- Lots of Servers: There are more than 1000 servers in this VPN network. These servers are located across 28 different countries and should be enough to bypass most of the geo restrictions.
- Encryption: The data is encrypted with AES 256-bit encryption which is military grade encryption, and almost impossible to penetrate.
- Speed: The service gives a high-speed VPN connection throughout the network. The user can expect to get more than eighty percent on the original speed on the network.
- US Jurisdiction: The parent company is based in the USA. We all know that the USA is one of the 5-Eyes countries, and they don’t have a good record when it comes to dealing with the privacy of the citizens.
- No IPv6 support: The IPv6 support on the client is missing, and this can compromise the user’s privacy on the network.
- No kill-switch: There is no kill-switch on the client as well. A kill-switch can stop the web traffic if the VPN connection stopped for any reason. It will thus save the user’s private data from getting abused on the internet without the safety of the VPN.
A US-based company called Symantec owns SurfEasy.
The USA is among the 5-Eyes countries and infamous for spying on its citizens. We will discuss more of this unfavorable jurisdiction in the later sections.
One noticeable fact about SurfEasy is that its mobile applications are quite popular. The Play Store application has witnessed more than 5 million downloads of the SurfEasy app.
The service makes a lot of claims about superior performance, robust security, and strict privacy.
We will put all these claims to test in this review, and the fact that the product is so much popular on some platforms, it obliges us to be thorough with the testing.
However, our primary focus will be on the desktop version throughout the review.
Security is something that we never miss, and all the security features will also go through the scanner.
By the end of this review, you will have a better knowledge about the ins and outs of the product.
We have stated the importance of the server network a lot of times. We have explained how a dense and vast server network aids a faster and more reliable VPN connection.
It helps if the server is in the vicinity of the user as it often leads to better speeds on the network.
Similarly, if there are a lot of servers in the VPN network, the possibility of coming across traffic bottleneck because of high traffic density on a server reduces significantly.
And lastly, the number of servers in a network also indicates the popularity of the service.
SurfEasy has more than 1000 servers across 28 countries at the time of this review. The subscribers of the ‘Ultra Plan’ get access to all the 28 country servers. Rest of the users with other plans need to contend with 16 servers only.
If we take a look at all the 28 countries, then the server network looks spread out, but the default 16 server locations don’t seem enough on their own.
The server network seems apt only for the users in America and Europe. Rest of the regions don’t get many servers, and the users in these regions are more likely to get an inefficient service because of this drawback.
The servers have not been sorted on the client in any way. The service also lacks dedicated servers for activities such as streaming, P2P file sharing, gaming, etc.
Dedicated servers make it much easier for users to choose the specialized servers for their specific needs.
For instance, the media enterprises in countries like France and the USA make the existence of those services really tough which allow torrenting and P2P file sharing through their servers.
Therefore, it is more likely that P2P file sharing won’t be allowed if the user is connected to a server in one such country. On the other hand, there are a few countries which don’t mind torrenting that much.
The service can have dedicated P2P servers with large bandwidths in such countries. A similar case can be made for the rest of the activities such as gaming and streaming as well.
We always prefer dedicated servers and server sorting on a VPN client. It not only makes the client more user friendly but increases the appeal of the service as well.
SurfEasy needs to improve network coverage, provide dedicated servers, and enable server sorting to keep the users interested.
SurfEasy VPN is the property of Symantec. It is a software company which is based in the United States of America. It is not a good omen in the VPN world when a 5-Eyes country is mentioned next to jurisdiction.
The USA is one of the 5-Eyes countries. For those of who don’t know 5-Eyes is a penta-national group in which all the members have a robust surveillance system, and it is strengthened further by the sharing of the intelligence data between these countries.
NSA, which is a government intelligence agency of the USA was also found involved in spying on its own citizens.
Such a country can’t be expected to take care of individual privacy, and therefore the USA is among the locations which should be avoided at any cost by a VPN service.
However, even after such possible implications, a lot of the VPN services are based in the USA. One possible reason can be the availability of suitable resources and infrastructure in the country.
SurfEasy claims that they have a no logs policy. But we find it difficult to agree with them.
But they also mention that they don’t store this information and use it only for some rule-based traffic management.
Other data which they collect is the bandwidth usage, temporary usage data, and in-app telemetry data.
They employ analytics services which make use of some of this data to help them improve the service.
Talking about poorly written policies, there terms of service agreement was also full of flaws. It had a lot of hyperlinks missing.
Connection Time Analysis
|Trial No.||Time to establish a connection (seconds)|
|Avg. Time In Seconds||7.715|
The connection time is not given much attention when one considers a VPN service. But they don’t realize that the connection times gives a lot of information about the performance of the client.
However, we don’t leave any stone unturned when we review a product. So, we did the connection time analysis for SurfEasy.
The average time 7.7 seconds to establish a connection is not the best, but it indicates that the client is slightly on the faster side.
We have come across some VPN services which give an average connection time less than three seconds, and some which take more than 25 seconds on an average to connect to the VPN network.
One area which we felt concerned about in the analysis is the consistency of the client as you can already see that the connection time kept varying with the number of trials.
We also came across times when the service stopped responding, and we had to forcefully shut down the application and run it again.
This is an indication of the fact that the client is not among the reliable ones. The user may come across scenarios when the client does not connect to the VPN network, and they may have to follow the same steps as us.
However, on the brighter side, the client takes only a few seconds to connect to the network.
The importance of speed on the VPN network is obvious. The user wants to have a secure connection, but at the same time wishes to keep doing all the usual tasks on the internet such as streaming and online gaming.
Such tasks require high-speed internet connections. Very often we have seen that VPN services are loaded with security features, but they are unable to provide high-speed connections.
There cannot be a bigger turn-off then a slow internet connection. The stats also suggest that the services which reach the VPN summit are most often the best combinations of speed and security.
SurfEasy has got it right when it comes to speed. We did the speed test on the service, and it exceeded our expectations.
We first tried the ‘SurfEasy Optimized’ server which is their version of automatic server selection. The output speed that we got was more than 93% of the initial speed.
The speed was excellent on the server, and we faced no issue with the connection. Breaking the 90% mark gets the service into an exclusive club of fast VPN services.
We then tried a few other servers on the network as well. However, we should mention that it is not easy to switch servers on the client.
We got more than 80% of the original speed on the rest of the servers as well. For the Netherlands, the UK, and the US we got 83%, 83%, and 81% of the original speed respectively.
Keeping in mind that these server locations were not in our vicinity, the speeds are excellent. A VPN service which gives more than 80% of the original speed across the server network is worthy of the tag of ‘a fast VPN service.’
Security on the internet has now become a more significant concern than the physical security of properties for a lot of people. It is impossible to imagine live without internet these days.
People put information about their lives on the internet on a daily basis. A simple log of the goggle searches by a person is enough to know about his/her preferences. This is the basis of most of the online advertising these days.
We are also witnessing cyber crimes on a rise because the cybercriminals also realize how easy it can be to manipulate people using their online data. It is quite common to witness new kinds of cyberattacks these days.
The primary function of a VPN service is to keep the user’s online data safe and private. The VPN services need to stay a step ahead of the cybercriminals to succeed in their endeavor.
Now that we have emphasized the importance of online security let us discuss what all measures have SurfEasy employed to keep the user’s data safe.
The data is encrypted with AES 256-bit encryption. It is military grade encryption, and it is the best that any VPN service can offer.
It is also worth noting that majority of the VPN services employ this encryption as it is virtually impenetrable. The cyber criminals are aware of these facts as well.
Therefore, most of the cyberattacks are focused on finding loopholes in other security aspects of the service rather than trying to decrypt the data with brute force.
This is when the protocols and other security features become essential.
The customer support on the service informed us that the protocols available on the service are OpenVPN and IPSec. However, there is no way for the user to change the protocol on the client.
We believe that the OpenVPN is used on desktop clients, and the IPSec protocol is used for the mobile applications.
But we don’t have any concrete backing up of this information, and it is merely our expectation from the service with two protocols.
OpenVPN is the most popular protocol among the VPN services as it gives the right balance of security and speed and service. There are a few protocols faster than OpenVPN, but they are not as secure as OpenVPN.
With OpenVPN protocol and 256-bit data encryption, SurfEasy provides satisfactory service to users.
But as we mentioned earlier, cybercriminals are coming up with new ways to jeopardize the data of the users. This calls for added security measures.
There is Wi-Fi Security on the client which makes the device automatically connect to the VPN network when the user joins an unsafe network. Such unsafe networks can be free Wi-Fi at cafes and airports.
There is no IPv6 support on this service. It can cause an IP mismatch while the user is connected to the VPN network, and thus it may lead to IP leak. Such a leak can compromise the location of the user, and therefore the privacy as well.
The internet kill-switch is non-existent on the client as well. A kill-switch stops the internet traffic if the VPN connection drops.
It prevents the user’s data from getting out on the internet with the security of the VPN. The kill-switch becomes even more critical on SurfEasy because we came across a lot of the situation when the client stopped responding abruptly.
This happened for most of the times that we tried changing the server location. The service provider needs to address both the issues, that is, providing a kill-switch as well as making server switching easy.
We were denied any information about the DNS servers in the network. The customer support told us that it is classified information.
We are not sure if the service has its own DNS servers or not. But certain DNS test indicated that they use Google Public DNS servers.
The security measures on the client need some serious strengthening. All the top tier VPN services have the security measures that we discussed.
And the security of the user’s data should be the top most priority and comes next to none.
User Interface and Experience
The user interface has a huge role to play when it comes to the overall success of the product. A properly designed user interface showcases all the essential features.
Users get to know a lot about the service just by navigating through the user interface. It should also be evident that a user interface can only be as good as the product.
The user interface on the SurfEasy client is not the one with the best design. The priorities on the user interface don’t feel at the right place as well.
There is so much that could have been better when it comes to the design of the user interface. The service provider somehow felt that free VPN data of a mere 100 to 500 MB has more importance than options such as secure Wi-Fi and server selection.
The client failed miserably to highlight the only few features available on the client. The fact that the client keeps crashing when the user tries to switch servers does not help the case as well.
The user never feels in control of the application while using the client. The basic customization options are missing, and the irrelevant once can be easily found.
The first screen on the client shows the location of the user on the map. There are two drop -down menus at the top right corner of the client. The first one is for the servers and the second one is the options menu.
The first screen has four windows- Home, Your usage, Rewards, Upgrades.
The ‘Home’ window shows the virtual location of the user on the map when he/she is connected to the network. It also displays the virtual IP address.
The ‘Your Usage’ window displays the volume of data usage on a timeline. It can be useful if the person is using the trial version and needs to monitor how much data he/she has left before the service expires.
The ‘Rewards’ window provides the user with options against which the user is served with some free usable data volume. We feel that the inclusion of such a screen was unnecessary.
If needed, the service provider can place such promotional options some place else than the client window. We would rather like to see some customization options here which would make the client a lot more functional.
The final window is ‘Upgrades,’ and it is obvious what this section is for.
The user can choose the server from the drop-down menu present at the top of the client. We already discussed that there are no dedicated servers on the client. The user cannot even sort the servers by the region.
Next to the server option, there is another drop-down menu. This menu contains all the options available on the client.
However, the only ones we felt useful are ‘Wi-Fi Security’ and ‘Help.’
The ‘Wi-Fi Security’ options allow the user the to enable the protection and disable the warnings. The ‘Help’ option contains a few items which include ‘troubleshooting logs’ as well.
The server list is repeated in the options menu by the name of ‘Select a region.’
The kill-switch and the IP leak protection switches are absent on the client.
We feel that the service needs to have a good look at the user interface once again. They need to highlight the relevant options such as server selection and Wi-Fi Security rather than the promotional ones.
Platforms and Devices
The platform support of SurfEasy is not very impressive. They cover only the major platforms.
The client is available for Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, and Amazon. The service has also got extensions for Chrome and Opera browsers.
The service provider chose not to have any support for Linux. Majority of the VPN services provide their service for Linux as well since a lot of people still use this operating system.
Another surprising exclusion is the routers. The user cannot connect to the service through a router. Generally, the VPN services provide router support which helps the user to have a VPN cover for any of his/her device.
Without the VPN for the router, the user cannot have a secure connection for devices such as Smart TVs and gaming consoles.
The user is allowed to connect up to 5 devices simultaneously using one account. But the limited platform support might prevent the user from taking advantage of such a feature.
The service provider needs to realize that users need the VPN service for a variety of devices. There are so many devices in the market which use the internet, and they work on a variety of platforms as well.
The service provider should try to include more platforms in the support list. For starters, they can provide the service for routers which will help the users to have most of their devices covered under the VPN umbrella.
Top VPN services make sure that they are as informative about the service as possible. The user finds it much easier to trust a transparent and informative service with his/her sensitive data.
One part of being informative and open about the product is the customer support. An excellent customer support service is not necessarily a 24/7 live chat support.
Many services which have 24/7 live chat support have pathetic customer support service ratings. An excellent customer support service will be reliable, knowledgeable, concise and professional.
The support page on the website of the service also has a role to play if the service has the intention to be transparent.
SurfEasy has not got a 24/7 live chat support. The user can, however, submit a query to them along with the email address. They have also given information about the working hours, and that is when the user should expect a reply.
We had a few queries, so we also submitted the support ticket. We expected a reply within 24 hours and got one within 24 hours as well.
The response was satisfactory, but we were still not able to get information about some of the topics. We were told that the information was classified, and they cannot share it with us.
This whole process of submitting a query and then waiting for a reply could have been avoided if the support page was informative.
We had to wait for a whole day just to know the protocol and the encryption on the service. Such information should be readily available on the website.
The information which was denied was if they had their own DNS servers or not. Many VPN services provide such information on the website.
We feel that SurfEasy needs to be a bit more open about the service and the features. The more information they share with the user, the easier it will be for the user to trust the service.
The VPN service showed mediocre performance in all sections except the speed. The speed on the network was excellent, and there is no doubt in our minds that this is one among the fastest VPNs.
The number of servers, as well as the locations, are satisfactory, but they need to add server sorting and dedicated servers in the list.
The protocol and the encryption on the service are comparable with the top-notch VPN services, but then they lack in basic security features such a kill switch and IP leak protection.
The platform support needs to include a lot more devices to allow users to have VPN cover for most of their devices. The customer support representatives can also be given access to more information about the service.
SurfEasy does not lack much but only a few adjustments here and there. But they need to immediately focus their attention on these issues if they want to stay relevant in the VPN world.