Surfshark VPN gets off to a great start by being based in the British Virgin Islands. Nevertheless, there is much more to being a good VPN than just their location.
It comes packed with features, which is rare for such a new VPN, but are these effective in keeping a user’s identity private online?
This updated Surfshark VPN review looks at everything to see what has changed and if this small timer is capable of joining the major leagues.
Features and Benefits
Security features are high up on VPN user’s lists. This VPN does not disappoint in this area.
With some extensive testing, we saw the protocols in use, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 with industry-standard military-grade AES-256-GCM and SHA-512 encryption.
These worked as expected, and there were no data leaks (DNS leaks, or WebRTC) found in any test. Much of this was enhanced with their kill switch, which worked, as it should.
Device support is top of the range with support for Windows, iOS and Android, macOS among with guides for manual configuration on Linux, routers, game consoles, Smart TV’s and many more.
Once security and privacy are out of the way, the main uses for VPN’s is accessing content, which would not be possible normally. Specific areas are Netflix and other streaming services.
The good news is Surfshark can unblock Netflix and the BBC iPlayer easier than some of its competitors.
However, this could be because of the network being under the radar. If their IP address range is continually spotted, they may find it harder to gain access. This does need a close eye kept on it.
It could also bypass geo-restrictions, which were in place for HBO go, Hulu, Sling, PlayStation Vue and many others.
Next up is torrenting and Kodi. These can leave users exposed to copyright trolls. Surfshark keeps identity out of any prying eyes, and their Camouflage feature is ideal for this purpose.
It masks the fact a VPN is being used, and so much so that even ISP’s cannot see a VPN is in use.
This works perfectly with their No Borders feature for users who may be in restrictive countries, such as China, Iran, and other similar countries.
After looking at streaming and downloading, it makes sense to check out their performance, and even though they only have a small number of VPN servers with 800+, which covers 50+ countries on 6 continents, they are still quite speedy.
One thing to note is that Surfshark uses more than one virtual server location. However, they don’t do this behind closed doors and are transparent as to their use. This is to make sure users can get the most coverage in difficult areas.
On occasion during speed tests, there was some drop off on some particular instances. This may be congestion because of the small number of servers, these virtual servers having an effect.
They do have multi-hop feature, where data is routed around multiple servers, yet you would expect this to be slower as the standard.
When using the apps, the interface is clear and uncluttered and doesn’t contain any quirky design like some VPN’s do to make it easy to use.
Surfshark follows the likes of the more professional approach with the large connect and disconnect button.
To the left is the simple menu bar where some of the features can be enabled or disabled.
The iOS and Android app are stripped back version of this, yet they keep the same basic appearance. To access features, it is a one-tap affair to enter the menu.
Customer service falls in line with many of their other features. Without even testing a VPN, you can gauge how good they are, or at least how much they tend to their customer’s needs.
Surfshark follows in the footsteps of a couple of the market leaders and delivers 24/7 live chat.
You can access this from any page on the website, or you can hit “Help” on the homepage. This takes you to another page where there is a search where you can ask anything regarding the service.
The knowledge base is extensive, and many of the answers are recently updated. In the odd occasion, it would be good if they were a little more in-depth.
Customer support also has a ticket system where users can submit a request.
To top this off, there is a FAQ section along with the knowledge base.
Surfshark sticks to Zero logging policy. They do make some claims and these regard user’s online activities.
One being in the case of downloading torrent files. There are no restrictions, and the company appears to welcome this activity openly.
However, in their policy, they do claim users shouldn’t partake in anything, which is unlawful, or there should be no transmission of the copyrighted material.
Surfshark says they won’t be responsible for any user’s actions, but they won’t divulge anything to anyone.
They can afford to take this stance as they are based in the BVI, and fall under no jurisdiction that makes them obliged to log user activity or hand it over if requested.
There are several other features to enhance the user experience. HackLock scans and alerts if your email has been leaked, and then BlindSearch that allows you to search without ads or logs. These are the two add-ons you can enable when you sign up.
After this, there is CleanWeb is a malware blocker, an ad-blocker, and an online tracking blocker, this did work effectively, yet browser extensions work equally good.
There are browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, and these have had an independent audit by Cure53. Although there were one or two low-level issues. These have been resolved.
One final feature is split tunnelling, or as Surfshark calls it Whitelister. Users can choose what data goes through the VPN, and which travels via the regular route without encryption.
All the features work well, and there are more of them than some other providers you can find.
- Protection from tracking and malware
- Built-in ad-blocker
- Good customer support
- Slow speeds on some servers
- Virtual servers used
- Only trial versions for Apple products
Surfshark delivers feature-packed VPN services that are affordable once you get away from their monthly option.
This month by month is expensive, but like many providers, they appear to do this to entice users to go for a longer tie in period.
The company used to offer a 3-year plan, but recently dropped this and restructured their pricing.
One thing that users who are contemplating this VPN will find, there is no free trial on Windows, yet there is one for Apple products such as the iPhone, tablets, and Apple Desktops.
|Tie in Period||Price (in Dollars)||Billing period/ Price|
|1-Year||$5.99||Billed every 12 months as $71.88|
|2-Years||$1.99||Billed every 24 months as $47.76|
|HackLock & BlindSearch||$0.99 per month||Billed according to term length|
The payments methods have also changed along with their pricing. These comprise Credit cards, Cryptocurrencies, Alipay, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, and PayPal.
Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so users can fully test the features of the VPN.
While the refund will be made, the company wishes to resolve any issues before obliging and returning any money.
It is worth noting that if the service is purchased through Apple and not Surfshark directly, then any refunds need to be made from Apple. Adding to this, any purchase with prepaid, or gift cards will not be honoured.
The sign-up process is straightforward.
- Click the “Get Started” buttons
- Select your Plan
- Create your account by adding your email address
- Activate “Privacy Beyond VPN.” This is optional.
- Select your payment option
- Follow the instructions in your confirmation email
The VPN review dived deep into all the workings of this British Virgin Islands based service.
They are certainly off to a flying start, but there is only so far they can go with adding features. It is still early days, and they have changed their pricing already.
Users may never know that some of the features could be changed such as the number of connections. If this dropped, it could take out one of the most tempting features for large families.
Surfshark will have a few second-tier VPN’s worried with their offering, but it is hard to tell if they can maintain this. It is an excellent service, yet it takes a long time to realise the full benefits.