Surfshark is one of the latest services to enter the VPN market. We don’t often test and review such a recent software, but there’s been a lot of buzz around this VPN. Surfshark ticks a lot of boxes, they offer quite some interesting features. But there isn’t much information online about the torrenting capabilities of this software.
That’s when we come in. We took Surfshark for a ride, to determine if it can handle torrent downloads in a secure and fast way, while protecting your privacy.
The company behind Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). If you do not feel like looking at a map, the Virgin Islands are in the Caribbean sea, just east of Puerto Rico.
While BVI is a British territory, it does not abide by the same privacy regulations, which is good news for VPN users. In other words, this country does not follow the same data retention laws as some other strict countries, such as the U.S.A. That way, Surfshark does not need to keep logs. The company has a no logging policy, which means that user activity is not stored and cannot be passed on to governmental agencies.
To ensure that connections remain private, Surfshark offers two VPN protocols and uses AES 256-bit network encryption, which is one of the most used and secure ways to transfer data. The two VPN protocols include OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec.
OpenVPN is generally considered more stable and flexible compared to IKEv2/IPsec. With OpenVPN, you get greater security, speed, and performance, in most cases. The option to switch to IKEv2/IPsec is mostly useful for mobile users. This protocol tends to offer greater support for mobile devices, including less of a drain on the battery.
Like most VPNs, they use shared IP addresses, which is the safest way for the user. Basically, several users use the same IPs, meaning that the activity of an IP address cannot be associated with a single user.
The User Interface
Users can get started with Surfshark in just minutes. Simply download the right app for your device, follow the installation instructions and, with a single click, a VPN encryption will protect you. On the image below, you can see a button with the words “Quick connect”.
This is an option that modern VPN providers are including in their software. In a few words, when you click the quick connect, the software will select the best server for you, considering your connection and location. That’s great for users who don’t want to worry about which servers are the fastest and want to have it really easy.
But there are still some users who like to select the country they connect to. That’s also possible, just go to the “Locations” menu and you will see all the server locations available.
Features and Settings
In the first place, the Kill Switch is the feature we consider the most important. This is the kind of tool you should activate and leave it like that, especially for torrenting. This tool automatically kills your Internet connection if the VPN connection drops. While Surfshark users rarely experience dropped connections, the kill switch ensures that your real IP address isn’t exposed if this issue occurs.
It’s also important to mention their DNS Leak protection. Unlike other VPNs, Surfshark does not allow you to turn it on or off. This feature is always activated to make sure that your identity does not leak. When you connect to Surfshark, your DNS address will change and adapt to the VPN server.
There are a few extra security features to help users remain anonymous, such as:
Whitelister allows you to select which programs operate through the secure VPN tunnel and the ones that don’t. Data-heavy programs or devices that do not require privacy protection, can continue to operate with your real IP. In other words, this is exactly the same as the Split Tunneling tool that some other VPNs offer as well.
CleanWeb helps keep you safe while browsing the web through the VPN. It is an ad blocker, phishing blocker, tracker blocker, and anti-malware solution.
Rounding out the list of security features is MultiHop. With a typical VPN connection, your device connects to a secure server in some other part of the world, which then connects to the sites or services that you plan to use. With MultiHop, traffic passes through multiple VPN connections before coming out the other end. This added security may be overkill for some users, but it decreases the chances of anyone being able to track your activity. It’s quite rare to find this feature with no extra charge. It’s also known as the double VPN.
There are more than 800 servers present in 50 countries. That ensures that the whole world is covered and that users will always find a server in a country close to them. A nearby server is important, as it won’t have a big impact on connection speed.
It is also worth noting that there are some countries that have several servers. That’s a great detail! More options within the same country mean less load on the same server and, therefore, higher speeds.
How to Download Torrents With Surfshark?
Surfshark allows peer-to-peer (P2P) connections. You can safely download torrents anonymously without the prying eyes of your ISP (or other entities) keeping track of your activity. In fact, Surfshark encourages users to try their service for torrenting.
The thing to keep in mind is that not all servers allow torrenting. But the software does not identify which ones allow it, as most VPNs do. After some research, we figured that users can download torrent files when connecting to servers located in the United States, Canada, UK and The Netherlands. If you connect to another server and try to torrent, you will be rerouted to a server in Canada or The Netherlands, depending on which one is the closest to you.
Just a small note, the Linux version of the software still doesn’t have a kill switch. Windows and Mac users can use BitTorrent with peace of mind, but without a kill switch, Linux users should look elsewhere.
The software works with almost every platform and device. It offers native apps for the following platforms:
Remember that if you want to download torrents on a desktop or laptop, use the native app for Windows, MacOS, or Linux. Don’t go downloading only with browser extensions, as some users unfortunately do.
No matter what device you use, the app features an intuitive user interface. The main features and settings are all easy to find and use.
But what surprised us the most when it comes to devices was the fact that they have no limits for simultaneous connections. One user can have all his/her devices protected at the same time. That’s actually a good option for entire families. It’s the only VPN on our list offering unlimited connections, and we are curious to see if other providers will take the same path.
DNS Leak test: The DNS Leak Prevention performed as expected, no leaks whatsoever.
IP Test: We didn’t see any IP leaks during our testing. When detecting the IP address, it always showed the one from the VPN server.
Torrent address detection test: When downloading torrents connected to their P2P servers, all activity was hidden behind the VPN server IP address.
The speeds we got when connected to Surfshark are impressive for such a new software. These test results are comparable to other top VPN services that are improving their service for years.
Obviously, some servers are faster than others, but overall, we saw great speeds. The following are our results when connected to a server in The Netherlands.
Torrent Speed Tests
Surfshark has not been around long but the pricing structure has changed a couple of times. Right now, users can choose between three different pricing plans:
Like most services, you save more money when you choose a longer billing cycle. With the monthly plan, you pay $11.95 per month. Most users will likely agree that the monthly rate is a bit steep. Luckily, the next two options save you a considerable amount.
The two-year plan costs $47.76, which equals $1.99 per month. It is one of the best values in the VPN market. Basically, there is no reason to choose the yearly plan, as you can get an extra year and save a little over $24.
If a user isn’t happy with the service, they have a policy of 30 days to ask for a refund with no questions asked.
What we liked about Surfshark
- No logging policy
- Based in the British Virgin Islands (no data retention)
- AES-256 bit encryption
- Kill Switch
- DNS Leak Protection
- Shared IP addresses
- Torrent Servers
- Very simple interface
- Regular software updates
- Unlimited Simultaneous connections
- 30 days money back guarantee
What could be improved
- The torrenting servers should be identified in the server list. Having filters to separate those servers from the rest would be even better.
- A Kill Switch should be added for Linux users.
- The entire continent of Africa only has one server at this moment. It would be nice to see a few more.
Usually, a VPN starts at the bottom of the competition and improves over the years, consolidating their brand. That is not the case with Surfshark! Although this is a recent Virtual Private Network on the market, the team behind it is clearly very experienced. Surfshark started very strong, already as a competitor to the best VPN providers.
If this is just the beginning, we can’t help but wonder how high will they go if they keep getting better, especially at this price. You should pay close attention to Surfshark, it may be the next game changer of the VPN market.