- Unlimited connections
- Great speeds
- Audited no-logs policy
- No IPv6 support
- Price doubles on subscription renewal
Surfshark is an excellent choice if you’re after a VPN. It’s good value, offers great speeds, unblocks streaming services and now has an audited no-logs policy.
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From $2.49 per month
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Whether you’re familiar with the name or not, Surfshark is a great-value VPN service.
It was bought by Nord Security, NordVPN’s parent company, which also also owns AtlasVPN.
This means Surfshark sits in the middle in terms of price, making it the sweet spot for anyone that doesn’t want to pay NordVPN’s current prices.
Surprisingly, Surfshark (and Atlas VPN) don’t place any limits on how many devices you can connect to their respective VPN service at any one time, whereas NordVPN does. However, it’s rare you’ll ever hit NordVPN’s limit, so this isn’t necessarily the bonus you might assume it is.
Importantly, Surfshark’s no-logs policy has been independently audited. Deloitte confirmed in January 2023 that the company sticks by its policy, so there’s no need to simply take the company’s word for it any longer.
Features & apps
- Unlimited connections
- 3200 servers in 65 countries
- Blocks ads + trackers
- Nexus (with Dynamic Multi-Hop)
Surfshark ticks plenty of boxes and offers quite a lot features beyond the core VPN service. But to be clear, those do not include Alert, Search or Antivirus, three additional features you can pay separately for when you take out a Surfshark subscription. The bundle is called Surfshark One, but here we’re looking only at the VPN service.
There are Surfshark apps for many devices including the main four – Windows, Mac, Android and iPhone / iPad – plus Linux (Ubuntu or Debian) and Amazon Fire TV and Android TV apps, which both use smart DNS to unblock streaming services, rather than the VPN service0. You can also install the Android app on a Chromebook that supports Android apps.
There are over 3200 servers across 100 countries (35 more than when we last checked). Every server runs entirely in RAM and doesn’t write any data to hard drives. That’s better for privacy, as it means no data persists if a server was seized by authorities. This is one thing that was verified in the no-logs audit.
Mathilde Vicente / Foundry
Some of those servers are virtual, which means they’re not physically located in their named country, but will give you an IP address that will place you – virtually – in that country and virtual servers are clearly marked with a V in the list.
The apps themselves are light and clean-looking, and make it simple to select a location and connect to it.
There are three lists: Locations, Static IP and MultiHop. Whether or not there’s an individual server or group of servers at each location, there is no way to see: when you click on a location you’re connected to it automatically. And there’s no way to see how busy each location is, nor the ping you can expect, so your choice is only based on location.
There’s no indication of which to connect to for any streaming service either.
Fortunately, none of this really matters as you’ll see when we get to Surfshark’s performance shortly.
In case you’re wondering, Static IP is a not the same as dedicated IP, an add-on that certain other VPNs offer. It’s a selection of servers that everyone can use. When you connect to these servers, you get the same IP address every time, which can help if you need to use a service that requires you to register an IP address in order to use it.
They’re available in the US, UK, Japan, Germany and Singapore.
Jim Martin / Foundry
The MultiHop list includes a list of pre-defined routes that your connection can take through two servers, such as Netherlands > US – Dallas. This offers extra protection and better masking of your true location because even if a website were able to identify your IP address from the second server, it is almost impossible to trace this back to the first server and – ultimately – to your real IP address and location.
Recently, this feature has been expanded thanks to Surfshark’s Nexus. This is a fundamental change in how its VPN service operates. Instead of the usual, and simple – route from your device to a server and then to a website or other online service, Nexus is effectively a mesh network of all Surfshark’s servers.
Now, you can create your own MultiHop connections, picking not only an ‘exit point’ – the same thing as choosing a server in most VPN apps – but you can specify an ‘entry point’ and, in future, a point in between.
It’s not the easiest concept to explain, which is where this diagram comes in:
Nexus brings other benefits, such as regular IP address changes (a feature certain other VPNs already offer). This is already in Surfshark’s apps called Rotating IP.
Kill switch, split tunnelling & more
Dig deeper into the apps’ settings and you’ll find plenty of other features.
CleanWeb blocks ads and as many trackers as it can while you browse websites, while Bypasser (available on Windows and Android) lets you allow specific apps and websites to bypass the VPN. This is called split tunnelling by other VPN services and can be useful if you don’t want games or data-heavy apps to run via the VPN.
It isn’t available on Macs, iPhones or iPads, though.
The Kill Switch is available on iOS and macOS as well as Windows and Android. It used to be a plain on/off switch, but now you get the option (in Windows at least) to choose soft or strict.
Jim Martin / Foundry
GPS spoofing is a feature unique to Surfshark, but is found only in the Android app. Often, apps will know you’re not really in the US, Japan or any other location even if you’re connected to a VPN server because your phone’s GPS gives the game away.
Spoofing that location to match the VPN server location is another tool in the toolbox that can help to overcome regional blocks and reclaim privacy. This doesn’t work with location-based games such as Pokémon GO, though.
Finally, there are the browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Edge. These, as with many from other VPN services, are confusingly marketed as VPNs. In fact, they use proxy servers (because a web browser cannot establish a VPN connection).
Some measures are used, such as HTTPS, to protect your privacy and security, but they do not encrypt all your data as a VPN does. We asked Surfshark, along with other VPN services, to make it clear that these extensions are not part of the VPN service, but despite saying it would do so, has not.
Surfshark offers extra features which aren’t part of the VPN service: the One package costs extra on top of your VPN subscription.
The first is Alert. This is an ID protection service where you can enter email addresses, credit / debit card numbers and social security numbers and Surfshark will monitor them and notify you if any are ever leaked in a data breach.
Search, which is a bit like DuckDuckGo in that it lets you search the web in privacy, and with no ads. As no filtering happens, you’ll see only organic results. Recently this has been improved and is far less clunky than it used to be.
Note that when you use this, Surfshark will record the aggregated number of performed searches. It won’t store what you search for or any websites you visit, though.
The most recent addition is Antivirus. With traditional security companies such as Norton, Bitdefender and McAfee all adding VPNs to their suites, VPN companies are now adding malware protection. But as of yet, none of the main test labs have published results on whether Surfshark’s protection is up to scratch.
Privacy & jurisdication
If you want to enable 2FA to protect your Surfshark account, you can do so via the website or in the settings section of the app. There are two methods of getting a code: Google Authenticator or email.
Undoubtedly, this does add a bit of inconvenience each time you want to log in, but since that happens pretty infrequently, it’s well worth enabling as it helps to prevent anyone else signing into your Surfshark account.
But what about the privacy of the service itself? Surfshark used to be registered in the British Virgin Islands, which is outside of the jurisdiction of the 14-eyes – countries which share intelligence with each other.
Fairly recently, but before it was bought by Nord, Surfshark switched to the Netherlands, citing “its favorable business, economic and political environment, as well as no-logs-friendly legal jurisdiction”.
Although a 9-eyes country, the fact that a court struck down its mandatory data retention policy in 2015 means that Surfshark can continue to operate its no-logs policy as before.
“Our servers do store information about your connection to a particular VPN server (user ID and connection time stamps), BUT this information is automatically deleted within 15 minutes after termination of your session. And be assured that no information is stored about the websites you visit.”
So, overall, the change in jurisdication isn’t an issue.
And as we’ve covered, the no-logs policy has been audited, which offers a lot of reassurance.
Performance & unblocking
When it comes to testing a VPN’s performance there are many factors and variables involved. And because WireGuard enables such high speeds, you need a very fast internet connection to test it.
We used a synchronous gigabit connection in San Francisco, which at the time of testing was reporting these speeds:
Jim Martin / Foundry
When connected to various servers around the world, using WireGuard, Surfshark managed the following speeds. Clockwise from top-left, these are New York, London, Dubai and Tokyo.
Jim Martin / Foundry
These are impressive numbers. Many of Surfshark’s rivals – including those that cost more, don’t offer anywhere near these speeds. And they’re faster than a lot of home broadband connections, meaning you’ll notice little to no slowdown at all.
Connection times are relatively swift and, once connected, we found they were reliable, too. There’s more good news, too. We found no IP or DNS leaks while testing the service.
The only niggle, which is exactly that and not a deal-breaker, is that Surfshark doesn’t support IPv6. This means it will block all IPv6 traffic and force your devices to use IPv4. Surfshark previously said it would add IPv6 support in 2021, but it didn’t happen because its priorities shifted. As of January 2023, there’s still no word on when this will be implemented. For more, see does it matter if your VPN doesn’t support IPv6?
As for getting around regional blocks and accessing content with Surfshark, we were happy to find it unblocked BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub when connected to a UK server. Initially, iPlayer gave us the usual error, but opening an incognito tab in Chrome sorted the problem.
Mathilde Vicente / Foundry
It’s also able to unblock 15 Netflix regions and lots of other services such as Disney+ and Amazon Prime (but remember you can only unblock the region your Amazon account is set to). Overall, Surfshark is a great choice for streaming video.
Every time we’ve tried the 24/7 online chat, a representative has replied within a minute and has been able to answer our questions quickly and efficiently with a friendly and cheerful attitude. Just note that chat is available on Surfshark’s website, not in the apps, and you have to scroll to the bottom on the support page to find the “Chat with us” button.
Price & plans
Surfshark, like all VPN services, offers big discounts if you sign up for a year or more. At the time of writing, it was offering 82% off its one-month subscription price when you sign up for a two-year subscription.
See Surfshark plans.
That costs £58.37 / $59.76, which works out as £2.43 / $2.30 per month – and you get two months extra free, a total of 26 months. The UK prices here include VAT, which is why they’re higher than the prices shown on Surfshark’s website, which don’t.