Now logging IP addresses
Logging & Jurisdiction
SurfEasy used to be a private VPN with a good logging policy. Since it was bought by Symantec it has started logging IP addresses and other data. This is not good enough.
SurfEasy has some encouraging privacy credentials behind it.
It was once owned by Opera Software (the same Opera that runs the popular, privacy-focused web browser) and its CEO is Chris Houston, who has given TED talks on privacy.
In 2017, SurfEasy was bought by the American Fortune 500 cybersecurity company, Symantec, for $39 million. Symantec also own Norton Secure VPN and other Norton cybersecurity products.
The problem with Symantec is that it’s based in Canada, which is a privacy-unfriendly nation with some of the strictest copyright laws in the world.
And Symantec are quite willing to part with its customers data, stating that it:
“May collect and disclose personal information, including your usage data, to governmental authorities or agencies […]at their request or pursuant to a court order.”
Considering that Canada is part of a surveillance and intelligence-sharing agreement with the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand, we advise the most privacy-conscious users to look elsewhere.
We don’t like this. VPNs are not mentioned once on these confusing pages. And a vague promise of no logs, without detail or evidence, doesn’t cut it for us.
Based on what we’ve read from the general policy, here’s what SurfEasy is now logging:
- Account information: name, email, password, country
- IP address
- Cookies from websites
- Device ID
- Norton Account ID
- Browser details
- Payment information
For a VPN product, this is terrible. The chance that SurfEasy could be logging your original IP is the biggest cause for concern.
This is identifiable data and a far cry from what SurfEasy used to be.
To make matters worse, there was the disconcerting case of SurfEasy embedding third-party tracking libraries into its free Android app. This was done with the intention of creating targeted ads.
This doesn’t bode well for SurfEasy as a privacy product.
Average speeds for web surfing
Speed & Reliability
It isn’t the fastest, but the odds are that you’ll be fine with SurfEasy’s speeds. Its local connections are fair if a little underwhelming. Its international connections suffer a big dip in speed loss. US and Australia connections are particularly disappointing.
It provides particularly good speeds on same-country locations (like UK to within the UK, which is where we test).
Here are the results in full:
Local Speed Test results before using SurfEasy VPN:
- Download Speed: 96Mbps
- Upload Speed: 97Mbps
- Ping: 10ms
Local Speed Test results with SurfEasy VPN:
Download speed loss when SurfEasy VPN is running: 25%
You will have few problems doing anything if you’re connecting and using SurfEasy locally.
Long-Distance Connection Speeds
SurfEasy is below the average on longer distance connections. We recorded very poor speeds when connecting across continents to the US and Australia.
A large drop-off with these longer-distance connections is to be expected, but SurfEasy drops too low to compete with better rival VPN services.
These are the average speeds you can expect to pick up connecting out to these locations:
- Download: 10Mbps
- Upload: 28Mbps
- Download: 35Mbps
- Upload: 78Mbps
- Download: 30Mbps
- Upload: 20Mbps
- Download: 5Mbps
- Upload: 6Mbps
These aren’t very good long-distance speeds. Only 10Mbps connecting to the US is below par.
SurfEasy also clocked in a much higher ping score than we’d like to see with a top VPN service. Connecting to the same country, our ping increased by over 400%. Gamers won’t get a smooth experience with SurfEasy VPN.
Server network is quite small
SurfEasy has 1,000 servers in 31 countries. It's by no means a large network of countries. There are also no city-level options. However, the choice of nations are spread fairly evenly across the globe, with choices in Hong Kong, India, Israel, South Africa, and Turkey.
SurfEasy’s server network (the countries available to connect to) is one of the smallest we’ve seen.
There are just 31 countries to choose from – the average is about 50-60.
From this list of countries, there are no city-level choices.
That might be fine for a smaller nation like the UK, but if you’re living in the US (New York) or Australia (Melbourne) you’ll have to luck out and be based near the server in order to get max speeds.
We weren’t surprised to discover that SurfEasy maintains a low number of individual servers at just 1,000 in total. This is likely to lead to server congestion and reduced performance at peak times.
Europe is served rather well, as is North America, accounting for 21 out of the 31 countries. If you’re in these countries, your problems won’t be as significant.
But Asia is poorly represented, with just Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore available.
South America and Africa have it even worse, with just a single location each (Brazil and South Africa, respectively).
Great for Netflix, BBC iPlayer & HBO Max
SurfEasy currently works with US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and HBO Max. That's plenty of new content for those who have exhausted their entertainment libraries. It's still not as capable as the best VPNs for streaming, but it's proven a respectable streaming VPN with reliable access to streaming sites.
One of SurfEasy’s strengths is that it works to unblock BBC iPlayer on its single UK server.
Not many VPNs can do this, so it’s credit to it as a service for streaming.
SurfEasy is as effective at unblocking Netflix US, too. We accessed it no problem on the US server and it streamed at a great quality.
The same goes for HBO Max. You’ll be able to stream same-day-as-cinema Max Originals.
If you spend all your evenings streaming TV and movies then you could consider protecting yourself with SurfEasy.
Slow bitrate, no kill switch, unsafe logging policy
SurfEasy has servers optimized for torrenting, but it records a slow average bitrate. We're also put off by the logging policy that records your IP address. It doesn't have a kill switch, either, which is a must for safe file sharing.
SurfEasy seems like a good choice for torrenters if you sign up to the Ultra Plan, which has servers optimized for P2P activity.
But it comes with a less-than-ideal average bitrate speed of 2.3MiB/s.
And the logging policy is too invasive for us to comfortably recommend it.
Won't beat the censors
SurfEasy isn't equipped with the required obfuscation tools to get around state censorship in countries like China. It's highly likely that your VPN traffic will be detected and blocked.
If you’re going to be connecting out from China, or another country with strict censorship, we cannot recommend SurfEasy.
China has cracked down on VPN traffic hard, making it near impossible to bypass the Great Firewall unless you utilize additional obfuscation tools to hide the fact that you’re using a VPN.
Censors use DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) to detect and block suspicious connections, and as OpenVPN is so commonly used, it’s really easy to spot.
SurfEasy doesn’t offer any of the necessary ‘stealth’ protocols or obfuscation tools.
The size of SurfEasy’s server network means that even if you were able to get connected, you’d probably struggle to reach a decent level of performance, which isn’t ideal if you want to do anything more than just general browsing.
There are far more reliable options out there – like Astrill VPN.
Robust security let down by absence of kill switch
Security & Features
SurfEasy's security suite is industry-standard for the most part, with OpenVPN connections and AES-256 cipher. The main problem is the lack of a kill switch, which we consider essential to any VPNs toolkit. SurfEasy does operate its own DNS servers, though, which is a big plus.
SurfEasy takes the role of a VPN seriously, but it doesn’t quite match top-tier providers when it comes to security.
We did some digging and discovered that SurfEasy’s desktop app operates on OpenVPN, one of the most secure of the various VPN protocols.
SurfEasy promise ‘bank grade security.’ They use the AES-256 cipher, which is favored by the US federal government – another positive.
One major downside to SurfEasy, though, is its lack of a VPN kill switch.
A kill switch kills your entire internet connection should the service stop for some reason, thus keeping what you’re browsing online private. Without one, you risk exposing yourself to snoopers and hackers.
Not having one is a big deal to us, and it’s incredibly unusual for a VPN service of this size forgo its inclusion.
Thankfully, all of your web traffic is routed through SurfEasy’s own secure DNS servers rather than those owned by third parties such as your ISP or Google, protecting it from prying eyes and keeping your online activity private.
Another added bonus is the built-in ad-tracker blocker, which uses a unique algorithm to block the tracking cookies advertisers use to follow you online.
If you turn this on in the desktop app, you’re presented with the number of ads and trackers that have been blocked in the past 30 days, but we can’t be sure how accurate this is. Regardless, it’s a great feature to have and it seems to work very well.
Available on popular devices only
Platforms & Devices
You can only use SurfEasy on the most popular platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. There are some browser extensions for Chrome and Opera, too, but they’re not fully-fledged VPNs. You can’t install SurfEasy on other devices, or do manual workarounds. This makes it quite limited.
You can use custom SurfEasy apps on these devices:
This puts SurfEasy behind its competitors in terms of device compatibility.
There are, unfortunately, no manual workarounds for those devices lacking native apps.
This includes routers, so you are well and truly restricted to the four major platforms — far from ‘every device,’ as the website promises.
SurfEasy did introduce an app exclusively for Amazon devices but, without any reason given, this has been discontinued.
SurfEasy allow for up to five devices to use one subscription simultaneously.
Due to the fact that SurfEasy cannot be installed at router level, we can’t recommend it to those looking to use a VPN on games consoles or streaming devices.
The only way you could get it to work would be to piggyback off the connection from another device running the software, such as a laptop or smartphone.
However, there’s no promise of it working and, to be honest, you shouldn’t have to go through the hassle when there are VPN services that cater to these needs.
You can read our list of the best VPNs for gaming if you want to find out more.
SurfEasy offers proxy browser extensions for Google Chrome and Opera.
The appeal here is that they can be installed and added to your browser in a matter of seconds if you already have the main app running, and they work in much the same way — simply choose your server and you’re good to connect.
The downside of extensions is that they only encrypt your browser traffic and nothing else, so we recommend having the desktop app running at the same time for the best possible protection.
But these extensions are the perfect solution for heavy browser users seeking a lightweight experience.
SurfEasy did originally start out as a browser extension for Opera, so it’s not surprising that it still exists. But, we don’t really see these extensions doing anything not already covered in the desktop app.
Needs a new and improved app
Ease of Use
The SurfEasy app is clunky and outdated. It's not very pleasing on the eye and there are barely any customization settings. This makes it unsuitable for both advanced users and newcomers.
How to Install & Set Up SurfEasy VPN
There’s no other way to say it: SurfEasy has a clunky, cheap-looking app. We also experienced frustrating and random disconnections.
Compared to some of the well-designed, intuitive VPN apps on the market, SurfEasy is not so fun to work with.
The SurfEasy app is system-tray only, which is handy for when you want to click and forget, but those who prefer to have the app permanently open won’t like it as much.
The main screen keeps it simple with your chosen location, new IP address, and whether or not you’ve enabled the ad-tracker blocking.
SurfEasy’s settings are minimal – far too minimal for our liking.
There’s no transparency around SurfEasy’s VPN protocol or the option to change it – thankfully after speaking with the support team we can confirm it’s OpenVPN, our personal favorite.
The only meaningful user-controlled settings beyond location are toggling on and off WiFi protection and ad-tracker blocking. We’re fans of simplicity but far too much has been sacrificed here for the sake of a user-friendly app.
If you’re looking for a high level of configurability and loads of advanced privacy settings, you should definitely steer clear of SurfEasy.
It seems to be aimed at VPN newbies looking for a click-and-forget solution that doesn’t require too much manual config on their part.
Support with a personal touch
SurfEasy has a quick and helpful live chat feature and even provides a phone number if you want to have a real chat. These are good resources to ask questions and get a human, informative response. The website tutorial videos are also a nice touch.
|Live chat Support||Yes|
SurfEasy is a mixed bag when it comes to support.
There’s a live chat feature with speedy and friendly response – that’s what we like to see.
Unfortunately, it isn’t available 24/7 and we couldn’t help but feel that the SurfEasy agents lacked technical knowledge.
The website also provides a phone number for the help centre, which adds a more personal touch and will be pleasing to those who want to vocally communicate with a human being.
Outside of office times (9-5 EST), you can email support. However, we found this slow, sometimes taking over a day to respond. But when we did receive responses they were clear and to-the-point.
The how-to-guides and FAQs are fairly comprehensive – better than some we’ve seen. They lack a little polish, but the tutorial videos are nicely done.
Price drop makes it more affordable
Price & Value for Money
On its monthly plan, SurfEasy is very expensive and doesn't represent great value for money. If you were interested in SurfEasy we could only suggest the other, one-year plan, which costs $29.88 per year. This works out as $2.49 per month, which is on the cheaper end of spectrum.
SurfEasy used to offers two different options when it comes to pricing: Total and Ultra.
It has since streamlined to offering just two versions of Ultra (this includes servers for torrenting and access the maximum number of servers) and dropped the price.
The plans are now costed as:
The one-year deal is by far the more tempting option. $2.49 per month is a cheap price tag, even if the service is imperfect.
Bear in mind, however, that there are still cheaper options out there. You can view all the best cheap VPNs on our page.
Payment & Refund Options
You can pay for a SurfEasy subscription using these payment methods:
You’re quite limited when it comes to how you can pay for your SurfEasy subscription.
We would have liked to see some alternative methods here, perhaps Bitcoin or other forms of cryptocurrency, as well as some international options.
SurfEasy also offers both a free trial and a 14-day money-back guarantee. Most VPNs offer 30 days, so this refund policy is actually quite strict.
SurfEasy’s money-back guarantee is genuinely no-questions-asked, with no hidden data caps or restrictions, simply email customer support and tell them you wish to terminate your subscription.
Please note: if you purchase SurfEasy through the Apple App Store you’ll have to go directly to SurfEasy for a refund.
There’s no time limit on the free trial so you can use it for as long as you want. However you are subject to a 500MB data cap, meaning you won’t be able to do much more than run a few speed tests and stream a couple of shows on Netflix.
It’s a great way of testing out the software but we wouldn’t recommend it as a long-term solution.
For streaming fans only
The Bottom Line
SurfEasy has taken a dip in our estimation ever since it changed its logging policy. We can’t recommend this VPN for privacy-conscious users anymore.
Those who just want to stream from Netflix, HBO Max, and BBC iPlayer have good reason to consider SurfEasy, though.
This is an all round serviceable VPN, but we’d like to see SurfEasy go beyond that and become a robust, customizable service with more server options.
It’s also only available on popular devices and, most worryingly, there’s no kill switch.
It’s a decent VPN but there’s plenty of room for improvement, most of all with the price tag, which is highly expensive.
Alternatives to SurfEasy VPN
ExpressVPN is around the same price as SurfEasy but it's a much better all-round service. Where SurfEasy falls short ExpressVPN offers a solution, so it's worth taking a look. Read ExpressVPN review
PrivateVPN is even cheaper than SurfEasy and it's better when it comes to the amount of extra streaming sites it unblocks. It's definitely better value for money. Read PrivateVPN review