Surfshark VPN review: Competitive pricing and lots of surprise features from this newbie

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Surfshark

Relative to the market in 2018 virtual private network Newbie Surfshark is quickly becoming a competitive VPN option over its older and better-known peers. Despite a smaller server fleet than NordVPN or ExpressVPN, the emerging VPN offers impressive speeds at a lower cost. It also has more configurable privacy add-ons than reputable services like IPVanish.

To like

  • Doorbuster pricing
  • Multihop VPN
  • Competitive speeds

I do not like it

  • Still a newbie
  • Privacy policy could be more detailed
  • Fewer servers than larger VPNs

I recommend Surfshark for its numerous security-related features, privacy-related jurisdiction, and competitive speeds.

Continue reading: How we review VPNs at Tips Clear

speed

  • Average speed loss: 27%
  • Number of servers: 1,700+
  • Number of server locations: 63 countries
  • Optional static IP addresses available

I ran my speed tests over a period of three days with dynamic IP addresses in two locations, using both wireless and ethernet connections. One location offered slower broadband speeds and the other offered higher speeds over fiber optic internet. Internet speeds in the United States vary widely by state and provider. For any speed test, the results depend on your local infrastructure. The hyper-fast internet service delivers higher speed results.

This is one of the reasons I’m more interested in testing the speed loss (which is usually half or more with most VPNs) for high speed and slower connection types and using tools like Speedtest.net to level the playing field. In the case of Surfshark, only 27% of average internet speeds were lost.

Surfshark’s high speeds during testing pushed the service immediately to NordVPNs and Norton Secure VPNThe speeds tested (average 32% speed loss and 57% speed loss) are in competition with other high-speed VPNs such as ExpressVPN and IPVanish. This is especially impressive given the small size of Surfshark’s server fleet.



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Top speeds were reached at 46.02 Mbps on London servers during a test round, with non-VPN speeds in the mid-1940s. The UK servers ranked the fastest overall among the tests with an average download speed of 28Mbps compared to my average non-VPN speed of 36Mbps.

US servers in New York took a close second place with 27 Mbit / s and achieved 46.55 Mbit / s. Surfshark’s fast but inconsistent servers in Singapore beat those in Australia and Europe to take third place. Among the tests carried out on both French and German servers, the fastest speeds were regularly found in Paris. Berlin’s results put the European tests in last place behind Australian servers, which remained constant throughout each round.

Continue reading: All the VPN Terms You Need to Know

Security and privacy

  • Jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands
  • Encryption: AES-256-GCM, RSA-2048, Perfect Forward Secrecy
  • No leaks detected
  • Includes a kill switch

I think it’s good that Surfshark is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, which is generally considered a privacy-friendly country due to a lack of agreements to share surveillance with other countries. Although it is part of the United Kingdom, the British Virgin Islands is a separate jurisdiction from the United Kingdom with no data retention laws. And its national high court has historically been averse to inquiries about extra-state business records.

While it’s nearly impossible to verify that a VPN is keeping logs of usage data, Surfshark’s privacy policy confirms that it goes beyond typical VPN practices, doesn’t keep location-identifying connection logs, and you can turn off diagnostic crash reports that are enabled by default. Even so, I would still prefer to see more details in the directive.

The encryption is standard AES-256-GCM and supports Perfect Forward Secrecy. This means that the encryption keys are changed frequently to avoid security risks. The company offers a useful kill switch feature that prevents network data outside of their secure VPN tunnel from being lost if the VPN connection goes down. Surfshark’s browser add-ons for Chrome and Firefox have also been independently tested by security research company Cure 53.

No IP address, DNS or other potentially user-identifying data leaks were detected during my tests. I also haven’t seen any WebRTC leaks that are common with VPNs due to more widespread and well-known browser problems. Even if you don’t need it, it’s noteworthy that Surfshark offers a special browser plug-in to help prevent additional WebRTC leaks.

If you have concerns about DNS privacy on mobile devices, Surfshark also offers a standalone Trust DNS app from the Google Play Store. In the simplest case, the website information requests are redirected by your browser and sent to Surfshark instead of your Internet service provider. Redirecting DNS information this way can break down censorship walls and keep your telecommunications company out of your business.

What makes Surfshark different from other services we recently reviewed at Tips Clear? It offers a multihop VPN. For extra protection, you can instruct Surfshark to send your internet traffic through servers in two countries instead of just one. Multihop VPNs can be particularly useful in preventing your information from being identified if a security breach occurs in one of the VPN’s own data centers.

costs

  • Ease of use: Intuitive and fresh
  • Platforms: Linux, Windows, Android, MacOS, iOS, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV
  • Price: $ 2.49 monthly for a two-year plan
  • Number of simultaneous connections: Unlimited

Surfshark does not impose any data limits and allows unlimited server switching and torrenting. I also had no problems accessing Netflix. In a rare move for a VPN, it offers unlimited concurrent connections. This functionality is packed into an intuitive, user-friendly interface that has recently undergone a major overhaul.

I enjoy lots of optional extra features that you wouldn’t normally expect from an inexpensive VPN provider. CleanWeb, an anti-tracking ad blocking feature, is available to all accounts. For an extra dollar a month, you can opt for Blindsearch, Surfshark’s unlogged private search engine, and Hacklock, a tool that constantly searches the internet to determine if your email address has been compromised.

Surfshark is currently living up to its name with an aggressive pricing scheme. As of September, a two-year plan is priced at $ 2.49 per month for a total of $ 59.76. That deal easily stood up to NordVPN’s two-year plan at $ 3.71 per month (total $ 89) and IPVanish’s one-year plan at $ 5.20 per month ($ 62 per year). On its six-month plan, Surfshark costs $ 6.49 per month ($ 38.94 total). It also offers a monthly plan for $ 12.95.

In addition to credit or debit payments, you can also pay via PayPal, Alipay or Bitcoin and receive a 30-day money-back guarantee. The website offers 24/7 chat support as well as a variety of support articles and tutorials.

Continue reading: NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN: Speed, Security, and Price Compared

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