Surfshark Review: The best VPN on the Market?

surfshark review
surfshark home page

Despite being relatively new to the VPN market, Surfshark has established itself as one of the best VPNs in the market with its security encryption, safety protocols, applications, and features. Since its launch in 2018, this VPN service got its first independent audit the same year it launched and has received the AV-Test’s seal of approval. Unlike most VPNs that limit the number of devices that can be connected simultaneously, Surfshark doesn’t, and they offer some of the cheapest plans in the market.

The low cost and numerous features beg the question of whether Surfshark is what everyone says it is. This article will determine whether or not it lives up to the numerous rave reviews. So, let’s get right to it.

Summary

While there is room for improvement in different areas, Surfshark is safe to use, offers robust security and privacy features, and is very easy to use. Outlined below is a summary of my findings.

  • Despite its minimal server coverage (just about 3200 servers in 95+ countries) compared to other major VPN providers, it still offers users a stable and reliable network.
  • It provides apps for desktop (Windows, Mac, and Linux), mobile (iOS and Android), browser extensions (Chrome, Edge, and Firefox), and Smart TVs (Android TV and Fire TV).
  • Surfshark has a strict no-log policy, meaning that they do not store any classifiable information,
  • This VPN offers strong military-grade encryption, RAM-only servers, and WireGuard, IKEv2, and OpenVPN support – features that not many top VPNs have.
  • The WireGuard protocol is the default app protocol, and it guarantees good speed and performance results with less than 30% speed reduction.
  • It is good for torrenting, gaming, and unblocking geo-restricted streaming sites like HBO, Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer.
  • This VPN offers distinct features, including GPS spoofing, P2P support, CleanWeb, IP rotator, kill switch, and whitelister.
  • Surfshark pricing is affordable as it starts at $2.30 per month for a two-year plan, while short-term plans are pricier – a 1-year plan goes for $3.99 while a one-month plan goes for $12.95.
  • You can pay for your Surfshark VPN subscription using different methods, including cryptocurrency, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, credit card, and debit card.
  • This VPN service does not offer users a dedicated IP address.

All things considered, we can say that Surfshark does live up to its hype. Let’s take a deep dive into some of its features and capabilities, shall we?

Safety and Privacy

Surfshark offers high-grade security and privacy features, like RAM-only servers, military-grade encryption, no-logs policy, audits, security protocols, automatic kill-switch, multi-hop servers, camouflage mode, and others. Let’s look at some of the major safety, and privacy features this VPN offers, shall we?

  • High-grade Encryption

Surfshark uses AES 256-GCM encryption, a more secure version of the industry standard AES-256 bit encryption. There is also an option for Android users to choose a ChaCha20 cipher, especially if they have an older phone. This VPN also surpasses industry standards in authentication, as it uses SHA-512 encryption.

  • Tunnelling Protocols

Users have 3 VPN protocols to choose from – IKEv2, OpenVPN, and WireGuard, which are available for almost all devices. Additionally, Surfshark stopped offering Shadowsocks, an encrypted proxy developed to bypass high censorship, in November 2021.

  • WireGuard – Surfshark set the WireGuard protocol as a primary protocol in all its applications, ensuring fast and secure use for users. This protocol is very effective and fast compared to other protocols, as it uses less than 4000 lines of code, reducing the loading times and any exposures.
  • IKEv2 – This is a very common tunnelling protocol that offers a loading speed similar to that of WireGuard. It works relatively well for devices with a weak internet connection and is suitable for mobile devices. However, IKEv2 is no longer available on the Surfshark Windows app.
  • OpenVPN – This is one of the most popular protocols in the world, and because it is continuously being improved, it is also one of the most secure. There are two versions – UDP and TCP. UDP is faster, while TCP offers a stable connection and better security.

  • RAM-only Servers

Surfshark provides users with RAM-only servers that wipe all data automatically when they switch off their VPN. Unlike VPNs that use data centres, where wiped data can still be recovered, data wiped on Surfshark cannot be restored. This feature helps to protect user data from breaches and leaks.

  • Privacy Policy

Although Surfshark now resides in the Netherlands, the local laws, like in the British Virgin Islands, do not require the company to keep any logs of user actions. Surfshark privacy policy is accessible and easy to understand, ensuring transparency and trustworthiness. The company’s policy document indicates that it does not log browsing history, network traffic, bandwidth, log connection timestamps, and IP addresses.

The only information that Surfshark collects and stores is your email address, password, and basic billing information. Besides, you can opt-out of allowing the VPN to collect diagnostic reports and analytics information, like crash reports, statistical data, and performance data.

  • Audits

Since its launch in 2018, Surfshark has been audited twice by the top security company, Cure53. Both results were positive, although they were for its browser extensions and server infrastructure and security. However, there have been no independent audits of its logging policies or different applications, which is very important to ensure complete transparency.

  • Two-Factor Authentication

surfshark account inside

The two-factor authentication feature adds a security layer to your Surfshark account, ensuring that only you can access your account at any time. You can set it up by logging into your Surfshark account on your web browser and clicking on “Turn on 2FA” on the Account Settings.

  • Whitelists

Surfshark offers a built-in Whitelister panel that allows users to create a whitelist of websites, applications and websites that they want to be redirected around the VPN. You can also choose applications and websites you want to route through Surfshark. Besides, this security feature is available for only windows and Android devices.

  • Kill Switch

The kill switch feature blocks all your internet traffic except when connected to Surfshark, reducing the probability of information leaks when you lose encryption connection. This kill switch ensures you are protected even when the VPN disconnects suddenly. However, there have been improvements made to this feature lately. It now only cuts off the internet if your VPN disconnects, but you can typically browse if you didn’t start the VPN.

Speed and Performance

Server Networks

A wide variety of server networks and locations is essential to the speed and performance of the VPN, and Surfshark delivers. This VPN has more than 3200 servers in 95 countries. Although it has fewer servers than other popular VPN providers, like NordVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access, its location coverage is in all the main world continents.

Surfshark has servers in over 24 locations in the US, 38 locations in Europe, and other locations in Asia, Africa, Russia, Turkey, and Vietnam. Virtual server locations are available in Costa Rica, Chile, India, Argentina, South Korea, and Costa Rica. For virtual servers, your data must travel to a physical server first, which can affect connection time.

Now, let’s see how Surfshark fared with speed and performance.

How fast is Surfshark?

We considered the download speed, upload speed, and ping when testing the speed for this VPN, and it passed. For local servers, there was zero to negligible loss in latency.

surfshark speed test results

On the other hand, there was a significant loss in the speed of long-distance servers, which is expected as data travels farther. The high speed of the VPN can be attributed to its default protocol – the WireGuard protocol.

surfshark long distance servers test

As discussed earlier, there are two other protocols you can choose from, and they fare differently when tested for speed. IKEv2 is the second fastest protocol, followed by OpenVPN (UDP) and OpenVPN (TCP). Surfshark is a fast VPN that offers users a myriad of servers to choose from — with some faring better than others.

surfshark servers locations

Features

Surfshark provides users with different features for multiple purposes; many of them are outlined below.

  • Privacy Beyond VPN

surfshark search bar

This add-on package costs $0.99 per month in addition to your current subscription. It offers two features –Surfshark Alert and Surfshark Search.

Surfshark alert will immediately notify you if any of your personal information appears in any leaked databases.

Surfshark, on the other hand, is a safe and private search tool that allows you to search the web without any ads or trackers.

  • MultiHop Servers

multiple server interface

This MultiHop feature enables users to double their VPN connection by sending traffic through multiple servers instead of a single one.

You should only use this feature if necessary, as it slows down your speed considerably because your traffic will have to pass through two servers in two different locations.

  • Device Invisibility

The device invisibility feature offers an extra layer of privacy, enabling you to conceal your device from other devices on your local network, like Wi-Fi. This feature comes in handy when you are using public Wi-Fi, and you want to protect your privacy, and you can easily enable it with only a few steps. However, it is currently only available for Windows and Android devices.

  • Camouflage Mode

Camouflage Mode is a security feature that makes your VPN traffic resemble regular network traffic, enabling you to remain unnoticed. This feature is handy in situations where VPN ports have been blocked. It renders the blocking processes useless and provides users with access to the internet. You can also use this feature to keep your internet activity private and to get around public Wi-Fi and firewalls.

  • No Borders Mode

no borders features

This unique feature enables users to use VPNs in heavily restricted regions like Vietnam and China.

It detects VPN-blocking tech and gives you a list of the best servers to use to bypass the restrictions.

It is available on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, and users can manually turn it on with ease.

  • CleanWeb

clean web function

The CleanWeb feature enables users to block ads and trackers from loading your data, allowing them to surf the web without any disturbance. You have to turn it on manually, and once it is turned on, it will block all blacklisted IP addresses. This feature also detects malicious sites and automatically blocks them, protecting you from malware attacks and phishing scams.

  • GPS Spoofing

This is a feature available for Android users. It enables them to spoof their IP address and GPS locations, providing them with an extra layer of privacy for their mobile devices. No app can track your surfing activity or location data with this feature.

  • IP Rotator (Nexus)

IP rotator function

The IP rotator feature helps users to constantly change their IP addresses without disconnecting them from a secured connection. This offers extra security and privacy and ensures that your ISP cannot track your online activity.

  • Smart DNS
smart DNS feature

The Smart DNS feature is essential for devices that do not have native apps like Smart TVs and game consoles. It allows users to unlock geo-restricted sites on any device, and they can set up as many devices as they like.

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