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I mean, the software is impressive, but I’m reading this email from their support team, and I’m like, seriously? That’s the best answer you have? Agh! Hey folks, thanks for joining me here at All Things Secured, I’m Josh, and today we’re gonna be walking through my review of Surfshark, a relatively new but increasingly popular virtual private network or VPN.
I’m gonna start by giving you a look at the desktop software, followed by the apps that they have for mobile devices. And then we’re gonna compared Surfshark against other VPNs on the market and see what makes them particularly unique. And then I’m gonna end this review with the one complaint that I have about this company. Use the time markers you see here to jump to a specific part of this review. Let’s go ahead and dive in. Okay, I’ve got my laptop here in front of me. Let’s look at what the desktop software looks like. As you can see here, they’ve got a basic, very similar setup to a lot of different VPNs.
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You’ve got the Quick Connect, which allows you to just connect directly to whatever the fastest VPN. What I really like about this is they keep it very simple. You’ve got a lot of VPNs that give you both physical and virtual servers that you can choose from around the world, but not all of them tell you which ones are physical and virtual, and that’s one thing I really like about Surfshark. They have servers that are specifically dedicated to peer. And then this is really cool as well. They have a Multihop. If you want an added layer of security, you can go through two different servers at a time. Now, granted, it’s gonna slow your connection down, but they offer a lot of different options for this Multihop. Again, not something I see very often with a lot of different VPN software. So, here you can choose the fastest server, the nearest country, obviously, they’ve got servers all across the world.
Let’s look, if I were to connect right now, you can see that the connection is really pretty fast, once I am connected, it’s connecting me to a server here in Thailand. You can see I have the option to turn on or off a kill switch, and a kill switch is basically a feature for VPNs that allows that if the software somehow gets disconnected, your entire internet connection gets killed, so that way you’re never transmitting unencrypted data across the internet. Now, for some people that’s really important, for a lot of people it doesn’t matter, so you can turn that on or off.
Let’s look at their settings right here. You can specify based on network what you wanna do when you get into, once you’re connecting to that network, should you automatically connect to the VPN or not, or should you terminate the connection. In general, we can connect to a specific country when we first open up. We can unquit, ask, or stay connected, or disconnect, and of course the kill switch. Different features you can enable, the clean web, which we’ll talk about in a little bit. You can change your account stuff right here. And then the advanced features, there’s really not much on the iOS, it’s slightly different for Windows and Android, but not that much more different. So, that’s what you get with the desktop experience.
Next, I wanna pull up my phone and show you what the app looks like. Now, for the sake of this exercise, I’m gonna show you the app on my tablet computer since it has a bigger screen instead of all my phone, even though the apps look pretty much identical between the two devices. You can see the home screen looks very much similar to what you saw on the desktop. If I Quick Connect here, it’s gonna connect to the nearest, fastest server, which again is here in Thailand. I’m gonna go ahead and disconnect and show you the different locations. I can search on the top, I can choose the fastest or the nearest country, or I can scroll through the available countries and cities where there are servers. Now, on the right side you see here I can actually choose a favorite server.
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I can star those servers here, or if you can see this little circles right here, and that shows the server load, which, if it’s a heavy load, that means there’s a lot of people on that server and it’s likely gonna be a lot slower. For static, you can choose servers that don’t change their IP address, no matter how many times you disconnect and reconnect. And then, of course, we have Multihop, which is the same feature you saw on the desktop that allows you to connect to two different VPN servers, even though it might slow down your connection a little bit. Here on the features you can turn clean web on or off, and then you’ve got hack lock and blind search, which I’ll discuss here in a moment. And then finally in our settings, we can turn on the kill switch, which I told you about earlier, you can connect differently based on what wifi network you’re on. And then you do have a choice of protocol in the iOS version, which is what I’m showing you, which we didn’t have in the Mac version.
They just had the IKEv2 connection. For both Android and Windows, you will have these options for yourself, both on the mobile and the desktop. And finally, we have no borders, which is a feature, they don’t really go into too much detail about it, but to the best of my understanding, it helps you connect in countries where there’s high censorship like China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and others. You can connect and change things for your account, and you help here from the mobile app. And that’s it. It’s a very simple, but very elegant app. So, overall Surfshark offers a pleasing design, a great user experience. But how did they compare in terms of features with other VPNs? When I’m looking at a VPN, there are certain core features that I think all of them should have, so I’m not gonna applaud Surfshark for having the features I’m about to share with you. (crowd applauding) But it is good to know that they have them. These features include a AES 256 bit encryption, that’s standard, live chat support, everybody should have that, thousands of servers spread across 60 plus countries, that’s great, options for a VPN kill switch, as well as two factor authentication, a zero log policy, although, I must say, it’s difficult to verify these claims and every VPN claims that they log nothing, so take that with a grain of salt, and also standalone apps for all major platforms including Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Linux, Fire TV, etc. So, these are the standard features, pretty much every VPN has them. So, what does Surfshark offer that’s unique?
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We’ve already seen a few of them as we’ve walked through the software and the apps, but let’s run through the list again. They offer double hop VPN, which is something that I haven’t seen on many other VPN softwares. They offer Smart DNS, which isn’t something they advertise heavily, but it is useful in sometimes. They offer unlimited simultaneous connections, and this is a big one. Most softwares, most VPN softwares only give you five or six VPN connections. Surfshark gives you unlimited connections. They have a split tunneling feature, which they call Whitelister. It’s not available on Mac or iOS, but you can find it on Windows and Android. And this feature allows you to choose specific apps or websites to tunnel through the VPN, while the rest of your internet connection goes unencrypted over the world wide web.
They offered GPS override, which is an Android only feature, unfortunately, but it’s something I haven’t seen elsewhere. It allows you to spoof your GPS location on your phone for those apps or websites that use the GPS feature to determine your exact location. In addition to these VPN features, Surfshark also offers a number of other extra tools that are worth noting here, for example, you can use the clean web ad blocking, which is something I’ve seen with other companies, but this allows you to get some good ad blocking and malware blocking for when you’re surfing around the web. They offer blind search, which is an interesting feature that’s very similar to the incognito mode in your browser, and that it allows you to search for something without that search being stored in your history or without it being connected to your profile online. And finally, they offer hack lock, a tool that allows you to monitor your email or your passwords to make sure they haven’t been compromised.
Now, honestly, even if it is a great tool, that’s not something I would use. I would rather take and use a password manager, like Dashlane or 1Password to do that for me. I think they do a little bit better job. Plus, I don’t like giving all of my information over to one specific company. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed using Surfshark. I love the fact that it feels like they’ve taken all the best features from the different VPN softwares that I’ve used, and combined it into one software package while keeping the price really, really low. But wait, I do have one complaint about this company that I have to share with you. I’ve even brought it up with the Surfshark customer support, and their answer just wasn’t that satisfactory to me. Let me show you what I mean. If we navigate to the Surfshark website and we look for that about page, you’re gonna find that it, wait a second. It doesn’t exist.
Who runs Surfshark anyway? As far as I was able to research on my own, they were established in 2018, and they’re based in the British Virgin Islands, which is common among VPNs because the government has no data retention laws. So, I emailed their support staff and asked for a few more details, and this is the reply they gave me. “Surfshark Limited is owned by private shareholders “who choose to exercise their right of privacy “and remain undisclosed. “It’s for their protection and privacy,”. I mean, don’t get me wrong, this is quite common for VPNs who don’t like giving out any information about who owns or runs the company, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna give Surfshark a free pass for it.