Ultrasurf is very different from other VPN services you might find. For one, it is entirely free to use and was developed by Ultrareach who are based in the United States.
Ultrasurf was designed to bypass internet censorship for people who live behind the great firewall of China.
In this Ultrasurf review, we will take a look at ‘what is Ultrasurf’ exactly, and how well it protects user privacy.
What is Ultrasurf?
Ultrasurf is an anti-censorship tool that is a full pro-privacy proxy service that users can use to retain freedom and privacy while online.
The app is entirely free and open source and has already been used by millions of people and internet users in China.
The company clearly states what the app was designed for, and since then it has become one of the world’s most popular tools for bypassing censorship.
- The tool is portable, so there is no installation required on the desktop devices
- High-quality proxy servers are used to deliver good connection speeds
- It uses automated IE functions which remove cookies and browsing history.
- Easy to use for anonymous and safe browsing
- It conflicts with some antivirus software
- Many features can only be used in Internet Explorer.
Plans and Pricing
Ultrasurf is a free tool. It comes with no plans, and there is no charge whatsoever for any internet users.
All data that is sent through browsers will be encrypted using SSL algorithms. It comes with a built-in content filter, but during testing, this didn’t work as indicated.
When you look at the company website, they say encryption takes place between your connection and the Ultrasurf servers, but from the company servers to any web servers no data is encrypted.
Additionally, any HTTPS data is relayed without interception. This leaves weak areas because not all connections are private.
The company requires no personal information, but minimal logs are retained for anti-blocking purposes.
These logs are kept for 30-days maximum and are not shared with third-party company’s unless it is about compliance with the law. This means if you are doing anything illegal, they might hand over your data.
Ease of Use
The small program is easy to use, and by default, there is nothing you actually need to do. It opens IE by default and automatically connects to their servers. All these appear to be US based.
Device support is on the minimal side. On the desktop, it has client software for Windows, Mac, and Linux. On the website, the company does say to use the latest version of Chrome for better security.
Ultrasurf states for desktop use that websites will be unable to see your IP address unless WebRTC is enabled where your IP address can be leaked.
Unfortunately, Chrome won’t let users disable WebRTC by default. Ultrasurf recommends a third-party Chrome extension to block WebRTC, but these extensions need to be enabled as Chrome will run in incognito mode.
Ultrasurf for Android is the only app that is available from the company. On the website, the company states the Ultrasurf Android VPN free service supports all applications on Android mobile devices. Currently, it is still in the beta stage, so there is the possibility of bugs or leaks when using.
They say that this app is used to circumvent censorship and access content which in most cases is blocked.
The apps don’t change or modify user data, and if privacy is a concern, other privacy tools should be used along with the Ultrasurf VPN.
When you download Ultrasurf VPN, there is no need to sign up for the service. It is free.
The program doesn’t install on desktops and only requires the file to be unzipped. There is then an executable that starts the anti-censorship tool.
After a few seconds it connects to a server, and then it hides your IP address. It is set to open IE by default, but you can change this in the settings menu.
There are very limited advanced features that user can select. In the options menu, you can change the following:
- Enable Hotkeys
- Hide Windows
- Do not set proxy
- Start IE automatically
- Start Chrome Automatically (grayed out if not installed)
- Delete Cookies and history on exit
- Close browsers immediately on exit
- Do not close IE or Chrome when exiting
There are separate settings to change the proxy manually, delete IE cookies and history or reset to default.
Ultrasurf offers no browser extensions apart from one for Google Chrome which is still in the beta phase and was last updated in the latter part of last year.
Because Ultrasurf doesn’t use encryption in the same way as a regular VPN service, speeds can be almost the same as if using no encryption. It only uses minor SSL encryption to their proxy servers.
Customer support is minimal and only relies on being able to send an email.
By default, the proxy servers which Ultrasurf connects to are in the USA. On occasions, it might be able to connect to US Netflix when outside of the country. This is not guaranteed, and users have no way to change the location of the server.
The Ultra surf VPN doesn’t protect you system-wide. If you partake in the downloading of torrents, this free VPN does nothing to hide your IP address because you are outside of a browser.
When you look at everything that Ultrasurf does and doesn’t do, there is a significant question hanging over its head, ‘is Ultrasurf safe?’ To a certain degree, Ultrasurf was never designed to deliver specific VPN services and was only intended to bypass internet censorship.
For users who wish to be anonymous and retain privacy while online this application might not offer enough.
It won’t hide you across all your system and is more suited to being an online VPN for bypassing censorship, or if you are using public Wi-Fi zones and want some security.