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Surfshark: Testing, Conclusion & Advice 2021
SECURITY

Surfshark: Testing, Conclusion & Advice 2021

Surfshark Conclusion:

The VPN shark is getting better and better: With its selected extra functions, fast connections, and simple operation, Surfshark pulverizes a large part of the competition. Modern encryption technology, a strict no-log policy, and a high level of transparency offer a high level of security. Streaming fans who like to browse the global libraries of Netflix and Co. will also get their money’s worth. On top of that, the provider is one of the cheapest VPN services. It is a powerful and trustworthy companion who wants to be reliably anonymous on the Internet.

Per

  • Easy handling
  • Available for many systems
  • No device restriction
  • Large server selection
  • Very good security and high transparency
  • Strict no-log policy
  • Outstanding pace
  • Multi-hop and obfuscation functions
  • Low price
  • P2P / torrent support
  • WireGuard

Cons

  • No free version is available
  • Security audit for browsers only

Test rating from the editors

1.5

WELL

V.PN services are experiencing a worldwide boom, and more and more providers are vying for a steadily growing number of users for whom privacy on the Internet is particularly important. Virtual Private Networks ( VPN ) promises anonymity and security in the network. And word has long got around that the obfuscation tools have even more to offer: With a VPN, you can shop for less, overcome the country blocks of Netflix and Co. for worldwide streaming or even bypass government censorship. Therefore, a good VPN provider must offer a lot: security, transparency, good functionality, and speed – and all at the lowest possible price. The test by COMPUTER BILD reveals whether Surfshark has enough bite to keep up with the competition.

1. Surfshark: What does the VPN service offer?

2. How secure is the provider?

3. Speed

4. Does Surfshark work with Netflix?

5. Bypass geoblocking

6.Set up and use 

7. How trustworthy is Surfshark?

8. Subscription models and prices

9. Conclusion: Surfshark

The best VPN services

1

1.4

VERY GOOD

NordVPN

NordVPN

 

2

1.5

WELL

Surfshark

Surfshark

TO OFFER

3rd

1.7

WELL

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

 

4th

1.8

WELL

Hide. me

Hide. me

5

1.9

WELL

CyberGhost

CyberGhost VPN

 

6th

1.9

WELL

Proton Technologies

ProtonVPN

 

7th

2.0

WELL

Golden Frog

VyprVPN

 

8th

2.1

WELL

Windscribe

Windscribe

 

9

2.6

SATISFYING

Mullvad

Mullvad VPN

 

10

2.7

SATISFYING

ZenGuard

ZenMate

 

  • Complete List: The Best VPN Services

What does Surfshark offer users?

The British Virgin Islands provider has been in the market since 2017. In summary, it offers the following scope of services:

Platforms: Surfshark is available for widely used systems – Mac and PC, Android and iPhone, Linux, Fire TV, Apple TV, Smart TV, PlayStation, and Xbox – and browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome.

VPN protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard.

Server: With 3200 servers in 65 countries worldwide, the number is above average. (As of March 22, 2021)

Devices: With one license, customers install the service on an unlimited number of devices and use it simultaneously. Top!

Streaming: Surfshark reliably unlocks some libraries from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. German live TV and access to German media libraries from abroad are also possible.

P2P / Torrent: Surfshark allows P2P and torrenting – according to Surfshark, the servers in all countries are peer-to-peer-friendly.

Free version: The service does not offer a free version. However, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee on the premium plan.

Tidy look: Select the desired location from the server list on the left and connect with one click.

Surfshark: How secure is the provider?

Surfshark opens up the whole arsenal of secure VPN protocols with OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), IKEv2, and WireGuard, and all VPN connections are encrypted with the industry-standard AES-256. These are the best prerequisites for surfing safely through the shallows of the Internet with the VPN Hai.

Good prospects for DNS, too: the provider does not use third-party infrastructure for DNS queries but has its DNS servers that take care of this task. Why is that important? The DNS translates the domain inquiries into IP digits. For example, “computerbild.de” becomes “104.126.36.113”. Should there be leaks with the request, we can draw decisions quickly about the user’s surfing behavior, and the nice anonymity would be gone. Surfshark delivered a reassuring result in the leak test – the VPN kept the bulkheads tight for all DNS queries. The service also passed the IPv6 leak test and the WebRTC leak test with flying colors.

In addition, Surfshark offers all kinds of features that should make surfing even safer. On the one hand, the kill switch is now installed as standard by most providers. If there are problems with the VPN connection, it completely blocks access to the Internet so that no unprotected data flows through the line.

If you want to be a bit more secure, you can send your inquiries via servers in two different countries – this process is called Multi-Hop. Surfshark offers 14 pre-configured routes for this. For example, hops from France via Sweden or from the Netherlands via the United States are possible. So even if an outgoing server were compromised, the attacker would still not have the real IP of the user because another VPN server is interposed. However, multiple hopping has its price: In this case, the connection speed drops significantly in some cases and is, therefore, less suitable for pure everyday use. Multi-Hop is more aimed at groups of people such as whistleblowers or activists who need specially protected communication.

The MultiHop tab shows you the available routes for a VPN cascade.

Not every internet service likes changing IP addresses. For example, in online banking, the alarm bells ring quickly if you frequently access it with a different IP address. Surfshark optionally has static IP addresses in its program for these and other sensitive areas, i.e., you will receive the same IP address every time you connect to the appropriately labeled VPN server. You still share this address with other users, so static IP addresses should not be confused with dedicated IPs. A user is given a unique IP address (usually at an additional cost).

With the whitelist, you can select apps, websites, and IPs that you want to use without a VPN. This process, also known as split tunneling, enables precise control over which services or programs are to be channeled through the VPN and which are not. It allows you to specify, for example, that only the browser sends its data through a VPN tunnel, but not other programs. Not every VPN provider offers this convenience function and is more than just a nice extra.

The integrated automatic WLAN protection is helpful for mobile users: once switched on, Surfshark is activated the moment you are in an insecure or public WLAN network and independently establishes a VPN connection. 

The CleanWeb option is not a must but is quite useful: With a switch, you activate an ad blocker, tracking, and malware protection, which largely prevents third-party marketing activities.

 

Leak Test

In the leak test, Surfshark kept the true location secret.

The Android app has an exciting function up to its sleeve: with Overwrite GPS location, you prevent curious apps from finding your real location via GPS. As soon as the function is activated, only the respective VPN location is reported to the apps. iOS users are left out here – but that is not a neglect of the provider. For technical reasons, so-called GPS spoofing without jailbreaking is virtually impossible under iOS.

In addition, Surfshark offers two other extra functions, which, however, cost around 84 cents an additional month: Alert is supposed to scan the Internet in real-time for your own (specified) e-mail address to check if it has been leaked, and behind Search is a pure incognito – Search, as it is, however, also contained in browsers such as Firefox or Chrome. One can argue about the usefulness of such functions in a VPN product; Surfshark itself at least points out that there are functions “that go beyond a VPN.” Since both functions are not part of the normal premium plan, COMPUTER BILD did not include them in the rating.

The bottom line is that Surfshark offers great privacy functions that not every VPN provider has in their range.

Surfshark: speed

One of the most important facets of a VPN service is the speed at which the data travels through the VPN tunnel. Because the complex encryption slows down the speed of a “normal” Internet connection inevitably a little, and if the server structure of the provider paralyzes, the performance also suffers. The question is, how high is the throttling in each case? COMPUTER BILD, therefore, tests the download and upload of files on a German server and the response times of the server (ping) in a 24-hour stress test.

And how fast is the VPN shark moving now? The clear answer: lightning fast. With an average slowdown of 1.2 percent when downloading, losses were practically not noticeable. There was even no measurable delay during the upload. The ping showed an average latency of 16 milliseconds, a good value. Videotelephony and online gaming are smoothly possible with these latency values.

The bottom line is that Surfshark is the second-fastest VPN service out of 16 tested providers – a top result! Only Bitdefender’s VPN was a tad faster, but it has weaknesses in other areas.

In addition to US Netflix, Surfshark easily unblocked other content libraries worldwide, such as Netflix Japan.

Does Netflix work with Surfshark?

In addition to anonymity and privacy, good reasons for a VPN are access to the global libraries of Netflix and Co. Netflix and Amazon, in particular, have completely different films and series in their programs, depending on the country. With the right VPN, we can partly tap the country-exclusive content. For the test, we tried the US, UK, Canada, and Japan libraries at Netflix. A mixed picture emerged here: Netflix USA and Netflix UK could be activated straight away, but Kanda and Japan did not. Surfshark was definitely on the topic again at German Netflix: If you want to watch German Netflix with its exclusive content such as “Manta Manta,” “Der Tatortreiniger,” or “Stromberg” in (non) European countries, Surfshark is ideally suited for this.

Surfshark did not run out of steam in the further streaming test attempts either. Both the US and UK libraries of Amazon Prime Video and the content of the British BBC iPlayer could be unlocked without any problems. Surfshark also easily overcame geo-blocked content from German live TV or German media libraries such as ARTE – but the hurdles are not so high here either.

The bottom line is that these are good results, but ExpressVPN and NordVPN came off the starting block a little better overall in this discipline. Especially with ExpressVPN, the streams started almost immediately in maximum resolution.

With the “No Borders” mode, you protect yourself from censorship measures in countries like China.

Avoid geoblocking with Surfshark.

Surfshark scores with its well-functioning bypassing of geoblocking – virtual trips abroad are therefore possible. It is particularly important where repressive regimes are putting a stop to the free Internet. In the Middle Kingdom, this is the fact with the Great Firewall of China. The network blockade blocks many Western news portals and sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram. Surfshark offers a special mode here, with which the great digital wall of China can be bypassed. The no borders mode hides the VPN traffic in such a sophisticated way that it is no longer recognized as VPN traffic. It is then difficult for surveillance services to distinguish this inconspicuous data stream from conventional Internet traffic.

But a VPN is also useful for very conventional activities. Among other things, you can visit foreign online shops to shop at local, usually lower prices. For example, in the case of flight or package tours, you can save a lot of money in this way, since the trackers of the airlines no longer recognize that you come from Germany, where the price level is often higher. Price comparison with an active VPN connection can therefore be worthwhile. For gamers, offers in foreign video game stores are of particular interest – there are always cheap offers from Xbox Live Gold.

The mobile versions (here: iOS) offer almost the same range of functions as the desktop clients.

Set up and use Surfshark

Surfshark is very easy to use: The surface on the computer and the smartphone and tablet is minimalist and tidy, and the menu items are self-explanatory. You either select the suggested fastest server or choose a country of your choice from the server list. You can add servers that are particularly popular and frequently used to a list of favorites by clicking on the star.

On a few servers, you’ll notice a small “V” next to the country flag. Surfshark uses this to identify so-called virtual servers. It means that in this case, the server is not actually in the specified country but, in reality, somewhere else. Virtual servers generally do not have a particularly good reputation in connection with VPN, but this is unjustified. Because security and practical use are in principle just as guaranteed with a virtual server location as with a “real” one. As a rule, VPN providers choose virtual locations if the hardware requirements for a server in the country are not met. However, unlike Surfshark, not every provider always clarifies this openly to the user.

Some providers often use the ax with the extra functions, not in the mobile versions for smartphones and tablets, so with Surfshark. The apps for Android and iOS offer almost the same scope as their desktop counterparts.

How trustworthy is it?

Surfshark is originated in the British Virgin Islands. It means that the provider is outside the ” Five Eyes ” surveillance alliance territory and does not have to give information to western secret services or generally monitor user activities.

In its privacy policy, Surfshark is transparent about which data is collected and which is not. It ensures that no data is recorded. It could use to identify the user. Neither the browsing history, IP address, amount of data transferred, nor connection times are logged. Surfshark also regularly issues a so-called Warrant Canary on its website. In this fact sheet, the service regularly discloses whether and how many inquiries the VPN provider has received from government authorities. At the time of the test (April 2021): none.

Verified security

When it comes to “verified security,” the VPN-Hai overshoots the advertising goal: The security audit only includes the browser extensions.

As always with such declarations, the following applies: They are purely a matter of trust. You can believe them or not. Therefore, some providers such as NordVPN, ExpressVPN, or Hide. I have either had the VPN service itself or the data protection  data-preserver-spaces=”true”>declarations of the service (or both) checked by an independent body. Surfshark also prominently announces that the German security company Cure53 has carried out an IT audit. Anyway, if you take a closer look, it turns out that only the browser extensions are included in the audit – that’s a little bit. Therefore, it would be desirable for Surfshark to subject its entire service to a comprehensive review in the future. A shining example here is ProtonVPN, which regularly has audits carried out and even released its source codes under an open-source license.

However, a real plus point is that Surfshark has switched its VPN operation to RAM disk servers. It means that data is no more stored on hard drives but only in the volatile main memory. Permanent storage is not possible here. All data will delete at the latest the next time the server is restarted. ExpressVPN took a similar step some time ago with its TrustedServer technology. Overall, Surfshark makes a very trustworthy impression, despite the slight potential for improvement with the audit.

Surfshark: Subscriptions and Prices

The tested VPN service is very attractive if you commit to it for a longer period. However, there is no free, scaled-down free version. If you choose Surfshark, you can choose from three tariffs:

  • The one-month subscription costs 10.89 euros.
  • The six-month subscription costs 5.46 euros per month (a total of 32.74 euros).
  • The two-year subscription costs EUR 2.09 per month (a total of EUR 50.24).

(As of March 22, 2021)

Customers pay by credit card, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, Sofortüberweisung, or cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Ripple. All subscriptions come with a thirty-day money-back guarantee.

Conclusion

The VPN shark is getting better and better: With its selected extra functions, fast connections, and simple operation, Surfshark pulverizes a large part of the competition. Modern encryption technology, a strict no-log policy, and a high level of transparency offer a high level of security. Streaming fans who like to browse the global libraries of Netflix and Co. will also get their money’s worth. On top of that, the provider is one of the cheapest VPN services. If you want to be reliably anonymous on the Internet, Surfshark is a powerful and trustworthy companion. Test grade: 1.5 (good)

 

 

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