Surfshark review: Surprisingly affordable for a feature-packed VPN

After something cheap but powerful? In our Surfshark review we highlight this nifty service with its selection of fantastic features, all for a ridiculously cheap price point

surfshark review
(Image credit: Surfshark)
T3 Verdict

For anyone after an affordable VPN service, Surfshark has got you covered with an incredible price, particularly for its 2-year plan, with a surprising number of great features to go with it. It unblocks streaming services with ease, and more or less gets the job done.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Unblocks Netflix, iPlayer, Prime Video, and Disney Plus

  • +

    Great apps for iOS and Android

  • +

    Unlimited connections

  • +

    Really affordable 2-year plan

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Performance can be inconsistent

  • -

    Issues with kill switch on some clients

  • -

    Lack of recent audits

Surfshark may very well have you covered if you want an accessible and affordable VPN - making this one of the best VPN available for the everyday users. Keep reading to get our review-in-brief, and continue scrolling for a more in-depth look at just what they small but mighty tool can offer, from security to speed, streaming and support.

One minute Surfshark review 

As a VPN with a great introductory price point that is affordable for many, it’s easy to underestimate Surfshark’s prowess in the VPN market. Often cheap can mean a far more limited product. However, Surfshark is a great, versatile tool that will more than do the job for the large majority of VPN users. With over 3,200 servers (a leap from our last review of 1,700) across 65 countries, Surfshark is compatible across a number of devices, with the ability to have unlimited simultaneous connections where you otherwise might be limited to just 5 per subscription.

Its feature list is pretty extensive, offering a kill switch, URL and ad blocking functionality, P2P available on most servers (which is great news for torrenting), and split tunneling. It also has a great security basis, too, with its no logging policy, as well as an array of protocols including WireGuard, OpenVPN and IKEv2 support, on top of AES-256-GCM encryption.

Surfshark also makes easy work of sneaking around and getting access to any geo-restricted content. For keen streamers, then, Surfshark has no issues with any of the top streaming platforms, including Netflix and Disney Plus.

The stats:

  • Servers: 3,200
  • Locations: 65 countries
  • Devices: Unlimited connections
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome and Firefox, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and other smart TVs.
  • Protocols: WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2
  • Top features: Kill switch, Clean Web, whitelister, Camoflage Mode

Surfshark price: How much does it cost? Is there a Surfshark free trial?

When it comes to our list of the best cheap VPN providers, Surfshark often sits near the top of the list for its 2-year plan rate. Often it’s the case that the longer you’re willing to commit to your VPN, the cheaper the monthly cost will work out to be. Surfshark more than lives up to this assumption, coming to just $2.49/AU$3.19 a month in its 24-month plan. That’s a billing of $59.76/AU$76.56 every two years.

  • 1 month: $12.95/£9.17/AU$16.58 a month
  • 6 months: $6.49/£4.59/AU$8.31 a month (billed $38.94/£25.57/AU$49.86 every 6 months)
  • 24 months: $2.49/£1.76/AU$3.19 a month (billed $59.76/£42.31/AU$76.56) every 2 years)

Compare this to other affordable VPN services on the market like CyberGhost, where you’ll pay $2.89/AU$4.85 for two years, or $2.50/AU$3.21 for VyprVPN’s marginally shorter 18-month plan. But the huge comparisons are when you look at ExpressVPN, setting customers back $12.95/AU$16.64 a month or, at its cheapest, $8.32/AU$10.69 for 12-months. While you will get the very best service, Surfshark doesn’t fair all that far behind ExpressVPN, and offers a far more affordable monthly rate for those looking to cut costs.

In terms of a Surfshark free trial, Android users can get a 7-day free trial if they go via the Google Play Store. However, if you go direct to the website, you'll benefit from promotions like the huge 81% saving on its 24-month plan, which is nearly always available. Better still, Surfshark offers a 30-day money back guarantee, which may as well be a month free trial. This allows you to give the tool a go and get your money back within that 30-day period if it's not for you.

Does Surfshark work on Netflix? What other streaming services can it unblock?

Listed under ‘Benefits’ on its website, Surfshark cites giving you access and unlocking content otherwise geo-restricted. “Escape restrictions”, “use the internet uncensored” and “stream privately” come alongside the promise that using Surfshark helps you avoid buffering, and enjoying a secure connection while accessing online content.

When it comes down to hitting those all-important popular streaming platforms, Surfshark has great success as one of the best streaming VPN services, able to unblock Netflix, stating it can bypass geo-restrictions and get you access to Netflix libraries in 20 countries, including the US, Australia, India, Japan, France, and more. We found this to be true, able to access US Netflix in our tests.

It’s the same story for Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus on US servers.

BBC iPlayer can offer a bit more of a challenge. However, Surfshark breezed through with all three of our attempts, allowing us to access the predominantly British content.

Surfshark streaming

(Image credit: Surfshark)

Surfshark review: What features can you expect and how do they boost security?

Surfshark certainly isn’t messing around when it comes to the selection of features it offers to better protect your internet connection. In fact, Surfshark breaks its features down into four categories: Protect, Control, Access, and Unlock. Offering a plethora of features that will boost your privacy online, Surfshark isn’t one to be underestimated, going above and beyond the basics of any given VPN service.

Setting the foundations, it offers a number of protocols as well as AES-256 encryption. Protocols include WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN UDP and TCP, on top of a kill switch to cover you if and when connection drops. You’ll also find features like Surfshark Search, which puts a stop to any tracking or targeted ads, in addition to CleanWeb for blocking ads and malware.

Surfshark will even notify you if any of your personal details are leaked online. This includes passwords, which you can receive periodic reminders to change in order to keep on top of your online security.

Surfshark benefits and features

(Image credit: Surfshark)

Concerned about logging? Surfshark keeps things pretty transparent, stating it doesn’t log “Incoming and outgoing IP addresses; Browsing, downloading or purchasing history; VPN servers you use; Used bandwidth; Session information; Connection timestamps; Network traffic.”

In terms of an official audit, Surfshark’s credentials are pretty limited, carried out back in November 2018, only specifically on its browser extension by Cure53. While the results are highly satisfactory, it’s fair to say if your priorities for a VPN have a heavy emphasis on the inner workings of the service’s privacy policy and implementation, there may be other providers that can better put your mind at ease.

For keen torrenters, there are a couple aspects worthy of note about Surfshark. Firstly, most servers offer P2P. The Whitelister feature may also be ideal for those looking to use Surfshark as a torrenting VPN. This allows you to choose applications on your device to specifically go through your VPN connection, rather than every task going through VPN and potentially impacting other tasks you’re trying to carry out.

Surfshark review of speed and overall performance

Speed performance is where Surfshark falls short of average across the VPN market, especially during our US tests.

UK servers

OpenVPN: 165-170

WireGuard: 550-700

OpenVPN connections usually boast an average of 250-350Mbps, with ExpressVPN reaching 270-280Mbps and Hotspot Shield getting a 360-380Mbps reading in the US. 

Across both our testing on UK and US servers, OpenVPN protocol readings were quite a fair bit above average. However, Surfshark’s WireGuard infrastructure did see some spectacular results on UK servers, scoring 550-700Mbps.

US servers

OpenVPN: 100-150

WireGuard: 15-210

Not the most inspiring result, Surfshark still offers a decent performance for many tasks, including streaming and the like. 

It would seem, however, that it can be very dependent on location and where you wish to connect to, with the UK offering far more impressive figures than the US. Still, with over 3,200 servers, a bit of trial and error and you're likely to find the kinds of speeds that work for you and whatever task you're looking to carry out with your VPN.

Client set-up and available support from Surfshark

With an affordable price point, it makes sense that Surfshark’s interface would be just as accessible, making it a great VPN service for the average, every-day user who wants greats features - and it has the clients to match. 

Offering a clean interface across its devices, Surfshark’s clients are easy to navigate, hosting a number of settings that make it simple to tailor the service to you and your requirements. That said, its Windows client certainly offers the most full-fat, comprehensive experience, with the option to reduce the size of the window itself, or expand to get a more detailed dashboard.

Connecting is easy, with the interface changing to reflect your new IP address. You will also receive notifications, though we did find we weren’t always notified by the kill switch when a connection was lost, making this feature almost completely redundant in potentially leaving us vulnerable. 

Surfshark clients

(Image credit: Surfshark)

The client comes with the option of a favorite list, allowing you to save servers you want to use frequently, as well as the aforementioned features including CleanWeb and Whitelister.

On Android, you’ll find a fairly similar, streamlined Android VPN, boasting much of the same features - great considering mobile apps usually get a far more diluted overall user experience. It’s much the same story on the iOS app for iPhone and iPad, too.

In terms of support, you can find plenty of helpful resources on Surfshark’s website, including FAQs, tutorials for installation, as well as troubleshooting guides. If information doesn’t help, Surfshark also has 24/7 support via live chat, which appears to be both prompt and friendly - can’t get better than that?

Surfshark review: Our final verdict

Surfshark is the VPN service for the masses, ticking off affordability and accessibility in equal measures. While there are some teething issues with its kill switch notifications, and speeds aren’t optimal, for many this service more than does the job with a surprisingly long list of excellent security features, and the ability to unblock your favorite streaming platforms. 

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Alice Marshall
Alice Marshall

Alice is the resident eCommerce Staff Writer at Future, with a focus on VPN and streaming services. She oversees all T3 VPN buying guides and deals, as well as how to watch content.