Many individuals seek a VPN primarily for security, and advanced users aim to secure all their technological devices. This entails acquiring a VPN capable of simultaneously safeguarding multiple smartphones, laptops, smart TVs, gaming consoles, and other devices connected to the internet. Among the nine VPN services subjected to testing, Surfshark emerged as the top performer in terms of protecting multiple devices. Below is an overview of our experience with Surfshark.
① Surfshark VPN: Pricing and Features
Surfshark VPN offers three membership tiers: Starter, One, and One+. The Starter tier ensures a secure VPN, an ad blocker, and a pop-up blocker, while the One and One+ tiers include additional features. Opting for Surfshark One, which I tested, provided access to an antivirus scanner, data-breach monitoring, and the ability to create an Alternative ID – a beta feature allowing the creation of an alias, including a fake name, home address, and email, for maintaining anonymity on suspicious websites. Additionally, Surfshark offers its secure search engine, positioned as a more private alternative to Google.
For those opting for Surfshark One+, the highest-priced tier, the assurance is given that their data will be removed from search sites and company databases, in addition to the features offered by the One tier. Priced at approximately $3.99 per month (depending on ongoing sales), Surfshark One+ is reasonably affordable in the VPN market, making it worthwhile for users to consider the extra investment for the added features when upgrading from Starter to One+.
I found Surfshark One’s features to be appealing, and I believe that most users will find the middle tier to be sufficient for their needs. Conducting checks for potential email breaches with Surfshark was effortless; scanning my inbox took less than 30 seconds to determine whether my email had been involved in a data breach. The speed of antivirus scans varied depending on the device, with quick scans taking under five minutes but only covering a little over 1,000 files. Full scans, on the other hand, could examine over a million files on my MacBook and Google Pixel 7 phone in about 10 minutes.
② Surfshark VPN: Setup and Streaming Capabilities
Setting up Surfshark was a straightforward process on most of my devices. I simply had to download the app, log in, and Surfshark automatically connected me to a server near my current location. Manual selection of alternative servers was required if I wanted to explore other options. For devices like my Fire TV, I entered a login code from my MacBook, and the system automatically signed me into my account. With my Pixel 7, MacBook, Fire TV, and work laptop all connected simultaneously, I was able to run four devices seamlessly without any major errors, and there were no noticeable bandwidth issues after adding additional devices.
As a frequent streamer of movies and TV shows, my expectation is to switch between platforms like Netflix, Peacock, and HBO Max seamlessly, with no interruptions and immediate access to content. Surfshark initially faced challenges in keeping up with this demand. Watching the finale of “Only Murders in the Building” proved difficult as Hulu initially failed to load titles. On the second attempt, I could play an episode, but it took a few minutes for thumbnail images to load on the site. After another attempt, I could finally watch the show on my laptop without any hiccups.
Over time, the streaming experience improved, but consistent issues were encountered, particularly with Disney-owned services like Hulu. Accessing international content was usually smoother with Netflix on a VPN, but Surfshark proved a bit more selective. The streamer failed to connect when attempting to watch “Spy x Family” on Japanese Netflix but blocked access when trying to watch “Marie Antoinette” on Italian Netflix.
Surfshark is compatible with smart TVs and game consoles, although certain features such as antivirus sweeps, Alternative ID, and Surfshark Alert are not available on these devices. Smart TVs have functionalities limited to the most basic Surfshark tier, offering features like an ad blocker and the option to exempt some apps from the VPN. Gaming consoles can only connect to the VPN through your router or a virtual router on your PC, ensuring protection as long as the console is connected to Wi-Fi.
Unfortunately, as a MacBook and proprietary Verizon router owner, safeguarding my PS5 posed unexpected challenges. While Surfshark provides helpful tips for connecting its VPN to a proprietary router, doing so may void your warranty or render your router inoperable. With these considerations in mind, it almost felt like leaving my console unprotected was the more viable option.
③ Surfshark VPN: Search Feature
Browsing the internet with Surfshark VPN was generally seamless, although there was a recurring need to confirm that I wasn’t a bot each time I conducted a Google search. To circumvent this, Surfshark offers an alternative solution in the form of Surfshark Search, exclusively available with the One and One+ membership tiers. This feature is accessible through Surfshark’s mobile and desktop apps and, while not as intuitive as Google, ensures an ad-free and tracking-free search experience.
While using Surfshark Search, I noticed a lack of sponsored search results, providing a more streamlined search process. However, the search engine tended to offer more generalized answers. When searching for specific details about an actor, for instance, Surfshark’s tool fell short, requiring additional effort to find relevant information and decent photos. While the service attempted to predict my search queries, Google’s autocomplete predictions proved to be more advanced.
For instance, when seeking information on an actor’s age, Google promptly displayed their age before completing the search and placed the age and birth date prominently at the top of the search results. In contrast, Surfshark Search defaulted to the individual’s Wikipedia page. If your priority is privacy and a tracking-free search experience, be prepared to sacrifice some conveniences. It’s also worth noting that Surfshark’s search engine is not the sole option for those seeking more private searches; DuckDuckGo has become widely available in recent years and is free to use.
④ Surfshark VPN: Security Capabilities
Surfshark successfully cleared our fundamental security assessments, exhibiting no DNS, WebRTC, or IP leaks during VPN usage. Following Consumer Report’s comprehensive VPN evaluation, Surfshark has recently introduced multi-factor authentication for its accounts. Although users are not immediately prompted to set it up, they have the option to manually add this additional layer of security to their accounts. In comparison to other VPN providers such as NordVPN, Tunnelbear, and ExpressVPN, Surfshark appears to provide comparable security and features at a more budget-friendly price.
⑤ Surfshark VPN: Conclusion
Surfshark VPN impresses with its commitment to security, seamless streaming capabilities, and affordability. While there is room for improvement, especially in fine-tuning features like Surfshark Search, it remains a compelling choice for users seeking a reliable and cost-effective VPN solution.
In summary, Surfshark VPN offers a well-rounded package, making it a contender worth considering for individuals prioritizing security, privacy, and affordability in their VPN experience.
Yes, Surfshark allows unlimited devices to connect to one account, ensuring all your devices benefit from VPN protection.
Yes, Surfshark provides P2P-optimized servers, supporting secure file sharing and downloading activities.
Yes, Surfshark supports unlocking geographically restricted streaming services, allowing access to content from around the world.
No, Surfshark is a no-log VPN provider, meaning it does not log users’ online activities or personal information.
Installing Surfshark is straightforward – simply download the application, log in, and follow the setup instructions. It is compatible with various devices and operating systems.
Surfshark supports advanced VPN protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard, ensuring both security and performance.
Yes, Surfshark provides a secure encrypted connection suitable for public Wi-Fi networks, protecting your data from potential threats.
Surfshark is compatible with mainstream operating systems, including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and supports browser extensions.
Yes, Surfshark accepts various payment methods, including cryptocurrencies and other anonymous options to protect user privacy.
Yes, Surfshark offers an unconditional 30-day full refund policy, ensuring users have sufficient time to test the service and ensure satisfaction.