Changes to Opera's VPN service

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 10, 2017

The Opera browser is the only major web browser that comes with a built-in VPN service / browser proxy that users may activate to improve the privacy while they are using the browser.

While limited to the Opera browser, as opposed to standalone VPN solutions which cover all programs that connect to the Internet, it is free and easy to use. The company launched Opera VPN for iOS and Android as well, and introduced a paid subscription option called Opera VPN Gold some time later.

The VPN service that is built in is operated by SurfEasy LLC, a company that Opera Software acquired back in 2015.

Opera Software itself sold its consumer business to a Chinese consortium in 2016. The deal included consumer products such as the Opera web browser or Opera Max, but not SurfEasy LLC which remained in the hands of Opera Software.

The company sold SurfEasy to Symantec in November 2017 for $50 million US Dollars however. Symantec's interest in SurfEasy came from the fact that SurfEasy was powering Symantec's Norton Wi-Fi VPN product already, and that the product helped Symantec improve the growth rate of its consumer business (which was in decline last year but growing this year).

For Opera Software, the deal meant that the company had two options: broker a deal with SurfEasy to keep on using it in Opera, or find a different system instead.

Opera Software decided to create its own service from scratch and integrate it into the Opera browser. One benefit of the change is that the VPN will use Opera data centers and infrastructure, and that the move should improve the performance and scalability of the solution.

One downside of the change is that Opera moves from offering country connections to regional connections instead. Instead of connecting to a server in the Netherlands or UK for instance, Opera users can only select to connect to Europe instead.

This reduces the usefulness of the solution for some use cases. It is no longer possible for instance to use Opera VPN to access region blocked content, as you cannot control the country anymore that you connect to when using the VPN.

The company plans to introduce another change in the soon to be released Opera 50. Opera VPN will bypass the VPN automatically when user's access native search engines. Opera Software mentions Google, Bing and Yandex specifically, but it seems to apply to any search engine that is currently integrated in Opera.

People who used Opera VPN complained about the search quality in the past due according to Opera Software, and this new feature is designed to improve the situation.

While enabled by default, users can turn off the feature if they don't want to reveal their device's unique IP address to search engine sites.

Do the following to turn off the search engine bypass feature:

  1. Load opera://settings in the browser's address bar.
  2. Switch to privacy & security.
  3. Scroll down to the VPN group, and uncheck "Bypass VPN for default search engines".


Article Name
Changes to Opera's VPN service
Opera Software announced changes to the VPN service built-in the Opera browser recently after the sale of SurfEasy to Symantec.
Ghacks Technology News

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Hangman said on December 16, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Goodbye Opera. The only real benefit of using opera was free VPN. Now speed of VPN is limited to 1mb and you can’t now choose server country.

  2. Declan said on December 12, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    I still use Opera 12 from time to time. It’s the only version of Opera that I like and trust. It may have a few leaks, but it’s not another chromium knock-off.

  3. intelligencia said on December 12, 2017 at 4:59 am

    Hi, Mr. Brinkmann and Everyone else!

    I only use the Opera browser to make Free phone calls via the Internet.
    I have only one page bookmarked. I don’t use this browser for anything else!


  4. Clairvaux said on December 10, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    I have read that Opera’s VPN is not really a VPN. I could not tell why technically, but I’d be curious to know.

    1. Asr said on December 11, 2017 at 9:05 am

      The answer is simple: you can not run a VPN in a browser. The VPN can be enabled/disabled at the OS level. The Opera VPN is actually a proxy.

      1. Clairvaux said on December 11, 2017 at 12:45 pm

        I read indeed that it was a proxy. But what does that mean practically, from a privacy point of view ?

        I understand that with a “real” VPN, all your Internet traffic would go through it, including email client, etc. But that’s manageable. You know it, so you act accordingly. Visiting sites through a VPN is the main reason to use one. Is there any other difference ?

    2. Anonymous said on December 11, 2017 at 3:38 am

      If I understand correctly, to technically be a VPN it would have to funnel ALL traffic on the computer, rather than just data to/from one specific program (that program being the opera browser itself).

  5. akg said on December 10, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    i dont know how opera is alive. there mobile version is not updated for a long time. desktop version is buggy.even popular addons like uBlock and many more is not updated as compared to ff, Chrome. although I use opera on mobile, because of nice ui and adblocker

    1. Joe K. said on December 10, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      Try Brave on mobile. It shares a similar ui as Chrome, but includes the option to toggle adblocking and tracking protection. Brave on Android and iOS is out of beta and unlike Opera, you don’t have to route all your browsing through Opera’s servers in order to have the ads blocked. Brave is also open source and does not have some of the privacy/ethical concerns that surround Opera.

      As for the extensions, it appears that is an issue with Opera and their policy on extension updates. uBlock submits updates to Opera at the exact same time as Chrome, but Opera apparently has a more rigorous review process. That is good in the sense the Opera store has less issues with rouge extensions than Chrome, but it also means less extensions are available and they are updated much slower than they are on Chrome or Firefox.

  6. BacktoV said on December 10, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    For me it’s a strange browser with a sidebar which I am unable to get rid off. Before I had issues with Opera setting itself repeatedly as the default browser. I did not use their VPN for, well, privacy reasons since I have no idea how trustworthy it is.

    Opera is relatively fast on my PC but I can’t help it, I just don’t feel comfortable with it so I will go back to Vivaldi. I consider Vivaldi a plaything, it is slower than Opera but I don’t have the little guy sitting on my shoulder, telling me all the time ……”watch out, watch out.”
    Usually I use FF as default browser, but some add ons I use once in a while are broken so I am forced to use a Chrome browser, but want to stay away from Google out of principle. Yes, I can hear you laugh ……., but one tries. :)

    This is only a personal experience and opinion, others may have different views.

    1. Joe K. said on December 10, 2017 at 6:55 pm

      I don’t see a compelling reason to use Opera right now. Privacy wise, it is just as questionable as Google since Opera’s owners purchased the browser primarily to sell ads via tacking user usage (especially in developing countries where Opera has a bigger user share than Europe or North America). The ad-blocker is still slower than uBlock or even the ad blocker built into the still-in-beta Brave browser. The VPN isn’t really a VPN and has a lot of security/privacy concerns, and Opera’s performance is not significantly better (in my experience) than Chrome or Firefox.

      I get why users would use Chrome (sync, popularity, built into Android, etc.), I get why users would use Firefox (privacy, performance, etc.) I get why users would use Vivaldi (original Opera spirit with access to Chrome extensions) but I don’t understand what the selling point of Opera is anymore. Outside of having poor internet service and being willing to sacrifice your privacy to increase the speed/data you can use through Opera’s compression services, what compelling reason is there to use Opera anymore?

      1. Uno said on December 11, 2017 at 5:39 am

        I use Opera as an alternative to Chrome. One reason is because you can’t sideload extensions with Chrome, need to go through their webstore to install.
        Opera is also reviewing the extensions manually like Firefox. In Chrome you can get malware as soon as the extension dev’s account got hacked.

        Vivaldi is not an alternative as people said it’s really slow. Firefox was another thing but they have now copied Chrome, it makes the future of Opera dull. Now Firefox is on the same level as Opera.

        Another reason is maybe people just don’t like Google? People saying they don’t like to get tracked and so on.
        I don’t hate Google though, I also use Chrome sometimes, their web debugger is faster than the others.

  7. Henry said on December 10, 2017 at 4:19 pm


    1. Klaas Vaak said on December 10, 2017 at 7:47 pm

      I agree. It used to, but then stopped working for some unknown reason.

  8. Al CiD said on December 10, 2017 at 11:09 am

    @nik – oh, you don´t have smartphone, Web-/IP-cam, home automation, shop tools….?
    most of them are made in china…
    Today we don´t have the choice, USA, UK, Russia and yes, China also, they all collect personal data.
    Microsoft, Google, FaceBook, Symantec, Avast, Apple, Samsung, Lenovo, HP… hey, that is the reality – no one, who is online escapes, it just needs a telephone.

    1. Clairvaux said on December 10, 2017 at 10:32 pm

      Oh, you don´t have smartphone…


      …home automation…

      …shop tools….?
      Yes, but made in Europe.

    2. crambie said on December 10, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      Whilst you don’t have much of a choice of where hardware is made if you want a smartphone, you do still have a choice of what software you use. That includes your phone os and apps.

      1. crambie said on December 11, 2017 at 1:08 pm

        Funnily enough you didn’t need to tell me that ISP’s track you and that’s why you use a proper vpn. As for you not caring about your privacy that’s your choice but others can go to reasonable lengths to prevent as much tracking as possible.

        But it’s true that so much tracks you and your usage these days, everything from os and drivers upwards, it’s becoming more and more work to try and avoid it.

      2. Que said on December 10, 2017 at 3:30 pm

        Nope, unless you’re really geek, you won’t be able to escape data tracking. Even the custom Oxygen OS caught doing data mining before.

        Did I mention that ISP also track your activity? Some ISPs even insert their own ads to the web page.

        Data tracking is actually good for me, I can get relevant ads instead of products I’m not interested. Unless you frequently browse questionable things, I think it’s no problem to get tracked.

  9. hoflaan said on December 10, 2017 at 10:40 am

    The Opera browser VPN does not work with downloads since last September. Downloads abort with the message: interrupted: network error. Users complained in the Opera forum and filed bug reports, but Opera did not respond, real costumer friendly :=( Finally, after more than two months, an Opera employee responded on the forum asking to test the renewed VPN service in Opera dev 51.0.2791.0. The results are still negative. Downloads aborts with the message interrupted: network error. See Opera forum thread:

  10. Menno said on December 10, 2017 at 10:39 am

    So Opera is free to use and owned by some “Chinese consortium”. Call me paranoid, but that doesn’t immediately feel like I can safely trust them with my data.

    1. Klaas Vaak said on December 10, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      Google, Apple & Microsoft, on the other hand, are so much more trustworthy, right? They don’t use your data for their own use, they are very observant about users’ privacy, etc. Give me a break.

      1. crambie said on December 11, 2017 at 1:10 pm

        Being as bad isn’t something to boast about.

      2. Clairvaux said on December 10, 2017 at 10:18 pm

        We have more information on American companies, though, therefore more ways to evade their shenanigans. And we have more means to counter them by popular will. Knowing what a Chinese company is up to is much more difficult, as to pressuring it in order to respect its users’ freedom, you can forget it.

  11. nik said on December 10, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Avoid chinese products as much as possible

    1. Anonymous said on December 24, 2017 at 2:37 pm


    2. Werner K said on December 24, 2017 at 2:26 pm


    3. N$A Luvs U said on December 11, 2017 at 1:04 am

      The new VPN is too slow and unusable except for very basic sites.

    4. Joe K. said on December 10, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      I would argue the bigger issue is that Opera is owned in part by QiHoo 360. A company that has a proven track record of playing fast and loose with user’s security.

      All browsers data mine to some extent, but Opera has been on my “No” list since they were taken over by the Chinese consortium. 360 lost all my confidence when they got caught falsifying security certificates. Nobody should trust Opera to have strong security anymore IMO.

    5. Bruno said on December 10, 2017 at 11:02 am

      What’s the worst case scenario? Is it worse than handing your data to three letter agencies?

      1. R said on December 10, 2017 at 11:42 am

        If we are going to have some kind of balance between todays world superpowers we should use google/microsoft, russian kaspersky and chinese opera… Just feed every intelligence agency with our data for the sake of political equilibrium :)

      2. crambie said on December 10, 2017 at 11:24 am

        Something or somewhere being as bad as another isn’t good reason to excuse it or use it. You don’t use either.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.