Surfshark: Reviewed & Tested in 2020 - Is It as Good as It Claims?

Katie Kasunic | Published on 1st April 2020
Technology Researcher

Surfshark's latest pricing discounts make it the cheapest VPN I've tested. But does its quality match its price?

Surfshark claims to be the best all-round VPN, great for Netflix, torrenting, anonymous browsing, and staying safe on public WiFi. So I put it to the test.

I researched every feature, from its torrenting ability and security protocols to its device compatibility, unlimited connections, and customer support.

I've got everything you need to know about what it can do (and whether it does it well) detailed below.

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The Basics

Surfshark is a well-rounded VPN service that claims it can do everything from torrenting and streaming to browsing the Dark Web. But how well does it really perform? Can it really bypass geo-restrictions and unblock Netflix? And how about its speeds?

I put Surfshark through my toughest tests to see if it lives up to its claims. It's now the cheapest premium option available, but that doesn't mean much if it can't deliver on the features you need most. I checked on server coverage, conducted speeds tests, looked over its security measures, analyzed its interface and ease-of-use, and even put its customer support on the spot.

Streaming – Does Surfshark Work with Netflix?

Good news for those of you looking to get your streaming fix: Surfshark proved to be an excellent VPN for accessing geo-restricted content on Netflix. If that's your primary reason for choosing a VPN, then check out our review of the best VPNs for Netflix. Our top five all have unlimited bandwidth, incredible speeds, and even specialized servers for streaming.

We were also able to access streaming content on Amazon Video, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.

Surfshark's global network is made up of more than 1,000 servers across 60 countries. During my testing, I checked a total of seven servers, including three in the US. I'm happy to report that these servers easily bypassed Netflix's geo-restrictions. Connection times were also fast, resulting in high-quality video with no buffering.

Start Streaming With Surfshark!

Surfshark Speeds

Fast and reliable connections add a lot of value to a VPN service. A VPN that slows you down will negatively impact your ability to stream, torrent, and even browse the internet.

Before connecting to the VPN, I used a speed test to determine my starting speeds. I used a mobile device, and my speeds were 40.92 Mbps download, 14.52 Mbps upload, and a ping of 51 ms.

Fastest Server

I compared these results to the speed I was able to achieve when connected to the VPN to get an accurate idea of Surfshark’s performance.

I began by testing its Quick Connection feature, which is supposed to automatically connect you to the fastest available server. The app connected me to a US-based server, and my speeds decreased to 25.90 Mbps. 

Connected to Surfshark

I tested two other US servers, and the results were similar. While there was a speed decrease on each server, the connections were still fine for some online gaming, streaming in HD, and torrenting.

While connected to a UK server, our average download speed was around 20.06 Mbps:

Load

This is slower than the results we got with local US servers, but still fast enough for streaming and other high-traffic activity.

It’s common to get slower speeds when connecting to servers that are farther from your physical location.

Our download speed while connected to a server in Denmark was 18.68 Mbps:

Even across the world in Japan, we got an impressive speed of 13.31 Mbps:

These are fairly consistent speeds. We also got good results for network reliability. We didn’t experience any speed drops or connection failures during our tests.

Is Surfshark Good for Torrenting?

Surfshark is a secure and reliable choice for torrenting. All of its servers allow P2P sharing, and many are optimized for fast torrenting.

It offers all the necessary security measures to protect you and keep you anonymous while you torrent. Alongside 256-bit encryption and its strict no-logs policy, Surfshark passed all my IP and DNS leak tests. 

It’s compatible with P2P clients like BitTorrent and uTorrent as well as streaming players like Ace Player, VLC, and Popcorn Time.

Security – Is Surfshark Safe?

Surfshark claims to have robust security features, but I wanted to see for myself. The first thing I did was perform a DNS leak test. I was happy to see there were no leaks:

surfshark 8

As you can see, our real location and IP address in the US were not detected.

The VPN service includes all of the basic security features that we look for, including secure encryption, DNS leak protection, and an automatic kill switch on all native apps.

This means that you don’t have to worry about data leaks even if your VPN connection drops unexpectedly.

Surfshark also goes beyond the basics with advanced security features like MultiHop—Surfshark’s version of Double VPN—which gives you an extra layer of protection by directing your traffic through two encrypted servers before you reach your final destination.

The CleanWeb feature protects you from tracking, malware, and phishing attempts. Recently it also introduced HackLock, a data leak alert system that lets users know when their email appears online in leaked databases. Surfshark's other new feature is BlindSearch, an online search tool that never collects your history and is free of annoying ads.

Camouflage Mode uses specialized obfuscated servers which can easily bypass network firewalls and other internet blocks. It’s ideal for countries with restricted internet access, as it completely stops your ISP from monitoring any of your activity. Camouflage Mode only works on OpenVPN apps: Windows, Android, and iOS.

As if these security features weren't impressive enough, Surfshark took things a step further by turning to Cure53, a renowned cybersecurity firm. It asked the firm to review its browser extensions to determine whether the VPN lived up to its security claims.

Many doubt the legitimacy of VPN providers’ security claims. Conducting an independent audit shows how seriously Surfshark takes its responsibility toward its users.

We've hired Cure53 professionals for our own reviews before, and we're confident that they perform a thorough and unbiased analysis. The results of the audit were overwhelmingly positive, finding only two very minor issues that were not directly related to the browser extensions.

Does Surfshark Keep Logs?

Surfshark is headquartered in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands, outside the jurisdiction of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance. The privacy policy confirms that Surfshark does not collect any usage or connection data.

The provider only stores the following information:

  • Your account email address (used only for customer service purposes)
  • Your password (encrypted)
  • Basic billing information

Don't like the idea of handing over your payment details and exposing your identity? You can avoid this and enjoy complete anonymity by paying with Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency instead.

The only part of the logging policy we aren’t fans of is that Surfshark may collect unique advertising identifiers from third parties for marketing purposes and user analytics.

This isn’t a major concern, however, since you can reset your advertising identifier or opt out of this data collection at any time in your app settings.

Overall, Surfshark has a transparent and privacy-friendly logging policy. None of the following information is collected:

  • IP addresses
  • Browsing history
  • Session information
  • Bandwidth used
  • Connection time stamps
  • Network traffic

Further proof of Surfshark’s trustworthiness can be found in its warrant canary, which is a way for businesses to legally inform users of secret government requests for private information. Surfshark’s warrant canary is fully up to date and available on the website:

surfshark warrant canary Jan 2020

Does Surfshark Have an Ad Blocker?

Surfshark has a built-in ad, tracker, and malware blocker called CleanWeb. 

I put it to the test by visiting sites that I know are usually full of ads, like Facebook. The CleanWeb feature worked beautifully. It even blocked YouTube’s midroll ads.

Does Surfshark Work in China?

China is constantly working on its anti-VPN technology, so VPNs have to work equally as hard to keep getting around the country's geo-restrictions. Because conditions change constantly, it's sometimes difficult to say whether a VPN works in China.

However, most users report that Surfshark does work in China. The FAQ also say that you can reach out to customer support for help if you find that the VPN is not working in your location.

Surfshark’s NoBorders feature is useful for bypassing censorship. It detects when you are connected to a restricted network or in a country with government censorship, and automatically redirects your traffic to access restricted content.

Price and Value for Money

Surfshark’s three subscription plans come with the same premium features and differ only in length.

The 12-month and 24-month plans come with significant discounts that make this VPN cheap and affordable for long-term use.

A month-to-month subscription is a bit pricier, but the cost is still very reasonable for the value this VPN provides.

Does Surfshark Have a Free Version?

Surfshark doesn't have a free version, but it does offer a 7-day free trial for mobile users. You can activate your free trial by downloading the app from Google Play or the Apple App Store.

Surfshark’s Refund Policy

You get a 30-day, money-back guarantee on all subscriptions.

If you submit a refund request within 30 days of signing up, you will receive a full refund. You can submit your request via email or live chat. When I tested this, Surfshark asked me a few questions to find out which aspects of the service I didn’t like.

Is Surfshark Compatible with My Device?

Surfshark is compatible with all major devices. Dedicated apps are offered for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and more.

The VPN also offers secure browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome.

On the website, you can find manual installation guides for Linux, Xbox, PlayStation, Fire TV, Apple TV, and all other platforms it supports.

The SmartDNS feature allows you to unlock US content on devices that may not support VPNs, like Smart TVs and game consoles. The feature is easy to set up and use, so you can connect and go.

An important thing to understand about the various Surfshark apps is that there are some feature inconsistencies, meaning some features may work for one app but not another.

For example, the Windows and Android native apps allow you to select your VPN protocol in the Settings, while the macOS and iOS apps do not.

However, Surfshark does a better job keeping features consistent across platforms than most providers. All of the native apps have an automatic kill switch, NoBorders mode, MultiHop, and the CleanWeb feature is now available on all devices

Another wonderful benefit of a Surfshark subscription is that it allows unlimited simultaneous connections. This means you can connect all your computers, phones, tablets, and other devices, and use them all at the same time—all for the cost of a single subscription.

Encryption

Surfshark keeps all users safe with robust AES 256-bit encryption, and provides optional ChaCha encryption for Android users. It supports OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, as well as Shadowsocks protocol for Windows. Shadowsocks is an open-source encrypted proxy. It's another helpful tool to bypass strict internet censorship, especially in areas like China.

It's usually best to stick with an OpenVPN connection for the best security. Surfshark’s macOS and iOS apps use IKEv2 by default, but you can manually configure an OpenVPN connection if you prefer.

Windows, iOS, and Android apps allow you to choose between TCP and UDP OpenVPN connections.

Surfshark Customer Service

We were pleased with the quality of Surfshark’s customer service. We found the 24/7 live chat support team to be responsive, friendly, and informative.

When you submit a question, the chat box tells you your position in the queue:

surfshark 11

After less than a minute of waiting, a representative joined the chat to answer our question.

surfshark 12

The live chat support functioned exactly as advertised. Since customer service is such an important part of a premium VPN service, Surfshark’s high quality customer support is a huge plus.

User Experience

Surfshark’s minimalist user interface is designed for ease of use. The native app is both aesthetically pleasing and a breeze to navigate.

On the left is a clear list of all server locations, along with a search bar to help you quickly find what you’re looking for.

At the bottom right is a Quick Connect button that will automatically connect you to the most optimal server based on your location.

The intuitive platform makes for a smooth user experience, even for beginners.

When you first open Surfshark on a new device, the app gives you some help with the login and installation process. For example, the app walks you through the process of giving permissions. It also has a separate interface for the MultiHop feature (Surfshark’s version of Double VPN), which is equally user-friendly.

The Settings menu is simple and straightforward. Even if you're new to VPNs, you should have no trouble taking advantage of Surfshark’s advanced features. Surfshark’s mobile app is also attractive and easy to use:

Surfshark Mobile UI

Surfshark has created a positive user experience with its well-designed native apps. The interface is clear for both first-time VPN users using basic functions and experienced users using more advanced settings.

It’s rare that we find a VPN app design with no discernible flaws, but we were very impressed with what Surfshark has accomplished.

Features Details
Number of countries with servers 61
Number of servers 1040
Number of IP addresses 1000
Does VPN keep logs? No
Does VPN include a kill switch? Yes
Number of devices per license Unlimited
Ease of Use 4.8 / 5.0

Surfshark’s native apps and browser extensions are very easy and intuitive to use. They feature a clean and minimal interface that anyone can navigate.

The installation process is fast and straightforward. You’ll need to enter your login credentials to set up a new device.

The Quick Connect feature makes it easy to find a fast server. If you prefer, you can manually select a server location with a single click.

There are also some useful advanced features to improve your browsing experience, including an ad blocker. Advanced features are clearly labeled and easily accessible in the Settings menu.

Pricing 4.5 / 5.0
24 Months Plan
$1.99 /month
12 Months Plan
$5.99 /month
1 Month Plan
$11.95 /month

Surfshark has several subscription lengths and different price points so that you can choose a plan that best fits your needs and budget. No matter which plan you choose, you’ll have access to all the same premium features.

Discounts are offered on longer subscriptions, which makes the service much more affordable.

There is a 7-day free trial if you download the app from Google Play or the Apple Store, and a 30-day, money-back guarantee.

A variety of payment methods are accepted, including:

  • Major credit cards (American Express, Visa, Mastercard, Discover)
  • PayPal
  • Amazon Pay
  • Google Pay
  • Alipay
  • Cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum)

Reliability & Support 4.6 / 5.0

If you come across any issues while using Surfshark, you have several places to turn. The website has a Help section with installation tutorials, troubleshooting guides, FAQs, and other useful information.

You can also contact Surfshark directly via 24/7 live chat support or a ticket request system.

My interaction with Surfshark customer service was positive. I used the live chat feature, and the representative was fast, friendly, and informative.

The Bottom Line

Fast and reliable VPN that’s perfect for streaming and torrenting

Surfshark offers an impressive service, especially for a relatively new provider. If you’re looking for a fast, reliable, and secure VPN for streaming, torrenting, and protecting your privacy, Surfshark is an excellent option.

If you’re looking for speedy, unrestricted, and reliable streaming (who isn’t?), then check out our review of the best VPNs for streaming wherever you are.

We tested Surfshark not too long ago, and we found issues with device compatibility. We’re happy to see the VPN now supports all major platforms. The fact that Surfshark also offers unlimited simultaneous connections makes it an even better value.

Surfshark is especially worth considering if you’re looking for a long-term VPN, because of the budget-friendly deals offered on longer subscriptions.

  • 1040+ servers in 61 countries
  • Offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox
  • Accepts Bitcoin and offers 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Unlimited connections and strong encryption
  • Supports P2P
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • Get started with Surfshark now
Money Back Guarantee (Days) : 30
Mobile app :
Number of devices per license : Unlimited
VPN Plans: www.surfshark.com
Watch the short video review and tutorial below of Surfshark
Surfshark User Reviews
3.7
Silvio Dupont
Apr 3, 2020
  •  4
Cool GPS spoofing feature

My girlfriend and I share one account. I have an iPhone while she has an Android so I can easily say that it works on both devices without many issues. Although, recently, I saw that they released a GPS spoofing for Android, which I thought was pretty dope. Not as dope is the fact that I can’t have this feature on my iPhone so I’m giving 4 stars.


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Did you know? We approve all user reviews. Companies can't pay to include or exclude any.

    Bernardo N.
    Apr 2, 2020
    •  5
    Helped me stream Ghibli

    Been planning to do a marathon on Ghibli movies, so I started looking for them on Netflix and realized that while US Netflix has a lot of movies and TV series, and many people get VPNs to watch content from US servers, apparently, we were deprived of Ghibli movies. What a shame. I already had Surfshark, so I just switched to a UK server and that was it. It’s a decent VPN, I don’t use it for much more other than streaming though.


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      Henry
      Mar 31, 2020
      •  5
      Helps to avoid companies changing prices according to your location

      I got it because I read that some companies change prices of flights or hotels depending on your location. I didn’t believe it to be accurate, so I did some research, and there were at least a couple of articles on that with proof. I got Surfshark myself about a week ago, and I was really eager to try this out. I checked flight, hotel, and car rental prices from a few different servers, and it appears to be true, I can actually save money while planning a trip with a VPN. I guess I know what I’m going to do when the quarantine is over.


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