The purpose of the internet is to provide the user with a path to global information or access.
However, the internet is no longer the free and fair playing ground it once used to be.
In fact, currently, there are more roadblocks around the internet than you can find in the real world.
In the World Wide Web of today, every step you take, every move you make, is carefully logged and recorded.
No matter where you go and what you do, someone is there to watch you.
And if you’re privacy-conscious to the degree that I am, then you’re certainly not ready to accept this without a fight.
At least I didn’t.
Coming from a country where content restriction applies because of political issues, I had a grand idea. I’ll use a VPN service.
There are loads in the market, so I reckoned I could easily get on board with one. After all, how hard can it be to select a VPN provider? Surely, this is a simple task.
And then I hit reality.
With so many options and types to choose from, selecting the correct option for your needs can be mind-boggling.
Also, there’s the matter of cost. Different VPN services come with different pricing plans, and it can be virtually impossible to select the right one.
As an engineer (a long time ago), I’m not one to be put off by a little difficulty.
So I did what needed to be done, and after serious study, Surfshark is on my best VPN pocket list.
They had scored 90 out of 100 from my 28 checkpoints here.
One of the most pocket-friendly VPN services around, Surfshark is a relatively new entrant to the VPN game but has steadily garnered a solid base of customers who swear by its service.
As they say (whoever they are), the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and I for one found Surfshark to be one of the better VPNs around.
And of course 17 of these 30 sites agree with me on this by recommending Surfshark as well.
And today, I’m here to share my experience with you! In the following discussion, I’m going to lay bare all that I found during my time with the service.
Some of the things that I’ll discuss are as follows:
- How does it perform on the speed front?
- Does it keep me safe and preserve my privacy?
- Can it get around geoblocks?
- Is it really the cheapest there is?
You’ll get the answers to all this, and more, in the following paragraphs. And as always, I’ll be comprehensive, unbiased, and thorough.
After all, the score is based on the testing on these 28 elements, the number doesn’t lie.
So, let’s take a look-see, shall we?
Surfshark: The New Kid On The Block
When I first heard of Surfshark I was like: wait, it’s just another VPN, right?
Then I delved deeper, and the more I learned the greater my interest grew.
Incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, Surfshark is one of the latest entrants on the VPN scene.
But that hasn’t stopped it from clocking up a sizeable number of loyal customers in this short time.
But what makes Surfshark different?
And if you’re currently using any reputed VPN provider, why would you want to switch to this new player?
They ranked top in our VPN for Singapore here.
Let’s take a few moments and dwell on that.
First off, the VPN protocol. Most VPN services operate using the OpenVPN protocol, so naturally, I expected Surfshark to be the same.
Imagine my surprise when I learned that Surfshark actually uses a dual-protocol system.
Apart from the standard and open-source OpenVPN, Surfshark also incorporates IKEv2 protocols.
By doing so, the platform offers the best and latest encryption standards for Windows-based systems.
Instead of picking one, they offer these 2 together, a smart move to garner all the possibilities. Here’s a short explainer on OpenVPN vs IKEv2.
Further, dual-protocol support means that the service can be easily installed across a large range of devices and routers.
What’s more, you can also use the OpenVPN settings to switch between TCP and UDP.
Now that’s nifty.
Well, I think we’ve safely established that Surfshark has some serious power under the hood.
But what about speed?
Fast, But Not The Fastest
After all, is said and done, one of the defining characteristics of any VPN service is its speed.
So, I deemed it best to discuss this near the beginning.
Surfshark comes with a Quick Connect feature that automatically selects the best server from among those available.
During my tests, I clocked average speeds of around 22-27 Mbps, down from my normal 30 Mbps range.
This is enough for most downloads and communication tasks during my work-from-home VPN usage.
I streamed quite a few online shows and even managed to play a few MMOs without significant hitches. As always, the speeds decreased as server distance increased from my location.
My verdict: while not the fastest, Surfshark provides consistent speeds without any connection drops or interruptions.
This translates to a better quality of service, which is certainly a plus in my opinion.
If you are looking for the fastest VPN, don’t miss out on the ExpressVPN review.
My ExpressVPN testing score card shows they are boosting in speed rather than slowing them down!
How Does It Perform While Streaming?
In this section, I talked in passing about video streaming.
Actually, I performed some pretty intensive tests when it came to video streaming, and I’m glad to say that Surfshark passed ’em all with flying colors.
When it comes to streaming, it’s Netflix that matters the most to most people.
However, the trouble with this service is that it has different location-specific libraries that have geoblock restrictions.
This means you’re restricted from viewing the content offered in your region.
Surfshark allows you to bypass all these restrictions and access any content from any regional library of your choice!
This makes it one of the best VPNs for accessing geo-restricted Netflix content.
What’s more, I found the service to be perfectly compatible with other streaming services such as HBO, Amazon, and Hulu.
The above is made possible due to Surfshark’s global collection of over 1000 servers spread across 60 countries.
This results in fast and stable streaming speeds with zero buffering and high video quality.
And What About Torrenting?
Yes, yes hold your horses!
I’m coming to just that. I tried peer-to-peer sharing with the service, and the results were more than satisfactory.
All Surfshark servers provide the option for safe and reliable torrenting.
Surfshark torrenting is compatible with BitTorrent, qBitorrent, uTorrent, and other p2p clients as well.
Surfshark uses special servers for secure p2p traffic and segregates them with normal internet users as p2p traffic usually uses much more bandwidth.
Once you are running any p2p application with the surfshark VPN turned on, you will be redirected to the nearest available p2p servers from them automatically.
It has measures for DNS and IP leak protection, along with 256-bit encryption that’s virtually unbreakable (more on this in a bit).
Plus, its servers are specially optimized for P2P sharing and don’t keep any logs, thus maintaining your anonymity.
I’m sure by now all of you have the same thing on your mind: it’s all well and good with streaming and speeds and torrenting, but what about security?
Is this VPN service any good when it comes to maintaining privacy online?
Well, feast your eyes on the following.
Surfshark Security: Everything You Should Know
When it comes to security, Surfshark leaves no stones unturned.
The service comes with the most common security features such as an automatic kill switch, protection against DNS leaks, and secure 256-bit AES encryption.
Apart from the above, however, the service includes a few features that are really advanced for a VPN so modestly priced.
These really had me floored at first encounter, and so I decided to dedicate separate sections for each. Just read on to find out.
This is one of Surfshark’s most advanced features.
Similar to DoubleVPN on other platforms, this facility routes your traffic through multiple encrypted servers before making the destination hop.
This provides an extra layer of security and anonymity.
Designed to be the VPN equivalent of security software, CleanWeb shields your online activity from cyber breaches such as malware, phishing, and tracking.
In this way, Surfshark ensures that your network traffic travels from the source to the destination without any unwanted intrusion.
HackLock is a unique feature that I’m yet to find in other VPNs, even those that cost five times more than Surfshark.
This feature scours the internet for signs of your accounts being hacked. The moment it gets any evidence of compromise, such as leaked emails, the service alerts you.
How cool is that?
Tired of being tracked all over the internet with marketing cookies and intrusive ads? Then use BlindSearch and shield yourself. This feature of Surfshark prevents the collection of browsing history, thus eliminating any chances of being tracked.
This is my personal favorite.
When browsing the web in camouflage mode, Surfshark routes all traffic through obscuring servers that hide your web activity from your internet service provider. This makes it perfect for bypassing internet blocks and network firewalls.
The only thing that has me a bit worried is that the service collects user identifiers for the purpose of marketing and analytics.
But as this can be turned off from the app settings, I don’t consider this to be a major concern.
Compatibility Concerns: A Versatile Performer
VPNs may have many attractive features, but not all of them are compatible with every device.
So, when I started to test Surfshark, I had my doubts about its compatibility issues.
Imagine my surprise when I found the service to be compatible with all major platforms and devices. I personally tried the service on the following operating systems:
What’s more, it even works on Linux, Apple TV, and gaming consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation. The platform even has SmartDNS features that enable the unlocking of geo-blocked content and allow an unlimited number of connections.
The Surfshark smart DNS is specially designed for you to be able to access restricted content using your smart TV, your game consoles such as PS4 or Xbox, Apple TV, or your Android TV box.
Special mention must be made of the Android and iOS apps for this platform. Usually, mobile VPN apps are stripped-down versions of their PC cousins.
Surprisingly, Surfshark’s mobile apps are fully functional and offer all the benefits of desktop apps.
Along with OpenVPN and Shadowsocks, you also get the Killswitch feature. But what really impressed me was that in the Android app.
You get the option to choose between 256-AES, Chacha20, and Poly1305 encryption methods.
This allows marginal speed improvements with some mobile networks.
Surfshark has a three-tiered pricing structure that’s staggered across monthly, 12-month, and 24-months plans.
The yearly plans come with a slew of discounts that make them much more attractive than the monthly plan.
Nevertheless, Surfshark’s pricing plans are extremely affordable, and the service doesn’t curtail any features based on the duration of the subscription.
I was a little disappointed to find that this service has no free version which allows users to test the waters.
But the Surfshark free trial of 7-days is better than nothing and is available on both the iOS and Android platforms.
Plus, there’s a 30-day refund policy that provides an additional safeguard to customers.
Here’s a little surprise for all of you who came this far, make sure you check out the last part of our Surfshark testing report [Bonus].
Finally, I’d like to talk a bit about the user experience, which I have found to be more than satisfactory.
The user interface is minimalistic and lays out all the options very clearly and intuitively.
Navigation is simple, and the elements are aesthetically well placed.
As for the customer service, I found them to be available 24/7 and extremely genial. The live chat support team is particularly helpful and was prompt to answer all queries I posed to them.
Due to security concerns, Surfshark does not support port forwarding.
The Port forward function is to bypass the firewall and make connections smoother and faster without any interruption.
Like the use of Port 110 for receiving the email client.
But these methods are susceptible to hackers to sneak through and further compromise your privacy thus Surfshark does not support them in the first place.
However, if you really need a port forwarding function, you can do it manually here.
So, is Surfshark worth the spend?
I’ve heard a lot of comparisons between Surfshark vs NordVPN, and here is my opinion.
People of Hong Kong definitely think so as the sales jump 700% and I’ve written a great in-depth of analysis why Surfshark is the perfect choice as the VPN for Hong Kong.
And for the rest of us?
YES and yes. Granted, it’s not as speedy as some of the premium VPNs, but the bandwidth is enough for most applications.
What’s more, the security features of Surfshark are absolutely stunning, and the app allows you to access gated content all the world over.
With its global collection of servers and advanced browsing features, this is certainly a force to reckon with in the VPN world.
Add to that the wide compatibility, great streaming, and torrenting capabilities, and smooth user experience, and you’ve got a real winner.
And the icing on the cake?
A really helpful customer service that can solve all your problems in a jiffy.
At the end of the day, I must admit that despite being a new contender, Surfshark has enough potential to give other VPN services a run for their money.
If you’re on a tight budget yet looking for premium features in a VPN, Surfshark can be your best choice.