Surfshark is a compelling entry in the crowded VPN industry. They’re priced like a value VPN but offer features and performance comparable to top-tier VPNs like NordVPN.
Surfshark has servers in 100+ countries and supports more than 3 dozen streaming services and 8+ Netflix regions. And you can use it on unlimited devices, protecting your entire family with a single account.
On paper at least Surfshark is impressive, but how did they perform in hands-on testing for performance, privacy and security? In this Surfshark Review I tested every aspect of their service and came away thoroughly impressed.
Surfshark punches above it’s weight and represents a compelling value, especially if you looking for a streaming-focused VPN service.
Company & Jurisdiction
Surfshark launched in 2018 and is operated by Surfshark B.V. which is incorporated in the Netherlands.
They’ve grown quickly to become one of the premiere brands in the VPN industry thanks to a competitive feature set at very competitive pricing.
In 2022, Surfshark merged with Nord Security (owner of NordVPN) though both brands continue to operate independently.
- Jurisdition: Netherlands (14-eyes country)
- Parent Company: Nord Security
- Sibling Brands: NordVPN
Surfshark is more than just a VPN. In addition to encryption and privacy, Surfshark has built additional technology into their VPN apps, to enhance your capabilities, avoid detection, and unblock even more sites.
Popular Surfshark Features:
- Unlimited Devices — There are no limits to how many devices you can connect to Surfshark simultaneously. Most VPNs limit you to 3-6 devices, so this is a nice bonus.
- Streaming & Netflix — Seamlessly unblock geo-restricted streaming services like HBOMax, BBC iPlayer, Hulu and Netflix. Access 8+ Netflix catalogues.
- Ad & Malware Blocking – Automatically remove ads and intercept malicious domains right from your browser. Requires (included) browser extension.
- Obfuscation & Stealth — Stealth protocol known as Camouflage helps bypass firewalls, even in restrictive countries like China, Iran & UAE
- Split Tunneling – Don’t deal with VPN-induced captchas or blocked websites ever again. You can route specific apps or websites outside the VPN tunnel for smoother access and faster speeds.
- No Logs Policy – Surfshark doesn’t log or monitor VPN activity and keeps no metadata (e.g. IP address) about your connection history. More on Surfshark Logging.
Never worry about device limits again. Surfshark lets you connect unlimited simultaneous devices to their network. Share your account with your entire family and enjoy Surfshark together.
Surfshark has built-in SmartDNS technology that will unblock streaming services simply by connecting to a server in that region. It works extremely well in practice and supports more than 40 global streaming services.
We go deeper on Surfshark’s streaming features later in this review.
Anti-Malware / Ad-Blocking
Surfshark aims to create a better, more enjoyable browsing experience with CleanWeb, their custom browser extension.
CleanWeb has 3 primary features:
- Ad-blocking – Remove annoying ads for easier reading and more pleasant browsing
- Anti-Popup – Never see those annoying ‘Cookie Consent’ banners & popups again
- Anti-Malware – Blocks requests from known & suspicious malware domains to keep you more secure and reduce the risk of trojans, malware & stalkerware.
Obfuscation: Camouflage & NoBorders Mode
Surfshark includes stealth VPN technology which can help prevent apps or firewalls from recognizing your traffic as VPN traffic. This can help you access VPN-blocking sites or bypass restrictive firewalls.
It comes in two flavors, each using its own technology:
- Camouflage Mode: Disguise your VPN traffic as regular SSL to prevent blocking or throttling (e.g. by your ISP)
- NoBorders Mode: Advanced obfuscation to circumvent restrictive firewalls like those found in China and Iran.
Split-tunneling lets you separate your traffic into VPN & non-VPN. It’s an advanced feature that lets you route specific apps or websites outside the VPN tunnel.
This is extremely useful if you have a website that blocks VPN traffic (your bank for example) or if you want to access an app from your own region (like Spotify) while still using the VPN.
Security & Privacy
Regardless of your use-case, security and privacy are the core function of any good VPN.
So is Surfshark safe?
Yes, Surfshark is a safe VPN provider. They follow industry best-practices regarding VPN protocols and encryption. Add in their zero-log privacy, RAM-only servers and addition privacy technology and you have a highly-secure VPN.
Here are the most significant security & privacy features you’ll find in Surfshark:
- VPN Protocols
- Encryption Ciphers
- Leak Protection
- Multi-hop connections
- Audited Zero-log Privacy
- Diskless Servers
- Private Search
Surfshark VPN Protocols
Surfshark supports 3 modern tunneling protocols:
- OpenVPN (most popular)
- IKEv2 (fast and stable)
- Wireguard (best for performance)
You can select the protocol of choice from within your VPN app on your device. The exact selection varies by OS. For example, Windows offers OpenVPN and Wireguard, whereas iOS supports all 3 protocols.
Notably, Surfshark is one of the first VPNs to offer the Wireguard protocol in all their VPN apps.
Learn More: Comparing VPN protocols
Encryption & Ciphers
Each tunneling protocol has its own available suite of encryption ciphers, but Surfshark uses only NIST-certified encryption methods for provable security.
OpenVPN and IKEv2 default to AES-256 which is the industry standard,. Wireguard uses different encryption cipher based on Elliptic Curve Encryption. It is a newer standard that hasn’t been audited as intensely but is widely adopted and considered secure.
Notably, Surfhshark uses SHA-512 to authenticate the handshake between the VPN client and server. This is substantially stronger than SHA-256 (the industry standard)
A VPN Kill Switch is a failsafe feature that will block internet traffic if the VPN connection fails. I consider it a must-have feature, and Surfshark doesn’t disappoint.
Their included Kill-switch can be activated from the VPN settings by flipping a toggle. It is available on Windows, Mac, iOS & Android.
Surfshark has been audited twice by pen-testing team, Cure53. These audits were focused on security and system architecture and the findings of both audits are largely positive.
More recently, Surfshark’s logging policy and RAM-only server claims were audited by Deloitte. This is significant because Deloitte is the same Big Four auditor that verified the logging claims of Cyberghost and Private Internet Access (two Surfshark competitors).
Leak Protection (DNS / IPv6 / WebRTC)
There are 3 common VPN leaks that can accidentally expose your real IP address or leak DNS queries (browsing history) if they aren’t properly plugged.
I tested Surfkshark for all 3 leak types and they passed with flying colors.
Leak test results
- IPv6 (pass) – The test didn’t find any IPv6 address. Surfshark plugs this leak by blocking IPv6 entirely.
- DNS Leak (pass) – There were no DNS leaks. The only detected DNS server belongs to Surfshark (not my ISP)
- WebRTC Leak (pass) – No WebRTC IP address detected
Nexus is a new system architecture developed by Surfshark. In simple terms, Nexus connects all of Surfshark’s servers to each other. In theory this has several benefits.
According to Surfshark, Nexus will bring:
- Faster speeds
- Easy IP address rotation
- More stable connections
- Better streaming access
- More stable connections
All of these are good things, and there’s no input required from the end-user. All the magic happens behind the scenes.
If you’re a bit more paranoid than the average techy, you can use Surfshark’s multi-hop feature which lets you route your VPN connection through two different server locations.
In theory this may give you a bit more privacy as the endpoint doesn’t actually know the IP address of your device. In practice, I find multi-hop more of a marketing gimmick that mostly offers slower speeds rather than real privacy. That said, the option is there if you want it.
How do you ensure your servers can’t store logs about customer activity? Take away their hard drives.
That’s what Surfshark does with their Diskless ‘RAM-only’ servers. They don’t have any permanent storage so the entire hardware runs on memory which can only store information while the server is running. As soon as the server restarts or powers down, the data is wiped.
This is a smart, privacy friendly architecture that was also verified as part of Surfshark’s audits.
Want good search results without the ads and data-mining? Surfshark’s optional private search feature acts like a privacy layer between you and the search engine for a safer browsing experience.
Servers & Locations
Surfshark has a massive network, with servers in 100 countries globally. This is well above the industry average and more than sibling brand NordVPN.
Only ExpressVPN and Cyberghost come close to this level of coverage. This is a big win for Surfshark customers because more servers = more IPs and more streaming services you can access.
Use-case: This makes Surfshark perfect for travel.
Another significant advantage of Surfshark over NordVPN is that you can browse servers by city, rather than just the country level. This is perfect if you want granular-level access for better performance or geo-location purposes.
Here’s how the server network breaks out:
- Europe – 46 countries
- Americas – 18 countries
- Asia / Pacific – 27 countries
- Middle East / Africa – 9 countries
You can browser the servers right from the main software view, or easily live-filter the view by typing in the search box. You can check the realtime latency for each server by clicking the icon at the top-right of each server group.
Surfshark also uses tags to help identify features of specific servers. These include:
- V – Virtual server. Access IP’s from that country without a physical server in that locatoin
- M – Multi-hop server node
- S – Static IP servers (extra cost)
Does Surfshark work in China?
China has one of the most restrictive internet firewalls in the world and it’s notoriously hard to circumvent.
While Surfshark does not have any servers located in China (virtual or physical) it does still work in China.
Note: I wasn’t able to test Surfshark’s functionality in China as we test from the USA, but their tech team has confirmed that the NoBorders mode does work in China.
Just activate this built-in obfuscation protocol in your browser settings and you should be good to go.
Streaming & Netflix
Like its sibling NordVPN, Surfshark is highly capable when it comes to streaming. In my testing, Surfshark let me easily access region-locked streaming services including Voot, BBC iPlayer and multiple Netflix regions.
How does streaming work with SurfShark?
Some VPNs have streaming-optimized servers in different locations around the world where each server is designed to unblock a specific streaming app or region. Cyberghost is one such VPN.
Surfshark takes a different approach, one that’s equally reliable but more user-friendly.
You don’t have to choose a specific server or app. Just connect to any server in the region you want to stream from (Japan for Japanese Netflix). Surfshark’s built-in SmartDNS will automatically work with all supported streaming apps from that region.
What streaming Services does Surfshark work with?
All told, Surfshark works with more than 20 different streaming sites. I tested more than a dozen myself, some in multiple regions.
Surfshark works with: Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Bein Sports, Disney+, ESPN+, Fox Sports, Hotstar, Hulu, Netflix, NBATV, NFL Network, NHL Network, Peacock, Sky Sports, Voot, 9Now (Australia)
and that’s just a partial list.
Even better, some services support multiple content regions. Netflix and Amazon Prime are two such services. This gives you access to a broader library of global content with a single subscription.
Learn More: How to watch multiple Netflix regions
Does Surfshark work with Netflix?
Yes, Surfshark works perfectly with Netflix. And it’s not just in the US. You can unblock more than 8 different regional Netflix catalogs, simply by switching Surfshark server locations.
I was able to access German Netflix on the first try and stream Devotion, a title that is available in Germany but not the USA where I live. Streaming in FullHD was perfect with zero dropped frames.
Pro Tip: Log into your Netflix account before connecting to the VPN, otherwise Netflix may reject your credentials as invalid. I had the most success using the Desktop app rather than the browser.
Surfshark supports the following Netflix Regions (tested)
- United Kingdom
I personally tested all 8 of these regions and was able to unblock them using Surfshark. It may well work with even more countries, but access could be hit-and-miss depending on the day.
Torrents & P2P
Surfshark is an excellent choice for torrenting, file-sharing or Kodi streamers. It meets all of the most important criteria to qualify as a torrent-friendly VPN.
Why Surfshark is a good choice for Torrents:
- No Logs – Audited zero-log policy means there is no metadata to connect your public torrent history with your real identity.
- Good Speeds – Fast downloads and upstream bandwidth is not throttled or blocked
- Kill-Switch – Protect against accidental disconnects so you never leak your real IP address.
- Split-Tunnel – Windows and Android apps offer split tunneling, so you can route just your torrent client inside the VPN while the rest of your device uses your ISP connection.
- Torrents allowed on all servers – Surfshark allows bittorrent on all server locations. There are no restricted locations or designated ‘p2p servers’.
In fact, the only feature missing from my torrent wishlist is a bundled SOCKS5 proxy which can be configured inside your torrent client to mask your IP address without requiring the VPN.
If you want a VPN with SOCKS servers, take a look at NordVPN instead.
Surfshark Apps & Software
VPN apps can make or break a VPN service. We like to see a clean, intuitive UI with a similar feature set across all OS’s. And of course, you want stable software that rarely crashes or disconnects without reason.
Surfshark delivers on all the fronts and I found their software to be excellent.
Their UI favors ease-of-use and functionality rather than over-designing for aesthetics. Everything is where it should be with the most-used features (like server selection and settings) just a click away.
Here’s a breakdown of the apps that Surfshark offers and which features are available for each.
- Windows – All features including split-tunnel and NoBorders mode. No IKEv2 Protocol
- Mac – No split-tunneling
- iOS – No split-tunnel or NoBorders mode
- Android – All features except IKEv2 Protocol
- FireTV – All features except IKEv2
- Browser Extension – Encrypted proxy for secure browsing (not a true VPN)
Expand the toggles below to look deeper at each specific app:
Surfshark is well-priced compared to similar VPNs, but it’s a more compelling value if you opt for a longer term (1-2 year) subscription.
Current Surfshark pricing:
- 1 month – $12.95/month
- 1 year – $3.99/month
- 2-years (best deal) – $2.30/month (includes 2 months free)
Surfshark Refund Policy
All new subscriptions include a 30-day moneyback guarantee. You can receive a 100% refund of your purchase price within that window. Just contact support via live chat or email.
Is Surfshark a Good Value?
We think Surfshark is an excellent value, especially if you’ll be taking advantage of their streaming features or 100-country server network.
While the $12.95 month-to-month pricing is actually higher than the industry average, Surfshark becomes a screaming deal when you lock in a long term subscription of a year or more. $48 (or less) for a year of Surfshark is a terrific value.
Surfshark vs. Competition
So how does Surfshark compare to other top brands in the highly-competitive VPN market?
In a word, favorably.
Surfshark hits all the right notes when it comes to performance, privacy and price. I experienced no major issues in testing and it has one of the most complete feature sets of any VPN brand (much like their sibling NordVPN).
Here’s how Surfshark stacks up head-to-head against the most popular VPNs:
|Review||Surfshark Review||NordVPN Review||ExpressVPN Review||IPVanish Review|
|Logging Policy||No logs. Audited by Deloitte||No Logs. Audited by PWC||No Logs||No Logs. Audited by Leviathan|
|Streaming||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Prime Video, Disney+||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Prime Video, Disney+||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Prime Video, Disney+||iPlayer, Hulu, Prime Video|
|Torrents||Yes. All servers.||Yes, p2p-servers||Yes||Yes. All servers|
|Servers||3200 in 100 countries||5400+ in 60 countries||94 countries||200 servers in 49 countries|
|Jurisdiction||Netherlands||Panama||British Virgin Islands||USA|
|Best Uses||Streaming, Torrenting, Security||Streaming, Torrenting, Security||Streaming, Security||Torrenting, Security|
Should you buy Surfshark VPN?
Surfshark really impressed me in the time I spent exploring the service. It absolutely nails the basics of software, security and privacy — but that’s just the start.
Where Surfshark really excels is streaming. I love being able to choose a country and letting Surfshark seamlessly unblock the streaming services available there.
In fact, I found it hard to resist an impromptu Netflix binge session mid-test when I discovered a bunch of Netflix titles that aren’t available here in the states.
In summary, Surfshark delivers a lot of functionality at a price that its closest competitors can’t match. Even sibling NordVPN is substantially more expensive at its 1-year and 2-year pricing tiers.
Who is Surfshark for?
Surfshark would be perfect for most vpn uses, especially if you’re a value-conscious buyer. With competing brands you’d have to pay 25-75% more to get similar functionality.
Surfshark is best for: