Surfshark VPN Review
Affordable PTP-friendly VPNs for unlimited devices
Why use a VPN or virtual private network? Without a VPN, your computer use isn’t secret: Your Internet service provider tracks information, plus hackers could intercept data. A VPN lets you shield activity from your Internet company. It also makes hacking virtually impossible. Surfshark and other top VPN companies protect their computer servers with AES-256, the same encryption that guards “Top Secret” US government files. Furthermore, a VPN replaces your IP address so that webmasters won’t know your true location.
Comparing VPN companies, you’ll see that Surfshark stands out by allowing unlimited connections. With one account you can encrypt traffic for desktop computers, smartphones, smart TVs, and more. Most other VPN companies set a limit. You can use Surfshark’s ad blocker with most devices. Also special is Surfshark’s Whitelister feature, which lets you split traffic into VPN and non-VPN routes.
This Surfshark review looks at VPN prices ($1.99/month and up), customer service, and features. It also compares Surfshark with NordVPN and other main competitors.
From its Tortola island home, Surfshark invites people to privately surf the web and share files in a “clean cyber ocean.” Along with shielding your identity and activity, Surfshark provides CleanWeb to block advertisements and improve online safety. An independent auditor, Cure53, has verified that Surfshark browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox are robust.
One Surfshark account can support unlimited computers and other devices. You can choose from more than 1,000 P2P BitTorrent servers in dozens of countries. Split tunneling is an option too; direct a subset of traffic through your private network and let other traffic flow normally to optimize speed.
A Surfshark VPN subscription costs just $1.99/month when you commit to two years, or $5.99/month when you pay for a year at once. The month-to-month rate is significantly higher, $11.95. A 30-day “test swim” is included with all VPN signups.
Surfshark customer service is easy to reach with live chat, email, and support tickets.
Support by phone isn’t readily available. That’s typical with VPN companies. One popular exception is IPVanish, another brand we review.
Server Numbers & Locations
Surfshark owns more than 1,000 PTP-friendly servers that can be used with BitTorrent. Additionally, some servers are paired for double VPN encryption.
The PTP servers are located in about 60 countries from Albania to Vietnam. Distribution is excellent across the US; at last check, you could get IP addresses for Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and about 20 other cities. There are three Surfshark server locations in the UK, and five in Australia. A few countries have virtual servers only. A Surfshark app can automatically connect you to the fastest server for torrenting, or you can choose manually if you’re using the VPN to bypass geographical restrictions.
How do some other leaders compare with Surfshark? NordVPN has many more servers, but they’re also concentrated in about 60 countries. IPVanish has about 75 countries on its list. ExpressVPN, another Virgin Islands company, leads the pack with almost 100 countries in its network. Before signup, it’s a good idea to check a company’s server locations if a specific location connection is your reason for getting a VPN.
Double VPN Servers
With double VPN your traffic is routed through two VPN servers instead of one. Surfshark calls this feature MultiHop.
Double VPN isn’t meant for torrenting but can otherwise be used when security is a top concern. Surfshark gives the examples of an activist who wants to avoid government tracking, and a journalist protecting informants.
With Surshark’s menu, you can choose from about a dozen double VPN server pairs. For example, one option will first route traffic through Singapore and then through Hong Kong. Another starts in Germany and ends in the UK.
Camouflage mode on every Surfshark server makes it virtually undetectable to webmasters that a VPN is in use. Traffic shows as typical HTTPS traffic. This lets subscribers circumvent censorship, access social media and games from the workplace, and use VoIP apps anywhere in the world.
No Borders Mode
No Borders mode also helps you surf without restrictions. It automatically finds servers to help evade geo-blocks. Surfshark gives the example of Disney+, a streaming service that’s only available within US and Canadian copyright regions. If you have a Disney+ account and are outside of a copyright realm, you can use a Surfshark VPN to change your location virtually.
Here’s a small sample of other streaming services that Surfshark can unlock:
- Netflix (More than 15 versions)
- BBC iPlayer
- HBO Go
- HBO Now
- HotStar India
Also useful for bypassing censorship with Surfshark is Shadowsocks, a tunneling protocol that’s especially popular in China.
Surfshark primarily lets users tunnel with OpenVPN, IKEv2, and Shadowsocks.
- OpenVPN and IKEv2 are the industry’s standard options known for high security.
- Shadowsocks is favored within China for bypassing government-imposed restrictions in the digital world; it’s used for Facebook, Google services, and much more.
- L2TP, which is less secure than the above protocols, may be used in some cases.
This selection fits almost anyone’s needs, and it’s better than what some other top VPN companies support. For comparison:
- NordVPN only supports OpenVPN and IKEv2.
- ExpressVPN allows OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSEC, and PPTP.
- IPVanish lets you tunnel with OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSEC, and PPTP
Additionally, Surfshark is implementing a newer protocol called WireGuard sometime in 2020.
What is split tunneling? When you have a virtual private network, you don’t necessarily want all traffic to use your VPN tunnel. For example, you might want to keep your home IP visible to your bank and simultaneously use a foreign IP to stream video. Another benefit is speeding up your web use, as data may flow faster outside of the virtual private network.
The Surfshark feature called Whitelister allows split tunneling. Split tunneling is also available from IPVanish, but not from NordVPN and some other top VPN providers.
CleanWeb is an ad blocker and safe browsing tool included with Surfshark VPN apps for most platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. It blocks ads and pop-ups, detects malware and blocks infected websites, and helps prevent phishing when you surf and use email.
Surfshark lets you pay for a VPN month-by-month, but the best value of $1.99/month comes with a long-term agreement. Prices in 2020 are:
- One month: $11.95
- One year: $5.99/month
- Two years: $1.99/month
You can try any subscription with a 30-day refund period.
Just as advertised, Surfshark is a VPN service with many pearls. American subscribers are generally attracted by the company’s off-shore status, and with long-term service, you can get a great value on a log-free VPN with an ad blocker.
Surfshark is among the best VPN brands for torrenting, as you can connect unlimited devices and all the servers are P2P-friendly. It’s also a smart solution for highly secure communication by email or VOIP, as you can use a double VPN. A possible downside, depending on your VPN needs, could be server location. You can check the full list of Surfshark server locations before subscribing. As mentioned above, distribution is very good within the USA.
Our verdict for most readers is to try a one-year or two-year Surfshark subscription. If you aren’t satisfied, you can cancel within 30 days for a full refund.