Surfshark Review 2021 – Cheap but good?
Global network of 3,200 servers in 65 countries
Surfshark has a decent sized server network, but it can’t compete with PIA’s offering of 34,400 servers – an insane number Given the ridiculously low price of PIA.
I am glad to see the majority of Surfshark servers are in the US, which is a popular streaming site for blocked sites like Netflix or Hulu. Other countries with a heavy server presence include the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, and India. It’s a good thing when a VPN has a wide server distribution around the world – you’ll always be able to find a nearby server when you travel.
Surfshark has physical servers in Russia, Turkey, Libya and Vietnam. I was surprised by this – many VPNs still operate in these locations due to infrastructure or political reasons. When I contacted the company to inquire about Surfshark’s presence in these countries, a representative reassured me that all users are safe due to their strict no-logs policy.
Surfshark also offers virtual servers in Argentina, Chile, and Costa Rica. These virtual servers are not physically located in these countries, but your connection is routed through a nearby server and assigned a different IP address. Surfshark uses virtual servers to give you better access to countries where physical servers don’t meet strict security standards. This way, you can still connect to local content while maintaining top-notch encryption and data protection. The downside is that your ping could be higher – this is the time it takes to send and receive data from the server. You may find that sites take longer to load or (if you are playing online) you will experience lag.
Military grade encryption
Surfshark uses AES 256-bit encryption to secure all traffic sent through its servers. This level of encryption cannot be decrypted with brute force attacks – in fact, there are no known methods for decrypting data without the current key code. Even international governments and militaries use this encryption standard to protect their private data.
If you are an Android owner, you have the additional option of using ChaCha20 encryption. When you activate ChaCha20 using the IKEv2 protocol, you can enjoy faster speeds on your Android device for data-intensive activities (such as streaming in HD).
4 Security Protocols – WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, Shadowsocks
While it is common to see VPN services offering OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, it is rare to find WireGuard and Shadowsocks. I am especially pleased to include the latest WireGuard protocol On Windows, Mac, Android and iOS apps. It beats both OpenVPN and IKEv2 in terms of speed and security, and I recommend it for the best VPN performance overall.
If you prefer to continue using OpenVPN, you can still use it on Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and Amazon Fire Stick. The IKEv2 protocol is also available on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.
Shadowsocks protocol is only available on Windows and Android apps. This is an encrypted proxy, so it only protects your browser traffic and not your entire device (like OpenVPN and IKEv2). Surfshark claims Shadowsocks can bypass the Great Chinese Firewall, but I wasn’t successful during my tests.
MultiHop servers for dual VPN protection
MultiHop encrypts your data twice by routing it through two servers (instead of 1). I tested MultiHop by connecting to a Singapore and Hong Kong server and checking my final IP – which was Hong Kong. The extra privacy layer makes it difficult for malicious third parties to track my real location.
Surfshark’s MultiHop servers are very secure but will slow down your device
I don’t recommend MultiHop for normal browsing like My speeds slowed down by 30% compared to regular servers. However, it is ideal if you live in a country with strict Internet censorship, research highly sensitive topics, or are well aware of your privacy.
Fixed servers provide a static IP address
Surfshark offers a range of fixed servers in the US, UK, Singapore, Japan and Germany. These servers allow you to use the same IP address every time. It’s especially useful if your VPN connection is flagged as suspicious by certain sites – you don’t have to fill out endless CAPTCHA codes or answer security questions to verify your identity.
I tested several static servers in the UK by logging into my local bank account, and didn’t have to go through any additional authentication. However, I was surprised by the significant drop in speed. When I ran speed tests, I found Static servers are about 50% slower than regular servers.
Slow speeds are likely due to congestion. I would like to see Surfshark increase the number of fixed servers in the future, as it seems to be a popular feature with many users.
Servers with 100% RAM Only – No data is saved to hard drives
I love that Surfshark runs the entire network of servers on volatile RAM. This means that any server data is automatically erased when the server is shut down. ExpressVPN is another major competitor that secures its infrastructure with servers with only RAM.
In contrast, the majority of VPNs run their servers on hard drives, which hold data until it is manually erased. This is a serious security threat if someone hacks into or physically takes over the server. Fortunately, Surfshark eliminates these risks because its RAM-only servers periodically delete all data with every restart.
Split Tunnel Overlay
Split Tunneling is such a useful feature as You can choose specific websites and apps to bypass VPN connection. The Surfshark app is called “Whitelister” and I tested this feature and it works perfectly. You have successfully broadcast the TV show the walking Dead on Netflix US while browsing products on Amazon UK.
Surfshark makes it easy to access content in different countries simultaneously
Unfortunately, Whitelister is only available on Windows and Android apps. Very few VPNs support split tunneling on a wide variety of devices, so this issue isn’t actually unique to Surfshark. Even the best services like ExpressVPN only offer split tunneling on Android, Windows, Mac, and router apps (not iPhone or iPad).
Kill Switch is available on all apps
I’m glad to see that Surfshark offers a kill switch across all of its native apps. If the VPN connection drops, the kill switch blocks all internet traffic until you safely reconnect to the VPN server. I’ve tested Surfshark’s Kill switch on Android, iPhone, Windows, and Mac, and it worked to stop my traffic when I was switching servers.
Unlike some VPNs that have an automatic kill switch, Surfshark gives you the option to turn the kill switch on and off in the General Settings menu. I highly recommend leaving the lock switch on at all times for maximum security.
You can easily turn on the Surfshark kill switch in the app
Leak test results – No DNS, WebRTC, or IPv6 leaks found
Many VPNs have strong encryption but still leak your private data to certain websites and apps. To confirm that Surfshark offers built-in leak protection, I connected to random servers in the US, Australia, and Germany. With each server connection, I ran tests on IPLeak.net – and I’m happy to see that my real IP was secure every time.
Surfshark has built-in leak protection that always hides your real IP address
Camouflage mode hides VPN traffic
Also known as jamming, Camouflage mode disguises the fact that you are using a VPN by masking your encrypted internet traffic. It is especially useful if your country blocks VPNs – it prevents authorities from analyzing your VPN traffic. This mode is automatically enabled in every app using the OpenVPN protocol.
Unfortunately, the native Mac app does not offer OpenVPN.
NoBorders mode bypasses censorship and firewalls
NoBorders is specifically developed to work in countries with heavy internet censorship. It automatically detects limitations on your network (such as VPN blocking technology) and analyzes which servers perform best in your specific circumstances. However, My team and I got mixed results with NoBorders during testing. I was disappointed that Surfshark did not perform well in China, although my test team reported that it does well in Turkey and the UAE.
If you are planning to travel to a restricted country, ExpressVPN has proven to be the most reliable VPN (even in China).
It’s easy to activate NoBorders on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. It’s under “Settings” and then “Advanced”. Once you are there, simply click the NoBorders button to launch it.
GPS Bypass – Android Only
Many mobile apps use GPS data to determine your location, which makes the VPN ineffective because it only changes your IP address. for this reason Surfshark’s GPS spoofing feature automatically updates your device’s location data to match the location of the server you are connecting to.
I tested this feature on my Samsung Galaxy smartphone and can confirm Works with most apps, including Google Maps and Uber. Unfortunately, Pokémon GO can still determine my true location. I contacted Surfshark’s customer support team, who confirmed it The GPS bypass feature does not work specifically with Pokémon GO. I would like to see Surfshark continue to develop the technology to be more consistent and reliable.
Surfshark’s GPS spoofing does not work with every app that requires location information
If you want to change locations on Pokemon Go, the best option is to use ExpressVPN with a GPS spoofing app.
Invisible Hardware Feature – Windows and Android Only
This feature allows you to become invisible to other devices on your local area network (LAN). While you can already do this on most operating systems, it is a time-consuming manual process that requires multiple steps. That’s why I was so glad I became invisible with Surfshark in less than 30 seconds.
Quickly Hide My Android Smartphone From My Local Network in 3 Steps
CleanWeb blocks ads, malware, and trackers
An increasing number of paid VPNs are starting to offer built-in blockers against ads, malware, and trackers – but not all of them work well. That’s why I was so happy to see that CleanWeb blocks all pop-up ads, video and banners on news sites Like the daily Mail And Forbes. I even noticed faster upload speeds as a result!
You need to manually run CleanWeb in desktop and mobile apps
Inclusive, CleanWeb is a great feature but it has one minor flaw – it fails to block some YouTube ads. I found this very frustrating because I hate having to interrupt ads while watching videos. If this is a problem for you, Try using HMA instead – Its Chrome extension easily blocked YouTube ads during my tests.
Additional Security Tools – 2FA, TrustDNS, Surfshark Alert, Surfshark Search
In addition to its VPN service, Surfshark offers additional tools for additional online protection. While Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) and TrustDNS are included with the VPN subscription, you will have to pay a little extra for Surfshark Alert and Surfshark Search.
Two-factor authentication (2FA)
It is rare that you will come across a VPN service that requires additional authentication. However, Surfshark offers two-factor authentication as an option element in all of its apps. I recommend turning on 2FA as it greatly reduces the risk of being hacked.
This is a free app for iOS and Android devices. TrustDNS connects you to a public DNS server instead of the DNS server assigned by your ISP (Internet Service Provider). ISPs can monitor and track your online activity – and in countries like Australia, ISPs are required to provide customer metadata to the government for two years.
While this is a decent app, I don’t think it’s worth…