When it comes to your online privacy, it is a must to choose a reliable VPN service covering all kinds of privacy and user data warranties. In this matter, most preferable locations turn out to be off-shore countries where companies do not have to track and keep your logs for years.
Keeping the fact in mind, today we will take a close look at the British Virgin Islands-based Surfshark VPN and see how it performs when compared to top players in the market.
Our SurfShark review will cover the purchase of the service; app installation; key privacy features; server coverage and speed performance; customer support and worth mentioning notes each SurfShark user must know.
Pricing and refund policy
Being a new player in the market, SurfShark has a competitive pricing policy. Even the price cap increased from 1.99$/month to 2.49$/month, SurfShark is one of the cheapest VPN providers you can buy. At the moment the company has three different plans. These are:
- 1 Month plan: 12.95$/month
- 6 Months plan: 6.49$/month
- 12+12 free months plan: 2.49$/month
Frankly, I do not like the pricing plan. The website applies an automatic coupon code and makes you feel forced to choose the two years plan by making it way cheaper than other plans. A smart marketing move!
Moreover, the code applies 12 months free deal to your plan. So, when your plan expires after 24 months, it will renew at the same price for 12 months.
Now that we made our mind on a plan, it is time to purchase the service. Yet! How do we make the payment?
SurfShark offers 5 different payment methods to complete your purchase. These are:
- Credit card: Mastercard, Visa, Amex, Discover
- Google Pay
- Amazon Pay
These are the basic payment options SurfShark accepts. Additionally, depending on your location, payment gateways, plan currencies, and applied tax may vary.
What if you are not satisfied with the service?
Well, SurfShark covers your back with a 30-days moneyback guarantee. All you need to do is to contact customer support and ask for a refund in 30 days. Yet, If your account is terminated for any reason, you cannot ask for a refund. Make sure to read SurfShark’s terms of service to avoid such circumstances.
SurfShark compatible apps
Once you are done with the purchase, it is time to download compatible apps with our devices.
I have Macbook Pro and an Android device to test SurfShark out. Before moving forward to my own experience, let’s take a look at what SurfShark offers in terms of compatibility.
- PCs: Windows, macOS, Linux
- Smart devices: Android, iOS, iPad; Android TV
- Browsers: Google Chrome, Firefox
- Others: Routers, Fire TV, Apple TV; Xbox and Playstation (Manual setup required)
SurfShark has both auto and manual install applications. While auto-install apps are available for PCs, Smart devices, and browsers, you will need to take manual action for routers, Smart TVs, and game consoles.
Make sure to visit the SurfShark app page and download the app compatible with your device. As a Macbook Pro user, you can find my experience below.
The user interface of the Surfshark software looks modern but not minimal. There is plenty of unused space and it looks unnecessarily big on the screen.
As for the user-friendliness, Surfshark offers easy to access server line up aphetically. The “Search” menu will help find your desired server as well.
If you are a privacy geek, you can also make use of the “MultiHop” feature to encrypt your data twice or “Static” server servers to get the same IP address. Both features will help you increase your privacy level and get a static IP address each time you connect to the VPN server.
As for the settings menus, we do have a few yet effective features:
- CleanWeb: So many other VPN providers also offer this feature, yet, they cannot recognize Google ads and block them. However, as per our test, Surfshark can block all kinds of ads and help us save a remarkable amount of data.
- Kill Switch: Kill Switch reconnects and keeps the connection on in case of a disconnection.
- Protocol: You can choose from three different protocols (IKev2, OpenVPN, and WireGuard)
You can find all of the stated features and menus in the mobile apps as well.
In addition to the desktop features, you can also:
- fake your location through the SurfShark app,
- make your device invisible to surrounding devices,
- choose to encrypt your data on AES-256-GCM or Chacha20Poly1305
- make use of a supplementary Shadowsocks protocol (which only encrypts your browser data)
Overall, I like the way software works. However, while the software design trend goes minimal, and Surfshark does not catch up with it.
Furthermore, a single click on the VPN server will help you establish a secure connection. Yet, if you click another server by mistake, the software will disconnect the previous connection. This will end up connecting to the new server. Hope this small glitch gets fixed soon.
So far so good. We have purchased the VPN service and installed it on a preferred device. The SurfShark is ready to use now. However, right before connecting to a VPN server, you might want to learn more about the company handling your all online data.
In that sense, I have created three subcategories to discuss further privacy details. First, we will learn the data retention law of the British Virgin Island, then we will take a look at the software end for encryption technologies and privacy features. Lastly, we will take the third party audit into consideration whether SurfShark keeps its privacy promises or not.
Privacy on the company end
In order for a company not to keep any log, it has to be located in a country where there is no data retention law. Luckily, SurfShark is located on the British Virgin Island and so far they have not received any letter from any other country.
Furthermore, on their privacy page SurfShark states:
“A VPN that doesn’t keep logs will not collect details like:
- IP address
- Browsing history
- Used bandwidth
- Session information
- Network traffic
- Connection timestamps
In short, a no-log VPN like Surfshark does not keep track of your online whereabouts or actions in any way.”
At the jurisdiction point, SurfShark is free of legislation of keeping any logs. However, they also depict that SurfShark keeps minimal logs to handle payments, email marketing, creating accounts, etc…
No log does not mean that you will not have any trace online when you choose SurfShark -even when you prefer to make the payment through cryptos.
Privacy on the service end
Speaking of privacy, let’s take a look at what we got on the service-end. In the last two years, SurfShark invested a lot in its infrastructure to make its service more secure and stable.
So! What did they implement so far?
- Protocols and encryption: In order to have a smooth VPN experience without sacrificing speed, SurfShark offers 256-bit encryption with 4 different protocols: OpenVPN, IKev2, Shadowsocks, and WireGuard.
- Obfuscated servers: A unique way to hide users from ISPs. This feature will make your encrypted data look neutral so that your ISP cannot recognize whether you are using a VPN service or not.
- Ram only servers: Similar to ExpressVPN’s, SurfShark also has RAM disk only infrastructure making data storage impossible on the server-side. As also described in How to Geek: “RAM is volatile memory. When your computer loses power, the contents of your RAM will be erased.”
- “CleanWeb”: Implemented to the servers, CleanWeb is an amazing privacy feature to block ads, cookies, and analytic trackers.
All these privacy features as a service might seem alluring. However, do they really work? This is the point we need to hear about the independent Cure53 audit.
Cure53 is a cybersecurity company founded by Dr. ing Mario Heidrich -a client-side security researcher. The company audited SurfShark’s browser extension and came to the conclusion on their report:
- “…tested applications make a very robust impression and are not exposed to any issues, neither in the privacy nor in the more general security realms.”
During the examination, Cure53 found 2 low impact security problems that were fixed right after the audit. However, this audit only covers browser extensions. Time flies and we are looking forward to new audit reports of the latest server and the software version of the service.
Server coverage and speed performance
No matter how hard security measurements a VPN service has, it might become unbearable if it cannot offer worldwide coverage and optimized servers.
As the VPN encrypts our online traffic and adds additional latency because of the server locations, the closer server the service has, the better speed we will have. In these terms, what can SurfShark offer to us?
Currently, SurfShark has more than 1700 servers in 63 different countries. While the company prefers to have a dedicated server in most of the covered locations, it also has virtual servers in several other countries in case you need the IP address of those locations.
Furthermore, SurfShark does not limit any user with specific purposes such as P2P, obfuscation, or protocol selection. With each server available, the users will enjoy:
- P2P support
- All four protocols
- Private DNS
- Server obfuscation.
Last but not least, all of the servers are available in the browser extensions as well.
Yet, are they fast enough?
SurfShark used to perform mediocrely. However, our first test was from 2018 and the company invested a lot in the server infrastructure.
In our latest speed test, things are different.
|Region||Download / MBps||Upload / MBps|
|USA - New York||69.1||3.94|
|USA - Las Vegas||60.79||3.32|
|USA - Dallas||66.85||3.63|
|Canada - Toronto||74.66||4.09|
|UK - London||87.16||4.55|
I have tested SurfShark with my 100 Mbps fiber connection. As seen in the table above, SurfShark’s investment seems paid off.
With an average of 73.69 download speed, SurfShark is the fastest VPN provider we have tested so far. Even the VPN app encrypted our traffic with a 256-bit OpenVPN protocol, we did get outstanding results as if we were not even using a VPN service.
When it comes to torrenting, we do have some download issues with SurfShark. According to my latest P2P test, I could not download the .torrent extension file from a torrent site. Instead, I had to disconnect from the VPN server and retry.
This is an inconvenient way to download torrent files without VPN connections, however, SurfShark fails to allow downloading of the required .torrent extension from time to time.
Other than that, there were not any issues and Vuze started to connect peers and download the torrent file.
After several connectivity issues with the German and the Netherlands server, Luxembourg seemed to work. Still, the beginning of the downloading was poor, and only through the end of the process, the download speed peaked up to 6.8 Mb/Sec.
Normally, downloading a 270 Mb file should not have taken more than a minute, however, SurfShark’s unstable performance made me wait around 4 minutes.
In short, if you are up to downloading huge torrent files, SurfShark is not a good option for you!
Dedicated servers and streaming
Streaming plays a huge role in the VPN market. There are millions of people moving around the world and trying to access the online content of their homeland or another country. At this exact point, a quality VPN comes in handy to change our IP address and access geo-restricted content.
As you may already know, Netflix and BBC iPlayer are one of the most favorite streaming services in the world. Furthermore, as of the strict “VPN Ban” policy, it is quite hard to access a specific version of Netflix or watch BBC iPlayer outside the UK.
SurfShark Netflix the USA library ✔
SurfShark is one of the rarest VPN providers with a huge Netflix library.
Thanks to its Netflix optimized servers, you can easily watch Netflix US outside the USA. The quality is quite impressive and regardless of your location, you can get the best out of Netflix restricted libraries.
Furthermore, SurfShark can also unblock the following libraries abroad:
- The United States, United Kingdom, India, Italy, Norway, Germany, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Poland, France, Canada, Turkey, Sweden, Singapore, and the Netherlands.
SurfShark BBC iPlayer ✔
One another VPN blocking service is BBC iPlayer. The company is so strict with its VPN ban policy that, hardly any VPN can bypass BBC iPlayer.
However, SurfShark’s obfuscated servers make your connection looks neutral and the services cannot recognize whether you are using a VPN or not.
With that said, SurfShark can bypass the BBC iPlayer embargo as well.
Any UK server you connect will help you stream BBC iPlayer with the best quality possible. However, make sure to disable the “CleanWeb” feature to prevent conflict with the iPlayer. Blocking any ads or trackers will make the BBC website malfunction.
Gamers! I did not forget about you. As a hardcore Dota 2, and Mobile Legends player, I know the challenges you face every day.
Account security, throttle connections, low ping rates, and dorm restricted games require a decent VPN provider with a huge amount of server locations.
According to my latest test with Dota 2, you can see my experience below.
Server values without a VPN connection:
Ping values after SurfShark VPN connection:
As seen above, the ping increase is slightly higher than your plain connection.
Furthermore, you can also make use of a variety of worldwide servers. That way you can change your location to another country to bypass game censorship or match with local players.
Lastly, SurfShark’s stable servers will help you have a lag-spikes-free online gaming experience.
Say goodbye to high pings MS and disconnection issues.
Contrary to previous successful content unblocking, SurfShark fails to bypass HBO restriction. I wanted to bring this to the customer support to find a solution and simply asked:
- Is there a way to bypass hbogo.hu restriction?
Connecting to the representative took around 10 seconds. The live chat went so smoothly that I was quite impressed as the replies were instant. Dylan led me through several solutions to grant access to the hbogo.hu, however, we could not fix the problem.
Besides live chat, SurfShark also has a dedicated page for proving written support related to applications, FAQ, restricted countries, routers, smart DNS, billing, etc. Either you can search for a specific topic or submit a ticket. If you still need further assistance, simply connect to the live chat get human support.
There are a few topics I got to depict before summing up the SurfShark review.
- SurfShark is a relatively new player in the market. In order to have an assertive claim about this service, we do need more time and a real case.
- SurfShark does not have a clear activity log policy. Some words are on the air: The guarantee of being unable to match the activity log to a certain account is not properly evaluated.
- “Unlimited simultaneous connection” is a promotional method. If you abuse bandwidth and share your account with someone else, SurfShark has the right to terminate your account.
Summing up SurfShark review
British Virgin Island-based provider, SurfShark is one of the cheapest VPN services in the market. Starting only from 2.49$/month, you can make use of the service in your PC, Smart Phones, Browsers, routers, and more.
In terms of privacy, SurfShark got your back. Offshore legislation with no data retention laws, minimum user, and no activity log policy, RAM disk only server infrastructure are some of the few core features to enhance your online anonymity.
Moreover, contrary to being a new company, SurfShark offers 1700+ servers in more than 60 countries. What is more interesting is that it is the fastest VPN provider in the market with an average of 70+ Mbps download speed.
You can make use of such an amazing server performance to stream 16 different Netflix libraries, watch BBC iPlayer outside the UK, and have a smooth online gaming experience. However, SurfShark fails to deliver satisfactory results while torrenting.
Last but not least, you might have a problem with the service. In that case, either you can connect to customer support (unbelievably fast) for further assistance or ask for a refund under a 30-days moneyback guarantee.
Reliable VPN service based on British Virgin Island. No log policy or what-so-ever. Top notch download/upload speed. Surfshark is the best price/performance VPN provider in the market. Give it a try. If not satisfied, you can ask for a refund within 30 days.
- Amazing price/performance ratio
- Minimal logs for users and no-log policy for activities
- Fastest VPN provider in the market
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Dedicated servers for streaming services
- Free tracker and ads blocker
- Slower P2P speed
- Unnecessarily big VPN apps
- Unplanned maintenance on servers