You could be forgiven for not having heard of SurfEasy before. SurfEasy is a smaller, lesser-known VPN provider based in Canada. It’s owned by the well-known antivirus company, Norton. Just like every other VPN out there, SurfEasy claims to be fast, private, and secure. But marketing tends to mean very little without data to back up those claims. So I put the service through its paces.
This SurfEasy review answers the following questions:
- How fast is SurfEasy?
- Does SurfEasy work with streaming sites, like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+?
- How private and secure is SurfEasy?
- Does it work in China and other restricted jurisdictions?
- How is its customer support?
All of the above questions, and more, are answered in this review. If you have the time to read the whole thing, I would recommend doing so—to get the complete picture. If time is at a premium for you right now, you can go ahead and read the summary of my thoughts below.
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SurfEasy is a smaller VPN provider—and it shows. I mean that it has many of the same issues that many, if not most, smaller providers also have. So for starters, SurfEasy’s website is not very informative. Aside from vague marketing statements, I didn’t learn much. SurfEasy supports only OpenVPN—a secure protocol—but the website doesn’t tell you. All it states is that it uses “bank-grade encryption” (thanks for that). The speeds it provides are, at best, terrible. And, as expected, the further away you are from the VPN server you connect to, the worse it gets.
SurfEasy Key data
|OVERALL RANK: #61 of 75 VPNs|
|Average Speed*:||15.9 Mbps|
|Video Streaming Support:||4K UHD|
|Other Streaming Services:||No|
|Encryption Type:||128/256-bit AES|
|Log Policy:||No-logging policy but logs a lot of user data|
|Value for Money|
|Lowest Monthly Cost:||$2.49|
|Money Back Guarantee:||14-day money-back guarantee|
How does SurfEasy compare to other popular VPNs?
Here’s how SurfEasy compares to ExpressVPN and NordVPN:
|No value||SurfEasy VPN||ExpressVPN||NordVPN|
|Website||surfeasy.com||ExpressVPN.com||NordVPN.com||Average Speed (Mbps)||15.9 Mbps||193 Mbps||196 Mbps||OpenVPN data encryption||128/256-bit AES||256-bit AES||256-bit AES||Kill Switch||desktop only||Allows Torrenting||Connection logs||No-logging policy but logs a lot of user data||Some aggregated data||None||Unblocks Netflix US||Unblocks Prime Video||Unblocks Hulu||Unblocks BBC iPlayer||Lowest monthly cost||$2.49||$6.67||$3.29||Money back guarantee||14 days||30 days||30 days||Overall rating||2.5||9.3||9.7|
|Best deal (per month)|
$2.49 per month for the annual plan
SAVE: 49% on the annual plan
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SurfEasy pros and cons
- Provides an adblocker
- Prices are decent
- Works with Netflix US
- Kill switch
- Good customer service
- Uninformative website
- Very poor speeds
- It does not work well with streaming sites
- Logs a lot of user data
- Practically no features beyond the VPN itself
- It does not support many platforms/operating systems
- It does not work in China
- Its app could use a redesign
Speed: How fast is SurfEasy?
Well, if you read my summary above, you already know that SurfEasy’s speeds are not very good (at all). And you’re going to feel it even as you browse—particularly if you download larger files. Speed is always going to be critical to any VPN provider. But SurfEasy definitely falls short.
I performed my speed tests over networks located in North America, Asia, and Europe. Here are the averages speeds broken down by region:
- North America (where I am located): 27.6 Mbps
- Asia: 1.5 Mbps
- Europe: 18.6 Mbps
Globally, across all times and locations tested, SurfEasy averaged out to 15.9 Mbps. That’s nothing to write home about (except perhaps to complain about the slow speeds).
I conducted all of my tests using the OpenVPN protocol. SurfEasy only supports the OpenVPN protocol on macOS, Windows, and Android. On iOS, it only supports IKEv2. While it would be nice for SurfEasy to add support for WireGuard, at least OpenVPN and IKEv2 are secure protocols.
As usual, I also tested SurfEasy with online gaming. And that worked well. Online gaming doesn’t require a lot of bandwidth, but it needs good ping times (low latency) to be snappy. I connected to a server close to my actual physical location, and gaming was smooth. I did experience one freeze-up, but it’s hard to pin down the cause. It’s happened before over different VPNs and over my raw ISP connection. So, I would say that performance for gaming was adequate.
See also: Fastest VPNs
Apps and devices
SurfEasy doesn’t support a long list of devices. It sticks to the basics. That means that it supports:
That’s it. No routers, Linux, or browser extensions. That’s an opportunity for improvement on SurfEasy’s part.
Its client app is straightforward to use—but it could really use an update as it looks and feels dated. Nevertheless, it enables you to connect to the VPN server—and not much more. As I said above, its app is simple to a fault.
Clicking the globe icon at the top right of the app brings up the server list. At the top of the list, we can see two options:
- SurfEasy Optimized: This is SurfEasy’s automatic server selection option. If you select this option, the app will select the fastest server from your current location automatically.
- Torrent Optimized: As its name states, this will route your connection to SurfEasy’s dedicated torrenting servers. In my tests, as soon as I started torrenting, the app automatically switched to a ‘torrent optimized’ server. That was kind of cool.
Clicking the gear icon at the top left displays the app’s settings—of which there are very few.
So you can enable or disable the adblocker and the kill switch (called Wi-fi Security). You can connect and disconnect the VPN—which you can do in the app’s main UI anyway. And you can log out of the app. While simplicity is usually a good thing, even good things can be taken too far. It would be nice to be able to choose between OpenVPN over UDP or TCP. Another thing I would have liked is to be able to select the port over which to establish the VPN tunnel. And having access to more than just one protocol—however secure it may be—would have been nice too.
Speaking of the tracker blocker, details are scarce on SurfEasy’s website. All we get is this:
It’s very likely to be DNS-based filtering. Your DNS requests are checked against a list of known trackers. If there’s a match, the connection is dropped. If not, it goes through. I appreciate this feature from VPN providers.
SurfEasy does not support routers at this time. We have another opportunity for improvement here. We hope to see router support come to SurfEasy. Setting up a VPN connection on your router has quite a few benefits. For one thing, it enables you to bypass the limit placed on simultaneous connections by your VPN provider.
That’s because you can connect as many devices to the router as you like. And they will all be tunneled through the VPN. But only the router counts as an active connection. It’s also quite convenient to connect to a VPN server simply by connecting to your router, without the need for an app.
We hope to see router support soon.
If you’d like to learn more about setting up a VPN connection on your router, check out our recommended VPNs for routers.
Streaming and Netflix
Accessing streaming sites over a VPN has become tricker and trickier lately. Many VPN providers claim to be able to provide consistent access to streaming sites—and many are. But it’s not necessarily straightforward as there may be a lot of server-surfing involved before you find one that actually works.
SurfEasy doesn’t mention streaming in its marketing. And that’s probably a good thing because its performance on streaming wasn’t great. I was only able to access Netflix US. That’s it. I wasn’t able to access Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, or Disney+. And none of the UK-based services worked either. That means no BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, or 4All.
I don’t want to knock SurfEasy too much with this one. It doesn’t make grandiose claims about its streaming performance, and despite that, I was still able to access Netflix US. So this is fine in my book. There are many VPN providers out there—good ones—that prefer steering clear of the whole streaming issue. I get that. A VPN is meant primarily for privacy and security. Focusing on the core mission is just fine.
Still, if streaming over VPN is something that you’d like to explore, have a look at our best VPNs for streaming.
Does SurfEasy support torrenting?
Yes, it does. Again, it doesn’t mention torrenting in its marketing (not sure why). But it does list it on its pricing page. And, as stated above, its client app provides access to P2P-optimized servers. That probably just means non-Western European or North American servers.
In my tests, the app recognized that I was attempting to torrent, and it automatically switched me over to a torrenting server. That was pretty cool. However, given UltraSurf’s abysmal speeds, that was where the fun stopped. My torrent downloads were slow. Really, really slow.
So while the torrenting part worked really well, UltraSurf’s poor speeds ruined the experience. It needs to fix its speed issues if it wants to compete.
If torrenting over VPN is important to you, check out our recommended VPNs for torrenting.
Does SurfEasy support split tunneling?
Split tunneling or selective routing is a feature that allows you to choose where you route your traffic: through either the VPN or through your default ISP connection. You can typically do this on an app-by-app basis or domain by domain, or both. It’s become a prevalent feature among VPN providers today.
We have yet another opportunity for improvement on SurfEasy’s part here.
If you’re looking for a VPN provider that supports the feature, have a look at our best VPNs for split tunneling.
Security, privacy, and logging
So, SurfEasy collects:
- Your originating IP address
- App install identifiers
- App license identifiers
- Your device name
- Your device’s operating system and language
- Bandwidth data
- Usage and diagnostics data
That’s quite a bit of data. Also, it doesn’t specify what it explicitly does not collect. So we’re left with a provider that collects quite a bit of user data and vague no-logging claims. That’s not exactly ideal.
Also, the first three data points on the list are particularly concerning—especially the originating IP address—as these can be used by third parties to uniquely identify you by correlating your traffic with one of these identifiers.
In terms of protocols and encryption, SurfEasy only supports OpenVPN and IKEv2— that’s fine as both protocols are very secure. However, it would have been nice to see support for WireGuard, also very secure. As far as the encryption used, all we get from SurfEasy’s website is:
Seeing as how SurfEasy exclusively uses OpenVPN and IKEv2, my money would be on 128/256-bit AES. I wrote to its Support department to confirm, and sure enough, it uses 128-bit AES encryption. I was actually expecting them to use 256-bit AES, not because 128-bit AES isn’t secure, but because it tends to be faster than 256. Given SurfEasy’s poor speeds, I assumed it would be the latter. It’s not.
Moving on to IP and DNS leak tests, I was happy to see that SurfEasy wasn’t vulnerable to either one.
IP Test—No VPN
IP Test—With VPN
DNS Test—No VPN
DNS Test—With VPN
Contrary to most smaller VPN providers, SurfEasy actually has quite an extensive network of servers. It claims to have over 2000 servers (take that ‘ultra fast’ claim with a ton of salt) in 31 countries.
That’s a lot of servers in my book. As you may know, I prefer smaller server networks, but I also don’t need access to a massive number of locations. That’s just me. Either way, SurfEasy provides more than enough servers.
Does SurfEasy work in China?
Having an uninformative website means that a lot of information is going to be challenging to find. And that was the case with trying to find out whether or not the service works in China. Finding nothing in its marketing or its knowledge base, I wrote to its Support department to find this out as well. And it does not. SurfEasy is straightforward about this and doesn’t mention it anywhere in its marketing, so it’s all good.
Of course, if connecting from China is important to you, you’ll need to look elsewhere. We produced an in-depth article in which he tests over 50 VPN providers to see if they work in China. It might be worth checking out.
How is SurfEasy’s customer support
Support from SurfEasy comes in the form of an email ticket system. And online chat would have been nice, but we don’t have that here.
I wrote to SurfEasy’s Support department quite a few times during my review. This is because information on its website is somewhat limited. However, each time I wrote to its Support department, I got a reply within a few hours, and the answers I got were helpful and to the point. It wasn’t always the answer I was hoping for, but it nonetheless answered my query directly.
Also, SurfEasy sent me some follow-up emails to ensure I got the information I needed, which is nice.
All in all, I have to say that SurfEasy’s customer service was excellent. Credit where credit is due.
SurfEasy’s pricing structure is simple—I like that. It offers two subscriptions:
- Yearly: $29.88—works out to $2.49 per month (GBP £22.43/£1.86 a month)
- Monthly: $5.99 (GBP £4.49)
Both the monthly and yearly plans provide the same features. And they both allow up to five simultaneous connections and come with a 14-day money-back guarantee.
I have to say, SurfEasy’s prices are quite good. Many smaller VPNs tend to up their prices in an attempt to appear higher tier (I believe) when they should be doing what SurfEasy is doing: offering its service at an affordable price to try and attract customers.
However, with the adblocker being SurfEasy’s only standout feature, I’m not sure how many customers they’ll actually attract, regardless of price.
Do I recommend SurfEasy?
No, I don’t. For two main reasons:
- Its speeds are poor
- It logs too much user data for my tastes
When providing VPN services, you absolutely need to make sure that your service isn’t going to bog down your customers’ connections. If it does, there’s a good chance that the customers you do have won’t renew. Have that happen often enough, and you might run out of customers altogether. SurfEasy should really work on raising its speeds.
The other main reason I can’t recommend SurfEasy is due to its collection practices. Despite vague no-logging claims, SurfEasy collects much more data than the more established premium VPN providers. There’s simply no reason to collect that much user data. They should review their policy.
However, it’s not all bad. The service doesn’t leak IP or DNS addresses, which is good. It also provides access to Netflix US. And it also provides an adblocker—not all VPN providers do—and a kill switch in all apps. So there is some good. Its prices are fair as well.
But when you compare the bad to the good, the bad wins. And it wins because if you were to sign up to one of SurfEasy’s competitors listed below, you would fix the bad (poor speeds and over logging) and get more good than what SurfEasy offers.
SurfEasy is not recommended. Have a look at its competition below, and you’ll understand why.
SurfEasy VPN alternatives
Surfshark supports secure VPN protocols and performs exceptionally well on most streaming sites. It adheres to a strict no-logging policy, and the service also works in China. On top of that, Surfshark allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections. It also recently updated all of its servers to run from RAM. Worth checking out.
ExpressVPN is one of the more prominent players in the commercial VPN market and benefits from an excellent reputation. Its privacy and security practices are outstanding. All of its VPN servers run from volatile memory (RAM) and are booted from read-only disks. This setup pretty much guarantees that no remnant data (logs) can exist on the system’s hard drives, which is a boon for user privacy. ExpressVPN may be a little more expensive than most providers out there, but it’s fast, secure, unblocks streaming sites, and works in China.
Methodology used for testing
Below you’ll find the criteria used to assess the VPNs we review. It’s essential to be consistent across the board so that our reviews are reasonably objective and that we’re not comparing apples to oranges.
- Speed – Speed is a critical factor for any VPN. Slow speeds can be quite frustrating on top of preventing you from streaming or even browsing the web. We make sure that all of our recommended VPNs score very high in our most recent speed tests to address this issue.
- Apps and ease of use – VPNs are more popular than ever, and are now used for more purposes than ever. So app design and its ease-of-use will be more critical than ever as well. We look at the client apps’ UI, the features they provide, the supported operating systems, and their complexity to make sure you get the complete picture.
- Streaming services – Accessing streaming platforms over VPN is at the very least challenging these days. But many VPN providers claim to do just that— with varying degrees of success. Before recommending a VPN provider for streaming, we test them against various popular streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Disney+, Hulu, and more.
- Torrenting – P2P file-sharing is pretty much a staple feature among VPN providers. However, torrenting performance isn’t streamlined in the VPN industry. Some VPN providers disallow torrenting over their network, while others provide dedicated P2P servers. We look at each VPN provider’s policy on torrenting and test them to see how well they handle file-sharing. We also look for torrent-friendly security features like kill switches and split tunneling.
The above represents a high-level view of our methodology. If you’d like more details, have a look at our full VPN testing methodology. This data-driven approach helps us better understand the services to recommend the right VPN to the right users.