Now more than ever, being a shark on the internet is the best way to surf in peace so that any potential threats that inhabit the vast internet ocean won’t be able to get to you. Fortunately, Surfshark offers plenty of features to achieve just that, from some of the usual features like a kill switch, an adblocker, or an automatic Wi-Fi protection to the less common double VPN mode, which Surfshark calls Multihop. All these are easily accessible on a modern and intuitive multiplatform app that allows beginners to connect quick and easily while users more familiar with VPNs can customize their connection.
App Serving Different User Needs
Someone looking for a true ‘connect & go’ service will find just that in Surfshark. The server network is available as soon as the app is opened for the first time and there’s even a quick connect option that will pick the closest server. However, experienced users will also be pleased with how much they can do to customize their connection.
For instance, it’s possible to switch between IKEv2 and OpenVPN (with traffic obfuscation) protocols to make the experience faster or more secure, while the kill switch function can be used to automatically disable the internet should the VPN connection drop. There’s even CleanWeb, a malware tracker and ad blocker that, unfortunately, does not appear to work all the time, according to our tests. Surfshark also allows apps and websites to be whitelisted to avoid possible conflicts between services.
The app includes a diagnostic feature, too, that will scan the program for any problems and report them back to Surfshark for assistance.
Multihop, Wi-Fi Protection and No Borders Mode
Multihop is Surfshark’s double VPN feature, which is still a rare sight these days. Just as the name indicates, it allows users to connect to a server located in a specified country after having already passed through another. The result is a much stronger – but also slower – connection, that can be a great option for those who seek just a little more protection.
Another interesting feature in Surfshark’s arsenal is its so-called No Borders Mode, which is essentially a tool that intends for users in VPN-restricted countries to overcome the restrictions placed on them. In turn, the Wi-Fi protection will detect new networks and enable the VPN to secure them automatically or with the users’ permission, which is always useful for those who connect to public hotspots regularly.
Surfshark’s network is composed of more than 50 countries and ten times as many servers. These are decent numbers that allow the service to cover every continent, including Africa, which is usually an exception. Surfshark has servers in South Africa but also manages to reach Australia, New Zealand, the most important Asian countries, and more.
The overall experience is very mixed, though. For instance, while Surfshark’s speeds are satisfactory most of the time and web pages load quickly enough, they are never consistent and the gap between download and upload is unusually high. A good example of this inconsistency is how Multihop – which passes traffic through a ‘middle man’ server – sometimes displayed faster results than the usual ‘point A to B’ approach.
Multiple servers were tested from Europe on different days and, for more detailed testing, speed measurements were made in succession both without disconnecting from the chosen server and after reconnecting to it again. Regardless of the technique used, results showed the same inconsistent speeds with many ups and downs and even though this could be due to different external factors, sometimes the difference exceeded 10Mbps or more.
Surfshark’s Greece Speed Test Results
Surfshark’s New Zealand Speed Test Results
Surfshark’s South Africa Speed Test Results
Surfshark’s Multihop USA Speed Test Results
Adding to this downside, DNS leak protection needs some work as it doesn’t properly function all of the time, which considering Surfshark’s support for P2P could be a serious issue for some users. However, it should be noted that the provider does enable users to set up their own custom DNS addresses.
First things first, it’s important to know that the law of the British Virgin Islands – Surfshark’s homeland – doesn’t require data collection and storage and therefore there’s no reason to mistrust the company’s promise of a no-log policy, even though a warrant canary is displayed on its official website.
The program itself and its connections are secured under the strong industry-standard 256-bit encryption and let’s not forget that as an added bonus users can also benefit from traffic obfuscation when using OpenVPN. Other privacy and security features include the already mentioned kill switch, automatic Wi-Fi protection, and Multihop.
OS, Device Support
One of the major features that Surfshark proudly highlights is how the service doesn’t impose a limit on the number of connections for a single account. While this isn’t particularly new, especially considering that manual router configurations are also included in the device support menu, it is still good news nonetheless. Other than that, Surfshark’s apps are compatible with Windows 7+ and MacOS 10.12+ computers and mobile devices running Android 5.0+ or iOS with at least version 9.0. Additional apps are available for Linux and Amazon Fire TV, while Firefox and Chrome browsers also have their own respective extensions, too.
Next to the extensive device support, pricing is another point of pride for Surfshark. Following the standard price format with three options to choose from, the one to praise the most here costs $47.76 each two years, allowing for an impressive 83% saving when compared to the standard price. This is the same as paying only $1.99 per month, a very attractive price that puts Surfshark ahead of many high-end providers and something that the company is right to emphasize on the website’s start page.
Other subscriptions include a monthly plan costing $11.95 and a $5.99 offer for those committing to a year-long subscription. The latter is also a nice price when compared to other providers and the 50% discount on monthly installments is certainly a worthwhile choice. And even though we always prefer to see an intermediate plan between an annual and monthly package, fortunately there are no limits on bandwidth, server network access or anything else, so the question is only time itself.
Strangely, only iOS customers can access an exclusive seven-day free trial but all purchases include a 30-day money-back guarantee, too, which does mean paying for Surfshark in advance but is still a great way to make use of a risk-free trial for an entire month. Payment methods include credit cards, PayPal, and alternative options such as cryptocurrency.
Surfshark’s assistance begins with its FAQ and other support pages but, honestly, the company doesn’t provide much help. Unless you need help with the different manual configurations of the program – since these guides are actually quite good – this section doesn’t have much more than the simple basic questions, so there’s a high chance that your uncertainty will remain unanswered.
For more direct support Surfshark provides a live chat and email submission platform that are available 24/7. Additionally, the social media presence is strong with Facebook and Twitter being the company’s preferred methods for sharing relevant news about the service and general online topics.
Surfshark wants to be the dominant predator in the VPN seas and it has enough reasons to rightfully aim for that. It’s impossible to ignore the fact that it provides so many features for such a small price without any restrictions on the service or in the intuitive multiplatform apps. Additionally, support for double VPN is still somewhat rare in the industry and there are a handful of other useful features that will surely please many users.
However, Surfshark needs to grow its teeth before baring them to the competition. Sure, the possibility to use manual DNS configurations is appreciated, but DNS leaks should never occur with a VPN, especially when considering the company supports P2P. Likewise, it’s a pity that there’s so much inconsistency both in terms of connection speeds and the adblocker, which only works sometimes. At the end of the day, this service is a young sharkling that already bites like a big boy but still needs some experience before it can become the king of the VPN ocean.
- Intuitive multiplatform apps
- Double VPN
- Wi-Fi protection and other security features
- Connection customization
- Great device support with browser extensions
- Excellent pricing
- Inconsistent speeds
- Occasional DNS leaks and adblocker failures