- AES 256-bit network traffic encryption
- OpenVPN and IKEv2 security protocols
- No logs policy
- 500+ servers in 50 countries
- 24/7 customer service
- Supports P2P/Torrenting
The VPN industry has been growing at incredible speeds for the past couple of years as more and more providers enter the foray and try and offer the best online security features and tools in their service. However, this industry, despite featuring numerous providers, now numbering in the hundreds, has not been giving due attention to the small-scale providers who can match the Top VPNs in all kinds of major performance metrics at Best VPN
Surely, these small-scale providers can’t offer thousands of servers across the world or dedicated apps for all kinds of devices, but they can surely guarantee your anonymity online and in our opinion, that should be most important USP of any VPN out there.
SurfShark is one such VPN service that we found to be incredibly gritty in its performance to ensure user privacy in the digital sphere. It has many other power packed features that are highly reliable towards delivering what they promise.
You definitely need to subscribe to this provider to know how good it is despite not matching the size of Top VPN providers like ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
Here is our comprehensive SurfShark Review 2019, containing critiques on its pricing, dedicate VPN apps, server infrastructure, geo-restriction unblocking capabilities and more by BestVPN.co!
Pricing plans need to be as easily comprehensible as they can be to make the user understand them better. And this is where SurfShark manages to take the cake. Its pricing plans are not just reasonably priced, but it is also offering all of its incredible features irrespective of which pricing plan you intend to select from among the ones listed. Black Friday VPN deals also offer great discount on SurfShark.
The pricing plans at SurfShark are divided into three silos:
While we believe that the monthly plan is slightly overpriced and its quoted price should come down within the range of $6-$8 to make it much more acceptable, their best plan i.e. the yearly subscription plan is offering great value for money. Costing the user just $3.95/per month for the entire duration of the subscription, this plan has one of the lowest prices for such a pricing plan in the VPN industry.
As far as payment options are concerned, SurfShark accepts Paypal, Alipay, Credit/Debit card and Crypto Currency as payment options available for subscribing to its service. The addition of Crypto Currency here is highly welcome as it allows the user to pay anonymously thereby allowing it to protect its privacy as much as possible.
This provider sadly doesn’t offer a full-fledged free trial as per the proper definition of this term, but it does offer a money back guarantee on all plans which is valid for a full 30 days from the day your subscription plan commences. Also they have launched a SurfShark vpn Black Friday Deal, in which you have to pay only $1.99/month ($47.76 billed once) for 24 month plan.
Though SurfShark should really consider adding a Free Trial to its offerings in order to make as many people use its services as they can and know more about the great features it has on offer.
VPNs are built for security and anonymity, but very rarely does a provider appear which is willing to put its service to the ultimate test i.e. an independent security audit by a third party, renowned security firm.
This is because a very big majority of VPNs in the market right now have deep rotted vulnerabilities in their security apparatuses, which if made public through such audit reports, could spell doom for a certain provider’s sales figure.
But still, there is a rare breed of some extremely good VPN providers out there that remain highly committed to their goal of offering supreme privacy and security to their users.
SurfShark is one such upcoming VPN that has been gaining much credibility in recent times for its stellar performance, but now, it has gone even further by putting its service through an independent security audit, the results of which were nothing short of excellent.
Cure53, a renowned web security service firm which is the first choice for such comprehensive audits of VPNs, conducted a full blown security assessment of SurfShark’s browser extensions.
SurfShark aced the assessment, conducted in November 2018, with nothing being found except for two minor vulnerabilities that were marked “low severity”.
These vulnerabilities were not even found in the browser extension themselves, which speaks volumes about just how secure SurfShark’s client apps are.
Most browser extensions remain plagued with various issues ranging from performance to security but SurfShark’s browser extensions came out unscathed from the audit.
As we remarked earlier, security audits by third-party agencies are akin to putting up your VPN service through a litmus test, which requires immense confidence by a provider in the work done on the security front of the VPN thus far.
SurfShark might not be as big as some other providers in the market like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, but it is definitely moving in the right direction. This provider has been gaining user confidence with its incredible service performance and now, it has added another feather to its cap through this security audit by Cure53.
Previously, the provider didn’t offer much in the way of apps. Just a few browser extensions, a basic Android app, and that was it. But they have undergone a serious transformation and have now added a legion of new and improved apps for nearly all popular and niche platforms now.
These include dedicated apps for the following platforms:
The most used app for any VPN service has got to be its Windows app mainly due to the sheer amount of users on the platform, so the app needs to be good enough to serve and satisfy the pro users as well as newbies alike.
The Newly introduced Windows client is simple and elegant, with just the “Connect” Button and the options for “All locations” appearing on the Main Home Screen. Once you get connected, your new IP will be shown to you on the center top of the client app.
The gear shaped icon on the top right leads us to the Settings menu. You have four main options to choose from here and decide what kind of features you might want to access from here to further optimize or personalize your performance:
This settings submenu deals with the way you want your SurfShark VPN to protect you. You can choose either to automatically turn the VPN on when your Windows turns on or when you initiate Startup. You can even go on an choose to turn the VPN on automatically if your device detects and connects to a Wi-Fi network.
This is where you can either turn off or on the notifications that you get when the VPN status changes like it turn on or there is a change in protocol etc.
Now coming to the most important and feature-rich part of the client i.e. the Security submenu in the Settings Pane. It has four major features that can be used to further enhance your VPN performance as well as increase your security online:
This is a feature that I would advise you to keep turned on. It protects your IP from leaking if the VPN connection drops by killing off your internet connection too.
A Malware and Trackware blocker that is effective to a very high extent. It stops threats automatically so that you won’t have to worry about making conscious decisions on whether to click on a link or not.
So this is the app’s Split Tunneling feature, that can be used to make some websites and apps bypass the VPN connection altogether.
This part shouldn’t have been advanced because it has miscellaneous features that don’t really belong in the same category. However, the features in it are also quite useful.
Through this, you can change the VPN protocols. The options available are OpenVPN/UDP, OpenVPN/TCP, and IKEv2. You can also turn it to Automatic which allows the client to determine which protocol to choose on its own but I wouldn’t advise you to use it as it’s a bit glitchy at the moment. Go for OpenVPN/UDP as its much more secure and faster than the rest.
This is an inconsequential feature that can send crash reports to the provider’s systems if the app crashes. You may turn this on.
So now, this feature is meant for use in places where the regime has strict internet censorship laws like in Iran. This doesn’t work well in China from what I’ve gathered reviews on.
The Windows client is well built and highly responsive. There were no major crash or malware reports when I tested it for at least 4 days straight.
The connection to a server gets initiated in less than 5 seconds which is excellent.
Locations are quite easy to access as well and the search bar above can also allow you to find your preferred server destination more quickly as compared to scrolling through the list to find one.
A VPN app for Smartphones should never be an exact replica of its apps for desktops PCs. There are many issues specific to smartphones that only a specialized app can solve.
So does SurfShark’s Android app stand up to the task in 2019?
Yes, it certainly does.
Previously, when I tested this same app in 2018, it had multiple issues and a dated UI & UX design. But since then, the Android app for SurfShark has undergone a tremendous amount of change that I was left seriously impressed with.
Firstly, the app’s interface is as uncluttered as they come, which is the hallmark of SurfSharkVPN’s service.
The app’s home screen is simple with just a single button that can be used to connect to or disconnect from a VPN server. Perfect.
Apps with too many features on the home screen feel like they are trying to make everything jump on to your face at the same time, not cool at all.
SurfShark keeps it nice and simple here.
Now, if you click on the gear-shaped icon on the top left of your screen, you will be directed to the settings menu which is surprisingly loaded with specialized features. These features are all quite useful towards optimizing your VPN experience on the smartphone.
Here’s the interface of the settings page on the Android VPN app:
As is visible, there are three types of settings that you can access:
Inside this option, you can enable the feature for your VPN to automatically start working once it detects a Wi-Fi connection.
In my view, this is one of the most security oriented features of this Android app especially in today’s environment where we mostly use Wi-Fi to get access to the internet on our smartphones. And not all Wi-Fi can be trusted, especially Public Wi-Fi, because snoopers and hackers can be lurking in these connections to steal or siphon of your valuable financial and personal data.
So in this option, SurfShark offers two features:
CleanWeb, to put it more aptly, is an adblocker which also works to block malware and trackware. This feature is useful for enhancing the internal security of your mobile and to keep it safe from dangerous elements that could infest and destroy your mobile’s performance as well as compromise your own security.
Next, up, Whitelister is what you usually call the “Split Tunneling” feature in the VPN industry. Through this feature, you can “White list” any website or app that you don’t want to be routed via your VPN enabled internet connection.
The features listed in this sub-menu are not for your use or ease, rather they are there so SurfShark can gather app performance data. This includes general analytics and Crash tracking data, which won’t compromise your personal information but can give the provide some valuable information on how the app is actually functioning on a day to day basis.
These two options are on by default and you can turn them off any time you want to by just flicking the button to the left.
One thing you will notice almost instantaneously after using SurfShark’s Android VPN app for a few days is how fast it is to initiate a connection.
Usually, an app takes 5-8 seconds on average to launch a connection but SurfShark takes fewer than 5 which makes it incredibly easy to sift between different servers.
Just beneath the “Quick connect” button on the home interface, you have an option named “All Locations” pressing which opens up the list of all servers available to you to choose from.
There is also a multi-hop feature here on the top right, which you can use to initiate a Double VPN connection i.e. a VPN enabled connection that bounces of not just one, but two servers to make it even harder for someone to track you down.
I chose San Francisco, USA and connected to it and it didn’t take long to do that.
To check for the app’s security, I conducted a DNS leak test, which is one of those vulnerabilities that differentiate a bad VPN from a Good VPN.
The test came out perfect. Yes, it did point the location to San Jose instead of San Francisco, but considering that the two American cities are just 42 miles apart, you can consider that a good enough match.
VPN apps for the iOS platform have generally not been good as compared to similar apps for Android or even for Windows and Macs. The reason behind this is, the iOS platform is quite complicated as compared to the generally free Android eco-system.
Netflix doesn’t generally get unblocked with iOS VPN apps, which was one of my main concerns when reviewing SurfShark’s new iOS app, but boy was I left surprised.
When I say that SurfShark is a dark Horse VPN service that will challenge even the best in the business in the near future, you need to believe that.
Just look at the amazing iOS app they’ve got together, which in my opinion is better than even the iOS apps by much larger providers like NordVPN.
Here is the interface of their iOS app which looks similar to their apps for other OS i.e. nice, clean and uncluttered.
The main difference between SurfShark’s iOS app and its other apps is that, when you tap on the gear-shaped icon i.e. “Settings” on the iOS app, you will not be looking at list of sub-menus that can be navigated for opening further features and functionalities, rather you will see a list of features you can access directly.
So there are three features in the SurfShark iOS Settings menu that you can use:
A well-known VPN security essential that cuts off all internet connections in case your VPN experiences a breakdown, thereby saving your IP from leaking by the sudden loss of VPN protection.
This feature worked absolutely fine.
I talked about this feature earlier in the Android app review as well. It’s basically a Malware, Trackware and Adware blocker and it works well. But if you are looking for a more potent adblocker then I would advise you to not rely on this feature and get yourself a good enough, pro-adblocker (a paid one).
A feature meant to bypass geo-restrictions in countries where there are strict laws and controls on the internet like Saudi Arabia, Iran etc. This feature is great to access social networking sites like Facebook and Whatsapp in countries where they’ve been blocked.
Now comes to Netflix unblocking. As I said earlier, performing it on the iOS platform is no easy feat even for the sturdiest of providers, but SurfShark does it, forcing me to place it among one of the Best VPNs of 2019 definitely.
While you cannot see the movie Avengers – Infinity War being played in this screenshot because of the platform’s restrictions, which blackens out the video from Netflix if you take a screenshot, I assure you that I watched it. If you don’t believe me, then go buy the service and check it out for yourself, You would stand disappointed.
Mutli-Hop is a special VPN security feature which is also called a “Double VPN” feature by some other providers that offer it. Basically what it does is that it allows you to bounce off your internet connection through two servers for extra, more gilded security and protection online.
Here are some of the server combinations that SurfShark offered for the Multi-Hop Feature. You can also make one for yourself based on the servers available if you like.
I choose the USA-Portugal route and connected to it.
And then I went for a DNS leak test to check whether it was actually working properly or not.
I recorded no such leak, which made me like the service and especially the iOS app even more.
For iOS users, SurfShark’s app for the platform is supremely recommended.
The world of streaming has taken the world by storm and it is only apt that with all the geo-restrictions on what you can watch on these services and from where that VPNs will have an increasingly important role to play in this domain as time passes on.
One of the most important such streaming services is Amazon Prime, which is now a highly regarded entertainment provider online after Netflix.
But unlike Netflix, which doesn’t have a dedicated streaming device, Amazon Prime is best experienced by watching it through the Firestick device.
This amazing pocket-sized device also allows you to access other entertainment services like Netflix, HBO and whole lot of others.
But many of these services, like mentioned before, have some sort of geo-restrictions or the other, so its necessary that you get a VPN that not just can bypass these restrictions but is also compatible with the platform itself all the more easily.
SurfShark, despite being a relatively small service as compared to other giants like PureVPN and ExpressVPN, now offers its own exclusive Firestick app that you can download directly from the FireTV Amazon app store.
If you want to try it out on your Firestick, here is a step by step installation guide on how to do that:
One of the most critical things that can make or break any VPN’s credibility in the market is the performance of its servers. Servers are the most integral part of a VPN’s core infrastructure and if the servers are performing well, the VPN would be providing a stellar service as well.
SurfShark is currently offering around 100 servers in 14 different countries. Its main server locations are listed as follows:
The server infrastructure, as is evident from the list of locations mentioned above, is skewed more towards North America and Europe with some servers in Japan as well. While the servers worked great and apart from a few ones, a majority of them gave fast speeds and were not bottlenecked.
We would recommend SurfShark to add more servers in Asian. East Asian, African region as well as in countries like Canada to make its service give a much better worldwide coverage than it is currently doing.
Netflix is the world’s biggest streaming and entertainment platform these days. It boasts of some incredibly popular shows like Orange is the New Black, 13 Reasons Why, Narcos, Black Mirror and more along with an inexhaustible list of movies, TV shows and Special documentaries of all genres.
No one is beating Netflix as the number one choice for users to binge-watch hundreds of hours of shows each month for now.
But there is one big catch here.
Do you know that Netflix is not the same in each country?
Sure you can watch Netflix Originals like Titans, The Crown, House of Cards etc. along with a certain number of movies and other shows all across the world where Netflix is available, but there are a lot of other shows and movies that are only available to specific audiences in certain countries.
For e.g. do you know that The Avengers: Infinity War movie is only available on Netflix US and not anywhere else?
If no, then you definitely need to take a wake up call right now.
So, a VPN should be able to bypass the geo-restrictions, easy, right?
That’s because Netflix has a very sophisticated net that catches you if you are using a VPN and doesn’t allow you to play your content until you’ve turned the VPN off.
This elaborate “VPN ban” has rendered a majority of VPNs useless for unblocking geo-restricted content on the platform.
A VPN that can still perform this feat is akin to striking gold.
So does SurfShark qualify to be in that Gold VPN category?
Certainly, it does.
I checked for its unblocking capability for Netflix US because that is the most coveted geo-restricted version of the site that you would want to unblock.
So first comes the amount of servers that SurfShark has in the US.
Plenty I would suggest. 11 to be more exact.
So I Checked each one of them and surprisingly, 7 of them worked just fine towards unblocking the site. Exceptions to this were the servers located in Phoenix, Miami, Buffalo and Atlanta.
Here is an example of how easily I got through to Netflix US using SurfShark’s Los Angeles Server:
Once I was connected, here are some Geo-restricted US shows and movies I was able to watch with almost great video quality.
The Avengers – Infinity War: (And Hey look, that’s our Iron Man, Tony Stark right there!)
So, yes, Netflix US is perfectly yours if you are using SurfShark to get through.
While Netflix unblocking is hard, bypassing the geo-restrictions on BBC iPlayer is not that easy as well. And the even more complicated part about it is that, despite having a similarly elaborate VPN ban as Netflix, not many VPNs concentrate on unblocking the iPlayer outside of the UK, because of a lower number of people trying to access it.
So is SurfShark the perfect candidate for BBC iPlayer unblocking outside the UK as well?
SurfShark only offers two servers in the UK i.e. in London and Manchester, so I connected to the former to check out the provider’s capability to unblock the iPlayer.
And it didn’t work, so I turned to the Manchester Server.
Still, it didn’t work.
So I can with the assurance that SurfShark is not your VPN to unblock BBC iPlayer and the main reason behind it is that it has too low a server count to be able to beat the VPN ban on the site. The IP’s on its UK servers must have gotten blacklisted by the iPlayer algorithms by now and hence we see the dreaded geo-restriction warning on the screens.
The support was very responsive and helped us to understand the service in a much better light. SurfShark has a 24/7 live chat feature allowing anyone to zoot through problems or glitches at any time of the day. Definitely a starred highlight of this provider.
SurfShark also supports Torrenting and the speeds we got on its servers for this activity were reasonable, however, they can definitely be improved upon some more.
On the security front, SurfShark offers just two security protocols i.e. OpenVPN and IKeV2 along with military grade AES 256 encryption, all of this coupled with an absolute zero logging policy.
To know more about the plans a service has in place for the upcoming year, the only way I have is to contact the service itself and talk to a representative of its and that’s exactly what I did i.e. contact a SurfShark representative to answer any questions I had on what to expect of the service’s different aspects in 2019.
And here are all the questions along with their answers by SurfShark’s top management representative:
Q: What niche will Surfshark be focusing on more in 2019? Like unblocking, enhancing security etc.
Most of our users choose our product for privacy and security reasons, and we will continue to follow this path
Q: Do you aim to increase your server count? If Yes, then in which regions should users be expecting more servers in?
Yes, we always work on increasing servers count, as users demand grows. We listen to our users and try to fulfill their requests as soon as possible.
Q: Do you aim to introduce more client apps for any other type of platforms this year?
Most of the platforms are covered already. We will be releasing a Linux application very soon.
Q: Will you conduct a third-party security audit in 2019?
At the end of 2018, we have completed a security audit by reputable company Cure53. As our application codebase grows, we will continue to use 3rd parties to verify our security claims.
Q: How will you make more people take their privacy online much more seriously in 2019?
We use our blog and social media to actualize the issues and try to cover all the major privacy-related events in the world.
I wouldn’t say the answers are comprehensive but at least they are willing to talk and answer back which sets a really good example for others in the industry to follow, because sadly, Providers don’t usually interact with us reviewers so directly and rather leave us to their incompetent chat support, which is not great in answering such deep questions about future plans etc.
As with all services, SurfShark did throw up a few problems at different stages of me using its service. And I believe it is important for me to share the solutions of these with you so that you know what exactly to do when you face them.
“Exception of type ‘DotRas.RasDialException’ was thrown” Error:
This error kept coming up when I was trying to connect to the US server to bypass Netflix geo-restrictions and connect to the US version of their site.
I figured out that this happens if your protocol setting is set to “Automatic”, so to solve it, simply go to Settings > Advanced > Protocols and change the protocol from “Automatic” to “OpenVPN/UDP” and connect to the server again and you will easily get through to it.
SurfShark might not be a market leader at the moment in the VPN domain, but it doesn’t falter on any front when compared to any such Best VPN service in the industry. The speeds are great, there are no problems with privacy, the chat support is highly responsive, it unblocks Netflix and supports Torrenting, which is much more than what service of this size should provide. Definitely Recommended! Do give it a try and you will find yourself elated at finding such a good service you might not have known could provide such a satisfactory performance as a VPN.