Last update: 04.18.2019
High cost for low functionality. There’s no real reason to invest in SurfEasy VPN.
For a long time, this VPN service belonged to Opera. That changed in November 2017, when American cybersecurity giant Symantec bought SurfEasy VPN.
By the time the deal happened, SurfEasy was already a Top 50 name on the VPN market. That’s neither great nor terrible – it was a middling project with some positives and a decent foundation for building a strong VPN service. Symantec, a Fortune 500 company, seems not to have done much with their prized investment, and, as our SurfEasy VPN review will demonstrate, the Toronto-based VPN seems to be falling out of its middling position.
Those unfortunate Symantec employees who were forced to use SurfEasy VPN can benefit from the following security features:
- Military-grade AES-256 encryption
- OpenVPN protocol (or IPSec on the new macOS app)
- Basic leak protection
As we can see, there’s not much to benefit from. SurfEasy VPN lacks IKEv2, IPSec, and other protocols. It also doesn’t have a kill switch, private DNS servers, and VPN over the router. With such core features missing, it’s no surprise that SurfEasy doesn’t provide Tor over VPN, multihop, and other nice-to-have elements that most competitors do.
To conclude, SurfEasy provides only the bare minimum on the security front. Therefore, we can recommend it to neither the new nor to the experienced users. One side will be left vulnerable, and the other will lack the features they got used to when using other VPN tools.
Does SurfEasy VPN keep logs?
To top off the technical security features, the company behind SurfEasy VPN is based in Canada (one of the 5 Eyes countries – an intelligence-sharing framework). Despite claims to the contrary, the company also keeps some data on its users, albeit not a lot. When you combine that with statements about handing over your personal information and usage data to law enforcement “where subpoenas, warrants or other legal documents have been provided,” it makes for a worrying situation.
Is SurfEasy VPN leak-proof?
Our SurfEasy VPN review team tests show that SurfEasy is not susceptible to the most egregious DNS, IPv6 or WebRTC leaks, but it does have some worrying signs in that department. For one thing, SurfEasy does not have its own private DNS network. Secondly, it hasn’t yet decided how to deal with IPv6 – the VPN neither supports nor blocks it.
Luckily, you can prevent IPv6 leaks by disabling their usage. When it comes to the WebRTC vulnerabilities, it can also be turned off in most browsers.
Speed and performance
Speed is the second most important point (ant the most important for some) that we’d like to discuss in our SurfEasy VPN review. After all, speed determines how good a VPN is for streaming, P2P file sharing, or gaming.
SurfEasy VPN has 500+ servers in 28 countries, which is not much both in sheer numbers and the overall coverage. The sad part is that SurfEasy had twice as many servers in 2018, and they haven’t added any countries since then, although their website optimistically says “28 and counting.”
To make matters worse, not all of these servers are made available to users who have purchased the “Total” (regular) plan. The same is true for torrents and P2P – this luxury is available only for “Ultra” (premium) users. And here’s the nail to the coffin – only premium users get to select the server from now on, while others have to live with the optimized location.
Speed test results
Let’s have a look at how well SurfEasy VPN does with various server locations. We did our test from Europe, with the no-VPN speeds reaching 217 Mbps download and 228 Mbps upload:
Then we launched SurfEasy VPN and got to test the server locations around the world.
The United Kingdom
- Download: 41 Mbps (81% drop-off)
- Upload: 76 Mbs (68% drop-off)
The United States
- Download: 1 Mbps (99% drop-off)
- Upload: 15 Mbs (93% drop-off)
- Download: 9 Mbps (96% drop-off)
- Upload: 2 Mbs (99% drop-off)
- Download: 16 Mbps (93% drop-off)
- Upload: 3 Mbs (99% drop-off)
The results above can only be described as below average. We also had latency issues when trying to test speeds outside Europe – something that happens very rarely and with low-end VPNs only.
This leads us to conclude that even the best fiber-optics will not stop SurfEasy from slowing you down and that nothing has been done to improve the speed and performance over the past six months.
Ease of use and multiplatform support
SurfEasy VPN has custom apps for:
- macOS (2 different versions)
- Amazon Phone
There are also browser extensions for Chrome and Opera. To be honest, instead of two Mac apps we would prefer a Linux or Router app – but what can you do? The reasoning behind the new macOS app probably has to do with SurfEasy wanting to try a new design, which actually looks much better. The new version also runs on IPSec instead of OpenVPN.
As for the mobile device apps, SurfEasy for Android is a bit safer because you can offset the lack of a kill switch by using Android’s Always-on VPN app.
Downloading and installing SurfEasy is much the same as installing any other piece of software. After you’ve installed SurfEasy VPN, the program should run automatically. It will ask you to log into your account and immediately connect you to the most optimal (closest) server. It won’t take you long to notice this is not the most advanced piece of software.
There are a few options on the Home screen:
- Ad Tracker Blocking – shows the number of trackers blocked over a period of time. The feature itself can be toggled in Settings.
- The Globe button – lets you choose which country to connect to, provided you have Ultra plan.
- The Cogwheel button – clicking it proves how low on features SurfEasy VPN is.
In Settings you can toggle Ad tracker blocking, enable or disable wifi security features, and choose whether to run SurfEasy on startup.
The wifi protection feature seems a bit misleading because all it does is functioning as a “connect to VPN upon joining unfamiliar Wifi network” option with the added dubious benefit of sending you warnings about possible insecure Wifi networks in the vicinity.
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
Not the best choice out there! SurfEasy VPN has been moving in and out of favor with Netflix over the past year. It was blocked, unblocked, then blocked again.
Our latest test has shown that you can stream Netflix US and UK with SurfEasy VPN.
Netflix US speed was enough for UHD (4K), but users with slower connections might struggle even with HD quality.
While two of the best Netflix libraries worked this time, there are way better VPN choices for Netflix out there, especially for users in the Americas or Asia.
As a side note, we had no issues using SurfEasy VPN to watch BBC iPlayer during our earlier test but failed to stream any content this time. It comes with no surprise as BBC iPlayer is quite a notorious platform in terms of blocking.
Perhaps SurfEasy is good for some other content platforms, but frankly, even if it was, we wouldn’t recommend this VPN for streaming by any means.
P2P and torrenting
Using SurfEasy VPN for torrenting is a terrible idea! For one thing, torrenting and P2P is blocked with both the Starter and the Total subscription – it’s only available if you buy the overpriced Ultra version.
But even if you do, would you want to use torrents without a kill switch (and with a pretty bad connection)? If so, you’re a braver person than we are.
If you want a truly great VPN for P2P, better check out our best VPN for torrenting list.
Online censorship in China and elsewhere
People living under repressive governments might be interested in having a higher level of security than what SurfEasy VPN provides
Honest answer? We’re not sure if it even works over there, but we wouldn’t put our money on it. SurfEasy has not demonstrated a high level of quality in other areas, and we see no reason why it would be good for China or any other country with restricted internet freedom.
If you want a reliable service, pick something from our best VPNs for China list.
As having issues with SurfEasy VPN is very likely, be ready to seek help using one of the following methods:
- How-to videos
- Support email
- Ticketing system
- Live chat
While the latter option sounds like the best, live chat is not active 24/7 and the EST oriented times won’t be convenient for those outside the Americas. In general, we hated the SurfEasy website – information is not easy to find, and when you do find it, often it lacks clarity. The same goes for guides and FAQs – some of the most basic topics seem to be missing from them.
There are 3 SurfEasy VPN pricing plans – Starter, Total, and Ultra. Each offers different levels of service, and you can pay for each on a monthly or yearly basis (the latter option is somewhat cheaper). The payment options include credit cards and PayPal.
Here are the monthly prices:
And here are the annual prices:
- Starter – free, 500 MB data
- Total – $4.99/month or $47.88 annually
- Ultra – $11.99/month or $77.88 annually
Luckily, paid plans include a 7-day money-back guarantee, so there’s at least some time to reconsider!
The free Starter version of SurfEasy has a brutal limit of 500 MB – there are much better free VPNs on the market. Also, only the Ultra plan will allow torrenting, which makes Total almost useless for a majority of subscribers.
Finally, there’s one good point about SurfEasy pricing plans – it’s the 5 device limit. Some VPNs have the so-called device limits which refer to the number of devices you can install the app on. In this case, the limit refers to the number of devices you can connect to your account and use simultaneously.
This is the VPN equivalent of buying a plain white Kanye West t-shirt for $120. There is absolutely no reason why you should ever buy this super limited VPN tool – not even if you’re the CEO’s mother.
SurfEasy VPN is weak, doesn’t strike us as particularly trustworthy, and has a plethora of issues you can avoid simply by putting your money elsewhere.