Surfshark blew me away when I first came across it last year. It was fast, it was clean and offered fabulous speeds through its Wireguard protocol. It took no time for me to forget my long term provider NordVPN and to take out an extended subscription. I wrote about the Road To Damascus conversion here. However, in recent months the service has lost its shine, and the glossy super-fast package I was wowed by has started to dim. Here are my thoughts on why.
The first signs were when the company started to drift away from being a VPN provider and set its sights on being a one-step Internet security provider with Surfshark One. I believe this is a customised version of AVG and it has been pretty much forced on users.
On my two Android devices, Surfshark One performed reasonably well. Real-time protection worked as did the ability to scan for malware and viruses. However, on the Windows desktop version, there is no real-time protection, rendering it pretty useless. I recall one support team member telling me it should go live last January. Five months it still has not been implemented.
This is where I draw a similarity between Surfshark and Evernote. The latter started out as a brilliant note-taking and storage service. Lately, it has tried to become a one-stop-shop with the introduction of tasks. You may disagree with me, but I don’t want an all singing and dancing service that doesn’t really do those things that well. I want a service that does the one thing well and does not deviate from the job in hand. I will never use Evernote’s tasks module and will continue to use Todoist.
Similarly with Surfshark. I signed up for a rock-solid VPN service that has now lost its way. I prefer to use McAfee for my Internet protection service. And I am not the only one. The Surfshark sub-Reddit has a growing band of dissatisfied subscribers venting their dissatisfaction.
A few weeks ago, Surfshark started playing up on my Windows 11 machine and Android devices. One minute I could access sites, the next I was blocked. Turning off Surfshark and then back on again occasionally worked. I did the usual checks on changing servers and VPN protocols. Sometimes Wireguard worked, the next I had to switch to another protocol to access sites.
The worst instance was when access to the Internet was blocked on my Android tablet and only an uninstall and reinstall worked!
I contacted Surfshark tech support, which was excellent as ever, but advice meant they asked me to start jumping through hoops to try and get going a service that worked okay up until a short time ago. Nor would they remove Surfshark One from my account. So, if I continued with Surfshark, I was lumped with it
I looked at ExpressVPN, Cyberghost and Private Internet Acess and then remembered they were bought out by Kape Technologies which, under a different name, was responsible for spreading malware.
So, I went back to NordVPN, which I had used for years, and found I had an extended subscription until 2025. Over the last week, it has worked perfectly. Great speeds through its customised Nordlyns protocol. No jumping through hoops, clearing caches, by-passing the service through McAfee Total Protection. It just works.
I will keep a watching brief on Surfshark, but for the time being it is a blessing just go access the Internet knowing I have a VPN that protects me and does not have me tearing my hair out.