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In the ever-growing world of VPN service providers, names like NordVPN and ExpressVPN reign supreme. These big-name companies are some of the most popular options for privacy-focused web users. However, smaller companies have started to emerge and gain traction. One of the most compelling new VPN providers is Surfshark.While Surfshark has fewer servers than some of its larger competitors, great features and advanced security methods have piqued the interest of many. It also has a very attractive price point, making it one of the best cheap VPNs on the market.
So how does Surfshark stack up?
Take a look at our Surfshark review to learn more about this new VPN provider and see if it’s right for your needs.
Features and Advantages Of Surfshark VPN
Let’s take a look at some of the key features that have made Surfshark VPN a reliable and quality VPN service provider.
Reliable Security Features
The primary goal of a VPN is to keep you safe and anonymous online. It’s easier than ever for hackers to gain access to your information. Some of the most secure websites have been attacked by people looking to steal financial information and personal data. Surfshark does a great job of keeping your connection secure. Like any other VPN, it does this by sending your data through a safe tunnel. The security methods used scramble the information, making it nearly impossible for would-be hackers or surveillance entities to trace your information back to you. This applies to your private connection at home and whenever you’re on public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Surfshark uses two different security protocols. These include OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec. The latter is the default option used. It’s a great protocol for most applications. IKEv2/IPsec is quite flexible and does a very good job at unblocking location-based restrictions. OpenVPN is also used. It’s widely regarded as one of the most secure protocols out there. As a result, it’s used strategically by most VPN service providers.
The great thing about Surfshark is that you can easily switch between the two protocols as you see fit. This can be done within the advanced settings menu of the VPN client.
Whether you’re typing in credit card information or sending a simple message on a social media platform, all of the data you send through the VPN tunnel is encrypted. Surfshark uses military-grade encryption. More specifically, it uses AES 256-bit encryption. This is the encryption method used by top government agencies, including the NSA.
Anonymity and Leak Protection
Another big perk of using a VPN is anonymity. Constant surveillance is a very real threat that affects the lives of people all over the world. In the past decade, the existence of many international surveillance programs across the globe were made public. You see, each time you connect to a website or streaming service, your identity is recorded. Each Internet-capable device you have has a unique IP address. It’s like a fingerprint that can be traced back to you.
Surfshark is capable of cloaking your IP address by passing it through the secure VPN tunnel. Instead of recording your IP address, websites record the address of the VPN. This essentially helps you retain complete anonymity no matter what you do online. To provide some extra reassurance, SurfShark has multiple layers of protection to ensure that leaks don’t occur.
Dedicated Kill Switch
A kill switch is a must-have feature for any VPN. A VPN can only cloak your identity if you have a stable connection. Unfortunately, leaks can occur whenever the client crashes or your Internet connection suffers. A kill switch automatically terminates your browsing session. It prevents your IP address from being recorded. Surfshark has a kill switch that will immediately take action to avoid data retention.
Surfshark goes above and beyond when it comes to DNS leak protection. DNS leaks are relatively common with VPNs. They happen when your computer decides to make a DNS request, or domain name system request, through unsecured channels. When this happens, the entire VPN service is rendered useless because that request comes from your IP address.
To make sure that this doesn’t happen, each and every one of Surfshark’s 800-plus servers has its very own private DNS. This ensures that requests are made through the VPN, not your unsecured IPS connection.
MultiHop is a unique feature that isn’t offered by many VPN service providers. Essentially, it’s an extra layer of protection that makes it even more difficult to find your real location. With MultiHop, you can connect to two different servers at one time. You can choose to use this server whenever you want a bit more peace of mind. The option to do so can be found on Surfshark’s server list.
Unrestricted Access to Blocked Sites
Have you ever tried to visit a website only to be denied access because of your location? It’s a common problem, especially in countries that have strict censorship laws. The very nature of SurfShark’s network lets you bypass those restrictions. There’s a unique Camouflage Mode and NoBorders Mode. The Camouflage Mode helps to hide your IP address from your Internet Service Provider. This can prevent warnings and data throttling that often occurs due to online activity that ISPs deem inappropriate or against their terms of service. The NoBorders Mode works the same way. However, it’s catered to web users who live in restrictive countries.
Streaming platforms are notorious for putting limitations on their content. Complex licensing laws around the world can prevent you from viewing region-locked content, even if you hold a legitimate paid subscription. SurfShark does a very good job at unblocking Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. You can connect to a server in the country of the content you want to view. Say, for example, that you want to watch a show on the American Netflix platform. To do so, just use SurfShark VPN to connect to a U.S. server and Netflix will think that’s where you’re accessing the website from.
P2P File Sharing
Another perk of unrestricted access is the opportunity to download large files from P2P platforms. File-sharing is not viewed favorably by ISPs. Luckily, SurfShark can hide the fact that you’re using these platforms. While some VPN providers don’t allow P2P downloading, SurfShark doesn’t have a problem with it at all. In fact, this VPN encourages file sharing with its unlimited data caps.
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.
SurfShark is based in the British Virgin Islands. This location is very popular among VPN companies due to its lax data retention laws. Despite being a British territory, the British Virgin Islands isn’t subject to the same laws. The region is not part of any of the known international surveillance groups either. As a result, SurfShark has a strict no-logs policy.
Some VPN providers will keep information about your time on the server. If those logs are ever requested by the government in the jurisdiction they’re in, they’d have no choice but to hand it over. By not keeping any logs, SurfShark doesn’t have anything to give up. This is a big win if privacy is your top priority.
Anyone can say that they have a zero-logs policy. However, SurfShark puts their money where their mouth is. They utilize third-party auditors to provide transparency. Most recently, they used the company Cure53 to examine their privacy techniques and policies.
As if SurfShark VPN’s security features weren’t enough, the company also includes technology to keep you protected while you browse. CleanWeb is the provider’s proprietary ad blocker. Available for both desktop clients and mobile applications, the ad blocker works to improve the browsing experience. Instead of having to worry about what links you click on, CleanWeb automatically stops any threats that could harm your device. It stops malware attacks and phishing attempts.
Another notable feature of SurfShark is their split-tunneling feature, called Whitelister. Split-tunneling allows you to provide unsecured access to certain trusted websites or apps. These websites bypass the VPN completely and utilize your standard ISP connection.
Unlimited Simultaneous Connections
While some of the biggest names in the VPN game have strict limitations on how many devices you can tunnel through the network at one time, SurfShark does not. They let you connect unlimited devices. This gives you the opportunity to use the VPNwith all of your computers, phones, tablets, routers, smart televisions, and more. You’ll be able to browse privately across all of your Internet-capable devices.
Good Connection Speeds and Bandwidth
Connection speeds are a common complaint with VPNs. Because your data is sent through the VPN tunnel before it makes it to the website you’re trying to access, there will be a speed decrease. This occurs with all VPNs. However, many VPNs utilize technology to minimize that dip as much as possible.
SurfShark does a relatively good job at providing faster speeds. When accessing servers in nearby regions, connection times are close to what you would get without the VPN. Though, some user reviews have states that connection speeds were worse when connecting to distant servers on the other side of the globe.
As for bandwidth, SurfShark has absolutely no data caps. You can send and receive as much data as you want. This makes the service great for p2p downloading.
You don’t need to be a tech genius to use SurfShark. It’s designed for casual users. All of the clients and apps have a simple user interface. All you have to do is sign in with your account information and click on the “Quick Connect” button. SurfShark will then find the best server for you and apply all of the safety protocols automatically.
There are options to delve a bit deeper and customize your connection. However, they’re not necessary to take advantage of the service. The user-friendly design carries over to each device for consistency.
Great Customer Support
SurfShark makes getting assistance with your VPN service very easy. There’s a detailed support page with frequently asked questions and troubleshooting guides. Multiple connection guides are also available. You can find instructions on how to use the service on your television, router, and any other compatible device.
If you need more personalized care, the support staff is also available. The live chat function can be used to get answers to your question within minutes. The support specialists seem quite knowledgeable and friendly. There’s also a dedicated support email that you can use if you don’t require immediate attention.
Disvantages Of SurfShark VPN
Despite all the good that SurfShark VPN has to offer, it’s not perfect by any means. There are some noteworthy disadvantages you should keep in mind before you decide that this is the best VPN for you.
As we mentioned earlier, SurfShark doesn’t have nearly as many server location options as some of their bigger competitors. The company is still relatively small. They have over 800 servers around the world. These locations include multiple cities in the United States, Australia, France, Canada, Germany, Netherlands and more. When you’re choosing a server to connect to, SurfShark displays only the country name and the flag. This can prove to be a bit problematic if there’s a server in a specific region you want to connect to.
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.
Little Information On Who Runs SurfShark
Just like web users like to keep information to themselves, so does SurfShark. There’s very little information out there about the company and what entity owns them. While some people might not care too much about this fact, it’s an important thing to be wary of. Knowing who the parent company is can give you a lot of insight into the provider’s practices and history. Unfortunately, none of this information can be found on SurfShark.com. Not only that, but asking a support agent leads to nowhere.
Audits Don’t Cover Everything
The fact that SurfShark has security audits performed by a reliable third-party like Cure53 is great. It puts the service to the test without any favoritism of false information. We praise this fact about SurfShark because many of the biggest service providers don’t offer this type of peace of mind to customers. However, their latest security audit wasn’t as comprehensive as it should be.
It only covered the available browser extension. As you’ll see later, SurfShark offers many dedicated apps for a wide range of devices. The security report from Cure53 didn’t include any information about the safety and privacy capabilities of these apps.
SurfShark VPN Pricing
If you’re looking for VPN service that doesn’t break the bank, SurfShark is an excellent option. The available plans are very affordable, especially if you pay for many months in advanced. Three different plans are available. There’s no difference in features between them. They all have the same security protocols and extras. However, the length of service and included savings vary.
1 Month Plan: $11.95 per month
This is the most expensive plan and does not include any additional savings. It’s a short-term subscription that’s charged on a monthly basis. You can easily cancel the plan after 30 days if you do not want to continue using SurfShark. For an entire year, this option will end up costing you $143.40.
1 Year Plan: $5.99 per month
If you want to save a considerable amount of money during the course of a year, this plan may be for you. It offers a 50-percent saving over the monthly plan. While it will cost approximately $5.99 a month, this plan comes with a year-long commitment and is billed annually. You will have to pay $71.88 every 12 months.
2 Year Plan: $1.99 per month
With an impressive 83-percent saving, this plan offers the most bang for your buck. This subscription plan is billed every two years and will cost you $47.76 upfront.
If you purchase a subscription and decide that it’s not right for you, SurfShark does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can ask for a refund at any time in your first 30 days of service and the company should refund you within 10 business days. There doesn’t seem to be any strict limitations to claiming the refund like there are with other VPN providers.
SurfShark does offer a short free trial period as well. However, it’s only available for the MacOS, iOS, and Android apps.
Accepted Payment Methods
SurfShark currently accepts only a handful of payment methods. The options are quite sparse when compared to some of the company’s biggest competitors. However, the methods that are accepted can be used by customers around the globe. They accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express Cards. The Chinese online payment platform Alipay is also accepted. To help you stay as anonymous as possible, a few different types of cryptocurrency are accepted as well.
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.
SurfShark VPN Supported Devices
As we mentioned earlier, SurfShark is one of the few VPN service providers that lets you connect as many devices as you want with a single account. To help you do that, the service is available for many different gadgets and platforms.
Desktop and Laptops
Dedicated applications for both MacOS and Windows computers are available. You can download the respective client directly from SurfShark.com. Then, it’s just a matter of installing the program, logging in, and connecting to the VPN. Linux is a different story. Like most VPN providers, there is no separate Linux app. Instead, you have to download a repository and release file. Then, you can install it by running certain commands. There are step-by-step instructions on the website to help you get the service up and running.
Browser extensions for FireFox and Chrome are also available. They offer one-click functionality and allow you to take advantage of the powerful built-in ad blocker.
Mobile Phones and Tablets
SurfShark can be used on both Android and iOS devices. There are separate applications on the operating systems’ respective app stores. They take on the same design scheme as the computer version and operate in a similar fashion. If you’ve used the computer client, you should have no problem getting the mobile version connected.
Consoles, TV Boxes, and Smart TVs
You can enjoy the benefits of private and secure browsing on your television too! It should be noted that using the VPN on your TV won’t be the same experience as on a mobile device or computer. SurfShark VPN for TVs is catered toward streaming services. While it will block your IP address and keep you secure, you won’t be able to use features like split-tunneling or Whitelister. You can connect to SurfShark on PlayStation and Xbox consoles, FireTV accessories, Apple TV, and virtually any smart television.
To connect to the service, you need to visit SurfShark.com on the included browser and log onto your account. From there, you must activate the smart DNS feature and wait for a confirmation email. Of course, convenient guides will help you complete the process in no time.
SurfShark is a great option for anyone who wants to keep their online activity away from prying eyes while staying on budget. It’s an incredibly affordable VPN service. If you choose to go with the 2-year plan, it’ll cost you less than $25 a year. Not to mention the fact that you can have as many simultaneous connections as you need. It’s a good deal that you should certainly consider.
Even with its affordable price tag, SurfShark does a very good job in all the areas that matter. The multiple VPN protocols, a kill switch, and leak protection ensures that you’re always safe while you explore the Internet. While SurfShark can be a bit more transparent about who owns the company and do more to ensure that security audits cover every part of the service, all of the great benefits are enough to overlook the shortcomings. It’s an easy-to-use service that’s designed to help anyone get a bit more privacy regardless of their technical experience. Whether you’re looking to download files through a P2P client or just want to watch your favorite movie without having to worry about blocked access, SurfShark can serve you very well.
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