SurfEasy Free VPN Review

SurfEasy's free VPN offering is very slow and very limited. We can't recommend using it.

Our Verdict

SurfEasy's free VPN offering is very slow and very limited. We can't recommend using it.

For

  • Rewards can raise data limit

Against

  • Very slow speeds
  • Basic limit of 500MB per month free
  • Limited connection locations

SurfEasy's free service provides a mere 500MB per month of VPN-secured data, although you can ratchet that up a bit by bringing more users to the service. On performance tests, SurfEasy was very bad, with download speeds that were 90 percent less than the baseline.

Only the SurfEasy-provisioned Opera browser VPN performed worse. Needless to say, we can't recommend SurfEasy's free service; try Windscribe, the best free VPN service, instead.

The Truth About Free VPNs

We can't recommend any completely free, unlimited VPN service because too many of them sell your browsing histories, borrow your bandwidth or inject ads into the websites you visit. Instead, try the limited teasers many paid VPN services offer for free.

MORE: Free vs. Paid VPNs: Which Should You Choose?

Most of the freebies either cap your data usage or slow down your speeds, but some are quite generous and would be perfect for someone who travels a lot or often uses coffee shop Wi-Fi. However, they wouldn't be good for 24/7 home VPN connections – for that, it's better to pay for a fast, unlimited service like Private Internet Access or Windscribe's paid plan.

What You Get for Free

SurfEasy's free service promises a stingy 500MB of data a month, the same amount that Hotspot Shield lets you use for free every day. But you can boost SurfEasy's monthly data allowance by 250MB by giving the company your email address; each friend or family member you get to sign up yields 500MB more.

The unlimited Total or Ultra plans cost $4.99 or $11.99 per month, respectively, with deep discounts if you agree to pay for a year at a time.

SurfEasy's network has 1,000 connection points in 28 countries, but only 16 countries are allowed to offer the free version or the cheaper, paid one. In other words, if you're in Turkey, Mexico or South Africa (or nine other countries), you might be out of luck.

The client software runs on Windows, macOS, iOS or Android. There are browser add-ons for Chrome and Opera, but not Firefox. (Keep in mind that a VPN browser extension encrypts only the data going to and from that browser.)

There's no option to connect to SurfEasy's servers without client software, which leaves out Linux boxes, Windows Phones and routers.

Like Windscribe, SurfEasy's desktop client application has a small interface, but adds a map of your local area, your IP address and a pull-down menu of potential connection points. You can click on tabs to see a bar-graph format of your data usage, as well as an enticement to upgrade to a paid subscription.

SurfEasy is based in Canada and so is theoretically out of the reach of U.S. law-enforcement search warrants. But it was bought in the fall of 2017 by U.S. antivirus giant Symantec, which is definitely subject to U.S. law.

Performance

We used an HP EliteBook X360 1020 G2 laptop to test the free offerings from nine VPN providers: Avira Phantom VPN, Hide.me, Hotspot Shield, the Opera browser VPN, ProtonVPN, Speedify, SurfEasy, TunnelBear and Windscribe. Testing was done at a suburban New York home provisioned with consumer-grade cable broadband.

MORE: Best VPN Service - Reviews of Top-Rated VPN Providers

Network latency (delays), upload speeds and download speeds for each service were measured three times by Ookla's Speedtest, then averaged. Baseline measurements without any VPN connection were taken just before each round of tests.

We downloaded and installed SurfEasy's 44.9MB Windows installer package in a little more than 8 minutes, including setting up an account.

Our laptop connected to one of SurfEasy's U.S. servers in a reasonable 4.7 seconds. The server's latency — the network response time — of 41.4 milliseconds was 2.8 times the pre-VPN latency, a bit slow, but not terrible.

But when it came to download and upload speeds, SurfEasy was disappointing. It delivered 17.0 Mbps, down 90 percent from the baseline, and uploaded at 10.0 Mbps, down 64 percent.

Of the eight regular VPN services we reviewed (plus Speedify, which deserves its own category), only Opera's unlimited browser "VPN" (it's really just a proxy service) performed worse than SurfEasy.

Bottom Line

We can't recommend using SurfEasy, even for free. Try Windscribe instead.

Specs

Client software: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Protocols: Open VPN, IPsec
Servers/Countries: 1,000/28
Restriction: 500MB monthly data limit

Credit: Tom's Guide