Surfshark Review

Surfshark review

A Detailed Look at Surfshark VPN

Surfshark is a VPN that can be used by advanced users and beginners alike. No matter how you describe yourself as such, there are enough features included with the application to make everyone happy. Most of the things that Surfshark does to satisfy their customers are unique, and others similar to what you would find on any other good VPN platform. Hailing from the British Virgin Islands, they’re far away from excessive (or covert) government surveillance, containing servers with exceptional speed and streaming capabilities. If you’re searching for a VPN that can make your browsing easier and more private, take a look at the review of Surfshark below to find out what their best (and not so best) qualities are.

Why are VPNs so Important?

VPNs can make everything you do online hidden behind protocols that serve to protect your location and identity from other servers that you don’t want them knowing. In today’s world, everyone’s connected to the internet at all times. And given the public nature of the web, all that you do can easily be read by third parties. Your browsing history, sign in attempts to websites, and even computer model and browser you’re online with can all be seen. With this information, hackers and other adversaries can gain even more data about yourself through means of phishing and social engineering, putting you at risk of identity theft.

A VPN will privatize your online interactions, even while going on public servers. and since your server (the one being used by the VPN) isn’t in the same location as you, the computer that you link up to cannot know your real IP address. You could live in any country in the world, but your VPN will give you the address of the sever country you pick. Most VPNs have hundreds and sometimes thousands of servers that are hosted in multiple countries. The United States and European Union are two of the most visited countries/servers since a good majority of websites that users wish to get on are based in either location.

Avoid mistaking Surfshark with other VPNs you may have seen, especially those that are free. Free VPNs are much different than their paid-for counterparts and can have lots of issues that may harm you further down the line. For example, a free VPN might gather data about your browsing history, or even use multiple computers to form a botnet for profit. Nothing is free on the net, and that includes “free” VPNs. Don’t give your data away to them, and try out paid VPN subscriptions if you can. The best thing about paid is that you’ll have fewer chances of getting the accounts that you sign up for blacklisted or permabanned. Many hackers will use free VPNs to make fraudulent accounts, and sites may not work with many of them due to the IP address for the server being completely blocked.

Pricing and Affordability

Surfshark’s prices are in line with other VPNs of the same type. That’s not a bad thing either since many aren’t very expensive in the first place. If you want to test things out or just need a VPN for a short period, look into the lowest-cost plan first. With Surfshark, the price for the first one is just $1.99 for 24 months or 2 years. But is you insist on testing first, go with the $1.95 per month subscription. That’s easy to cancel, and you won’t be stuck on the service if something happens to occur where the VPN becomes worse in the future. But that won’t happen given that Surfshark is a trusted source that doesn’t downgrade themselves. If you like the monthly $11.99 choices, you can always ask for an increase with your plan.

Payment Choices

Surfshark is riddled with good payment choices for customers. They show everything that you can buy in one page of the site. Let’s look at them.

  • Debit/Credit – This is the fastest and best way to pay for people that don’t understand or have no preference for the other methods shown further down. Surfshark won’t use your card for nefarious purposes at all, and you can always switch it to another payment choice if you don’t want to use it again for purchases with them in the future. Just try and remember that using plastic is also the hardest way to keep yourself anonymous form the company. If you don’t want them to know your name, don’t pay with credit or debit. But if anonymity doesn’t concern you (at least with the company), then you would be perfectly fine at doing so.
  • Cryptocurrency – Cryptocurrencies supported include Bitcoin and Ethereum. They are two of the biggest of them all and have lots of wallet choices outside of VPNs. When you pay with crypto or altcoin, you will have to turn in your wallet address. This is a good way for people to pay that do want to stay private from Surfshark. It will be nearly impossible for the VPN to get your real name this way, and you’re not under any stipulation to provide it to them. To take it a little further, mix up your coins so that they don’t show up in the Blockchain. After that’s done, you’re entirely safe to buy the VPN without the company getting the info on how you are.
  • Google Pay – Google pay is another option for customers that want to subscribe to Surshark. It’s no anonymous though, and Google will surely collect your transaction information. Google Play takes credit and debit cards, which might defeat the purpose of using it, at least for some customers.
  • PayPal – PayPal is another good choice for anyone that wants to use a card for payment but in a way that won’t give out the details to your card number. The exchange will also allow you to pay directly from your PalPal account, which is cardless. Additionally, Paypal has a card themselves, so you can try it that way if you prefer plastic but don’t want to give out any info regarding your real financial institution.

Free Trial and Reimbursement

Surfshark is one of the winners when it comes to the length of free trial periods. With it, you can have a free VPN 30 days, no strings attached. This is plenty of time to find out how the VPN works, and get everything set up in the process. Another good attribute regarding this is that Surfshark doesn’t need to be re-downloaded once the trial ends. Just pay for it, then go ahead with your surfing as you did before the period’s end. You’ll get all the benefits that regular paying customers have, which includes live chat and access to every server that’s on the application. For this alone, Surfshark is highly recommended to try.

All Protocols and how they Protect You

Surfshark and new and old protocols that’ll tunnel your traffic through an encrypted link to the servers you visit. Here is a list of several featured with the VPN:

  • L2TP/IPSec – The Layer 2 Protocol and Internet Protocol Security are two that work alongside each other. It’s not as fast as OpenVPN and will send your information through a tunnel twice (as the name implies. Still, it’s not the slowest or the most vulnerable to attacks. You can try it out on a smartphone or tablet, which is where the protocol works best on.
  • PPTP – PPTP is a protocol that you shouldn’t need, and it isn’t available with Surfshark. It’s also the oldest out of the four listed here and has zero security features behind it. There’s no encryption, and hackers can easily take advantage of VPNs that do continue to rely on it. PPTP is often seen on free VPNs, but some paid services might offer the protocol as a sort of “novelty.” However, speed isn’t an issue with PPTP, but is now entirely obsolete.
  • OpenVPN – OpenVPN is probably the best protocol in use today, and a majority of paid VPNs depend heavily on its AES-256 encryption. This is the same level of encryption that’s used by governments around the world, although OpenVPN isn’t a private application (it’s open-source).
  • IKEv2 – IKEv2 is very fast, and equal to OpenVPN when it comes to security and speed. It’s available for Windows computers, and contain very strong encryption that doesn’t reduce the little time that it takes to connect with servers that interact with it.

Kill Switch Features

The Kill Switch for Surfshark is a lifesaver that can keep your real IP address off the grid when programs may try to connect to the internet when you’re not on a server. But for this VPN, you’ll have to manually turn it on. On some operating systems, such as Windows, you won’t be able to do anything online until you reconnect to a server through Surfshark. This is for safety’s sake since Windows has lots of applications that may try to go online without you knowing about it. To turn on the Kill Switch for Surfshark, simply go into the Settings and Security options on the application. The Kill Switch should be on the top of this section. Flip it on, and that’s it. Your service provider will never know the websites that you’re on when this is used, so keep the tab open for the entirety that you use Surfshark on your device.

How it Works with Tor and Other Browsers

Surfshark can work with the Tor Browser is you wish. There’s nothing technical about connecting to onion sites with a VPN; just turn on Surfshark and log into a server, and you’re free to browse Tor for as long as you would like. However, do remember that Tor is very slow at times, and the slow speed might increase when you attempt to get on onion sites. Additionally, some onion sites might not show up at all, although this may not be the fault of Surfshark on some occasions. Using Tor (or Surfshark, for the matter) isn’t going to completely make you browsing anonymous, so be careful with the information that you place on the browser itself. Try not to visit anything that you would get through a normal browser such as social media, emails, or other identifying information.

Widgets included with the VPN

Like many other paid VPNs, Surfshark offers a free Chrome extension that you can try out on the browser. To download it, just go to either Surfshark’s website or the Chrome web store. It’s very easy to do and using the VPN as an extension has some advantages. If you live in a country that blocks access to VPN websites, then you might not be able to download anything directly. But with this widget from Surfshark, sites will become visible and downloading can begin as normal. None of this is set in stone to work every time, but it is a suggestion that has been known to get through firewalls that ISPs could be forced to place on VPN sites.

Headquarters and Relationship with Host Country

The British Virgin Islands is known for more than its beautiful beaches. It is the place where several VPN companies are headquartered, including Surfshark. The reason for this is simple: BVI has no stipulations on data retention, so all the information that a VPN contains is not under the watchful eye of Big Brother there. Servers are also based in the country, and Surfshark prides themselves on keeping the payment info if their customers under tight security that no one has the authority to access.

Server Number and Quality

Surfshark has about 800 servers and counting, with countries numbering around 50. Many are concentrated in the Americas, Europe, East Asia, and Australia/New Zealand. Some are also in many nations in Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and South African in particular. And while some servers work faster than others, you probably won’t be able to notice any differences with most. On the app, the higher up the server, the better it should perform for streaming and torrenting. Going through the servers quickly is also possible, and fast switching can commence since it usually takes less than five seconds to have you connected.

Testing Its Speed

With Surfshark, you shouldn’t have to perform a speed test. You can if you would like, but it’s not necessary. The VPN works well, even when used on ISPs with average internet speeds. If you were to test it out on a provider that averages about 10 megabytes per second, your speed would likely be reduced to about six or seven megabytes per second. That isn’t a drastic drop, making Surfshark one of the fastest VPNs on the market right now. Of course, you could always get a speedier connection and have it go well above 10 Mbps, so do consider doing that if you want to partake in file-sharing online.

Streaming Netflix and Other Music/Video Websites

You can safely stream all video content online with Surfshark, Netflix included. The site can be accessed from foreign locations with the VPN, and your home account should work as well. Remember to turn on Surfshark’s Kill Switch if you are streaming video, and the site will never know your whereabouts when you try to sign on. And for people that permanently stay outside of the US and EU, get ready to enjoy lots of shows that you may have never seen before. Netflix blocks some studios based on region, but Surfshark will get you placed on a remote server that’s housed in the location of the country where the show or film could be streamed.

File Sharing and Torrent Compatibility

You can share files with Surfshark without any problems. It blocks all torrenting sites and applications, preventing your ISP from throttling the speed when you try to download via magnet links. Sharing and seeding go by really quickly, even for files that are larger than 1 gigabyte. Music is really easy to get in this way, so you will have a computer filled with shared media in record time. If you do notice some speed issues when using Surfshark for torrenting, try changing your protocols. That can sometimes speed up the process. But only do this with the direction of a guide if you can, to avoid placing your security at risk. Advanced users should have no problems.

How it Performs with DNS Leaks

Surfshark guards against all DNS leaks, and has constantly pass DNS leak tests for other review sites. You could even do this yourself if you wanted, which is recommended since your DNS give away your time spend on torrent sites. You don’t want to create problems of your ISP, so go to a testing site and see for yourself just how well your DNS will be secured by Surfshark when you’re on the web. You’ll no longer have to depend on your provider’s DNS either and can use Surfshark for as long as the program is housed on your computer or smartphone.

User Agreement and Logging Policy

The terms of servers with Surfshark show that the company respects user privacy, no matter if you’re on a free trial or not. To read it, go to the company’s website, paying attention to what it says about logging. Surfshark has maintained a strict no-logging policy since its inception and stays committed to being a leader in VPNs that don’t say one thing while doing another. They are truthful, and no part of the user agreement reveals sections that are opposed. It’s nice to see a VPN without contradictions, and that especially goes for the things that such a company claims to stand for. but with Surfshark, they have proved it.

Customer Service and How to Contact

While using Surfshark, you can contact them through live chat or by email if you wish. They will send you a reply back either on the same day, or the following. Never will you have to wait days just to get a response to a simple question, and that goes for email as well. The live chat support doesn’t appear to be controlled by automated means, so you can get it to touch with a real person using this method if you need to. Good customer service is always expected, and Surfshark is well-suited for the user that places this as a top priority when choosing VPNs.

Compatible Operating Systems

Surfshark will work on everything that you would expect it to work on, so Windows, Mac OS-X, Linux, Chrome OS, and tablets are all compatible with the VPN. Smartphone compatibility is also great, and you will find the VPN on Windows mobile, Android, and iOS. The fastest platform for Surfshark is iOS and Android and will take up minimal space on your mobile device when you’ve installed it. Go to the App Store or Play Store to find it and download. For the rest, just go directly to the source website and get it from there.

Number of Devices that can Be Used with One Account

Surfshark doesn’t set any limitations to the number of computers or smartphones you can have on one account at any time. When you begin your subscription, just download it on an alternative device, which is all you need to do for use on a different system. If you wanted, router support is also possible and remains unlimited to the number of people that can use it. You probably won’t need that many, but a large family would do well with Surfshark since you’ll be able to save quite a bit from using one account for everyone.

How it Stacks Up against the Competition

Surshark’s main rivals are ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Private Internet Access, and CyberGhost, these are all big players in the world of VPN, and each of them is recommended for various purposes. Surfshark is different by offering a longer free trial period, and good speeds with providers that may not be the fastest. If you wanted to try one of the five out first, definitely pick Surfshark over the rest since you’ll get thirty days risk-free to decide on making a subscription.

Pros and Cons

Surfshark is a phenomenal VPN that has good advantages. But it’s also not perfect. Here’s what customers like and dislike about the platform:

Pros:

  • Long Trial Period – You can use Surfshark for up to thirty days before paying. That was a common feature among other high-quality VPNs, but something that seems to be going away. The same cannot be said for Surfshark. Having it on your desktop or phone for a few weeks can help you get familiar with everything possible with the VPN.
  • Prompt Customer Representative Response Rate – You will get a reply back quickly from Surfshakr when you sending a message. That goes for email and live chat support. As a plus, it’s always wonderful to see a VPN that has real agents on the other side of the chat, and not robots.
  • Available in Regions with Government Firewalls – While setting up Surfshark in China could be hit or miss, getting the VPN to work in other countries that might block others at random appears to not hurt access to this brand.
  • Torrenting is Completely Supported – There are no contradictions with Surfshark regarding their policy on torrenting. All sergers will work for it, including those that people use the most.

Cons:

  • The Kill Switch must be turned On Manually – Don’t forget to do this before you start torrenting or streaming movies. You must turn on the Kill Switch by yourself once the application is downloaded (To do it, refer to the Kill Switch section of this article above).

Summary/Conclusion

If you’re liking what Surfshark has to offer, you should be happy with the service for a very long time. They’re always adding improvements to the VPN, and updates are very frequent. Try to take advantage of the free trial that’s offered, and use Bitcoin to pay for the service if you want to stay anonymous when you’re ready to checkout. With it’s easy to master controls and multi-support for the latest protocols, Surfshark is a great VPN tool for first-timers and VPN experts alike.