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Surfshark VPN Review

John Mason

TheBestVPN.com

Below is my honest, unbiased Surfshark review. Testing period: 1 week.

Surfshark review
Surfshark homepage at the time of reviewing…

Surfshark is a relatively young VPN that offers security, speed, and privacy that benefits users when surfing the internet.

You have heard that before, right?

On the surface, the service sounds like a pretty good deal: they offer secure tunneling protocols such as IKEv2 and OpenVPN, 500+ servers from 50 countries, and unlimited torrenting bandwidth.

But is it fast enough? How good is their customer support? Do they unblock Netflix and allow P2P?

That is why we’re here to review and analyze whether or not Surfshark is worth your time and money. In the end, will Surfshark ride the private waves with ease or end up eaten by bigger fish?

Let’s find out:

Pros of Using Surfshark VPN

1. No Leaks, No Viruses Found

One of the best findings that I have had with Surfshark is its security.

I put the VPN through VirusTotal Scan and the results were remarkable.

Don’t believe it?

Here are the scan results for Windows:

VirusTotal scan for Surfshark Windows

The image shows that Surfshark is squeaky clean.

The Mac version:

VirusTotal Scan For Surfshark Mac

The number of virus scans is lower and it’s because it couldn’t process some file types.

The same goes for the Android version.

I wasn’t able to scan the iOS version. Why?

Well, I talked to customer support and they’re yet to release a downloadable iOS format for PC. Nevertheless, the overall picture is positive and it shows green all around.

Leak-Free

Surfshark also boasts a tightly sealed hull. It bears no cracks or chinks that allow info to leak and compromise your IP address. No, this VPN made sure that whatever information their user has is kept private.

I ran Surfshark through six different tests to see whether or not it leaked my IP and DNS information.

Here’s proof of zero DNS leaks:

Surfshark DNS Leak Test

Its security does a great job at hiding your geo location. Couple that with its efforts to hide your IP and it amounts to a secure and private connection.

2. The British Virgin Islands: Away From 14 Prying Eyes

The 14 Eyes are specific regions around the globe that collect data from those under their jurisdiction.

This, of course, includes any VPN provider inside their geographical locations. They have the power and the authority to demand user info and data from a VPN provider. They can do so without the knowledge of the victims, which is a lot worse.

With that said, Surfshark is well away from the 14 eyes. In fact, their HQ – the British Virgin Islands – has no data retention laws. This means that Surfshark’s user information is safe from those who wish to sweep it under you. Furthermore, their data protection ensures that no foul play can be done.

I also checked Surfshark’s payment processors and only one falls under the jurisdiction of the 14 eyes.

With the amount of security that the VPN provider is taking, one can consider this as a minor hiccup.

Surfshark’s Warrant Canary

Almost all VPNs fly a warrant canary. Be it big or small, different VPN providers on the planet have these.

What is a warrant canary?

A warrant canary gives VPNs a way to inform their users that a secret government subpoena has been issued on them. The warrant canary serves as a transparency method for VPNs. It lists down the number of government national security letters and gag orders that they have received so far.

Fortunately, Surfshark’s waters are looking as safe as a backyard kiddie pool.

Currently, their warrant canary is at:

  • 0 Gag Orders
  • 0 National Security Letters
  • 0 Warrants from a government organization

3. No Logs Policy

Surfshark logging policy

Internet users need to trust their VPN providers with their logs. This is where Surfshark is good at.

Surfshark’s privacy policy claims to collect no logs. This is, of course, a bumpy statement because a VPN provider still collects specific info about their users.

One shouldn’t be alarmed, however, since Surfshark is in clear waters (no pun intended).

Surfshark only collects three types of data:

  • An email address for account management.
  • Billing information.
  • Diagnostics such as crash reports.

These types of logs should not be a cause for worry.

A Clean Background

Though backed up by a no-logging policy, certain VPN providers will lie about said information.

Take a look at the most recent scandal involving PureVPN.

With that in mind, I dug around to see if Surfshark has had a run-in with similar events.

Thankfully, extensive research came clean and no dirt is currently clouding the waters around Surfshark. So far, it has stayed true to it’s no logging policy.

4. Unblock Netflix and Allows Torrenting

A number of VPNs today fail to give their users access to Netflix.

Torrenting falls within the same boundary because VPNs tend to limit the speed and usage of the latter.

Fortunately, Surfshark has the major upside of allowing Netflix and fast torrenting speed.

Netflix

Surfshark takes pride in allowing users to stream Netflix. It’s probably a feature that they’re able to give that not every VPN provider can do.

To test this out, I used six random servers to see whether or not this feature holds water.

  • North America (2)
  • Albania
  • Toronto, Canada
  • South Africa
  • South Korea

For each of the servers I used, Netflix allowed access to every single one.

Here’s one from Los Angeles:

Surfshark Netflix Los Angeles

Torrenting

Surfshark torrenting policy

Surfshark has stated on their torrenting policy that their entire product is P2P-friendly.

This is good news for most as it provides unrestricted access to every website. The feature is further improved thanks to unlimited bandwidth.

Basically, Surfshark promotes unlimited and uninterrupted streaming so long as you’re using the service. So, if you like to torrent a lot while watching the latest season of Narcos, Surfshark has your back.

5. Uses Industry Standard VPN Protocols and Other Features

VPN Protocols Available

Surfshark currently has two tunneling protocols available:

  • OpenVPN
  • IKEv2

IKEv2 is currently a popular choice for most VPNs because it offers a lot of features. These features include a flexible connection for network switching thanks to wide range encryption protocols and it’s as secure as Fort Knox. This is a big plus considering that other VPNs use PPTP which is less secure.

Their OpenVPN protocol can switch between UDP and TCP. The latter is reliable but slow while the former is fast but lacks in functionality.

Switching between protocols in Surfshark is easily done. You only need to go to settings (located at the top right corner), make your way to the advanced section and you should see the protocols window.

Other Noteworthy Features

Surfshark is filled with other features that are worth knowing about:

  • Available Devices – Surfshark is available in nearly every device that’s used today. You can use it on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android. It also has an extension for Chrome and Firefox.
  • Kill-Switch – there is a kill-switch feature but they’re only available for Windows, Mac, and iOS. A kill-switch for Android is currently in the works.
  • Router Compatibility – the VPN is compatible with your router but it has to support OpenVPN.
  • Unblock All Restricted Websites – that’s right, Surfshark advertises that they allow access to all restricted websites either through cable or Wi-Fi.
  • TOR Compatible – if you want to take your privacy one step further, Surfshark does allow the use of a TOR in conjunction with their own service.

6. Fast & Responsive Customer Support

You can contact Surfshark’s customer support via email or chat.

The latter is included in this section. The former is not (check the Cons section as to why.)

Chat

The chat option found on their website is fast, responsive, and knowledgable. They’ll answer whatever query you have in less than a minute or two.

It also seems that their customer support department is run by 2 – 3 people so expect to run into the same faces every now and again.

As for their skill, they’re really good. Their replies are not copy-paste and they’ll happily elaborate on any info they give and any question that you ask. They try to do their best to provide a straightforward answer but they’re not afraid to add more just for the sake of it.

Before writing this review, I spent the last few days using their live chat support to ask question after question. The amount of effort they put into this section is quite impressive.

Take a look:

Surfshark customer chat support

I asked three questions and chat support answered all of them:

  • The lack of an “about us” page and the general history of the company.
  • Their VPN protocols and torrenting policies.
  • The availability for installer files to be downloaded on Windows.

I advise that chat support be your go-to communication of Surfshark if you need it as it’s easily one of their shining qualities.

7. One Click Simplicity for App

Anyone who hasn’t even heard what a VPN is might feel intimidated by it.

They don’t know what it is, what it can do, or how to use them. This is why simplicity is important when dealing with these VPN providers.

Thankfully, Surfshark’s level of usability can be boiled down to only one click.

You open the app and sign in (which usually opens up by itself on launch in the PC). Once in, you can click on Quick Connect and that’s it.

Surfshark desktop app connected

All you have to do is wait a few seconds and you’re connected to their server. Quick connect will choose the most optimized server available. This will not change, however, and repeatedly choosing this option will simply reconnect you to the previous one. If you want, you can manually choose which server you want to be connected with.

Do note that most of their servers are labeled by country instead of the city.

Surfshark desktop app servers

Once picked, you can see a small list of previously chosen servers at the bottom. Also, notice that once the app launches, you are not immediately connected. You will have to activate it yourself. It may be a bit inconvenient but it’s simple enough not to be a bother.

Cons of Using Surfshark VPN

1. Inconsistent Speed Tests

Server speed is a key structure for any VPN provider. Why toil through slow server speed when there are other VPN providers that do it better, right?

For Surfshark’s case, it’s quite a mess.

Our base speed (without VPN) is:

speed without vpn
  • Ping: 10ms
  • Download: 51.27 Mbps
  • Upload: 51.29 Mbps

So, I randomly picked six of their servers from Surfshark network around the globe:

  • France
  • London
  • Singapore
  • Hong Kong
  • New York
  • Los Angeles

All of them were slow, very slow. The fastest speed I could get was from Singapore:

surfshark singapore speed test
  • Ping: 70ms
  • Download: 10.07 Mbps (80.1% slower)
  • Upload: 49.99 Mbps (2.5% slower)

It hit an abysmal 80% slower but the upload speed seems to be doing very good. The fastest ones in each region were also pretty bad:

EU Server

surfshark france speed test
  • Ping: 224ms
  • Download: 6.76 Mbps (86.8% slower)
  • Upload: 2.98 Mbps (94.2% slower)

Both the download and upload speed have completely tanked.

US Server

surfshark new york speed test
  • Ping: 434ms
  • Download: 6.00 Mbps (88.3% slower)
  • Upload: 1.67 Mbps (96.7% slower)

The best server found in the US didn’t fare too well either.

After testing out their speeds, I contacted the live chat support. They were kind enough to help me through with the problem. They gave me different sets of instructions to follow and I did.

It’s worth mentioning that this happened within the course of an hour or less and from two support reps. After undergoing a series of command prompts, protocol switching, rebooting, etc. The server speed shot up tremendously. I used quick connect and got connected to their Hong Kong server.

This was the result:

Hong Kong Server

surfshark hong kong speed test
  • Ping: 183ms
  • Download: 42.86 Mbps (16.4% slower)
  • Upload: 25.28 (50.7% slower)

This is was a huge improvement to the initial testing.

That’s 83% of my original speed, which is just blazingly fast. The ping and upload speed, however, is still in deep water.

I actually believed this happened to all of the other servers.

I was wrong.

I tested out ten servers including the previous six and the result was more or less the same. This is a big problem because of two reasons:

  • You’re not getting the fastest connection speed right off the bat no matter how many servers you switch to.
  • This took me nearly an hour fiddling with different functions found in and out of the app itself with the help of their customer support.

Any brand new user of Surfshark might not even check with support concerning their speed. This only leaves a bad impression that could lead to a refund.

2. No Response From Email Support

Surfshark email support

The customer support via email is bad. It’s not just bad, it’s non-existent.

I sent a couple of emails on varying topics to test this.

The response? None, because there was no answer. It claims to give you a reply in the span of 24 hours, but no such answer was given.

With email support leaving a very bad impression, I recommend that you stick with chat support.

At the time writing this review, all emails sent are still left unanswered.

3. Little To No Transparency Behind Parent Company

Like most of the big name VPN providers today, Surfshark likes to keep to itself.

Visiting their website, you’ll notice that there is a lack of information on the company’s background, contact numbers, and more.

The chat support will try to answer this to the best of their abilities, but even they will come up empty-handed. The best answer you’ll get is a short sentence talking about their jurisdiction and the year they were established. This is a minor problem, however, as VPN providers tend to do this. Just look at ExpressVPN or NordVPN as an example.

Surfshark Pricing, Payment and Refund Policy

Surfshark payment plans

Like many of its competitors, Surfshark offers three payment plans:

  • 30 days: $11.95 a month = $143.4 a year
  • 1 year: $5.99 a month = $71.88 a year
  • 2 years: $1.99 a month = $23.88 a year

Surfshark also accepts payments from nearly every method:

  • Credit Card
  • Crypto Currency
  • Alipay
  • PayPal
  • Dragonpay
  • Tenpay

All payment methods offer the same speed, features, etc. The only difference you’ll find is the length of the subscription.

There is no starter or a pro version that leaves out certain features. There is, however, a free trial version that gives you access for 30 days.

Their Refund Policy

Surfshark advertises a 30-day money-back guarantee. This gives you ample time to test out the service and whether or not you’re sticking with them.

Since they don’t have a refund policy posted on their website, I decided to ask their live chat support about it.

Here is their response:

“You simply ask the support for it. We have a 30-day refund policy.”
“It depends on your payment method how long it takes for a refund to arrive.”
“If you paid using a CC, it might take up to 10 business days depending on the speed of your bank”

Do I Recommend Surfshark?

Surfshark has its privacy, security, and protection on point. They excel in that area.

However, it was the initial speed that made the experience a little sour. Speed plays an important role in any VPN service. On the other hand, their live chat support was helpful and responsive to the problem I presented them with. They were bent on fixing it no matter what.

Finally, the price that you’re paying for a two-year plan is quite cheap.

$23.88 a year? That’s a great deal especially if you’re looking to buy.

With all that said, here is my verdict:

I recommend Surfshark VPN ONLY IF you’re willing to go through the same experience with speed testing that I had. Of course, keep in mind that it may not happen to everyone due to its inconsistency.

Otherwise, you’d be better off with ExpressVPN or NordVPN (similar pricing to Surfshark)

P.S. I’m always interested in user-reviews so if you’ve used Surfshark before, leave a review! Let us know if you’re experience matched ours. 

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