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Surfshark VPN Review

 82% 
(120 User reviews)
Surfshark VPN screenshot
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio

Ask Simon about Surfshark VPN

Our Verdict

99.0/10
How is this calculated?

Our overall rating is reached by combining several subcategories. The subcategories are weighted as follows:

  • Logging & Jurisdiction: 30%
  • Speed & Reliability: 25%
  • Security & Features: 20%
  • Streaming: 10%
  • Torrenting: 5%
  • Ease of Use: 5%
  • Support: 5%

See our full methodology in how we review VPNs.

Surfshark is a very good and affordable VPN, full of extra features. It streams over 30 Netflix regions, Disney+, HBO Max, and many more content platforms. It's also highly secure, keeping you anonymous when torrenting. Although speeds could be faster, we believe Surfshark offers fantastic value for money.

Ranked #5 out of 68

Surfshark VPN Category Ratings

  • 9.69.6/10
  • 8.68.6/10
  • 9.79.7/10
  • 8.68.6/10
  • 9.39.3/10
  • 99.0/10
  • 9.89.8/10
  • 9.49.4/10
  • 8.58.5/10
  • 9.59.5/10

Surfshark VPN Pros & Cons

Pros

  1. Excellent budget price
  2. Unblocks 30 Netflix libraries
  3. Supports torrenting
  4. Lots of advanced features
  5. Privacy-friendly jurisdiction
  6. Unlimited device allowance

Cons

  1. Delay connecting to some servers
  2. No port forwarding
  3. No audit for logging policy
  4. No IPv6 support causes leaks

Surfshark is a feature-rich yet inexpensive VPN service. 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, HBO Max, 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 protect 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 Not Working with Netflix (October 2021 Update):

As of writing, Surfshark isn’t working at all with Netflix. Instead, we recommend using either ExpressVPN or Windscribe, two of our best Netflix VPNs.

Surfshark VPN Key Data

Data CapUnlimited
Speed85Mbps
Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
Data LeaksNo
JurisdictionBritish Virgin Islands (Privacy Haven)
Servers3,200
IP Addresses3,200+
Countries65
US NetflixYes
TorrentingPermitted
Works in ChinaYes
Support24/7 Live Chat
Cheapest Price$2.49/mo over 24 months
Official WebsiteSurfshark.com

A VPN that offers excellent value for money

Price & Value for Money

9.59.5/10
How is this calculated?

Price & Value for Money receives a rating, but is not factored into our Overall Rating. We believe the reader should decide what is or isn’t a reasonable price.

A good rating here isn’t just based on how cheap the VPN is, but for the value it offers overall.

Surfshark offers the most value for money on the market. For just $2.49 per month you are not just paying for a VPN but a generally useful online security tool. Packed with features and streaming abilities, Surfshark is well worth the money.

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.

You can see all the pricing plans here:

  1. Monthly

    US$12.95/mo

    Billed $12.95 every month
  2. 6 months

    US$6.49/mo

    Billed $38.94 every 6 months
    Save 50%
  3. 2 years

    US$2.49/mo

    Billed $59.76 now and annually after 24 months
    Save 83%

All plans have 30-day money-back guarantee

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 $1.64 per month on an 18 month subscription plan, but its speeds and streaming capabilities are limited.

To see how Surfshark’s pricing compares to other good budget VPNs, see our list of the best cheap VPNs.

Payment & Refund Options

Surfshark provides a range of payment and refund options, including:

  1. Alipay logo
    Alipay
  2. American Express logo
    American Express
  3. Bitcoin logo
    Bitcoin
  4. Mastercard logo
    Mastercard
  5. PayPal logo
    PayPal
  6. Visa logo
    Visa

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 directly from the Google Play Store or Apple App store. You need to download the mobile app and submit billing details upfront. After seven-days you’ll be charged.

However, for Android users Surfshark’s 30-day money-back guarantee kicks in at that point, meaning you can still get a refund if you cancel within the period. Overall, that’s 37 days of Surfshark for free.

For iOS users, the Surfshark refund policy doesn’t apply, so you need to consult Apple’s refund policy if you want to claim your money-back after the 7-day free trial.

You can use your free trial account details to login to all the other Surfshark apps without restrictions, including on MacOS, Windows, and Linux.

There is no seven-day free trial for desktop apps without signing up on mobile first, but you can take advantage of the same 30-day money-back guarantee.

And you can actually cancel Surfshark twice. After your first cancelation you can purchase the VPN again and begin another 30-day money-back guarantee period just as long as there is a period of 6 months between purchases.

Works well with streaming platforms

Streaming

9.69.6/10
How is this calculated?

Streaming is rated by the number of different services unlocked, how many regional libraries are viewable, and how consistently the VPN can access them.

Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, DAZN, and Amazon Prime Video are all tested on a weekly basis.

Surfshark is one of the best VPNs for streaming. Aside from Windscribe, it unblocks the most number of Netflix libraries, and it access BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, and Disney Plus. Hulu remains blocked though.

Surfshark stands out for how good a VPN it is at unblocking streaming platforms.

It unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, ITV Player, All 4, and HBO Max.

Great for Unblocking Netflix

Surfshark unblocks US Netflix and 30 other international libraries, including:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • South Korea
  • Singapore
  • Turkey
  • 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.

August Update: Surfshark Not Streaming Netflix

Surfshark isn’t streaming Netflix at the moment. Read our review of ExpressVPN instead, our highest-rated VPN for Netflix.

Unblocks BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and More

All of Surfshark’s UK servers work with BBC iPlayer. This is highly impressive. It works with other UK streaming channels like All 4 and ITV Player, too.

It was also the first VPN to unblock Disney+ on its release, and has been our best choice ever since.

US Amazon Prime Video and HBO Max is easily accessed as well. But not Hulu.

P2P Servers, Fast Speeds, But No Port Forwarding

Torrenting

8.68.6/10
How is this calculated?

We calculate the average download bitrate of every VPN using a bespoke torrenting setup.

Testing also factors in the percentage of servers which permit P2P, plus useful features like port forwarding.

Surfshark is a very good choice for torrenters, but it's not the best. While it has solid bitrate speeds and a number of P2P servers, it doesn't have port-forwarding. Port forwarding isn't essential, but it prevents seeding.

Surfshark is a good 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, and allows you to torrent safely using Surfshark.

All Surfshark servers allow P2P file-sharing, but some servers are specifically optimized for P2P activity. You can find these servers by typing in ‘P2P’ into the app’s server search bar.

Some servers optimized for P2P include:

  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • UK
  • US

These fast P2P-optimized connections let you 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 & Reliability

8.68.6/10
How is this calculated?

Speed ratings are calculated using upload speeds, download speeds, and ping (latency).

We test average speeds regularly using a dedicated 100Mbps connection in London, UK. Local download speed is considered the most important factor.

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 tested our connection speed before and after connecting to a server in London, close to our real location.

Local Speed Test results before using Surfshark VPN:

  • Download Speed: 99Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 99Mbps
  • Ping: 1ms

Local Speed Test results with Surfshark VPN:

  • Download Speed: 84Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 91Mbps
  • Ping: 14ms

Download speed loss when Surfshark VPN is running: 15%

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.

These speeds are more than fast enough for most users, though when we reviewed Private Internet Access and analyzed NordVPN, we recorded even smaller speed losses.

We find that the OpenVPN connection is reliably faster than WireGuard when using Surfshark. For optimal speeds, select OpenVPN.

Long-Distance Speed Tests

Surfshark’s speeds over long-distance connections are also good.

We connected to its US, Australia, Canada, and Germany servers from our London office and measured our connection speeds before and after.

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 VPNs like Hotspot Shield recorded losses of just 17% on US servers.

Here are Surfshark’s full long-distance speed results:

  • USA (New York):
    • Download: 56Mbps
    • Upload: 77Mbps
  • Canada:
    • Download: 71Mbps
    • Upload: 73Mbps
  • Germany:
    • Download: 71Mbps
    • Upload: 93Mbps
  • Australia:
    • Download: 59Mbps
    • Upload: 58Mbps

Surfshark’s international speeds are good and stable across the board, with speed loss consistently under 50% when connecting to servers very far away.

Surfshark’s Speeds Compared to Other VPNs

In addition to testing VPN speeds manually, we’ve also developed an automated VPN speed test tool that constantly tests 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:

VPN Speed Performance Comparison Chart

Use our Speed Test Tool to see Surfshark’s worldwide speeds.

Surfshark’s VPN speeds have been improving month by month, and the gap with faster VPNs is narrowing down.

Moreover, Surfshark is now regularly beating CyberGhost in many speed tests.

Surfshark is safe and private

Logging Policy & Jurisdiction

9.79.7/10
How is this calculated?

We dissect the logging and privacy policies of every VPN. A VPN should never log:

  • Your real IP address
  • Connection timestamps
  • DNS requests

A base of operations outside of 14-Eyes or EU jurisdiction is preferable.

Surfshark isn't 100% zero logs, but it's pretty close and very safe. It collects some aggregated performance data, but nothing sensitive or identifiable. It's also based in the British Virgin Islands – perhaps the best place to incorporate a VPN company.

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.

The VPN service’s privacy policy states the following:

“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.”

There are some very minor causes for concern in the above wording.

Firstly, we were alarmed by the phrase “other similar information.” A good privacy policy is as specific as possible – it’s unclear exactly what “similar information” entails.

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.

It’s worth noting that there’s a separate privacy policy for its BlindSearch and HackLock features. BlindSearch collects an aggregated number of performed searches and HackLock stores your email address. Both tools are separate from the main VPN applications.

Based in a safe jurisdiction

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.

Surfshark Warrant Canary Feature on the Surfshark Website

Surfshark has a warrant canary feature on the website.

Many advanced features for greater security

Security & Features

9.89.8/10
How is this calculated?

Top-rated VPNs offer OpenVPN or WireGuard protocols, AES-256 encryption, and a functional kill switch. We also consider additional security features and the global spread of VPN servers.

Surfshark is packed with additional features. Alongside the industry-standard protection, including a kill switch and AES-256 encryption, it operates diskless servers for extra security and comes with a GPS spoofing tool. There's also a Surfshark One bundle that includes an antivirus, private search engine, and security alert system.

Protocols
  1. IKEv2/IPSec
  2. OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
  3. WireGuard
Encryption
  1. AES-256
Security
  1. DNS Leak Blocking
  2. VPN Kill Switch
  3. WebRTC Leak Blocking
Advanced features
  1. Ad Blocker
  2. Double VPN
  3. Smart DNS
  4. SOCKS
  5. Split Tunneling

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.

Check out our WireGuard vs OpenVPN guide for a full comparison of these two leading protocols.

RAM-Based Servers

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 an Surfshark Antivirus and HackLock, to your existing subscription for an extra $1.49 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 and Surfshark Antivirus.

Surfshark Alert scans the web in real time to notify you of security exposures.

  • Surfshark Antivirus is an antivirus tool available on Windows and Android. It offers real-time protection against malware, viruses, and apps that do things on your device without your permission.
  • 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.’ However, it is not available on Apple iOS or Mac.
  • 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.

To clarify, Hacklock, Surfshark Antivirus, and Blindsearch need to be downloaded separately as part of the Surfshark One bundle, which costs an extra $1.49 per month.

Surfshark also developed an Android-only GPS spoofing feature found under Virtual Location. It lets you easily change your GPS location and bypass GPS geo-blocks set by various mobile apps. Hopefully, GPS spoofing will be added to the iOS app soon.

High encryption standards

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.

Server Network Audit

In 2021 Surfshark commissioned an audit of its server infrastructure. This was performed by Cure53, a Germany-based IT security firm.

The full audit identified some ‘medium’ level security concerns, which the Surfshark team swiftly handled.

The report concludes:

“The overall outcome should be regarded as good and the testing team has no doubt that the Surfshark maintainers have a clear understanding of security and privacy challenges associated with being a VPN provider.”

It’s good to see Surfshark commissioning audits of its server security, something very few providers do. While some issues were identified, these were fixed quickly.

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, or WebRTC leaks using its apps.

You can also see leak-free results when using Browserleaks.com:

Incompatible with IPv6 Protocol

Surfshark currently has no IPv6 support. This means that IPv6 leaks are highly likely and your normal ISP will be used should you encounter an IPv6 address on your network. This is a security risk we want Surfshark to resolve as soon as possible.

It also means that Surfshark won’t work at all if you have a new IPv6-exclusive router. IPv6 is the most recent version of the internet protocol, so most routers have IPv4, but it’s worth checking with your router provider or testing for IPv6 with our tool.

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.

Other top VPN apps have similar trackers in place. However, our review of Astrill and our evaluation of Hide.me show how these two VPNs have no trackers whatsoever.

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.”

According to VentureBeat, AppsFlyer leverages metadata from 98% of the world’s mobile devices. While this doesn’t sound good for privacy at all, its privacy policy states that it doesn’t share data with any third parties.

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 65 countries

Server Locations

9.39.3/10
How is this calculated?

The global spread and coverage of the VPN server network is the most important factor here.

We also consider the number of city-level servers, plus how many IP addresses are maintained.

This rating does not directly contribute to the Overall Rating, but instead makes up a portion of the Security & Features rating.

Surfshark has a solid server spread across the globe, and different types of useful servers. There aren't as many as leaders like CyberGhost or PIA, but there lots of city-level options. US users can maximise connections by selecting from 26 different cities.

Globe with a blue flag
65Countries
Image of a city landscape
100+Cities
Image of a pink marker
3,200+IP Addresses

Surfshark has a large network of over 3,200 servers in 65 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.

Surfshark servers as listed on the website.

Wide Range of US City Locations

One of Surfshark’s server highlights is that he gives city-level choice in 12 countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Italy
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Spain
  • UK
  • US

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 any activity on that static IP address can’t be linked to you.

Surfshark’s MultiHop allows you to have a double VPN connection.

One 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.Unfortunately, latency and server load information is not available within the app. This is useful information to help select the fastest server, which services 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.

Surfshark’s virtual server locations include:

  • Albania
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Slovenia

Surfshark bypasses aggressive web censorship

Bypassing Censorship

99.0/10
How is this calculated?

Our remote-access server in Shanghai, China routinely tests if a VPN can beat restrictions and access a free, open internet. Obfuscation technologies and nearby servers are also a contributing factor.

This rating does not directly contribute to the Overall Rating, but instead makes up a portion of the Security & Features rating.

Surfshark gets around the Great Firewall of China 30% of the time, which is a better result than most VPNs. While it's inconsistent in China, Surfshark is a reliable anti-censorship VPN in countries like Turkey, UAE, and Russia. This is thanks to its obfuscation technology, such as NoBorders mode.

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 Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

According to out test results, it’s also capable of getting around the strictest Chinese censorship, but only 30% of the time. Astrill, on the other hand, works 100% of the time.

Anti-Censorship Features

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.

ShadowSocks requires manual configuration on most devices, and here are online guides on how to do this for Android, MacOS, and Windows.

Surfshark offers unlimited simultaneous connections

Platforms & Devices

How is device compatibility rated?

A quality VPN should maintain functional, fully-featured applications and extensions for as many platforms and devices as possible.

This does not directly contribute to the Overall Rating, but instead makes up a portion of the Ease of Use rating.

Surfshark is compatible with every major platform including Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Linux, and Fire OS. It also comes with an unlimited device allowance, meaning you can use Surfshark VPN on as many devices as you wish. You can also install it on router.

Apps

Surfshark is available to download and install on these devices:

  1. Windows Logo
    Windows
  2. Mac Logo
    Mac
  3. iOS Logo
    iOS
  4. Android Logo
    Android
  5. Linux Logo
    Linux
  6. Router Logo
    Router

The Surfshark website has helpful setup guides for all devices.

Surfshark was also one fo the first VPNs to support the new M1 chip from Apple. This is ideal for users of the new iMac and Macbook.

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 is available to install on a wide range of consoles and streaming devices, including:

  1. AppleTV Logo
    AppleTV
  2. Amazon Fire TV Logo
    Amazon Fire TV
  3. Android TV Logo
    Android TV
  4. Chromecast Logo
    Chromecast
  5. Nintendo Logo
    Nintendo
  6. PlayStation Logo
    PlayStation
  7. Roku Logo
    Roku
  8. Smart TV Logo
    Smart TV
  9. Xbox Logo
    Xbox

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 Max, 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

Surfshark also offers Smart DNS and Trust DNS (on Android and iOS only) features.

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.

Surfshark has a Smart DNS streaming tool.

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.

Browser Extensions

You can install Surfshark browser extensions as part of an active VPN subscription. It can be added to these browsers:

  1. Chrome Logo
    Chrome
  2. Firefox Logo
    Firefox

These browser extensions are safe and independently audited.

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.

Easy setup and user-friendly apps

Ease of Use

9.49.4/10
How is this calculated?

This rating mainly consists of the intuitiveness of setup and everyday use.

Device or platform compatibility and customization options are also a factor.

Surfshark has some of the best designed VPN apps on the market. Even with all the features, they're smooth, clean, and user-friendly.

How to Install & Set Up Surfshark VPN

Surfshark’s native applications are well-designed, functional, and 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 lots of language options, 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.

Windows Client

Surfshark’s Windows software is standard-looking, with simple navigation options on the left-hand-side.

Surfshark’s Windows app.

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.

Surfshark’s server locations on the Windows app.

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.

You can change protocol on Surfshark’s Windows app via advanced settings.

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.

MacOS Client

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, the kill switch and multihop connections. Whitelister is absent on iOS, though.

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

Customer Support

8.58.5/10
How is this calculated?

This rating is based on our assessment of each VPN’s:

  • Email support
  • Live chat support
  • Online resources

Not every VPN offers all of these, and they often vary in quality and response time.

Surfshark has a helpful website for support and a quick and friendly 24/7 live chat. We found that agents struggled with in-depth technical questions, but you can always refer to the email ticketing system for comprehensive answers.

24/7 Live chat supportYes
Email support via an online formYes
Tutorial VideosYes
Online ResourcesYes

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 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

The new ExpressVPN logo

ExpressVPN

9.79.7/10

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

NordVPN

9.59.5/10

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

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio


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