Surfshark Review: The Best ‘Bang for Your Buck’ VPN in 2021

by
Frederik Lipfert
Dr. Frederik Lipfert Founder, vpncheck
Updated on 28 Oct 2021
Frederik is a serial entrepreneur that jumped into entrepreneurship after earning his doctorate in physics. Founding and running an analytics company got him into the online privacy and security space he's now contributing to with vpncheck. Read full bio

Expert Contributions

Raeesa Essop
Raeesa Essop Network Engineer
Cassandra Mackin UI / UX Designer
Cassandra Mackin User Interface Designer
Jaosn Alexander
Jason Alexander Cybersecurity Researcher
Monika Lewko
Monika Lewko Privacy & Data Protection Lawyer
Alla Robert Aristakesyan
Alla Robert Aristakesyan Business Consultant
Tamara Milacic
Tamara Milacic Pricing Expert
This review is based on the exclusive research, analyses, and tests our experts have conducted of Surfshark.

Surfshark, the new kid on the block of VPNs, impressively retains its place in 2021 as an affordable VPN platform that’s fast enough for Netflix streaming & torrenting, secure enough your ISP won’t know the sites you visit, broad enough you could use it in China and Russia, and generous enough there’s no limit to the number of devices you could connect at once!

But, is this seemingly too-good-to-be-true VPN as marvelous as they say? Or is Surfshark a wolf in sheep’s clothing? To get our answers, we thought of taking a deep dive into Surfshark’s capabilities: its performance, design, security, reliability, and pricing. And, as a step further, we got in touch with industry experts for each of these categories and acquired their professional takes on how well—or how horrible—Surfshark performed.

Summary

  • Impressive speeds–As long as you connect to VPN locations physically close to you, you’d obtain streaming-worthy bandwidth.
  • Broad coverage–3200+ server locations even including strict-censorship areas, and a wide range of platform, device, and browser support.
  • User-friendly apps–Easy-to-use collection of client apps and browser extensions that keep a uniform stylistic flat design.
  • Commendable security & privacy–Its no-logs policy, RAM-only servers, AES-256-GCM encryption, MultiHop among loads of other security features make Surfshark a relatively secure VPN.
  • Excellent value–Nothing special if you’re a monthly subscriber. But, if you like annual payments, this is the jackpot!

Surfshark Performance: Top-tier Speeds (for Less!)

Is Surfshark VPN fast? We found the answer would lie somewhere between a certain yes and a no. According to our tests, the VPN showed varying speeds depending on the VPN location and the VPN protocol that was used. Don’t just take our word for it! Let’s ask a real-world Network Performance Expert about their thoughts on this matter:

Our Expert Review and Rating of Surfshark’s Network Performance

Raeesa Essop
Raeesa Essop
Network Engineer

SurfShark has a lot of features that enhance the browsing experience. The split tunnelling feature is extremely convenient for users that don’t want applications to go through the VPN and did prove to actually go through the ISP  when ‘whitelisted’. The Cleanweb feature was also great for browsing without adverts and it didn’t trigger any websites to ask for the adblocker to be disabled. 

The VPN proved very secure with no DNS interception, no DNS leaks whatsoever and no disclosure that a VPN was being used. There is also the option of multi-hop servers for an extra layer of encryption. This does come at the expense of performance. 

However with regard to their virtual servers, there is no full disclosure on their exact location which might be of concern to some users. SurfShark has alluded to these servers’ location if any users desire to use them and expose themselves to the consequences of using a VPN in those countries. The ping latency on these servers was much higher and their performance was not great. 

Having said that, these aren’t the most popular locations and might not affect the general user base as much. The majority of the servers were physical servers. They are also hosted by a variety of ISPs and located in many countries.

Regarding speed, the average drop was less than 40% for download rates. The largest drop being 89% (Mumbai,India) and the smallest drop being 17% (Helsinki,Finland). Regarding Upload rates, the average drop was between 20-50%. The largest drop being 93% (Mumbai,India) and the smallest drop being 8% (Riga,Latvia). The local server (Pretoria,South Africa) had a dismal performance with download and upload speeds of 6.7 and 25.93 respectively. The latency for the local server was also 376ms. This is extraordinarily high. However Surfshark claims to use physical servers in South Africa, but it does not look like this is the case.

The double hop servers showed a variety of results. Although they offer that extra layer of security and encryption, they didn’t unanimously lessen the performance. Some of the double hop servers reduced the latency by over 50%, while others remained the same as the second country in the double hop configuration. Some of the servers also maintained download speed but dramatically lessened upload speeds by up to 90%.

Several of the VPN protocols provided a similar speed when compared against one another, with wireguard consistently giving the best performance overall. The servers performed better on some of the local and long-distance checks. Depending on the location, some users may experience decent or even impressive rates. 

Surfshark fared well when unblocking several geo-restricted streaming platforms. The streaming quality experienced no buffering for any quality chosen. The experience is the same when using YouTube. The entire network is P2P friendly and there are servers in locations like Russia,Vietnam and Turkey. With the 3 countries listed experiencing good enough speeds for downloading/streaming. The ping latencies observed might make gaming less feasible for users.

If used for personal tasks, SurfShark has an impressive performance. Commercial/business use may find the VPN lacking. If a user has a set of favorite servers they prefer, some speed can be gained from finding the right DNS servers to use through various tests.

Based on my opinion as an Electronic and Automation Engineer, I rate Surfshark VPN

    9
    9

    Yes, our expert actually tested all of the above. And, in case you’d like to find out how our expert came to their conclusions, check out their research at the bottom of our review.

    Can Surfshark Handle Streaming?

    The million-dollar question. Thankfully, Surfshark hosts over 3200 streaming-optimized servers around the globe in 65+ countries.

    Netflix: Unblocked

    With Netflix and its location-based content catalogs, only a VPN would be able to unlock all its content to a single user. And, Surfshark doesn’t disappoint in this scenario providing official support for 15 Netflix libraries including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and South Korea, along with step-by-step guides on how to set up Netflix with Surfshark.

    We connected to several Surfshark VPN locations and explored Surfshark’s Netflix streaming capabilities on each of them. And, let’s just say, it wasn’t the smoothest ride. We faced a few login errors where either Netflix was unable to log us in, or Netflix figured out we were accessing them through a VPN! These kinds of Netflix errors must be quite common when using Surfshark since their official Help Center and Blog already had a few pages dedicated to directing the user through those errors:

    https://support.surfshark.com/hc/en-us/articles/360011843860-How-to-fix-Netflix-streaming-issues-

    How to Fix Netflix Error Code m7111-1331-5059

    Looking past these hiccups, we were able to stream Netflix at acceptable speeds on a 20 Mbps 4G WiFi connection. But, the further away the VPN was to our physical location, the connection got generally slower maintaining barely enough speed for Netflix streaming in HD:vpncheck-torrents

    vpncheck-surfshark-review-fast-internet-speed-test-result

    Hulu: Unblocked*

    Although it’s a streaming platform meant only for US residents, we were able to log in to Hulu by connecting to some US VPN servers available through Surfshark.

    Yes, only a few Surfshark US VPN servers were able to let us through Hulu’s login. The rest would either give an “unknown domain” error or downright indicate our IP address is blocked by Hulu:vpncheck-hulu-unknown-domain-error

    In the pool of Surfshark US VPN servers we tested, the servers in New York, Latham, and Bend let us log in to Hulu while those in Detroit, Seattle, Buffalo, and Denver did not.

    Amazon Prime Video: Unblocked

    Starting as a US-based service in 2006, Prime Video has thankfully launched worldwide from a decade afterward in 2016. But, much in the same way as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video doesn’t shy away from geo-blocking its content.

    And to our relief, Surfshark seemed to have no issues when it comes to unblocking Prime Video to us in any of the countries!

    vpncheck-surfshark-review-amazon-prime-working

    As you can see, using Surfshark we were able to stream Prime Video content in their highest quality without issues.

    BBC iPlayer: Unblocked

    Quite like Hulu, BBC iPlayer constraints its content to UK residents. But, given the large collection of premium British content broadcasted through hundreds of TV programs on dozens of TV channels, it’s a bit hard to ignore, don’t you think? 

    So, unless you’re so determined you’d immigrate to the United Kingdom, buy a TV license there, just to watch BBC iPlayer, you’re probably better off leaving it to a VPN.

    Hence, connecting to any of the three Surfshark VPNs in the UK allowed us to effortlessly watch the Olympics live on BBC One!

    vpncheck-surfshark-review-bbc-iplayer-

    Disney+: Unblocked

    As a streaming service that launched even after our Surfshark started up, Disney Plus gained quite traction among kids as well as adults. 

    Disney’s slowly rolling out its coverage around the globe, but, why wait when you can use a VPN to virtually teleport yourself to a Disney+ supported country?

    And not to mention, Disney+ quite generously mentioned we’d be facing geo-blocking once we switched between countries:

    vpncheck-surfshark-review-disney-location-message

    Glad to say, we were easily able to log in to and stream Disney+ once we connected to a Surfshark VPN server in a country where Disney+ is available.

    DAZN: Unblocked

    If you’re a sports fan—especially a boxing/MMA fan—surely you must have heard of DAZN. Even though the DAZN service has already expanded worldwide instead of a few countries, geo-blocking is carried out much the same way.

    Checking the schedule on the DAZN website from two different countries is enough to see the drastic difference, or in other words, see what each country is missing:

    Dazn Main Page showing match schedule in Canada

    DAZN Schedule for Canada (29/07/2021)

    Ergo, the need for a VPN to help us see all the matches we might miss just because we live in a different country. And, Surfshark successfully helps us stream all the live and on-demand DAZN content we’d love to watch!

    It is to be noted that multiple Reddit users had complained about errors connecting to the Canadian DAZN server through Surfshark (latest issue reported in 2021 Feb). But, we can confirm that in our test rounds we could effectively log in to DAZN through all three Surfshark VPN locations in Canada.

    In addition to these, Surfshark officially provides access to a plethora of other streaming services.

    Torrenting and Surfshark

    We bet you’d measure two things on opposite sides of a scale if you ponder on whether to use a VPN or not for your torrenting. On one side, P2P connection speed–or the lack of it thereof, and on the other side, what sort of gain you’d attain security-wise.

    Starting with their no-logs policy, Surfshark holds an array of security features like encryption, a Kill Switch, split-tunneling support, easily making one side of the scale quite heavy. And, while their torrenting speeds won’t be something to write home about, Surfshark balances out the scale with fast enough speeds. And, for the same torrent with an equal number of seeders, we noticed faster speeds the closer the VPN location was to our physical location.

    Surfshark also provides multiple materials to help us on our torrenting ventures–like an introduction to P2P VPN.

    All-Encompassing Compatibility

    When it comes to Surfshark’s compatibility, the question would be, “What more can we ask for?” Since this VPN supports an impressive collection of devices:

    • Desktop platforms:
      • Windows–7 and later.
      • macOS–10.12 and later.
      • Linux–Debian 8.04, Ubuntu 16.04, Fedora 12.7.
    • Mobile platforms:
      • Android–5.0 and later.
      • iOS–10.3.3 and later.
    • Browser add-ons:
      • Chrome–80 and later.
      • Firefox–68 and later.
      • Microsoft Edge–79 and later.
    • Routers:
      • Officially supported
        • Asus, DD-WRT, Tomato.
      • Surfshark bonus recommendations
        • NetDuma R1.
        • Asus: RT-N56U, RT-AC86U, DSL-AC51, RT-AC3200, AC68U, RT-N66U, AC66U, AC52U, RT-AC51U, AX88U, Rapture GT-AC2900.
    • Others:

    Moreover, they provide detailed how-to guides for setting up Surfshark on these devices.

    Server Locations

    Surfshark currently hosts a collection of over 3200 VPNs servers placed over the globe in 65 countries. And somewhat surprisingly and quite commendably, the list includes both Russia and China (through Hong Kong)–two countries with arguably the most strict censorships.

    Design: One Word, Persistent

    As much as a VPN’s speed, it’s also important to consider how the VPN presents itself to the user; how easy and manageable it is to configure and use. Because, what’s the point if you find a VPN that’s blazingly fast and secure, but its client apps have the most confusing & bewildering interfaces you’ve got no idea where to click?

    Well, the good news is, that’s not the case when it comes to Surfshark. Thanks to its stylish flat design pleasingly offering the VPN features in an easy-to-grasp manner, and this particular theme staying consistent across all platforms, it wouldn’t take that long to get used to Surfshark VPN’s interfaces. But, these are just our thoughts as 3rd party users. Why not ask a UI/UX expert what they think of Surfshark VPN’s design? Well, we did it for you!

    Our Expert Review and Rating of Surfshark VPN’s UI/UX Design

    Cassandra Mackin UI / UX Designer
    Cassandra Mackin
    User Interface Designer

    SurfShark definitely has a lot of going for it on the design side. 

    Their visuals are clean and playful, yet instill a strong sense of trust. Their animations and illustrations are both imaginative and on-brand, and they use the ocean and sea life (including sharks, obviously) in many of their images. In fact, their animations were so delightful that I now have a firm memory of SurfShark in my brain; this is branding at its finest.

    In terms of usability, they barely use jargon and make things incredibly simple for anyone to just jump in and use, with or without VPN or security knowledge. They have servers labelled ‘fastest’ and ‘nearest’ so you can easily sign onto whatever you need. You can save servers in your Favorites tab and easily access them on any device.

    One major error I experienced was in the iOS app on my iPad. If you click Create an account the first time you open the app instead of logging in immediately, it takes you to a screen that says ‘Subscribe’. There is no back button, and swiping away doesn’t go back to the previous screen. There is no login option or Cancel. This is a huge oversight. In order to exit the screen, I had to manually close the app all the way down and reopen it. This error doesn’t occur when you open the app any subsequent times; there is always a bottom menu to navigate back.

     

    Even with this error, the UI was ultimately so easy to use and so well-crafted that I honestly can barely ding them at all.

     

    My only markdowns for SurfShark are

    1. No automatic gaming and p2p servers, and
    2. The aforementioned bug on iOS.

     

    I was ultimately impressed with their design, usability, verbiage, and information architecture.

    Based on my opinion as a UX & UI Designer I rate Surfshark VPN’s user interference and user experience 9 / 10.

      9
      9

      Take a look at the tests our expert conducted by navigating to her research on Surfshark’s design at the end of this review.

      Devices: Are Some Platforms Left Behind?

      As we mentioned earlier, Surfshark is a beast when it comes to supporting a large array of devices. But, when it comes to the VPN’s features, some platforms seem either overlooked or a bit lagging behind.

      Windows

      Surfshark officially supports the Windows platform starting from version 10, all the way back to Windows 8 and 7. Although, that’s not to say your grandma using her rusty-old Windows XP desktop PC is left out. Using OpenVPN would grant both Windows XP and Vista machines access to the internet through a Surfshark VPN, so next time your grandma can add her credit card details to her computer’s browser in peace!

      All features Surfshark has to offer including Kill switch, Whitelister (Split tunneling), Multi-Hop VPN, Quick Connect (Smart location), and even Dark mode are supported through the Surfshark Windows client app.

      Mac

      Although there’s no mention of previous versions, Surfshark supports macOS 10.12 and newer. 

      All the main Surfshark VPN features are available for mac users as well–but unfortunately, some features are missing compared to the Windows platform. Kill Switch, Multi-Hop, Quick Connect features are ready and present; but, at the time of writing, there seems to be no Whitelister support or a Dark mode option.

      Linux

      Open source OS nomads aren’t ignored by Surfshark! Not only does Surfshark provide a fully command-based CLI VPN client app, but they also provide official support for Debian 8.04, Ubuntu 16.04, and Fedora 12.7 distributions.

      But, Surfshark seems to fall flat to an even worse level compared to Mac when it comes to feature support. Because this time around, in addition to Whitelister even the Kill switch hasn’t made the cut leaving Linux users only with Multi-Hop and Quick Connect features.

      Android

      Surfshark supports all Android versions starting from Lollipop (5.0).

      Finally, with regard to VPN features, this time it’s a jackpot! Similar to Windows, Surfshark supports all features–namely, the Kill switch, Whitelister, Multi-Hop VPN, Quick Connect, and Dark mode for the Android platform.

      iOS

      iOS 10.3.3 and later versions are officially supported by the Surfshark VPN. 

      Just like the VPN features of the non-Apple mobile platform Android were similar to those of the non-Apple platform Windows, Surfshark provides the same set of features it provided for the macOS platform over to iOS as well. So, iOS is met with the Kill Switch, Multi-Hop, Quick Connect features excluding the Whitelister and a choice of Dark mode.

      Apps and Extensions

      Along with the broad array of devices Surfshark VPN supports, they also supply a set of well-built client apps and mobile extensions for the user to manage his/her Surfshark VPN connection.

      Windows Client App

      Surfshark provides a quite handy VPN client app with loads of options nicely arranged in its flat UI dashboard:

      vpncheck-surfshark-review-login-panel

      VPN Locations list, Static IP selection, and MultiHop options are displayed from the app’s main interface in a tab structure:

      vpncheck-surfshark-review-login-panel

      And, a simple click on the CONNECTED label brings out quick access to turn on the Kill Switch alongside some useful details regarding the connection:

      vpncheck-surfshark-review-login-panel

      A trip to the Features section on the left-sidebar brings the Whitelister facility and a CleanWeb option to block ads, trackers, malware:A trip to the Features section on the left-sidebar brings the Whitelister facility and a CleanWeb option to block ads, trackers, malware

      In addition, you must have noticed the greyed out bottom-half which simply displays some advertisements linking to other security-related services by Surfshark.

      Furthermore, Surfshark presents a video guide and an efficiently detailed step-by-step written guide on how to set up Surfshark VPN on Windows.

      macOS Client App

      Following a similar design theme, Surfshark VPN offers a macOS client app for Mac users:

      As for the Windows client app, Surfshark VPN provides video and written format guides to help set up the macOS client app, too.

      Android Client App

      Surfshark VPN brings its uniform theme to the mobile world as well:

      As usual, Surfshark VPN hands out its Android client app guides on video and text formats.

      iOS Client App

      Once again, Surfshark VPN’s iOS client app makes you feel right at home with its convenient and user-friendly user interface:

      Linux Client App

      Perhaps because flashy UIs usually aren’t in the vocabulary of Linux users, Surfshark VPN hasn’t produced a GUI client app for Linux distros. Instead, Surfshark has opted for a functional terminal-based client app to provide its VPN services to its Linux users.

      Browser Extensions for Surfshark VPN

      Keeping up with its quite unmatched compatibility, Surfshark VPN brings self-functional client apps to all major browsers through extensions: namely, Firefox, Chrome, and Microsoft Edge. Hence, you can virtually be in New York using Chrome and in London through Firefox, at the same time!

      vpncheck-surfshark-review-check-ip-address

       

      Let’s Make the Surfshark Surf

      We discussed the quite catchy line of client apps Surfshark had provided its users. Now, let us teach you how to set up a Surfshark VPN connection faster than you can repeat this section’s title 20 times!

      Firstly, navigate to the sign-up page on Surfshark and choose your preferences:

      vpncheck-surfshark-review-pricing-discount

      But, do note that the 2nd step is simply an in-your-face advertisement for a Surfshark product, which you can skip if you please. 

      Secondly, download the Surfshark client app for the platform you prefer and install it. 

      Note: If you’re installing on the Windows platform, it’s probably best to open the setup file with Administer privileges:

      Thirdly, installed opening the installed client app would bring you a sign-in window:

      Fill up the details you provided when registering for an account on the first step, and press Log in

      Alternatively, if you’re a power user and a simple log in’s too mainstream for you, you can press Connect manually at the bottom:

      vpncheck-surfshark-review-manual-connection-settings

      • This will bring take you to a new Manual connection window where you can manually input your 
        • Surfshark credentials
        • hostname/IP of the specific Surfshark VPN location you plan to connect with
        • VPN protocol you’d prefer to use for the VPN connection

        All these details are available on the manual setup page which you’ll be taken to once you click Get credentials.

        Fourthly and finally, you’re ready to connect to a Surfshark VPN!

      vpncheck-surfshark-review-location-options

      By default, clicking Connect would connect you to the fastest VPN server location available for you at the time. 

      Or as an alternative, click the Locations tab to choose between

      • the fastest VPN server.
      • VPN in the nearest country to your physical location.
      • manual selection from Surfshark’s VPN catalog.

      Security: Quite the Rival Among Seasoned VPNs

      Internet users settle on VPNs to preserve their online privacy and maintain anonymity. Hence, it comes as no surprise that a VPN’s security is a dominant priority when they choose their VPN to go. Let’s ask a Security Expert’s thoughts on how this budget-friendly VPN Surfshark delivers its security features:

      Our Expert Review and Rating of Surfshark VPN’s Security

      On first inspection, from a security perspective SurfShark appear to be a dream come true. They provide an extensive and well-considered set of technologies including:

      • 3rd-party audited service (not including auditing of logging)
      • RAM only server storage
      • Solid VPN protocols and encryption
        • including a privacy-preserving implementation of WireGuard
      • Multi-Hop capabilities (and TOR)
      • Camouflage and ‘No Borders’ mode (Great for avoiding censorship)
      • ‘Invisible to devices’ (Locks out LAN communication excepting the required Gateway)
      •  Whitelisting (Split Tunnel traffic routing so you can easily direct traffic via the VPN OR direct)
      • An option for static servers (you can use a static IP address in another country)
      • Kill-Switch (Android, Windows, Mac and IOS)
      • GPS Spoofing for Android
      • Operated in the British Virgin Isles
      Jaosn Alexander
      Jason Alexander
      Cybersecurity Researcher

      Surfshark are a newer provider (2018) with no history of vulnerabilities (this doesn’t mean there aren’t any, just none published). Basic inspection has revealed no flaws in technical tests (I did not test browser plugins) and no unfavorable traffic. Their inclusive of LAN based isolation via the ‘Invisible to devices’ option appears to work well and is an intelligent inclusion in my opinion. 

      Surfshark have made significant effort to show their commitment to security and the overall quality of their product – they started with an audit of browser plugins. They have a more recent audit on their security, though strangely this does not seem to have included auditing their logging policy or effective privacy. 

      Overall Surfshark are an impressive provider that I have not been able to fault from a security perspective thus far. I rate SurfSharks’ technical security at  8.5 / 10. This could be improved by a full code audit of their VPN apps (though you can use inbuilt or Open Source software) and a more thorough and transparent infrastructure and processes audit that covers l.

      For those requiring anonymity and privacy I rate Surfsharks effective privacy at 8 / 10. Their thoughtfulness and thoroughness in their effective privacy implementation is commendable.

       

      However there is room for improvement – specifically 

      1. the recent audit report and scope are skimpy (even compared to other Cure 53 reports) and so far as I can tell, nothing specifically relates to VPN logging or privacy; and
      2. The British Virgin Isles is theoretically outside the usual collaborative surveillance, however they are theoretically subject to the UKs’ Regulation of Investigatory Powers of Act (RIPA). RIPA has had some real world testing; but remains a wild card regarding VPNs – Still I’d prefer to be under this jurisdiction than directly under the UK.

        8
        8

        Wonder how our security expert secured—no pun intended—their judgment on Surfshark’s security? Read more about Jason’s tests and inspections at the end of this review!

        Range of Protocols

        Surfshark provides its users with a list of options when it comes to VPN Protocols:

        • IKEv2
        • OpenVPN (UDP)
        • OpenVPN (TCP)
        • Shadowsocks
        • WireGuard

        As you can also see on their official page on protocols, each of these is recommended by Surfshark themselves for specific scenarios. And, the highlight is Surfshark VPN automatically chooses the best protocol based on the user’s location, device, and network settings:

        vpncheck-surfshark-review-different-network-protocols

        Security Features of Surfshark VPN

        No-Logs Policy

        Surfshark doesn’t retain its users’ IP addresses, browsing-related data (visited sites, HTTP session data, bandwidth usage), etc. But, keep in mind that you won’t be 100% anonymous to the world since Surfshark would still keep your email address and any payment-related details for their billing purposes!

        RAM-Only Servers

        Since July 2020, all 3200+ Surfshark VPN servers around the world perform only on RAM storage. Hence thanks to the power of volatile storage, any data stored in Surfshark VPNs about your secretive/embarrassing web surfing would only live till the server’s plug is pulled.

        Onion (Tor) Over VPN

        Is your connection’s privacy extremely crucial to you? To the point you’d trade in whatever speed that’s left in your connection after it reaches you through a VPN? In that case, you can add another layer of security through an Onion Over VPN setup. And, the good news is, not only does Surfshark support Tor Over VPN, they even provide you with a guide to do so.

        Kill Switch

        As the name suggests, Kill Switch is simply about disconnecting your network the moment your VPN connection involuntarily drops. This comes in handy when you don’t want your ISP, government, and who knows who else to see your browsing data the moment your VPN connection is interrupted. While not all the platforms are supported at the time of writing, Surfshark currently provides the Kill Switch feature on its Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS client apps.

        Obfuscation

        Or in Surfshark VPN’s words, the Camouflage mode is automatically enabled once you connect to a Surfshark VPN server through an OpenVPN (UCP/TCP) protocol.

        Dedicated IP

        While Surfshark is planning to bring this feature to light in the future, they currently provide an alternative to that, which is Static IPs. A static IP is when the same IP address is provided each time the user connects to a particular server. But, unlike with dedicated IPs, here the IP address would be shared among the rest of the users; hence, in one word, they won’t be private.

        MultiHop

        If hopping through a single VPN connection doesn’t feel adequate, you can ask Surfshark to hop your traffic through 2 servers (one after the other) before it reaches you. Surfshark inherently provides this MultiHop feature in almost all of its client apps (except in Firefox add-on).

        Reliability: Are You in Safe Hands?

        If your Surfshark VPN misbehaves, would you get help, or are you on your own? And, just as important, does the VPN constantly stay true to its word? For instance, Surfshark might inform and reaffirm on their official pages that they allow an unlimited number of devices to connect to your VPN. But Surfshark mentions in its Terms of Service that if a member is found to exploit it, under the Fair Usage Policy they reserve the right to limit the number of simultaneously connected devices to guarantee the services are fairly used by everyone.

        Sounds a bit contradictory? Instead of surfing to conclusions, let’s ask a real-life Legal expert what their thoughts are on this matter:

        Our Expert Review and Rating of Surfshark VPN’s Reliability

        Monika Lewko
        Monika Lewko
        Privacy & Data Protection Lawyer

        Surfshark VPN is registered as Surfshark Ltd. located in Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI) – popular offshore jurisdiction. Despite being a British Offshore Territory, this privacy-friendly country is self-governed in the terms of legislation and law enforcement. BVI is not a member of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or Fourteen Eyes alliances. The state is based on a common law system with a combination of statute implementation. As a leading offshore financial center, the British Virgin Islands’ legal system is not overly bureaucratized. 

         

        BVI courts recognize the common law duties of privacy and confidentiality: entities must maintain confidentiality in personal details, unless an appropriate exception applies, usually in the form of court authorization. The common law duty of privacy and confidentiality is limited by specific exceptions under applicable anti-money laundering legislation, predominantly under the BVI Proceeds of Criminal Conduct Act, 1997, and the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations, 2008.

         

        Surfshark claims to have a strict No Logs policy. The Privacy Policy includes the list of data collected and explicitly states that the company does not collect IP addresses with the exception of the Surfshark website, when the IP is retained to diagnose problems with a server, to administer the website, or to display the content according to the user’s preferences. Surfshark also doesn’t collect user’s browsing history, session information, used bandwidth, connection time stamps, network traffic, and other similar data.

         

        In the legal information as presented in Privacy Policy and Terms of Use, Surfshark is using simple language, which appears reader-friendly, but may create confusion due to its lower precision ratio. The company offers a general e-mail for dispelling users’ doubts. Unfortunately, no data protection officer is assigned as a separate privacy authority. The company is only partially compliant with GDPR and CCPA data protection regulations. It should be appreciated that Surfshark accepts cryptocurrency payments, which adds positively to the privacy aspect.

        Based on my opinion as an international business & privacy lawyer I rate Surfshark VPN’s privacy 6,5 / 10. 

          6.5
          6.5

          Curious about how our lawyer came to their conclusions? Refer to the end of this article for a dive into their research!

          Any Lifeguards on Surfshark?

          Surfshark Help center assists you with VPN setup guides, troubleshooting, and payment-related concerns.

          Expansive Collection of Tutorials

          No matter what device, platform, or browser you need to set up your Surfshark VPN connection on, if Surfshark supports it, chances are the Tutorial section in their Help center provides a detailed tutorial on it as well.

          Support Email

          If Surfshark’s vast troubleshooting catalog doesn’t hold the solution to your VPN issue, you may send a private mail to Surfshark’s support email address on:

          support@surfshark.com

          Live Chat

          If your VPN issue’s urgent enough you can’t waste your time on all the email formalities, you can go ahead and say hi to a live assistant on the Surfshark chat. Look for a “Support” option on the bottom right corner of Surfshark’s official website or a “Chat with us” button on their Help center. And speaking of which—this might be an isolated incident, but—the chat support we received wasn’t the fastest of the bunch. So, just to be on the safe side, be ready to hold your breath because the Surfshark lifeguard might take their own time to reach you.

          Story of Surfshark

          Surfshark is a VPN service that was started up in 2018 by Surfshark Ltd. in BVI (British Virgin Islands), a territory notorious for its relaxed privacy.

          The service was initially offered to iOS users; but, before long Surfshark invaded all the major OS platforms sans Linux in its first year itself, and presented browser extensions & client apps for Smart TVs to go with it. 

          After a set of VPN features and a successful independent audit, Surfshark moved on to the next year introducing two products to their portfolio along with Linux support:

          • Alert–data leak detection app.
          • Search–anonymous internet search interface powered by the Bing API.

          The platform gained a Seal of Approval from AV-Test in the same year, and a year past that, CNN crowned Surfshark the best VPN of 2020. Moreover, from 2020 onwards Surfshark transformed to a 100% RAM-only VPN server network.

          Surfshark’s Business Structure

          So, we gained an idea of the milestones reached by Surfshark to bring us an established VPN service equipped with adequate support for the end-user. But, who’s behind this newbie-but-already-impressive platform? What sort of business structure let Surfshark achieve this popularity in record time? This is what Alla Aristakesyan, our Business Consultant, had to say about Surfshark’s structure, ownership, and transparency:

          Our Expert Review and Rating of Surfshark VPN’s Business Structure and Overall Reliability

          Alla Robert Aristakesyan
          Alla Robert Aristakesyan
          Business Consultant

          Based on the research, it can be stated that there is no sufficient information regarding Surfshark to evaluate its business performance. No public information is available regarding its financial data that is published by the company itself or in financial databases, nor any press release is found with such information. Some revenue figures are found in different articles and company reviews, the sources of which are unknown, thus not trustworthy. Moreover, the company was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which is known as ‘privacy heaven’ and thus no requirements are set for data disclosure. However, it is highlighted in several sources that Surfshark publishes the number of government agency requests it receives on its warrant canary page. As of July 2021, it shows that it has received zero requests for information. 

          The secretive approach towards the management and structure of the company, is another bottleneck for assessment. The only information that can be found regarding the company structure are the 144 employees that are registered on LinkedIn as current Surfshark employees. 133 of the company’s employees are based in Lithuania, 5 in the UK, 2 in British Virgin Islands as per LinkedIn statistics. In terms of the occupations of the company’s employees, the majority are specialized in IT (35), Engineering (27), Marketing (22), Media and Communications (20), and Arts and Design (15).  Along with this, there is no information regarding the background of the founder, but a short and general description of achievements that are written by Vytautas Kaziukonis (Par Kaz) himself on his LinkedIn page. No specific companies are mentioned where he has worked or founded, while he claims to be a founder of various small scale startups and a co-founder of an advertising company in the UK that is no longer operating. 

          Based on my opinion as a business consultant, I rate Surfshark VPN business 5 / 10.

            5
            5

            Refer to the end of the article to read about the research our expert conducted to reach the conclusion above.

            Pricing: Double-Edged Sword

            We’ve all been there. We’d google “best vpn 2021”, find one that meets all our needs, but the moment we see its price tag we’d tell ourselves we were just “window shopping” VPNs. But, in the context of its cost, this is where Surfshark shines–given that we’re in it for the long run. This is since its monthly cost is quite on par with the rest if not costlier, but if we’re willing to pay for 24 months upfront, we’ve got ourselves a quite unbeatable deal!

             

            Just for reassurance, we thought of asking a Pricing Expert what their thoughts are on Surfshark’s pricing:

            Our Expert Review and Rating of Surfshark VPN’s Pricing

            Tamara Milacic
            Tamara Milacic
            Pricing Expert

            When analyzing Surfshark’s pricing, they employ a three tier pricing structure that is familiar to customers in the VPN space. Their plans are differentiated by length of commitment, which is also standard. The 81% discount for customers to sign up for 24 months is offered up via an auto-apply coupon – suggesting that it’s a limited offer working to entice customers to convert. 

            In terms of pricing psychology, Surfshark lists the monthly (highest) charge first, thereby anchoring customer expectations that then make the rest of prices seem cheap by comparison. Additionally, they have the cheapest plan pre-selected with a featured border and make it stand out versus the other ones. They also call out the 81% discount in red which is associated with discounts and deals. Lastly, they use charm pricing where they end their pricing in 9 or 95. This is the third instance of pricing led messaging. 

            From a strategy standpoint they emphasize that they are the cheapest in the market and look to be employing a market leader strategy. They explicitly list a table with competitors, their features, and their pricing, and place themselves as the cheapest in the market by comparison. This sets them as differentiated from the rest of the market on the basis of price. They also have similar tables across their site listing the number of users allowed per account by competitors and then Surfshark listed as unlimited. This is a market focused strategy.

            Internationally, they offer currency conversion directly on their website that customers can toggle. This is not something that is offered as standard and there isn’t a strong reason why customers should be able to toggle their own pricing. All of this pricing is just a conversion via one currency rate. This means that they could be leaving money on the table because different countries have different willingness to pay and price levels that would be acceptable for VPN services. However, they do seem to cater geographically on iOS and Android, both in terms of localized pricing and type of plans.

            Based on my opinion as a pricing consultant I rate Surfshark VPN business 7 / 10.

              7
              7

              So, what sort of research did they go through to provide us with this rating of Surfshark’s pricing? Find out right here at the bottom of this review!

              What More Does Surfshark VPN Provide Us?

              When it comes to subsidiary bells & whistles, “extra” is probably the middle name of Surfshark VPN.

              Fastest Server & Nearest Country

              Surfshark provides a few handy options right next to the Connect button of their client apps. These let us select either the fastest server depending on our location or the nearest country to our physical location:

              vpncheck-surfshark-review-server-connected

              Whitelister

              Sounding like a name straight out of Game of Thrones, Whitelister is simply what Surfshark calls its split-tunneling feature, which lets us include or exclude apps that should go through our VPN connection. Currently, this feature is available both on Windows and Android platforms.

              CleanWeb

              This is a hybrid feature providing ad-blocking within your VPN connection along with keeping you safe from malicious links. And, the great news is CleanWeb is already bundled in both desktop (excluding Linux) and mobile platform Surfshark client apps for absolutely free.

              Override GPS Location

              At the end of the day, a VPN only changes your IP address. If an app has access to the GPS on your mobile—*cough*Facebook*cough*—they’d still know each and every place you visit. To get out of this obvious personal security breach, Surfshark VPN’s Android client app provides an Override GPS location function that sets not just your IP address location, but also your GPS location to the VPN location you choose.

              vpncheck-surfshark-review-changing-gps-location

              NoBorders

              This is a Surfshark feature aimed towards those living in strict-censorship areas like Russia and China. Once the VPN client app on Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS detects we’re in one of these restricted areas, it automatically activates NoBorders mode which lists our best shot servers that’d be the best to work under our network restrictions.

              Dark Mode

              What app would be complete without a nice Dark mode to ease our eyes in those sleepless nights? Surfshark provides a Dark mode option on its Windows, Android client apps, and additionally its Chrome and Microsoft Edge extensions.

              Pros and Cons of Surfshark VPN

              Pros Cons
              Streaming-capable, great VPN speeds. VPN feature support isn’t consistent throughout its supported platforms.
              An unlimited number of devices can connect to the VPN simultaneously. Unreliable split tunneling.*
              3200+ server locations including high-censorship areas. No dedicated IP or private DNS support.
              Great security and privacy measures.
              A large set of extra features is provided free of charge.
              Client apps keep a uniform theme making users’ migration between platforms convenient.

              *According to Whitelisting tests done on our Windows machine through the client app, Whitelisting caused ISP DNS leaks as reported by both ipleak.net and dnsleaktest.com.

              Here’s What the Experts Found

              Network Performance - Raeesa

              Test Suites

              We used Namebench to run benchmark tests on the available DNS servers. It showed that the ISP did not intercept or redirect DNS requests, suggesting safe use of the VPN.

              The same test also showed no reports of NXDOMAIN hijacking. We also went a step further to test if there were any falsified results or interception. We ran a dig test on an IP address where no DNS server was running, and there was no response.

              VPN – Server Chosen: United States – Los Angeles

              We also used Namebench to test the VPN-assigned DNS. This indicated that the server was not intercepting and redirecting outgoing DNS requests.

              The same dig command tests indicated that there was no intercepting or redirecting on the VPN server via the ISP or VPN.

              We also checked that the certificates presented on secure HTTPS queries were correct, both with ISP and VPN. The details of four popular sites were queried using the cURL command-line in Gitbash. All of the results checked out when we checked the certificates manually, and the certificate info matched.

              We used a similar test using cURL to check the HTTPS queries against a collection of five popular websites, to check if using different VPNs yielded different HTTP responses.

              Five exit nodes were used on five different popular websites, and we compared response headers and checked the results.

              Privacy policies showed up when using the VPN servers. These were the same whichever exit node was used. When using the ISP, no privacy policies were seen. This occurred for popular sites such as Paypal and Amazon.

              Some host servers use headers that altered based on location, and these changed accordingly based on which exit node was used. The language would change, and all set-cookie headers also reflected the country related to the exit node used.

              Google Public DNS-1 (8.8.8.8) was used when testing the ISP and VPN performance.

              For the ISP, the speed dropped somewhat. Namebench’s suggested configuration was to use Google Public DNS server 2 to enhance speed. 

              The VPN performance was largely unchanged. Namebench software suggested that we change the configuration back to the VPN assigned DNS server and that it would make it ‘98% faster’. 

              However, this didn’t work as claimed, and only marginal improvements were seen when changing the server to match the recommended configuration. Fortunately, DNS traffic was still secure and did not exhibit any intercepts.

              Infrastructure

              Surfshark’s impressive infrastructure boasts over 3200 servers spread across 65 countries. This includes:

              • 38 different countries in Europe
              • 10 different countries in North and South America
              • 4 different countries in The Middle East and Africa
              • 15 different countries in Asia

              Many countries also give you the choice of multiple servers in different cities:

              Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States.

              Surfshark has the advantage of offering servers in countries with repressive internet policies, including China, Russia, Turkey, and Vietnam.

              Server Types

              Surfshark uses only RAM-based servers and openly discloses that they make use of virtual server locations. Every virtual server location is indicated with a ‘V symbol in the user interface. It also claims that the server infrastructure underwent an independent audit to test the security, which may give you more peace of mind.

              Technology Stack

              The software itself is not open source or disclosed, so not all of the details are known. However, we do know that Surfshark makes use of the following VPN protocols:

              • IKEv2
              • OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
              • Shadowsocks
              • WireGuard

              Data Centers

              Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, and uses private DNS servers spread around the globe.

              They disclose their virtual server locations as Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, the Philippines, and South Korea. 

              A representative of the company also claims that these servers are physically located in Colombia, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands.

              If the rest are indeed physical and not using fake locations, they are spread over several cities in the countries that have several server locations. 

              For the North American servers, they used several different data centers and locations including cloud solutions and colocation. We checked these locations using a Whois lookup (https://whois.domaintools.com/).

               

              For the United States, providers include :

              • Performive LLC
              • Netriplex LLC
              • DataCamp Limited (operating globally but UK- Based) supplied several North American Servers
              • M247
              • Ace Host LLC

              For Australia, providers include:

              • Ransom IT Trust / Ransom IT Infrastructure
              • Host Universal Pty Ltd
              • Express Web Studio Limited

              This means users can enjoy a variety of providers across the countries that boast several server locations within Surfshark’s service. 

              Speed & Connectivity

              Base speed (ISP):

              Various protocols for the VPN were tested to choose the one that yielded the best results. The protocol that had the best speed for the chosen server was WireGuard.

               

              City Country Ping [ms] Download [Mbps] Upload [Mbps] Screenshot
              New York City USA 241 33.06 26.68
              Berlin Germany 263 39.91 40.96
              Tokyo Japan 410 37.24 43.02
              London UK 415 30.19 51.20
              Paris France 426 25.89 32.90
              Rio de Janeiro Brazil 675 18.05 37.11
              Toronto Canada 506 29.24 33.54
              Lisbon Portugal 432 28.20 11.72
              Rome Italy 419 42.91 34.40
              Seoul South Korea 310 37.75 36.18
              Madrid Spain 438 34.63 36.07
              Sydney Australia 587 25.98 34.58
              Jakarta Indonesia 332 40.92 24.50
              Istanbul Turkey 456 33.90 45.79
              Moscow Russia 354 14.26 15.05
              Mexico City Mexico 584 40.47 26.77
              Riyadh Saudi Arabia N/A N/A N/A N/A
              Helsinki Finland 459 50.77 43.79
              Mumbai India 387 6.30 4.40
              Abu Dhabi UAE 648 29.94 40.38
              Kuala Lumpur Malaysia 514 30.39 31.98
              Pretoria South Africa 376 6.70 25.93
              Riga Latvia 431 43.13 57.35

              We ran a variety of speed tests for five different servers, including in other continents, to see exactly what results cropped up.

              The servers weren’t totally consistent when it came to upload and download speeds, and you can see from the chart above that these varied as expected. 

              The download speeds decreased on average or remained consistent when the servers were closer to one another; anywhere between 5-15Mbps.

              Traceroutes

              All traceroute tests used ‘google.com’ to check the route of the traffic with locations determined using https://www.iplocation.net/ip-lookup

              The standard ISP used 10 hops with a maximum of 13ms per hop.

              We also tested a variety of other traceroutes for different servers:

              • Brazil Server: 9 hops with ping latency on average being 400ms. The traffic was routed through Brazil and the US (California). 
              • Japan Server: 7 hops with ping latency on average being 400ms. Traffic was routed through mostly Japan and the US (California).
              • New Zealand Server: 10 hops with ping latency on average being 500ms. Traffic was routed through NZ, Australia, and the US (California). The final hop was still in Australia. 
              • Romania Server: 10 hops with ping latency on average being around 200ms. Traffic was routed through mostly Romania, the UK, and the US (California).

              Special Features

              Special features of Surfshark include several double-hop servers. There is also the option of whitelisting (for split tunneling applications), and the added bonus functionality of CleanWeb, which can block adverts, but also trackers and malware. 

              The multi-hop servers ensure an extra layer of safety and added encryption. The speed results are fairly mixed. In some examples, performance was sub-par. While it may be good for some of the less demanding web applications, the multi-hop options may not be ideal for streaming or torrenting. It can take a long time.

              Below are speed test results for several Multi-hop servers:

              UK > France

              US > Netherlands

              Australia > US

               

              CleanWeb

              The CleanWeb feature blocks adverts perfectly. The sites we tested on did not pick up on any advert blocking mechanism.

              Daily Mail website with CleanWeb feature enabled:

              Daily Mail website with CleanWeb disabled:

               

              Experience Impact

              We checked the performance of Surfshark while streaming in high-definition formats.

              Using YouTube, streaming in up to 8K was possible with no extended buffering period or delay.

              On Netflix, we streamed video up to 4K and are happy to report no extra buffering or delays.

              Wire-Level Privacy Performance

              Using WireShark, we performed packet capture on the physical internet-facing network interface. 

              As you can see from the image below, WireGuard is the manually selected VPN protocol.

              No traffic failed to be transmitted via the VPN tunnel unless a URL was specifically ‘whitelisted’.

              No DNS traffic was visible in the packet capture, as you can see below:

              With a test in Browserleaks.com, we could see that the IP location information matched the requested VPN location.

              A Residential connection type was used, and there were no IPv6 leaks reported, and no DNS leaks.

              The tests also showed no WebRTC leaks:

              Business - Alla

              Company Background

              The company behind the VPN simply trades under the name SURFSHARK LTD. It’s a relatively new company, first officially founded in December 2018 in the British Virgin Islands. This is where the company’s headquarters are still listed, in Road Town, Tortola.

              The founder of the company is Vytautas Kaziukonis, who also still acts as CEO of the company. He also goes by the name Par Kaz, which is how he is listed on the company’s About page.

              What little is known about Par Kaz comes from mentions online, where we find that Par Kaz has a history in online advertising. He was a Co-Founder of Sitecona which helped link advertisers and publishers online. He worked on this project from 2008.

              Par Kaz was Chief Security Officer for tech companies around Europe between 2016 and 2018 before he moved into VPNs. Speaking of this period, Kaz says “I was directing the development of strategy to mitigate online systems risk and ran a cyber security tool infrastructure for several portfolio companies with over 1m customers across 70 countries.”

              Trademarks

              As can be seen from the USPTO Trademark & Patent Filings, Surfshark Ltd. has 3 trademark applications. This includes their ‘S’ logo, the trademarked phrase “SECURE YOUR DIGITAL LIFE” and the name “SURFSHARK.”

              Financing

              The company seems to be privately owned by the original owner Par Kaz, there is no public information about different rounds of venture capital or funding rounds that have been completed to raise money. Surfshark doesn’t have a holding company, nor does it own any other companies in the same space.

              Status

              The company has grown quickly. Although there’s not a lot of data on their employees available through the Surfshark website, we can see that 144 employees are registered as working with Surfshark as of 2021. This includes part-time roles.

              27 of the employees are working as engineers. According to LinkedIn statistics, 22 employees out of 144 are marketing, 20 are media and communications, 12 are business development, and 8 are sales.

              Though we don’t know exactly how many work in support, LinkedIn also shows that 35 employees out of 144 are based in IT, which could include technical support.

              Business Model

              Like a lot of VPN businesses, Surfshark uses the SaaS model of sales. It targets two different sets of customers, though, as the product is sold both B2C and B2B, with protection offered for some large companies.

              Limited financial information can be found publicly, but according to Atlas VPN report, Surfshark generated USD 507,150 between January and May of 2020.

              Android Helipad also states in its report that Surfshark revenue generated in December 2020  exceeded $1 million.

              Company Structure

              When it comes to the company structure, there’s very little information out there, but it seems like the company is still owned privately, 100% by founder Vytautas Kaziukonis (Par Kaz).

              Security - Jason

              Protocol & Authentication

              Surfshark’s default VPN protect authentication protocol is EAP, but this does depend on the VPN technology chosen.

              The authentication mode is as simple as using a password, rather than enforcing any two-step authentication.

              Surfshark supports both TCP and UDP protocols for sending data packets. Numerous VPN protocols are also supported including IKEv2, L2TP, OpenVPN, Shadowsocks, WireGuard. If you’re using Windows, the default protocol is set as IKEv2.

              Although Surfshark doesn’t have any proprietary protocols, all of the Open Source and industry-standard options are reliable.

              This VPN also supports multi-hop, and you can check the speed of some of the multi-hop locations above in our Surfshark performance review.

              Analysis

              When we analyzed a packet capture on the internet-facing network interface, we could not see any traffic that had been left behind and not transmitted via the VPN tunnel. No DNS traffic was visible in the packet capture, which was routed to 162.252.172.57 & 149.154.159.92.

              Additional Information

              Surfshark has no public record of being exploited or compromised in the past. The VPN provider has a strict No Logging policy, which has even been verified with a third-party audit.

              Up to now, there’s no sign that the company has faced any subpoena by any government agency.

              As Surfshark is not based in the EU, USA, or in the UK, it has its base in the British Virgin Islands, and while we’re awaiting an answer on whether or not they are compliant with privacy laws such as GDPR or CCPA, this is less of an important consideration due to where they are based.

              If you wish, you can buy the VPN subscription with no record, as they accept cryptocurrencies including Coinpayments. You can keep the transaction completely private as well as secure.

              If you wish to start your free trial of the Surfshark software, you don’t need to provide any information at all. However, if you want to make a purchase and start your subscription it is essential that you provide an email address, though this can just be an email forwarding service if you want to stay completely anonymous.

              In terms of security, you can add multi factor authentication if you wish. AES encryption is used by default with an encryption cypher of 256. On Windows and Android devices you can use a kill switch, which means that if the VPN connection drops you will lose your connection to websites.

              Surfshark collects some data on their users and shares some customer data with third parties, but the likelihood of them sharing data with governments is low, especially due to where they are based geographically.

              Pricing - Tamara

              Personal/Professional/Family Plans

              You can see the pricing structure for the VPN plans offered by Surfshark below. Although the $12.95 monthly price is a little higher than some of the alternative options, you’ll see that there are huge savings to be had if you are willing to pay for a membership of 6 months or two years.

              Plan duration Monthly price Discount Savings (total)
              1 month $12.95 0% 0
              6 months $6.49 50% $38.76
              (over 6 months)
              2 years $2.49 81% $251.04 

              (over 24 months)

              There are no additional plans available such as corporate or family plans, but it seems you are free to share your plan around as the VPN can be used on unlimited devices; “Connect any number of devices to one account and protect your whole family. Be the guardian shark for your community!”

              You can buy the subscription directly via Surfshark’s website, but you can also buy directly on devices through iOS and Android on the Play Store.

               

              Resellers of the VPN include:

              • Amazon
              • Mashable
              • Popular Science
              • ZDNet Academy
              • Entrepreneur
              • eCrater

              The pricing can vary depending on where you buy from, and tends to be cheaper if you buy directly from the site.

               

              An example of the Android pricing can be found below:

              Plan Desktop iOS
              1 month  $16.25 per month $16.99 per month
              6 month plan $8.14 per month $8.33 per month
              1 year plan n/a $5.17 per month
              2 year plan $3.13 per month

              The price varies depending on the country and currency. It is available in USD, GBP, AUD, CAD, CNY, EUR. There is a currency selection drop-down. The main pricing is set in USD and then the rest of the prices are set via currency conversion. It auto-detects where you are and displays the initial currency but allows the ability to toggle. The prices are merely adjusted based on the current exchange rate.

              There are a number of payment methods including:

              1. Credit card (Mastercard, Visa, Amex, Discover)
              2. Paypal
              3. Google Pay
              4. Amazon Pay
              5. Cryptocurrency (via Coingate, Coinpayments)

              If you want to buy the software anonymously, you can pay with cryptocurrency but the accounts are not always fully anonymous as you may need to provide some details including email address.

              In terms of the security of your details, Surfshark state that they do not release any info unless ordered by a court. They also state that they don’t collect personal data. However, they do employ third-party providers for different parts of the business. They don’t list the names of these providers but they list the types of activities that they employ them for:

              1. Marketing service providers
              2. Third-party payment providers 
              3. Storage ad infrastructure providers and Ads service providers 
              4. Live chat and support service providers 
              5. Security service providers 

              Surfshark offers a free money-back guarantee of 30 days on the website, and 7 day trials on Android and iOS. You need to buy a plan and cancel it within 30 days (website) or 7 days (iOS/Android). You can experience full functionality in this trial period.

              If you wish to cancel, in the trial period, it can’t be done by the customer without speaking to customer service. It can be done through live chat or emailing customer service. This is available 24/7. If you want to refund at another time you will only be refunded for the unused service period.

              There are some extra add-ons if you want to take advantage of these. Surfshark offers an add-on with Surf Alert and Search for an additional 0.99 USD a month. 

              Features included in Surf Alert and Search:

              • Monitor your personal data
              • Check for potential breaches
              • Get real-time breach alerts
              • Protect your identity
              • Hide from search engines
              • Browse without a trace
              • Get truly organic results
              • Avoid personalized ads

              Legal - Monica

              Jurisdiction

              Surfshark is based in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). This is a privacy-friendly company, which is one of the reasons why many VPNs are based there. Telecommunications companies based there aren’t legally bound by a lot of data retention laws or government surveillance.

              Technically, the British Virgin Islands is a British Overseas Territory, but this doesn’t have a great impact on the laws in place. They are self-governed and set their own legislature and law enforcement through the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force. 

              In terms of the international legalities of data privacy, the BVI doesn’t operate within any of the intelligence-sharing agreements out there such as Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or Fourteen Eyes. INTERPOL Manchester helps the UK Government protect its BVI Overseas Territory from terrorism and organized crime.  

              BVI is part of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS, OECO) but this organization has little to do with data and privacy laws.

              Privacy Policy

              It’s always crucial to understand the privacy policy of a VPN to know what information they share with partners. We’ve broken down some key information from Surfshark’s policy, which was most recently updated on December 17, 2020, but as per the information presented by Surfshark, the Privacy Policy is updated at the company’s discretion.

              Surfshark Ltd. recommends that people check regularly for updates rather than sending out the privacy policy updates to customers.  Recent changes to the privacy policy are listed under “section 13. When was this policy last updated?”

              Surfshark does collect some limited information such as email address, password (encrypted), payment information, and order history, but there’s no mention of collecting your name or username.

              Surfshark is legally obliged to collect personal information under specific circumstances, such as if there is outstanding credit on the account or an unresolved claim or dispute They may also keep information if they need to for their tax and accounting obligations, or for “legitimate business interests such as fraud prevention or to maintain the security of their users.”

              For the more security-conscious out there it is reassuring that Surfshark supports payment via cryptocurrency. This can help you to retain some anonymity.

              Under the header “How does our Website interact with third-party services and content?” You will see that they do share some limited information with partners. This is listed as below:

              “Marketing service providers – used to manage contacts and automate marketing.

              Third-party payment providers – to process payments together with Surfshark’s own authorized payment processing companies.

              Storage ad infrastructure providers and Ads service providers – to deliver targeted advertising to the Website visitors.

              Live chat and support service providers – to provide live chat technology and provide support to users.

              Security service providers – to provide improved security and performance.”

              Surfshark also uses Google Analytics and refers to the Google Analytics privacy policy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t list the other partners so you are not able to directly check their privacy policies. The privacy policy is not CCPA compliant as it does not list the partner companies and how data is used. There is also no right to opt-out of the sale of their personal information described properly in this Privacy Policy.

              Surfshark follows the No Logs policy. Surfshark doesn’t collect IP addresses, browsing history, used bandwidth, session information, network traffic connection time stamps, and other similar data. This is a benefit for people concerned with privacy.

              Surfshark’s policy claims that they “implemented additional transparency” so the user can take advantage of the GDPR’s additional data protection. While you can use consent withdrawal and exercise the right to complain to a relevant authority, the policy is not exhaustive. For instance, GDPR obliges a company to assign a data protection officer, but in this Privacy Policy, it is just a generic support email.

              Terms of Service

              Surfshark’s site doesn’t mention Torrenting or Tor Network usage explicitly, however, in Section 7 of the Privacy Policy, most common illicit activities that these services are often used for are covered and prohibited. It states you cannot mask one’s identity for illegal or malicious purposes or distribute copyright-protected material through Surfshark’s servers.

              Leaks

              Surfshark provides information on instances where the VPN provider has been forced to provide a government with customer data with the common sign of a “warrant canary” but as of July 2021, the service has received no National Security letters, no Gag orders, and 0 Warrants from a government organization. Surfshark claims that the private information of its users has “never been disclosed or seized, nor have we been compromised or suffered a data breach.” 

               

              The company also Surfshark offers “Surfshark Alert”, which is a paid service that promises to identify leaked credentials and provide customers with a risk assessment and prevention strategy.

              Design - Cassandra

              The design style of the Surfshark layout is flat iconography with skeuomorphism elements like the smart shield icon and the alert sign which is a flat drawing of a siren, like a police siren. Though there are floating elements on the site, it doesn’t look realistically 3D.

              The design is playful, but the blue color scheme seems to promote trust and a calm feeling. There are lots of deep ocean blues and gradients, which makes sense. Hex codes for these blues include #1f3c66, #1e466c, and #1d4c71 on their logo. 

              The color scheme matches the feel of sharks and the oceans. The buttons are bright pink with white text, but buttons on the app are teal-colored. The website was last updated in January 2021.

              The apps can be used in either dark mode or light mode.The apps are either dark grays when in dark mode (#131315, #242425, #424244, #8d8d92) or whites and light grays in light mode (#f2f2f7, #8e8e93, #ffffff).

              Surfshark has some unique design features and systems, and they stay consistent throughout each of the operating systems, even when you’re using the app on Linux. That said, the Linux version does seem to lose some of the features that the software has on Mac and Windows desktop versions.

              User Actions

              The actual use of the app designs is simple and straightforward in the majority of cases, with only Linux falling a little short.

              The app loaded incredibly quickly on iOS and Android (1-2 seconds) and took a little longer in our tests on MacOS and Windows, but still just 5 and 7 seconds respectively. All four also had an auto-correct option that isn’t available with Linux.

              A simple button in Surfshark lets you connect to the fastest VPN server available on all operating systems except for Linux, and you can do the same on Chrome and Firefox (though this is to connect to the ‘optimal location’). 

              All apps but Linux have a one-click connection option to join a fast or recent server straight away. Linux has a simple terminal command to do the same.

              Connecting to servers in other countries took a maximum of two clicks on apps and in-browser and just one click on the desktop versions for Mac and Windows.

              There’s no native option to connect to a gaming server or a P2P server, so if you want to do so you need to manually search and connect.

              User Experience

              Nobody wants one of those VPNs that is constantly pinging you notifications or that is just annoying to use.

              The steps to installing the software and connecting to the VPN for the first time are incredibly easy. On iOS you need to get the app from the App Store, on Android you can use the Play Store. On Chrome or Firefox you can find the app in browser extensions. Other operating systems let you quickly download and install the app, and unless you are using Linux, the process takes just 2-3 minutes.

              On the device app versions for iOS and Android, there is a 7-day free trial to get a feel for the software. The other versions also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee once you pay for your subscription.

              You can either purchase your membership directly on the website, which means clicking Get SurfShark [VPN], then choosing a plan. You can then enter payment information (including cryptocurrencies) and click Complete purchase.

              On the App Store or Play Store, it is even quicker. Create your account and your login info, click Subscribe. All you need to do is confirm through the store, and the payment will be taken from your verified method.

              Every version of the Surfshark app, on desktop or on your device, is capable of automatic updates. Just make sure you have used your app settings and controls to set the software to automatically download and update. For instance, you can turn on automatic updates via your App Store on iOS.

              The notifications the app offers vary from one OS to the next, and there are none on the browser add-ons. For iOS, there is a static VPN icon in the top status bar, but no actual notifications. For Android, there’s one static notification when you’re connected, but this is subtle. There is a static icon in the top MacOS status bar, but no actual notifications, and with Windows, you’ll get a Connected/Disconnected to VPN alert pop-up, which only stays up for three seconds. It’s easy to disable via the Surfshark app if you wish.

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