Surfshark is a relative newcomer to the Virtual Private Network (VPN) scene and appeared with a bang.
In just about a year, they were able to create a larger network of 1,700 servers in about 63 countries. The first thing that annoys me is the news that it is based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
BVI is a British Overseas Territory as we know it but there are no known data retention laws and has its own judicial system. This makes it an ideal base for VPN companies as it’s part of their core business – anonymity.
With that in mind, I signed up for a two-year plan and jumped in, running it through the works.
Will Surfshark stand up for scrutiny in its service? Let’s find out.
- Surfshark VPN overview
- Advantages of Surfshark VPN
- Disadvantages of Surfshark VPN
- Verdict: Surfshark is making waves!
Surfshark VPN overview
Introduce about the company
- Company: Surfshark Company Limited
- Established: 2018
- Country: British Virgin Islands
- website: https://surfshark.com
Availability & specifications
- Unlimited equipment
- GPS spoofing
- The server has only RAM
- Allows torrent & P2P
- Unblock Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer
- 1,700 + Servers
- Works in china
Advantages of Surfshark VPN
As I mentioned earlier, the first thing that caught my eye on Surfshark is the BVI facility it operates on. That bodes well for the no-sign-in policy that the company has. It claims to only store limited amount of user data for specific purposes.
According to them, the only information kept is your email address and some payment information in case a refund is requested. Their registration process seems to confirm this, and so does the information available in their account dashboard. The only thing visible is your email address and settings.
Besides, Surfshark also claims to have undergone an independent audit, but I must emphasize that the audit is only done on their Google Chrome extension.
Safe and anonymous browsing
Like most VPNs, Surfshark comes with a selection of protocols you can choose from. The options here are a bit more restrictive than usual. You only have access to IKEv2, OpenVPN (TCP or UDP), and a lesser known protocol called Shadowsocks.
The inclusion of Shadowsocks was initially a bit surprising because its developer was asked to stop working with the code and remove it from the GitHub where it was shared. The protocol is still alive and has its own website: Dark.
It is likely that the use of this protocol will be useful for users in mainland China to get around the great Firewall. While there are no real official claims, I’ve observed Surfshark is doing relatively well from within China for quite a long time.
New security features are introduced
In addition to all of these, Surfshark VPN has built steam and has recently added or will soon add some interesting features. Now, GPS spoofing is included, along with 2-Factor Authentication (2FA).
More importantly, they have switched to RAM-only servers, which means your privacy is essentially guaranteed. Every time power is routed to their servers, everything is completely wiped out.
Surfshark VPN has a wide range of applications that you can use to install it on almost any type of connected device. This includes everything from the widely used Windows and Linux or Mac platforms to mobile devices and even smart TVs and some routers.
There are also variations you can use with popular browsers like chrome and Firefox. It should be noted that the Surfshark Chrome extension was audited by an independent company at the end of 2018, with only two minor vulnerabilities found.
Excellent customer Surfshark VPN support
Test their customer support, I am very pleased with the results every time. I contacted them twice, once with a sales inquiry and another with a more technical question. Both responses were quick (within seconds).
I was also pleased with the level of knowledge displayed by their support team who were able to solve my problems quickly and efficiently.
Issues with the number of devices you can connect to a VPN have only been addressed for the past year or so. In the past, we were primarily concerned with protecting a stationary device and a mobile (conventional) device.
Today, thanks to the IoT, practically everything is connected to the Internet. A household can easily have a maximum of 10 devices connected to different networks. For example, where I have three mobile phones, three tablets, two desktops, a laptop, router and smart TV!
Surfshark is one of the few VPN services around that does not limit the number of connections you can use simultaneously. Yes, this may not be a great thing, but it simply loses an immediate point of interest.
Discussing VPN speed is a completely different kind of worm, so if you’re not sure what makes your VPN run fast (or slow), check out the VPN Guide here.
|Location||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)||Ping (ms)|
|Benchmark (without VPN)||305.78||119.06||6|
|Singapore (No WireGuard)||200.46||93.39||11|
|United States (WireGuard)||174.71||115.65||176|
|United States (No WireGuard)||91.31||27.23||190|
|United Kingdom (WireGuard)||178.55||131.56||194|
|Holland (No WireGuard)||170.59||2.71||258|
|South Africa (WireGuard)||168.38||86.09||258|
|South Africa (No WireGuard)||47.61||4.28||349|
Benchmarks – Speed test without SurfShark VPN
Update: SurfShark VPN + WireGuard
Surfshark recently jumped on board the WireGuard. The new protocol is arguably very promising, and we have run a number of tests that reflect this. Remember though the latency remains constant though.
Before testing Surfshark VPN, I first ran a speed test on my line to gauge its speed at the time.
SurfShark VPN speed test (before WireGuard)
I chose Singapore for my Asian regional test because it has some of the best infrastructure around and is a major hub for international connections. To be honest, my eyes almost popped out of my head when I saw I could hit 200Mbps on the downstream test.
The result is simply the best result I’ve come across so far and I’ve rerun the test a couple of times just to make sure it is correct (it is).
The speeds from my connection to the Europe-based VPN server were just as good, with the sign of awareness mostly at longer ping latency.
From a VPN server based in the US, the speed dropped me again. This is often expected since I am as far away from the US as possible. Still, 91 Mbps is still a great result and, in theory, enough to play a video even at 8K.
Africa (South Africa)
Africa is the usual black sheep in the family, but still shows better results than I could get from other VPNs. 47 Mbps might sound a bit slow if you compare it to my default line rate, but it is definitely enough for streaming 4K video.
Netflix works, so I don’t think there is too much to discuss about that. One point to keep in mind, however, is that due to increased ping for more distant servers, there is a noticeable lag in page loading on Netflix. A bit annoying but the streaming still works fine.
Surfshark VPN has unbelievable prices
Surfshark recently underwent a very small price revamp, boosting prices slightly. Given the pace of their growth – both in features and networks, this comes as no surprise.
As always, using plugin packages is the only way to get real value from VPN services. As a Surfshark user for over a year now, I can tell you they are completely worth it.
The two-year plan is currently at $ 2.21 / month and remains one of the best value propositions I’ve seen to date. Yes, there may be cheaper options around, but not with the quality Surfshark is offering – in many cases, not even close.
Disadvantages of Surfshark VPN
The P1P server is limited with poor speed
The first thing you need to know is that Surfshark limits P2P or Torrenting in some locations; Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, UK, USA. For me this is especially relevant since the closest location to me would be Japan.
However, as you can see from the speed test above, the Japanese server still performed pretty well for me. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to translate very well to torrent speeds.
I ran a series of tests, searching for the movies with the most seed I could find noticing how they would do it. The torrent download speed is a fraction of the speed tested, for unknown reasons.
This happened a few times when I tried many things like switching servers or using different file sets. The fact is, Surfshark simply doesn’t seem to want to play well with P2P as much. You can torrent, but slowly.
The fastest server is not necessarily correct
When I run Surshark VPN application for the first time, I want to see how well it will work with everything by default. All I did was install it, enter my credentials then click on the fastest servers’ server. I was connected to a local server where I was – with demoralizing results. The same goes for the ‘Nearest server’ option.
My advice would be to try it out first but if you get terrible results, choose an alternative host. Personally, my situation works best when connecting to Singapore-based Surfshark servers.
Verdict: Surfshark is making waves!
Usually I’m an equal evaluator and I want to weigh as many factors as possible. This has been forged with both personal experience and I have done my best to avoid any prejudice about it. Without a doubt, this time I can say that I am very impressed with what Surfshark has to offer.
This is especially true when I have personally observed their progression from a toddler to the impressive products they have today. Yes, they may still be relatively new, but they are working seriously.
In less than a year they introduced new features and more than doubled the number of servers they had when I first logged on. At the same time, even with a small increase, the price is still above the competitive level.
Surfshark remains firmly one of the top VPNs on my favorites list.