There is an influx of VPN providers around, and it may seem strange to have a new entrant. Nevertheless, this Surfshark review is doing exactly that and looking at one of the newest contenders.
This new service is based in the British Virgin Islands, so, it is based outside of any 14-eyes jurisdiction, which is a great start.
It promises a lot, but is a good location enough to raise it up to compete with some fierce competition? There are plenty of VPN reviews that paint a rosy picture, but is it all hype, or is it justified?
Features and Benefits
We will look at each section of this new VNP and get to the bottom of how good or bad it really is.
In This Article
- Unlimited device connections
- Unblocks Netflix
- Great chat support
- Accepts crypto payments
- Automatic Wi-Fi protection and kill switch
- CleanWeb – Malware & Ad/tracker blocker
- Clear warrant canary
- Based in BVI
- Strict zero logging policy
- Network still small compared to competition
- Some slow connection speeds
- Email support slow on occasion
This VPN is based in the British Virgin Isles. Like the better VPN’s they locate themselves out of any jurisdiction.
This country has no data retention laws and protects companies within its borders. The 5-eyes or 14-Eyes alliance cannot access any user data.
Surfshark collects no records, and that is one beauty of their location. The local laws protect this practice.
Platform and Device Support
A well-developed VPN needs to cover all popular platforms. Surfshark now supports most popular platforms, both desktop and mobile.
Windows, MacOS, Linux, Chromebooks, Android and iOS, Routers and Amazon FireTV among others.
The Shark-VPN also has browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome. The extension for Chrome has the VPN icon in the corner of the browser.
As soon as you select this and log in, it connects to the optimal server automatically for the region you are in.
Many VPN’s claim a zero-logging policy, and you can see what they record when you delve deeper. However, how do you know if your provider has a subpoena or gag order?
This is what the Warrant Canary shows. This is a transparent means to check VPN’s against extradition requests they have received, and how many they have reacted to or denied. Surfshark is clean all the way through.
This VPN only logs your email address and credit card or payment details, nothing else is retained.
Going through the company history, they have not been involved in any scandal or concern over handing over user data.
Along with logging, you can include data leaks. With a total of six tests being run on the service, there was not one single leak, and even when forcing the VPN to drop the included kill switch worked perfectly.
Privacy and Security
Surf shark’s privacy gets a boost by the use of secure protocols. OpenVPN and IKEv2 on UDP and TCP. Add in AES-256 bit encryption, and you have top-level military-grade security.
The Shark VPN has its own private DNS on all of its servers to reduce further chances of others spying on activities.
Users can use a multi-hop feature to make it even harder for anyone to follow a user’s footsteps.
Surfshark also passed an external security audit by the security company Cure53. This was only on their extensions, but it is more than most companies do.
To improve the web-browsing experience, this VPN uses their ‘CleanWeb’ feature that blocks ads, trackers and malware.
Network Size and Performance
Surfshark has over 500-server location in their network that covers 50 countries. By comparison, this is not overly large; however, they are in strategic locations.
The service now works in China, and when you get to the USA, you can change server to city level, which helps with streaming services.
For speed tests, all their servers returned an IP address for their locations, but a couple of ping tests suggest some may have another location that advertised.
Servers toward Mumbai or Vietnam appear to be near Germany, as an example.
The download speeds for the closest and popular locations were way above average.
Performance in the UK was around 55-60Mbps in a connection without a VPN, the speeds with Surfshark around Europe was 40-50Mbps.
The US connections gave 48-54Mbps, and the speed tested in the New Zealand and Australia region was 30-40Mbps, which is better than many competitors are.
When you want to gauge a good VPN, the Shark customer service is the best place to begin.
On the Surfshark site, you can see the live chat (missing on many VPN’s), the staff are there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and you get a response in a few minutes, always found a solution to questions.
Surfshark customer support includes installation tutorials for compatible devices and for devices where there is no client app, such as a router.
There is an in-depth FAQs page, though this can expand to cover more topics. Support tickets via email or completing the form on the site and wait for the technical team to contact you.
We waited a little longer for a response this way compared to live chat.
Geo-Locations, Netflix and Streaming Services
The ‘No Borders’ function is to avoid geo-restrictions in countries where strict laws control the internet.
This feature was working great during testing and is great for accessing social platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp.
One of the killer features any VPN can have in the unblocking of Netflix. This is hard for many veteran VPN providers to do, but Surfshark manages this effortlessly.
During testing, Surfshark could unblock Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. For the BBC, there were a couple of problems, but trying a different server in the UK delivered access to the BBC iPlayer.
Such was the reliability; this VPN puts many other providers to shame, and who charge much more than this service.
Both P2P file sharing and the torrenting are allowable on Surfshark. If you check the FAQ’s page, most of the company servers allow torrenting.
Although you can change server, when you run a torrent app, and connect to Surfshark, it automatically directs you to their Netherlands servers for extra safety.
These are simple to use and appear as many others where there is a large connect or disconnect button.
You have status, and an easy way to access different servers. On the left, you have quick access to some of the features and the settings icon if you need to change anything.
One thing is the client doesn’t have a favourite server option, so each time you will need to search again.
It does however have a recently used view, so if you use a server all the time, this will be easy to locate.
Diving in the settings was a surprise, and there were countless things users can tweak. One such feature is the smart Wi-Fi protection panel.
You can set the service to connect automatically when you join an unknown network.
When you look at what Surfshark offers, it can appear to be a great deal. It has plenty of features and minimum downsides. Once you look at the cost of this service, it looks even better.
There is just one plan with reducing amounts for the longer you sign up for. While many VPN’s offer twelve months. Surfshark goes from 1 month to two-years.
- 36 months: $1.94 per month. Billed as 69.99 every 3-years
- 24 months: $2.49 per month. Billed as $59.76 every 2-years
- Monthly: $12.95
The cheap Shark cost for three years is very tempting. The rest of the sign up period is painless. You can choose from various currencies such as AUD, CAD, Chinese Yuan, Euro, GBP and US dollar.
Payment methods include Credit cards, crypto, Alipay, Dragonpay, Tenpay and PayPal. Once you go through these first steps, you add your email address, and that is as much as there is to signing up. From this, you will get your confirmation email and following directions.
To make it even better, there is a free trial for both iOS, MacOS and Android. Along with this, there is a 30-day money back guarantee you can use to test the VPN services on offer.
This VPN may be the new kid on the block, but it does plenty of things better than the kids who have been around the block a couple of times, and should know better.
If the company maintains this level of performance and features for the low price, there could be quite a few users jumping from their mid-tier VPN to surf with shark.
It has long tie in periods, but for unlimited device connections, unlimited bandwidth, and all the other features, you may find it hard to do much better.
There are still some small niggles, but none of these affect privacy or performance, so there are no worries.
The main thing for any privacy-concerned user is that their online activity remains private, and Surfshark is following in some very serious footsteps to make sure it offers this to its users.