major payment types, including:

  • Credit card: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover
  • Cryptocurrency: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple
  • Google Pay
  • PayPal

However, if you’re not sure if Surfshark is right for you, take advantage of its 30-day money-back guarantee to test it out. It also offers a free trial, but it’s only available on Android and iOS devices for 7 days.

Surfshark offers the following plans

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