Surfshark is a very affordable VPN full of advanced features. It's ideal for streaming BBC iPlayer and 15 Netflix libraries. It's also highly secure, keeping you anonymous while torrenting. Although speeds could be faster, Surfshark VPN is on the whole great value for money.
Overall Rating: 9.0/10
Surfshark is a feature-rich yet inexpensive VPN service designed for VPN beginners. It’s highly secure, and all its applications are easy to use.
Reviewing Surfshark revealed how good a VPN it is for streaming and torrenting. It works well with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu and Disney+.
Surfshark also easily bypasses US sports blackouts, with 26 city-level servers in the United States.
This VPN is safe and will not leak your true IP address location. It doesn’t log any user activity and is incorporated in the safe jurisdiction of the British Virgin Islands.
The apps come with many security essentials too: AES-256 encryption, the WireGuard and OpenVPN protocols. There’s also a kill switch to mask your real IP address if your VPN connection drops.
Additionally, there are many extra security features such as Camouflage Mode, malicious URL and ad blocking, MultiHop servers, and more.
Keep reading to see why Surfshark is an excellent budget VPN that will please most internet users.
Surfshark VPN Pros & Cons
Surfshark VPN Key Data
|Logging Policy||Anonymous Server Usage Data|
|Jurisdiction||British Virgin Islands (Privacy Haven)|
|Works in China||Yes|
|Support||24/7 Live Chat|
|Cheapest Price||$2.49/mo over 24 months|
Surfshark VPN Category Ratings
We test and review every VPN in eight key areas. Here’s how Surfshark performs in each category:
- Privacy & Logging Policy: 9.7/10
- Encryption & Security: 9.8/10
- Speed & Reliability: 8.6/10
- Streaming & Torrenting: 9.2/10
- Bypassing Censorship: 9.0/10
- Ease of Use: 9.4/10
- Customer Support: 8.5/10
- Price & Value for Money: 9.5/10
To learn more about our methodology, read our full VPN testing process.
A VPN that offers excellent value for money
Pricing & Coupons
Surfshark VPN Pricing Plan
Price & Value for Money Rating: 9.5/10
One of Surfshark’s main highlights is its price. It’s not only one of the best VPNs of 2021, it’s also one of the cheapest, at just $2.49 per month on a two-year subscription.
There are also short-term plans, of course – you can see all pricing plans below.
While there are other VPNs available for a similar price, none of them are as fully-featured as Surfshark. For example, Zenmate VPN costs just over $2 per month on an 18 month subscription plan, but its speeds and streaming capabilities are limited. You can find out more in our Zenmate review.
To see how Surfshark’s pricing compares to other good budget VPNs, see our list of the best cheap VPNs.
US$12.95/moBilled $12.95 every month
US$6.49/moBilled $38.94 every 6 months
US$2.49/moBilled $59.76 now and annually after 24 months
All plans have 30-day money-back guarantee
Payment & Refund Options
Surfshark provides a range of payment and refund options including PayPal, all major debit cards, and even cryptocurrency. The full list of payment options includes:
- Credit/Debit Card
- Amazon Pay
- Apple Pay
The most privacy-conscious users will be happy with the choice of cryptocurrencies, although cash payments are not available as of yet. See our Mullvad VPN review for a service that offers this payment option.
Free Trial and Money-Back Guarantee
Surfshark offers a seven-day free trial on iOS and Android.
You can access the trial applications directly from the Google Play Store or Apple App store, however you’ll have to submit billing details upfront.
If you choose to continue using Surfshark after seven days, you will be charged.
However, the no questions asked 30-day money-back guarantee kicks in at that point, meaning you can still get your money back if you cancel within the refund period.
Great for P2P and unblocking streaming platforms
Streaming & P2P
Streaming & Torrenting Rating: 9.2/10
Surfshark stands out for how good a VPN it is at unblocking streaming platforms.
It unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Sky, and HBO Max.
Great For Unblocking Netflix
Surfshark unblocks US Netflix and 14 other international libraries, including:
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
We experienced high video quality and lag-less streaming in our tests.
While there are no dedicated streaming servers, the vast majority of US servers will work. In our most recent tests, only the Charlotte and St.Louis servers didn’t stream US Netflix.
For more, read our in-depth guide on using Surfshark for Netflix.
Unblocks BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and More
All of Surfshark’s UK servers work with BBC iPlayer. This is highly impressive.
It was also the first VPN to unblock Disney+ on its release, and has been our best choice ever since.
Great VPN for Torrenting?
Surfshark is an excellent VPN for torrenting.
Its privacy-focused logging policy and high encryption help hide your P2P activity from your ISP. Also, the automatic kill switch stops your IP address from showing if your VPN connection drops. This keeps your download activity safe from any accidental exposures.
All Surfshark servers allow for P2P file-sharing, though some of them are specifically optimized for P2P.
Some of the servers optimized for P2P include:
- Hong Kong
If you’re torrenting on a server location that isn’t optimized for torrenting, your traffic will be automatically routed to servers that are. If you’re in Europe or Asia or outside of the UK, P2P traffic will be routed through Surfshark’s Netherlands server. If you’re in the Americas, but outside of the US or Canada, it will be routed through Canadian servers.
These fast P2P-optimized connections will allow you to torrent anonymously using torrent clients like BitTorrent, Deluge, Transmission, uTorrent, and Vuze. You’ll also be able to stream privately P2P-based services such as Ace Player, VLC, and PopcornTime
Surfshark Doesn’t Allow Port Forwarding
However, Surfshark does not allow seeding as there is no port forwarding option due to the “security threat.”
Surfshark is quick, but could be faster
Speed Test Results
Speed & Reliability Rating: 8.6/10
Surfshark’s speeds are more than fast enough for streaming, torrenting, and other data-intensive activities. It closely competes with some of the fastest VPNs.
We recorded an average speed loss of 15% when connecting to nearby servers, and 41% loss when connecting to US servers. These speed results are good, and fast enough for a good web experience.
Local Speed Tests
We tested our connection speed before and after connecting to a server in London, close to our real location.
Surfshark’s same-country local connection speeds are very good, dropping just 15% to 85Mbps. If you’re in the US and connect to a nearby US server, you can expect similar results. This is more than fast enough for most users, though when we reviewed Private Internet Access and analyzed NordVPN, they had even smaller speed losses.
Download speed without Sursfhark: 99 Mbps
Download speed with Surfshark: 84 Mbps
Our download speed loss when Surfshark is running is: 15%
These are very respectable speed results, and you’ll have no trouble streaming, torrenting or surfing the web.
Short-Distance Test Results
Before using Surfshark VPN:
When connected to Surfshark VPN:
Long-Distance Speed Tests
Surfshark’s speeds over long-distance connections were also good. We connected its servers in the US, Australia, Canada, and Germany from our London office and measured our connection speeds before and after.
As expected, the servers located furthest from our office in the UK saw the largest speed losses.
We recorded an average speed loss of 41% when connected to the US, and 40% connecting to Australia. This is not unusual for long-distance connections, though competitors like Hotspot Shield recorded losses of just 17% on US servers.
Here are Surfshark’s full long-distance speed results:
- USA: 56Mbps (download) & 77Mbps (upload) ‒ 41% speed loss
- Canada: 71Mbps (download) & 73Mbps (upload) ‒ 28% speed loss
- Germany: 71Mbps (download) & 93Mbps (upload) ‒ 27% speed loss
- Australia: 59Mbps (download) & 58Mbps (upload) ‒ 39% speed loss
Surfshark’s international speeds are good and stable across the board, with speed loss consistently under 50% when connecting to servers very far away. However, it’s still slower than the current fastest VPNs.
We test and compare VPN speeds using the same scientific speed-testing methodology, currently testing speeds on the OpenVPN protocol, to keep comparisons fair and consistent. Surfshark uses the IKEv2/IPsec protocol by default, so you may experience faster speeds using this protocol.
How Do Surfshark’s Speeds Compare to Other VPNs?
In addition to testing VPN speeds manually, we’ve also developed an automated VPN speed test tool that is constantly testing VPN speeds around the world. Tests run automatically four times per day, and test connection speeds are capped at 100Mbps to recreate a typical home internet connection.
The graph below compares Surfshark VPN’s average loss of internet speed to other popular VPNs for New York to New York connections:
Surfshark’s VPN speeds have been improving month by month, and the gap with faster VPNs is narrowing down. Moreover, Surfshark is now consistently beating CyberGhost in many speed tests.
Surfshark is safe and private
Logging & Jurisdiction
Privacy & Logging Policy Rating: 9.7/10
There is no reason to doubt Surfshark’s commitment to user privacy. It does not keep logs of user activity or connection data, and its jurisdiction of the British Virgin Islands is a privacy haven.
We’ve analyzed the service’s logging policy and can confirm it’s sensible and privacy-focused, but not completely zero-logs.
To be specific, Surfshark collects:
- Aggregated performance data
- Unsuccessful connection attempts
- Frequency of use
While Surfshark isn’t a no-logs VPN by definition, it comes close to it. It doesn’t collect personally identifiable data, meaning it won’t store your internet activity or IP address.
“To maintain a perfect quality of our Services and provide you with efficient support we collect diagnostics information and monitor crash reports on our apps. The information we collect contains aggregated performance data, the frequency of use of our services, unsuccessful connection attempts and other similar information.”
Secondly, Surfshark collects advertising identifiers – unique, resettable IDs for advertising provided by third parties. You can opt out of personalized ads by adjusting the settings in your app.
What’s more, there has still been no independent audit of its VPN applications, or its logging policy.
Without a confirmed audit, there’s always room for doubt around logging practices. Many major VPN companies, like ExpressVPN and VyprVPN, have already done so to earn even greater trust.
Who owns Surfshark?
Surfshark is owned by Surfshark Ltd, whose CEO is Vytautas Kaziukonis.
The company was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in 2018. It’s a very sensible place to set up a VPN company. There are no intrusive data retention laws or practices in the BVI, and it’s widely viewed as a privacy-haven.
The nation is not part of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes surveillance agreements. Foreign governments cannot force Surfshark to collect or share user logs.
In the spirit of transparency, Surfshark publishes the number of government agency requests it receives on its warrant canary page. Currently, it has received zero requests for information.
Many advanced features for greater security
Privacy & Security Analysis
DNS Leak Blocking
VPN Kill Switch
WebRTC Leak Blocking
Encryption & Security Rating: 9.8/10
Surfshark includes all of the essential security features you would expect from a top-tier service.
You’ll benefit from robust encryption, secure protocols, IP and DNS leak protection, and an automatic kill switch on all applications. We also found no evidence of IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks.
AES-256 encryption is used on all platforms, with ChaCha encryption also available for Android users.
VPN Protocol Selection
IKEv2 is the default protocol used on all apps, though you can choose OpenVPN in the settings menu.
The Windows, Android, iOS and Mac apps also let you choose between TCP and UDP OpenVPN connections.
Like many other providers, Surfshark also introduced its patched WireGuard protocol recently, which has much less bandwidth overhead than OpenVPN.
Following in ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s footsteps, Surfshark has moved away from hard drive technology and now operates a completely diskless, RAM-only server network.
This vastly improves security, as information cannot be physically extracted from the servers, and it enables central management of the whole network. Very few VPNs have this feature.
Surfshark’s Extra Features
Surfshark is filled with advanced security features, built to enhance your experience and safeguard your data.
Here’s a list of the VPN’s advanced security features:
- BlindSearch is a private search engine designed to allow users to search the web with no ads or trackers. You can add BlindSearch, along with HackLock, to your existing subscription for an extra $0.99 per month.
- Camouflage Mode, also known as obfuscation. This is a technology that disguises your VPN traffic to make it look like ‘normal’ browsing. This means even your ISP can’t tell you’re using a VPN.
- CleanWeb is Surfshark’s proprietary ad, tracker, and malware blocker. It is not turned on by default.
- MultiHop, sometimes known as Double VPN, routes your traffic via two different VPN servers instead of one. This additional step makes you harder to track, though it may reduce connection speeds.
- Surfshark Alert is a breach detection tool that scans the web in real-time, checking that your email and login information hasn’t been leaked online. This feature comes as an added bundle with BlindSearch.
- Whitelister is a split tunneling feature that allows you to define which applications and websites shouldn’t use the VPN connection. You can find it in the sidebar menu of the Surfshark app, under ‘Features.’
- A VPN kill switch is an essential feature for any VPN, preventing your true IP address from leaking if your VPN connection drops. To enable it on Windows, toggle the setting in the app’s security menu. On Android devices, you’ll need to enable it manually in the device settings.
It’s encouraging to see Surfshark display a commitment to privacy even beyond the use of a VPN, and it’s impressive that these features all come bundled for such a low price. For the record, Hacklock and Blindsearch need to be downloaded separately, and cost an extra $0.99 per month.
Surfshark was also the first VPN to develop a GPS spoofing feature. An Android-only feature found under ‘Virtual Location,’ it allows you to easily change your GPS location and bypass GPS geo-blocks set by various mobile apps. Hopefully, GPS spoofing will be rolled out to the iOS app soon, too.
The VPN service has also gone the extra mile to include a two-factor authentication (2FA) option for its users too.
For more technically minded users, Surfshark’s encryption uses an RSA-2048 handshake and HMAC SHA256 data authentication.
Perfect Forward Secrecy is implemented through the Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange (DHE), meaning encryption keys are not reused between sessions, for an added layer of security.
IP, WebRTC and DNS Leak Test Results
Surfshark uses private DNS on every server to protect your DNS requests.
We tested this on our VPN leak test test tool by connecting to a US server from our office in London, and recorded zero DNS, IPv4, IPv6 or WebRTC leaks using its apps.
You can also see leak-free results when using Browserleaks.com:
No Viruses or Malware Detected
Surfshark is virus-free too. We scanned the VPN software for any malicious files and it came back completely clean:
Android App Tracker Scans
We also scanned the Android app for trackers that could potentially compromise your privacy.
We ran the app through the εxodus tool. This exposes any trackers or permissions present in Android apps. Here’s what we found:
Surfshark’s Android app has four trackers for Google Analytics, GoogleCrashLytics, Google Firebase Analytics, and AppsFlyer.
Analytics aren’t too concerning as it allows Surfshark to maintain the performance of its app and see how users interact with its service.
The use of AppsFlyer is a little more concerning. This is a marketing tracker that “uses artificial intelligence and machine learning for big data analytics.”
Android App Permissions
The Android app also has 16 permissions, which dictate the level of access the software has to your device.
Three of these permissions are considered ‘special’ or ‘dangerous’ according to Google’s protections levels, including:
- Access to your camera
- Access to the contents of your SD card
- Permission to modify and delete the contents of your SD card
These permissions are unnecessary for a VPN application designed for privacy. We’d like to see these removed, or at the very least explained, in future app updates.
3,200+ servers in 66 countries
Surfshark has a large network of over 3,200+ servers in 66 countries.
The network isn’t as large as CyberGhost’s server network, but it’s extensive enough to keep most users happy.
The majority of servers are in Europe, as with most VPN services. And like most other VPNs, coverage in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East is rather limited.
Wide Range of US City Locations
One of Surfshark’s server highlights is that he gives city-level choice in 12 countries:
The United States enjoys the best coverage, with 26 city-level server locations. This is excellent coverage, and will come in handy to US residents looking for a VPN to bypass sports blackouts.
Furthermore, the three VPN server locations in Canada – Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver – cover both Canadian coasts. 100 servers in five Australian cities is great coverage, too.
Static and Multihop Servers
The Surfshark’s apps list different types of servers, too.
Windows users will see options for static IP, virtual servers, and MultiHop.
Mac users will see labels for physical, virtual, P2P, and MultiHop.
Static IP servers give you an IP address that remains the same whenever you use that server. This allows for faster speeds and easier access to geo-restricted content.
While on paper this poses a greater privacy risk, in reality many people will be using the same IP address. This means that any activity on that static IP address can’t be linked to you.
One very positive inclusion is MultiHop servers, sometimes called ‘Double VPN’. These add an extra layer of security, by ‘bouncing’ your traffic from one encrypted server to another, and then onto a website or application. This may slow down speed, but it brings added privacy.
As it stands, Surfshark’s server listings are difficult to understand for VPN beginners. We’d like to see more consistency with the labeling of servers, especially those optimized for services like Netflix.
Unfortunately, latency and server load information is not available within the app. This is useful information to help select the fastest server, which providers like ExpressVPN and CyberGhost do offer.
Virtual Server Locations
Surfshark allows users to choose between virtual locations and physical locations.
Virtual locations assign an IP address in a country of your choice even if the actual server is located elsewhere. These servers are marked with a small ‘v’ on the Windows app, and listed separately on the Mac app.
Virtual servers allow Surfshark to cover more locations around the world, and can often lead to better speeds.
However, if the actual server is much further from your physical location than advertised, you may see a drop in performance.
These virtual server locations include:
- Costa Rica
Surfshark bypasses aggressive web censorship
Bypassing Censorship Rating: 9.0/10
Surfshark has clearly put a lot of work into bypassing aggressive online censorship.
We can confirm it’s currently one of the best VPNs to circumvent web blocks in countries like China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Its additional anonymity features allow Surfshark to work reliably in highly-censored countries.
Camouflage Mode is an obfuscation tool designed to make your VPN traffic appear as normal traffic, disguising your VPN usage from ISPs and thereby eluding web censors.
This feature is automatically activated whenever you connect with the OpenVPN (TCP or UDP) protocol, and is the main reason why Surfshark works in high censorship nations.
NoBorders Mode is specifically built to beat internet restrictions and censorship. It detects when you’re connected to a restricted network or in a censored country, and automatically redirects your traffic elsewhere.
Surfshark also uses ShadowSocks, often called SOCKS5. This is an open-source proxy, usually used by torrenters, that can often bypass strict web censorship.
Surfshark offers unlimited simultaneous connections
Surfshark is compatible with every major platform including Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Linux and Fire OS.
The Surfshark website has helpful setup guides for all devices.
Unlimited VPN Connections
There is no simultaneous device limit. You can use Surfshark on all your devices with just one Surfshark subscription.
This is a great benefit that very few VPN services offer, with most imposing a limit of five devices.
If Surfshark doesn’t have a native app for a device you own, you can always install the VPN on your router.
Surfshark’s software is compatible with DD-WRT, Tomato and AsusWRT routers. Any device connected to the router will use the VPN connection, if enabled.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
Surfshark can really enhance your streaming experience, especially on Amazon Fire TV Stick and Apple TV.
The VPN’s native Fire Stick TV app is very well made, and it unblocks many streaming services like HBO Go, Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube.
Because Surfshark allows P2P traffic on most servers, you can also use the VPN to stream Kodi apps anonymously.
To install Surfshark on an Amazon Firestick, subscribe to the VPN service and then download the Fire OS app from the Amazon App Store.
Surfshark’s Smart DNS Tool
Both are proxy tools that allow you to unblock video content on devices such as Apple TV, games consoles and Smart TVs. Both tools work by changing the DNS address set in your device.
While Smart DNS lets you access restricted content, it doesn’t provide the same security level as normal VPN browsing, because your traffic is not encrypted.
Surfshark has developed safe and independently audited browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
Both browser add-ons work similarly to the full Surfshark VPN app, but they are proxies with very few settings. They spoof your IP location, but they don’t protect your privacy as well as full VPN software does.
Currently, only ExpressVPN has a full-VPN browser extension.
Easy setup and user-friendly apps
Ease of Use
How to Install & Set Up Surfshark VPN
Ease of Use Rating: 9.4/10
Surfshark’s native applications are well-designed, functional, and reasonably easy to use.
The interfaces are clear and, even if you’re new to VPNs, you should have little trouble using Surfshark’s advanced features.
There are also plenty of customization tools to personalize your VPN experience, including language change, auto-connect, status notifications, ‘Dark Mode’, and ‘Mini Mode’.
All of the native apps have an automatic kill switch, NoBorders mode, MultiHop, and CleanWeb. However, there are some differences between platforms, with some features present on certain devices and not others.
Each platform presents Surfshark’s server types in a different way, which can be confusing. We’d like to see more consistency between native applications as well as the option to view server load and streaming-optimized servers on all platforms.
Surfshark’s Windows software is standard-looking, with simple navigation options on the left-hand-side.
The main dashboard features a large connection button and a list of your most recent country connections.
The menu is a sidebar condensed to just a few options: main screen, locations, settings, and features. A Quick Connect button is also available to automatically connect you to the most optimal server based on your location.
There’s a clear list of server locations and a search bar to quickly find the server you want. Windows users will see options for static IP servers, virtual servers, and MultiHop. There’s also a favorites system to manage the locations you most commonly connect to.
Unlike the Mac client, there is no easily accessible list of P2P servers on the Windows app. You have to use the Smart Search and click the P2P option.
The Windows app has added customization options, including Dark Mode and Mini Mode.
You can change the basic menu to a smaller app window by right-clicking the system tray icon. From this smaller window, you can quickly connect to the fastest server or choose your most recent location without having to open the full interface.
The choice to switch between protocols (including OpenVPN) is also made simple on the Windows app, with a drop-down menu in the app Settings.
Overall, Surfshark’s Windows application is nicely designed and easy to navigate. In the location section, we’d like to see an indication of server load or ping times for city-level servers so users can easily find the best-performing server for their location.
Surfshark’s Mac application is similar, but the locations are listed as an even simpler side menu for navigation. You’ll also see options between Physical, Virtual, P2P and MultiHop servers made much more prominent compared to Windows.
The Settings menu just above the servers is also nicely presented on Mac. The Features menu gives you one-button access to tools such as HackLock and BlindSearch, which means they’re never too far away. This type of access is exclusive to the MacOS client ‒ if you’re a Windows user you’ll have to navigate to the Surfshark website to find these tools.
Android and iOS Apps
Surfshark’s mobile apps are also attractive and easy to use. All of the features and functions work well on mobile devices for both Android and iOS.
The apps are similar to its desktop counterparts, which is rare. The interface is the same and you’ll find many of the same features, including CleanWeb, split tunneling (Whitelister), the kill switch and multihop connections.
Both mobile applications run OpenVPN, IKEv2 and Shadowsocks protocols.
As mentioned earlier, the Android app also offers GPS spoofing, as well as a ‘Use Small Packets’ setting to improve network performance.
Helpful 24/7 live chat support
|24/7 Live chat support||Yes|
|Email support via an online form||Yes|
Customer Support Rating: 8.5/10
Surfshark provides fast, friendly, and helpful customer support with 24/7 live chat and a ticketing system available.
There’s also an online help section featuring installation guides, troubleshooting, an FAQ, and a knowledgebase.
To access Surfshark’s live chat simply head to the website and click the Chat icon in the bottom right corner of the page.
We found the company’s customer support team to be fast and informative, and we got an answer to our query in under a minute.
However, technical questions might take a little longer. When we asked about ChaCha encryption, our support agent took a while to respond and their answer was lacking in detail.
If you have a particularly technical question, we’d recommend using Surfshark’s email ticketing system instead.
Do We Recommend Surfshark?
The Bottom Line
We recommend Surfshark as a high-quality, secure, and reliable VPN service.
Its native VPN applications come with a great array of advanced features and they easily unblock streaming websites like Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
Its 24/7 live chat support is also a great feature for beginners that need help using a VPN for the first time.
Users looking to use a VPN in China or other censored countries can also take advantage of Surfshark’s obfuscation tools that effectively bypass blocks and restrictions.
However, as we’ve highlighted in this Surfshark review, there are some minor issues with the VPN service. Primarily, we want to see its logging policy independently audited following the example of other major VPN services.
On the whole, Surfshark VPN is an impressive service, especially for the very affordable price.
If you’re looking for unrestricted streaming and torrenting capabilities, or unlimited simultaneous connections, then it is excellent value for money.
Additional research by David Hughes
Alternatives to Surfshark VPN
ExpressVPN is the best all-round VPN and patches up any holes that Surfshark has. The problem is ExpressVPN is much more expensive, priced at $6.67 per month on its best deal. Quality wise it’s better, but be prepared to pay a bit more than what Surfshark is asking. Read ExpressVPN review
NordVPN has more servers than Surfshark and it’s quicker. It’s style and function is very similar as well, so there’s no loss on the usability front. It’s slightly more expensive, but it’s one of our highest ranked VPNs and well worth thinking about if you’re not convinced by Surfshark. Read NordVPN review