If you’re looking for a good VPN solution to lock down your data online, you may have already heard about SurfEasy. They are based in Canada, which is great if you’re the type of user who distrusts the federal US government due to NSA wiretapping scandals (I know I sure do). But is SurfEasy right for you? How do they compare with other providers?
We’re going to pick apart this VPN service to see if they’re worth their salt to help you make an informed decision. But before we dig into their features, let’s go ahead and take a look at their pricing model.
SurfEasy has a pretty common and straightforward pricing model. Essentially, they discount the monthly cost of their service when you opt for longer term subscriptions. They offer subscription plans in billing increments of 1 month, 6 months, and 12 months. The following are their prices:
1 month – $11.99 per month
6 months – $8.99 per month
12 months – $6.49 per month
Clearly the annual subscription plan provides the most value. I would recommend staying away from the monthly subscription option because it is so much more expensive than the other plans. When you select the annual plan SurfEasy is really priced in the middle of market – that is, there are cheaper and more expensive alternatives.
For instance, ExpressVPN costs $8.32 per month with an annual subscription, and PIA VPN costs $3.33 per month with an annual subscription. So I’d say that SurfEasy has pretty fair pricing. I do with they had a free trial or a free version of their service, though. But instead of a free trial, they provide a 7-day money back guarantee. It’s not a long period of time, but enough to test their service and see if you like it.
I did find it a little odd that they don’t accept a full range of payment options. On their website, they only accept PayPal, Visa, and Master Card. Most other sites will accept a smattering of other payment options such as Bitcoins and other types of cards. Still, most people use these three payment options anyway.
First off, you should note that SurfEasy is based in Canada. As such, they are free from domestic wiretapping scandals and law enforcement coercion of the NSA and American government. One thing I really like about their service is the fact that they permit each user account up to 5 simultaneous connections. As far as other providers are concerned, that’s a lot.
It’s far more common for a provider to limit simultaneous usage to one handheld device and one computer, as is the case with ExpressVPN. Plus, they’re a good fit for Bit Torrent users since they permit P2P traffic through their servers.
However, I wasn’t very impressed with their network of servers and global connection locations. To date they have servers in 13 countries in the most popular areas, such as the US, Canada, the UK, Japan, Australia, and few other various European locations. Though they don’t have servers in as many countries as PureVPN (which has servers in 140 countries), they do admittedly cover the places most users would ant to connect to.
Despite having a limited network of servers, they do have extremely strong encryption. Users can connect using the strongest encryption protocols such as IPsec and OpenVPN. Using 256-bit encryption, users can browse the web with the peace of mind that their data is safe from attackers, eavesdroppers, and data thieves.
Unfortunately, the 256-bit OpenVPN encryption is only available on Windows systems, and iOS users will have to settle for 128-bit encryption – which is still strong and impossible to crack. That said, I tend to prefer 256-bit encryption for added security.
I was reasonably impressed with their privacy as well. They don’t log customer data, which is a crucial factor when selecting a VPN provider. Nevertheless, like most other providers, they do log metadata such as bandwidth statistics and which servers a profile connects to. However, they don’t log bandwidth on a user by user basis. Instead, they keep aggregate bandwidth statistics to help them plan for capacity requirements. I think that’s a good solution to help keep individual users privacy protected.
They do reserve the right to log individual user accounts, though only in a troubleshooting and customer support capacity. For instance, if you were having connection issues, the support team could look at protocol logs to help you troubleshoot the process. Also note that they don’t keep any records of user data (with exception to your username, password, and other necessary account information). By not storing usage data, it makes it impossible for an authority to coerce them into forfeiting sensitive customer usage data.
Speed & Stability
Given that they have relatively small network of servers, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn’t have any speed or stability issues. Nevertheless, SurfEasy is not the fastest provider (as a side note, one of the fastest providers I’ve seen is ExpressVPN). As such, they may not be the best chocie if you are using extremely sensitive real-time applications that are sensitive to speed, such as multiplayer gaming. The following outline the results of the speed test:
- Download bandwidth: 4.26 Mb
- Upload bandwidth: 0.63 Mb
- Ping to speed test server: 80ms
- Ping to Google DNS server: about 130ms
I’m not sure why I lost about 0.75Mb of my download bandwidth, and why I lost nearly a third of my upload bandwidth. So as far as speed is concerned, they weren’t too flashy. On the other hand, the connection was pretty stable (if not fast), and my connection didn’t have a lot of jitter. I didn’t lose any ping packets either, which is usually indicative of an underperforming connection.
Also, I would have preferred more transparent server usage statistics. Some services, like AirVPN, have a page on their website which they update with real-time capacity data to help you find the least burdened server.
I was happy to find that I didn’t have any trouble using the Internet in a normal capacity. Websites loaded without any lag, and I was able to stream videos without any annoying buffering issues. So as far a speed is concerned, here is the final verdict: I think they will accommodate most users’ needs as long as they stick with simple web browsing and light media streaming. If you download petabytes of data from Bit Torrent, backup large quantities of data on a regular basis, or wish to play games over a VPN tunnel, I might recommend looking for a faster provider like ExpressVPN.
As a final note, I would recommend TorGuard to US-based users. TorGuard has a premium 10Gigabit network in the US with blazing fast speeds, thought it does come with a hefty price tag. For access to TorGuard’s premium network, you’ll need to shell out an extra $19.99 per month on top of monthly subscription fees for the service itself.
In addition to having a favorable logging policy and a well-rounded set of features, SurfEasy also has decent support. Personally, I’ve never found myself in a position when I needed to contact customer support. Even if you’re a non-technical user (technologically challenged, as older generations say), you may not even need to open a support ticket.
They have a wealth of online resources that aid the troubleshooting process. SurfEasy has posted guides that help with things like account and payment issues as well as troubleshooting and configuration problems. The setup guides are easily navigable, well organized, and they include a FAQ section.
But if you need to contact support, you can call them via telephone. Personally, I don’t like telephone support, and I don’t think anyone likes being stuck in a call queue and waiting on a support representative while listening to elevator music. Also, they don’t have 24/7 support, which I found odd. Just about every other VPN service provider has 24/7 support. This is only speculation, but given that they have a small network of servers, it makes me think that they don’t have the financial resources to provide 24/7 support yet.
So, if you’re in need of a helping hand, you will have to contact them during working hours. Otherwise, you can open a ticket through an email. Still, their support has created a lot of positive reviews. And their typical response time is within 24 hours. Also, I do wish they had a live chat feature. But even without live chat, I do think they have decent customer support.
But I didn’t like the fact that they have a relatively small network of servers, and I wasn’t overly impressed with their speeds. So I’d have to say that they’re a good provider for people looking for an affordable VPN tunnel, as long as you don’t use extremely demanding and latency-sensitive applications.