Surfshark VPN Review
- Strict no logging policy even excludes recording of used bandwidth, session information, or time stamps
- Generous unlimited simultaneous users
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Allows P2P torrenting
- Located in British Virgin Islands, which has no data retention laws and is outside of the 14 Eyes jurisdiction
- Uses industry's top level security and encryption protocols
- Works on Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Kodi, and most streaming services
- Works in China
- Very fast and stable connection speeds
- No DNS, WebRTC, or IP leaks
- 24/7 live chat support
- Accepts Bitcoin
- Limited time low price of $1.99/month can't be beat
- New and untested VPN for law enforcement testing no log policy
- Limited tutorials
- Linux and Mac setups require third party software
- Limited server selection in Africa, Middle East, and Asia
- Windows and mobile clients still work in progress
Surfshark VPN runs great and checks almost all of the big boxes when we rate VPNs. The big point to emphasize though is that the service is a very new contender, which offers both bad and good reasons to subscribe to them. On the bright side, streamers who access Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer internationally with degrees of success because those platforms haven't caught onto their VPN servers yet. It also means higher percentage of success for usage in China.
The downside is that you're buying into a lot of risk when your privacy is on the line. For one, it's unclear whether or not the company will successfully pivot as companies like Netflix inevitably begin blocking their VPN connections. The company also claims to no log any data, but this is untested. That said, those concerns can likely be set aside thanks to the company's basis out of the British Virgin Islands, which has no data retention laws. There's little reason for Surfshark to lie as discovery would cripple their business and not likely be worth the trade off.
Privacy and Security
The first two things we look at when rating VPN privacy is the logging policy and place of business. Surfshark passes both tests with a British Virgin Island headquarters and a strict no logging policy that even excludes the recording of used bandwidth, session information, and time stamps ("lite" logging that some other VPNs monitor ostensibly for quality control). The British Virgin Islands have no data retention laws, allowing Surfshark the freedom to gather exactly the information they say they do: none at all.
Their security strength is also at the top of the industry with AES-256-GCM and SHA-512 encryption used to protect data. We try to stay away from getting too technical in reviews, but those familiar with AES-256-CBC will find AES-256-GCM an upgrade due to the authorization speed. Essentially, Surfshark offers the best combination of speed and security ciphers. OpenVPN and IKEv2 are the only two protocols offered, but these are the ones preferred for security so the limited options won't concern most customers.
Finally, Surfshark provides key features to protect users from exposing their data online. They've recently added an automatic kill switch that will cut off internet usage if a VPN connection drops. The company uses their own DNS network and includes built in WebRTC and IPv6 leak protection (that is tested working). All of this ensures that only Surfshark could potentially even see your data and since they don't actually record anything at all, that means nobody sees your online activity. Payment types also include Bitcoin for those who don't even want their name on the account.
Surfshark is perfect for 4K streaming with no hitching or slowdown compared to the standard connection. Latency is fantastic for gaming, which means it's good enough for everything. Connection times are fairly average. All in all, a solid package for the average VPN user who wants to protect their privacy or stream internationally.
Those of you who want to download or upload large files will care more about the nitty-gritty of the speeds and Surfshark makes a strong case for choosing them as a VPN. Speeds average around 60MBps, with higher consistency in Europe then North America than the rest of the world. Speeds peaked as high as 80Mbps (on 100Mbps connection) and dropped to as low as 25Mbps. Upload speeds capped close to our test connection's speed of 10Mbps. This puts it in line with some of fastest VPNs out there so speed shouldn't be a concern with Surfshark VPN.
With 500 servers in 50 countries, breadth is Surfshark's weak point compared to other services that supply servers in 70+ countries. 500 servers doesn't sound a lot compared to some services, but given that Surfshark is a new player in the VPN space these prove more than sufficient. Surfshark is weakest in the Middle East and Asia, which could impact your decision to use them.
Of note is that Surfshark VPN currently works in China. This doesn't usually last long as The Great Firewall of China hunts down OpenVPN usage, but if Surfshark stays on top of their game they may be one of the few VPNs to keep running usage in China.
Ease and Usability
Surfshark works well enough for Windows, Android, and iOS. Mac and Linux is technically supported but requires manual steps found in the tutorial/guides section. The windows client is still in beta so users may experience bugs. The biggest issue with Surfshark's supported clients is that it doesn't feel as user friendly or powerful as more established VPNs. We expect that to change shortly as Surfshark has really shown commitment to improving their product since launching earlier in 2018.
Once you do get Surfshark working and figure out the kinks with their clients you'll be treated to top notch features such as unlimited simultaneous users and P2P torrenting freedom. Families wanting to protect their children (or less tech savvy grandparents) from the internet should also appreciate the included advertisement, malware, and tracker blockers. Surfshark is a strong recommendation for Windows, Android, and iOS users who don't require power features such as specific server selection.
For streamers, this is one of the best options for usage with Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and other similar services. Those who are familiar with trying out Netflix in other countries know that Netflix is fast to ban VPN servers. Surfshark so far has been able to stay undetected but this may change as the company continues to grow. Their solution to the ongoing war over unblocking Netflix and others are virtual servers that better mask the VPN from detection.
Surfshark offers 24/7 support (although the live chat button is easy to miss on the Contact page). Unfortunately, the tutorial and guide section looks rather sparse and may not sufficiently explain details for less technical users. This makes it hard to recommend for Linux and Mac users right now, even though the few guides available are well-written. The 30-day money-back guarantee is easy to process, and we haven't heard of any complaints from users trying to get refunds.
With all of the premium features Surfshark offers, the price point of $11.95/month or $5.99/month for a full year of prepayment feels perfect. Users receive a kill switch, no logging, fast speeds, and strong encryption for a very reasonable rate. On top of that, Surfshark is also the only VPN that allows unlimited simultaneous users. That's pretty big for larger households or groups of friends that want to band together for a VPN service. Where Surfshark really shines is their current offer when you visit their site directly from us. Users can pay just $48 right now for 2-years of service. This comes out to just $1.99/month - making it by far the cheapest premium VPN on the market.
On top of that, new members can refund the product anytime within the first 30 days of usage if it's not to their liking. This is fairly generous and ensures long-term satisfaction with the product. Value conscious spenders will find it hard to beat Surfshark with their current special.
I really like Surfshark. Sure, there's some risk in buying into a new VPN service. Although no government has tested their no logs policy, there's very little reason to think that they're not following through on it. It's also possible Netflix and China stop working at some point, but so far the product has only continued to improve. It's great for everything from streaming and torrenting to privacy and security. They're going out of their way to continue bringing new features to users such as a kill switch and their offering of unlimited simultaneous devices is extremely generous.
I wouldn't recommend it to Mac users who aren't tech-savvy due to the required third party downloads, but I'll assume Linux users can handle the extra few hoops. It's fine for Windows, Android, and iOS users though. If you are OK with a newer VPN service, take advantage of the limited-time cheap price as Surfshark tries to make a name for themselves in the crowded VPN market. I can't guarantee anything due to the lack of history, but so far they're showing they can hang with the big boys.