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Surfshark VPN review | ZDNet

Pros

  • Budget-friendly long-term plans
  • Unlimited connections
  • RAM-only servers
  • Helpful live chat support
  • Available on all major platforms

Cons

  • Fewer features for Apple products
  • Slower connection times

Surfshark’s features and performance put it in a tier with the top VPNs and so far the company ignored the headlines about rampant inflation because the cheapest plan averages out to $2.49/mo or less. 

I’ll spare you the cost-of-a-cup-of-coffee comparison (let me know if you find a good one for less than $2.50) and get to the good stuff. Most VPNs limit the number of devices that can be connected at the same time, which can be a problem depending on how many people you’re splitting rent with. But Surfshark rejects that artificial restriction with unlimited simultaneous connections. That alone could make it the right deal for a good number of people. 

I found Surfshark performed just a tick lower than its sister VPN (NordVPN, which it merged with this year), but it checks all the boxes you need — it’s secure, fast, and reliable.

SurfShark VPN Specifications

Servers3,200+
Server countries65+
PriceFrom $2.49/mo with a 2-year plan
Free Trial7 days, 30-day money-back guarantee
PlatformsWindows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon FireTV. Android TV
Simultaneous connectionsUnlimited
Speed28% reduction
LogsNo logs
DNS leakNo leaks
FeaturesSplit tunneling, kill switch, MultiHop connection, ad and tracker blocker

Surfshark takes the standard approach to its pricing with 1-month, 1-year, and 2-year plans. You’ll make a lump-sum upfront payment for the longer plans, but it works out to a dramatically lower average monthly cost.

Also: ZDNet’s best cheap VPNs

1-month

1-year

2-year

Avg. monthly cost

$12.95

$3.99

$2.49

Upfront payment

$12.95

$47.88

$59.76

At the time of writing, there is an offer for two free months with the 2-year plan, which drops the average monthly price down to $2.30. There’s no guarantee it will always be available, but it does reduce the average monthly cost, although you’ll still pay the same upfront. 

With all of the Surfshark VPN plans, you can add on the Surfshark One bundle for $1.49/mo (paid in full upfront for 1-year and 2-year plans). This package gives you access to Surfshark’s antivirus software, safe search (search ad and tracker blocking), and data breach monitoring.

There is a 30-day money-back guarantee for all plans, giving you plenty of time to test out the services and see what’s right for you. If you’d prefer a free trial, you may be able to get a 7-day free-trial offer to appear if you subscribe through mobile or macOS. I was able to get the free trial offer on mobile, but keep in mind that after the free trial is over you may be enrolled in the annual plan, which is more expensive than the 2-year subscription. 

You can pay for Surfshark VPN with a credit card, debit card, PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, or cryptocurrency.

Surfshark performed well in the speed tests I ran. Over three days I tested Wi-Fi and wired download speeds on a variety of devices. In my tests, Surfshark reduced download speeds by an average of 28% across more than a dozen servers (physical and virtual) in almost as many countries. This is a solid performance that matches the speed of NordVPN, one of the fastest VPNs we tested.

One thing to note: anecdotally the connection times seem slower with Surfshark. This wasn’t a deal breaker, but I’d guess that 5% of the time It required more than one attempt to connect to a server and in general, took longer to establish a connection than with other VPNs I’ve used. We’re only talking about seconds, and I never had issues once I was connected, so this wasn’t a deal breaker for me. And you might have a different experience based on your internet provider or device.

connection-1

Occasionally, Surfshark needed multiple attempts to connect to the server.

Surfshark currently has over 3,200 servers in 65+ countries, although a number of these are virtual servers that are clearly identified on the apps. I didn’t notice any difference in performance or speed between the virtual and physical servers.

Unlike many of the top VPNs, Surfshark allows unlimited simultaneous connections, making it a great option for larger households. Regardless of what devices you own, you should be able to run Surkshark VPN, and it works with all of the major platforms, including:

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Android TV
  • Amazon FireTV

There are also Surfshark VPN browser extensions available for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox.

If you’re looking for a VPN to use while streaming, Surfshark can fit the bill. I was able to stream Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ on mobile and desktop. I did have to chat with support to access Hulu through a browser while I was running Surfshark. I ended up having to disconnect from Surfshark, log in to Hulu, and then reconnect to the VPN. Once I was logged in on the browser, I had no issues streaming Hulu while connected to Surfshark VPN.

Surfshark has a kill switch to protect your information if your VPN connection drops. This feature prevents accidental exposure of your activity by cutting off your internet connection if your VPN connection is disrupted. You’ll also be able to use a built-in blocker for ads, trackers, and malware, and a customizable split-tunneling tool to route connections from specific apps or websites through or around your VPN. If you’re an Apple user, the split-tunneling feature isn’t available for macOS or iOS.

Also: How does Surfshark work? Plus how to set up and use the VPN

Through Surfshark’s MultiHop you can set up your VPN connection through two servers. This will impact your connection speed, but give you an added layer of security. While there is no dedicated IP option, you can access a static IP address on a few dozen servers in six different countries. 

Android users have access to GPS override with Surfshark. If you’ve enabled this feature, when you’re connected to the VPN your location will be set to the location of the VPN server. But before you’re relying on this to unlock location-specific features for an app or game, you’ll want to test it out for yourself. I’ve seen several reviews saying this feature is a good option for Pokémon Go players but I wasn’t able to get GPS override to work with the game.

Overall, Surfshark is a solid deal if you’re willing to make a longer commitment to lock in the lowest price. I suggest taking advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee to test it out and make sure that it’s going to perform well for you and meet all your needs.

Surfshark VPN has all of the standard features most people will want in a VPN and in our speed tests it performed well. It’s hard to complain about a service that generally performs as well as the competition at one-third the price of the most expensive VPN services.

Here are a few other comparable VPN services:

ExpressVPN came in as our top VPN for 2022. If you’re looking for an exceptionally fast and reliable VPN that works on just about any platform or device you could imagine, look no further. This service does come at a cost, the cheapest introductory offer currently averages out to $6.67 a month for the first 15 months, nearly triple the cost of Surfshark.

NordVPN and Surfshark entered into a merger agreement earlier this year but still operate as separate companies. Although Surfshark costs less, if you’re looking for slightly more consistent and reliable performance, then you may want to give NordVPN a test run.

Atlas VPN currently sits at the top of our list of best cheap VPNs, and right now you can get 26 months of the service for only $49.19 an average of $1.89/mo.


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