Surfshark is a fairly new player in the VPN arena, but it has already made a name for itself as a fast and secure service located in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction. It has clients for all four of the major platforms (Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android) plus FireTV and Apple TV, while also offering extensions for Chrome and Firefox. While the prices are good, the best thing is the anonymous payment options, such as cryptocurrencies. But can you use Surfshark for Netflix? Read on to find out.
How we tested Surfshark VPN for Netflix
What’s good about Surfshark as a tool for streaming is that it has no simultaneous connection limit. While most competitors allow up to six devices on the same account at the same time, you can use Surfshark in a larger household freely, without the need to disconnect any of your devices.
At the end of 2018, we were able to successfully unblock Netflix in the US, the UK, and Japan, and had no issues streaming content in HD. This time we’re adding Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands to the mix, while also re-checking the situation with the primary locations.
Just like the last time for our Surfshark VPN review, we did our test from Europe with the same base speed of 290 Mbps on Netflix’s own speed test website Fast.com. When connected to a VPN server in a nearby country, the speed was around 100 Mbps. That’s a pretty significant drop-off but not the one you will notice when streaming your show, even if it’s in Ultra HD (4K).
Surfshark VPN and the US Netflix library
We’ve tested both coasts of the US to make sure there’s no significant drop-off in speed after adding an extra few thousand miles between the VPN server and our location.
When testing the Surfshark server in New York, we were surprised to see Fast.com choose Seattle and San Jose servers for testing. It came less as a surprise when we saw that Fast.com determined our location as Bellevue, Washington. The situation didn’t change much after relocating to Atlanta because we were still in Washington state according to Fast.com, only in Granite Falls this time.
While the truth is out there certainly, for us the most important thing is that the speed is good enough for Ultra HD (minimum 25 Mbps required), the US library was successfully unblocked, streaming content went smoothly, and skipping parts of the show took only a few seconds.
Switching to Los Angeles gave us even more speed than NY. The most important thing again is that Netflix works and does so smoothly.
Surfshark VPN and Canada
We had problems testing Surfshark VPN in Canada. Fast.com was telling us that we don’t have internet access, and thus cannot connect to their test server. We got the message “Backend not available” even though other websites loaded fine. Even if we managed to connect, most of the time we would see an error message from Fast.com “* Could not reach our servers to perform the test. You may not be connected to the internet”.
It was the same with all servers – we got proper test results only after our third or fourth attempt. We suspect this has to do more with Surfshark which had upgraded its client from version 1.2.6 to 1.2.9 a few days earlier.
The aforementioned issues meant that the test took longer compared to the US.
Again, for some reason, our client location was Granite Falls, not Toronto. And on Fast.com’s side, we were connected to the same Seattle/San Jose servers. Surprisingly, the maximum speed we obtained was 170 Mbps – the best result of all locations tested.
Surfshark VPN in Australia
We were unable to run the Fast.com test successfully, and therefore we don’t know how this Surfshark Sydney server fares.
With Melbourne, we had a bit more luck. 26 Mbps should be enough for HD most of the time. And based on the results from other countries, we believe that Surfshark VPN can do better in the Land Down Under. Yet what we got was enough to stream smoothly and skip parts of the show without waiting for ages.
Surfshark VPN in Japan
10 Mbps is good enough for HD, but not UHD. The result that Surfshark has shown in Japan is not bad considering the distance between their server and our physical location. It’s not a big surprise as Surfshark is one of the best VPNs for Japan.
There was some stuttering and considerable loading times, though chances are these were related to other issues we’ve been experiencing doing our test. The most important thing is that Fast.com recognized our IP as coming from the US but loaded the Japan Netflix version. This is important because at the moment this is the version with the most content.
Surfshark VPN in the UK
50 Mbps is clearly enough for Ultra HD though we were confused that the speed was lower when compared to the US or Canada, even though we are in Europe. In any case, our show ran smoothly, and it took only a few seconds to load or skip to another part. Couldn’t ask for more.
We still wanted to make sure Surfshark couldn’t do better in the UK, so we reran the test the other day.
This time Surfshark VPN gave us all it has – a rock-solid 160 Mbps. Though it still left us wondering how the Canada server managed to clock 170 Mbps the other day.
Surfshark VPN in Germany
With three-digits on our speedometer, we felt as if on the Autobahn. There should be no problem streaming Ultra HD from Netflix’s Germany library with Surfshark, maybe even on multiple devices simultaneously. Loading and skipping were either instant or took less than a couple of seconds on those few occasions.
Surfshark VPN in the Netherlands
40 Mbps – for some reason this was much lower compared to Germany but hey, not every country is known for its Autobahns! The most important thing is that the Netherlands Netflix library was successfully unblocked and we had no issues streaming our show. With such speed, you should be able to stream your own show in Ultra HD (4K).
Surfshark VPN and other streaming services
We also tested BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and Amazon Prime as alternatives to Netflix, which also offer some original content, unavailable elsewhere. Chances are these will become more important if Surfshark continues to gain popularity.
Surfshark VPN and BBC iPlayer
Unfortunately, Surfshark VPN was unable to unblock BBC iPlayer neither with the London nor with the Manchester server.
What about downloading the show via BBC iPlayer Downloads app? We installed the latest version to find out. After adding the show from the website to the app, we were left to wait for the progress bar to show the first 1%.
While we agree that patience is a virtue, waiting for over an hour for the Les Miserables download to start left us miserable instead. Have we tried turning it off and on again? No. And yes, the BBC iPlayer Download app downloaded our show successfully afterward.
Surfshark VPN and Hulu
Hulu (or HappyOn.jp in Japan) is another popular streaming platform, and it works with Surfshark. This is not something that can be pulled off easily, but Surfshark manages, and we hope it will stay so for the foreseeable future. Streaming was smooth, without any stuttering or connection drops.
Surfshark VPN and Amazon Prime
Popular among Fire TV Stick users, Amazon Prime is available only in the US at the moment. Surfshark is one of those few VPNs that handle the task of unblocking this streaming service.
What is more, Surfshark also has an app for Fire TV Stick, saving you the hassle of manually configuring the VPN. This makes Surfshark one of the best options among those still capable of unblocking Amazon Prime library.
Surfshark is great for unblocking Netflix, and we can also recommend Surfshark VPN for those who use alternative streaming platforms. Not often do you get to watch BBC iPlayer (after downloading the show), Hulu, and Amazon Prime using the same VPN while also avoiding manual configuration for different platforms and devices.