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.