Surfshark VPN Review, Testing & Findings
You can click on “parameter test links” to scroll to the test section
|Encryption Testing||I have found ESP encryption protocol which is good.||Good|
|Log Policy Testing||Log policy has clauses which are contradicting to each other.||Confusing|
|DNS Leak Testing||No Leakage found in the test.||Good|
|IP Leak Testing||There are no leakages in the IP Leak section, even from webRTC.||Good|
|Speed Testing||10 simultaneous testing attempts found pretty Bad results. 65% slower connection||Poor|
|American Netflix Testing||Its working perfectly||Good|
|Torrent Testing||Its working with torrenting as well||Good|
|Pricing plan testing||As compared with other leading providers its pretty cheap. Maybe because they are on sale, offering $1.99/m on a 2-year plan||Good|
Surfshark is new into VPN market, but it has got rapid popularity. I am curious about its working and features which are letting it survive through the tough competition.
To start with Surfshark VPN review, let’s have a look at general details.
Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands and has 50 server locations from which you can select any server with unlimited server switches. They claim no-log policy but believing VPN claims is not a good idea.
For Surfshark review, I had selected their one-month plan instead of the free trial as it is difficult to judge the features and efficiency level on a free trial service.
A little intro of what it looks like and how long it takes to start the internet browsing with Surfshark VPN connection. When you login surfshark VPN, it automatically connects you to the nearest server from your real location. It had taken just a few seconds for me. But, I changed my location from an option present below the server window. That was an easy process.
Investment and Money-back Odds
Two most important things;
- They have a free trial period of 7-days.
- Also, 30-days money back guarantee available if you have selected any plan.
But, the monthly plan of surfshark VPN seems a bit expensive to me which is 11.95 USD. In comparison to this, the 1-year and 2-year plans are quite cost-effective.
- 1-year plan for USD 71.88 total – means 5.99 USD per month and save up to 50%
- 2-year plan for USD 47.76 total – means 1.99 USD per month and save up to 83% (This deal is exclusive upon coupon code “xmasholiday”)
One more thing that I liked about surfshark pricing page is the currency change option including US dollar, Australian dollar, Chinese Yuan, Canadian dollar, Euro and British pound.
Every plan has the same features.
Along with conventional payment methods, Surfshark VPN has cryptocurrency and PayPal channels for money payment which are safe, and you should prefer these channels for VPN buying.
Security: Encryption and Features
For encryption details, I performed an encryption test which tests the hidden loopholes in encryption even if everything seems perfect and secure.
For surfshark VPN security review, I used the Wireshark encryption software.
Here are the results.
Without Surfshark Connection:
I have used the “Wireshark” software for VPN encryption test. First I will show you the results without VPN connection so that you get to know, how unencrypted information looks like.
You can see that the information is readable and website names could easily be read.
With Surfshark VPN:
The encryption results for Surfsahrk VPN were satisfactory. You can see that the information which was visible without VPN connection is not readable. I have attached a single screenshot but I had looked at all the information at the time of this test and nothing was unencrypted (readable).
If you want to check VPN encryption, you can follow this guide.
Let’s look at the general encryption details.
Protocol: Surfshark supports IKEv2 protocol on the mobile and Mac app, whereas, the Window users like me, can use OpenVPN or IKEv2 protocol. (OpenVPN setup process here)
Encryption Level: They use military-grade encryption of AES 256-bit.
The protocol options with surfshark VPN are quite limited if we compare it with other in-demand VPN services. But, for regular users like me, OpenVPN was efficient enough.
Along these basic setups, users have an option to use some specialized and some common security features with Surfshark VPN. While conducting surfshark VPN review, I noticed that they have been advertising their service with some new and less seen features.
Here is the description of these features.
Multihop: this is another name used for a “chain of VPNs.” Surfshark lets you construct this chain so that you can avoid any flaw which makes regular VPNs inefficient or vulnerable.
It works somewhat like this;
Your device -> VPN server 1 -> VPN server 2 -> Internet
CleanWeb: It’s a blocker which restricts ads, trackers, and malware from interrupting your internet browsing.
Kill Switch: this is not a new feature as it was already introduced by some popular VPNs but, it is a vital security feature with VPNs.
Killswitch helps to maintain data encryption and avoid data leakage through automatically disconnecting internet when VPN connection drops suddenly.
Surfshark VPN Privacy Review
Privacy mainly depends on two things;
- The Jurisdiction
With the jurisdiction, you cannot make a perfect guess of VPN’s privacy.
Jurisdiction or where VPN is based could be an important factor to judge governmental or other official policy pressure.
As mentioned before, surfshark VPN is based in British Virgin Islands (BVI) is out of 5-Eyes and also the 14-Eyes contract. Despite its state affairs, BVI is somehow under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of UK government. So, we can assume that the UK government could pressurize businesses working in BVI.
But, there are no data retention laws in BVI, and surfshark VPNs terms of services claim that all disputes will be handled in BVI courts.
I usually don’t believe no-log claims because when I dig into privacy policies, I usually find intrusive clauses.
Looking the two starting lines, it was reliving. They are, “We do not collect IP addresses, browsing history, session information, used bandwidth, connection timestamps, network traffic, and other similar data.”
They state that they can monitor traffic without personal identity which means they target users for ads or marketing purpose.
More disappointing was this clause,
“when you visit our Website, we may also retain your IP address, a unique identifier for your computer or another access device.”
They immediately state that they retain IP for problem resolution, providing you content according to your preferences, and developing their website.
But IP storage means, IDENTITY EXPOSED!
They state that they do not share personal information but “They could share information if they are ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction to do so.”
VPN tests: DNS leak, WebRTC leak, and IP leak
Many VPNs are prone to DNS leak, WebRTC leak and IP leak which ultimately unmask your identity.
I have conducted all of these tests for Surfshark VPN review.
Here are the results.
DNS Leak Test
I was connected to the United States server when I had performed DNS leak test. The results show No DNS LEAK.
IP Leak Test
IP leak test and WebRTC leak test were performed at the same time. As soon as the tool was opened, it displayed the IP address. Because this IP was similar to my VPN server, there was no IP leak.
For WebRTC test, I run the test and this time also, my VPN server IP was shown meaning that WebRTC was not leaking.
Despite the satisfactory results, I searched surfshark VPN features to find out the ones which are particularly designed for such issues.
DNS leak protection – absent
IP leak protection (IPv6) – absent
Speed Test Results:
I have tested two servers; as I’m using 10 Mbps connection currently.
Without VPN: Speed Test Results
With Surfshark VPN connection:
These results are not satisfying, but I should mention one thing which I noticed; the servers near my real location were a bit faster than these servers, but that speed was also 50% less as compared to my normal/regular internet speed.
Is Surfshark Works With American Netflix?
There is a huge population which has a sole purpose of VPN connection, and that’s to “stream and unblock US Netflix.”
That’s why the surfshark VPN review would have remained incomplete if I had left this test.
It was so surprising for me that this new VPN worked to unblock US Netflix library. But, probably this is because they are new and Netflix has not attempted to block their servers.
But who cares about reason if the mission is accomplished.
Torrenting: Efficiency, Features and Torrent Test
Torrenting needs speed, and that’s below average with surfshark VPN. But, I tested that, is this VPN supports torrenting? And, does the connection remains encrypted while torrenting?
Surfshark mentions on their website that they allow P2P traffic on many servers, but they reroute the P2P traffic to their servers located in the Netherlands.
I tried torrenting with a surfshark VPN connection and not only the VPN worked for P2P file sharing, but it had also provided pretty well speed which I wasn’t expecting. Here I would like to mention that, the Killswitch feature should be enabled while torrenting because VPN connection mostly drops while torrenting.
Also, the android users can enable Split tunneling for better speed while torrenting.
Split tunneling is available for Android users of Surfshark VPN. With this feature, you can separate the unimportant/insensitive data apps from passing through an encryption channel. This feature reduces the load on VPN which results in faster speed.
Torrent IP Leak Test
It is possible that a VPN works great for P2P file sharing but is leaking your IP in the background while torrenting.
So, I have tested surfshark connection for torrent IP leak.
Here is the result.
The testing tool has downloaded a magnetic link from my uTorrent client and then displayed the result. As you can see, the resulted torrent IP is similar to my connected VPN server, so there is No Torrent IP leak.
Customer support should be efficient and fast, but it comes after many vital aspects. Because, if those aspects of VPN are potent, you don’t need customer support too often.
They have live chat support which was quick when I checked them with a question.
One more thing that constitutes to customer support is the website structure, and you must be thinking why.
The answer is simple.
Many times you can escape the hassle of contacting customer support when your problem has an easy solution within the website blog, guides, or FAQs.
I find surfshark website satisfactory regarding the information they provide to the readers. Also, the blogs and FAQs are written in simple language with easy directions.
What Redittors Think About Surfshark?
Reddit reviews are the second thing I consider and believe after my own experience of VPN review.
Here are the comments I had seen while searching surfshark queries on Reddit.
I doesn’t intend to share all the comments as they are so many. But, I choose this comment because I cannot test surfshark VPN myself. There are really few VPNs which work in China and if surfshark really do work in China it’s an extra.
There are some negative comments too.
Because I have experienced torrenting myself and also I have seen torrenting support claim on Surfshark VPN, so I will contradict this comment.
The overall view was positive after reading most comments on Reddit.