SurfShark Review 2021
Surfshark is undoubtedly one of the frontrunners on the VPN market at the moment. Sitting at around half the cost of other premium VPNs, I was slightly skeptical at whether it could perform up to the standard of some of the other big names.
While Surfshark isn’t perfect, it is a VPN that offers premium features at rock bottom prices. On top of all of that, Surfshark is the only VPN that provides you with unlimited simultaneous connections with one subscription. You just cannot argue with that.
In this Surfshark VPN review, I delve into the ins and outs of this VPN to find out whether it can swim amongst the best of them or if it sinks to the bottom of the pool.
Surfshark Key Features
IP Addresses: Not known
Netflix | BBC iPlayer | Facebook | Hulu | Disney+ | Amazon Prime Video | Kodi
Support | Connection Speed | Unlimited Simultaneous Connections
Pros & Cons
6 Things We Like:
- Unlimited connections
- Native apps
- Extra features
- Split-tunneling tools
- Simple to use
3 Things We Didn’t Like:
- Slight delay in some connections
- Old security audit
- No port forwarding
What would you like to do with Surfshark?
As someone that constantly travels, I find that the comforts from home come in the form of Netflix. Luckily, Surfshark is a VPN that has no issues getting around the rigorous blocks which many VPNs cannot overcome. All I had to do is change my location to the United States, and I was back to watching all my favorite shows.
The best news? I was able to get speeds fast enough to ensure 4K Ultra HD quality.
I tested out NBC Sports as well as ESPN+, just to keep the peace in the house. While not all servers were responsive on my first attempt, I never had to connect more than a few times in order to find a working connection. All in all, a great success.
Surfshark is excellent when it comes to torrenting. Not only does it provide you with incredible speeds, but it also has powerful security measures. Because Surfshark is privacy-focused, there is no way that your ISP can see your P2P activity.
There are also servers optimized for P2P file-sharing in various locations around the world. These include:
- Hong Kong
While I am more of a streamer than a torrenter, I am pleased that there are options if I wish to use torrent clients like Deluge, uTorrent, and Vuze.
I am so pleased to report that there were absolutely no qualms when it comes to gaming with this VPN. We all know that it takes just a couple of seconds of lag to die an untimely death or lose a match.
When I connected to a UK server and launched World of Warcraft, I had no trouble keeping up with other teammates. There was no need to lower the resolution to gain gaming speeds, which usually kills the vibe of the gaming experience.
Speed: How Fast is Surfshark?
When you use a VPN, it slows down your connection and also increases your latency. However, not all VPNs have the same speeds, and some will slow your connection by as much as 60-70%.
When I checked out my speed tests, I found a drop of about 15% on average. This is more than fast enough for me to stream, game, and surf online. When I compared these results to some of the other premium VPNs, I saw that it was similar, if not consistently, faster than other VPNs.
Security and Privacy
When it comes to security and privacy, Surfshark doesn’t play around. What I particularly like about this VPN is that it has all the usual security features on hand, however, it also gives me a few added options that aren’t available everywhere else.
When it comes to encryption, Surfshark is a VPN that uses military-grade encryption, also known as AES 256-bit. It basically means that it cannot be decoded by any brute force attacks. There is actually no known way to decrypt the data unless you have access to the existing keycode.
This is the international standard that governments and militaries use so as to protect their data. Is Surfshark safe? The answer to that is, most definitely.
The MultiHop feature is one of those added features I mentioned earlier. Basically, when I have that activated, I can encrypt it twice. This means it travels through two servers instead of one.
This is particularly useful when I need to access sensitive data, although I wouldn’t recommend it normally as it slows down your connection considerably. Mine slowed down by as much as 30%.
In saying that, if you live in a country that has extremely strict internet censorship laws, then Surfshark is a good VPN for you just because of this option.
A kill switch is a necessary feature for me, no matter which VPN I might be using. Without it, if your VPN fails, you have no layer of protection, and all of your online activity is visible to hackers, third parties, your ISP, and whoever else might be monitoring your movements online. This kill switch is available on all Surfshark native apps.
Other security protocols on offer from Surfshark include IKEv2, OpenVPN, WireGuard, and Shadowsocks. The first two are quite common. However, Shadowsocks and WireGuard are not.
WireGuard is a favorite for me as it is better than OpenVPN and IKEv2 in terms of both security and speed. It works with Windows, iOS, and Mac apps.
Shadowsocks is an encrypted proxy, which just means that it protects only your browser traffic and not your device as such. You use it as a last resort. Apparently, it can get past the Great Firewall of China, but I’ve never tried.
Surfshark’s no-logs policy
- Browsing history
- IP address
- Session information
- Used bandwidth
- Connection time stamps
- Network traffic
It does, however, collect your email address and password, which are encrypted as well as your payment information. There is also the fact that Surfshark collects aggregated performance data.
“To maintain a perfect quality of our Services and provide you with efficient support, we collect diagnostics information and monitor crash reports on our apps. The information we collect contains aggregated performance data, the frequency of use of our Services, unsuccessful connection attempts, and other similar information.”
Phrases like “other similar information” are quite vague, and don’t promote confidence.
On the other hand, Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, where there are no data retention laws.
Privacy and Security Audits
As far as I am aware, there hasn’t been an independent audit of Surfshark itself. Back in 2018, a cybersecurity firm completed an independent audit of the Chrome and Firefox browser extensions. No major issues were discovered, but there is a lack of audits on the VPN itself, which is a shame.
The good news is that there is a Warrant Canary on the Surfshark website which lets users know when they’re working in conjunction with law enforcement agencies.
Usability – Is Surfshark a User-Friendly VPN?
Using Surfshark’s apps is as simple as it gets. They’re well designed and functional, with a clean interface, easy to adapt to, even for first-time users, which saves you from Googling “how to use Surfshark” every so often.
Something I really appreciate is that there are plenty of customization tools that managed to personalize my Surfshark VPN experience. These include:
- Status notifications
- NoBorders mode
- Language change
- Mini mode
- Dark mode
Another feature that I love is that the Windows app allows you to expand and contract the app so you can see more or less information. There is an obvious way that you can connect, and it will let you choose from specific servers, not just countries around the world, to connect to.
I also tested the app on my iPhone and found that this version of the app is even simpler and has a cleaner interface. All I had to do was hit the teal button, which reads connect.
Unlike the Windows app, I wasn’t able to choose from a specific server, but I could connect to the various countries available. Better still, there was the option just to let Surfshark choose the fastest server available for me.
The mobile app for iPhone supports features like MultiHop, NoBorders, kill switch, and CleanWeb.
Surfshark’s Best Features
Surfshark has a ton of added features that other premium VPNs don’t offer. It cannot go without mentioning how impressed I was that there was no limit on the number of simultaneous connections I could have with my subscription. This means all of the devices in my home, from my computer, laptop, mobile devices, and even router, were covered.
There are some other features that also impressed me.
Ads are always quite annoying and sometimes even quite scary. CleanWeb takes care of this in that it offers a browser extension that will block ads, pop-ups, and banners on your browser.
CleanWeb will also block malware, which many sites are riddled with, causing you to become a target for hackers. The Surfshark VPN malware database consists of more than one million contaminated websites.
As I am constantly on the go, I normally use a considerable amount of mobile data when I am not connected to wifi at home or in the office. Ads eat up a lot of that data, and more often than not, I find myself paying for ads rather than content I want to see. In addition to that, they slow down your internet connection.
Another great feature on offer from Surfshark, NoBorders, is extremely handy for people who reside or are visiting restricted countries. It will detect various restrictions that are in place from your network and will activate NoBorders so you can bypass these restrictions.
This is pretty much Surfshark’s version of obfuscated servers. It will cause most VPN restrictive measures to be useless and will provide you with internet access in situations when you need them most.
You don’t always want to have your VPN active for a number of reasons. One of which is that banks can recognize a different country within your IP address and block any transactions. It can also slow down your internet connection, particularly if it wasn’t that fast, to begin with.
Enter Whitelister. This feature is what other VPNs commonly call split tunneling. It will allow you to route some of your apps via your Surfshark VPN connection and allow others to connect as they normally would.
It also works the other way by routing your connection through the VPN and adding exclusions.
How annoying is it when you search for things on Google only to be met with a thousand ads about that specific topic in just seconds? Yes, I would like to go to the Maldives, no I cannot afford to book right now!
Surfshark is a VPN that offers you a completely private and safe search tool minus the ads. There is no user manipulation involved, and all of the results are completely organic.
I really appreciate that Surfshark has gone above and beyond in protecting my online safety. It provides all of its subscribers with alerts in case your data is leaked.
These alerts include emails, credit cards, and even IDs once you’ve added them to the list. Should any of this information end up on the dark web, you will be instantly notified.
This is another feature that can be customized so that you don’t get constant notifications. Basically, you can opt to receive a regular newsletter which informs you of any recent data breaches, and you can turn on notifications that will sound the alarm if any of your personal accounts have been targeted.
While using Surfshark isn’t free, it definitely is the next best thing. And while it doesn’t keep certain features to certain pricing plans, it will offer great savings for longer plans.
At the moment, a one-month plan will set you back $12.95, which certainly isn’t the cheapest option available. However, you find greater savings of up to 50% if you choose a 6-month subscription plan that will cost you just $6.49 per month.
The real star of the show in terms of Surfshark price is the 24-month plan that will see you save up to 81%. For $2.41, you will have access to one of the best VPNs on the market. In my opinion, that’s a steal.
You can pay for your subscription with your credit card, Google Pay, PayPal, or even cryptocurrencies, for that extra layer of privacy.
There is a 30-day money-back guarantee which will see your cash refunded if you aren’t happy with the service, no questions asked.
You can always sign up for the seven-day free trial that is available on the Google Play and Apple App Store.
Great customer support is definitely something you want in a VPN service, and Surfshark was a pleasant surprise. With top-notch service, I can contact them using email, an online form, or live chat – which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
I used the chat to resolve a connection issue I had and found that someone was with me within about a minute. The customer service agent was quick to answer all my questions in a clear manner.
There are also plenty of guides and tutorials on the Surfshark website, as well as FAQs, which will let you in on the most asked user questions.
Our Verdict, Your Choice
While I must say that I was skeptical about Surfshark offering the same benefits as other major VPNs, I cannot deny that it exceeded my expectations in many ways.
From blazing fast speeds, to security protocols that knocked my socks off, I was especially pleased with the added features that many other VPNs do not offer, such as CleanWeb, Whitelister, NoBorders, search, and alerts.
While it doesn’t boast as many servers as its competitors, it is climbing swiftly in that regard also.
Streaming and torrenting were a breeze, with Surfshark being one of the fastest VPNs available and also having no issues getting around restrictions from the likes of Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and the notoriously tricky – Netflix.
Those that are often traveling and sometimes find themselves in locations with strict internet laws will be pleased with the array of protection and obfuscation tools available.
I still think that there should be more independent audits, even at least one of the VPN itself, which other competitors are performing regularly.
Lastly, for a VPN priced at just a couple of dollars per month, it definitely comes as the cheapest option for that level of performance.