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Surfshark VPN review: One of the fastest services put to the test

Virtual private networks (VPNs) offer users the opportunity to establish a protected network connection when using the internet. They encrypt your online profile and activities, making it almost impossible for third parties to track your actions or steal data.

Surfshark offers a wide range of privacy tools, unlimited device connections, and feature-packed apps. We closely examine everything it offers, while testing speeds, latency and analysing the company’s claims. 

In 2023, Surfshark merged with NordVPN, but both are continuing to operate as autonomous companies relying on separate infrastructures and different product development plans.

So, where does Surfshark sit in the crowded VPN market?

60-second review

Rating: ★★★★½

Since it entered the VPN marketplace, Surfshark has grown rapidly and now has more than 3,200 RAM-only servers across 100 countries. After a recent merger with NordVPN, the Netherlands-based provider has got some serious resources behind it to further its expansion and product development.

Surfshark has passed independent VPN audits, assuring users of its robust security and privacy measures. The mid-range price point is justified by numerous features, multi-platform compatibility and unlimited device connections. 

Offering fast speeds, strong AES-256 encryption, WireGuard and OpenVPN protocol support, and a no-logs policy, Surfshark delivers a competitive VPN service. 

How we research and rate VPNs

100+
hours performance testing
500+
customer reviews read
100+
hour of research
25
competitors compared
4
VPN experts consulted

Our reviewers are dedicated to bringing you the most accurate and up-to-date information so you can make an informed decision when it comes to buying a VPN. We will only recommend a VPN after hours of testing, extensive head-to-head feature comparisons, and after taking into account verified customer feedback and reviews, and the opinions of industry experts.

Our review scores are determined by the following categories:

  • Privacy and performance (30 per cent)
  • Features and functionality (30 per cent)
  • Reputation and credibility (25 per cent)
  • Plans and pricing/value (10 per cent)
  • Customer experience (5 per cent)

We research and test a total of 25 elements within these categories, including:

  • Number and location of servers
  • Streaming service accessibility
  • Security features such as AES-256
  • Performance (upload and download speeds, latency)
  • Value for money, guarantees and customer service
  • Independent server-site security audits

All of our VPN articles are verified by our in-house team of fact-checkers, so you can be assured our content is as accurate and up to date as possible. To find out more, read about how we review VPNs.

Surfshark VPN overview

  • Lowest price: From £1.79 per month for a 24-month subscription (plus two months free)
  • Free version: No
  • Maximum number of connected devices: Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Number of servers: More than 3,200 servers in 100 countries
  • VPN protocols: WireGuard, IKEv2, and OpenVPN
  • No-log policy: Surfshark does not log data (independently verified by Deloitte and Cure53)
  • Headquarters: The Netherlands

Pros

Unlimited simultaneous connections Large global server presence Multi-hop and split tunnelling tools Quick, helpful live chat support

Cons

Some Windows kill switch issues Based in the Netherlands No split tunnelling on iOS Doesn’t notify users if connection drops

How does Surfshark compare?

Surfshark offers one of the lowest monthly subscription rates (which is why our reviewers named it the best cheap VPN), with its monthly payment plan similar to NordVPN, ExpressVPN and CyberGhost. Like many VPNs, it incentivises long-term commitments with discounts, including two free months if you subscribe for 24 months. 

With more than 3,200 servers, Surfshark has fewer than CyberGhost and NordVPN; however, it’s the only provider we reviewed that offers connections for an unlimited number of devices. Most providers allow a maximum number of 10 or fewer. 

To verify its security measures, Surfshark’s servers have been extensively tested by independent auditor Cure53, while Deloitte has verified the company’s stringent no-log policy. Cure53 also audited ExpressVPN; NordVPN employed Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers AG; and CyberGhost used Deloitte. With four of our reviewed providers being audited, all appear to offer robust and reliable online privacy and strong security measures.

Unlike NordVPN, Surfshark does not provide dedicated IP addresses. Dedicated IPs allow a single user or a group of users to access a specific address, granting them secure access to remote devices and bypassing any geo-restrictions. A dedicated IP can also produce faster website speeds with less latency. 

ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and CyberGhost offer Onion Over VPN servers. These servers patch up any privacy gaps you may experience using The Onion Router (Tor) alone. Tor makes your browsing much more private by bundling your data into layers of encryption (like the layers of an onion) and routing it through three extra intermediary systems. Although Tor has been linked to illegal activities, it is often utilised by government organisations, whistleblowers, journalists, and military professionals for its extreme security and online privacy levels. To use Tor with Surfshark, the browser has to be downloaded rather than using specified Tor servers.

VPN provider Price Free version? Number of servers Maximum number of devices Netflix BBC iPlayer Disney+ Amazon HBO Max Audit?
Surfshark From £1.79/m No 3,200+ Unlimited Yes
ExpressVPN From £6.77/m No 3,000+ 5 Yes
NordVPN From £2.79/m No 5,500+ 6 Yes
CyberGhost From £1.78/m No 9,773 7 Yes
VPNSecure From £2.33 ($2.99)/m No 75 5 No
Compare our top recommended providers
Best Overall
Get up to 67% off
Best Value
Get 79% off + 2 months free
Best All-rounder
3 months free on the 12 month plan
Best for Gaming
Get 82% off + 2 months extra

How much does Surfshark cost?

Surfshark has a simple price plan with one service tier, allowing users to subscribe for one, 12, or 24 months. You’ll often receive extra months free if you choose the latter. It also offers a seven-day VPN free trial for Android, iOS and macOS platforms with no limitations on data or services.

In line with NordVPN and ExpressVPN, Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re unhappy with your product. This excludes iTunes, App Store, Amazon, or prepaid card/gift card purchases; you must contact the relevant customer services department for a refund if this is the case.

Subscription term Price
Monthly £10.29 ($13.05) / month
12 months £2.29 ($2.90) / month (£32.06/$40.66 up front)
24 months (+4 months free) £1.79 ($2.27) / month (£46.54/$59.03 up front for 26 months)

Payment options

Surfshark accepts the following payment methods: 

  • Credit card
  • Bank transfer
  • PayPal
  • Sofort
  • Google Pay
  • Amazon Pay
  • Cryptocurrencies

Surfshark’s features

As an additional security feature that’s included in its subscription, Surfshark has the option to configure your VPN directly onto your router. This ensures an automatic connection to the service for all your devices – PCs, laptops, smartphones, smart TVs, and even consoles – and removes the need to remember to switch it on every time you go online. That being said, Surfshark’s features tend to be available across many of its apps for various devices, which is one of the reasons our reviewers believe it’s one of the best VPNs for Firestick

Surfshark encrypts your data with Advanced Standard Encryption with 256 bits (AES-256). AES-256 is a near-impenetrable symmetric encryption algorithm using a 256-bit key to scramble data. It also uses RAM-only servers, which wipe data as soon as they are switched off.  

On Surfshark’s VPN for Android, you will find a setting to override GPS location, known as GPS spoofing, which allows you to hide your location by automatically matching your GPS location with your chosen server’s location. However, it would also be good to see this feature rolled out for iPhone users. 

Camouflage Mode, otherwise known as obfuscation, is another Surfshark feature. Obfuscation hides the fact that you’re using a VPN to reroute your traffic, providing an added layer of privacy.

In addition, Surfshark’s No-Borders Mode ensures that you can continue to use your VPN anywhere in the world.

Server count and countries

Surfshark has more than 3,200 servers spread across 100 countries. Every server is RAM-only (meaning they do not store any data) and completely reset as soon as they are updated or disconnected from power. They also support a transmission speed of at least one gigabit per second (Gbps), with many, according to Surfshark, being upgraded to 10Gbps ports.  

Surfshark’s whole server network supports WireGuard, IKEv2, and OpenVPN protocols. VPN protocols mask your data so you can browse websites, use social media, and so on, and most of the providers we’ve reviewed use the same three protocols. WireGuard and IKEv2 allow fast, secure online activities, with the latter being particularly suited to mobile devices, thanks to its ability to switch networks on demand. OpenVPN is open-sourced, meaning it’s been approved by security specialists and is supported by most routers. 

No-log policy and headquarters

Surfshark does not keep track of your online whereabouts or activities. The VPN server only keeps enough data to maintain your connection, and nothing is stored.

Independent auditor Deloitte analysed Surfshark’s no-log policy and verified that the company doesn’t record or keep user logs. Surfshark has previously passed audits by Cure53, but Deloitte carries more authority as one of the Big Four auditing firms.

In 2021, Surfshark moved its headquarters to the Netherlands from its previous offshore location, the British Virgin Islands. The Netherlands has a liberal political environment and legal system that allows the company to continue its no-logs policy. However, one legitimate concern that some users have raised is that the Netherlands is a member of the Nine Eyes intelligence-sharing network. 

The Eyes are international intelligence-sharing agreements between governmental bodies, named after the number of countries with partnerships – Five, Nine or Fourteen Eyes. Participating countries are reported to spy on their citizens through various means, acquiring sensitive and private information that may be shared with the alliance’s other members. 

Surfshark has acknowledged this but insists that local laws mean that it is not obligated to collect user data or share it with the government of the Netherlands or any other country.

Another issue with choosing the Netherlands as its base is the impact of the Dutch Intelligence and Security Services Act (Dragnet-Act) on Surfshark’s data collection. This controversial law allows intelligence services to systematically conduct mass surveillance of the internet.

Surfshark claims to have examined this closely and still believes it can maintain a no-log policy. If this changes, the company further promises it would move to another country to ensure the privacy of its users.

The key question, however, has still not been addressed – why did Surfshark move from  the privacy-friendly offshore British Virgin Islands to an EU-based country that is a member of the Nine Eyes network and has recently passed a controversial piece of legislation that allows internet monitoring? 

However, with Surfshark’s independently verified no-logs policy demonstrating no data is retained, there are no user credentials or activity records to hand over even if the company is served a court order to do so.

Kill switch

A kill switch instantly disconnects your device from the internet if your VPN connection drops unexpectedly, safeguarding your privacy. Surfshark’s kill switch needs to be enabled in settings, and, overall it’s effective and robust; however, some users have found issues using the switch in Windows.  

In a few instances, users reported that if the server connection dropped in Windows, the app didn’t always notice. It continued to display a ‘Protected’ message, suggesting users could carry on using their device, thinking the privacy and security protocols were still in place when, in fact, users had become vulnerable.

Split tunnelling

Split tunnelling – called Bypasser on the Surfshark app – allows users to use two different IP addresses simultaneously, choosing which data uses the encrypted VPN connection and which is transmitted via their usual internet connection. This means if YouTube is running slow while you browse in Windows, for example, you can use split tunnelling for YouTube while the rest of your online activities are secure and private. 

Bypasser is supported on Windows 7, 8, 10 and 11, and Android apps; however, this feature is unavailable in its VPN app for iPhone.

Encryption and privacy

Encryption is the process of encoding and scrambling your data, making it an effective way to prevent unauthorised users from accessing your online data and activities. 

Surfshark, along with many other VPN providers, including NordVPN and ExpressVPN, uses AES-256 encryption. AES splits the data into blocks and applies different cryptographic keys to each. The keys come in several sizes – 128, 192, and 256 bits. Hence AES-256 produces 256 blocks of encrypted data. Trusted by governments and military organisations, AES-256 is practically unbreakable by brute force based on current computing power, making it the strongest encryption standard on the market.

Other features

Surfshark offers several helpful features designed to increase privacy and security while enhancing your online experience. These are optional add-ons as part of the Surfshark One subscription (for an additional monthly fee) or using the browser extension. 

Alert

As part of Surfshark One, Alert lets you know if your data has been leaked online. It constantly scans the internet for leaked details of your credit cards, emails, passwords, and personal information. 

You can also monitor your private data security with quarterly or annual reports. 

Antivirus 

Antivirus offers real-time protection from viruses and includes regular scheduled, or specifically timed, scans. 

Cloud Protect watches for any new viruses, stopping them from harming or entering your device.

Surfshark’s Antivirus also prevents any unauthorised access to your camera and notifies you if someone tries to access it. This feature can be accessed with a Surfshark One subscription. 

Search

Search is part of Surfshark’s One’s optional subscription and allows you to receive only organic search results (unpaid listings, as opposed to pay-per-click ads). These results are calculated strictly algorithmically and are not influenced by your previous internet history – which doesn’t exist when using a VPN server – or paid adverts. 

CleanWeb

Surshark’s browser extension enables CleanWeb to add to the blocking capabilities of the Search feature. CleanWeb blocks all built-in smart TV ads, cookie consent pop-ups, and fake websites. 

MultiHop

Surfshark’s double VPN feature, Multihop, enables you to connect via two servers, adding an extra layer of security. Usually, these are located in different countries and are pre-selected for you; however, you can select both servers manually. 

The more encrypted servers between you and the internet, the harder it is for third parties to track you or for data leaks to occur. Often used by journalists, whistleblowers or activists, it’s not always advised for general users, as it can negatively impact the speed of online activities. 

Surfshark’s performance test results

The best way to find out how a VPN affects a user’s internet speed is to test it. 

There are three main components to consider when testing internet speed, with or without a VPN: download speed, upload speed and latency (ping).

  • Download speed: The rate at which digital data is transferred from the internet to your device
  • Upload speed: The rate data is transferred from your device to the internet 
  • Latency (ping): The time it takes for a set of data to be transmitted to a server on the internet and back to your device again 

Our researchers thoroughly tested Surfshark to establish how using the service affected internet download and upload speeds. First, we tested the speeds without the VPN to obtain a baseline with which to calculate the degradation between the speeds with and without Surfshark. Then we tested speeds from the UK to servers on other continents. Our reviewers used the Ookla Speedtest for this research. 

Download speed (Mbps) Upload speed (Mbps) Latency (ping) Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 37.27 9.33 10
UK to UK 36.01 8.82 12 96% 94%
UK to US 34.38 8.91 92 92% 95%
UK to Australia 30.47 8.66 272 81% 92%

screenshot of surfshark vpn download speeds
Speed with no VPN. This is our baseline. The numbers along the bottom of the image are the ping (latency) in milliseconds and the amount of data downloaded (green) and uploaded (purple) during the test, measured in megabytes.

In general, using a VPN can slow download and upload speeds, so our researchers weren’t surprised to see this when testing Surfshark. Speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps); a good download speed is 25Mbps and above. Some online activities demand higher – gamers, for example, often require at least 50Mbps. All of our tests produced download speeds of 30Mbps and upwards. 

With only a 4 per cent drop-off in download speed, using a VPN connection between two UK-based servers made very little difference. The upload speed, too, showed no noticeable changes, with a 6 per cent degradation from the baseline. Generally, an upload speed of 5Mbps is considered suitable for most online activities. 

screenshot of surfshark vpn uk to uk connection speed
Speed with UK to UK connection.
screenshot of surfshark vpn speed text uk to us
Speed with UK to US connection.

We started to see slower speeds the further the distance between the servers, with UK to US connections showing an 8 per cent download speed drop, although the upload remained at a reasonable 5 per cent. Where we did see an issue was in the latency, however. 

screenshot of surfshark vpn speed text uk to australia
Speed with UK to Australia connection.

Latency, often called ping, is the time data takes to travel to a destination and return. Measured in milliseconds (ms), it’s one of the leading indicators of network performance quality. A latency of below 50ms offers the best performance, while one of 150ms and above generates a noticeable lag, making online communications, gaming, and so on, challenging. The 272ms ping result with a UK to Australia connection (compared with the baseline 10ms without a VPN) is disappointing and could affect performance during usage. 

To conclude, if you plan to use servers that are locally based, our tests show Surfshark delivers a good service; however, if you require a workable long-distance connection, Surfshark may not be the best provider.

WebRTC leak test

Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) enables real-time voice, video, and text communication capabilities between web browsers. However, this does mean the devices need to know the other’s IP address, which could be a privacy risk, even if you’re using a VPN. 

Our researchers conducted a series of  WebRTC tests to establish whether Surfshark effectively blocks potential IP leaks. 

Without Surfshark, using WebRTC left our IP addresses visible, while every test run through VPN servers presented no leaks. Therefore, Surfshark successfully maintained IP privacy. 

Breaches and audits

Our researchers could find no reported security breaches relating to Surfshark. 

Keeping up with other big-name VPN providers, Surfshark has had several audits assessing its security protocols and privacy policy. 

Surfshark had its browser extensions independently audited in 2018, and in 2021, it passed an independent infrastructure audit carried out by Germany-based cybersecurity firm Cure53. 

Surfshark also passed its first no-logs audit in 2023. Carried out by auditing firm Deloitte, it came just weeks after NordVPN passed its third such audit.

Surfshark’s compatibility

Surfshark allows unlimited simultaneous connections and is compatible with a broad range of devices, operating systems, and browsers. 

  • Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 legacy OS, 10,11
  • MacOS, including Big Sur, Catalina, and Monterey
  • Linux
  • Amazon Firestick 
  • Apple TV
  • Xbox
  • PlayStation
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Chromebook

Surfshark is also available to download on mobile devices using:

  • Apple iOS
  • Android 

Surfshark offers browser extensions for:

  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Microsoft Edge

Desktop app

Surfshark’s desktop app has an easy-to-navigate interface, with a clean appearance, but our researchers found it wasn’t as user-friendly as NordVPN’s app for desktops. The pale colours make it harder to identify when you’re connected to the server, while NordVPN’s brighter palette makes it more obvious. 

A menu provides an alphabetical list of countries, with cities containing servers listed, enabling you to select specific servers, not just entire countries. It also provides a ‘quick connect’ option that connects you to the nearest, most suitable server. 

Surfshark’s features can all be accessed from the home screen, with simple toggles to enable or disable each one, allowing easy customisation. 

The default WireGuard connections were quick, and although OpenVPN took around eight seconds to connect, the VPN remained stable. Generally, websites loaded speedily, and videos had no noticeable lag or buffering, with the exception of the Australian servers, due to the distance covered. 

Mobile app

Mobile VPN apps can sometimes be far more basic than the desktop version, but Surfshark’s Android and iOS apps are similar to the desktop version. They feature the same protocol support, kill switch, MultiHop and other features included on the desktop app. They also include widgets to simplify getting connected, and the ability to report bugs from within the app.

The Android app includes the split tunnelling Bypasser system and GPS spoofing, neither of which are available on iOS platforms. 

Generally, Surfshark’s mobile apps are well implemented and straightforward to use, but if you are an iOS user, you may feel short-changed by the lack of features available for Apple’s operating system. 

Router compatibility

Using Surfshark with a compatible router allows all the devices on your network to connect automatically to the VPN, ensuring online security, removing the need to set up each device individually. 

Routers that Surfshark is compatible with include:

  • InvizBox 2 – pre-configured for Surfshark
  • Vilfo
  • Asus RT-AC86U
  • Synology NAS
  • DD-WRT
  • OpenWRT
  • AsusWRT
  • Tomato
  • pfSense 2.4.4
  • Linksys

Surfshark’s customer support

If you can’t find answers to your questions in Surfshark’s comprehensive help section, there are several methods to contact the company’s 24/7 customer support. 

Our researchers emailed them at support@surfshark.com, and received replies within an average of 90 minutes. 

The live chat service is easy and quick to use. You are first connected to an AI chatbot, but you are given the option to talk to a live agent at any point during the conversation.  

What do customers say?

Trustpilot awards Surfshark 4.5 out of five stars with more than 18,550 customer reviews (at the time of writing). Of those, 85 per cent of reviews give four or five stars. NordVPN has a similar score, while ExpressVPN has a higher percentage of four- and five-star reviews at 93 per cent. 

Surfshark replies promptly to both positive and negative reviews, suggesting it takes customer feedback seriously. 

Many customers praise Surfshark’s customer services, mentioning how helpful it is and the effectiveness of the solutions offered. Conversely, 10 per cent of reviews awarded a one- or two-star rating, with problems downloading Surfshark in certain countries and getting refunds appearing to be issues. 

“Had Phoebe help me out with a login issue. Small victories count when you’re having a bad enough day and this was one. Love Surfshark as an app, and the support is just as good. Great ability to be personable online.”

“They will not allow you to cancel the subscription and you have to contact support for cancellation [of] the subscription. They will not even refund if the payment gets deducted a few hours back.”

Surfshark also receives high marks on the Google Play store, where it currently has 4.2 out of five stars with more than 71,000 reviews.

“Smooth working app; it runs in the background with plenty of options. As well as a quick-connect feature, I appreciate the ease [with which] you can choose a different country and connect in seconds. I’ve had a few problems with it stuck on 0 per cent while connecting before, but recent updates seem to have fixed this. You can even disable it for certain apps or URLs as unfortunately some providers are beginning to recognise and block VPN IPs outright – I hope some could be overcome. Nonetheless, Surfshark works seamlessly.”

Likewise, users on the Apple App store have rated Surfshark 4.8 out of five stars with more than 31,500 reviews, the vast majority of which give the full five stars. 

“Surfshark is an extremely great service. It ticks every box you’ll need for a VPN. An easy to navigate app and amazing prices. Features like Cleanweb are useful for blocking ads and malware and from my conducted speed tests, the speeds have remained constantly consistent when using WireGuard, and the amount of servers that have been added from when I first began my subscription is impressive … Surfshark has so many more features you can discover by trying it out yourself.”

Independent Advisor’s verdict

There’s much to like about Surfshark. It has a generous unlimited devices policy, provides split tunnelling and the rarely seen MultiHop connection tool. The provider also appears to be expanding its products and has new servers being added weekly. Verifying Surfshark follows best practices, its safety protocols and privacy policy have been independently audited, and it all comes at a mid-range price point.

All that being said, a few features aren’t available in some apps, with iOS platforms in particular feeling slightly forgotten – an issue we think should be addressed by Surfshark. The issues with the kill switch alert on Windows could be another sticking point for some users. 

Surfshark’s base in the Netherlands hasn’t yet proved to be a problem, although time will tell if the Nine Eyes intelligence-sharing network or Dragnet will demand users’ data. For particularly security-conscious users, this could be a reason to choose a different VPN provider. However, for the vast majority of people who just want a VPN for unblocking and some extra privacy online, Surfshark is a good choice.

Overall score: ★★★★½

Score breakdown

Reputation ★★★★½
Privacy ★★★★★
Performance and features ★★★★½
Plans and pricing value ★★★★
Customer experience ★★★★
Round up of today’s best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.77 /Month
£6.77 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
Proton 2 year £4.27 /Month
£4.27 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.99 /Month
£1.99 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £4.53 /Month
£4.53 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £3.58 /Month
£3.58 /Month

The data in this review is reported from a neutral stance and should be used for informational purposes only. We review VPN services from the perspective of:

  • The quality of the product based on the security it affords the user
  • User experience of the application(s)
  • Level and quality of customer service

Independent Advisor does not endorse the streaming of content from regions other than where the subscription is held, nor does it endorse the downloading or consumption of illegally pirated content.

Katharine Allison

Energy Saving Writer

As Independent Advisor’s energy saving expert, Katharine, a keen advocate for sustainability, is an authority on solar panels, double glazing, and cutting-edge renewable energy technologies. Her dedication merges with a commitment to enlighten and steer readers toward embracing eco-friendly solutions and the latest trends in sustainability.

With over 10 years of experience, she has worked with some of the UK’s leading companies and publications, including the Federation of Master Builders, Architectural Digest, and Denon Construction. 

Katharine is particularly passionate about consumer causes and animal welfare and has art, philosophy, and psychology degrees. She lives with her sled dogs in East Sussex.