Review

Opera Browser Free VPN Review Updated


“Free VPN” is now an integrated  feature of Opera's stable desktop browsers.. Despite its nomenclature, however, this feature is really a proxy service rather than a true VPN. A true VPN encrypts your entire internet connection, while Opera's “Free VPN” only encrypts the data from your browser. Using this “VPN” does not protect your BitTorrent downloads or other internet activity outside the Opera browser.

Opera VPN is a free VPN service that works with the fifth most popular browser in the world, Opera has always maintained a small but loyal fan base. This is in large part due to it pioneering cutting edge technologies that are actually useful, such as Opera Turbo (compression technology designed to speed up web browsing) and built-in ad-blocking.

Given that Opera acquired Canadian VPN service SurfEasy last year, it is hardly surprising that Opera has decided to integrate VPN technology into its flagship browser. According to Steve Kelly, Vice President of Marketing at Opera, the reason for the move is to improve users’ privacy and security,

Everyone deserves to surf privately online if they want to. Today, it is too difficult to maintain privacy when using the web, and way too many people experience roadblocks online, like blocked content. By releasing an integrated, free and unlimited VPN in the browser, we make it simple for people to enhance their privacy and access the content they want.

Opera has also released Opera Free VPN apps for Android and iOS devices. These are “true” VPN apps, as they encrypt your entire internet connection.

Opera Free VPN on the Desktop

Pricing and Features

It is 100% free to use the VPN bundled with Opera, and there are no data limits. This in itself makes the service one of the most generous free VPNs around. Whether Opera will continue to offer this level of free service is, of course, anyone’s guess.

Five VPN server locations are available – Canada, the US, Germany, the Netherlands, and Singapore. This is more limited that most commercial VPN services, but hey… it’s free! It also covers a good selection of popular VPN server locations, although the UK is conspicuously missing.

This means that you will not be able to use Opera Free VPN to watch iPlayer. Unfortunately, those wanting to access the US version of Netflix are also out of luck… when I tried, Netflix successfully detected that I was running “a proxy” and refused to play.

Conclusion

I liked

  • It’s 100% free!
  • No data limits
  • Pretty fast
  • 5 server locations (but not UK)
  • Ad-blocking on mobile devices
  • WebRTC leak protection

I wasn’t’ so sure about

  • Opera is based in Norway (good), but SurfEasy is based in Canada (bad)
  • Almost no details available on security or logs kept (so who knows?)
  • Some connection logs (and use of Google Analytics)
  • No P2P

I hated

  • Nothing, if taken on its own terms

Security and Privacy

OpenVPN Encryption
Cipher
AES-256
Data Auth
?
Handshake
?
Control Auth
?
Forward Secrecy
?
Logs & Legal
Connection
Some
Traffic
None
Country
Five Eyes

The only information availible is that the VPN uses AES-256 encryption, which to be honest doesn’t really tell us much. AES-256 encryption is good, but the devil is in the detail.

The cipher (OpenVPN I assume, but this is nowhere confirmed), the RSA handshake keys, authentication method, and whether Perfect Forward Secrecy is used, etc. are not known.

For a full discussion on what these terms mean, please see VPN encryption terms explained (AES vs RSA vs SHA etc.).

It is also not clear whether any logs are kept. For what it’s worth, in its Privacy Policy SurfEasy states that,

“SurfEasy does not store users originating IP address when connected to our service and therefore cannot identify users when provided IP addresses of our servers. Additionally, SurfEasy cannot disclose information about the applications, services or websites our users consume while connected to our services; as SurfEasy does not store this information.

Some exceptions are noted, however, the most important of which is,

The SurfEasy clients may use in-app analytics technologies, like Google Analytics, to help improve and simplify the overall app, design and service.

Hmm. It is quite possible, however, that none of this applies to the VPN used in the Opera browser.

Opera Software is based in Norway, but SurfEasy is based in Canada. The Norwegian government does perform some surveillance and is known to cooperate with the NSA, but is relatively free of such issues.

Canada, on the other hand, is a member of the NSA-led Five Eyes Anglophone spying alliance, and is now subject to the terrifying Bill C-51 (Anti-terrorism Act, 2015).

Please see 5 Best VPNs for Canada for further discussion on the surveillance situation there. The poor “Country” rating in the chart reflects the fact that SurfEasy is based in Canada, as it is safest to assume that Opera is subject to Canadian law via its ownership of SurfEasy.

Visit Opera »

Support

There is little in the way of support for the VPN feature, although it is so simple to use that it hardly needs it.  If for any reason you do get stuck, you can ask questions on the Opera forums.

The Process (Windows)

Download and install the Opera browser.

Enable Opera VPN

Once the software is installed, you must enable the VPN feature by going to Menu -> Privacy & security -> VPN -> Enable VPN. Note that I had an old version of Opera installed, and needed to uninstall it and reinstall the latest version in order for this option to become available

opera-2

Using the VPN is then just a matter of clicking on the “VPN” label to the left of the Search/URL bar, selecting a server location, and clicking “On”

It is worth noting that the VPN feature looks very similar to the SurfEasy browser extension (although this should hardly come as a surprise). Unlike that extension, however, the VPN bundled free with Opera does not have a 500MB data limit.

Other platforms

As noted earlier, Opera Free VPN apps are available for Android and iOS devices. And unlike the desktop feature included in the browser, there are true VPN apps.

opera-free-vpn-android

The Android app looks great, although I did find actually connecting to the VPN to be a somewhat hit-and-miss affair

opera-free-vpn-guardian

The Opera desktop browser is also known for its ad-blocking features. The mobile Opera VPN apps bring these to your whole Android or iOS device

As with all mobile VPN apps, please be aware that mobile apps usually communicate information directly back to their developers. This bypasses any protection or geospoofing advantages of using a VPN.

In order to gain the full benefit from using a mobile VPN app you should therefore access online services via their web portal, rather than via apps. Note also that Opera does not permit torrenting using its free VPN service, and will block P2P traffic.

Performance (Speed, DNS leak and WebRTC tests)

Speed tests were performed on a 50Mbps/3Mbps UK broadband connection using TestMy.net.

Opera speedtest download

Opera speedtest upload

These results are pretty darn good, especially when you consider that the service is free! Color me impressed!

Opera WebRTC leak protection

WebRTC leak protection is now built-in. This is great!

DNS resolution is performed using Google DNS servers located in same country as the VPN server you are connected to. So when connected to a US VPN server, DNS resolution is also performed using US DNS servers. This is good for geo-spoofing.

From a privacy perspective, as far as Google is concerned your DNS requests will appear to come from Opera (rather than your real IP address).

Opera VPN Review Conclusion

I liked

  • It’s 100% free!
  • No data limits
  • Pretty fast
  • 5 server locations (but not UK)
  • Ad-blocking on mobile devices
  • WebRTC leak protection

I wasn’t’ so sure about

  • Opera is based in Norway (good), but SurfEasy is based in Canada (bad)
  • Almost no details available on security or logs kept (so who knows?)
  • Some connection logs (and use of Google Analytics)
  • No P2P

I hated

  • Nothing, if taken on its own terms

Free is everyone’s favorite price, and in many ways, Opera’s free “VPN” delivers a fantastic service  (although it is really a proxy for the browser, not a VPN). Unlike most free VPN services, it is both unlimited (no data limits) and fast. For those simply wishing to bypass censorship, geospoof their location, or protect their browsing while using public WiFi hotspots, Opera may hit just the spot.

It is not, however, a good choice for anyone who uses a VPN to protect their privacy, who wants to watch Netflix, or who wants download torrents safely. For these you need a proper VPN service, so be sure to check out our list 5 Best VPN Services.

Visit Opera »


Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. You can now follow me on Twitter - @douglasjcrawf.

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32 responses to “Opera Browser Free VPN Review Updated

  1. Their terms say nothing about retaining your info in logs, but I know that they do.

    In the terms, it explicitly states language of “acceptable behavior” while using their VPN service. How would they know what your behavior is if they aren’t logging and monitoring???

    I’ve had the VPN go out just as I am logging into my secure email account or logging on to subscribed web sites. Mystifying. Then I went to check them out.

    There is NO privacy at all using the Surfeasy VPN built into the Opera web browser. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK!

    1. Hi Leonardo,

      Well – some VPNs include that kind of clause in order to legally distance themselves from whatever their customers get up to. Whether it would work in a court of law, I have no idea. I don’t think it necessarily means that they do keep logs, though. That said, I 100% agree that Opera VPN is not a good option if you want a VPN for privacy.

  2. Sir,

    With Opera free VPN app connected in android, my Gmail messages thru gmail app in android, will it go thru Opera VPN tunnel or tunnelling only applicable under Opera browser. Sorry, if my question sounds silly.

    Thanks.

    1. Hi Babu,

      Unlike the desktop “VPN”, which only affects the Opera Browser, the Android app is creates a true VPN. This means that all traffic will go through the Opera VPN tunnel. This includes your Gmail messages, but these are protected by HTTPS, so Opera will not be able to read them. (And not a silly question at all 🙂 ).

      When using Opera free VPN to access your Gmail account, yoi

  3. Hi, I have Opera VPN on by desktop Opera browser on Windows. Now, if I send an email to someone will my real IP go in that email or the VPN one?

    1. H Karthikeyan,

      As I discuss in this review, “Despite its nomenclature, however, this feature is really a proxy service rather than a true VPN. A true VPN encrypts your entire internet connection, while Opera’s “Free VPN” only encrypts the data from your browser… Opera has also released Opera Free VPN apps for Android and iOS devices. These are “true” VPN apps, as they encrypt your entire internet connection.”

  4. Opera VPN seems to be riddled with a chronic DNS leak. No matter what proxy location I try, a DNS leak test always reveals a list of Google servers in the U.S.

    Also, the VPN is prone to disconnect fairly often and there is no killswitch feature, so this feature is only good for using together with a “real” VPN.

    1. Hi Jan,

      You only have a DNS leak if you can see your real IP address or one belonging to your ISP. As I note in this review, with Opera VPN the DNS resolution is performed using Google DNS servers located in same country as the VPN server you are connected to. Like a number of other VPN services, Opera does not perform its own DNS translation, but instead leverages Google DNS. This is not the privacy nightmare it might at first seem, however, as all DNS requests are proxied so that Google can only see that the request comes from Opera (not from you). I therefore do dot see this as being a problem.

  5. The fact that opera vpn is now Chinese is scary. Donald Trump is going to end up in huge conflict with China because his aim to “make America great” is a challenge to China, which plans to make China much greater than America by making America weak. I am still using opera vpn but how will I know when (not if) the Chinese Government starts to use it in bad ways? China has been waging cyber war for years. Losing a free vpn service to China is bad news for anyone who believes in democracy and human rights.

  6. Pardon me for not probably reading thoroughly, but I don’t see any mention of whether Opera VPN, (in my case the Android app) has to be used with the browser, any browser, or is it supposed to allocate its own IP do other online services used by the device????

    FWIW, my currently running Opera VPN (a separate app) still traceroutes to my own IP address using Opera Browser (App)

    1. Hi Roberto,

      1. On desktop systems (Windows, MacOS/OSX, Linux) Opera VPN is not a true VPN. It is an encrypted proxy connection that only affects the Opera browser.
      2. Opera has also released Opera Free VPN apps for Android and iOS devices. These are “true” VPN apps, as they encrypt your entire internet connection.
      3. If you are running the Opera Free VPN app on your Android device and are still seeing your real IP address in your browser, then you have an IP leak. Please see my Complete Guide to IP Leaks. Not mentioned in that article (and perhaps it should be) is that mobile apps can effectively bypass a running VPN by simply reporting all sorts of GPS, network, and other data directly back to their publishers.

    1. Hi Karthikeyan,

      Yes. Sold for $600 million. In some ways this is likely good news for Western users, as a Chinese company is unlikely to cooperate with the NSA and its ilk. It probably will cooperate with the Chinese governmnet, of course, but this is unlikely to concern most in the West (perhaps wrongly). And it is very bad news for users in China.

  7. I live part-time in Costa Rica and would like to use the U.S. version of Amazon Prime for music and shows. Would the Opera VPN allow me to access that?

    1. Hi Jake,

      In principle, yes. The only snag might be if Amazon detects the use of Opera VPN (through its IP addresses) and blocks you. Since Opera is free and you won’t get into trouble with Amazon just for trying, why not experiment and see?

      1. Took the plunge and downloaded Opera with the VPN on my iPhone and Mac Air. Worked fine on the iPhone, but not not the Mac Air. Thought I did everything right in terms of the guidance you gave for the laptop, but keep getting the message “Authorization credentials required” on every website I try to log in to. Any idea what I’m doing wrong or forgot??

        1. Hi Jake,

          Many websites will ask for additional authorization if you sign-in from an unexpected IP address. This can be annoying, but is intended to improve security. And to be honest, there is not much you can do about it.

  8. How does the VPN that comes with Opera compare to a full subscription to Surfeasy at $78 Canadian $ per year? Doesthe free version vs the paid version of Surfeasy make banking, etc. just as safe on unsecure WIFI sites such as hotels and coffee shops? Free is free but …….

    1. Hi David,

      – As long as the VPN provider itself is trustworthy, any VPN will make using insecure WiFi safer. Note, though, that almost all sites which handle sensitive information (i.e you bank), protect the connection with HTTPS.
      – If you want a VPN for privacy or to watcxh Netflix, however, then you are going to have to pay for it. SurfEasy is ok byou want a VPN for general privacy, but if you want a VPN for privacy then ypou should chose a good no-logs provider.

      1. Thanks Doug. I understand the banking does have protection already and I also use Rapport provided by the bank as an extra. Only reason I need VPN is logging into banks, Paypal, email or anything with passwords so I assume then Opera with the VPN Surf Easy will protect 100% for this. I don’t need privacy just password protection while travelling.

        1. Hi David,

          You should already be safe logging into your bank (i.e. no VPN needed). What using a VPN will do is hide the fact that you have visited you bank’s webpage from your ISP…

  9. Hellow

    I do not Know why opera vpn do not work , it just changes to orange colour and do not connect .Any requirements does it need ?

    1. Hi Omar,

      No. It should not need any special requirements to work. Do you know if VPNs are blocked where you live?

      1. Hello Douglas

        Thank you for reply . Now OK after setting change of my kaspersky internet security ( scan encrypted connections upon request from protection components is disabled ) .

      1. Douglas Crawford –

        As of today’s date I have run IP leak and DNS leak test from two different independent sources and Opera passed both tests from all sources.

        I think they got tired of the negative VPN press and found a way to fix the issue. Even though Opera is using Google still for dns settings. With all of Google’s left wing biases and having met several times with the CIA at Langley and all kinds of scuttlebut of them helping the NSA spy on us, I don’t know who I’m more scared of Google or Opera’s new Chinese owners 🙂

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