Surfshark is an attention-grabbing VPN with an enormous function set and a surprisingly small value.
The community presents 800+ servers throughout 50 nations, as an example. There are Home windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux apps, Chrome and Firefox extensions, and no limits on the variety of simultaneous connections.
The service is powerful on the technical necessities, together with AES-256 encryption, OpenVPN and IKEv2 assist, a no-logs coverage, and a kill swap to guard you in case your connection drops.
Oh, there’s additionally URL and advert blocking, P2P assist on most servers, VPN chaining (use two servers for one hop), break up tunneling, the corporate‘s personal zero-knowledge DNS servers, and 24/7 assist by way of e-mail and stay chat if something goes mistaken.
Surfshark’s month-to-month plan is costlier than some, at $11.95, and paying for a 12 months up-front nonetheless solely cuts the fee to $5.99 (Non-public Web Entry, Speedify, Bitdefender and others all have annual plans for below $4.) However the two-year plan appears like an actual cut price at $1.99, one of many lowest costs we have seen for a full-featured VPN.
Surfshark’s vary of fee strategies is one other spotlight, with assist for bank cards, PayPal, crypto currencies, Amazon Pay, Google Pay and Ali Pay.
There is a seven-day free trial obtainable for Android, iOS and Mac, and even after signing up, there’s additional safety from a 30-day money-guarantee.
Privateness and logging
Surfshark’s privateness options begin with the VPN fundamentals: safe protocols (OpenVPN UDP and TCP, IKEv2), AES-256 encryption, and a kill swap to dam web entry and stop identification leaks if the connection ever fails.
However that is simply the beginning. Surfshark has its personal personal DNS on every server to scale back the possibility of others spying in your actions. And the power to make use of a double VPN hop (connect with Paris, say, then depart the Surfshark community in New York) makes it much more troublesome for anybody to observe your tracks.
Like ExpressVPN, Surfshark is predicated within the British Virgin Islands, and the corporate factors out that this implies it isn’t required to maintain logs of consumer actions.
A FAQ web page on logging spells this out, stating that Surfshark does not gather: ‘Incoming and outgoing IP addresses; Looking, downloading or buying historical past; VPN servers you employ; Used bandwidth; Session info; Connection timestamps; Community site visitors.’
The one information the corporate retains about you is your e-mail handle and billing info, the FAQ explains. That works for us.
Surfshark stories that it has handed a safety audit by the German Safety firm Treatment53. That is restricted to an examination of Surfshark’s browser extensions, so cannot inform us something about logging or different again finish processes. Nonetheless, Treatment53 discovered solely two comparatively small points, and concluded that it was ‘extremely happy to see such a powerful safety posture on the Surfshark VPN extensions, particularly given the widespread vulnerability of comparable merchandise to privateness points.’
On stability, Surfshark seems to be saying and doing the fitting issues, however we might like extra. An in depth privateness coverage and a extra in-depth safety audit can be a great place to start out.
Getting began with Surfshark was straightforward. We downloaded and put in the Home windows shopper, selected the signup choice, and have been even in a position to choose a plan and hand over fee from inside the installer, no third-party browser required.
The Home windows shopper interface is extra versatile than most, adapting as you resize its window. At its smallest, the shopper appears very like another VPN app, with a Join button, standing info and a listing of places. However broaden or maximize the shopper window and it re formats to show new panels and choices.
Getting related is straightforward. Faucet the button, desktop notifications let you know when Surfshark connects and disconnects, and the interface updates to show your new digital location and IP handle.
The Location listing has bought smarter since our final assessment. There’s now a Favorites system to handle generally used servers, and server load icons could spotlight the very best (or worst) selection.
Proper-clicking the Surfshark system tray icon shows a miniature app window, fairly than the standard primary menu, permitting you to hook up with the quickest server, select certainly one of your most up-to-date places, or open the total app interface.
A separate Multi Hop tab passes your site visitors by two VPN servers for optimum safety. There are 13 routes obtainable, the place the primary server is your preliminary connection (choices embody USA, UK, Singapore, Germany, France, India, Netherlands and Australia), and the second is the place you will look like to the surface world (France, Germany, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, Sweden, UK, USA.)
A Whitelister panel allows creating white lists of purposes, web sites and IP addresses that may bypass the VPN (an equal of the split-tunneling function you will see with suppliers like ExpressVPN). If utilizing Surfshark breaks a selected web site or app, including it to the whitelist ought to resolve the issue.
Surfshark’s Clean Web function blocks adverts, trackers and malicious hyperlinks. We’re not sure how efficient this is perhaps, although, as in our fast exams we discovered specialist instruments like uBlock Origin blocked extra adverts and supplied extra management.
A NoBorders mode goals that can assist you get on-line in nations the place VPNs are generally blocked. Surfshark does not clarify intimately what this does, however presumably it tries to obfuscate your site visitors indirectly.
Extra standard options embody choices to launch the VPN together with Home windows, or change the protocol between OpenVPN UDP and TCP, or IKEv2. However even right here there’s one thing new, with beta assist for Shadowsocks (another solution to direct site visitors by an encrypted tunnel, generally used to bypass web censorship in China.)
It is not all excellent news. The Wi-Fi Safety function which enabled routinely connecting if you accessed un trusted networks has disappeared, for instance– we do not know why.
We had some points with the kill swap, too. Though the shopper efficiently blocked our web site visitors after we forcibly closed the VPN, it did not show any notification to alert the consumer. At one level the kill swap blocked site visitors solely after we have been related, which made the service, properly, a bit troublesome to make use of.
Surfshark’s Home windows shopper is not excellent, then, nevertheless it‘s typically straightforward to make use of and there is numerous performance to discover.
Cellular VPN apps are sometimes way more primary than their desktop cousins, however Surfshark’s Android providing is stunning comparable. There’s the identical interface, the identical location listing, multi hop connections, CleanWeb’s advert and malware blocking, and break up tunneling for apps and web sites with the Whitelister.
There’s the identical OpenVPN/ IVEv2 and Shadowsocks protocol assist, and a kill swap to guard you if the VPN drops.
The Android app throws in further options, too: a selection of encryption strategies, a ‘use small packets’ choice to enhance efficiency with some cellular networks, and the power to routinely connect with the VPN if you entry cellular, secured or unsecured networks.
And if any of this does not work because it ought to, you may ship bug stories, increase or browse tickets from inside the app (no want to go off to the web site, log in and discover no matter web page you want.)
Put all of it collectively and this can be a very spectacular function set, properly applied and easy to make use of. A pleasant antidote for anybody uninterested in underpowered VPN apps, and significantly greater than we might anticipate from a $1.99 a month VPN.
Surfshark’s assist for OpenVPN consists of offering downloads of configuration information for every of its servers. That is excellent news for those who‘re planning on manually setting the service up on different platforms which might use them, and it additionally allowed us to make use of our automated efficiency testing software program to take a look at a pattern of Surfshark’s places.
There was excellent news all spherical. We had no connection failures, connection occasions have been fractionally quicker than common, and all servers returned IP addresses for his or her marketed places.
UK obtain speeds have been as a lot as we might anticipate, at 64-66Mbps on our 75Mbps take a look at line.
To see how briskly Surfshark might go, we additionally tried measuring efficiency from a 475Mbps connection within the US. These outcomes have been blended, however Surfshark peaked at a median pace of 110Mbps. That is greater than adequate for many connections and units, however different VPN suppliers have accomplished significantly better. Non-public Web Entry‘ lowest consequence throughout 4 take a look at runs was 314Mbps, as an example, and it peaked at 452Mbps.
In the event you‘re uninterested in VPNs who vaguely trace about their unblocking talents, however by no means make any actual dedication, you will love Surfshark. Not solely does the corporate say up-front that it unblocks Netflix [https://surfshark.com/use-cases/unblock-netflix], it additionally names the 14 nations the place it at present works (US, France, Japan, Italy, Australia and extra.)
This wasn’t simply overblown marketing-oriented confidence, both. We have been in a position to entry US Netflix from all 5 of our take a look at places.
YouTube has solely essentially the most primary of geographic protections, so we weren’t stunned to search out that Surfshark additionally allowed us to browse US YouTube content material.
BBC iPlayer can generally be extra of a problem, however not this time. Surfshark bypassed its VPN blocking with ease, giving us entry from each of its UK places.
Surfshark is a strong and low-priced VPN with an array of superior options. There are some points, too, however the service has seen some main enhancements over the previous 12 months, and it deserves to be in your VPN shortlist.