SurfEasy VPN review

An easy-to-use VPN from the Opera browser people

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Our Verdict

An easy-to-use VPN which could be a smart choice for undemanding buyers, although more experienced users will find better products elsewhere.

For

  • Easy to set up and use
  • No-strings money-back guarantee
  • Built-in tracker blocking

Against

  • Just a little overpriced
  • Below-par performance with some servers

SurfEasy is a straightforward Canadian-based VPN from the company behind the Opera browser.

The service offers 1,000 servers in 25 countries. Native clients for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android makes it very easy to set up, OpenVPN support provides great security and there's built-in tracker-blocking, too.

A ‘Wi-Fi Security’ feature can automatically protect you as soon as you connect to an insecure wireless hotspot. That's good news if you might forget to do this yourself, and not something commonly available elsewhere.

SurfEasy is available in a basic form for free, but we were interested in the unlimited Premium plan. This comes at a high $11.99 (£9.90, AU$16.30) price for a one-off month, but opting for a one-year plan cuts this by almost half to $6.49 (£5.30, AU$8.80).

We wouldn't expect major problems from such a big-name provider, but if you're unhappy there's a 7-day no-questions-asked money-back guarantee for both the monthly and yearly plans.

Privacy

SurfEasy describes itself as a ‘No Log’ network, stating that it doesn't store the originating IP addresses of users when connecting to its service, or the applications, services or websites they access when connected.

The company does state that it performs "automated rules-based traffic management for the purposes of maintaining and improving our service", saying this may require "real-time analysis of internet and data traffic including destination websites or IP addresses, originating IP addresses".

Is this suspicious? We would say no. SurfEasy says this is a real-time process, the information isn't logged, and we suspect other major providers do the same thing, anyway – they just don't bother telling you about it.

There are a few issues here that made us a little uncertain. SurfEasy doesn't just use analytics on the website, for instance – the apps may also use "technologies, like Google Analytics, to help improve ... the service”.

The company may disclose personal information "including your usage data" to "governmental authorities or agencies … if there is a good faith belief that such collection or disclosure is required by law". In other words, agencies may not have to get a court order to get hold of data. Making a good enough case that disclosure is ‘required by law’ could be sufficient.

Performance

SurfEasy's Windows client proved extremely easy to install. The download was small, there were no complicated options, all we had to do was accept a Windows firewall dialog and enter the SurfEasy username and password we'd just created.

Using the client is almost as straightforward. Choose your location from a list, then you're quickly connected, and your location and status information (new IP, key settings) are displayed on a small map.

Performance was reasonable over short distances in our testing*, with our UK server test reporting speeds of 20Mbps and above (70% of the regular rate we’d see, on average).

UK-US speeds were much less impressive, averaging around a third of the no-VPN rate, but still maintained a minimum of around 9Mbps, enough for many tasks.

Wherever we connected, there were no apparent DNS, WebRTC or other leaks, and the client kept us up-to-date with our connection status at all times.

Final verdict

SurfEasy is a nicely-packaged VPN targeted mostly at the privacy novice – people who want hassle-free easy-to-use apps from a name they can trust. The service mostly delivers, too, but you can still get better performance for less money elsewhere.

*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we've reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.