Surfshark VPN 2019 for Windows — Review & Test

73%
73%
Great security

Surfshark VPN is a great product excelling in security and privacy. For only $1.99 per month (with a 2-year subscription), you will get many advanced features and a strong level of security.

The user interface could be better (there isn't practically any) and we would love to see more sharks involved! Performance could be also faster, especially the connection times and download speeds.

Pros

  • Advanced features
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Only $1.99 per month
  • Legally based in British Virgin Islands
  • Online live chat support
Cons

  • Lack of user experience
  • Connection times
  • Not many server locations
  • Features
    9
  • Price
    8
  • User Interface
    6
  • Server Locations
    6
  • Performance
    6
  • Privacy Policy
    8
  • Customer Support
    8
  • User Ratings (2 Votes)
    9.7

You probably haven’t heard about Surfshark yet as they are a newcomer to the VPN industry. They launched their services less than a year ago in May 2018. Surfshark is focusing solely on their premium VPN product and they don’t offer any other services. Product subscription starts at $11.95 per month, but you can get to as low as $1.99 per month if you buy a 2-year subscription for $47.76 total. That’s a pretty good deal.

Surfshark VPN Logo (surprisingly it doesn't include shark!)

Surfshark VPN Logo (surprisingly it doesn’t include shark!)

Surfshark is legally based in the British Virgin Islands which means they are not required to store any logs. BVI are popular also among other VPN providers, one of the most popular ones, ExpressVPN has also its entity there. To prove it’s reputability Surfshark asked the team of Cure53 to perform a penetration testing and security audit in November 2018. The results were as expected – no security or privacy issues were found, only two minor ones related to using HTTP links. You can read the full report here.

Surfshark VPN Features – Does it have Kill Switch etc.?

Surfshark VPN is available for all major platforms including Windows PC, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, and FireTV. It also supports Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox via a browser extension.

The great thing about Surfshark VPN is that it supports unlimited simultaneous connections. So once you get the subscription, you can use the app on as many devices as you like (typically, VPN providers supports around 5 simultaneous connections).

Surfshark VPN Security Settings

Surfshark VPN Security Settings

In terms of features, Surfshark VPN offers many advanced features. The list includes Kill Switch, built-in ad & malware block called CleanWeb™ (which doesn’t work for AdSense!), DNS leak protection, apps whitelist/blacklist, Camouflage Mode to hide that you are using VPN service, MultiHop™ which is a double VPN server connection, and NoBorders™ mode for using VPN in restricted regions like China or Iran. This is a long list and comparable with top VPNs like NordVPN.

Security wise Surfshark VPN also offers the best possible encryption on the market. AES-256-GCM over IKEv2/IPsec protocol. You can also manually change protocol to OpenVPN / UDP or OpenVPN / TCP.  See the detailed features overview at the end of our review.

Pricing & Discounts – How much does Surfshark VPN cost?

Surfshark VPN is quite well aligned with the premium market in terms of monthly subscription which costs $11.95. That’s basically a price you would pay for a better VPN product like NordVPN, HideMyAss, or CyberGhost.

Official Surfshark VPN Pricing

Official Surfshark VPN Pricing

However, you can get a really good deal if you purchase a yearly subscription ($5.99 per month or $71.88 total) or even 2-year subscription ($1.99 per month or $47.76 total). That’s more than 80% off and a really good deal which you won’t get with other VPNs.

Surfshark VPN Free Trial

Surfshark VPN offers a free 7-day trial, however, only on macOS, iOS and Android devices. For Windows PC, the only way how to get a Surfshark app is by purchasing a premium subscription.

But you can take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee. So theoretically you can use the product for free for 30 days.

User Interface – Is Surfshark VPN easy to use?

Surfshark’s user interface is super simple, but that doesn’t imply it’s easy to use. In fact, it may be quite confusing. Once you open the app the main CTA says “Quick connect”, but you don’t know where? Once you are connected to the server, it’s quite hard to tell whether that’s still in progress or done since the logo is pulsing.

Surfshark VPN User Interface

Surfshark VPN User Interface

The information about your current IP is confusing as well. Is the IP address of the VPN server or mine?

Going through the long list of servers is a pain as well. There is no grouping by region or country. Similarly, the settings which are grouped into few sections like Security and Advanced. Not sure why Protocols are not under Security.

Surfshark VPN Protocol Settings

Surfshark VPN Protocol Settings

Unfortunately, the user interface is pretty bad and Surfshark team should heavily invest in the UX research to make this much better. Especially if you are not a tech-savvy user, this isn’t the VPN for you.

The brand Surfshark also suggests there will be some shark character involved, but there isn’t. That’s quite a shame as we know you can really push your branding and make the VPN more fun if you involve a character. Like TunnelBear does with their bear of HideMyAss with their Jack, the donkey.

Server Locations & Countries – Where you can connect?

In terms of server locations, Surfshark VPN is quite an average. 50 countries are definitely not bad, but it’s not the top of the market either (NordVPN has 62, HideMyAss 192, CyberGhost 60). On the other hand, they are relatively new to the market and we expect the list will grow in the future.

The full list of locations includes:

  • Africa – South Africa
  • Asia Pacific – Australia; New Zealand; South Korea; Vietnam; Hong Kong; Japan; Malaysia
  • Europe – United Kingdom; Netherlands; Germany; France; Belgium; Switzerland; Sweden; Spain; Denmark; Italy; Norway; Austria; Romania; Czech Republic; Luxembourg; Poland; Finland; Hungary; Latvia; Russia; Iceland; Bulgaria; Croatia; Moldova; Portugal; Albania; Ireland; Slovakia; Ukraine; Estonia; Greece; Slovenia
  • India – India
  • Middle East – Turkey; Israel
  • North America – United States; Canada
  • South America – Brazil; Argentina; Chile; Costa Rica

Does Surfshark VPN Support YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, Amazon Prime, & BBC iPlayer?

During our testing, NordVPN worked well with YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, Amazon Prime, Google, and Facebook. We have used various US servers.

However, it didn’t work with BBC iPlayer which requires a UK location. It is interesting that the site thought we were not in the United Kingdom. It looks like BBC iPlayer is automatically blocking all VPN accesses.

Surfshark VPN doesn't work on BBC iPlayer

Surfshark VPN doesn’t work on BBC iPlayer

But to be fair, not many VPNs are actually working with BBC iPlayer. And if some do, it’s practically just for a short period until it gets noticed. It’s a never-ending cat and mouse game.

Performance & Internet Connection Speed Test

Performance wise Surfshark VPN is quite solid. The speeds are good in the US, in the UK, and in Germany. But very slow in Brazil and Australia. Especially the download speeds, upload was fast in all locations.

LocationDownload (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)Ping (ms)
No VPNBenchmark48.5412.3811
USA9.0315.87123
Germany11.8216.7024
Australia3.9811.25328
Brazil0.987.88472
United Kingdom19.9914.6744
Russia4.8514.6971

Tested using web service by Ookla.

Even though the speeds in some of the locations were decent and can be used for regular Internet browsing, they are quite far away from the benchmark (almost 50 Mbps with no VPN). The ping was good in all locations except Australia and Brazil.

During our testing we have also noted the connection time to any server is very long. It usually took around 30 seconds to connect to the VPN server.

Customer Support

The main channel for contacting Surfshark is the online chat. We have tested it on Sunday late evening and were surprised by the speed of response which was immediate. Also, the customer care agent helped us with the basic questions.

Surfshark VPN support via online chat was smooth and fast

Surfshark VPN support via online chat was smooth and fast

Besides the online chat which is available on www.surfshark.com, you can also use these channels:

You can also get self-service support which includes FAQs and Tutorials. Both are well written and includes screenshots.

Privacy Policy & EULA – What kind of information is Surfshark VPN collecting?

Surfshark VPN claims to have a strict no-logging policy. At least in terms of private information. The only information they log are your account e-mail and billing information. No bandwidth data or IP address are stored which is great.

Besides these Surfshark also collects diagnostics data which are anonymized using aggregation. You can easily opt-out from these by going to Settings » Advanced and turn off Crash reports.

Surfshark VPN warrant canary

Surfshark VPN warrant canary

Surfshark VPN also displays a warrant canary on their site. And as of February 15, they haven’t received any government or national security requests to provide user’s data. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t comply with such requests. The Privacy Policy states “unless we are ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction to do so“.

Surfshark also works with various third parties to process the subscription payments, automate marketing activities, operate online chat and so on. But the Privacy Policy doesn’t disclose with who exactly.

Overall the level of privacy with Surfshark VPN is good thanks to no-logging policy and legislation based on the British Virgin Islands. But they could do a better job in listing all third parties they are working with.

To learn more about Surfshark VPN privacy read their Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service.

Conclusion – Is Surfshark VPN worth $11.95 per month?

Surfshark VPN is definitely one of the best on the market in terms of security and advanced features. Although they are quite new to the market, they developed unique technology and reputable business.

The main disadvantage is the absence of the user interface and the lack of good user experience. Performance could be also improved, especially the connection time to the VPN server.

The big pro for getting Surfshark VPN premium subscription is the price. There aren’t many comparable VPNs for such a good price. If you are not sure about it, just go ahead and test the free trial or take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee.

Appendix – Detailed Features Overview

ProtocolsUDP (OpenVPN), TCP (OpenVPN), IKEv2 (IPsec)
EncryptionAES-256
Store LogsNo
Server Locations50 Countries (800+ Servers)
P2P Connections?
Simultaneous ConnectionsUnlimited
IP AddressesUnknown
CompatibilityWindows, Android, FireTV, macOS, iOS, Chrome, Firefox
Kill SwitchYes
Customer SupportFAQs, Ticket, Live Chat, E-mail
Price for 1 Month$11.95
Price for 1 Year$71.88
Accepts BitcoinsYes
Free TrialYes (7 Days; only for macOS, iOS, and Android)
Money-back GuaranteeYes (30 Days)

About Author

Craig is a big supporter and believer in freedom on the Internet and that's why he is so interested in VPN products. He doesn't have a favorite VPN vendor, because he keeps constantly switching and testing them. Craig's favorite VPN server location is Bhutan.

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