UltraSurf Security, Privacy & Unblock VPN – Expert Review
Ultrasurf, developed by UltraReach Corp to provide security, privacy & unblock VPN for vast content streaming online. In our expert’s Ultrasurf VPN review, we thoroughly examined jurisdiction, pricing, speed, Netflix streaming capabilities, torrent compatibility, obfuscation features, and general dependability.
Ultrasurf, developed by UltraReach Corp, is an online privacy service that attempts to guarantee important privacy rights to Chinese internet users. In our unbiased review for Ultrasurf VPN, team of VPN experts thoroughly examined jurisdiction, pricing, speed, Netflix streaming capabilities, torrent compatibility, obfuscation features, and general dependability.
Following a complete examination, we do not suggest Ultrasurf to those wanting high-end privacy protection, as it works more like a proxy than a standard VPN. Since it does not charge its users, it lacks the big server network like ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer. Furthermore, the fact that Ultrasurf VPN’s entire operation is based in the United States generates concern for many internet users.
If you want to explore VPNs other than Ultrasurf, I recommend reading our comprehensive guide on VPN services, where you can discover the 14 best VPN options for privacy, security, and streaming geo-blocked content.
Without any further delay, let’s get started on the review.
Ultrasurf – Easy to install but no server selection option
When it comes to the ease of use, UltraSurf VPN for Windows has both positive aspects and some drawbacks that are important to consider:
On the positive side, UltraSurf VPN offers a simple and straightforward installation process. Users can easily download the software from their official website and set it up without much hassle. The user interface is also designed to be user-friendly, with a prominently displayed “Connect” button that makes it convenient for users to establish a VPN connection with just a single click.
However, it’s important to note that UltraSurf VPN lacks advanced customization options and features that more experienced VPN users might expect. The application provides limited settings and lacks the ability to manually select specific server locations. While this streamlined approach may be suitable for beginners, it may leave advanced users wanting more control and flexibility.
Another downside is the absence of a dedicated application for Windows. UltraSurf VPN primarily operates as a browser extension, which may limit its compatibility with certain applications and services outside the browser. This could be inconvenient for users who prefer a more integrated VPN solution for their Windows operating system.
Furthermore, UltraSurf VPN may occasionally face issues with connection stability. Some users have reported instances of sudden disconnections or difficulties reconnecting to the VPN server. These disruptions can be frustrating, particularly when engaged in sensitive activities or needing a reliable and continuous VPN connection.
UltraSurf VPN for Windows offers a straightforward installation process and a user-friendly interface, it may not meet the expectations of more advanced users who seek additional customization options and a dedicated Windows application. The occasional connection stability issues are also a point of concern. However, for beginners looking for a simple VPN solution, UltraSurf VPN can still provide a basic level of privacy and security.
UltraSurf VPN offers a limited server network compared to many other VPN providers. While the exact number of servers is not publicly disclosed, it is known to have a smaller network compared to leading VPN services. This limited server coverage may result in potential limitations when it comes to server availability and options for users.
Having a smaller server network can impact performance and user experience. With fewer server locations, users may experience higher latency and slower connection speeds, especially when connecting from regions that are far from the available server locations.
Additionally, a smaller server network might pose challenges when attempting to bypass geo-restrictions for accessing content from specific countries. Users may face difficulties in accessing region-specific content or services due to the limited server coverage.
It is important to note that a smaller server network may not offer the same level of anonymity and protection as VPN providers with larger and more diverse server networks. A limited number of servers can make it easier for network administrators and surveillance entities to identify and block UltraSurf VPN connections.
The server network of Ultrasurf is relatively small compared to other VPN services. This limited server coverage can result in potential performance issues, reduced access to geo-restricted content, and potentially decreased anonymity for users. It is crucial for users to consider their specific needs and requirements when evaluating the server network offered by UltraSurf VPN.
Ultrasurf VPN in terms of Security
Despite its stated goal of circumventing internet censorship, Ultrasurf VPN falls short in terms of security. While it uses secure HTTPS end-to-end encryption to circumvent firewalls and restrictions, it lacks the total security given by a full-fledged VPN. Ultrasurf only uses TLS/SSL encryption technologies, leaving conventional HTTP internet traffic unprotected. It also lacks modern security protocols such as OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard, and Shadowsocks, which are ubiquitous in commercial VPN services and greatly improve user security. Furthermore, technologies such as split tunneling, Tor over VPN, and double VPN are missing, limiting its potential even further.
Essentially, Ultrasurf is built on a concept that is based on security through obscurity (STO), which is intrinsically unreliable. Indeed, the official Ultrasurf website advises unequivocally that it should not be considered or used as an online security tool, emphasizing its limitations in terms of security.
While Ultrasurf prioritizes the protection of users’ original IP addresses and provides the SHA-256 cryptographic hash function with 256-bit military-grade encryption, the company’s tunneling techniques are unknown. Concerns have been raised concerning the transparency and efficiency of Ultrasurf’s security procedures due to a lack of information regarding tunneling protocols such as PPTP, SSTP, IKEv1, IKEv2, and OpenVPN. It is difficult to assess the overall security of the VPN without clarification on the tunneling technologies used. As a result, Ultrasurf falls short of being comprehensive in terms of protecting users’ online activity.
Privacy – Not much impressive
When reviewing UltraSurf VPN, it is critical to consider privacy. In terms of privacy, here is our professional opinion on UltraSurf VPN:
Instead of highlighting its features as an online security and privacy tool, UltraSurf VPN positions itself as a tool for circumventing internet censorship. This emphasis on circumvention raises some worries about the privacy aspects.
According to UltraSurf VPN, it uses secure HTTPS end-to-end encryption to assist protect user data during transmission. It should be noted, however, that UltraSurf only encrypts internet data using TLS/SSL protocols, leaving ordinary HTTP traffic susceptible to interception and monitoring.
The absence of precise information regarding the logging policy is one potential privacy risk. UltraSurf VPN does not explicitly state its data retention policies or whether user activity logs are stored. The lack of a visible logging policy raises concerns about how much user information may be collected and preserved.
When it comes to Ultrasurf’s website, it’s important to note that a substantial amount of user activity is logged. This logging entails the collection of several key pieces of information, including:
- Public IP Address: Ultrasurf records the public IP address of visitors accessing their official website. This information allows them to identify the source of the visit and establish a connection.
- Pages Viewed: The specific webpages you browse on Ultrasurf’s official website are also logged. This enables them to track your navigation and understand which sections of their site you interact with.
- Links Clicked: Ultrasurf keeps a record of the number of links you click on their official website. This data provides insights into the engagement and interests of their visitors.
- Date and Time: The date and time of your visit to the Ultrasurf website are logged. This information helps them analyze traffic patterns and identify peak activity periods.
- Referring Page: Ultrasurf captures the webpage that leads you to their website. By tracking the source of the referral, they gain a better understanding of the platforms and channels that drive traffic to their site.
Furthermore, UltraSurf VPN’s dependence on security through obscurity (STO) design has cast doubt on its overall privacy efficacy. STO focuses on concealing a system’s inner workings to provide security, which is typically seen as less dependable than established security rules and practices.
It’s worth noting that UltraSurf VPN is situated in the United States, which has surveillance alliances and data retention rules. This jurisdiction may have an impact on the service’s overall privacy protection.
Given these factors, individuals looking for a VPN primarily for privacy protection may find more clear logging policies and stronger encryption algorithms with alternative providers. Before making a decision based on individual privacy needs and preferences, it’s best to carefully study UltraSurf VPN’s privacy features and compare them to other VPN services.
- What is difference between http and https
- Read more about TLS – transport layer security
- SSL certificate – things you need to know
UltraSurf VPN’s speed performance was evaluated by our team of VPN experts, providing an unbiased assessment. During the testing process, significant fluctuations in loading times were observed, indicating inconsistent speeds. While there were brief periods of satisfactory speed, overall performance was hindered by slow connectivity. Some web pages even failed to load altogether, highlighting a notable drawback.
Considering UltraSurf’s nature as a free content-unblocking service, it is important to set realistic expectations for speed and performance. It’s worth noting that UltraSurf has previously experienced challenges with overloaded servers due to high traffic from countries with strict internet censorship, such as Iran. These circumstances led to frequent server crashes, as acknowledged on the official website. Consequently, the current slower speeds could be attributed to server overload resulting from increased demand in regions affected by significant geographical events or periods of high user activity, like the recent COVID-19 outbreak.
To provide a comprehensive evaluation, our team conducted a series of speed tests. Initially, an Ookla speed test was performed on the regular internet connection without UltraSurf enabled. These initial results served as a baseline for comparison.
Subsequently, with UltraSurf activated and connected to a US server, attempts were made to conduct a speed test. However, the Ookla speed test was unable to find an optimal server for testing, as shown in the screenshot provided.
To obtain additional insights, an alternative speed-testing service called FAST, powered by Netflix, was utilized. UltraSurf successfully established a connection with the fast.com server, but the speed results were disappointing. Both download speed and latency were noticeably affected, resulting in slower browsing and longer loading times for websites that would typically load swiftly.
Apart from speed and consistency, UltraSurf VPN’s speed performance demonstrated inconsistency, with fluctuating loading times and occasional failures to load web pages. It falls short in providing the necessary speed for gaming and lacks the comprehensive features and security measures of dedicated VPN services. Users should consider these limitations when assessing UltraSurf for their specific needs.
Streaming – Ultrasurf successfully unblocks Disney+ US and YouTube, it fails to stream Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and Hulu.
In our tests, Ultrasurf proved effective in bypassing geo-restrictions imposed by Disney+ US, allowing users to access the content effortlessly. Additionally, it seamlessly unblocked YouTube, which is particularly advantageous for users in mainland China where access to YouTube is restricted.
However, Ultrasurf faced challenges when attempting to unblock HBO Max, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. These services appeared to block Ultrasurf’s IP addresses, resulting in limited or no access. It is worth noting that Ultrasurf’s primary focus is bypassing internet censorship rather than evading bans, and as a consequence, the overall streaming quality can be mediocre with reduced connection speeds. It’s also possible that some streaming services have blocked Ultrasurf’s IP addresses.
Disney+ is known for its stringent region-blocking, making it surprising that Ultrasurf successfully bypassed it. However, the streaming experience may vary significantly depending on the user’s connection. Among the platforms I tested, Ultrasurf performed reasonably well only on Disney+ and YouTube.
Disney+ and YouTube Unblocked with Ultrasurf
Ultrasurf’s performance on Disney+ was surprisingly good, allowing easy access to the Disney+ US library. Although there was a slight delay of around 30 seconds for movie titles to load, the quality was decent, and buffering delays were minimal.
Overall, Ultrasurf enables uninterrupted streaming on Disney+. However, the initial wait time may vary based on the user’s connection speed. Once the titles load, the streaming experience is satisfactory.
It’s important to note that Ultrasurf’s servers are limited to the US, meaning users can only access the Disney+ US library. Fortunately, the content available in other regions does not differ significantly. The US library remains the most comprehensive.
Next, we have conducted a YouTube performance test. As one of the largest content streaming platforms, YouTube is still geo-restricted in China, making it an interesting case for Ultrasurf’s capabilities.
With Ultrasurf, accessed YouTube without any delays or lags also played a video to assess the streaming quality and buffering speeds. To our surprise, the video played smoothly at 480 pixels.
However, when increased the quality to 720p and 1080p, noticed some lag due to a decrease in overall connection speed. Users should adjust the quality according to their internet speed. Nevertheless, YouTube is fully accessible with Ultrasurf.
Ultrasurf: Blocked on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and Hulu
While Ultrasurf technically unblocked Netflix US, the loading time was less than ideal. It took approximately 30 seconds for the library to load, and after selecting a title, we have waited an additional two minutes for the movie screen to appear, only to encounter an error message.
Team of experts considered the possibility of this being a one-time error and repeated the process with multiple titles over five times. Unfortunately, the outcome remained the same. Consequently, Ultrasurf proves ineffective for streaming on Netflix.
While it does unblock Netflix, the slow speed makes Ultrasurf unsuitable for streaming, as establishing a connection with Netflix servers becomes challenging.
While we managed to access the Amazon Prime Video website using Ultrasurf, the movie titles failed to load despite multiple attempts. Initially, a Streaming Delay pop-up appeared, followed by an error message after approximately 30 seconds.
Ultrasurf can gain access to the Amazon Prime Video website, but loading and buffering issues may arise. In my case, the titles did not load at all, rendering the service ineffective. Moreover, since Ultrasurf only offers non-selectable US servers, further testing on different servers was not possible.
Similar to Amazon Prime Video, Ultrasurf failed to play any titles on HBO Max, despite successfully accessing the website. The HBO Max homepage took an excessively long time to load. Although the streaming platform itself was accessible, the performance varied based on internet connection speed.
While HBO Max does not explicitly state the reason, it appears that the connection is being blocked on the back-end. Consequently, Ultrasurf is not suitable for streaming on HBO Max.
The results were consistent with Hulu. After a 20-second loading delay, we were able to access the website, but the movie titles continued loading for about a minute without progress in buffering. Eventually, an error message appeared after a minute of unsuccessful loading.
Similar to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Max, Hulu appears to block Ultrasurf on the back-end, despite the website being accessible. This could be due to WebRTC leaks that expose the public IP address, as revealed in my security tests.
On a side note, the Ultrasurf team suggests using WebRTC blocking extensions with Chrome for enhanced security. However, we tested two extensions designed to block WebRTC leaks, and leaks still occurred (more details in the security section). Therefore, it can be concluded that such browser extensions do not help unblock the aforementioned streaming services.
Furthermore, Ultrasurf utilizes a limited number of IP addresses to connect to web servers. As streaming services are often strict with geo-restrictions and the lack of IP address variation, Ultrasurf should not be relied upon for unblocking most streaming services.
Torrenting On Ultrasurf – Slow and Insecure
While Ultrasurf does not officially prohibit torrenting, it should be noted that torrenting is only possible via the web versions of BitTorrent or uTorrent. Because Ultrasurf is largely a browser-based content unblocker, this constraint exists.
However, in terms of security and privacy, Ultrasurf may not be the most dependable torrenting solution. Its major use is to circumvent geo-restrictions on internet content, and it lacks extensive security protections.
Given the WebRTC leaks discovered during my previous tests, as well as the fact that torrenting is illegal in many places, I do not recommend torrenting while connected to Ultrasurf.
The Ultrasurf team specifically notes on its official website, “Ultrasurf is not intended to be used for illicit or illegal activities online, and Ultrasurf does not condone such activities.”
It is crucial to note that torrenting is prohibited in many countries because to worries about copyright infringement. vpnMentor and Ultrasurf do not condone or support any sort of abuse or misuse. As a result, before engaging in torrenting activities, it is strongly urged that you become acquainted with the rules and regulations of your local jurisdiction.
Support – Limited
Ultrasurf works well for its intended purpose of unblocking content. Nonetheless, it will filter any content deemed inappropriate by the team, including many adult websites and/or websites containing unlawful material.
According to the majority of Ultrasurf users, Ultrasurf’s assistance is lengthy and unreliable. This is a free tool with simply email support. However, it can take several days to obtain a response by email.
I wrote an email to their official support email address to see how they responded. However, it has been some time and I have yet to receive an answer. Based on this, I conclude that Ultrasurf’s customer service is very slow. Furthermore, the assistance is only provided in English, creating a barrier for non-English speakers.
Users will have to rely on the information on Ultrasurf’s website and internet blogs for the most part. For example, many frequently asked issues have been addressed in the FAQ area of its official website.
The team has also established a user center with additional information and a help manual that may be useful. Users can help themselves by watching the numerous guides accessible on YouTube.
Price – Free
Ultrasurf is a freeware product, so you don’t have to pay anything to take advantage of all of its features. There are no paid plans, bandwidth restrictions, or trials. It is open to the public and requires no registration.
However, don’t anticipate high-end security and protection features. While this tool is free, it cannot guarantee user privacy or complete online anonymity. According to certain sources, Ultrasurf retains logs of user activities and may divulge them to authorities if necessary (for more information, see our security section).
Despite being fully free, Ultrasurf falls short of premium VPNs in terms of characteristics such as speed, server count, security, and privacy, user interface (GUI), and advanced user options.
Ultrasurf Device Compatibility: Works on the most of devices
Ultrasurf is designed to be compatible with a wide range of devices, ensuring that users can enjoy unrestricted internet access across various platforms. Whether you prefer to browse on your desktop, laptop, or mobile device, Ultrasurf has you covered. The following table provides a breakdown of the supported devices:
|Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP
|macOS 10.15 (Catalina), 10.14 (Mojave), 10.13 (High Sierra), 10.12 (Sierra), 10.11 (El Capitan), 10.10 (Yosemite), 10.9 (Mavericks)
|Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, CentOS, and more
|Android 4.0.3 and above
|iOS 10.0 and above
You may enjoy secure and unhindered browsing on your favourite operating system thanks to Ultrasurf’s broad device compatibility. Whether you’re using a Windows PC, Mac, Linux computer, Android smartphone, or iOS device, Ultrasurf ensures that you have complete access to the internet.
Is Ultrasurf totally free to use?
Yes, Ultrasurf is completely free to use. There is no cost associated with downloading or using the tool.
Will Ultrasurf slow down my speeds?
Yes, Ultrasurf will significantly reduce your browsing speed. As a result, I recommend that you only connect to it when you need to circumvent geo-restrictions. I recommend leaving Ultrasurf switched off for everyday browsing where internet anonymity is not a concern. My speed test results can be found in the speeds section above.
Do UltraSurf’s speeds meet the requirements for gaming?
Not at all, based on the collected data, it is evident that UltraSurf’s speeds do not meet the requirements for gaming. The high latency observed on the tested US servers indicates inadequate speed for an optimal gaming experience. Additionally, it is important to highlight that UltraSurf is not a comprehensive VPN solution but rather a browser-focused tool designed specifically for bypassing geo-restrictions on supported browsers, such as Internet Explorer or Chrome. While it can be used for browser-based gaming, it is not recommended due to its lack of fast speeds and security, as confirmed by our team’s WebRTC leak tests.
Does Ultrasurf work in China?
Yes, If you’re wondering if Ultrasurf works in China, the answer is emphatically yes. In reality, Ultrasurf was created expressly for consumers in mainland China, providing them with unrestricted internet access despite the Chinese government’s rigorous censorship.
Numerous users in various online forums attest to the simplicity with which Ultrasurf may be installed in China. It should be noted, however, that some users do notice reduced internet speeds when using the tool. Nonetheless, Ultrasurf manages to give outstanding performance in China’s online scene while being a free service.
As per the information available on the Ultrasurf website, there are “millions of users from over 180 countries.” Apart from China, it is popular among users in a number of other countries with severe censorship regulations, such as Syria and Iran.
Does Ultrasurf log user activity?
Ultrasurf has been known to log user activity on its website, including public IP addresses, pages viewed, links clicked, and visit timestamps. This raises some concerns regarding privacy.
For those looking for a free anti-censorship solution, Ultrasurf is a potential option. Its free nature makes it available to anyone who wants to avoid geo-restrictions on websites without investing a penny. However, it falls short of high-security VPNs in that it lacks several essential functions. Except for those expressly prohibited by the Ultrasurf team, the program provides quick and easy access to most geo-restricted websites. It’s worth noting that Ultrasurf’s speed is relatively modest, and its data tracking policy raises privacy issues. As a result, it is not advised for high-bandwidth activities where a smooth experience is essential. It is critical to note that Ultrasurf is not mainly intended to be an online privacy or security solution, as the Ultrasurf team emphasizes. As a result, it is advisable to keep expectations regarding its security and privacy capabilities modest.