Stefan

by Stephan Kubrik
digitalwelt Lead Columnist for IT Security

digitalwelt logo

Surfshark is one of the companies and VPN providers that have successfully managed to stay out of the spotlight and under the radar in recent years. When it comes to VPNs, this is a positive and unique selling point. Let me explain why that is:

The more popular and larger some of the VPN providers have become, the more they are in the line of fire of government organizations. For example, companies like NordVPN and CyberGhost are constantly struggling with law enforcement agencies and regulations since their services can be used for dubious deeds. Providers like Phantom VPN from Avira are subject to heavy regulations because they are located in Germany and thus have to obey international laws, including European law. Popularity and anonymity are a two-sided dagger: high quality on one side, too many regulations on the other.

Best VPN Tools List 2020

The users of today’s world want a secure and anonymous VPN that is untouchable by any authority. And that’s where Surfshark gets you your money’s worth. The company is located in the British Virgin Islands and is not subject to European or U.S. laws. As a result, the company is spared by any government bureaucracies. This fact is an advantage for users: no data retention, no logbooks, and no obligation to disclose any data whatsoever. If you use Surfshark, you can be sure that you are absolutely anonymous.

Surfshark VPN’s terrific technology

Surfshark is a technological monster among all VPN tools tested so far. Here is a brief overview of the technological infrastructure that Surfshark VPN has built in only a short time period:

The VPN tool supports Windows and Mac (iOS), Linux, Android and iPhone smartphones, as well as tablets, game consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation, and also offers apps for Smart TVs — yes that’s right: if you own a Smart TV, you can anonymize your TV’s internet connection thanks to Surfshark and conveniently enjoy streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and more. As if that wasn’t enough, Surfshark also offers its VPN tool as an extension for Chrome and Firefox browsers. Below is an overview of Surfshark’s VPN software infrastructure:

Desktops & Laptop-PCs

  • Windows, macOS, Linux

Smartphones & Tablets

  • Android, iOS

Smart TVs

  • FireTV, Apple TV, and more Smart TVs

Game Consoles

  • Microsoft Xbox, Sony Playstation

Surfshark VPN 2020
Surfshark VPN 2020
Review 4.8

only $1.99

instead $11.95 Order now

How easy is it to install Surfshark VPN 2020?

VPN Review

4.8 out of 5

As of March 2020, almost all VPN providers offer a simple installation process on almost all devices. The times when VPN tools left residues on the computer or even caused the internet connection to drop after the installation or uninstallation are a thing of the past. At most, we can only find such mishaps with free VPN providers. Commercial providers, and this includes Surfshark, no longer have such teething troubles. Therefore, it seems almost superfluous to report how easy it is to install Surfshark on your devices.

Ultimately, Surfshark has only one weakness. On the one hand, the company has decided to support a wide range of devices, including smart TVs. On the other hand, the amount of diversity increases the margin of error. For example, the installation on our tested LG Smart TV did not work immediately in the first instance and required us to contact support. However, the chat support was immediately accessible, and we were quickly able to successfully install Surfshark on our LG TV.

Surfshark VPN 2020 could be easily installed and uninstalled on all other devices, such as Windows, iOS, Linux as well as on Android and iPhone devices.

How good is Surfshark VPN’s support in 2020?

VPN Review

4.5 out of 5

In addition to a detailed FAQ section, Surfshark also offers a live chat, where you can either solve your technical problems or resolve any possible payment issues or questions. The company uses the worldwide known Zendesk system. Zendesk offers a comfortable user interface, which also shows the order in which you arrived in the chat, and the option to automatically send the chat log to yourself.

Their chat support is available 24 hours a day. All our chat conversations with different inquiries showed that the various chat agents are very well trained, extremely friendly and very helpful. Our tests at different times showed that waiting times on the chat were less than a minute — even on weekends. That is also a good indication that troubleshooting with Surfshark is not something that happens often.

Unfortunately, Surfshark does not offer a phone support.

Brand awareness of Surfshark

At the moment Surfshark is positioned more in the international market. It has a very dominant position in Asia especially, and has a large fan base there. Since January 2019 to March 2020, interest in Surfshark has increased by 75% in Asia and the USA according to Google Trends. In Germany, one of the largest markets for VPN and anonymity, Surfshark even achieved growth rates of over 90% and popularity increased during the same time period.

Surfshark (as of March 2020) is very popular in China due to the increasing level of censorship in the country, followed by Hong Kong and Singapore. The reason why is that Surfshark cannot be traced by the Chinese authorities, which is why many young people trust Surfshark’s abilities.

Surfshark VPN 2020
Surfshark VPN 2020
Review 4.8

only $1.99

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How fast is Surfshark VPN 2020?

VPN Review

4.7 out of 5

Will there be greater losses in terms of speed and data transfer when you use Surfshark?

At Surfshark, we were able to reach speeds up to 100 MBit/s on an estimated 90% of all servers. The only VPN software that has so far been able to achieve speeds of up to 350 MBit/s is Cyberghost VPN.

However, it should be said that most Internet providers rarely offer 100 MBit/s. For example, some internet providers state that they would offer up to 100 MBit/s and 250 MBit/s as described in their plans, but only rarely can the line actually offer these speeds even without a VPN — hence the annotation “up to”. So, most users should not even notice if the VPN connection is downloading data at 100 MBit/s instead of 250 MBit/s. It’s certainly enough to use any streaming services.

Most users who value such high speeds are mostly torrent users and members of the hacker subculture called the “release scene” who move thousands of pieces of data every day from one server to another in a race of pirated software.

If you only want to use Surfshark for torrenting: A film of 1080p and 2 GB size can be downloaded from Surfshark in under 2 minutes. If you want to reach even higher speeds, you have to have a faster internet provider at home anyway. In any case, it should not be a big deal to download a movie within 2 minutes instead of 1 minute.

Surfshark VPN 2020
Surfshark VPN 2020
Review 4.8

only $1.99

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How reliable is Surfshark VPN 2020?

VPN Review

4.9 out of 5

1) How reliable are Surfshark’s VPN server connections?

We tested Surfshark on three computers for a period of 10 days, whereby we switched to new servers every 2 days. We found a total of three server disconnections, which represents a very low server failure rate. You should know this: So far, we have not been able to determine a permanent and failure-free use with any VPN providers so far. The perfect system does not exist — but even without a VPN, internet providers such as Cox, Verizon, and many others often have disconnecting issues. Surfshark is therefore among the fail-safe VPN tools.

The most important feature however is the Kill Switch feature that Shurfshark offers, which we will discuss further down. But let’s have a look at the encryption method first:

2) What encryption standard does Surfshark VPN use?
As an encryption method, Surfshark uses the method called AES-256, also known as the Rijndael encryption. This encryption is still unbreakable and has been used by the U.S. government and intelligence groups since 2002, for example to protect documents from foreign countries. So far, no case has reached the public in which AES-256 was successfully hacked. It is therefore not possible for anyone to eavesdrop on the Internet connection that is established via Surfshark VPN. This means that any data traffic that takes place with Surfshark VPN will look nothing more than a bunch of unrecognizable data mumbo-jumbo.

3) Kill switch feature of Surfshark VPN 2020 explained
The most important function is the kill switch offered by Surfshark. What this feature provides is this: If a VPN connection fails for any reason, your connection should not fall back to your original provider and IP that would reveal your true identity. Especially when it comes to torrenting, this can have consequences, if, for example, you share data that is targeted by dubious copyright enforcing lawyers. They use so-called monitoring systems to see who is downloading which data in the torrent network. As long as this is done with a VPN connection, those monitoring organizations have no chance of identifying who is behind it. However, if the VPN connection fails even for a few seconds, this offers an open window for these unethical hunters to recognize who is behind the downloading or uploading stream.
The Kill Switch feature by Surfshark prevents just that: In the event of VPN connection failure, the entire Internet connection of your device will be automatically dropped. In this case, you have to manually select a new VPN server on the Surfshark dashboard — or simply terminate the VPN software: enough time to turn off your torrent client tool first.

Surfshark VPN 2020
Surfshark VPN 2020
Review 4.8

only $1.99

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How much does Surfshark VPN 2020 cost? Price for value explained

VPN Review

5.0 out of 5

Surfshark offers a total of three plans, like many other VPN tools. The tool will cost you $11.95 in the monthly version, which can be canceled at any time at the end of the month. For skeptics who are not yet 100% sure, this is a good opportunity to test Surfshark VPN for a few months before declaring their long-term loyalty to it.

If you then choose the tool for 24 months, you will pay an incredibly low price of just $1.99. Totaled up to 24 months, this price is actually not even worth to be considered expensive.

We clearly recognized one thing with Surfshark during our testing: Surfshark’s price and product philosophy is geared towards high quality and technical diversity. Since the VPN software is hardly known among giants such as NordVPN and CyberGhost, the company hence decided to develop their VPN tool in such a way that it stands out technically from the competition. You will notice this superiority within the first few days of using Surfshark.

The only disadvantage of Surfshark is the lack of brand awareness in the U.S. and Europe. We are certain that Surfshark will also be placed on the same level as its gigantic competitors in the next few years. It remains to be seen whether prices will then move upwards. However, the highly competitive price of $1.99 per month is hard to beat.

Surfshark also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, regardless of which plan you have to decided to go with.

How well does Surfshark VPN work with streaming services?

VPN Review

5.0 out of 5

How well can I use Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney and Sky Go with Surfshark VPN?

Surfshark has taken upon the challenge to outsmart the streaming service providers. Surfshark has its own department, like many other VPN service providers which have taken the fight to circumvent the blocking mechanisms of the streaming providers.

We have successfully tested Netflix USA, Netflix Japan, Amazon Prime Japan, Amazon Prime USA and Hulu USA. The result: Only every fourth connection intended for streaming have been successfully blocked by the streaming providers who prevented us from seeing the selected movie. With all other three servers, the streaming worked without any issues: You just have to switch to another VPN server and reload the page. We haven’t tried Disney at the moment due to a lack of a subscription, but we already know from other sources that Disney is still very far behind when it comes to blocking VPN connections. Thus, Disney (as of March 2020) should be the least of your worries when using Surfshark VPN.

Surfshark VPN 2020 conclusion

VPN Review

4.8 out of 5

Surfshark is new on the market and meanwhile offers a bargain. With only $1.99 a month, it’s incredibly affordable. And “buy cheap, buy twice” doesn’t apply to Surfshark at all:

Despite the very low price, Surfshark is one of the most sophisticated VPN tools on the market in terms of technology. Surfshark is currently trying to gain market share and capture customers from its competitors with these two business concepts: An affordable price despite high quality. Surfshark is therefore a treasure, and an insider tip.

The only downside is the lack of phone support, if you ever should be in need. However, with only $1.99 and a 30-day return guarantee, you are basically not taking any risks. Support may not be even be used by the majority of users anyways, as the VPN tool works flawlessly on all devices.

We don’t think Surfshark could lead to negative experiences. We recommend the VPN tool with a clean conscience. The only reason not to use Surfshark would be ultimately the lack of brand awareness and the loyalty to other VPN tools.

Surfshark VPN 2020
Surfshark VPN 2020
Review 4.8

only $1.99

instead $11.95 Order now


Stefan

by Stephan Kubrik
digitalwelt Lead Columnist for VPN und Antivirus

digitalwelt logo

Stephan Kubrik is a Computer Scientist and expert on VPNs and computer viruses. Stephan has been researching for the Fraunhofer Society and has been developing software for the autonomous discovery of computer viruses and trojans using artificial intelligence.

He was previously a Research Associate at the Technical University of Cologne, studied Computer Engineering, and regularly publishes in IT magazines and journals, including the PC Magazine and digitalwelt.



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