VPNs help to improve your privacy by routing all your web traffic through an encrypted connectedness to a remote server, but that protection can come at a price—in the example of Surfshark, in actual dollars and cents. Surfshark is our latest Editors’ Choice winner for VPNs, simply it’s also one of the near expensive. In a crowded field, Surfshark has washed much to justify its toll tag, offering rarely seen features, fielding thoughtfully designed apps, and emphasizing customer privacy. Surfshark likewise stands out—even among Editors’ Selection winners—because it lets you connect to an unlimited number of devices simultaneously. That makes it an excellent value for large families or households with many devices.
How Much Does Surfshark VPN Cost?
Surfshark VPN’s subscription costs $12.95 per month, compared to an average toll of $ix.96 per month among the services we’ve tested. This puts Surfshark amid the most expensive VPNs we’ve nonetheless reviewed, far beyond the 5 euros ($6.x at time of writing) per month charged by Mullvad, our most affordable Editors’ Choice VPN, or the $4.99 per month for Mozilla’s VPN.
Like many VPNs, Surfshark incentivizes long-term commitments with steep discounts. An annual plan starts at $47.88 and renews the following year for $59.76. A 2-year programme costs $59.76 as well, just renews at that same price every
after the first ii. While that’s a bit confusing, that annual renewal price is withal quite a bit less than the $68.03 average for the VPNs we take reviewed. Long term plans absolutely save you money, simply we recommend starting with the shortest possible subscription to make sure the VPN works for yous, and only then movement to a longer subscription plan if you determine you lot like the service.
You can purchase a Surfshark subscription using major credit cards, Amazon Pay, PayPal, and a variety of cryptocurrencies. Nosotros capeesh that Surfshark allows semi-anonymous payments with cryptocurrencies, just other services such as IVPN—an affordable Editors’ Choice winner noted for its focus on transparency and privacy—and Mullvad get so far equally to have greenbacks payments.
If Surfshark is too rich for your blood, there are numerous cheap VPNs and even a few worthy free VPNs to consider. ProtonVPN fits into both categories and is one of the but gratuitous VPNs that does not impose a data limit on user traffic.
While the monthly plan is expensive, Surfshark does offering excellent value for that coin. For one thing, it lets y’all employ an unlimited number of devices on one account, whereas most companies cutting yous off later on merely five simultaneous connections. Avira Phantom VPN, Encrypt.me VPN, Ghostery Midnight, IPVanish VPN, and Windscribe VPN are the simply other VPNs we’ve tested that place no limit on simultaneous connections.
(Editors’ Notation: Encrypt.me and IPVanish are owned past Ziff Davis, PCMag’s parent company.)
What Do You Get for Your Money?
Surfshark’s existent strengths are the rarely seen features it provides. Whitelister, for instance, is a carve up tunneling tool that lets y’all determine which apps and websites apply the VPN connection. Information technology’s handy because some sites block access from VPNs, so yous need to disable it to get to them. Surfshark’southward solution is very tidy, going beyond near of the competition.
Another feature that’s often absent is multi-hop, which creates a VPN connection to a server so bounces your traffic to a 2nd VPN server for fifty-fifty greater security. Surfshark’s multi-hop connections are limited to the premade ones the company supplies, whereas IVPN lets you lot create a multi-hop connexion betwixt whatever two of its servers.
One rare feature Surfshark currently does
offering is access to Tor via VPN, which is bachelor through NordVPN and ProtonVPN. ProtonVPN besides offers multi-hop and split up-tunneling features. You don’t need a VPN to utilise Tor but this kind of push button-push access is convenient.
Many VPN companies offer add-ons to your base subscription. NordVPN and others supply private, static IP addresses, which are useful any fourth dimension you notice your VPN connection blocked. Surfshark does non offer dedicated IP addresses for purchase, but it does let customers to access static servers for free. Anyone who uses a Surfshark static server shares an IP address with anybody else using the same server.
Surfshark includes several privacy tools that become across VPN protection: a custom DNS service called Smart DNS; an ad-blocker branded as CleanWeb; Surfshark Alert, which alerts you if your accounts take been compromised, much like HaveIBeenPwned; and a privacy-respecting search tool called Surfshark Search. Note that both Surfshark Alarm and Surfshark Search cost an additional $0.99 per month. It’due south a good collection of extras, just non especially impressive given the loftier price of the core service. Hotspot Shield VPN grants access to several third-political party services for free with each subscription.
While VPNs are powerful tools, they tin’t solve all your privacy and security issues. At that place’southward a wide range of ways to rail you lot online. We recommend using the privacy tools built into most browsers and a stand up-alone tracker blocker like the EFF’s Privacy Annoy. Annotation as well that the gratis Tor anonymization network makes it even harder to track your online action. We highly recommend creating unique and complex passwords with a password manager, enabling multi-factor authentication wherever possible, and using antivirus software.
Surfshark’s VPN Protocols
There are many ways to create a VPN connectedness. Surfshark offers the OpenVPN protocol in its Android, iOS, Linux, and Windows apps. The excellent IKEv2 protocol is also available on all platforms (except Linux) and is the default for macOS.
We prefer OpenVPN, as its open source roots hateful it has been picked over for potential vulnerabilities. The heir credible to OpenVPN seems to be WireGuard. Like OpenVPN, WireGuard is open-source, but uses newer technology and is reportedly much faster than other protocols. We were pleased to see that Surfshark deployed WireGuard for its Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows apps in late October 2020.
Surfshark Servers and Server Locations
Having a lot of server locations across the globe to choose from means you’re more than likely to find one close to home or wherever yous might be traveling, and it provides plenty of options for spoofing your location. Surfshark covers 65 countries with its servers, which is above average. ExpressVPN leads the pack with servers physically located in a whopping 94 countries.
Surfshark provides above average coverage to South America and Africa, both regions ofttimes ignored by other companies. Surfshark also offers servers in countries with repressive net policies, including China, Russia, Turkey, and Vietnam. We’d like to come across more competitors following Surfshark’south instance.
Some VPNs brand use of then-called virtual servers and virtual locations. Virtual servers are software-defined, meaning that a single physical server can play host to several virtual ones. Many companies apply these to suit surges in need. Virtual locations are servers (virtual or physical) configured to appear somewhere other than where they are physically located. Neither is inherently problematic, merely we adopt that companies be clear nigh where and how their servers operate.
Surfshark told PCMag that all its servers are concrete machines. We were pleased to see that the company’s website clearly labels its virtual locations (Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Philippines, and South Korea). A representative tells us these servers are physically located in Colombia, Hong Kong, and the netherlands.
Having more servers is a good thing since information technology means a better chance of getting a connection that works well for you. It does non, however, guarantee better service. For its part, Surfshark boasts over three,200 servers, more than than double the average nosotros’ve seen across VPNs nosotros’ve tested. CyberGhost however leads in this area, notwithstanding, with more 6,520 servers available.
Surfshark says that it relies on “trusted third-party information centers” to provide its server infrastructure. The company does brand use of tamper-resistant RAM-but servers. This means that if someone were to physically remove the server to get at the data within, the server would be immediately wiped. A blog post from the company also details how diskless servers prevent private encryption keys from being stolen from server configurations. A few companies, such as ExpressVPN, made this change long ago.
Your Privacy With Surfshark
In its policy documents, Surfshark stresses that it does non log IP addresses, browsing history, amount of bandwidth used, network traffic, or fifty-fifty connexion timestamps. That’s exactly what you want to hear from a VPN company.
The visitor does collect some information, including anonymized aggregate analytical data, as well equally account information and billing history. The visitor as well notes that it receives advertising IDs from third parties, citing Google Play as an example. These are identifiers that you can reset yourself. Surfshark explained that these IDs are used to make up one’s mind whether the company’s ad is driving installations. The app does non accept ads within it. Elsewhere in its policy, Surfshark goes to great lengths to explicate every cookie on its website and analytics service it uses. We capeesh the effort toward transparency, although the sheer volume of the list and the telescopic of the data is intimidating.
Company representatives accept told united states of america that Surfshark is a highly decentralized organization, with offices in Cyprus, Lithuania, holland, the Philippines, and the UK, as well as remote employees effectually the globe. We appreciate the company’s transparency on this betoken.
On February 2, 2022, Surfshark VPN appear it was merging with NordVPN. Both brands are said to be set to continue every bit separate entities, with their ain business organization plans and infrastructure. The deal was characterized in a press release as an opportunity for the ii companies to share knowledge and focus on different market segments. A representative from Nord Security stressed to PCMag reporter Michael Kan that this was non an acquisition, and neither company is purchasing the other. A new holding company, chosen Cyberspace, was registered in the netherlands and will own both companies.
Many VPN companies committee third-political party audits to verify visitor statements nearly customer privacy and security. Surfshark commissioned its start audit in 2018 and its 2d in 2021. Both were carried out by Cure53. The 2nd audit looked at Surfshark’s infrastructure and VPN configuration, giving a level of assurance about the unseen portions of the company. We’re happy to encounter the positive results from this new audit and hope that Surfshark continues to do such audits in the future. While they are imperfect tools, a commitment to audits is a valuable step a VPN can take toward establishing trust. TunnelBear, for instance, has committed to annual audits of its service.
Hands On With Surfshark VPN for Windows
Surfshark has Android VPN, iOS VPN, macOS VPN, and Windows VPN customer apps. The visitor besides offers an app for FireTV, which is a bit of a rarity. At that place are Surfshark proxy plug-ins for the Chrome and Firefox browsers and a custom DNS resolver for Xbox and PlayStation.
We tested Surfshark on an Intel NUC Kit NUC8i7BEH (Bean Canyon) desktop running the latest version of Windows 10. On Windows, Surfshark offers a modest, stylish app with flat colors and smart pattern that expands and contracts to evidence more than or less information. We especially similar that it has a clear, obvious fashion to immediately get online, and that it lets you select specific servers, and not just entire countries. It’s not quite equally friendly as TunnelBear, but it’southward very clean in the way that the best mobile apps are. Interestingly, you can resize the window and the app adjusts its layout, similar to a responsive website. A smaller version of the app can be summoned from the organisation tray, and its available functions tin can be customized.
You can select a server at the country or urban center level and can favorite a location for time to come use. Yous cannot choose betwixt individual servers at the same location. That’s not a critical feature, but it is useful for anyone looking to access online content past spoofing their location.
A Impale Switch characteristic prevents your calculator from sending web traffic in the clear should the VPN become disconnected. Also notable is the option to block or allow local network traffic, which is handy for streaming to other devices or accessing network printers.
Surfshark offers a surprising number of advanced features. There’southward Whitelister and the multi-hop capability mentioned above. Whitelister is a bit more powerful than the average carve up tunneling tool. With information technology, yous can require that an app’s traffic go through the VPN or outside the VPN connection. Whitelister also works with URLs, but you can only set URLs to travel outside the VPN connectedness. Also of note is NoBorders Mode, which disguises your VPN traffic as normal HTTPS web traffic. Other VPNs include this characteristic nether dissimilar names (TunnelBear calls it GhostBear, for example), and it’due south especially useful if y’all’re in a region that blocks the utilise of VPNs. Note that the company also offers obfuscated servers chosen Camouflage Manner.
A concern with VPNs is that they may leak your DNS information or IP address. Using the DNS Leak Test tool, nosotros confirmed that, at to the lowest degree on the server we were using, Surfshark did not leak any DNS information and successfully hid our IP address.
During testing, we had no trouble streaming from Netflix while connected to a US VPN server. Go along in listen, nonetheless, that Netflix is locked in a true cat-and-mouse game with VPN companies. A service that works today may non work tomorrow.
Hands On With Surfshark for Android
We installed Surfshark’s Android VPN client from the Google Play store on a Samsung A71 running Android 10. The Android app looks merely like the iOS version, with a apartment white interface while asunder, and a teal gradient that appears when yous connect to a VPN server. The Android app has similar features to the Windows version, including CleanWeb and Whitelister. It besides provides static servers and multi-hop connections.
Keeping your information private is a key characteristic of any VPN. Nosotros tested the service with the DNS Leak Test Tool, running an extended exam on a server based in Vienna, Austria. SurfShark successfully changed our IP address inverse and did non leak our DNS information.
To test the app’s performance on Android, we went to YouTube.com and loaded a couple of videos. The videos took longer to load than on competitors like IVPN. Information technology took virtually vi seconds for each video to play. We also went to Twitch.tv and watched a live stream. The stream took less time to load, about five seconds, and when information technology played, the video quality looked slap-up with no noticeable lag or buffering.
Hands On With Surfshark VPN for iPhone
We installed the Surfshark iPhone VPN app on a iPhone XS running iOS xiv.iv.one. The app has a clean white interface with teal buttons. To connect to a VPN server, y’all tap the large teal Connect button and the white screen changes to various shades of teal to show you’re now connected.
You accept a lot of servers to choose from, but, as with the Windows version, you can’t cull a specific server. You can only choose the land the server is in, or the country and city where the server is located. The iPhone app supports static IP addresses and multi-hop connections.
The iOS app has some features that are included in the Windows version, including a Kill Switch and NoBorders mode.
We went to DNSLeakTest.com and ran an extended test while continued to a server in Toronto, Canada. We confirmed Surfshark did not leak our DNS data and that it changed our public IP accost.
We so went to Twitch.tv and were able to immediately load and lookout a few streams, none of which showed any lag or buffering. Afterward that, we went to the YouTube app and tried to watch a quick makeup tutorial. The VPN server performed a lot slower hither, taking up to six seconds to load the YouTube video. Once the video started playing, the quality was excellent, just the load time was definitely longer than usual.
Easily On With Surfshark for Macs
It was easy to find and install the macOS app for Surfshark on a MacBook Air (2020) running Big Sur 11.2.2. The app is in both the App Shop and on the vendor’s website. Like the iOS version, the app has a mostly a flat white design with teal accents.
The app’s home screen features a list of VPN server locations. When choosing a VPN server, yous can only select the country, and in some cases the urban center where your VPN server is located. The app also has the CleanWeb way and a Impale Switch feature.
It’southward important for a VPN to do its task and protect your private information. We performed an extended DNS leak test by visiting DNSLeakTest.com while connected to a server in Sao Paolo, Brazil. This server did not leak our DNS information and successfully hid our real IP address.
While we were nevertheless connected to the server in Brazil, we loaded upward a few YouTube videos and they all played instantly, without any lag or interruptions. We also visited Twitch.tv and watched several minutes of a live stream, and it loaded incredibly fast and displayed high-quality video.
Easily On With Surfshark on Chrome Bone
We downloaded the Android app onto a Dell Chrome 3100 with an Intel Celeron Processor. SurfShark VPN on Chrome OS is an easy-to-employ application with a number of handy features. Users tin cull to connect to the fastest server available after logging in, or they tin choose the land nearest to their home location. Servers with static IP addresses and multi-hop servers are also available.
Features include a Kill Switch, a split tunneling feature called Bypasser, and CleanWeb, a characteristic that blocks ads, malware, and trackers when connected to the VPN. There are besides some interesting user options in the Avant-garde Settings card such as the ability to be invisible to other devices on the local area network, the ability to override your GPS location, and a rotating IP address.
Speed and Performance
By and large, using a VPN lowers your upload and download speeds while increasing your latency. To go a sense of that degradation, we calculate a percent change between batches of tests run with a VPN and those without, using the Ookla Speedtest tool. To get the nitty-gritty about how we come up up with our numbers, you lot can read How We Test VPNs.
(Editors’ Note: Ookla is owned by PCMag’s publisher, Ziff Davis.)
Despite using the WireGuard protocol in our testing, Surfshark did not show stellar performance. Nosotros institute it reduced download and upload speed test results by 61.6% and 59.7%, respectively. That upload figure isn’t bad, but the download results exit much to be desired. Nosotros found that it also increased latency past 59.5%, but a smidge above the median results.
In the by, we ran speed tests on all the VPN services we reviewed back-to-dorsum to get a bird’s-eye view of performance. This yr, nosotros moved to a rolling model which should show fresher results faster. The new model is also due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has express our admission to the PCMag Labs. The nautical chart beneath shows the latest speed exam results.
Keep in mind that our results came from using this VPN at a particular fourth dimension of 24-hour interval and at a item place. Your results will surely differ, but this method allows u.s.a. to make a comparison between services while controlling for variables. Speed alone should never be the main concern when shopping for a VPN.
Safe Surfing for a Price
Surfshark has long been an excellent VPN service. It has a generous unlimited devices policy, letting you hook up as many devices as y’all similar, and provides rarely seen split tunneling and multi-hop features. The company deserves credit for its transparent privacy policies and its tamper-resistant RAM-only servers, too. Surfshark’s contempo audit of its VPN infrastructure helps make clear that the visitor follows best practices and is willing to prove its work. All that helps rest out its hefty upwards-front montly price, making Surfshark our newest Editors’ Choice honour winner.