Surfshark is one of the latest services to enter the VPN market. We rarely test and review such 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.
Does Surfshark Allow Torrenting?
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“.
They go even further and explain how to use Surfshark to download torrents. They make this whole subject much clearer by answering the most common questions regarding file-sharing. You can visit that page here. It's good to see a VPN provider being so clear and transparent regarding this subject.
Surfshark Security Details
There are several aspects that a VPN provider has to follow to be considered safe. Below, we analyze the main security details of the software and also the company responsible for it.
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.
Does Surfshark Save Torrent Logs?
Thanks to its neutral company location, Surfshark doesn't need to save logs, including torrent activity logs. To make their users even more relaxed, the company has a no-logging policy, which means that user activity isn't 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 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 offers 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. 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 blue button with the words “Connect” and “fastest server”.
This is an option that modern VPN providers are including in their software. In a few words, when you click that button, the software will select the fastest 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, letting the software decide for them.
Customizable quick connection
We were very pleased to see that Surfshark took the “quick connect” feature one step further. You can set this tool to select the fastest server, or to choose the fastest server in the nearest country.
In case this sounds complicated, it's really not. In case you choose the option “fastest server”, the VPN will select the fastest one. That country will very likely be yours, or the one you are at the moment. And it's easy to understand why; due to the proximity between you and the server, it will be the fastest for you. Physical distance is an important factor when it comes to speed.
If you choose the option “nearest country”, the software will exclude your country and select the best server in the closest country from your location. For example, if you are in the north of the United States, you would probably connect automatically to a server in Canada. The reason why the security experts at Surfshark created this option may not be very obvious, but it's definitely a brilliant one. It increases the safety of the “quick connect feature”, and here's why:
On most VPNs, when you select the automatic (or quick) connection, the software connects you to a server in your country. As we just saw, that happens because it's where the fastest servers are. But it's always safer to connect to a country different from yours. 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 and we hope more VPNs follow this great idea.
There are still some users who like to manually 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 tool you should activate and leave it like that, especially for torrenting. 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.
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 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 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. This is exactly the same as the split tunneling tool that other VPNs also offer. It just has a different name.
CleanWeb helps keep you safe while browsing the web through the VPN. It's an anti-malware solution that blocks ads, phishing and trackers.
MultiHop 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 quite rare to find this feature with no extra charge. It's also known as the double VPN.
There are over 800 servers present in 50 countries. That ensures that the entire 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.
One of the important recent updates in the software was the fact that torrenting is now allowed on every server. In the past, only a few servers were available for P2P.
This means the user doesn't have to select a special server in order to download a torrent file anymore. You just have to use the software the same way you would for anything else, like browsing the web.
Torrent Speed Tests
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.
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.
The fact that they have no limits for simultaneous connections was a pleasant surprise. 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.
Surfshark has not been around for 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 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 $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
Every software needs to keep being developed to be competitive, especially a new one, such as Surfshark. Although we didn't detect any major flaws, we are pointing out a couple of suggestions for the VPN provider to include in their apps:
- They should identify the torrent dedicated servers on the server list. Having filters to separate them from the rest would be even better.
- A Kill Switch should be added for Linux users.
Usually, a VPN starts at the bottom of the competition and improves over the years, consolidating its 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 is having a very strong start, already as a competitor to the best VPN providers. They are actually innovating and introducing important tools, such as the possibility of customizing the quick connection feature.
If this is just the beginning, we can't help but wonder how high will they go if they keep growing like this. You should pay close attention to Surfshark, it may be the next game-changer of the VPN market.