X
CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Anonymizer Private Surfing 2.1 review: Anonymizer Private Surfing 2.1

Anonymizer Private Surfing 2.1

Barry Brenesal

See full bio
3 min read
not

Anonymizer Private Surfing 2.1 consists of a 3MB toolbar app and a 1MB secure-tunneling app. Unfortunately, each has to be downloaded and installed separately. Anonymizer places a plug-in toolbar within your Web browser's toolbar and a separate icon in your Windows system tray for the secure-tunneling software. Configuring the separate Anonymizer Secure Tunneling software is complex, but help screens walk you through setting up your online apps to be routed through Anonymizer's proxy servers.

7.0

Anonymizer Private Surfing 2.1

The Good

Proxy servers create anonymous e-mail, chat, and newsgroup sessions; easy to use; good help system; nice phone support.

The Bad

Tools are inflexible and can slow Internet access.

The Bottom Line

Your identity is safe with Anonymizer, but its yearly subscription fee is less attractive than Steganos Anonym's onetime price.
Anonymizer Private Surfing 2.1 is a duo of tools that route all your online activity through Anonymizer's proxy servers to conceal your identity. They do their jobs well, but inflexibly; you can't tell them to block something specific that you want, and the anonymizing-via-proxy-server process definitely slows Web access. And, unlike the $25 Steganos Anonym 5.0, this $29.95 package is a one-year, subscription-only service. For that one reason, we like Steganos slightly better, although Anonymizer is equally good at protecting your privacy.
"="" --="">/sc/30419377-2-300-SS1.gif" width="300" height="225" border="0" />
The Anonymizer Toolbar is merely a button that turns a suite of tools on or off.

The Anonymizer toolbar plug-in hosts seven tools that basically switch your originating Web address to the Anonymizer proxy server, thus concealing your identity. The toolbar plug-in is just an on/off switch. To configure its contents, click the Set Custom link on the toolbar, which brings up a separate page to adjust each tool's settings.

We found Anonymizer frustrating at times. The toolbar plug-in is turned off by default, and it must be turned on again with every new browser window. We also experienced occasional problems keeping our custom settings from session to session. For example, we turned off all but one tool, then chose the Save Settings > Lifetime option to make the settings permanent. However, the next time we opened our browser and checked our customized Toolbar settings, only some of the tools remained in their custom settings.

The Anonymizer Toolbar's seven tools block cookies, disable pop-up and banner ads, hide browser and OS information, and keep Web sites from seeing your browser history. JavaScript and pop-up window blocker options are included, but only as beta features.

"="" --="">/sc/30419377-2-300-SS2.gif" width="300" height="225" border="0" />
You can customize the suite of tools, but we found the lifetime settings didn't always hold.

The Secure Tunneling app lets you run an anonymous browser, e-mail client, chat program, and newsgroup program through Anonymizer's proxy server. This goes beyond Steganos Internet Anonym 5.0, which hides only your originating location.

The Toolbar and Secure Tunneling software work as promised, however, we did encounter severe, periodic slowdowns. That's because all operations occur through Anonymizer's proxy servers. Even filters such as the cookie blocker are routed through an encrypted connection to the company.

Unfortunately, Anonymizer is as inflexible as Steganos Internet Anonym: it blocks either all or nothing. For example, Anonymizer's cookies tool deletes all your cookies as soon as your browser closes. You can't set up a list of cookies you don't want to block, such as those you might need to return to a frequently accessed retail Web site. The same problem applies to the Anonymizer pop-up window blocker.

Anonymizer's help is terse but effective. Help for Secure Tunneling (including thorough, step-by-step guides to setting up the e-mail client, chat client, and so on) is available directly from Anonymizer's Web site. The Anonymizer Toolbar also contains a hotlink to a series of online help screens. Clicking a question mark alongside each tool launches a new window containing a brief but informative statement of what that tool does.

Anonymizer provides e-mail support, and we got a response within 48 hours. Phone support is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT.

7.0

Anonymizer Private Surfing 2.1

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 6Support 9
Shopping laptop image
Get the best price on everything
Shop your favorite products and we’ll find the best deal with a single click. Designed to make shopping easier.
Add CNET Shopping