VPNs increase your privacy by sending all of your web traffic through an encrypted connection to a remote server, but that security comes at a cost—in the case of Surfshark VPN, that cost is in bucks and cents. Our most recent Editors’ Choice winner for VPNs is Surfshark, but it’s also one of the most expensive. Surfshark has done a lot to justify its price tag in a crowded sector by providing unique features, intelligently designed apps, and focusing on consumer privacy. Even among Editors’ Choice winners, Surfshark VPN stands out since it allows you to connect to an unlimited number of devices at once. As a result, it’s a great deal for large families or households with many gadgets. Keep reading and find the most details in this review of Surfshark VPN.
Surfshark VPN Pricing
The service’s monthly plan, at $12.95, is more expensive than some, as you can see from our dedicated Surfshark VPN price and discounts page, and buying for six months in advance only reduces the cost to $6.49.
The 12-month + 12-month free plan is a beautiful offer for the first term at $2.49. However, the annual plan increases to $4.98 when renewed.
Most competitors’ beginning prices are lower, but few outliers are. For example, Private Internet Access’ three-year contract costs only $2.19 per month and includes a simple on-demand antivirus.
All VPN services are included in the new Surfshark One plan, Avira-powered antivirus, data breach monitoring, and privacy-friendly internet search. For an additional $1.99 each month, you can activate it. Cheap? It’s a reasonably simple setup, to be sure. For example, the antivirus allows on-demand scans but does not provide real-time protection; therefore, it is not a replacement for a full antivirus app.
Keep in mind regarding security that most of the leading antivirus providers now offer VPNs as well. For $3.99 per month for the first year and $8.33 per year after that, Avast One gives you significantly more capable antivirus and security tools, as well as a free VPN.
Surfshark’s free seven-day trial for Android, iOS and Mac allows you to try the service out for yourself. We want something for Windows users, but it seems unreasonable to complain when many suppliers don’t even offer free trials.
Surfshark VPN has many pricing options, including credit cards, PayPal, cryptocurrency, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, and Ali Pay. But if you join up and decide the company isn’t for you after all of this, no worries — you’re covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Value Added Features
The main merits of Surfshark are the characteristics that are rarely visible. For example, Whitelister is a split tunneling application that allows you to control which apps and websites use your VPN connection. This is useful because some websites ban VPN access. Surfshark’s solution is relatively clean, and it outperforms the majority of the competitors.
Another feature that is sometimes overlooked is multi-hop, which establishes a VPN connection with a server and redirects your traffic to a second VPN server for added security. Surfshark’s multi-hop connections are limited to the company’s preconfigured options, but IVPN allows you to link any two of its servers.
Tor via VPN, which is accessible through ProtonVPN and NordVPN, is now unavailable through Surfshark VPN. Multi-hop and split-tunneling are also available with ProtonVPN. Tor does not require the usage of a VPN, although the convenience of one-button access is appealing.
Many VPN providers include add-ons to their basic subscriptions. Private, static IP addresses are provided by NordVPN and others, which can be handy if your VPN connection is restricted. Surfshark doesn’t offer dedicated IP addresses. But it has the option to provide consumers with free access to static servers. Anyone who connects to a Surfshark static server is assigned the same IP address as everyone else.
Surfshark contains a custom DNS service called Smart DNS, an ad-blocker called CleanWeb, Surfshark Alert, which works similarly to HaveIBeenPwned in alerting you if your accounts have been compromised, and Surfshark Search, which is a privacy-friendly search tool. Both Surfshark Alert and Surfshark Search are available for an extra $0.99 each month. It’s a fair set of extras, but given the high cost of the basic service, it’s not spectacular. Each subscription to Hotspot Shield VPN includes free access to a number of third-party services.
VPNs are effective tools, but they cannot solve all of your privacy and security concerns. You can be tracked in a variety of ways online. Most browsers have privacy protections built-in; however, we advocate using a standalone tracker blocker like the EFF’s Privacy Badger. It’s also worth noting that the free Tor anonymization network makes tracking your internet activities even more difficult. We strongly advise utilizing a password manager to create unique and complicated passwords, activating two-factor authentication wherever possible, and installing antivirus software.
Secure protocols, OpenVPN, WireGuard, TCP and UDP, IKEv2, AES-256 encryption, and a master key to stopping internet access and avoiding identity leaks if the VPN connection fails are all included in Surfshark’s privacy features.
But that’s only the beginning. Surfshark VPN uses its private DNS on each server to prevent others from snooping on your activity. The option to employ a double VPN hop (for example, connecting to Paris and then leaving the Surfshark network in New York) makes it much more difficult for anyone to monitor your movements.
Surfshark VPN, like ExpressVPN, is based in the British Virgin Islands, which means the firm isn’t required to store logs of user activity.
Surfshark does not collect: According to a logging FAQ page, Surfshark does not collect: ‘Incoming and outgoing IP addresses; browsing, downloading, or purchasing histories; VPN servers used; bandwidth consumed; session information; connection timestamps; network activity.’
Surfshark used to collect certain anonymous, aggregated analytics – performance information, frequency of usage of the system, failed connections, crash reports – but that information has now been removed from the page.
We’re not sure why, but it’s not just because Surfshark VPN no longer records this information, as the ‘Collect anonymous crash reports’ option in the Windows app Settings box still exists. The installer works automatically – it’s turned on by default – but if you’re not pleased with it, you can turn it off with a single click.
Check out: Top 7 Latest Trends in Online Data Privacy
Surfshark VPN Protocols
A VPN connection can be established in a variety of ways. Surfshark’s Linux, Windows, iOS, and Android apps support the OpenVPN VPN protocol. All platforms (except Linux) support the superb IKEv2 protocol, the default on macOS.
For years, we’ve favored OpenVPN because of its open-source roots, which means it’s been scoured for potential flaws. WireGuard appears to be OpenVPN’s heir apparent. WireGuard is open-source, like OpenVPN, but it uses newer technology and is much faster than other protocols. Surfshark used WireGuard for their Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows apps, which we were happy to see.
Surfshark VPN Performance
With a 1Gbps connection, we tested Surfshark VPN’s performance from a US location and a UK data center, giving us plenty of opportunities to discover what the service could achieve.
We tested download speeds using performance testing sites such as SpeedTest (the website and command-line software), nPerf, and SpeedOfMe after installing the newest Surfshark VPN app on our test PCs and connecting to our nearby location. We used WireGuard to collect at least five results from each site, then repeated each test with OpenVPN, running the entire test set in both morning and nighttime sessions.
The average US OpenVPN download speed was 170Mbps, whereas UK download speeds were only 100-110Mbps. During recent tests, most top VPNs achieved speeds of 150-300Mbps, with ProtonVPN achieving 400-460Mbps.
However, Surfshark’s WireGuard support is a secret weapon, as switching protocols saw download speeds climb to 270-300Mbps in the US and 400-475Mbps in the UK. That’s also a touch below average – the top of the competition has reached 700Mbps and higher – but Surfshark should be plenty fast for most gadgets and internet connections.
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