Let us begin our SurfEasy review with a look at the history of the company. SurfEasy was started as a Kickstarter campaign in 2011. Originally it was for a web browser and Internet encryption tool you could carry in your pocket. In 2013, they launched their VPN service. They were brought under the Opera umbrella of companies in March of 2015 when Opera was looking to secure their browser. As you might expect from an Opera software company, their website is well organized and easy to navigate. They offer a few different products for protecting your privacy while surfing the Internet. These include the original USB private browser, extensions for Opera and Chrome browsers, and a full VPN service. They have client software for Windows and Mac OS X, as well as, apps for iOS and Android devices.
Pricing and Special Offers
SurfEasy VPN Service
SurfEasy markets their VPN in two different packages: Total VPN and Mobile VPN. As many VPN providers do, they offer discounts on these packages for longer term plans.
SurfEasy markets their VPN service as Total VPN and it provides full protection for up to five simultaneous devices with unlimited bandwidth for each device and access to all of their custom software. Every device will be protected with encryption and have access to ad tracker blocking software. The price for the Total VPN package is $4.99/month or $47.88/year. Subscribing for a year of the Total VPN service will save you about 20% over the monthly subscription price. This means you will be able to get a year of the Total VPN from just $3.99/month.
Mobile VPN will allow you to protect one mobile device. It will completely protect that one device by encrypting all traffic to and from it. Your mobile device will also have access to ad tracker blocking while connected to their service. That device will have full unlimited bandwidth and full access to all thirteen countries in their no-log VPN network. The price of the Mobile VPN package is $2.99/month or $29.99/year. Buying a year of the Mobile VPN service will save you about $6 over the monthly subscription price. This is like getting two months of the service for free.
SurfEasy accepts many different payment options including credit cards, PayPal, and Bitcoin through BitPay. The credit cards they accept are Visa and Mastercard. Payment is in US dollars. Payment by PayPal requires only an email address and password. Paying through BitPay using Bitcoin will help keep you even more anonymous.
SurfEasy Private Browser
SurfEasy offers a few different products to help protect your Internet surfing habits and make you more anonymous. One of these is SurfEasy Private Browser that will let you securely browse from any computer or network. This can help protect your Internet browsing when using Wi-Fi hotspots, hotel or airport networks, a friends computer, and even public or shared computers. The browser is built into a thin USB device that fits into a credit card form (shown on the right) that can be plugged into any computer to encrypt your Internet traffic.
Using a single password, you can open a secured Internet connection which houses all of your Internet favorites, passwords, search history, and other personal information. It will let you to do local searches without revealing your IP address, allow you to store all of your passwords, and keep other websites from being able to track you. It even includes an on-screen keyboard to prevent keyloggers from stealing your information as you type. When you unplug the key, it leaves no trace of your personal information on the computer you were using. It is all kept encrypted and password protected on the USB device. The SurfEasy Private Browser sells for a one time fee of $69.99 with unlimited data protection and free regular updates containing the latest new features and security enhancements. If you purchase the SurfEasy Private Browser, the USB key comes with a limited one-year warranty.
SurfEasy Browser Extensions for Opera and Chrome
Surfeasy has VPN proxy browser extensions for both the Opera and Chrome browsers. You can get them through the Opera Add-Ons store (SurfEasy Proxy for Opera) and Chrome Web store (SurfEasy VPN for Chrome) respectively. They can also be easily found through the SurfEasy website product menu. Once the extension is installed, it will then appear inside your browser beside the address bar. This will allow you to easily turn SurfEasy protection on and off with just the touch of a button. This protection is through SSL certificates.
When turned on (shown in image on right), it creates an encrypted tunnel between your browser and the Internet, protecting all your information. It also masks your true IP and provides you a virtual one from your chosen location. This makes it more difficult for you to be tracked online and allows your browser to bypass geo-restrictions imposed by some websites. This means that no one can see what you’re doing online, what websites you’re visiting or what your download history looks like. Also, none of this data is stored on the no-log SurfEasy network so you can feel truly safe, secure, and anonymous while browsing. The service offers 500MB bandwidth for free with the opportunity to add more by adding friends, devices, or other ways.
Risk Free Trial Period
Although SurfEasy does not offer a free trial for any of their services, they do have a 7-day money back guarantee on their Total VPN service. This will allow you time to test the service performance and see if it is right for you. If you are not satisfied with their service for any reason, they will gladly refund your subscription fee within the first seven days of service. To get a refund, you must cancel within the first seven days of your plan and complete the following:
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org from the email you registered your account
- Please include the reason for the cancellation
- Provide the Support PIN which you can find at accounts.surfeasy.com/profile
A refund will only be granted within seven days of payment for services. No refund will be issued after that. This offer does not apply to subscriptions purchased using iTunes, Playstore or Amazon Store or those upgrading from the Starter VPN plan.
SurfEasy Network and Server Locations
SurfEasy’s network includes access to servers in multiple cities in thirteen different countries.
|13||unknown||OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec||No Logs|
The list of the countries that SurfEasy has VPN servers in is a short one and includes the following:
- United Kingdom
- United States
Although SurfEasy may not have the number of servers that many VPN providers do, they have multiple server locations in the US and servers strategically placed in different areas of the world. They have servers located in all continents of the world except Africa. All server locations support the OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec protocols. They have guides in their support area of their website to help new subscribers install and use their service. None of their VPN servers support P2P software like BitTorrent. In fact, you will not be able to connect to their servers if you are using P2P software.
Privacy and Security
The SurfEasy network is a no-log network. That means, except for the limited exceptions below, we do not collect any information transmitted through our network. More specifically, we do not collect any information regarding the websites you visit or the IP addresses assigned to you when you access the SurfEasy Private Network, and with respect to our VPN service, we do not collect any data stored on or transmitted from your device, including any data that applications on your device may transmit through our network.
SurfEasy also provides for the security of your internet traffic and browsing habits. They offer support for the OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec protocols. Encryption on Windows, Mac OS X, and Android devices is through 256-bit OpenVPN and encryption on iOS devices is by 128 L2TP/IPSec. This will help you encrypt all of your online traffic and to secure it from prying eyes. It also provides you with a virtual IP address while masking your true one thus helping to protect your anonymity while surfing the Internet. The addition of an ad blocker can help you to remain even more secure by helping you to avoid malware and other tracking software.
OpenVPN is the most secure of the VPN protocols. It is a very versatile protocol which now has support for most types of devices. L2TP/IPsec is an excellent choice for mobile devices like iOS because most natively support it and make is easy to configure although it can be a little slower than some other protocols. Their L2TP/IPsec implementation uses 128 bit strength encryption for all of your Internet traffic.
We complete our SurfEasy review with some hands on testing of their client software to see how easy it is to set up and use, as well as, test its overall performance. I would like to start by saying that SurfEasy is not the fastest VPN that we have ever tested. They have custom client software for both Windows and Mac. They also have apps for both iOS and Android devices and software extensions for the Opera and Chrome browsers. Their support area has step-by-step guides for configuring their service on all the devices that they support.
Connecting from Windows
SurfEasy has a custom client for Windows that will let you connect to any server in their network using the OpenVPN protocol. You can download the client from their website. On installation of the client, you will see a couple of setup screens. You can either set up an account if you do not yet have one or sign into the VPN network. The first time you sign into the SurfEasy Windows client, it will install the TAP driver and then start the VPN client.
When you first bring up the SurfEasy client, it will connect you to the server closest to you that has the fastest ping time. The illustration below represents three screenshots of the Windows client in action. The first shows the client screen when it is disconnected from the network. The first thing you will notice is that the country icon is greyed out and the switch in the off position. This screen is easily recognizable by the fact that the location (Phoenix, AZ), IP address, connection status (Not secure), and ad tracker blocking status (Enabled) are all shown in red bubbles. Also a red disconnected message is shown at the bottom.
The second screenshot above shows what the client looks like when properly connected to the SurfEasy VPN network. The icon at the top shows the flag of the country we have connected to (UK) and that the switch is in the on position. Also the location (United Kingdom), IP address, connection status (Secure), and ad tracker blocking status (Enabled) are all shown in green bubbles.
The last image above shows the ad tracker blocking screenshot of the SurfEasy Windows client. It shows both in number and bar graph format the tracker ads that the VPN has blocked over the last 30 days. You can see that 1657 ads were blocked on the day we tested the client. Blocking these ads will allow the pages you visit to load quicker and could speed up your browsing experience. Notice also that we are still connected to a VPN server in the UK.
The illustration below shows some other screenshots of the SurfEasy client. The first two show how to select the country that you want to connect to. The easiest way (shown in the first image below) to connect or change servers is to click on the country icon at the top of the screen and select the country from the resultant drop down list. The second way which is shown in the second image below is to click on the gear icon, highlight Select a region in the drop down list, and then click on your country of choice.
The last image above shows the drop down list that results when you click on the gear icon. This list will allow you to do the following:
- Disconnect from the country you are currently connected to but leave the client open
- It shows your protection status
- It shows your bandwidth usage (unlimited in our case)
- Ad tracker blocking status (on in our case)
- Hovering on this will allow you to turn tracking on or off
- Select a region – will allow you to choose or change the country you are connected to
- Wi-Fi Security (hover mouse over to change)
- Enable protection – will warn of non secure networks and encrypt all transactions to and from insecure ones
- Disable warning – not recommended
- Settings – (hover over)
- Launch at startup – connect when client opens
- Sign out of the SurfEasy network – will have to re-enter login credentials
- Help (hover over)
- Account – Open your account dashboard to add devices, change profile, or modify account, access PIN number needed for phone support.
- Terms of Service – to review
- Contact support – ask questions or resolve issues
- Show troubleshooting logs – to aid SurfEasy staff in support issues
- Quit SurfEasy VPN – close client
The SurfEasy Windows client encrypts all traffic between your device and their servers. It uses OpenVPN using 256 bit encryption. It works with Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, XP SP3, & Vista.
Connect with the Mac Client
Just like the Windows custom software, the SurfEasy client for Mac OS X can be downloaded from their website. It has the same functionality as their Windows client. It is meant to run on Mac OS X 10.7 or later. They make it easy to download and install their Mac client with just a few clicks. Similarly to the Windows client, all traffic between your computer or laptop and the VPN network server is done using the 256 bit OpenVPN protocol.
Connect from iPhone or iPad
SurfEasy also has a client for iOS. It supports all the devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch). It uses 128 bit L2TP/IPsec to encrypt all traffic between your device and your chosen VPN server. The app features and appearance is similar to the Windows client. The client will run on iOS 6 or later.
The below illustration depicts three screenshots of the SurfEasy iOS app in action. The first shows a screenshot when you are correctly connected. As you can see it is similar to the Windows connection screenshot. It has an icon for the country you are connected to. This is followed by a map showing your current connection (Chantilly VA), IP address, connection status (Secure), ad tracker blocking in green bubbles. This is followed by the number of ads the VPN has blocked in the last 30 days.
The second image above shows the menu when you select the gear icon and click on change region. This is the country selection screen (exploded view). It is similar to the list obtained by selecting the country icon in the Windows client. It is currently set to SurfEasy optimized which will connect you to the VPN server that is closest to you with the fastest ping time. If you select a country on this screen it will then connect to that country.
The last screenshot above shows the rest of the menu screen obtained by tapping the gear icon. This is similar to that obtained by clicking on the gear icon on the Windows client. It will allow you to connect or change countries, turn ad tracker blocking on or off, enable/disable Wi-Fi security warnings, access imporant SurfEasy documentation, and logout of the VPN app. As you can see, SurfEasy’s iOS app contains the same look, feel, and functionality as their Windows client.
Connect an Android Device
SurfEasy also has an app for Android devices. The Android app looks and functions almost identically to the iOS app. It allows you to select to the country of your choice and then automatically connects you to what it thinks should be the fastest server in that country. You can disconnect from one server and reconnect to another just by selecting a different country. If you wish to connect to the same country again, you will need to disconnect from the VPN then choose the country to reconnect to it. Its screens are almost identical to those for the iOS app and similar to those of the clients. The app can be run on devices with Android 4.0 or later and uses 256 bit OpenVPN for encryption of all your Internet traffic.
SurfEasy Speed Test
SurfEasy was inconsistent in our speed tests. The speed of their server in Reston, VA was good. It showed only about 11% decrease versus the speed of our ISP without the VPN. However, the performance of their server in Phoenix AZ was not as good with decreases in speed of over 30% to 40%. Although you can choose the country that you connect to or allow the service to select the closest one to you which has the fastest ping, you cannot select the city to connect to yourself. Consequently, we recommend that if you are getting poor performance, that you reconnect to the VPN. Sometimes this will give you much better performance by connecting to another server in the country.
As you can see there was a 11.4% difference in speed between the connection directly to our ISP and the connection to a server in Reston VA. As expected their is some loss in connection speed but it is well worth it for the extra security provided by this level of encryption. With a speed of almost 46 Mbps, you should be happy with the performance of this SurfEasy VPN server. We will say that we did not notice any blips when watching streaming media from a local website but we enjoy high connection speeds. This might not be true where you are. Because of the inconsistencies in speed, your performance could vary so be sure to test it with the area you want to connect to.
SurfEasy Review: Conclusion
SurfEasy has been in the privacy space for about 5 years. They have a good reputation for the service they offer. Their network is not one of the biggest but they have servers placed strategically across the world with location in 13 different countries. Their no log policy, the transparent way they handle requests for information, and their support for payments using the crypto-currency Bitcoin shows that they take their members privacy seriously.
SurfEasy supports OpenVPN, and L2TP/IPsec protocols which makes their service compatible with most devices. They have custom client software for Windows and Mac OS X, apps for iOS and Android devices. They also have step-by-step installation guides to help you configure their service on these devices.
What I liked most about the service:
- Custom software for Windows and Mac
- Apps for iOS and Android
- Extensions for the Opera and Chrome browsers
- No-log policy
- More anonymous ways to pay like Bitcoin
Ideas to improve the service:
- Add PPTP protocol to support more devices
- Easier refund process
- More information about their network on their website would also be helpful including server locations in each country
- No P2P access might be important to some
You can use the SurfEasy service to conduct your daily surfing, online banking, or enjoy your favorite streaming media. It will keep your traffic secure when using public Wi-Fi networks and let you overcome censorship of social websites like Facebook and Twitter by your local government . It should be suitable for most of your Internet needs. They offer a 7-day money back guarantee. Take their service for a test drive and see for yourself. If you enjoy it, you can sign up for unlimited access with five connections from just $3.99 a month.