This new Surfshark review looks at a relative newcomer in the VPN scene. It offers many features; top-rated download speeds while ensuring user privacy. To cap this, they come with a very attractive price, although with a caveat.
Being based in an exotic location that is way outside any 14-eyes jurisdiction, can the Surf Shark VPN service compete with the more reputable VPN’s, or have they bitten off more they can chew?
For a new VPN, Surfshark offers a lot, and for any VPN users who want a new service, or who are looking to ditch their old one, their needs to be compelling reasons to do so.
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One of the primary uses is not just to bypass geo-restrictions, but also bypass all the checks that Netflix uses to stop VPN use to gain access.
In this area, they unblock Netflix without any sign of a problem. This is good news for them, but once they gain more followers, this may change once they end up on the Netflix radar.
Using this as a key selling point, they could access Netflix in every region. The second most desired streaming service is the BBC iPlayer, and while not as tough as US Netflix, it does catch many VPN services out.
While there were one or two hiccups, in testing with the change of a UK VPN server, we had to access enough times to say it was reliable.
After this, users may want to look at torrenting. Again, and unlike some VPN’s. There was no issue downloading any torrents, and the company accepts torrenters with open arms.
The most significant downsides we saw were down to network size. It is still comparatively small when you compare it to the larger VPN’s, so as users increase, there may be more slow-downs than the couple we saw on occasion.
On top of this, the company does use virtual servers. This means they are not in the regions users may expect.
However, Surfshark does make this clear and says it is to make sure they offer an excellent service.
This is one area where things get exciting. Surfshark on a month-by-month basis is expensive. However, Surfshark offers extended plans, and here the price plummets.
This can be both good and bad, depending on how you look at it. It works out cheap, but do you want to sign up for a 2 or 3-year plan before you know how long the company will last?
|36 months||$1.94 per month||Billed as 69.99 every 3-years|
|24 months||$2.49 per month||Billed as $59.76 every 2-years|
|Month||$12.95 per month||Billed monthly|
Payment methods include Credit cards, Cryptocurrencies, Alipay, Dragonpay, Tenpay, and PayPal.
While you can’t thoroughly test the service on Windows, there is a free trial for iOS and Android devices, as well as on Mac.
All the plans come with their 30-day money-back guarantee, so you will need to use this to test the service on Windows.
Surfshark now has 800+ VPN servers. This is an increase since the last time we looked at the service. Country-wise, they still support the 50+ countries as before.
The company openly admits they use virtual servers, and this is where the country may not have an excellent infrastructure, or where they have no business operations. From a user point of view, there is no difference.
The only way you notice this virtual server location is through the tab in the client app. There is one for the regular servers, and they have a separate tab for virtual server locations.
This new VPN looks to be taking things very seriously. They use the industry-standard protocols in OpenVPN and IKEv2 and strengthen this with AES-256-GCM and SHA-512 encryption. These are the default and pretty much all you have to choose from.
This VPN Company uses its own private DNS service on all of its VPN servers. This is a nice touch to help prevent anyone from spying on its users.
The company already supports Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. They additionally support Linux, Smart TV’s, consoles and routers with installation guides.
The company does make a statement about updating the firmware on routers, and they do prefer users to use the client apps instead.
One thing that is very different from a lot of other VPN’s is the number of devices on each account.
Users can have unlimited device connections. This can make up for how difficult it can be to set-up the service on routers.
Privacy and Security
Surfshark comes with a host of security features, and one of the first being their location. They are located in the British Virgin Islands, so they are only one of a very few that are located outside any governing jurisdiction.
They also deliver a double-hop feature. Here your connection bounces around two of their secure servers before being routed out onto the internet. This makes it even harder to trace or track your connection.
To ensure users understand their security policies, the company is open to inspection. They sought an external security company (Cure53) to carry out an audit.
Although this was only on the browser extensions, it shows they are not hiding anything.
A Warrant Canary also comes back clean and shows they have no contact with any government, warrants, or gag orders.
Many VPN companies claim zero-logging. Because Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, they are not obliged to retain any logs and are well clear of any 14-eyes jurisdiction.
The company doesn’t hold any incoming or outgoing IP addresses, browsing history, purchase history, or downloads. They don’t even retain servers connected to bandwidth used or connection timestamps.
The only thing the company keeps is your billing details and your email address.
Ease of Use
Signing up for Sharksurf is super easy. All you need to do is head to their website and click on any of the buttons that take you to the sales page and then select your plan.
You then create your account by entering your email address. Once you have entered this, you select your payment option and fill in your payment details.
You will receive a confirmation email, and you can then download your app for your devices.
Setup and User Interface
As soon as you install the client app, it asks if you wish to run the app. Click yes, and it opens a box for you to enter your login details.
Type your email address and password, and once the app opens, you can click a large green connect button. You will then be presented with a “Connection Secure” message.
Surfshark follows the simple design of many other VPN’s. The interface is clean, and all you have is the large connect or disconnect button.
To the left, you have a menu bar that contains all the options you require. Some options are not enabled by default but are easy to access from the menu bar. Running down the side, you have Multi-hop, Whitelister, and CleanWeb.
The Android app delivers a stripped-back interface. You have the “Connect” button and the Surfshark logo. To access features, tap the icons at the bottom of the screen.
The VPN comes with a kill switch that stops your IP address from leaking if you lose your VPN connection. It has smart Wi-Fi protection, and you can change this for what happens once the VPN notices a network.
Their CleanWeb feature is an ad blocker, tracker blocker, and blocks malware. After this, they have “Whitelist,” which is their split tunneling feature.
One final feature is their No Borders. This is useful for people in China or other countries that need their VPN obfuscated.
Lastly, there is a camouflage mode. This even stops your ISP from being able to tell if you are using a VPN or not.
Sharksurf has extensions for Firefox and Chrome. The one for Chrome selects the optimal
server for your region.
Nevertheless, both of them work as proxy services. They can mask browser traffic, but don’t offer anything to do with security.
Performance and Servers
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Surfshark has a small network, although they cover some obscure locations. In the USA, you can change the server at the city level.
When running our speeds tests, we also checked for leaks. There were no DNS or WebRTC leaks at all.
Once we ran the speed tests, we found the download speeds in populated locations were above average. UK’s performance was around 55-60 Mbps while Europe was 40-50 Mbps.
Testing US servers was around 48-54 Mbps, and speeds for Australia were in the range of 30-40 Mbps. These are better than several other mid-tier VPN’s.
Customer support for Sharksurf is better than a lot of other VPN’s. There is a live chat on every page of the website. This is quickly answered, and the operation runs 24/7.
Adding to this, there are plenty of ins-depth installation tutorials, although they could go a little deeper in some instances.
The FAQ page covers more topics, but again it could do with some expansion. If you use the support ticket option, you can do this directly from the site. This was the slowest part of the customer service, but still quicker than some.
Is This VPN Service for You?
This VPN review looked at every area of Surfshark. It does offer plenty and is affordable; however, that can also be a downside.
Things change quickly in the VPN arena so that a three-year lock-in period can see many comings and goings.
Security is on par with market leaders, and it offers speeds, which are better than some of the better-known options.
There is a lot to like about this VPN, but there are a few small areas where it may not be ready for the prime time, or to justify an extended lock-in period.
They are close, but yet. They are just not close enough.