SurfEasy Review: Established developer but poor functionality
In this review, I’m going to tell you about the way SurfEasy has gone from a web browser data protection program to a Freemium VPN service and a part of the largest Internet security company.
I will analyze all the attributes of this VPN and compare them to those of the best VPN providers.
I will also describe the advantages and disadvantages of both free and paid versions of SurfEasy VPN in detail.
I’ll also tell you about the peculiarities of the use of the SurfEasy app on various platforms and analyze its price policy and compare its prices to the prices of its competitors.
After reading this article, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on when it’s possible to use SurfEasy and when it isn’t as well as whether it’s worth it to get the paid subscription or not.
You may use this quick navigation menu to instantly access a section you need:
- SurfEasy VPN: Attributes
- The History of SurfEasy
- Differences of SurfEasy’s free version
- SurfEasy VPN: Pros
- SurfEasy VPN: Cons
- Peculiarities of use
- Plans and prices
- Information about the company owner
Let’s get to business.
|Free VPN Rating||Low|
|Paid VPN Rating||Low|
|Platforms||VPN apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Amazon; Proxy extensions for Chrome and Opera|
|VPN protocols||OpenVPN, IPsec|
|Support team||Live chat, tickets, phone|
|Price of the paid version||$3.99-$11.99|
- Masking of IP addresses and the URLs of the websites you visit
- Sites unblocking
- Reliable traffic encryption
Extra functions and opportunities
- Reliable protection for torrenting on the ‘’Ultra’’ plan
- Tracking protection (undesirable cookies detection)
SurfEasy offers up to 500 servers in 28 countries. However, the number of locations depends on the tariff plan you’re using. Generally, this provider only offers basic functions. The list of the extra features is minimal.
SurfEasy has 3 plans with different opportunities and prices:
1) “Starter” (free plan)
There’s no time limit but the traffic is limited. The official website says that 500Mb per month are available, but my tests showed that 1Gb/m is actually available on all platforms.
Server speeds are average but fast enough for most tasks.
It allows for 5 simultaneous device connections to servers in 16 countries.
Torrenting is not allowed.
Netflix doesn’t work (the website is inaccessible).
2) “Total” (paid plan)
This plan offers unlimited traffic and the same 16 locations as the free version has.
Server speeds are the same.
3) “Ultra” (paid plan)
The most loaded plan that combines all the advantages of the “Total” one with access to additional 12 countries.
But its main upside is that it allows torrenting on dedicated servers.
You will learn more about plan differences from the following sections in which I will tell you about the pros, cons, and use peculiarities of SurfEasy.
The History of SurfEasy
The history of SurfEasy begins in 2012, when SurfEasy Inc., founded in 2011 in Toronto, Canada, commercialized its first product which was a private browser. It was different from other similar programs because it provided extra protection for private data (namely passwords, keys, etc.).
The company introduced its new product, the VPN service SurfEasy, in 2013. Since its conception, it has been a thoroughly developed program available on all popular operating systems. It included a limited free plan and separate paid ones for mobile devices and desktops.
In 2015, SurfEasy Inc. was acquired by Opera Software to be integrated into the Opera browser. However, when in 2016 that browser was transferred to a Chinese consortium while SurfEasy Inc. remained under the control of Opera Software, this integration ceased making sense. And when a year later Opera started developing its own VPN, SurfEasy was sold for $50 million to Symantec, the largest Internet security company.
The interest in seemingly irrelevant SurfEasy Inc. stemmed from its participation in the development of one of Symantec products, namely Norton Wi-Fi VPN.
Thus, SurfEasy VPN is a Symantec product as of now.
At the same time, only its app for PC is credited to Symantec while all others are still attributed to SurfEasy.
Differences of SurfEasy’s free version
It’s no secret that most searches related to SurfEasy VPN are connected with its free version. Not so long ago, it was common for a VPN provider to have a free limited version to attract a large number of customers some of which would inevitably get a paid premium subscription.
But recently, the situation has been changing for a variety of reasons. Unlimited free plans are being changed into free trial plans. SurfEasy still keeps its free version with unlimited time.
What features does SurfEasy’s free plan have?
I have mentioned in this review that SurfEasy offers 500Mb of traffic per month with no speed limits. In reality, though, when you take all the default bonuses a user gets at the signup, this limit grows to almost 1Gb of free traffic per month.
At the same time, this VPN provides a really good speed that exceeds 20-30 Mbps for download and 15-25 Mbps for upload on most popular locations.
Of course, the combination of the fast speed with the small traffic volume (it is almost the lowest among similar VPN services) doesn’t allow one to use the free plan for long.
Simple calculations show that at the average speed of 20 Mbps, 1 Gb of traffic is going to suffice for about 7 minutes.
In reality, however, casual surfing (for instance, of unblocked websites) should allow for at least one day of the comfortable use of the Internet. And if you try to save your traffic and only use the VPN when it’s necessary, you can make it last for up to one week.
It’s up to you to decide if that’s enough.
Personally, I’d prefer a free VPN with more traffic. For example, Windscribe VPN offers its users up to 10 Gb of traffic per month (even though its speed is much lower, to be honest). Another example is hide.me which offers 2 Gb of traffic but only 4 countries to choose from.
In any case, there is no perfect free VPN.
However, it’s not a good reason to move on to SurfEasy’s paid subscription. Keep on reading and you’ll see why. But first, I’m going to tell you about the pros of SurfEasy.
Reputed company owner
The fact that SurfEasy VPN is supported by such a huge and reputed company as Symantec says that, at least, this VPN is safe to use. Obviously, Symantec wouldn’t use technologies that may endanger its users’ private data or harm them otherwise because that would damage its unblemished reputation.
Any claims on SurfEasy’s website are almost 100 percent likely to be true.
On the other hand, there are no bold exaggerations that are commonly seen on other VPN services’ webpages. It may seem to a potential customer that the product isn’t fancy enough to start using it.
No IP leaks
SurfEasy’s security tests proved that this VPN reliably protects its users’ personal info. I have found none of the three possible leaks of the real IP-address and, therefore, of the user’s real location.
Tests for WebRTC, DNS, and IPv6 leaks all yielded negative results. To put it another way, there were no leaks (what is shown is a US IP-address of a VPN server while the real IP remains hidden):
No IP-address leaks found
The user’s security depends on the quality of the encryption of traffic and visited websites’ addresses as well. SurfEasy shines here too: the “bulletproof” AES-256 encryption standard it uses is one of the best and impossible to crack with today’s technologies.
Therefore, SurfEasy provides high-level security and anonymity. However, that level isn’t the highest. The problem is that SurfEasy’s apps lack such an important extra feature as a kill switch. I’ll shed more light on it in the Cons section.
Protection against tracking
This function is available with the paid subscription only. It controls cookie files that aren’t related to the functionality of the website you are visiting but are installed by third-party scripts in the page code.
To put it simpler, SurfEasy can block undesirable cookies that are used for advertising or other purposes to identify a user’s web browser.
SurfEasy allows torrenting on its Ultra plan. “Starter” and “Total” plans have a function that checks if torrent apps are active. If they are, SurfEasy shows a warning about the danger of torrenting:
The “Ultra” plan is safe enough to use for torrenting thanks to its dedicated servers. However, I recommend against that because there’s no kill switch. It’s better to use VPNs more suited for that purpose, such as those you can find in our best paid and free VPNs for torrenting review. They not only have a kill switch but also come at lower prices.
Due to Symantec’s reputation, we can trust SurfEasy in that they do not keep user activity logs on VPN servers. In their own words, “we don’t know what you’re up to.”
Despite that, I wouldn’t recommend using SurfEasy for delicate tasks for which privacy is the topmost concern. The thing is, SurfEasy is situated under the US jurisdiction, and the US is a member of the FVEY (“5 eyes”) intelligence alliance. That allows the authorities to access any data and resource under certain circumstances.
I have read in one SurfEasy review that the company keeps logs even though they claim the opposite. That’s not true. It’s likely that the author of that article was twisting facts to add a flaw to SurfEasy. Alternatively, that information might have become obsolete.
As of this day, SurfEasy doesn’t collect any user activity data in both their apps and on their VPN servers.
Despite these huge pros, some of them have important “BUT’s”. I will tell you about them as well as about other flaws in the upcoming section.
SurfEasy’s IP servers are blacklisted
When testing, I found out that large websites with anti-attack and anti-spam protection are “suspicious” of SurfEasy’s IP-addresses. When a user attempts to access such a site, the protection is activated and the user is redirected to a special page to check if they are a human being. In my case, such a thing happened when I used Google and visited Bloomberg:
This confirms the fact that SurfEasy’s servers are blacklisted at least partially.
Choice of locations
SurfEasy offers about 500 servers in 28 countries. However, only 16 of them are available on the free plan and the “Total” plan. It’s much fewer than the best VPN providers have. For example, NordVPN or CyberGhost VPN have several thousand servers in 60 and 90 countries while ExpressVPN has servers in 95 countries.
Available countries list:
- United Kingdom
- United States
(BR, DE, IT, NO, PL, RO, ES, UA, UK, US, CA, NL, AU, SG, JP, FR).
The “Ultra” plan additionally offers Switzerland, Russia, Portugal, and several other countries. Save for extra locations and dedicated servers for torrenting, there are no other reasons to use this plan, even though it costs much more than the other one.
Moreover, there’s no possibility to choose a specific server inside a location that many other VPNs offer. Basically, you have no control over the choice of your IP. It can be really inconvenient if you need to log in or solve captcha every time you change your IP-address.
To be fair, 16 countries are quite a lot for a free VPN. Usually, providers limit that list to 1-10 countries.
Thus, SurfEasy offers a narrow country selection that can only be expanded by paying. There’s no possibility to choose a server IP-address. Still, SurfEasy’s free plan looks better than that of its many competitors.
Lack of options
All sorts of unexpected things may happen when you’re using a virtual private network:
- What if your ISP (Internet Service Provider) blocks standard VPN ports?
- What if you want to employ UDP instead of TCP to increase the speed?
- What if you want to change your DNS for a speed boost or just do not trust a public DNS server?
- What if you need to use a proxy to connect an app to the controlling server?
- What if you don’t need strong encryption as it burdens the CPU and slows the network down?
To do anything about those concerns would be impossible with SurfEasy.
It doesn’t have any technical settings on any of its platforms. The only thing you can do is choose a country and turn the VPN on and off. While testing, it didn’t feel like I was using professional software.
Even the map built in the mobile app is not interactive. You cannot choose a location you need by clicking it:
The menu has a lot of options but you aren’t likely to use most of them.
The only option that can be described as a VPN setting is the “Wi-Fi Security” one. When you activate this option, it blocks access to your device from other devices connected to the same Wi-Fi network. It is a great setting for public Wi-Fi hotspots.
No kill switch
There can never be a 100% guarantee that your connection to a VPN won’t break. And if it does, the real IP being leaked can cause problems while you perform certain tasks such as torrenting or in the cases when a leak is highly unacceptable (while performing delicate tasks).
An encrypted VPN channel can break off during a change of location too.
VPN developers came up with a reliable protection method for such cases long ago. This method is the kill switch function. What’s more, some VPNs allow for certain apps-only protection for convenience.
SurfEasy, however, doesn’t have it. You are left absolutely vulnerable when a VPN reconnects.
No settings for OpenVPN (Linux, router)
The fact that it has apps for all basic platforms is definitely an advantage of SurfEasy. However, there exist many devices without a graphic operating system, for which a VPN can be set up. Routers, consoles, and other devices are among them.
SurfEasy doesn’t provide manual settings for either the built-in protocols or OpenVPN.
If you’re looking for a VPN that can be set up manually, you might want to check our list of VPNs that not only have such settings and config files but also detailed manuals for almost any occasion.
Doesn’t work with Netflix
To watch all existing Netflix (and other streaming services’) content, you have to bypass geo-restrictions. The minutiae of license agreements of the rightsholders are the reason for different content being available in different countries. Despite the users’ unending requests to solve this problem, it remains relevant to this day.
Moreover, video services and TV channels actively combat the existing unblocking methods.
This is why not all VPNs can fulfill this task, including SurfEasy. What is more, while other VPNs manage to open the Netflix website and you can at least check the list of shows even if you can’t watch them, SurfEasy fails to even open Netflix.com:
CoolTechZone.com recommends using only the proven VPNs for Netflix.
Can’t change the app language
If for whatever reason you don’t want to use the same language that is set up in your system, then be aware that you won’t be able to change it after installing the SurfEasy app. In this case, you may change your OS language settings before installing the app.
Peculiarities of use
In this section, I’ll share my experience of using SurfEasy.
Most VPNs nowadays offer multifunction apps for various platforms. As a general rule, they are easy enough to use: just download and install the right app for the chosen system and turn the VPN on. The app takes care of the rest.
SurfEasy is exactly like that. However, during my tests, I noticed a few peculiarities I should mention. Following my recommendations will help you use this provider’s features with maximum safety and efficiency.
1) Use the recommended server when possible
As soon as you launch SurfEasy for whatever OS you’re running, it will find the nearest location for the maximum speed. The closer to your real location a server is, the lower is the response lag on the websites you visit. And if you take into consideration the fact that there may be 200 and more simultaneous connection points when opening one page, this difference becomes apparent.
This is why you should use either a recommended location or choose a country near your own.
2) Turn the torrent client off when you switch locations
You shouldn’t forget to fully stop your downloads and turn the torrent client off when changing your VPN location. Otherwise, your system administrator or ISP can notice your torrent traffic.
For example, if you’re dissatisfied with the download speed and change your location, while you reconnect, your connection to the VPN server will be shut down and for around 10-30 seconds all your traffic won’t be hidden.
If you live in a country that tracks torrenting activity, it can result in a hefty fine.
3) Don’t rush to move on to the paid tariff
1 Gb of free traffic isn’t going to last long. What should you do after it’s depleted? Getting a paid plan sounds like the most obvious solution. It’s a good idea if you don’t need much from a VPN and don’t care about the price.
If that’s not the case, check out our new cheapest VPN services review. It showcases the VPNs that provide the highest quality service while charging some of the market-lowest prices for that.
Plans and prices
From the price policy standpoint, SurfEasy is a Freemium VPN, that is, it includes both free and premium plans. I’ve told you all about the features of free and paid versions. Now it’s time to show you the prices of SurfEasy, explain what affects them apart from the plans’ technical capabilities, and compare them to those of SurfEasy’s competitors.
SurfEasy’s premium subscriptions are available at the following prices:
The “Total” plan:
- $3.99/month when subscribing for 12 months ($47.88/year)
- $4.99/month when subscribing for 1 month
The “Ultra” plan:
- $6.49/month when subscribing for 12 months ($77.88/year)
- $11.99/month when subscribing for 1 month
You can get your money back during the first 7 days.
Evidently, the price heavily depends on the subscription term. You save quite a lot of money by subscribing for a year.
But what if we compare it to other VPNs?
Take a look at the table below (I compared the maximum functionality versions):
|Servers||500 in 28 countries||5000+ in 60 countries||3600+ in 60 countries|
Obviously, there are better and lower-priced VPNs.
SurfEasy accepts the following payment methods:
- Credit cards (Visa, MasterCard),
Information about the owner company
Symantec Corporation is currently the parent company of SurfEasy.
350 Ellis Street
Mountain View, CA 94043
Official website: www.surfeasy.com
To be frank, I’m disappointed by SurfEasy. I expected more from a product of such a reputed company as Symantec. Indeed, on one hand, SurfEasy is a reliable and safe VPN, it doesn’t keep logs, and provides a wide selection of countries on its free plan. On the other hand, it only has basic functions, doesn’t offer a kill switch or server selection inside a given country, as well as many other things that industry leaders do.
I cannot recommend SurfEasy’s paid version either. It is blatantly not as powerful as its competitors.
It is a good fit for:
- Free use
- Unblocking websites
- Hiding your real location
It is not a good fit for:
- High confidentiality tasks
- Cases that require you to change the protocol or port.
a notable owner – Symantec