Surfshark VPN Review
When I first heard that another VPN service was entering the market, my first reaction was – how could this possibly be any better/different than many of the already-great VPNs available today?
But I’m a curious bloke and like to scratch my own itch when it comes to VPN research. Hence, I wouldn’t be able to rest unless I gave Surfshark’s new VPN a legitimate try.
Sounds good? Awesome.
First and foremost, what – and who – is behind Surfshark?
Surfshark is a new, virtual private network (VPN) service that’s brought to you by a company located in the British Virgin Islands. The company has been in business for a little over six months, offering low-cost VPN plans and a number of features you’ll love. How does it stack up against other, more established VPN networks?
Read on to get our take on Surfshark, the good and the bad, and decide for yourself if it’s worth a try.
What Makes Surfshark Different?
Let’s take a few minutes to discuss whether this network has anything to offer that will make you want to leave your current provider.
One important feature it has as a VPN is support for both the IKEv2 and OpenVPN protocols. By using these protocols, they offer the leading encryption standards for Windows users (via IKEv2) as well as everyone else (being that OpenVPN is open source).
Keep in mind, some of the older VPN protocols used by many VPNs do not have the most up-to-date encryption.
This is an important distinction, as Netflix and other companies are able to detect VPNs and initiate blocks due to thousands of users originating from the same IP address.
Further, Surfshark’s support for both IKEv2 and OpenVPN means that it can be installed on a range of routers and devices. You can go also into settings on OpenVPN to switch between TCP and UDP.
Surfshark VPN protocols use military-grade 256-bit AES encryption. However, the company goes the extra step of incorporating a 2048-bit DHE-RSA key exchange and a SHA512 authentication hash for additional security (translation: the best possible encryption and security). There’s also DNS and WebRTC leak protection woven into the technology that powers this network.
Surfshark has the all-important killswitch feature that allows you to quickly terminate your session in the event of untimely network disconnection. However, it isn’t enabled by default from any platform other than their iOS app.
To enable the killswitch in Windows, you’ll have to click on the gear icon, locate “killswitch” under the security menu, and toggle it to the “on” position. To turn on the killswitch for Android-powered devices, you’ll have to locate it in the phone or tablet settings and enable it manually.
Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty details. What are the best and worst reasons to choose Surfshark?
In addition to high-level SurfShark encryption, privacy safeguards, and leak protection, the VPN includes some special features that are purpose-built to enhance your experience.
Here are five from the list that deserves special attention:
- Use the CleanWeb™ feature for the extra power to block ads, malware, and tracking software.
- Whitelister™ lets you create a split tunnel with your VPN. The purpose is to allow users to bypass or whitelist some web pages and apps without leaving the security of the network itself. It’s great to use on your mobile phone with a banking app. You’ll find the control in your security settings tab.
- MultiHop™ is a feature that’s useful for privacy-conscious people who really want to cover their tracks online. This additional layer of encryption allows you to create a double VPN and allows you some extra security in countries that ban VPN services. Your network traffic is secured and routed through two VPN tunnels. Simply use this feature to gain access to your preferred server via another server. Be forewarned that this may reduce your network speed considerably.
- With the network in NoBorders Mode™, users in countries where the internet is blocked can surf without worry. It enables the same sort of access as the MultiHop feature by obfuscating your traffic without slowing down your speed.
- Camouflage Mode is a very handy feature that allows you to disguise VPN use from your internet service provider.
Any time you have to provide personal or financial information, you have to be concerned about how much of that info is retained by the company. You also have to wonder how much they keep to either share or sell, or what the logging policy really looks like.
Good thing Surfshark doesn’t store or sell any information regarding:
- IP addresses
- Browser history
- Session time stamps
- Bandwidth used
- Network traffic
This company has a strict no-log policy, but you will have to provide your payment information and email address to create an account. However, Surfshark doesn’t retain any of your information; all payment records remain with the company your account is billed to. They also support anonymous payment options like cryptocurrency.
What About Speed?
Speed tests of this network show decent speeds when using servers located in some parts of the EU and the United States, especially those on the East Coast. The speeds suffer a bit when the servers are located in remote areas and cities that are further from their base of operations. This is typical of many VPNs, so it isn’t really a deal-breaker.
Speeds were tested using streaming video and with a 256MB game file on a system with a 60Mbps connection. Working from a baseline of 98.71Mbps, speeds were clocked that ranged from a low of 25.74Mbps out of the server in Hong Kong to a high of 71.06 out of Amsterdam. Average speeds hovered at around 50Mbps, which is still good enough for streaming media content, gaming, sharing files or even as a VPN for torrenting.
If you don’t mind a long-term commitment, the best value option is their 24-month plan that’s billed upfront at $47.76 every 2 years. That comes out to about $1.99 per month. The annual plan will set you back $71.88, which amounts to $2.99 per month. With their 2-year plan, they effectively became the cheapest VPN provider that brings about this much value in their packages.
All of these amounts are presented in US dollars, so check the exchange rate for other currencies. You also have the option of paying for the services in different currencies like AUD, CAD, and USD, Euro, GBP, even Chinese Yuans.
To those who prefer a more “digital experience”, the company offers a wide range of payment channels than many other VPN providers.
- All major credit cards
- Amazon Pay
- Google Pay
All plans are billed in advance for the full term of the subscription, and they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. There’s also a free trial available for Mac users and those with Android or iOS supported mobile devices. New subscribers can use the coupon code “sharkstart” at checkout.
So, What’s the Verdict on Surfshark?
The platform is great for all of the reasons you’d want a VPN, such as access to streamed content, big-name content platforms like NetFlix, Hulu, and P2P file-sharing websites. Best of all, you get unlimited connections. That isn’t a perk you’ll find with even the largest competitors.
The proof is in the pros and cons. If the positive traits of service outweigh the negatives, you have a platform that will perform as promised without costing you a fortune. All in all, this VPN lives up to its promise. The price is right, and you get a lot of functionality.
There’s less coverage than you would get with other Australian VPN services, and there may be issues with speed and access, but that’s as far as the major downsides go. With the speed at which Surfshark is expanding their coverage goes, who knows how fast their services could get in the future.
So if you’re ready to take the plunge (see what I did there) head on over to SurfShark.netand get up to 83% off!