Surfshark is one of the latest services to enter the VPN market, and it already conquered a place in the torrent community. In theory, this VPN ticks all the boxes of a good torrenting VPN. They have a friendly policy regarding file-sharing, fast speeds, many P2P servers, and good security features.
To make sure Surfshark is indeed a suitable VPN, we tested it specifically for P2P, to see if it can manage torrent downloads in a safe and fast manner.
Does Surfshark Allow BitTorrent Traffic?
Surfshark allows torrenting through its VPN software. In fact, Surfshark encourages users to try their service for torrent downloads. They even call themselves a “torrent-friendly VPN that has everything you need “. It’s good to see a VPN provider being so clear and transparent regarding this subject.
On top of that, they have pages on their website that advertise Surfshark’s torrenting capabilities. It’s pretty clear where they stand regarding BitTorrent traffic.
What makes Surfshark a safe torrent VPN?
There are several aspects that a VPN provider has to follow to be considered safe. Below, we analyze the main security details of Surfshark also the company responsible for it.
The company behind this VPN is Surfshark Ltd and was founded in 2018. But most importantly, it 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 USA.
No logging policy
Surfshark doesn’t need to handle activity logs to foreign or domestic governments due to its neutral company location. What’s even better is that they don’t have to save logs, including torrent activity logs.
To make their users even more relaxed, the company has a public no-logging policy, available on their website. Here is an excerpt where they mention that their activity isn’t stored and cannot be passed on to governmental agencies.
Encryption and Protocols
Surfshark offers five VPN protocols and uses AES 256-bit network encryption to ensure that connections remain private. The protocols include OpenVPN UDP and TCP, IKEv2/IPsec, Shadowsocks, and WireGuard.
Do not use Shadowsocks for torrent downloads, as it will only protect your browser traffic. That protocol would expose your BitTorrent activity. OpenVPN UDP is generally the most stable and flexible, as it provides greater security, speed, and performance in most cases.
Like most VPNs, they use shared IP addresses, which is the safest way. Several users will have the same IPs, meaning that the activity of an IP address cannot be associated with a single user. They also have static IPs available, but you should always use shared ones for torrenting.
This feature is crucial for P2P. It automatically kills your Internet 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.
DNS Leak Protection
The DNS protection is always activated to make sure your identity does not leak. When you connect to Surfshark, your DNS address will change and adapt to the VPN server. Unlike other VPNs, Surfshark does not allow you to turn this feature on or off.
How to Torrent with Surfshark?
Since the update where the Surfshark’s team decided to make all servers P2P-friendly, the torrenting process has become fairly easy. Follow these steps to ensure a safe torrenting experience using Surfshark:
1. Get a Surfshark subscription
The first thing to do is to get a Surfshark subscription to be able to use the software.
2. Install and configure Surfshark for torrenting
After installing the VPN app, make sure you set it up for torrent downloads. Although there aren’t specific settings for P2P, there are things you can do to increase your safety, such as turning the kill switch on. To activate that feature, go to Settings – Connectivity – Kill Switch.
3. Select a server and establish a connection
We recommend choosing a server using the quick connect (nearest country) to make things simple and efficient. That option will select the fastest server located in one of your nearby countries. In a little bit, we’ll talk about this topic in more detail.
4. Ensure that your real IP address is protected
To ensure that Surfshark successfully masked your real IP, you should check what IP you are using. Surfshark has an IP checker on their website to take care of that. You can use a website like iPleak if you want more details.
5. Start torrenting with your favorite BitTorrent client
Now that Surfshark is protecting your identity, you have everything you need to start torrenting anonymously. Look for a torrent and use your BitTorrent client. In case you still don’t have one, both qBitTorrent and uTorrent are good choices.
Surfshark has servers in 65 countries, more than 3200 in total. That ensures that most of the globe is covered, meaning users will always find a server close to them. A nearby server is important, as it won’t have a significant impact on connection speed.
As I mentioned before, Surfshark allows torrenting on every server. It wasn’t like that initially; they used to allow P2P activity in some servers only. Having only a few options for P2P in the past was a disadvantage, as they would be easily overcrowded and, therefore, slower.
In 2020, they announced that every server became P2P-friendly, which was great news in the torrent community.
How to choose a good Surfshark server for P2P?
As I mentioned before, you can use the quick connect feature to select a fast server for torrent downloads. Just make sure you choose the option “Nearest country“. It’s easy to find it, just go to “Locations“, and you will see this option.
When you use this feature, the software will exclude your country and select the best server in the closest country to you. For example, if you are in the north of the United States, it will connect you automatically to a server in Canada.
When you select the automatic connection on most VPNs, the software connects you to a server in your country. But it’s always safer to connect to a server in a foreign country. In case someone tries to monitor you, they would have to go through two different jurisdictions.
It’s an extra layer of security. It’s the first time we see this option in a VPN, and we hope more providers adopt this idea.
If you want to select a server for your torrent downloads manually, it’s also possible. Head over to “locations” and choose the one you want.
There are even countries with several server locations, such as the US and Australia. That’s a great detail! More options within the same country mean less load on servers, resulting in higher speeds.
After that, you can even bookmark your favorite servers to use them again with no effort.
Built-in server speed test
Another way of checking which servers are the best for you is by testing them yourself. Surfshark is one of the few VPN softwares that comes with a speed test included. It allows you to see the download and upload speeds of each location. That way, you’ll know which ones are the fastest at any given moment.
We are huge fans of this feature because it gives us great insight into the download speed of a server, which is particularly useful for torrenting.
Torrent Speed tests
We performed several tests on different servers to verify how fast we could download a torrent file while connected to Surfshark.
We are sharing the test we performed on the Netherlands server, which is one of the preferred locations to connect for P2P purposes. At the same time, it’s a close location to the country where the test was made. Moreover, you can see the best possible speed we achieved.
qBitTorrent was the option we’ve chosen to manage our downloads during our tests. And the protocol was OpenVPN UDP.
Some servers are faster than others, especially the ones close to the test location. Overall, we registered good speeds.
There was a speed loss of almost 11% on the speed test above, compared to the original Internet connection. It’s important to mention that every VPN will impact your speed because its encryption consumes resources. Even though this isn’t the best result we had when testing a VPN, it’s far from being the worst.
If you consider that the software has only a few years, it’s actually quite impressive. These test results are comparable to other top VPN services that are improving their speed for years.
Other test locations
To help you understand how distance plays a role in download speed, we are also sharing averages results on two other locations that are further than the one above.
Portugal: (Same continent but distant from where the test was performed) – The speed loss averaged 24% on this server.
Canada: (Very far from the test location, on a different continent) – The speed bump was quite noticeable here. We saw a loss of 48%, which is understandable.
The user interface is very straightforward, allowing users to connect in seconds and download torrents easily. All the main features are present in the main window.
From there, it’s possible to establish a VPN connection through the quick connect, or the servers that you recently used. You can even see the IP address you are using and turn the kill switch on or off.
When you’re connected to a server, that same expand button will show you the downloaded and uploaded data.
The look of the VPN can be adjusted in two different ways: a light and a dark mode. I’m using the dark mode, as you can see in the screenshots.
Besides the tools that we’ve already discussed, such as the kill switch and the DNS leak prevention, there are a few features that can help you improve your torrenting experience.
Whitelister: it allows you to select which programs operate through the secure VPN tunnel and those that don’t.
For example, some users download torrents with the protection of Surfshark. At the same time, they keep data-heavy programs that do not require privacy protection, operating with their real IPs. It’s the same feature as the split tunneling tool that other VPNs also offer. It just has a different name.
CleanWeb: it helps keep you safe while browsing the web through the VPN. It’s an anti-malware solution that blocks ads, phishing, and trackers. If you consider that nowadays, many torrent sites contain malware in their ads, such a tool can be helpful.
MultiHop: it routes traffic 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 pretty rare to find this feature at no extra charge. It’s also known as the double VPN.
The software works with almost every device. No matter which platform you use, the app features an intuitive user interface. The main features and settings are all easy to find and use on every platform.
The fact that they have no limits for simultaneous connections was a pleasant surprise. Users can have all their devices protected at the same time. That’s 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 this path.
What do users say about torrenting with Surfshark?
Online forums are a place where torrent users discuss their favorite VPNs, especially Reddit. Here’s what they said about Surfshark in some of the threads we checked.
Overall, users seem to be happy with Surfshark for their torrent needs. The main things that users point out on Reddit seem to be the fast speed this VPN provides. On the negative side, some users do complain about the lack of port-forwarding.
The price is one of the factors that torrenters appreciate most about Surfshark. It’s famous for being a budget-friendly VPN. 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 $12.95 per month. Most users will probably agree that the monthly rate is a bit steep. Luckily, the next two options save you a considerable amount.
The two-year plan costs $59.76 and renews every two years. That equals $2.49 per month. It is one of the best values in the VPN market. As I see it, there is no reason to choose the 6-month plan, as you can get an extra year and a half for an additional $20.82.
If you aren’t happy with the service, they have a money-back guarantee policy of 30 days. Keep in mind that such policy applies only to the 2-year plan
Should You Torrent with Surfshark?
It depends on what kind of torrenter you are. Surfshark is a good option for most users, but a couple of drawbacks may not be convenient for some. You’ll find out if Surfshark is suitable for you by looking at its pros and cons.
The answer to whether Surfshark is worth it for torrenting is now more evident. If you are an average torrent user, then yes, Surfshark is an excellent option. It has all the features you need, a company with clear policies and no ambiguities, and good download speed.
However, in case you are registered in private torrent sites, using private trackers, you may encounter issues. Such private torrent communities demand a certain download/upload ratio. And because Surfshark does not support port-forwarding, you may have problems when trying to seed.