SurfEasy VPN Review (2019): Is It a Steal?

SurfEasy is a Canadian based VPN that was owned by Opera and is now owned by Symantec, the security company. Although it’s no VPN giant, it manages to stand out in some areas. With some very cheap pricing available, it may be a bit of a steal for some users.

PROS

  • US Netflix and Hulu
  • Secure
  • Excellent support staff
  • Very easy to use
  • Extremely cheap
  • Excellent device compatibility
  • Free version

CONS

  • Below average speeds
  • Very low server count

Speed & Expectations

You usually see a drop in internet speed when using a VPN, due to all the added protection it gives you. So how much will SurfEasy slow things down for you?

To measure this, we tested the 3 main speed indicators:

  1. Download speed: The rate at which data is transferred from the server to your device. This is measured in megabytes per second (mbps) and a higher number is better.
  2. Upload speed: The rate at which data is transferred to the server from your device. This is also measured in megabytes per second (mbps) and a higher number is better.
  3. Ping (or latency): Tested by “pinging” the server, it’s the amount of time it takes for it to receive and process your request. This is measured in milliseconds (ms) and a lower number is better.

First we ran a baseline test using a default 100mbps internet connection in Chicago, IL.

Then we tested various SurfEasy VPN servers across the globe.

We ran each test 5 times to increase reliability.

Speed results

These are the results of our baseline test:

So the average baseline score was:

  • Download: 91.1mbps
  • Upload: 12mbps
  • Ping: 14.2ms

Next we ran our tests on a SurfEasy VPN United States server:

US averages of the 5 different speed tests were:

  • Download: 52.1mbps (42.8% slower)
  • Upload: 11.5mbps (3.7% slower)
  • Ping: 13ms (8.5% faster)

(You would expect these to give the fastest results since we’re performing the tests in the US).

Next we tested Europe:

Europe’s averages were:

  • Download: 35.3mbps (61.2% slower)
  • Upload: 10mbps (16.8% slower)
  • Ping: 126.6ms (791.5% longer)

Here’s Asia:

Asia’s averages were:

  • Download: 31.8mbps (65.1% slower)
  • Upload: 6mbps (49.7% slower)
  • Ping: 257.2ms (1711.3% longer)

And South America:

South America’s averages were:

  • Download: 57.1mbps (37.4% slower)
  • Upload: 12.2mbps (1.9% slower)
  • Ping: 164.4ms (1057.7% longer)

We also compared these results against the average of other VPN tests. How does SurfEasy measure up?

First up, let’s take a look at download speeds:

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
SurfEasy-43%-61%-65%-37%n/a
Celo VPN-75%-93%-93%n/an/a
proXPN-52%-73%-74%n/an/a
X-VPN-71%-75%-99%-62%n/a
SpyOFF-66%-57%-76%-65%-63%
VPN.ht-48%-78%-68%-67%-67%
vpn.ac-52%-51%-67%-47%n/a
Tiger VPN-48%-68%-68%-55%-72%
VPN Unlimited-27%-77%-79%-64%-61%
Cyberghost-35%-59%-71%-56%-68%
Torguard-37%-58%-81%-60%-67%
ProtonVPN-35%-50%-56%-77%-54%
PureVPN-26%-68%-94%-32%-89%
Trust.Zone-14%-99%-80%-66%-82%
AVG Secure VPN-56%-87%-69%-75%-68%
Hoxx VPN-12%-96%-93%n/a-68%
VPNSecure-68%-93%-98%-61%-77%
IPVanish-36%-54%-72%-76%n/a
NordVPN-40%-99%-69%-58%-75%
ExpressVPN-71%-58%-64%-95%-67%
Avast-45%-63%-72%-66%-77%
Windscribe-44%-57%-80%-98%-73%
Average-45.5%-71.6%-76.7%-64.1%-70.5%

Download speeds are well below average for South America, above average for Europe and Asia, and just above average for the US.

Next, how did upload speeds compare?

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
SurfEasy-4%-17%-50%-2%n/a
Celo VPN-35%-30%-40%n/an/a
proXPN-7%-15%-52%n/an/a
X-VPN-33%-61%-98%-77%n/a
SpyOFF-9%-18%-88%-52%-50%
VPN.ht-10%-17%-25%-23%-63%
vpn.ac-6%-18%-44%-16%n/a
Tiger VPN-3%-14%-20%-17%-42%
VPN Unlimited-13%-39%-85%-19%-56%
Cyberghost-8%-16%-92%-37%-48%
Torguard-9%-20%-35%-22%-41%
ProtonVPN-2%-15%-20%-41%-29%
PureVPN13%2.5%-54%-11%-72%
Trust.Zone-13%-45%-67%-28%-84%
AVG Secure VPN-19%-58%-75%-80%-77%
Hoxx VPN-5%-90%-24%n/a-51%
VPNSecure-9%-19%-92%-26%-56%
IPVanish-5%-19%-84%-22%n/a
NordVPN-13%-46%-26%-16%-70%
ExpressVPN-9%-24%-34%-72%-42%
Avast-13%-42%-78%-70%-77%
Windscribe-6%-17%-52%-97%-53%
Average-9.9%-29%-56.1%-38.3%-56.9%

Upload speeds are well above average in South America, with just a 2% drop in speeds. US, Europe and Asia are all above average too.

And finally latency:

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
SurfEasy-9%792%1711%1058%n/a
Celo VPN915%1161%1654%n/an/a
proXPN194%996%2194%n/an/a
X-VPN-28%397%837%560%n/a
SpyOFF213%944%4278%2533%2598%
VPN.ht273%785%1667%1282%2109%
vpn.ac60%388%968%487%n/a
Tiger VPN9%895%1786%1105%2309%
VPN Unlimited33%935%3946%1411%2535%
Cyberghost27%1085%2344%1352%2415%
Torguard7%1036%2023%1384%2502%
ProtonVPN17%810%1840%1185%2017%
PureVPN-23%708%489%1018%1823%
Trust.Zone104%1206%2438%1396%2750%
AVG Secure VPN1021%1111%2419%3560%3336%
Hoxx VPN566%1098%2470%n/a2794%
VPNSecure281%1051%2519%1530%2917%
IPVanish240%1038%4144%1424%n/a
NordVPN34%1278%2328%1560%2696%
ExpressVPN98%965%2122%1545%2461%
Avast33%1133%2465%1556%2815%
Windscribe310%1018%1904%2042%2782%
Average198.9%946.8%2206.6%1473.1%2553.7%

Latency speeds are above average in all regions, particularly in the US, where amazingly there is a 9% increase in speed. Which means the VPN is faster than the default connection.

Speed (Summary)

SurfEasy VPN has above average speeds, which are impressively consistent throughout as not a single result was below average. US latency was also actually faster than the default connection.

Performance & Features

Next, let’s look at the main features that SurfEasy has to offer.

Number of servers: 500

How many active servers are available to connect to across all countries, regardless of their physical location.

This is quite a high number, though the top VPNs knock it out of the park with 1,000 servers plus, for example Torguard has 3,000. But still, it’s definitely a decent amount that’s enough for most.

It’s worth mentioning you can’t actually select individual servers in the app though.

Number of countries: 30 (18 on the cheaper version)

How many countries the total number of servers cover, regardless of how many are located in a single country.

30 for the ‘Ultra’ plan is a fairly decent amount, though again several top VPNs offer from 55-191. It covers the most popular countries, including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and is very Euro-centric, covering most European countries.

However, areas like Asia only have a few countries (Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan), and South America, the Middle East and Africa only 1 each. Sadly this is common across VPNs.

If you go for the cheaper ‘Total’ plan though, you only get 18, which is definitely a lot more limited. Here’s a list of countries included.

Number of connections allowed: 5

How many devices can be connected to a server (or number of servers) based on a single VPN account or subscription.

This is about average, and definitely enough for most individual users.

Torrenting allowed: Yes (specific server)

Whether you can download and share files on a peer-to-peer or P2P network as opposed to a single server.

Torrenting is only allowed on their more expensive ‘Ultra’ plan, and you can only select one torrenting option. This connects you to dedicated, safe torrenting servers, but you don’t get to choose which one to connect to. When we tried it, we always got connected to one in the US.

Also, it doesn’t work if you purchase through the Mac App store, only through direct website downloads.

Kill switch available: No.

Whether the VPN software can disable your connection to the network in the event you disconnect from the VPN server. This prevents your IP address from being exposed.

Unfortunately, SurfEasy doesn’t currently offer a kill switch.

Performance and Features (Summary)

SurfEasy VPN has a decent number of servers and countries on its more expensive Ultra plan, with a torrenting option. However, on the cheaper Total plan, you get just 18 countries and no torrenting. For both plans, there’s 5 connections allowed but no kill switch.

Privacy & Security

This is a big one: can you actually trust your VPN to protect you and keep you anonymous online? Here we look at all the security and privacy aspects.

First let’s look at the technical aspects:

Protocols/Encryption: AES 256-bit encryption with OpenVPN and IPSec protocols

SurfEasy plays it safe with the industry-standard OpenVPN protocol with AES 256-bit encryption. These are regarded as the best available and are what all the top VPNs use. It also offers the IPSec protocol on Mac and iOS, which again is standard.

This does mean there’s no protocol choice though, which might disappoint advanced users.

DNS leaks: None found.

IP leaks: None found.

WebRTC leaks: None.

Viruses/Malware: None found.

Legal issues

Jurisdiction: Ontario, Canada. Canada is a member of the Five-Eyes Alliance, which as you may know isn’t great. It means that your data could easily be shared with countries like the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand, and a whole host of other countries from the subsequent 14-eyes agreement. Also, Canada doesn’t have the most friendly privacy laws (relative to other Western countries).

Logging policy: No logs.

If your VPN is a 14-eyes member, then it’s vital it at least has a no logs policy to combat this.

SurfEasy has a no logs policy on its website.

It iterates this in its privacy policy, saying “SurfEasy is a No Log network, which means that SurfEasy does not store originating IP address.”

Scrolling down it appears it collects quite a lot of information, which might initially alarm users.

But to sum up, it’s OK. They don’t store IP addresses, and only collect temporary data for debugging issues that’s then deleted. They also use Google Analytics, but that’s pretty standard.

The do collect bandwidth usage, but it’s aggregate and a lot of VPNs collect this.

Privacy and Security Summary

SurfEasy is a pretty safe and secure VPN. It uses top-level AES 256-bit encryption with the OpenVPN protocol, has no leaks or viruses, and a no-logs policy which is very detailed and transparent. The only minor thing they collect is aggregate bandwidth usage. The only downside to SurfEasy is its Canadian location, which is a 14-eyes member.

Usability

This section looks at the following aspects:

  • Streaming/Geo-spoofing
  • Compatibility
  • Overall UI/UX

Streaming/Geo-spoofing

Netflix and other streaming services restrict content based on your location, so we tested SurfEasy against all major streaming services.

  • Netflix: Partially Detected. Netflix worked in the US, UK, Germany and Brazil, a highly impressive result.
  • Hulu: Detected. Unfortunately, Hulu wasn’t so lucky and was blocked in the US.
  • YouTube: Undetected. YouTube worked fine on all servers.
  • Kodi: Undetected. Kodi works fine wtih SurfEasy.

Compatibility

How does SurfEasy’s device compatibility stack up?

We tested everything from Tor, iOS devices, Android devices, Smart TV’s, Amazon Firestick, Mac, Windows, to routers:

  • Tor browser: Supported. Tor works fine in conjunction with SurfEasy VPN.
  • iOS (iPad, iPhone): Supported. SurfEasy has a fully-functional iOS app.
  • Android: Supported. Same for Android.
  • Smart TV’s: Not Supported. Unfortunately, SurfEasy currently has no Smart TV support.
  • Amazon Firestick: Not Supported. No Firestick support either, even indirectly.
  • Windows: Supported. SurfEasy has a Windows app.
  • Mac: Supported. SurfEasy has a Mac app.
  • Routers: Not Supported. SurfEasy has no router support whatsoever, a rare occurrence and a big disappointment for some users.

Overall UX/UI

SurfEasy is another of those VPNs that hangs out in the system tray instead of the taskbar. It’s a fairly small interface that pops up in the right-hand corner of your screen.

It’s fair to say it’s not very attractive or modern-looking.

You’ll definitely know you’re disconnected, because of all the ugly red pop-ups on the map.

Clicking the large globe icon in the top-right shows the server list.

Again, definitely not an attractive list, but it’s very convenient as you can see the entire list, no scrolling required.

However, as you can see the list is very simplistic. You can’t see individual servers, only the country. There’s not even any city or regional choice, even in the US.

Countries are listed in alphabetical order. There’s also the ‘SurfEasy Optimized’ option, which quickly connects you to the fastest server.

There’s also the ‘Torrent Optimized’ option (on the Ultra plan). Click this to access a dedicated torrent server. However, you don’t get to choose the location. When we connected, ours was always in the US.

Everything turns grey when connecting.

And becomes green once connected, including the system tray icon which is handy.

The only stat shown is the new IP address, plus the map changes. Through the map you can work out which city you’re actually connected to.

You can browse and change servers without having to manually disconnect first. This is a definite bonus.

However, one thing I didn’t like is that as soon as it started up it connected to the fastest server, without asking me first.

There’s another tab to this interface, ‘Ad Tracker Blocking’.

But all this does is show how many ads it’s blocked recently. Not worth its own tab, really.

Settings barely exist.

You can turn off their adblocker feature and there’s also just one startup option: launch on startup. No kill switch, protocol choice, or DNS settings.

However, they also have a nifty ‘wifi security protection’ feature, which automatically turns the VPN on for unsecured wifi hotspots. I’ve never seen this before but it’s a good idea.

This is one basic VPN. However, it’s very simple to use.

The mobile interface (we tested Android) looks pretty different.

It’s a lot more pleasing to the eye, but still a bit cluttered. The adblocker stats take up a lot of unnecessary room.

The map still takes centre stage, instead of the server list like most apps. You have to swipe right and then select ‘Change Region’ to get the list, which is a bit long-winded.

The server list is the same, except the torrenting server isn’t available.

When you connect, it turns blue and green and says it connected. However, at first it still says ‘your IP is exposed’ at the bottom of the screen. The map also doesn’t update.

Then after a while, the map and IP changes. However, it’s a good while, so you definitely need to wait to make sure you’re fully protected. Kinda annoying.

On the plus side, the mobile app openly tells you which region you’re connected to, instead of just the country.

Unfortunately, you have to turn the VPN off before changing locations.

In terms of settings, the adblocker and wifi security are still there, but wifi security is turned off by default. There’s no start-up or auto-connect settings available.

Usability (Summary)

SurfEasy has amazing Netflix access in 4 countries including the US and UK, though no Hulu. The interface is very basic, but very easy to use. It will appeal a lot to beginners. SurfEasy has apps for all major devices, but nothing beyond that, such as Smart TVs, and shockingly no router support either.

Pricing & Refunds

SurfEasy has a complex pricing structure.

First, you have to choose a package. There’s a free ‘Starter’ package, which gives you 500MB of free data. This isn’t very much, but it will allow you to test it out for a day or two.

I guess this is their version of a free trial, which isn’t great in my opinion. I’d rather have a standard 7 or at least 3 day trial.

Then the two main options are either the ‘Total’ or ‘Ultra’ package. There’s only 2 differences for this: the Ultra package allows torrenting, and has 30 countries. With Total, you only get 18.

After this, you then have to choose whether you want to pay monthly or annually.

These are the monthly prices:

And these are the annual prices:

This equates to 1 month or 1 year pricing options that other VPNS offer, with nothing inbetween.

Both the 1 month and 1 year prices are very cheap for the Total plan compared to other VPNs, but expensive for the Ultra. So you have to choose between two extremes, which isn’t ideal.

There’s also a 7-day money-back guarantee. The conditions for this are very clear in their terms of service, which is much appreciated as some are often vague.

They say “SurfEasy allows a no-questions asked, hassle-free 7 day money back guarantee when purchasing via the SurfEasy website or via Google Play.”

So basically, everyone is safe except Apple users. Apple users should purchase directly from the website before downloading the app on their phones.

Unfortunately, payment options are very limited.

No crypto whatsoever, which will put some people off. No Alipay either.

The payment process was quick and easy and we were set up within minutes.

Pricing (Summary)

SurfEasy has a complex pricing structure, with 1 month and 1 year pricing options. You also have to choose between their cheap ‘Total’ package, with no torrenting and only 18 countries, and their expensive ‘Ultra’ package, with torrenting and 30 countries.

There’s a 500MB free trial, and a 7-day money-back guarantee. You can only pay via card or Paypal, and there’s no crypto.

Support

SurfEasy VPN has live chat, a ticketing system and email.

However, support isn’t 24/7 like a lot of VPNs, but 9am-5pm (Canadian time) 7 days a week, which isn’t bad.

Live chat responded within a couple of minutes during support hours, and email within a couple of hours once they were open.

Responses were generally high quality, and staff were clear, helpful and honest.

There were no copy and paste responses and their English level was also great, which can’t be said for even some VPN giants.

Overall, I was pretty impressed.

The knowledgebase is divided into categories depending on platform.

However, within these they aren’t too greatly organised, with ‘how-to’ articles and ‘faqs’ lumped together for Windows.

Most knowledgebases have a clear, separate set-up guide section.

They did do this for other platforms like Android.

There’s no setup guides for anything except their apps, which is a shame. No manual workarounds for smart devices or Firesticks, and absolutely no advice for routers.

There are also some clear gaps, for example there’s no articles on Netflix or streaming, even though they have specific servers that work with Netflix.

In fact articles are pretty much limited to basic setup guides for the apps, account FAQs, and troubleshooting.

The one exception is they do have a few articles on torrenting, which is nice.

Overall the knowledgebase isn’t bad, and it covers a lot of bases. The troubleshooting guides are appreciated, as this is one area a lot of knowledgebases overlook. It’s just not as extensive as some.

They also have an interesting blog which focuses on privacy news, and is an easy way to stay up-to-date with privacy issues that could affect you.

Their focus on internet privacy seems to indicate that they really care about users rights.

Support (Summary)

SurfEasy has live chat, email and ticketing support. It’s not 24/7, but it’s available 9-5pm EDT Monday-Sunday which isn’t bad. Support was fairly fast and helpful, with excellent English. The knowledgebase covers basic setup guides and a lot of troubleshooting but not much else.

What Do Other Reviewers Say?

In this section, we give a roundup of other online reviews of SurfEasy.

First of all, reports of server numbers were either 500 or 1,000, quite a big difference. There seemed to be some conflicting stats on the website. All agreed server numbers were decent, but not the highest available.

In terms of security, all liked the AES-256 encryption and OpenVPN protocols. Unlike us, none complained about the lack of alternative options. On the other hand, all disliked the lack of kill switch.

All were impressed with the tracker blocker, but opinions on the wifi security feature varied. One said it was a rare and useful feature, whilst another said it was too indiscriminate and just connects over any wifi network.

Opinions varied a lot on SurfEasy’s logging policy, however a lot of these against it quoted an out-of-date policy. Some up-to-date reviews said it was ok and pretty detailed, but the hyper privacy-conscious should look elsewhere. But one said it was extremely minimal and equated to zero-logs.

All agreed the interface was easy to use, fast and intuitive. However, a lot found its system tray location annoying, since the system tray is already overcrowded and you can’t keep the window open or reposition it. Some also drew attention to the clunky design.

Some liked the simplicitity of the apps, saying it was a no-hassle option for newbies. Others felt settings were far too minimal and wouldn’t appeal at all to advanced users.

In terms of streaming, no one found as much Netflix access as us. Most managed to get at least US Netflix, and some reported Canada Netflix working as well. All found no BBC iPlayer access. No one mentioned Hulu.

No one had any complaints about the torrenting option, saying it was worth the extra price and that they liked the specific, protected torrenting servers. One said the solid uploads speeds and logging policy was very attractive for torrentors.

No one found any leaks or viruses in their testing.

Speed results ranged from very fast to average.

For support, a few said there was no live chat option, which must have changed. They found the quality of support respectable, though on occasion live chat staff lacked technical knowledge. They thought the knowledgebase was pretty extensive and above average.

In terms of device compatibility, some praised it as ample since it includes browser extensions and an Amazon phone app. However, some said the browser extensions aren’t secure and the Amazon phone app isn’t useful to most. They criticised the lack of manual workarounds, and particularly lack of router option which cut off gamers.

Unlike us, no one thought the pricing was too complex. No one said it was expensive either; they rated it slightly pricey to average. They were disappointed you couldn’t pay with any cryptocurrency, which barred high-privacy users from signing up anonymously.

Overall most rated it good to excellent. They all agreed it was aimed at the privacy novice, and had an easy to use app. They thought it was pretty solid and reliable technically, except for the lack of kill switch.

What Do Other Reviewers Say (Summary)

Like us most liked the server numbers, speed, and technical security except for the lack of kill switch. They disliked the lack or router and other device compatibility, and found the app easy to use but basic. Some differences were they found less streaming access than us, had no issues with torrenting option, and some were concerned about the logging policy. Overall most rated it good to excellent.

Our Verdict

SurfEasy has a whole load of plus points. First up, it’s got extremely consistent above average speeds, and in one instance our speed actually increased, which is very rare.

It’s got excellent Netflix access across 4 countries, the US, UK, Germany and Brazil. Again, this beats a lot of the VPN giants in this regard.

It’s pretty secure technically, with industry-standard AES-256 encryption and OpenVPN and IPSec protocols, plus no leaks or viruses. We also applaud its no-logs policy, which is very honest and detailed. The only downside is the lack of a kill switch.

The apps are extremely easy to use, which is perfect for beginners.

It’s got live chat and email support, although this is only 9-5 EDT time but is 7 days a week. Staff were helpful and pretty quick to respond. The knowledgebase is adequate with plenty of troubleshooting, though not excellent.

There’s a 500MB free trial, and a 7 day money-back guarantee. Again this isn’t the best, but is better than nothing.

Torrenting is allowed, but only on the premium ‘Ultra’ plan, and you can’t choose your country.

On the downsides, the app is extremely basic, with just 3 settings. Whilst this may delight beginners who just want a plug-and-play approach, advanced users will be severely unimpressed.

Although SurfEasy covers all the major apps, there’s no smart device options and more importantly no router support, which is a major disappointment.

There’s also no cryptocurrency option, which means there’s no non-traceable way to pay for SurfEasy, which will put off the most privacy-conscious.

It’s also located in Canada, which isn’t the most privacy-friendly Western country and is part of 14-eyes. However, the logging policy should mean there wouldn’t be any useful data to hand over.

And then there’s the price. SurfEasy offers two extremes: an expensive ‘Ultra’ plan includes everything, whilst their cheap ‘Total plan’ includes only 18 countries and no torrenting.

If you’re only going to need access to the 18 included countries and don’t torrent, then the cheap Total plan represents an excellent deal for beginners. You’ll get a simple, fast, and pretty secure app they can stream with.

Whilst the Ultra plan offers a great service for beginners too, it’s high price means you can get more for your money elsewhere.

Overall we would recommend it in some cases and give it a rating of 3.5 out of 5.


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