SurfEasy is the name of the VPN service that we’ve decided to give a shot and test it on our systems, review it and give it a rating for your convenience. You know so that it’s easier to decide whether it’s good enough for you.
We understand that the volume of information in this review might be overwhelming, so we thought about it and decided to compile a list of topics that will be covered in the following sections so that you can access what’s relevant to you in a quick, convenient manner.
- Company information
- Canadian Jurisdiction
- Terms of service rundown
- A quick intro to SurfEasy
- Creating an account
- Downloading the app on your computer
- Checking the installer for malware
- Installing the application
- Running SurfEasy on your computer
- A bunch of extra features
- Messing with the settings
- List of servers
- Services that they can unlock
- TOR and torrenting support
- Customer support
- Security check-up results
- Speed Test results
- Trial included
- Pricing plans
SurfEasy, Inc. is based in 488 Wellington St. W., Toronto, ON, Canada, but are, however, owned by Symantec, a company known for their wide range of security software solutions such as the famous Norton Antivirus or the identity protection tool LifeLock.
So, as you can see, even though SurfEasy, Inc. is based in Ontario, Canada, the parent company (which is Symantec) is a U.S. – based company, which means that SurfEasy must comply with multiple regulation sets, both Canadian and U.S. ones.
Time for some good ol’ jurisdiction discussion, to understand how the location that the service’s based in can affect its policies and its overall functionality.
First of all, we have to mention that SurfEasy is based in Canada, and, while VPN usage is perfectly legal there, this country is a member of the 5, 9, 14 Eyes Alliances.
Reports show that although Canada generally promotes the freedom of speech, it comes with a bunch of restrictions regarding the content that’s available for its inhabitants.
The Canadian government doesn’t usually engage in blocking or filtering online content, but there are some exceptions when it comes to child pornography, as follows: content that’s hosted outside of Canada is blocked by ISPs and content that’s hosted within Canada is subjected to removal. (accessing child pornography is illegal in Canada).
More so, the fact that Canada is a member of the 5, 9, 14 Eyes Alliances means that their intelligence agencies are legally allowed to access and share massive surveillance data with other participant countries. More so, the fact that the parent company (Symantec) is based in the U.S.A. doesn’t make it better, since the U.S. are not also members of these alliances, but they’re founding members as well.
Terms of service rundown
Well, time to get our hands dirty again. Not in the literal sense, of course, but we do need to go knee-deep in SurfEasy’s Terms of Service documentation and bring you the essential clauses since most of you probably won’t bother reading the whole thing anyway.
- The Terms of Service document comes with a “Last updated” date somewhere at the top of the article. While they might notify you of any major change that goes on in their policy, you might want to check this date as often as possible;
- Using their service automatically counts as your acceptance of their Terms of Service, so if you don’t agree with any of the clauses within this document, you should stop using their service immediately;
- In theory, SurfEasy’s service should be enough to cover an average level of personal usage, your bandwidth might be limited or your account might be suspended if your usage is excessive, compared to the average usage mode;
- You may not use their service in such a manner that their network or other users are affected in a negative manner;
- They reserve the right to refuse providing their service to you if they believe it’s the right thing to do for their customers base;
- The terms might change from time to time, but if important changes occur, they’ll notify you via email;
- SurfEasy’s service might be used exclusively for your personal, non-commercial purposes. In other words, you may not use it to provide any commercial service or as any part of it;
- You are not allowed to use the service to obtain unauthorized access to any website, computer, device and the sort, or, in other words, engage in any fraudulent activities or ones that resemble or are related to hacking;
- You are not allowed to engage in any form of unsolicited communication (spamming) while using the SurfEasy service;
- You are not allowed to transmit any unlawful content, including but not limited to child pornography, content that promotes or incites to violence, hateful speech, defamation, and the sort;
- You are not allowed to use the service to violate any rights, including but not limited to intellectual rights, the right to privacy, confidentiality clauses, and the sort;
- SurfEasy shall not be held responsible for disruptions of their service that is caused by factors that are outside of their control;
- You are not allowed to sell, rent, resell, sub-license, distribute and/or lease their software and/or transfer any of your rights and obligations to third-parties;
- You’re not allowed to reverse engineer, disassemble, decompile and perform other similar actions on their applications, nor allow any third party to perform these operations;
- In case you violate or breach any of the terms listed here, you understand that SurfEasy, at their sole discretion, can and will terminate your use of the service;
- In case they detect any suspicious activity on your side, including but not limited to fraud, abuse, or illegal activity, they may refer it to appropriate law enforcement authorities;
- SurfEasy provides you with a 7-day ‘no questions asked hassle free’ money-back guarantee, but only if you purchase your SurfEasy subscription via the SurfEasy website or via Google Pay;
As you can see, the stuff is pretty standard. Bottom line is, if your purpose is finding a service that can aid you in breaking the law, SurfEasy is definitely not what you’re looking for.
- SurfEasy claims to be a “No Log network” which would translate in not storing originating IP addresses whenever you’re connected to the SurfEasy service;
- As a result of the claim mentioned above, there should be no way for SurfEasy to identify users whenever they’re provided with the IP addresses of the servers;
- The same claim means that SurfEasy is unable to disclose information regarding the applications, websites or services visited or used while you’re connected to their service. That means no activity is logged;
Data they access and collect and how it’s processed:
- Aggregate bandwidth usage – required for billing, support, and network operations;
- Temporary usage data – used with debugging service issues and is not retained after the issue has been solved;
- Internet and data traffic, such as destination website or IP address and originating IP address – used to “perform automated rules-based traffic management to maintain and improve the service.” They claim that this data is not logged, as the operations performed are entirely real-time;
- In-app telemetry data – analytics services (e.g. Google Analytics) are used to improve the service, its design, and the app experience;
So let me get this straight, they claim not to be logging activity data and originating IPs and the sort, but they do process it in a real-time fashion that doesn’t involve logs? No, thank you.
Personal data they collect:
- Your contact details (including your name, mailing address, phone number and email address);
- Billing and shipping information (credit card info, payment data);
- Your transaction history;
- Data that you voluntarily provide to them in order to receive technical support;
- Data that you may provide about other people using service such as Refer-a-Friend;
- Data about your device that includes your browser type and its settings, IP address, connection-related traffic data;
- Details on how you use their products and services;
How they process the collected personal data:
- Creating and managing your account;
- Verifying your identity and entitlement to products or services;
- Processing your purchase transactions;
- Keeping you updated on the status of your orders;
- Letting you register services or products that you’ve purchased;
- Managing your subscriptions;
- Providing you with technical support;
- Sending you product updates and marketing communications;
- Communicating with you during offers, promotions or contests;
- Asking for your opinion and/or feedback;
- Providing you with interest-based ads on other websites (targeted advertisement);
Those are the highlights that might pique your interest regarding how SurfEasy and Symantec collect and use your data. As you can see, there’s a lot of collected data, and although they claim not to log activity and identification data while you’re connected to their service, they actively monitor it.
A quick intro to SurfEasy
According to their website, SurfEasy is a VPN service that embraces a “strict no-log network,” uses bank-grade encryption to make sure that your data remains out of the reach of malevolent entities, provides you with dedicated torrenting servers, comes with a tracker blocker and lets you choose from 500 servers in 28 countries (and, reportedly, counting).
More so, you can connect to the service from up to 5 devices at the same time without any bandwidth limitation imposed on you and choose from several device types to deploy the service on, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Amazon, but also Opera and Chrome extensions.
Creating an account
Creating a SurfEasy account is a walk in the park since it doesn’t require you to perform any complicated operations. In fact, all you have to do to register an account is:
- Navigate to the landing page;
- Click the “Get started” button in the top-right corner of your screen;
- Choose the plan that appeals to you the most by clicking its corresponding “Get Started” button;
- Fill in your details (email address, password, password confirmation);
- Choose your favorite payment option;
- Fill in your payment information and billing details;
- Click the “Purchase” button;
You’re done! You’ve purchased a subscription plan and you now own a SurfEasy account.
Downloading the app on your computer
Compared to other VPN services, SurfEasy doesn’t provide you with any download link, not until you register for an account, that is. The reason why you can’t access download links before creating an account is that they’re only available in the dashboard. But we’ve got you covered on this one, too.
- Navigate to the landing page;
- Log into your account by using the “Login” button in the top-right corner of the screen;
- Type your credentials in the designated fields;
- Locate the “Download” section on the left-hand menu of your dashboard;
- Click the appropriate download button depending on the device you want to fetch the VPN for;
You can choose from Windows, OSX, MacOS (App Store), Opera, Chrome, iPhone/iPad, Android, and Amazon.
Now you’re done.
Checking the installer for malware
As a rule of thumb, you should remember that any and every source you have, no matter how trustworthy, can be targeted by attacks, especially nowadays with the attacks getting stronger and smarter. So please consider checking everything that comes in contact with your computer with a dedicated tool.
We check the documents we download from the Internet with VirusTotal. We understand that it may not be totally accurate (0-days are not that easy to pick up every time), but it is far way better than not checking your downloaded files at all.
The SurfEasy installer came in with one alert (albeit a menacing sounding one), a Trojan Downloader which was picked up by Dr. Web. We understand that this might be just another false positive, but we can’t let this slip this easily, especially not when the signers of the installer are Symantec, a well-known security firm. Here’s the link to our results and also our screenshots below.
Installing the application
While we’re not going to write a detailed tutorial on how to install SurfEasy on your PC (since it’s not necessary), we’re still going to describe the process.
- Double-click the downloaded installer;
- Grant it Administrator rights to run on your PC by clicking “Yes” when prompted;
- Accept the License Agreement by hitting the “I agree” button;
- Wait for the process to unfold;
- Check or uncheck the “Run SurfEasy VPN” button according to your preferences;
- Hit the “Finish” button;
The version we’ve installed on our computer is 3.13.41.
Running SurfEasy on your computer
The main window of the application prompts you with a brief presentation of the VPN service, along with the features it claims to be providing you with and a “Sign In” button that you can use to, you guessed, log into your account.
After logging into your account, you’ll be prompted with a greeting message that can be easily dismissed. Note that after logging into your account, SurfEasy will automatically look for a server and connect you to it, unlike other services that let you perform this action by yourself.
The main window of the app is kind of small but holds all the essential parts in a well-organized manner. The globe-shaped button can be used to switch servers and the gear-shaped button enables you to perform various app-related actions.
A bunch of extra features
SurfEasy comes with a few extra features that can simplify the way you interact with the application and provide you with a more stable, richer VPN experience at the same time.
You can notice straight from the main window that an ad tracker blocking feature is available for you to use and, if you’re curious enough to explore the menu behind the gear-shaped button, you’ll also see that a Wi-Fi security feature is available for you to use at your leisure.
Messing with the settings
Now come the settings. If you’re the tinkerer type, you’ll be highly disappointed when you come to realize that the settings menu is just like a fake pocket. It looks nice but doesn’t do much.
If you click the gear-shaped button and access the “Settings” section of this combo menu, you’ll see that the only actions you’ll be able to perform are enabling the app to launch at startup and signing out of your account.
The lack of advanced features such as protocol choosing, selecting the port or encryption mode, activating a kill switch or enabling split tunneling is disheartening, to say the least.
List of servers
Although we were unable to find a full list of servers that SurfEasy operates and gives you access to (by the way, it gets rarer and rarer to find a full list like this), we could spot a list of SurfEasy regions instead. They claim to be having over 1000 servers in 28 countries.
It’s not exactly clear what “All plans” and “Ultra plan” refer to, but one of them clearly has a bunch of extra regions that you can connect to. Our best guess is that, since they’re providing you with a trial (oops, we’ve spoiled the surprise for you), the “All Plans” section refers to the servers used in the trial version and the “Ultra Plan” is for subscription buyers.
Still, the list isn’t quite impressive and, maybe you’ve noticed that the server count in the features section (500 servers) is quite different than the one in this section (over 1000), so we’re guessing that one of the pages (most likely the feature one) is outdated.
Services that they can unlock
We’re glad to tell you that SurfEasy is perfectly capable of unlocking some of the most popular entertainment services on the market, including Netflix (along with its U.S.) version, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify and BBC iPlayer.
However, many of these entertainment services have waged war on VPN providers and users alike and are constantly trying to prevent them from accessing their services, so our advice is to enjoy this situation while it still lasts.
TOR and torrenting support
It’s widely known that a frequent reason for anyone to consider starting to use a VPN is that they want a little (lot) more privacy, especially when engaging in P2P file-sharing activities or torrenting.
So naturally, we’ve decided to give it a shot and test if we can use a torrenting client (in a legal manner, of course) while still connected to SurfEasy. And the result is extremely positive! If you make sure to connect to a “Torrent Optimized” server before launching your torrent client, everything should be a-okay.
Now for its TOR capabilities. While the service is certainly capable of running in conjunction with TOR (TOR over VPN), you might want to check the implications of doing such a thing. For once, your connection will get REALLY slow (although you’ll add an extra layer of security on top of it) and if you’re ‘lucky’ enough to stumble upon a malicious TOR exit node, your traffic will most likely be monitored, since these nodes usually pass traffic in an unencrypted form.
SurfEasy has everything you need regarding customer support, including a live chat system, a call center, and an email support system, so they’ve pretty much got you covered.
On the downside, their live chat system isn’t a 24/7 one, so you’ll have to check their schedule if you feel like talking to them. At this moment, they run their live chat on a 9 to 5 schedule, from Monday to Sunday, EST.
We’ve communicated with them on both live chat and email, and we were nothing short of pleased of how it went. However, if you’re not a fan of human interaction, you can just go ahead and browser their article database.
Security check-up results
For the security tests, we’ve connected to a server located in the United States of America, although the application doesn’t tell us exactly where this server is really located, so we’re going to have to settle with the test results. Our security tests will be performed just as described here.
Conclusion: After running all of our tests on the three distinct services, we’ve reached a conclusion: SurfEasy doesn’t leak IP, DNS, WebRTC and Flash IP data. Even though we’ve detected some inconsistencies (?) regarding the server’s location, we believe it’s a result of using virtual servers instead of physical ones, so we’ve decided that it’s not a major issue.
Speed test results
We’ve handpicked a bunch of servers to perform the speed tests on since we need to see how the service behaves in different locations. By this, we mean that we want to check if the speed is as fast on servers that are far away than it is for servers that are closer to our actual locations.
The speed test results are back and are as follows:
- U.S.A. – 7.8 Mbps;
- Germany – 14 Mbps;
- Hong Kong – 16 Mbps;
- Australia – 9 Mbps;
- South Africa – 8.4 Mbps;
- Brazil – 9 Mbps;
As you can see, the speed results are not looking good at all. The same test was performed without being connected to a SurfEasy VPN server, and the result was 143 Mbps. The speed values we’ve obtained while connected to SurfEasy seem incredibly throttled, although casually using the Internet (browsing, watching a video) doesn’t seem like it.
You have probably figured out already if you were paying attention to some sections above that SurfEasy provides you with a free trial that you can use before committing to purchasing a subscription plan. Unfortunately, the trial isn’t exactly a breath-taking offer, since you’re offered the low amount of 500 Mbs worth of bandwidth that you can use before you need to buy a subscription plan.
On the bright side, you don’t need to submit private information about yourself such as your credit card information and the such in order to take the trial out for a test drive. The only thing you need to do is register for an account, select the “Starter” edition, download the installer, deploy the app on your computer and start testing it.
Here’s the list of prices that SurfEasy fashions on their website at this moment:
|No discount||No discount||No discount||No discount||20% off||46% off|
|5 devices||5 devices||5 devices||5 devices||5 devices||5 devices|
|500MB free data||Unlimited data||Unlimited data||500MB free data||Unlimited data||Unlimited data|
|Tracker blocking||Tracker blocking||Tracker blocking||Tracker blocking|
|Torrent Protection||Torrent Protection|
|12 additional countries||12 additional countries|
To wrap it up, SurfEasy is a VPN service that can help you secure your connection and keep it private, away from prying eyes. They’re based in Ontario, Canada, but their parent company is Symantec, which is based in the U.S., so they have to comply with both sets of regulations, U.S. and Canadian ones alike.
The bad news is that both Canada and the U.S. are part of the 5, 9, 14 Eyes Alliances. More so, the U.S. is actually a founding member of this alliance that allows its member countries to help each other in collecting and sharing mass surveillance data in a perfectly legal manner. Aka not exactly what you’d wish for when choosing a VPN.
SurfEasy’s terms of service are pretty standard, but there’s one thing that really sticks: they’re totally against any kind of law breaking and will gladly help authorities bust you if the need arises. So if your sole purpose is to find a VPN that can help you cloak your unlawful behavior, keep looking.
The application itself is pretty intuitive and straightforward, meaning that you don’t really need to be a rocket engineer to operate it. It’s a two button operation if you want to get your connection private and secure. However, during our malware scan, we did detect a trojan installer, which is most likely a false positive, but since the signers of the installer are Symantec themselves, we find it unacceptable.
SurfEasy comes with a bunch of extra features, actually a couple of them: an ad tracking blocker and a wi-fi security feature, which are equally easy to activate. However, no kill switch, split tunneling, protocol switch or port selector options are included within the app, which might be a major letdown for power users who like to be in control.
The security tests that we’ve performed on this service have shown that there were a bunch of inconsistencies regarding the server’s location, as all three tests detected the server to be in another location than the previous one. However, we’ve considered this to be a minor inconvenience, probably caused by using virtual servers instead of physical ones. Aside from that, no leak (IP, DNS, WebRTC or Flash IP) was detected.
Our speed tests have concluded that SurfEasy comes with very slow servers since our speed was slowed down from 143 Mbps to 8.4 Mbps on the slowest location and 16 Mbps for the fastest one. Not good.
More so, the count of servers isn’t exactly known, as they claim to be having “more than 1000” servers, and we could only find a list of supported locations, which range from 16 to 28, depending on the plan you chose.
On the bright side, SurfEasy is capable of unlocking Netflix (along with its U.S.) version, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify and BBC iPlayer. It works with TOR and supports torrenting, offering you torrent-optimized servers in their selection.
The prices aren’t exactly sky-rocket high and they do offer a 500 Mbs free trial. More so, they have a 7-day money-back guarantee, so if you change your mind, it’s okay to ask for a refund, especially since their money-back policy is a “no questions asked” one.
Do we recommend SurfEasy? No. It has some logging, its servers are slow, and for the amount, they charge you can find another VPN outside of the 5, 9, 14 Eyes Alliances. However, if you just want it for Netflix and the such, you can give it a go.
+ No leaks detected; (5)
+ Works with TOR and torrenting; (5)
+ Can unlock Netflix and other popular services; (5)
+ Free limited trial; (3)
– Some logging and monitoring; (0)
– Targeted advertisement; (0)
– Poor speed; (0)
– Some inconsistencies regarding server location; (1)
– Canada and U.S. are both members of the 5, 9, 14 Eyes Alliances; (0)
– No kill switch, split tunneling or advanced settings available; (1)
– Malware checker picked up a trojan in the installer (probably false-positive); (0)
SurfEasy receives a 1.81/5 rating.