Is Opera’s Free VPN Any Good?

article by Sandra Trentino
June 26, 2019
They say the best things in life are free? But are they really? Opera’s Free VPN boasts a wide array of promises and functionalities, but is it too good to be true? Many users are unsure if a free VPN is the route to go, despite assurances from the company.
We always want to believe free is best, and why not? “Free” means we get a service we need without doling out any Benjamins. And while free is great, is it actually any good, especially when it comes to using a VPN service to protect your privacy, boost security, and give you access to restricted/geo-blocked content. This made us a bit suspicious of Opera VPN – a free VPN built right into the browser. We took a look at what the VPN actually offers so you can decide for yourself if it offers enough protection.

First, the Promises­ —An Overview of the VPN Browser and its Supposed Functionality

Opera acquired the Canadian VPN service SurfEasy in 2015, and launched the free VPN feature shortly after on it developer browser. With the release of Opera 40, the VPN moved to the standard browser, and soon was available on mobile operating systems like iOS and Android as well.

The Opera free VPN makes the standard privacy and security promises any good VPN service should – location protection with several countries to choose from, IP masking, access to geo-restricted websites, ad blocking, and general browser security while maintaining high performance and speed. But then they take it a step further, offering unlimited data which is virtually unheard of for any free VPN service. Sound too good to be true? That’s because it is.

Next, the Lie — A Closer Look At How the ‘VPN’ Works

Opera is careful not to lie about the features of its VPN outright. Their press clearly states that Opera only secures traffic through their browser, excluding outside applications. But if you read carefully, Opera is liberal with terminology, sometimes calling their feature a VPN, but interchanging the phrase ‘secure proxy.’

Here is how Opera’s ‘secure proxy’ works. Once the VPN is enabled in Opera’s settings, it connects to SurfEasy’s API to obtain proxy IP addresses. The browser then sends requests to the proxy with proxy authorization headers when sites are loaded in the browser. These requests include Device_ID and Device password. Information can be grabbed and used for tracking, and as the name suggests, compromise the location of your device. In short, while the connection between Opera’s browser and SurfEasy is secure, your privacy becomes vulnerable every time you visit a new website. It is not a bad idea to trust Opera’s proxy over a lesser known proxy service. But use it at your own risk. Your browser is not 100% secure at all times while using this service. Additionally, popular streaming sites can now detect proxy servers, so access to geo-restricted sites varies depending on the country you live in. We do not recommend you attempt P2P sharing while using this service.

Finally, the In-Between — Why Opera’s Partnership with SurfEasy Threatens Your Privacy

Outside of actual functionality, there are two main reasons Opera’s partnership with SurfEasy is dangerous for you. While Opera is based in Norway, SurfEasy is a Canadian company. When using any VPN service, it is best to stay away from companies based in countries that have strict digital copyright laws. In Canada, that would be the “Canadian Notice and Notice Regime.” Perhaps more importantly, be aware of surveillance laws. Canada is one of the ‘Five Eyes‘.

640x425_Opera Browser

Logs track user connection and traffic activity. The most trustworthy VPN companies keep no logs, and make this very clear to consumers. They want to let you know they respect your anonymity. SurfEasy uses convoluted language to tell you they keep some connection logs, and use Google Analytics to analyze data. This may or may not apply to the Opera ‘VPN’ but, because of the partnership, is worrisome nonetheless.

For occasional use during one activity, the casual user may choose to enable Opera’s VPN feature. But if you are looking to truly secure your web browsing activity, paying for a VPN service that always encrypts data is always the best choice. If you still wish go get a free ride, there are some free vpn plans, offered by actual VPN providers.

Rochelle Edwards says:

So many companies need a good looking at by the cops. I’m sure this sort of false advertising can’t be legal, yet countless people seem to be getting away with it. It’s impossible to find products marketed with any integrity anymore. Really not impressed with how often things like this occur.

chantelle xoxo says:

so is it a VPN or isnt it? I didn’t really understand that section? is a secure proxy just a different word or is it a completely different thing

pete says:

I mean….what more did you expect from a free service, really.

Simon says:

Used to use SurfEasy and had to get away from it because of security concerns. Would definitely go with one of the other, more reputable companies out there. Worth the money.

Abraham says:

You mentioned Canada’s laws. Do you think it’s save to use a VPN at all from there?

Ahmed says:

Thanks for this info, will think again.

Tim K says:

People are ridiculous. If you are serious enough about security to get a VPN, get something you know you can trust!

Anna says:

Is any free service really trustworthy?

Tom says:

I can’t trust Opera anyway, they’re too new!

Sidney says:

Here’s a novel idea – how about NOT USING OPERA. Is this 1999? Why is anyone still using this browser when Firefox and Chrome are vastly superior browsers? Doesn’t make any sense.

David says:

Is this the only option for VPN extensions for Opera? Do any of the other services offer Opera extensions? If not, seems like it would be better to get at least a free VPN to surf on Opera, or am I wrong?

Dirk says:

While I love Opera, I don’t think I am going to use their free VPN. Sounds too fishy to me. Do you have any recommendations on which VPN is the best for this browser?

Simon says:

I’ll admit, I came here thinking that Oprah was now offering VPN service. This VPN looks a bit shady though. I agree, best to pay for service. I use ExpressVPN myself. Of course, Oprah VPN would have been cool. You get Free VPN – YOU get Free VPN – EVERYBODY gets Free VPN!!!

Les says:

Try looking in to Firefox about privacy now. Palemoon is a better alternative.

Les says:

I thought Oprah was still doing TV. When did she move to VPNs?