A complete and unbiased Surfshark review (2021 edition)

Last updated: November 23, 2021

If you’re looking for a thorough, unbiased Surfshark review, then you’re in the right place.

As you may know, the right VPN can keep your information secure and anonymous while “surfing” the internet, helping you access better entertainment, as well as work files and services.

But is Surfshark the right VPN for you?

Today, we’ll answer that question as clearly as possible.

From speed to security features, network reliability, and even compatibility, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Surfshark to make a more informed decision.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is Surfshark?

Surfshark's homepage screenshot

Surfshark is a Virtual Private Network (VPN) provider based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), best known for its low prices and specialization in leak detection and private search.

Despite being a relatively new platform (founded in 2018), Surfshark offers highly competitive features and reliability.

With 3,200+ server locations in more than 65 countries, compatibility with mobile and desktop devices, and a super-friendly interface, Surfshark offers the right balance between affordability and functionality.

Keep in mind; Surfshark is probably not the most advanced option out there. It does, however, offer all the basic features a regular home user needs to browse the internet securely while improving their entertainment experience.

In other words, if you’re a casual user just looking to stream, torrent, and protect your information, Surfshark is a great choice.

All in all, Surfshark has multiple strengths and pretty few weaknesses. It provides you with all the basic features you need in a VPN for one of the most competitive prices on the market.

We’ll dig a bit deeper into Surfshark’s pricing later, but first, let’s answer a major question.

What does Surfshark offer?

One of the strongest selling points of Surfshark is its ability to protect unlimited simultaneous connections, regardless of your subscription. At the moment of this writing, Surfshark is one of the few VPN providers offering this feature.

This is really helpful.

With a single subscription, you can keep all your family’s devices protected.

You can enjoy your favorite Netflix show all while your kids play video games, and uncle Joe is safely torrenting a few files.

Another cool thing is that Surfshark operates on a diskless RAM-only server network, which means it doesn’t keep any physical evidence of your data.

Surfshark also offers a pretty straightforward user interface that you can start using in minutes without any training or special instructions.

Surfshark's user interface

With Surfshark, you’ll gain access to amazing 24/7 live chat support, which is pretty useful if you experience any trouble when using the service.

We tested its support responsiveness and were able to get an answer within 20 seconds or so.

Surfshark's customer service in action

In short, Surfshark is a great service for budget-conscious users who are looking for a simple, user-friendly VPN for regular home use.

Some of the top Surfshark’s features include:

  • CleanWeb: Get access to ad-blocking features to get rid of annoying ads and protect yourself from malware and phishing attacks
  • Unlimited devices: Connect unlimited devices simultaneously, regardless of your subscription
  • Whitelister: Select specific IPs and domains that can bypass your VPN connection
  • Automatic kill switch: Keep your data protected in case of any problem with your internet connection
  • Private DNS: Avoid potential data leaks with a private DNS on each VPN server
  • Camouflage mode: Make sure your internet provider doesn’t know you’re using a VPN
  • NoBorders mode: Bypass internet firewalls in censorship-heavy countries (ideal for countries with limited internet access)
  • Fastest server: Find the fastest VPN server location in one click
  • Multi-hop: Tunnel your connection through two servers instead of just one (also known as “Double VPN”)

Surfshark servers and server locations

As we stated earlier, Surfshark offers more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries, including:

  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • France
  • Australia
  • Japan
  • Italy
  • And many more

The best part?

All servers are P2P-friendly, which means you can use them for torrenting and streaming.

Surfshark also offers both physical and virtual locations, along with a private DNS for each server location. This added step increases your protection.

Surfshark’s speeds

Speed is one of the most important elements when choosing a VPN solution.

No matter how many features a VPN has, it’s all worthless without reliable connection speeds.

All VPNs will slow down your connection speed to some extent. It’s the cost of keeping yourself protected from cyber attacks.

That said, is Surfshark fast enough?

Let’s go through some tests.

Generally speaking, a connection slowdown of 20-40% is quite good, especially if your starting speed is fast.

For this speed test, our base speed reached 64.47 Mbps for download and 25 Mbps for upload.

Our base speeds with VPN off

With Surfshark connected, we managed 54.3 Mbps download speed, and 17.7 Mbps upload speed.

Our base speeds with Surfshark on

This means we experienced a 15.77% drop in speed, which is great for torrenting and high-quality streaming.

Besides, while the download speed with Surfshark on was 10 Mbps slower, it’s a relatively small drop. Those speeds were still more than respectable. We streamed a two-hour-long 4K movie with the VPN on and didn’t notice any drop in quality.

We suggest you test the different protocols Surfshark offers to find the fastest connection available. Some of these protocols include:

  • OpenVPN UDP/TCP
  • IPSec / IKEv2
  • WireGuard

Torrenting and streaming

Surfshark works surprisingly well for streaming and torrenting.

By running some tests, we were able to unblock multiple Netflix libraries in over 12 countries without any issue, including:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • Japan
  • Italy
  • France
  • India
  • China
  • Russia
  • Spain
  • Mexico
  • Israel

We also unblocked Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO Now, Hulu, and many other major streaming platforms.

The secret lies in Surfshark’s “Smart DNS” feature, which swaps your local DNS address for Surfshark’s native DNS servers.

This makes it really hard for streaming services to tell whether you’re using a VPN.

The catch here is that Smart DNS sacrifices protection for the sake of better entertainment. By activating Smart DNS, Surfshark won’t encrypt your information. That’s why we suggest you use this feature for streaming purposes only and make sure it’s switched off before you do any torrenting.

Device compatibility

No matter how fast your VPN is, if it isn’t compatible with most of your devices, you won’t be able to use it.

Let’s quickly explore Surfshark’s compatibility.

While not as extensive as some of the other VPNs we have reviewed, Surfshark’s selection of apps covers a very good number of operating systems and devices, including:

  • Windows
  • OSX
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Surfshark's device compatibility

In terms of browser extensions, Surfshark offers extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

Surfshark's browser extensions

For some reason, it hasn’t released a Safari extension yet, but you can still use Surfshark with Safari by downloading the OSX or iOS apps.

The difference is that the app encrypts all your traffic while the browser add-on only encrypts traffic originating in your browser.

Encrypting all your traffic is usually safer, but there are valid reasons while you might not want to do it (e.g., using an app that doesn’t work with a VPN).

Luckily, Surfshark comes with a Whitelister that allows you to exempt specific apps and websites from going through the VPN.

You can also install Surfshark on most smart TVs and gaming consoles, including:

  • Apple TV
  • Xbox
  • PlayStation

You’ll need to tweak your device’s DNS settings to do this. Similarly, installing Surfshark on your router will require a manual install, which can be daunting if you’re not tech-savvy.

Security

Surfshark may not be the most “advanced” solution available in terms of security, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t secure.

If you’re a regular home user, Surfshark works just fine, as it offers all the security features you need to keep your information protected.

This includes:

  • Secure encryption
  • DNS leak protection
  • Automatic kill switch on all native apps
  • Camouflage mode
  • DNS leak protection

Surfshark also offers a strict no-logs policy, which means it won’t record your data. As we mentioned earlier, its diskless RAM-only server network erases your information every time it reboots the machine.

Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, which has one of the most stringent privacy laws in the world. It also exists outside the jurisdiction of the 14 eyes surveillance alliance (i.e., countries where companies are forced to provide users’ data to the government).

In November 2018, the cybersecurity company Cure53 performed an independent audit on some of Surfshark’s security controls.

To be precise, they tested Surfshark’s browser extensions, and the results were pretty positive. Only two minor security issues were found, but Surfshark claims it fixed those following the audit.

According to its privacy policy, it only collects:

  • Email addresses
  • Billing information

It won’t collect any information that could identify you, including:

  • Incoming and outgoing IP addresses
  • Browsing history, purchase history, or downloads
  • VPN servers you’ve used
  • Bandwidth you’ve used
  • Session information
  • Connection timestamps
  • Network traffic

Rather than outsourcing to third parties, as some other VPNs do, Surfshark has its own in-house, zero-knowledge DNS servers.

This is pretty useful when it comes to avoiding information leaks.

When we tested Surfshark on DNSLeakTest.com, the tool confirmed there were no DNS leaks:

Surfshark's security test on DNSLeakTest.com

Surfshark pricing

Surfshark pricing is time-based, meaning you pay depending on the length of the plan you select. At the time of writing this review, Surfshark offers three paid plans:

  • One month — $10.88 per month 
  • Six months — $5.46 per month
  • 24 months — $2.09 per month

Surfshark's pricing options

All plans come in with a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee.

You can also access a free trial on Surfshark’s iOS, macOS, and Android apps.

The coolest thing about Surfshark is that you can access all of its available features on all plans. The only difference between subscriptions lies in the length of each plan, as well as the pricing.

Surfshark’s 12-month plan comes with an additional 81% discount, making Surfshark one of the best options for budget-conscious users.

We highly recommend you select one of the longer plans, as you’ll get the most value for the price you’re paying. If you aren’t happy with the service, you can just cancel and ask for a refund.

Its refund policy is great and functional, so you don’t have to worry about not getting your money back.

Surfshark’s add-ons

For an extra $1 per month, per service, you can get access to two additional proprietary features: Alert and Search.

Alert is a breach detection system that helps you get alerts every time your information is leaked. This helps you take the appropriate actions faster and avoid larger security breaches.

Surfshark's Alert feature

Search is a privacy-oriented search engine that helps you browse the internet with no ads, trackers, or malware whatsoever.

Surfshark's Search feature

Both features are pretty helpful and will add an extra layer of security to your activities. Considering these features cost only $.99 per month each, they’re definitely worth it.

7 great alternatives to Surfshark

At this point, you already have the most important details about Surfshark.

Now the question becomes: is Surfshark the best VPN solution for you?

The only way to know for sure is by comparing Surfshark against other major VPN providers and making a decision based on what they offer.

The good news is that we’ve done the legwork for you and put together a list of seven top VPN platforms.

Take a look and see if any of these seems like a better fit for your specific needs.

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is one of the top-rated premium VPN services to date.

Offering 160 server locations in over 94 countries, anonymous browsing, IP address masking, and 24/7 live support, ExpressVPN will improve the way you explore the internet.

ExpressVPN's homepage screenshot

Some of the top ExpressVPN’s features include:

  • VPN split tunneling: Increase the level of security by splitting your traffic between different connections.
  • Private DNS: Get access to a private DNS on each server location.
  • Unlimited bandwidth: Download as much as you want, without any restrictions.

ExpressVPN offers three different pricing options based on periods of:

  • One month — $12.95 per month, billed each month
  • Six months — $9.99 per month, billed every six months
  • 12 months — $6.67 per month, billed annually

All plans offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Like most VPNs, ExpressVPN’s longer plan comes with an additional discount. When you purchase its 12-month plan, you save 35% and get three months free.

To learn more about ExpressVPN, check out our full and comprehensive ExpressVPN review.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN is another popular VPN service that balances security with functionality and offers an amazing customer experience. With 5,456 server locations in 59+ countries and top-notch security features, NordVPN is a great option for home users.

NordVPN's homepage screenshot

Some of the core features NordVPN offers include:

  • Multiple devices: Protect up to six simultaneous connections
  • Dedicated IP: Access a dedicated IP address, meaning only you’ll use that specific IP
  • Double protection: Add an extra layer of security to your network with Double VPN

NordVPN offers three time-based subscription plans:

  • Monthly — $11.95 per month, billed every month
  • Yearly — $4.92 per month, billed annually
  • Bi-yearly — $3.67 per month, billed every two years

By purchasing a bi-yearly plan, you get access to a 65% discount.

Every plan also comes with a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee.

To learn more about this VPN, check out our full NordVPN review.

3. CyberGhost

With 15 years of experience in the VPN industry, CyberGhost offers all the features you need to experience the power of a VPN.

To date, CyberGhost offers 7,200 servers in more than 91 countries, giving you a broad range of options to find the fastest location available pretty quickly.

Cyberghost's homepage screenshot

CyberGhost’s top features include:

  • Hide your IP: Hide your IP address in one click and replace it with one of its server locations
  • Wi-Fi protection: Keep your traffic encrypted at all times and keep yourself protected on the go
  • Unblock streaming services: Get access to major streaming platforms and unblock restricted content in and out of your country

CyberGhost offers four time-based paid plans:

  • One month — $12.99 per month, billed monthly
  • Two years — $3.49 per month, billed every two years
  • Three years — $2.25 per month, billed every three years

All plans offer a 45-day money-back guarantee.

CyberGhost’s longer plan comes with the biggest savings, offering an amazing 83% off, plus three months free.

For a more detailed look at CyberGhost and all of its features, read our CyberGhost review.

4. UltraVPN

UltraVPN is a fast and secure VPN service provider that focuses on uncrackable encryption and top-level speeds.

By offering reliable HD video streaming with unlimited bandwidth, a global list of server locations, and military-grade encryption, UltraVPN is a great choice for any type of user.

UltraVPN's homepage screenshot

Some of the top features of UltraVPN are:

  • Malware protection: Keep yourself protected against malware and phishing attempts
  • Unblock global content: Unblock social channels, live sporting events, and major streaming platforms with ease.
  • Fast servers: Get access to over 100 super-fast servers

UltraVPN offers three paid subscription plans:

  • 1 month — $6.99 per month, billed annually
  • 6 months — $4.99 per month, billed every six months
  • 12 months — $2.99 per month, billed annually

Each plan offers a proprietary 30-day money-back policy.

By purchasing UltraVPN’s 12-month plan, you receive an 80% discount.

To learn more about UltraVPN, please read our comprehensive UltraVPN review.

5. HideMyAss

HideMyAss is a VPN company suitable for streaming and torrenting.

It offers a P2P-friendly network of more than 1,070 servers in over 290 locations, making it really simple for you to connect to the fastest server available in just a couple of clicks.

HideMyAss' homepage screenshot

Some of the best HMA’s features include:

  • Aleatory IP: Select an aleatory IP address to avoid potential trackers
  • No-logs DNS: Get access to a no-logs DNS and make sure no one’s looking at your information
  • Protection shield: Keep yourself protected from IPv4, IPv6, and DNS leaks

HideMyAss’ plans vary depending on your desired number of connections.

For up to 5 connections, it offers three plans:

  • One month — $11.99 per month, billed monthly
  • 12 months — $4.99 per month, billed annually
  • 36 months — $2.99 per month, billed every three years

For up to 10 connections, the plans work as follow:

  • 12 months — $7.99 per month, billed annually
  • 24 months — $6.99 per month, billed every two years
  • 36 months — $5.99 per month, billed every three years

To better familiarize yourself with this quality VPN, check out our full HideMyAss review.

6. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access, also known as PIA, is an award-winning VPN solution and one of the most widely used platforms available.

PrivateInternetAccess' homepage screenshot

PIA offers a wide variety of features to increase your security, access restricted content in your country, and hide your information from potential cyber-attacks.

Some of those features include:

  • Adblocker: Get rid of unwanted advertisements, pop-ups, malware, and trackers
  • Multi-device compatibility: Protect up to 10 devices at the same time
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN: Get access to some of the best VPN protocols available

Private Internet Access offers three time-based paid plans:

  • Monthly — $9.95 per month, billed monthly
  • Yearly — $3.33 per month, billed yearly
  • Two Years — $2.69 per month, billed every two years

All plans are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

By purchasing its longer plan, you get access to 73% off, plus two months free and some extra perks.

To learn more about Private Internet Access, check out our full and comprehensive PIA review.

7. Zenmate

Finally, Zenmate is a popular VPN provider used by more than 45 million users worldwide.

It offers advanced security features and a strict no-logs policy to keep your data protected at all costs. You also get access to over 79 global server locations and multiple options to browse the internet quickly and securely.

 Zenmate's homepage screenshot

Zenmate’s top features include:

  • Anonymous VPN: Keep your information anonymous 24/7
  • Kill switch: Make sure you’re always protected, even when your VPN connection drops
  • Streaming unblocking: Stream your favorite sporting events and shows with ease

Zenmate offers three paid plans:

  • One month — $11.95 per month, billed monthly
  • One year — $3.33 per month, billed annually
  • Three years — $2.08 per month, billed every three years

To get the most value, we suggest you choose Zenmate’s three-year plan, as it comes with an 85% discount.

Also, each plan is covered by a solid 30-day money-back policy.

To better familiarize yourself with this quality VPN, check out our full Zenmate review.

SurfShark Video Review 2021

The verdict?

If you’re looking for a simple-to-use and inexpensive VPN solution, then Surfshark might be a good option for you. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what you’re looking for.

Hopefully, now you have enough information to make a more informed decision.

And if you think that Surfshark isn’t for you, then one of the alternatives outlined in this post might be a better option. Take a look and see if any of them would be a good fit.

For a more comprehensive and complete look at the other major VPN providers currently out there, check out our other comprehensive VPN reviews.

Published on: September 22, 2021