We have been using Surfshark for several years and have been impressed with the many new features the company has added over the years.
From two-factor authentication, which protects your account, to RAM-based servers (and much more), the subscription just got better.
Other features introduced last year include GPS spoofing for Android users, which is another measure to prevent apps and websites from detecting your real location, and WireGuard, the latest encryption protocol. which offers super-fast speeds.
Surfshark is one of the VPN services that came together to form the VPN Trust Initiative with the aim of bringing more transparency to VPN services and also to set standards for security, privacy and other factors.
Put simply, this is a good thing because you need to trust that a VPN service will do its job well and keep your IP address and location hidden.
The service also offers apps for a number of popular devices (including Amazon Fire TV), it places no restrictions on the number of devices that can connect to the service at the same time, and it gives you additional features. that we usually do not find. with competitor services, such as Whitelister and CleanWeb. We will talk about this later.
Features and applications
Over the past six months, the number of servers has grown from 1,700 to over 3,200 in 65 countries, including the UK and US.
- The list of features is impressive:
- Unlimited connections
- P2P support
- WireGuard support
- RAM-based servers
- Two-factor authentication
- GPS spoofing (on Android)
- Stop switch (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS)
- Unblock Netflix, iPlayer, and other streaming services
It’s hard to think of another VPN service that can tick all of these boxes and only charge for what Surfshark does. With unlimited connections, you can connect and use the service on as many devices as you want. Plus, Cleanweb and Whitelister add to that.
CleanWeb blocks ads and trackers while browsing websites, while Whitelister (available on Windows and Android) lets you allow certain apps and websites to bypass VPN. Other VPN services call this a shared tunnel, and it can be useful if you don’t want data-hungry games or apps running on the VPN. However, it is currently only available in Windows and Android apps.
The apps are available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iPhone / iPad, as well as Amazon FireTV and Linux, as well as browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. They have a clean looking interface and are as easy to use as you might expect.
There are two quick connection options: closer and faster servers. Many VPN apps only offer the former under the guise of “best,” but Surfshark lets you choose which one you prefer.
If you want to enable 2FA to protect your account, you can do so through the website or in the settings section of the app. There are two methods to get a code: Google Authenticator or email.
It certainly adds a bit of annoyance every time you want to log in, but since it happens quite rarely, it is worth enabling as it helps prevent anyone from logging into your Surfshark account.
You can choose the server you want to connect to in the Locations tab, and you can expand the list for countries that have more than one server, such as UK and US. Next to each of these is a useful circle that shows how full or empty a server is.
In addition to servers in physical locations, Surfshark (like many VPNs) has virtual locations, so you can trick the internet into thinking you’re in Argentina, for example, even though Surfshark doesn’t have a server in that country. And this fact is not hidden: virtual servers are marked with a V in the list.
There is also a MultiHop list that routes your connection through two servers for better protection and better hiding of your true location.
Surfshark uses IKEv2 by default, but you can now select WireGuard, which should give you much better speeds, especially when connecting to servers that are physically close to you, for example less than 1000 km away.
The kill switch will turn off Internet access if the VPN connection suddenly drops. If there is one criticism here, it’s that in the Windows app it’s a system-wide kill switch that you can’t customize so that only certain app connections are terminated like you can with. some rivals.
In the Android app, you can choose between Android’s native kill switch or Surfshark’s, and on iOS, the kill switch is enabled by default.
NoBorders is a toggle switch that you can use in “Restricted Areas” to unblock the internet where it is usually blocked.
To be outside the jurisdiction of the 14 Eyes, Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands. The UK government is highly unlikely to exercise its power to request that data be published there, but even if it did, there shouldn’t be any anyway.
This is because Surfshark does not have a logging policy. It collects email address and billing information when creating an account, but other than that it doesn’t know if apps are used after plan purchase, or what it’s chosen. to do when the service is used.
Surfshark collects anonymous information, including “aggregated performance data, how often its services are used, reports of app crashes and unsuccessful login attempts,” but the company states that none of this data can be traced back to accounts or accounts. People.
When we asked Surfshark about this policy, we were told that the user’s location is taken from their IP address to use features like Quick Connect, but is not logged anywhere.
Although an audit was performed, it was limited to web browser extensions, so from this review. Surfshark told Tech Advisor that it plans to “conduct a new independent audit of its product” in the first half of 2021, so we expect this to be a much more in-depth exercise confirming the policy. no-logging, as well as overall security. offer all your applications and servers.
Alert and research
Surfshark offers two additional features that are not part of the VPN service: they have an additional cost with the subscription.
The first is Alert (formerly HackLock). You can enter email addresses, credit / debit card numbers, and social security numbers and Surfshark will monitor them and alert you in the event of a data breach.
Second, Search (formerly BlindSearch), which is a bit like DuckDuckGo in that it lets you search the web privately and without ads. Since there is no filtering, you will only see organic results. It has been recently improved and is much less clunky than before.
W hen it comes to testing the performance of a VPN, there are many factors and variables involved. Also, as this review was written during closure, when we did not have access to our offices, we limited ourselves to using a 35 Mbps home broadband connection.
This means that any speed we see would be limited by broadband and not by Surfshark. And since we know that Surfshark’s WireGuard speeds on average exceed 600 Mbps for both upload and download, trying to run tests at home was almost pointless.
We did some testing with various servers in or near the UK to see if there were any slowdowns and indeed there weren’t. Even connecting to Sydney on the other side of the world, we saw over 30 Mbps downstream and 6 Mbps upstream, both slightly lower. Very impressive.
There were no IP or DNS leaks. However, there is a slight problem, because currently Surfshark does not support IPv6. This means that it will block all IPv6 traffic and force your devices to use IPv4. Fortunately, he says he will add support for IPv6 this year.
When connected to a UK server, BBC iPlayer worked without a hitch, which cannot be said for many VPN services at the moment.
It is also capable of unlocking 15 Netflix regions and many other services like Amazon Prime, Disney +, HBO Max, and Hulu. Surfshark is a great option for video streaming.
Whenever we tried the 24/7 online chat, a representative responded in less than a minute and was able to answer our questions quickly and efficiently with a friendly and cheerful demeanor.
Surfshark’s prices are very competitive, with a two-year subscription costing $ 2.11 per month. There are also six month and one month plans, but they are much more expensive per month, so unless you can afford to pay for a two year subscription ($ 50.59) up front, there is no reason. .
You can sign up for Surfshark here.
And like we said, most competitors don’t allow unlimited connections and limit you to a few devices connecting simultaneously.
There is no free trial, but there is also a 30 day money back guarantee if you are not happy with the service.
Payment options include your standard credit card, PayPal, and Google Pay, as well as cryptocurrency options for those who wish to pay anonymously.
For alternative VPN services, check out our roundup of the best VPNs.
Surfshark meets a lot of requirements and it’s hard to find anything to criticize. Two of the drawbacks we listed at the top of this review should be fixed in a few months, and the third one might not bother you: this split tunneling is not available on macOS, iOS, Fire TV, and Linux.
For the vast majority of people, who just want a VPN to unblock and have a little more online privacy, Surfshark is a great option.