Ultrasurf is a service based in the USA that was originally created as a way for the Chinese to access the internet more freely. As you might know, China heavily censors their citizen’s Internet and restricts its use in many ways.
Today, part of this service includes their very own VPN. Ultrasurf looks great on the face of it—their website boasts millions of unique users per month. Plus, it’s apparently easy to use and is very fast—but does Ultrasurf deliver an ultra surfing experience?
Let’s find out!
Ultrasurf VPN Pros
Pricing & Plans: Free is the best price?
Ultrasurf VPN is a completely free service and there are no premium plans available at the time of writing.
Sign-Up Process: No signing up needed!
You don’t need to sign up to use Ultrasurf VPN, meaning that you don’t need to make an account or do anything to access their service.
Ultrasurf is plug and play—just download it from their website, launch the app, and off you go.
This is a bonus so far as privacy is concerned. Unlike with other VPNs, there’s no email address tied to your activities while using Ultrasurf.
Ultrasurf VPN Neutral Points
Servers and Locations: No exact count
Ultrasurf works differently from your typical VPN.
Instead of providing an interface from where you can connect to a pre-defined list of servers located across the world, Ultrasurf instead configures your browser so that HTTPS traffic is routed and encrypted through their servers.
You do not get to choose where to connect. Ultrasurf chooses for you.
We’re not sure what to make of this. It’s not exactly the VPN experience users typically look for.
That said, it’s free, and if you’re simply looking for some privacy and such, it seems enough to fulfill those needs.
We also don’t know how many servers they actually have. Though there was a message at the top of their page at the time of writing this review, stating that server capacity was full and that they were working to resolve those issues.
Hmm… into the Neutral pile you go!
Product Interface: The 90s called – they want their UI back
Ultrasurf is a very basic service and it has a basic product interface to match this.
The app itself is very no-frills (seriously, it looks like something from the days of Windows XP or older) and you can do very little from it. You can see they don’t exactly update by looking at how old the Chrome icon is.
Whenever the app is launched, you will be connected to the Ultrasurf VPN service. By clicking the IE or Chrome buttons, you launch the browser. The ‘Options’ menu lets you configure app functionality (e.g. run on start-up.)
That’s it, that’s all you can do from the app itself. Remember, Ultrasurf automatically connects you to their service; you cannot choose any servers.
When you exit Ultrasurf, a countdown will start until the VPN automatically closes all your browsers and terminates your connection. This is to prevent IP leaks.
You can opt to either close the browsers straightaway or keep them open. If you do this, any pages you were on with Ultrasurf VPN will no longer be protected and your information, such as your IP address, will be visible to your ISP and any third parties who are watching.
Similarly, the UI for the Android app is extremely basic. But at least it doesn’t look like it’s from the 90s!
Customer Support: Basic, but not unexpected
It’s not clear whether or not Ultrasurf offers support. When you navigate to the ‘Contact’ area of the site, this is what you’ll see:
Just an email address. At least it’s something? There’s no knowledgebase or FAQ.
Honestly, we didn’t expect much in this area. Ultrasurf is a very simple app that’s about as plug-and-play as it can get.
Device Compatibility: Basics covered, with Android beta available
Ultrasurf can be used on Windows, Linux, and Apple macOS.
There are three different clients for each of these operating systems available on the Ultrasurf downloads page. This page provides download links and basic instructions for using Ultrasurf on each operating system.
There’s also an app available for Android devices.
Currently in beta testing and available for Android 4.1 and above, it can be installed through the Google Play Store.
Ultrasurf says that their Android VPN is designed to bypass internet censorship and provide access to blocked content by tunneling traffic through a secure encrypted tunnel.
Ultrasurf VPN Cons
VPN Speed and Performance: What happened? Where’s my speed gone?!
When we connected to Ultrasurf, we ran a speed test. We won’t beat around the bush. They weren’t great at all. See for yourself:
For reference, these were our download and upload speeds when not connected to Ultrasurf:
These speeds represent a reduction of well over 95%. Not to mention, look at the ping! Gamers and streamers won’t be getting any decent usage out of this VPN service. Maybe you can still watch low-quality cat videos, though.
Given that the purpose of Ultrasurf is to encrypt traffic and is targeted towards users in nations where there is heavy censorship, speeds aren’t necessarily a major issue.
This isn’t meant to be a service for streaming content or downloading files (and could never be with those speeds!). Even with that in mind, speed certainly is a crucial factor for any VPN.
A factor Ultrasurf doesn’t deliver.
Netflix Test: No Netflix binging here
Netflix didn’t work on the server we connected to through Ultrasurf. We were greeted by the classic proxy error screen:
Looking to binge on Netflix? Look elsewhere.
Product Documentation: Where?
The only thing you’ll find on their website is how to install the VPN. No FAQs, no nothing.
Torrenting Policy: No definitive answer, but we wouldn’t bother anyway
Ultrasurf does not have an official line on their website to say that the service supports torrenting or P2P activities.
This isn’t really a major issue in and of itself. But considering their slow speeds, we can confidently say that Ultrasurf is by far one of the worst options available for torrenting.
Save yourself a headache and avoid the attempt!
Logging Policy: If you’re looking for complete privacy, you won’t find it here
Although Ultrasurf seems to be pro-privacy, they do log some data.
Given that they are located in the U.S.—a Five Eyes nation—this isn’t something you’ll enjoy reading if you are at all driven by privacy concerns.
When VPN providers retain data, it completely destroys the purpose of using a VPN for privacy purposes. Although logs don’t matter if you’re only using a VPN to access Netflix, it does if you are using it for more serious reasons – such as avoiding Chinese censoring and tracking systems.
Encryption and Protocols: Protection is unclear
It is unknown exactly which encryption and protocols Ultrasurf uses.
Ultrasurf simply tunnels HTTPS traffic through their servers and is configured to automatically delete cookies and browsing data at the end of each session.
Each time you close and restart the Ultrasurf program, you will be assigned a new IP.
While we are labeling Ultrasurf as a VPN, it is technically a proxy service. This may put some people off; not being able to see what protections are being used is somewhat risky.
Use Ultrasurf at your own potential peril.
Kill Switch: Alas, no kill-switch or similar protection
Ultrasurf VPN does not include a kill switch.
If your connection to Ultrasurf were to drop suddenly, your IP address and any web activity will become unprotected and become visible to your ISP and any third parties.
Be aware of that if privacy is your primary concern when looking for a reliable VPN – Ultrasurf isn’t it.
Ultrasurf VPN as a Business
Ultrasurf, operated by Ultrareach Internet Corp, was founded in 2001 by a small group of Silicon Valley engineers who wanted to further the cause of facilitating the free exchange of information.
In 2002, they launched Ultrasurf VPN, a free service that allows users to bypass censorship.
It was originally designed for use in China where the internet is heavily censored and regulated.
Today, Ultrasurf claims to have millions of users across 180 countries.
Ultrareach Internet Corp is based in the USA.
Due to the location of the business falling under the Five Eyes Alliance, the data you share as well as your identity is not guaranteed to remain anonymous.
Ultrasurf VPN Conclusion: Good enough for a free service
All things considered, Ultrasurf VPN is just good enough for a basic, free service.
It’s a VPN that has and continues to work well for a lot of people. Although it’s not fancy, fast, or packed with features, it’s more than acceptable if you simply want a basic proxy to bypass censorship and freely access information.
You can also secure your connection when connected to public WiFi while using Ultrasurf.
Similarly, if you only want something to hide your activity online from hackers or your ISP, Ultrasurf will do.
Although it’s free and there’s no need to sign up with an email address, we were put off by the fact that Ultrasurf logs certain information for up to 30 days and openly states that they will disclose this information if required by law.
Additionally, they’re not very transparent on what protection they offer users. With no kill-switch or similar protection in the event of a disconnection, we can’t recommend Ultrasurf VPN.
For people who are very privacy-conscious and participate in online activities that require the highest levels of security that cannot be compromised, Ultrasurf is unsuitable and they should look elsewhere.
There are plenty of better options out there. You can start by checking out our top 10 list to pick your favorite.