I don’t usually start my reviews like this, but Surfshark is one amazing VPN service. It offers everything that any VPN user could want. I mean, during the time I tested it, I was blown away by how effectively it tackled a plethora of different tasks.
When I tested it with Netflix U.S, it unblocked like a dream. I even managed to unblock 5 other regional Netflix libraries including Australia, Canada, Germany, France, and Japan. I wanted to test Surfshark with more Netflix libraries, as it claims to unblock 16 different Netflix libraries, however, I was short on time.
Surfshark also managed to work great with other popular streaming services as well (Click here to jump to that section).
What I also liked about Surfshark was its server network. The last time I used Surfshark, it offered 1700+ servers. However, it now offers 3200+ servers. For those of you who care about speeds, Surfshark is fast too.
Despite being on the affordable side, Surfshark offers plenty of security features, a true no-logs policy, and optimized apps for mobile, desktop, routers, and more.
Overall, Surfshark offers the best bang for your buck. But is it better than its competitors?
Is it worth getting in 2021? Does it have what it takes to be recommended on TheVPNExperts? Read on to find out.
Key Findings from Surfshark Review
|Servers||3200+ servers in 65 countries|
|Best Feature||AES-256-GCM encryption, Kill switch, Private DNS & leak protection, MultiHop, blocks ads, trackers, malware, IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN|
|Does Surfshark work with Netflix?||Surfshark can unblock multiple Netflix libraries, and it also works great with, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+|
|Is Surfshark good for Torrenting?||Surfshark supports torrenting on all of its servers|
|Customer Support||Professional live chat and email support|
|Money-back guarantee||30-day money-back guarantee|
|ExpressVPN Pricing||Affordable $2.49/mo 24-months plan with 81% discount|
|Other findings||Zero logs (verified by Cure53), unlimited bandwidth, unlimited multi logins|
When I tested Surfshark’s server speeds, I was quite impressed. It performed great when I used its ‘Fastest server’ and ‘Nearest country’ options. With my 100 Mbps connection (T-Mobile – Netherlands), I noticed a drop of 20% on average.
Surfshark Speed Test Analysis
To be honest, it barely felt like I was even connected to a VPN server — Surfshark was that fast.
To make my testing as comprehensive as possible, I ran a proper speed test using different options in the locations tab of Surfshark’s Windows app. I used speedtest.net and carried out the testing in the following manner:
- Fastest server option and Nearest country option
- Manually selecting servers
- MultiHop option
Fastest Server Option and Nearest Country Option
Since my physical location is in the Netherlands, when I used the ‘Fastest server’ or the ‘Nearest country’ options, I kept connecting to Surfshark’s German servers.
Speaking of my actual physical location, here’s a screenshot of that:
When I ran a quick speed test while connected to Surfshark’s German server, I managed to get a download speed of 82.32 Mbps, an upload speed of 79.87 Mbps, and a ping of 142 ms.
With such a minor speed drop, I was able to play a 720p video without any lag or buffering issues.
Manually Selecting Servers
Since I was only able to test the German servers in the previous test, I wanted to manually connect to different server locations to see how Surfshark would perform. This time, I manually connected to servers close as well as far away from the Netherlands.
Here’s a table with all the speed test results compiled together:
|Countries||Distance||Download Speed||Upload Speed||Ping|
|Australia - Perth||14792.34 km||78.53 Mbps||77.32 Mbps||285 ms|
|Canada - Vancouver||6453.43 km||78.95 Mbps||80.34 Mbps||169 ms|
|Switzerland||627.7 km||82.14 Mbps||80.11 Mbps||210 ms|
|U.K - London||677.04 km||84.21 Mbps||77.43 Mbps||130 ms|
|Singapore||10468.58 km||76.66 Mbps||78.76 Mbps||207 ms|
|U.S - Latham||7505.72 km||78.32 Mbps||73.65 Mbps||256 ms|
When I manually tested different server locations, I was again quite impressed with Surfshark. Out of the six server locations that I tested, Surfshark’s Switzerland server location performed the best. I managed to get an impressive download speed of 82.14 Mbps and an equally impressive upload speed of 80.11 Mbps.
Lastly, I ran speed tests using Surfshark’s MultiHop feature for all the privacy geeks out there. If you don’t know, MultiHop basically lets you connect to two different server locations simultaneously. For instance, you can connect to the United Kingdom and France at the same time.
To test speeds with the MultiHop option, I connected to the following servers:
- The United Kingdom > France
- Singapore > Hong Kong
- The United States > the Netherlands
- Germany > Singapore
Here are the speed test results:
|MultiHop Servers||Download Speed||Upload Speed||Ping|
|United Kingdom > France||54.12 Mbps||56.67 Mbps||222 ms|
|Singapore > Hong Kong||49.56 Mbps||58.34 Mbps||189 ms|
|United States > Netherlands||52.22 Mbp||53.56 Mbps||243 ms|
|Germany > Singapore||48.23 Mbps||51.24 Mbps||159 ms|
With the MultiHop option, I did notice quite a bit of a speed drop. With my 100 Mbps connection, the best download speed that I managed to get was 54.12 Mbps.
But to be honest, I was not surprised with the speed test results. I say this because MultiHop does tend to slow down your speeds. After all, your data gets transferred through two different VPN servers at the same time and get encrypted twice. While MultiHop is good for privacy, it’s not the best option for streaming or downloading files.
Despite that, Surfshark’s MultiHop feature still managed to offer decent speeds.
Overall, Surfshark managed to perform great in my speed test. Regardless of which option you choose, be it ‘Fastest server’, ‘Nearest server’, Manual selection, or MultiHop, you will be more than happy with Surfshark’s performance.
Surfshark Passed DNS Leak tests
Surfshark comes with a built-in IPv4 and DNS leak protection feature. VPNs that don’t come with DNS leak protection will route your DNS request through your ISP. However, Surfshark privately routes all DNS requests through its own servers. Essentially, everything you do online will get hidden from the outside world.
When I ran a proper leak test using Surfshark, it passed every time.
To put Surfshark’s leak protection feature to the test, I connected to its Portugal server. When I ran the test through ipleak.net, I was happy to see my IP address hidden and my DNS requests being handled privately by Surfshark.
Here’s a screenshot of the test result:
As you can tell from the screenshot, my original IP address from the Netherlands is hidden. Only the IP address of the Portugal server that I’m connected to is being detected. This proves that Surfshark’s leak protection actually works.
I also conducted multiple leak tests while connected to other servers. Here’s a table with all the leak tests results:
|Countries||IP Leak||DNS Leak|
Surfshark Can Unblock Multiple Netflix Libraries, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus & BBC iPlayer
During my streaming test, Surfshark performed exceptionally well. Its performance was on par with ExpressVPN that I reviewed not long ago. I was able to unblock Netflix U.S and also Netflix Australia, Canada, Germany, France, and Japan.
I also had no trouble unblocking Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer.
For Netflix U.S, I connected to Surfshark’s ‘United States – Denver’ server. I simply looked up a show called ‘Say I Dor’ and it started playing instantly. I experienced no buffering issues and the show streamed in HD quality.
As for other Netflix libraries, just take my word for it — Surfshark can easily unblock them without any problems.
Next, I connect to the ‘United Kingdom – London’ server to test Surfshark with BBC iPlayer. I played a show called ‘The Last Kingdom’ and it started streaming instantly. That was really surprising to me. Not a lot of VPNs tend to work with BBC iPlayer.
After that, I switched back to the ‘United States – Denver’ server and searched for a show called ‘Difficult people’ on Hulu. As you might have guessed already, it started streaming without any issues. I was super impressed with the playback quality as well.
For Disney+, I connected to the same U.S server as before and played ‘The Simpsons’. Again, it was no big deal for Surfshark. I guess I was able to stream in 1080p HD quality.
To test Surfshark with Amazon Prime, I just played a random show that I could find — I’m not a big fan of Prime Video. But anyway, as soon as I clicked on the play button, the show started streaming right away.
Lastly, I wanted to see if Surfshark would work with Kodi. While I couldn’t find Surfshark’s add-on for Kodi, I was able to run Surfshark in the background on my laptop and still stream content on Kodi.
Surfshark is a Great Option for Torrenting
Surfshark works great with torrenting. It supports torrenting on all of its servers, except for the ones found in the MultiHop tab. Surfshark also offers unlimited bandwidth and privacy-enhancing features such as a kill switch, leak protection, and a no-logs policy.
To test Surfshark’s torrenting performance, I just randomly connected to the ‘United States – Boston’ server. I managed to download a 1.4 GB movie in around 20 minutes. As for speeds, I managed to get a download speed of 886 kB/s and an upload speed of 26 kB/s.
I performed torrenting on other servers as well and couldn’t find anything to complain about. Come to think of it, I did find it a bit weird that Surfshark won’t let me seed torrents as it doesn’t support port forwarding. However, since I don’t seed anyway, it wasn’t a big deal for me.
Surfshark Offers Awesome Apps
Surfshark offers optimized apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and even router.
Its apps are lightweight, easy to install, and optimized so they don’t burden down the processing power of your device. Through the control panel of my Windows laptop, I could see that Surfshark took up 33.2 MB of my memory, which is not that bad.
As far as the user interface is concerned, I found Surfshark’s apps to be quite modern looking. Connecting to any server is as easy as tapping a button and all of its options can be easily found in different tabs.
Just to connect to a server alone, you can either manually choose servers, or use the ‘Fastest server’ or the ‘Nearest server’ options to connect to the best possible server location.
If you head over to the settings menu, you can turn on dark mode, choose between 14 different languages, change protocols, enable the kill switch and mess with advanced options if you like to.
Also, you can run a speed test right from Surfshark’s app.
Surfshark’s mobile apps work great too. They lack some of the features that are available in the desktop version, however, they’re still very well equipped.
If we talk about Surfshark’s router support and browser extensions, we’ll discuss that in the compatibility section of this review.
Surfshark Offers a Legit No-Logging Policy
Surfshark VPN keeps no logs of your:
- IP address
- Browsing history
- Used bandwidth
- Session information
- Network traffic
- Connection timestamps
The only information that Surfshark collects is your email address, encrypted password, basic billing information, and order history. It’s all pretty standard information and nothing that you should worry about.
The reason why Surfshark is able to offer a no-logs policy is that they’re headquartered in the British Virgin Islands. Because of that, Surfshark doesn’t have to comply with any mandatory data retention laws.
So overall, your data will be completely safe with Surfshark.
Surfshark Offers a 30-Days Money-Back Guarantee – Proven
Even though Surfshark is quite affordable, all of its subscription plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. I’ve also talked about how good Surfshark’s refund policy is in my detailed refund policy expose blog.
To put their refund policy to the test, I simply visited Surfshark’s website and clicked on the live support button. Via live chat, I told the support representative that I’d like a refund.
The support agent simply asked me if I had any issues with Surfshark so that she may help me fix it. However, once I told her that I just wanted to test the service for a bit and would like a refund now, she just asked for my registered email.
Once I provided my email to her, she went ahead and processed my refund request right then. Since I paid through PayPal, I got my money back in my PayPal account in just two days.
Overall, I was more than happy with Surfshark’s refund policy. I can see why it doubles as a legitimate free trial as well.
Key Features of Surfshark
Surfshark offers a lot of cool features.
- 256-bit AES encryption
- CleanWeb (Ad, tracker, and malware blocker)
- Whitelister (split tunneling)
- Camouflage mode
- NoBorders mode
- Five powerful protocols
- Kill Switch
- DNS and IPv4 leak protection
256-bit AES Encryption
Surfshark protects your traffic with AES-256-GCM encryption. This level of encryption is super secure and prevents anyone outside the VPN tunnel to see your online activities.
Even your ISP won’t be able to make any sense of the encrypted data packets sent and received through your network.
CleanWeb (Ad, tracker, and malware blocker)
CleanWeb is Surfshark’s ad, tracker, and malware blocking feature. This feature is not just a gimmick — it actually works surprisingly well.
Once you enable this feature, you’ll see no ads being displayed on the web page. Unlike ad-blocking extensions, you won’t even be required to disable the ad-blocker to view the web page which I think is super convenient.
Whitelister (split tunneling)
Whitelister is Surfshark’s split tunneling feature. If you have used split tunneling before, it allows you to select specific apps and websites that you want to bypass the VPN tunnel.
For instance, you can select banking apps to bypass the VPN tunnel while leaving streaming apps like Netflix to pass through the VPN tunnel. I love the level of flexibility that Surfshark offers.
Camouflage mode is a cool little feature that disguises your VPN traffic to appear as regular traffic. Not even ISP will be able to tell that you’re using a VPN. This feature can be super helpful if you live in a country where VPNs are prohibited. You can use Camouflage mode on Windows, Android, and iOS at the moment.
I’ve already talked about MultiHop earlier on in this review, however, for a quick refresher, this feature lets you connect to two different server locations at the same time. For instance, you can be connected to the United Kingdom and Singapore at the same time. MultiHop offers better privacy, however, one downside of it is that it will slow down your internet quite significantly due to double encryption.
As the name suggests, NoBorders mode allows you to connect to special servers that can help you bypass strict firewalls. This feature is especially effective to use in China. We’ll talk about whether Surfshark works in China or not in just a bit — stick around till then or click here to jump to that section.
Five Powerful Protocols (IKEv2, L2TP, OpenVPN, Shadowsocks, WireGuard®)
In addition to offering 256-bit encryption, Surfshark also supports five powerful VPN protocols. You can choose between IKEv2, L2TP, OpenVPN, Shadowsocks, or WireGuard®. But depending on which device you use, protocol selection may vary.
What I find interesting about Surfshark is that it supports the latest WireGuard® protocol. Not many VPN providers offer this protocol currently.
Surfshark offers a kill switch feature that you can choose to enable or disable from the settings menu. It works great and I highly recommend that you turn on this feature. Kill switch basically prevents your IP address from leaking as soon as your VPN connection disconnects. If you download torrents frequently, you’ll absolutely love this feature.
DNS and IPv4 leak protection
Again, I’ve already covered Surfshark’s DNS and IPv4 leak protection a bit earlier in this review. Basically, it prevents your IP address from leaking and forces your DNS requests to pass through Surfshark’s private servers instead of being routed through your ISP.
Analysis of Servers
Surfshark’s server network is pretty massive. It grew from 1700 to 3200 roughly in the 4th quarter of 2020. Its network coverage is pretty diverse too. You can find servers in Europe, The Americas, Middle East, and Africa, and even in the Asia Pacific.
Surfshark runs a mix of both virtual and physical servers. What I love about Surfshark is that they actually highlight their virtual servers with a little ‘V’ symbol. Most VPNs don’t do this.
Overall, Surfshark’s server network is pretty impressive.
Surfshark’s Apps Compatibility
Surfshark offers great apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Fire TV, browsers, and even routers. Speaking of router support, you can use Surfshark with gaming consoles and other devices that don’t natively support VPNs.
Surfshark for macOS & Windows
Surfshark is compatible with both macOS and Windows operating systems. You can easily download its apps from Surfshark’s website.
If we talk about user experience, I found both the macOS and Windows apps of Surfshark to be very user friendly. New users will have no trouble using its apps and advanced users can take advantage of all the powerful features that Surfshark has to offer.
You can connect to any server within seconds with the quick connect option and browse through different tabs to mess around with different settings.
Here’s what their Windows app looks like:
Surfshark’s macOS app looks similar too. During the time I tested both clients, I never noticed any one of them crashing or slowing down.
Surfshark for Android & iOS
Surfshark’s iOS app has a 4.4-star rating on iTunes and a 4.1-star rating on Google Play Store. On iOS, Surfshark is compatible with iOS 10.3.3 and above. On Android, you’ll need to be Android 5.0 or above.
Both apps are very well designed and easy to use. Though some features and options were missing in the mobile versions, I had no issues using both apps. Finding different options is super easy and connecting to a server location takes literally seconds.
If you dive further into the apps, you can enable or disable CleanWeb, Kill Switch, Auto-connect, NoBorders, and more. You can also change protocols as per your liking.
Here’s what the mobile apps look like:
Overall, I absolutely love Surfshark’s mobile apps.
Surfshark’s Browser Extensions
Surfshark offers browser extensions for Google Chrome and Firefox. Its browser extensions are quite lightweight and work great. Usually, browser extensions are not as safe when compared to native desktop or mobile apps.
However, Surfshark’s browser extension has been independently audited by renowned security company Cure53.
Unlike the browser extensions offered by other VPN providers, Surfshark’s browser extensions are pretty comprehensive on their own. You can quickly connect to a server or choose a server location manually. You can enable the CleanWeb feature or tweak different settings as you like.
Here’s what Surfshark’s browser extension looks like:
Surfshark’s Router App
Surfshark is compatible with DD-WRT, AsusWRT, Tomato, and OpenWRT routers. Installing Surfshark on a router is not the easiest thing to do. If you’re not tech-savvy, you’d probably want to skip configuring Surfshark on a router.
But if you really want to run Surfshark on a router, I suggest purchasing a pre-configured router from flashrouters.com. Pricing starts from $169.99 and goes all the way up to $299.99.
Does Surfshark work in China?
Yes, Surfshark works in China. My foreign colleague was actually able to test Surfshark from within China. With that being said, don’t expect it to always work. In some parts of China, Surfshark might work flawlessly while in others, it might not work at all.
Surfshark’s representative told me to use Shadowsocks, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 manual setups for best performance. Also, enabling the NoBorders feature might help.
But in case Surfshark doesn’t end up working, you can always get a full refund within 30-days.
Best Alternatives to Surfshark
While I absolutely love Surfshark, I do respect that you might want to at least browse some other options. Perhaps you want more servers or something like that.
Anyway, if you don’t want to get Surfshark, I would suggest that you check out my ExpressVPN vs NordVPN vs PureVPN and CyberGhost vs NordVPN vs PureVPN Comparisons. Who knows, you might find a better VPN option for yourself.
Do I Recommend Surfshark?
Yes, I highly recommend getting Surfshark in 2021 — it’s just that good. Considering its price ($2.49/mo – 81% discount), its excellent unblocking capabilities, excellent customer support, and user-friendly apps, Surfshark is certainly among the top VPN providers out there.
If you want a VPN that can handle all your online day to day tasks and unblock popular streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, and others without burning a hole in your pocket, forget about other VPNs and just get Surfshark.