Reviews

SurfEasy VPN Review

By February 10, 2020 July 21st, 2020 No Comments
SurfEasy homepage

SurfEasy VPN Review Overview

1.60/5
Rated #31 VPN / 45

Devices

Unblocks

Pros

  • Military-grade encryption
  • Works with Netflix sometimes
  • Live chat

Cons

  • Very slow speeds, no kill switch

Pricing

Review scores

SPEED1/5
SECURITY4.5/10
FEATURES3/10
USABILITY1/5
PRICING2/5
RELIABILITY & SUPPORT2/5

In our review of Norton Secure VPN, we mentioned a company called Symantec (who owns Norton). Today, we’re reviewing another of Symantec’s offerings – the SurfEasy VPN.

SurfEasy has been around a lot longer than Norton Secure VPN, but they allegedly share backend infrastructure for data storage and processing. Norton’s support didn’t exactly deny this, but they did say staff is able to access their client’s data on Norton Secure VPN.

We weren’t very impressed with Norton Secure VPN and would even go as far as rethinking recommending any Symantec product or service.

With that said, SurfEasy might be an exception. Let’s find out.

How SurfEasy Compare to the Competition

In the table below, compare SurfEasy to some of the top VPNs in the industry. Add or remove providers you wish to compare using the drop-down box below.

Price$3.49/mth$6.67/mth$2.75/mth$1.99/mth
Rating
Servers557230006434500
Multiple ConnectionsUp to 6Up to 5Up to 7Up to 5
Speed 93 % 79 % 79 % 47 %
LoggingNo logsNo logsNo logsA lot of logging
Support24/7 live chat24/7 live chat24/7 live chatLive chat
Killswitch
Refund30-Day Moneyback Guarantee 30-Day Moneyback Guarantee 45-Day Moneyback Guarantee 14
Devices
Unblocks

Take a look at How We Rate VPN Providers!

Not a Good Location

Of course, straight off the bat, SurfEasy loses points for its location.

Like Symantec, the VPN is based in Toronto, Canada. And Canada is one of the 5 Eyes jurisdictions, so any personal data gathered will likely be shared with the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand at the very least.

Five Eyes

Still, we occasionally make exceptions to our rule about avoiding VPN providers based in 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, or 14 Eyes countries, though this is highly dependent on the provider’s logging policy.

They Log – and Share – an Awful Lot of Data

If you read our aforementioned Norton Secure VPN Review, you’ll recognize the above heading.

We’re not going to copy-paste everything said there, but let’s touch on the basics at least. Norton Secure VPN operates off the Symantec Global Privacy Statement… and SurfEasy’s Privacy Policy begins with the words “This Privacy Notice is to be read and applies in conjunction with, and in addition to the Symantec-Norton Global Privacy Statement.”

SurfEasy privacy policy 2

Here’s a quick summary of what that Global Privacy Statement collects:

  • Symantec and their subsidiaries (including SurfEasy) collect your contact details, including “your name, mailing address, email address and phone number”
  • Your “shipping and billing data, including credit card details and payment data” and full transaction history [let it be known reliable VPN providers delete your payment details permanently once they no longer need to keep it for fraud prevention and/or issuing refunds]
  • Personally identifiable metadata regarding your device type, IP address, your internet connection , data usage, and browser type and settings
  • Information on how you use their products/services [according to Norton’s support, this doesn’t include what you do while connected to their VPN servers, but their privacy policy never said this and we suspect he was panicking after we started quoting said policy’s dodgiest lines]
  • Symantec and their subsidiaries (including SurfEasy) “Share your data with partners for sales conversions and lead generation” and law enforcement/the government if asked to

Now, SurfEasy’s privacy policy says the provider won’t record things like your IP address. However, in the very next section:

SurfEasy privacy policy

Granted, they also say the IP addresses (destination and originating) are recorded as part of “a real-time process, and no log data is maintained.”

But, in a word, we call it dodgy. We absolutely do not trust SurfEasy with our personal data precisely because we don’t trust Symantec with that information.

Bank-Grade Encryption and the Best VPN Protocols

SurfEasy bank grade encryption

SurfEasy’s features page only mentions “bank-grade encryption,” which is a little ambiguous. Still, we know it should mean they’re using 256-bit AES VPN encryption – but are they?

We did some digging around and the only information found to support this assumption was from a FAQ relating to the Mac app. There’s nothing anywhere to suggest the other apps also use 256-bit AES, so we tried using their advertised live chat (9am to 5pm EST only).

We didn’t get a response the first couple times, but eventually we got through after a 5-minute wait:

SurfEasy chat support

While we had Arun’s attention, we also asked what kind of VPN protocols are used, as we couldn’t find anything anywhere on their website to help with this either. We already installed SurfEasy on our Windows PC and Android phone, but wanted to confirm a few suspicions.

Well, the good news is SurfEasy uses OpenVPN by default for Windows and Android.

Mac uses IPSec by default, but can also switch to OpenVPN. iOS is stuck with IKEv2, but this is because iOS doesn’t like working with OpenVPN.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to manually change which VPN protocol is used. Arun wasn’t able to tell us whether OpenVPN automatically chooses TCP or UDP, or if the app would switch to IPSec if our device was having issues with OpenVPN.

All he said was OpenVPN should work because it’s the default – and if it isn’t, we’d need to reinstall the app.

This was not good news, to be honest.

No Kill Switch or Split Tunneling – What About DNS Leak Protection?

VPN Kill Switch

We’re very disappointed to confirm SurfEasy doesn’t have any kill switch feature.

After we explained what a kill switch is, Arun from support told us they weren’t planning on introducing the (very important) security feature any time soon, but didn’t tell us why. Instead, he just insisted it shouldn’t be necessary because SurfEasy has a 99.9% uptime record.

This means if your device stops communicating with the VPN server for even a split second, there’s nothing to stop your private information from leaking until the connection is regained.

There isn’t any split tunneling feature either, unfortunately. This isn’t such a big deal – we consider it a nice-to-have rather than an absolute necessity.

On the plus side, we didn’t experience any drops while testing SurfEasy, nor did we find any IP or DNS leaks. So even though the provider doesn’t advertise having any sort of DNS leak protection, it does seem they have something in place that works.

No Double VPN/Multi-Hop Feature, But You Can Use TOR

We like seeing a Double VPN/Multi-Hop feature. It boosts your security by connecting to a second VPN server via the first – which means your encryption level is doubled and it becomes twice as hard for websites to determine your physical location.

SurfEasy doesn’t have this feature (Arun from support didn’t know what it was, so no hopes of it being included in an update either). But it’s another nice-to-have in our books… unless you’re somewhere with draconian censorship laws, like the UAE or China.

You can sort of mimic the effect by using the free proxy browser, The Onion Router (TOR). However, there are a few caveats.

Tor Logo

First, TOR’s encryption levels are very low, so we strongly recommend using it with a VPN rather than alone. Second, doing so will negatively affect your connection speed by quite a lot. TOR can often slow your internet speed even by itself (it reroutes your connection via 3 remote, typically randomly chosen servers), but it’s always a definite result of using the TOR-over-VPN method.

The good news is if speed isn’t a priority for you, it’s entirely possible to use TOR with SurfEasy. Just make sure you connect to a VPN server before opening your TOR browser and do whatever you usually do to keep yourself in a state of infinite, zen-like patience.

How Big is the Server Network?

Apparently, SurfEasy doesn’t want anyone to know how many servers they actually have.

On their home page, they claim to have “over 1,500 servers in 30 different countries.” Their features page says they only have 500 in 28 countries. And their VPN regions page suggests they have “over 1,000 servers in 28 different countries.”

SurfEasy Server Network

Based on what we saw in the Windows app, they do have servers in 30 countries. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they also have over 1,500 servers.

We’re going to stick with an estimate of 1,000-1,500 servers, as it’s the average number given in their claims.

1,000-1,500 servers isn’t a bad number provided the network load is decent. But 30 countries is somewhat limiting, considering the best overall VPN providers offer as many as 60.

Speed

According to user reviews, SurfEasy is notorious for having slow speeds.

There’s a lot that goes into determining how fast your speed will be while connected to a VPN – the distance between yourself and the VPN server, for example. Network overload is another big one.

In fact, there are so many different factors affecting VPN server speed that it’s next to impossible to create a true standard test. We do our best by always using the same devices, server locations, and internet connection, as well as multiple tests over the course of a day.

Just bear in mind your results might be slightly different than ours. But here’s our ballpark experience for reference:

No VPN

SurfEasy VPN no VPN speed

US Server

SurfEasy US Server Speed

UK Server

SurfEasy UK Server speed

Unfortunately, SurfEasy had below average server speeds.

Device Compatibility and Connections

SurfEasy doesn’t do too well on their device compatibility either.

These are the only options:

  • Windows
  • Mac (apparently the version on their website is slightly better than the one found in the Apple Store)
  • Android
  • iOS

There used to be a browser extension available for Google Chrome and the Opera browser (Opera used to own SurfEasy until Symantec took over), but it’s no longer available. All we know is SurfEasy no longer supports the extension.

SurfEasy browser extension discontinued

If you try to find out more by following the link on the announcement page, you just get taken on a loop back to the same page.

Linux users and anyone hoping to protect their router are out of luck, unfortunately.

On the plus side, you still get up to 5 simultaneous connections with a SurfEasy subscription. The industry standard is about 6, but 5 is close enough that it’s not worth complaining about (there’s more than enough to complain about as is).

Subscription Plans and Pricing

This is where things get interesting.

Not so long ago, SurfEasy had 3 pricing tiers (plus annual discounts):

  • Starter – FREE (500mb limit)
  • Total Monthly – $4.99
  • Total Yearly – $47.88
  • Ultra Monthly – $11.99
  • Ultra Yearly – $77.88

But now, there’s only one subscription plan available:

SurfEasy subscription option

We thought there might be some sort of error happening here, so we opened another chat and crossed our fingers for a response.

To our delight, we only had to wait 2 minutes this time. We got Arun again and he told us there was no error – SurfEasy really is offering their old Ultra package at $1.99/month, with no other options (including annual savings – which, to be fair, makes sense).

Still, we have to ask whether SurfEasy is worth paying even a measly $1.99/month for – and why they dropped their other plans and lowered their cost in the first place.

Netflix Streaming Works… Sometimes

Netflix SurfEasy

Streaming Netflix is a major reason why most people want a VPN. If you’re traveling, for example, you need one to access your local Netflix region – otherwise you won’t be able to watch the same shows and movies.

The streaming giant has one of the most robust proxy detection systems in place, which helps them block VPN server IP addresses. This is why some VPNs don’t unblock Netflix at all – and others, like SurfEasy, only do so sometimes.

We tried all the usual regions and got mixed results. US servers worked most of the time, but we kept getting connection time out errors while trying to access the UK version of Netflix (or BBC iPlayer, for that matter).

If Netflix is a priority for you, we suggest going with one of the Best Netflix VPNs instead.

Torrenting

SurfEasy torrenting

Considering SurfEasy’s privacy policy (or, rather, Symantec’s Global Privacy Statement), we were surprised to see “Torrent Protection” listed as a feature.

The FAQ section isn’t much use here. All we could find were outdated articles saying you need to use the Torrent Optimized server, which was only available through an Ultra subscription (and is now available by default). It also suggests the Mac App Store version doesn’t allow torrenting, so if you’re a Mac user, you need to use the Native App from SurfEasy’s website.

All told, we wouldn’t trust SurfEasy as a VPN for torrenting, whether you’re using a P2P connection for legal purposes or not. Take a look at our suggestions on the Best Torrenting VPNs for a safer option.

Usability and Support

When it comes to usability…where to begin?

After first installing the app, we struggled to open it. Every time, it would shut without any warning. After restarting our device, we were able to open it…but the clunky-ness of the app was very off-putting.

SurfEasy VPN app

The app, while compact, was overly simple.

SurfEasy settings

There were very little settings, no option to switch protocols, and overall the app was really buggy (and impossible to use if you have a high-contrast background on Windows).

SurfEasy Servers     SurfEasy Servers 2

Moving on, being told we need to reinstall the app if OpenVPN gave any trouble was also frustrating.

Support is a bit lackluster. The entirety of the FAQ section is outdated (as is the Features page). And, as already mentioned, getting a support agent on the live chat isn’t guaranteed even during their office hours.

As friendly as Arun was (we never dealt with another support agent), he wasn’t very knowledgeable. We had to explain basic VPN features like the kill switch to him and he had no idea what TOR was either:

SurfEasy chat support 2

How to Cancel SurfEasy VPN and Get Your Money Back

All-in-all, we don’t recommend SurfEasy as a VPN.

If you’ve been using it and are still eligible for their 14-day money-back guarantee (buried in the Terms of Service), here’s what to do:

  1. Contact the SurfEasy customer support team and ask to be refunded

That’s it.

So long as you made the purchase within the last 14 days, you’ll be refunded and your account will be cancelled. We suggest asking them outright to cancel your account too – there’s nothing concrete as to whether the subscription is automatically renewed or not.

FAQs

 

How much does SurfEasy VPN cost?

SurfEasy costs just $1.99 per month.

Does SurfEasy work for Netflix?

Only for Netflix US and Netflix Canada, and only sometimes.

Is SurfEasy safe?

Yes, but it’s missing a lot of security features and keeps user logs.

Is SurfEasy VPN any good?

No. All told, $1.99/month is too much to ask.

Does SurfEasy hide my IP address?

Yes, this is one of the few things SurfEasy is guaranteed to do.

Is SurfEasy a zero-logs VPN?

No, though it claims to be.

How do I cancel my SurfEasy VPN?

Yes, but refund requests must be made within 14 days of purchase.

Is SurfEasy safe in China?

No. Do not use SurfEasy in China under any circumstances. Instead opt for a more secure VPN such as ExpressVPN or NordVPN.

Mandee Rose

Mandee Rose

Mandee Rose is the editor and lead writer & researcher at TheVPNShop. A technical writer and blogger with 6+ years of experience in the cybersecurity sector. During her college years, she chased the dual-major of Cyber Security and Journalism while simultaneously offering freelance services online. As a result, Mandee was able to combine both of her passions by writing for companies like LatestHackingNews, BestVPN, Tactical Engine, Hoxhunt, AI Jobs (Medium Blog), and more. Today, she continues sharing her technical knowledge via investigative writing on topics like VPNs, programming, data breaches, artificial intelligence, and other infosec concepts.

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