Surfshark VPN review: good performance, with DNS leaks

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Surfshark VPN is a Netherlands-based commercial VPN service, originally released in 2018. Surfshark is available for MacOS, Windows, and Linux, as well as browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. There are also versions available for Fire TV 2 and later, and Android TV OS 5.0 and later.

Surfshark at a glance

  • Unlimited simultaneous connections with all supported devices
  • Static servers available
  • Multi-hop servers available
  • IKEv2, OpenVPN, Shadowsocks and Wireguard protocols
  • Fractional tunneling
  • RAM servers only
  • Immobilizer
  • GPS spoofing for Android users

Features of Surfshark

Surfshark, like other VPN services like IPVanish or NordVPN, works very similarly when it comes to how their services are offered, paid for, and managed. All features are the same regardless of what plan or subscription period you have, and the only differentiator is price. There is no free version of the Surfshark VPN service.

A one-month subscription is the most expensive way to get the VPN, with a current price at the time of writing of $ 12.88 per month ($ 15.95, converted using Google). If you choose to pay for two years at a time, that price drops 81% to $ 2.49 per month, or a third 50% off option if you sign up for 6 months at a time, at the rate of 6 , 42 USD. per month. The 2-year plan also includes a 30-day money-back / guarantee option, but there is no mention of refunds or trials for the monthly or 6-month plans.

Surfshark offers a variety of payment methods, including:

  • Credit card
  • Pay Pal
  • Google pay
  • Amazon Pay
  • Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Dogecoin.

Surfshark offers unlimited simultaneous connections regardless of the devices used, unlimited bandwidth and unlimited P2P traffic, although it does not have specific servers for P2P and therefore speeds may vary depending on the load of the device. server. However, something that is quite rare in commercial VPN services is the ability to use multi-hop connections, where you first connect to hop # 1, say, UK and then connect next to it. of a server in France. Obviously this will likely reduce speed, but it adds another layer of protection. Even when using multi-hop servers, you should never assume that their connection is bulletproof, or completely anonymous or secure, but it’s a cool feature that absolutely helps.

Surfshark: Supported Clients and Protocols

The Surfshark client displays a number of different information directly on the home page, such as a list of preferred connections, all locations, static IP specific locations, and MultiHop locations; as well as a connect button that changes to display information such as your IP address after you connect to the specified server.

There is no default protocol selected for Surfshark, but the “automatic” option is the default, which constantly chooses the fastest and most stable option for you. However, you can easily switch to other protocols via the drop-down list. There are other options available, such as ‘NoBorders’ which are useful for bypassing internet restrictions such as the Great Chinese Firewall, as well as a built-in speed test option to see what your connection to different servers would look like. . When I logged in using the ‘automatic’ setting, WireGuard was what the client chose for me the most often, and it is becoming a popular and respected protocol to use, so I have no complaints with that decision.

Surfshark: servers

Surfshark has servers in over 65 locations, with countries ranging from Algeria, Canada, United States, Singapore, Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Indonesia, Hungary, Kazakhstan and more.

Surfshark does not have specific servers for things like P2P traffic or Netflix connections, so your performance for P2P traffic may vary depending on the connection, as will the connectivity of your streaming services.

Surfshark: privacy and security features

On the security features side, Surfshark provides:

  • Internet shutdown switch – Automatically shuts down all networks and access to the public Internet if it is disconnected from the VPN, when the VPN is activated. It should be noted that even if you close the VPN software; if you have it turned on and you forget to turn it off, all internet access will be cut off until you turn the feature off – this can be useful for security reasons, but it’s just something you should keep in mind if you suddenly realize that you do not have internet access while using this VPN service / feature.
  • Wireguard Protocol – A promising new protocol in the VPN world, benefiting from open source code, significantly faster speeds as well as greater security and energy saving than other protocols.
  • Shadowsocks – Primarily used to avoid firewalls and censorship, and not really designed for privacy or anonymity.

Surfshark: speed tests

To test the speed of Surfshark, a basic test was first run without the service. The PC used was connected to a 250down / 20up connection in Canada. Using speedtest.net for the test, the results were as follows:

Without the VPN, connected to a speedtest server in my city:

  • Ping – 12ms
  • Download – 245.71 Mbps
  • Download – 19.60 Mbps

Then, connecting to the VPN and letting it use the location of the server it saw fit, which was ultimately in a town near me, yielded the following results:

  • Ping – 12 ms
  • Download – 219.16 Mbps
  • Download – 18.61 Mbps

Result 2, I selected Iceland as my preferred country and performed the speedtest again, with the following results:

  • Ping – 131 ms
  • Download – 233.04 Mbps
  • Download – 9.06 Mbps

Overall, I really thought the speeds were quite acceptable, and nothing you could really complain about, a quick P2P test also confirmed that these speeds were all accurate. Overall, I didn’t have any issues in terms of speed or connectivity. As I have written about other VPNs in the past, personally I would not use this VPN while gaming if I connected to any type of international server because the higher pings (> 100 ) would probably affect my gaming experience, but I would see no problem using a local server while gaming, if anyone needed it.

Surfshark privacy testing

If your VPN leaks your IP address or any DNS information, it’s not doing its job, so two tests were used to see how Surfshark performed.

DNS Extended Version Leak Test: FAILED (https://www.dnsleaktest.com)

During the DNS leak test, the test site saw my connection to the United States, but also saw that I was actually located in Canada and the name of my ISP, which means it has failed the test. I checked which protocol was in use at the time, and it was using WireGuard. Not to say it was WireGuard’s fault, just for giving this extra information.

IP Leak Test: PASSED (https://ipleak.net/)

There was no problem running the IP test, with the IP address displayed as American, but the ipleak site also noted the Canadian DNS addresses, which confirmed that there was a leak. DNS.

Oddly enough, Surfshark also offers its own DNS leak test (https://surfshark.com/dns-leak-test) which I ran … and the VPN failed horribly, showing 1 result from their server and 4 results from my actual information. Then there is a big red button that says “Stop DNS leaks” which leads to their order page… I did that, while being logged into their US server… So needless to say I did not impressed with this, and Surfshark lost a lot of points in my books, especially when even their own test confirmed everything.

Surfshark streaming platform unlock test

Surfshark has a limited ability to unblock regionally locked content. There are no specific servers designed for this purpose, and most major streaming services have blocked or blacklisted Surfshark IP addresses.

I wasn’t able to watch any content on Netflix when I tried it … However, interestingly, it wasn’t that an error was showing, or that Netflix would call me for using a VPN. On the contrary, videos simply wouldn’t. load, and I would just face a black screen.

I have tried many servers, and this same problem would occur; so I could only be tricked into believing that it was always Netflix starting / breaking my connection / not feeding me content because of the VPN. I haven’t tried all of the available servers, so maybe others will perform better or be lucky; but after trying a handful of servers and only getting the same result, I considered it a good enough test for this article, and I continued, seeing it as a failure.

An overview of the Surfshark Windows desktop app

Interacting with the Windows client is very straightforward, although it took me a second to find the options menu, located by clicking on the gear icon in the lower corner of the user interface. However, after finding that out, it didn’t matter and clicking through the menus made it easy for me to find whatever I was looking for quite quickly and easily.

Verdict

Surfshark is loved by many for its speed and ease of use … Even earning 4 stars and an Editor’s Choice award in 2020 for VPNs … But, when I ran my own tests on it, I been very disappointed. Sure, the speeds were good, but massive DNS leaks was something I would like to avoid at all costs. I didn’t see any options in the options menu that needed to be enabled to avoid this, and almost all of the settings were left at their default settings, which looked fine as is… So Surfshark wouldn’t be the one that I personally recommend to my friends or family who may ask me what would be the best secure VPN service. If you are just trying to bypass firewalls then Surfshark may be fine, but there are many other cheaper services available for such tasks.

Disclaimer

Ghacks strives to be a reliable and impartial website. In some specific cases, we may earn an affiliate commission or write a sponsored article, but an explicit disclaimer will always let our readers know when an advertiser or affiliate partner supports one of our articles. If there is no disclaimer, it means that we are working with complete editorial independence.

Summary

Surfshark VPN review: good performance, with DNS leaks

Article name

Surfshark VPN review: good performance, with DNS leaks

The description

Mike’s review of Surfshark VPN service.

Author

Mike Turcotte-McCusker

Editor

Ghacks Technology News

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