- Transparent company
- Operates out of 14-Eyes jurisdiction
- P2P support
- Excellent security feature
- Unlimited connections
- Excellent customer support
- Servers up to 1000 in 61 countries
- Independently audited
- 30-days refund policy
- None at time being
Surfshark is one of the three top VPN providers after NordVPN and ExpressVPN when it comes to security, selection of VPN protocols and speeds. This VPN service is based in the British Virgin Islands, similar to ExpressVPN and this is a good news since it operates outside of the 14-eyes jurisdiction. Surfshark offers a selection of servers more than 1000 across 61 countries around the world. Digging out further, I realize that Surfshark make use of a virtual location where, it allows them to utilize the speed delivered to the customers and more connection can be made. However, in the article, Surfshark clearly state that they take privacy really seriously and ensure all of the servers were well-configured to meet their strict no-log criteria that are physically located.
Now, looking at their security features, Surfshark utilizes the industry-leading AES-256-GCM encryption with the highest secure VPN protocol to date, the OpenVPN besides IKEv2 as standard. Surfshark also offers Shadowsocks, an encrypted open-source proxy.
Pricing and Plans
Surfshark offers a three different selective plans. For the purpose of this review, I’ve subscribed to their one-month plan along with a package containing two distinct features called, privacy beyond VPN, also known as HackLock and BlindSearch that costs me $0.99/mo.
|Plans||1 Month||1 Year||2 Year|
|Adds On||HackLock + BlindSearch for $0.99/mo|
The payment can made through direct credit-card banking or opt for a few payment gateway alternative such as PayPal or using payment processing services such as Google Play, Amazon Pay and Alipay, or the service can be purchased directly via supported cryptocurrencies payments.
Surfshark Application Walkthrough
Surfshark is one of the few VPN providers that knows how the VPN business works. They strive to perfectionize everything for their potential customer to actually fully utilize their service. Surfshark supports multiple platforms from desktop apps to smartphone apps. In addition, if you’re using a router that supports the OpenVPN protocol, you can setup the client through your router.
The environment used to test the desktop app is Windows 10 Pro. The desktop appears rather a simple, light-weight application that packs features that can be easily accessed. The server can be tapped and selected further based on your needs. Surfshark also offers Double-VPN connectivity via MultiHop that doubles your privacy by connecting to a two different VPN server.
When it comes to picking a right VPN provider, we may have to look over other available features and what makes the feature unique compared to others. Features such as CleanWeb that filters malicious sites while connected to the VPN and Whitelister, allows only a specific programs to be routed to the internet without going through the VPN tunnel that carries your actual IP address, totally deserves limelight here. Similar with CyberGhost‘s desktop GUI app, Surfshark also offers two theme variants for their app, namely light-mode and dark-mode.
As briefed earlier, Surfshark offers OpenVPN as standard with IKeV2 and Shadowsocks. I always prefer UDP over TCP for a better speed utilization. One good thing about this app is, the crash-reports feature is off by default which is pretty good.
The smartphone app was well developed. OpenVPN is offered along with IKEv2 protocol makes you’re free to select any protocol to fit your usage scenarios. Almost all the features offered in the desktop app is present in the smartphone app as well.
Exploring Privacy Beyond VPN
I’ve added this package as adds-on to my one-month subscription. I wish to know, how the feature really worked in real-time. The first feature I put my faith in is the HackLock.
In order to use this feature, you’re required to key in your email address apart from your registered email account into the given field and activate it. The system will monitor if there is any data breach found from any of your registered email. The system also shows you the actual site where it founds your email or password credentials, leaked.
The next feature I would like to review about is Surfshark‘s own lightweight search engine. According to them, BlindSearch uses the best search algorithm by using Bing‘s API to only display a pure organic search result. This feature can be used in the mobile also, making this is one of a good measure taken to extend the user’s privacy to the highest level possible. BlindSearch requires you to sign-in first to your Surfshark account in order to access it.
According to Surfshark further, the search engine did not track you or displaying ads based on your search behavior pattern, neither keeping any logs while keying in a specific keywords. The advantages of using this engine is, you can keep your privacy without even having to entrust your usage pattern to be spied by the advertisers out there to track you up.
Security Features Walkthrough
The first features I would like to walkthrough over is the DNS Leak Protection. This feature is a standardized feature that don’t really need any additional subscription and enabled by default. I’ve taken this further by actually testing the DNS leak using their own DNS Leak site (although I don’t really recommend doing this) and a third-party site for a better analysis. Based on the analysis outcome, accompanied with my favorite browser, I able to get the solid reading.
Next, I picked the most secure VPN protocol, OpenVPN to review if my system is leaking any information while using the service. For the purpose of this test, I picked their own site and my preferred site to give my system a test while using one of their servers. Again, the outcome of the test shows green. According to Surfshark, their DNS addresses automatically adapts to their server to prevent DNS leaks after connecting in order to prevent any leakage. An additional steps given by Surfshark by setting up a custom DNS address to your machine running on Windows thanks to this guide.
The final testing determines the security of your browser pairing with the service. I’ve used Firefox as my default browser of choice (also my favorite) to conduct the test. Well, surprisingly, using Firefox with Surfshark is a best match when it comes to increasing the privacy while surfing the internet. I do acknowledge that Surfshark does offer their on-site Web-RTC test. However, I will still compare the result taken from their site with my preferred site. Based on the test, Surfshark passed with flying colors.
MultiHop is an excellent feature that doubles your privacy. Basically what it does is, it re-route your traffic through two different servers (Country A to Country B) to get you to the online world. As an example, based on the image above, I connected to a Singapore server, which then routed through a server located in the Netherlands. Based on my IPLeak test, it shows the Netherland’s server IP rather than showing a Singapore’s server IP. If you’re intended to use MultiHop, you can refer the guide here.
I’ve selected a few server location of my choice (the one I used the most) to experience, if Surfshark really provide a good speed despite of a strong encryption that generally believed to hog the bandwidth.
Looking at the reading of the data keyed in the table above, I can say, the speed I obtained is slightly slower compared to NordVPN‘s when I test their servers using the same countries. However, I am truly satisfied with the speed I obtain from using their servers. Based on the table above, using Singapore servers gives me the highest reading and United Kingdom gives me lowest reading when the test was conducted. For a newcomer like Surfshark, I consider this as the best-effort speed they could offer at the moment.
P2P Experience (Torrenting)
Being a new player, Surfshark did practice agile development by supporting the needs of the customers by allowing their servers to be used for torrenting. This is to reduce IP flooding to your system by increasing your privacy at the same time. The servers selected is the servers used to test the bandwidth above.
The first server I used to benchmark the P2P speed is by measuring the standard speed I would get when downloading a test file without get connected to the service. Based on the image above, I able to get 70MiB/s solid. The time taken to complete the download is the fastest here, as expected.
The first country I personally pick is Canada. The time taken to download the test-file is slower compared to the reading when I get by connecting to a server located in Singapore. The speed hovers around 30MiB/s and the speed did go up to 50MiB/s before slowing down indicating the download process is finished.
Next, my country of server selection is Singapore. I always choose servers located in Singapore since it is the nearest neighboring country of mine. Based on the test analysis above, I able to get a similar speed when compared to the speed I get when I used a server located in Canada.
Subsequently, I picked the first five-eyes members’s country server, I mean, I pick two servers from two different countries, United Kingdom and United States. The first server I pick located in the United Kingdom. Based on the graph plotted above, I able to get a reading of 30MiB/s – 35MiB/s similar to previous analysis, however, the graph shows a huge spike in reading before returning back to normal before the downloading process, ends. To further clarify this phenomenon, I re-download the file again and I able to get a similar result. A glitch? The total time taken to download the test file is the longest here.
Last but not least, a server located in the United States was selected. Similar to the reading obtained while testing the test-file using a United Kingdom server, I get a minor spike in the graph before it returns back to 26MiB/s which is slightly slower compared to United Kingdom’s speed reading.
After Sales Support
Two major types of after-sales support offered by Surfshark, a live-chat support and self-service that can be accessed at their support site. To be frank, I personally opt/recommend to others for a self-service first in order to actually try to solve the problem from your side before heading to their life-chat support. I did test their live-chat support as recommended by their site to proceed to cancel the payments after one-month of subscription.
Based on my experience, I feel the process of cancelling the payment is pretty easy and straightforward. I would like to suggest to Surfshark‘s system engineer (if only they read this review), to provide or introduce a new feature that allows even a novice user to actually pick the cancel the recurring payment for the next month or year (depend on the plans selected) without even having to go through the live-chat service cancellation process.
Surfshark also takes your account privacy to the next level. Before I’m publishing this review, I can’t log in to my account makes me to head to their live-chat support. It only requires me a few minutes for my problem to be solved. In addition, the person on the other side really committed to make their service even better by asking if I am facing other issues other than this while using their services. As a newcomer, if you can win your customer’s heart, you’re the king.
I’ve a decent experience with a few VPN providers previously. However, when it comes to Surfshark, I personally feel, they did a good job by providing a stable, secure and zero-downtime service. Adding further, the service provider pushing updates for the client app for twice in a month, indicating the provider actually takes privacy and security, really seriously. The VPN beyond privacy feature is a good add-on along with the one-month subscription for me to fully experience this service. Based on my test, Surfshark scores the highest mark currently.
Surfshark is one of the few reliable VPN provider that has a good score over TrustPilot site. With their transparent warrant canary, this service ends up by being the Best 2020 VPN service provider vouched by TechCyn.
Heed: You can use my affiliate link to purchase the service. By doing so, I will earn a small commission that will be helpful for me for further contributing to the development of the blog.
For other VPN reviews, kindy refer here.