Read this review if you don’t want to miss out on what Windscribe has to offer.
- A variety of options for encryption
- Chrome extension is pretty robust
- Provides software applications for all major platforms
- No presence of any kind of live chat feature
Windscribe is slowly moving from a new VPN service provider to an established VPN service provider.
Regardless, its entrance to the VPN market has been strong.
The paid plans come with fast VPN servers.
And that makes Windscribe quite a suitable VPN service for users who want to stream content in High Definition.
Windscribe also offers a free plan and it is as useful as a free plan can be.
On the free plan, Windscribe offers users a total of 10 GB per month.
It is on the lower side but since it is free one should not really complain.
Overall, Windscribe is a fantastic VPN service that has continued to work hard on its offerings and thus has made the jump from an average VPN service to an above-average VPN service.
Full Windscribe Review
As a VPN service, Windscribe operates out of Canada.
This makes it a Canadian VPN service provider.
Our research shows that Windscribe can fit the bill for anyone who is looking for best-value-for-money VPN service.
The company has free as well as paid plans.
The paid plans are the premium ones where the company offers all its features and products to the customer.
Our Windscribe review will focus on the premium version of Windscribe VPN service.
As far as the premium version of Windscribe goes, it is a complete and fully features VPN service.
It provides paying customers with access to fast VPN servers which are located all over the map.
The premium version of Windscribe VPN service also comes with unlimited bandwidth.
What’s more, the company allows users to connect an unlimited number of devices from just one Windscribe VPN account.
We don’t know of any other VPN service provider that does that.
Windscribe VPN also offers custom software applications for all major platforms available in the market.
The VPN service also provides a Chrome web browser extension.
We will review that extension in this review as well.
Windscribe has come a long way from when we first reviewed it.
Now, it performs really well when put under a bit of pressure.
In this review, we will dive in deep and have a look at whether Windscribe is really performing at higher levels all the time or just some of the time.
If you go to the official website of Windscribe VPN, you would see that Windscribe tries to advertise its free plan a bit too much.
But since we have reviewed many VPN services that are available in the market today, we know that most of the VPN service providers do that in order to draw potential customers into purchasing their more expensive and premium VPN subscription package.
Windscribe is no different.
The premium version of Windscribe VPN, also called Windscribe Unlimited only offers a single VPN plan.
Users have the option of purchasing either the monthly and/or yearly subscription package.
Windscribe, pretty much like the majority of VPN services available in the market today, rewards subscribers who commit to the VPN service for a long period of time.
For example, if the user signs up with Windscribe VPN for a period of 1 year then the company charges the user around $49.
This is pretty much equivalent to around $4.08 each month.
Users who want to pay on a monthly basis will have to pay more than double the amount per month when compared to the yearly package.
In other words, for the monthly package, users have to shell out $9 every month.
Windscribe now also has a third subscription option which is the biennial plan.
On this plan, the company charges users $89 after every 24 months.
This comes down to $3.70 per month.
It also comes with Dashlane password manager for 6 months.
Click here to read our Dashlane review.
What about payment methods?
As far as payment methods are concerned, Windscribe subscribers have the option of paying for their Windscribe subscription package via methods such as,
- American Express
Windscribe also offers Bitcoin as a payment option for users who want more security and anonymity with online transactions.
This makes Windscribe very much a practical choice for people who really care about their online security and privacy.
Some have called Windscribe as a newcomer, inexperienced, immature and underdeveloped VPN service provider.
We can’t argue the fact that it is, after all, a fledgling VPN service provider that is based in Ontario, Canada.
The company only came into existence about two years ago in 2016.
This alone makes Windscribe one of the youngest, if not the youngest, VPN service in the world.
The first time we tried to review this VPN service provider, we found it hard to get a hold of all the features that it offered to its users, on its official website.
Of course, there is some good news as well.
Since the last time we looked at this VPN service provider, Windscribe has managed to update its official website along with its service.
As far as the website goes, Windscribe now has a dedicated page for the FEATURES that it offers to customers.
Users who want to know more about the features can simply go to the official website of Windscribe and look at the menu that is placed at the top in order to access the relevant section.
As mentioned just now, a new features page isn’t the only thing that Windscribe has added to its offering.
The official website not only lists out all the new features that Windscribe has developed over the last couple of years but also compares all the most significant and meaningful differences between the Limited and Unlimited plans.
In order to read more about these differences, users have to go the Pricing page of the official website.
To put it in simpler terms, subscribers to Windscribe Unlimited plan get free access to features such as,
- 50 VPN server locations
- OpenVPN encryption
- Unlimited number of simultaneous connections
- Unlimited bandwidth
- DNS leak protection
- Encryption protocols such as IKEv2 (only in its beta phase) for platforms such as Mac and Windows.
This protocol is turned on by default on the iOS platform
- Kill Switch.
In the VPN client, this feature is referred to as the Firewall feature
- Stealth mode
- Various different options for port forwarding
- Ad Blocker
- P2P (peer to peer) support
- Firefox extension
- Chrome extension
The other thing users should note here is that Windscribe does make efforts to warn users that the company specifically prohibits account sharing even though it allows users to protect an unlimited number of internet-enabled devices.
This is, to say the least, interesting.
Because if one studies the features page on the official Windscribe website, the company clearly mentions that it does not keep any type of logs that are permanent in nature.
But, if Windscribe wants to analyze where and how some of its customers are logging directly into its VPN then it begs to reason that it would have to keep some form of connection logs.
This is something that we will talk about more in the coming sections of this Windscribe VPN review.
As mentioned before as well, Windscribe operates out of Canada.
That means it has to deal with the Five Eyes online surveillance program since Canada is a part of that alliance.
Apart from that, various media reports have now revealed that the Canadian version of USA’s NSA, the CSIS, has actually accessed the metadata of its citizens illegally.
If someone had not caught CSIS doing that then we would still think that Canada is a safer place than the US when it comes to privacy and online security.
And that’s not all.
In addition to what we have mentioned above, internet service providers in Canada are also helpless against keeping logs on their users in order to comply with the countries anti-piracy legislation which came about as a result of Bill C-11.
All of this should tell the reader in clear terms that Canada is far away from an ideal place for any kind of VPN service to operate out of.
There are simply too many hoops to jump over.
This is the one reason, among many others, why any VPN service that operates out of Canada needs to have a genuine and strict zero logs official policy.
There should be no way around it.
Readers need to understand here that if a VPN based in Canada keeps any logs on them then law enforcement authorities could, at some point in the future, ask the VPN to let them access that data with the help of nothing but a warrant.
Moreover, if the VPN service does keep logs, maybe the CSIS would come up with a way to access the information that the VPN has in those logs.
Of course, there is also the chance that the CSIS may already have done that.
When it comes to intelligence and spy agencies, one can’t really rule out anything.
The other thing we want to talk about is the actual installation process of Windscribe VPN service which shows users an EULA that makes it clear in no uncertain terms by implying that WIndscribe, as a firm, may have to monitor all the happenings on its network.
It also informs the user that the VPN service may look at each given VPN subscription in order to make sure that not a lot of people are using a single VPN subscription package.
In short, Windscribe VPN (despite the fact that it offers an unlimited number of VPN connections per account) tells the user to not have too many IP addresses and/or devices at a given point in time.
As mentioned before, the only way for Windscribe VPN or any other VPN service to do that type of traffic analysis is by keeping and storing IP addresses along with connection logs.
We’re not saying that WIndscribe VPN keeps those logs forever.
But it could.
For the purposes of analyzing traffic, it could just store it, monitor it, make decisions and then get rid of it.
There really isn’t a need to keep user data stored in some place for eternity.
With that said, it is also true that in a later section of the EULA (End User License Agreement), the company does state that it never collects any data that someone could use to personally identify someone.
So, WIndscribe subscribers are safe.
At least “officially” they are.
It is pretty long.
So we’ll only discuss some relevant points here.
What does that mean for the end user?
It means that Windscribe only monitors the traffic to detect potential abuse of its VPN services during different seasons.
As mentioned before, Windscribe just wants to ensure that only a single user/person is using its VPN service on a single account.
We are inclined to believe that it is decent news.
Because it means Windscribe has no interest in keeping any kind of user data that law enforcement authorities could access at a later date.
From an overall perspective, even though Windscribe ostensibly wants to make sure that a single person is using its VPN service via a single account, in the real world it is pretty hard to take logs, study them and then enforce the end user agreement.
This makes it feasible for a one person to share the Windscribe VPN protection with his/her family members.
Of course, the family members have to live in the same house as the user.
We don’t think the user would get into trouble for doing that because it is simply impossible for Windscribe to ascertain if the user is sharing an account with strangers or just sharing it within family members.
Our research shows that as far as logging policy goes, Windscribe VPN is pretty fair.
In fact, we think its logging policy is more than fair.
It is close to excellent.
All it does is that it enables users to understand and trust that the given VPN is at least willing in doing its privacy-related job properly.
We feel that on the part of Windscribe VPN, it is an extremely important and positive action.
Other security and encryption features
There are lots of good news as far as the new WIndscribe service is concerned.
The company has improved leaps and bounds when it comes to encryption technologies.
Users should have no trouble in considering the Windscribe VPN service as highly safe and secure.
Windscribe, as a VPN service, offers users an OpenVPN encryption option by default.
Not only that, it makes sure that it implements that encryption technology to a very high standard.
At Security Gladiators, we always recommend that users should opt for the OpenVPN encryption protocol whenever they have the option of having so.
Let’s discuss some of the details that are related to the way Windscribe VPN implements its encryption standard.
Windscribe VPN makes use of the AES 256-bit cipher which is considered very secure.
It also makes use of SHA 512-bit for data authorization along with an RSA 2096-bit encryption key.
Moreover, it also supports Perfect Forward Secrecy with the use of DHE or Diffie Hellman.
Readers should also note here that WIndscribe makes no secret of the kind of encryption it uses.
In fact, it clearly advertises all the necessary encryption details on its official website.
Users who want to take a look at that should go to the Features page of the official website.
As mentioned before, we think that the Windscribe VPN encryption implementation is excellent.
It is something which we believe a lot of VPN service providers need to learn from and copy.
When it comes to a VPN service, transparency is of absolute importance.
It certainly goes a long way in building a good reputation in the industry.
The other thing users need to note here is that, Windscribe VPN has already started the process of introducing the IKEv2 VPN protocol for all its VPN clients.
In the brand new beta edition of Windscribe VPN client, users have the option of using IKEv2 protocol for the Mac and Windows platform.
Our research shows that Windscribe VPN will start to roll the new VPN protocol out as the default option for encryption when it releases another edition of VPN client.
That will happen with the next couple of months.
Windscribe VPN has also made plans to add the IKEv2 VPN protocol to its Android VPN client as well.
However, we feel, that will take a lot of time.
That’s not us saying it.
Windscribe VPN representatives themselves have said in the past that it will take some time to introduce the IKEv2 protocol for users on the Android platform.
Why are we so insistent on the IKEv2 protocol?
Well, we are insistent because this offers a secure and strong encryption along with good speed.
This makes this protocol an ideal solution for streaming HD content with online security.
Here at Security Gladiators, generally speaking, our team recommends users to stick with OpenVPN though.
Because it is very well tested.
And it is mature.
So far, there is not a single VPN protocol that uses as secure a VPN encryption as the OpenVPN protocol.
With that said, it is also true that having the option of using the IKEv2 protocol can’t be that bad.
In fact, we think it would make for a fantastic security option which would definitely assist users and give them more options to stream content online and stay safe while using a variety of devices.
Apart from supporting and implementing strong encryption, the official WIndscribe VPN client is pretty formidable as well.
It offers users IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) along with DNS (Domain Name System) leak protection by default.
Moreover, the VPN client itself does a tremendous job of denoting which VPN servers the user can and cannot use for P2P file-sharing and torrenting.
The latest version of the Windscribe VPN client also offers users a kill switch.
What does the kill switch do?
The Kill Switch basically disconnects the user from the wider world of the internet when it detects that the user’s VPN connection has dropped for some reason.
This prevents the user from accidentally exposing and leaking his/her unencrypted internet traffic to his/her internet service provider.
As a final security feature, Windscribe VPN service also provides users with a double hop feature.
This feature is only accessible via the official Chrome extension.
The double hop feature enables users to tunnel through a total of two proxy VPN servers rather than a single one.
Now, even though this feature provides great security, users should keep in mind that this feature will slow down their entire internet connection.
Because that’s what “more security” does to any internet connection.
One can’t really blame Windscribe for this.
Of course, if the user has a very fast internet connection then he/she may not even notice the slow down effect.
Our research shows that for the majority of online consumers who make use of a VPN service, that is indeed the case.
However, users should know that the double hop feature best suits people who have a desire to obfuscate their IP-enabled position as much as is practically possible.
Think of the obfuscation double hop feature as an extra feature.
The Official Windscribe VPN Website
As we have indicated earlier as well, the Windscribe VPN service’s official website both has a great design and is extremely easy to navigate.
Our research shows that the official Windscribe VPN service has a nice look to it and provides a good amount of information that is relevant.
The official Windscribe VPN website’s homepage contains a ton of useful and introductory videos.
We think that the most important aspect of the Windscribe VPN homepage is that is it highly organized.
There is a menu present right at the top of the user’s screen.
This is where users can go to if they want to access the official FEATURES page.
We have also found that this page (the homepage, or more specifically the top part of the homepage) offers links to other crucial information about topics such as,
- Setup Guides
As alluded to before as well, the features page that is present on the official Windscribe VPN website does a marvelous job of providing relative information.
Frankly, we haven’t seen many VPN service providers managing this feat.
Most of the time, VPN services tend to work only on their pricing page so that they can get the BUY from the visitor.
The Features page is also unique in the sense that it offers users precise and accurate information about the way Windscribe has implemented its encryption technologies.
There is also a Downloads page.
As the name suggests, this page shows the user all the download options.
And just like the Features page, this page is pretty well organized as well.
It provides all the software applications that the user may need in order to get set up with Windscribe VPN.
Windscribe VPN has VPN client available for the majority of platform available in the market.
Perhaps this is a good time to mention that the Blackberry option that Windscribe mentions on its site is actually labeled as a just-kidding option.
In other words, Windscribe VPN does not have a custom VPN client for the Blackberry smartphone.
This isn’t something strange though.
Because throughout the official website, Windscribe VPN gives off a scent of this wacky sense of good old humor.
To take an example, Windscribe VPN makes no secret of the fact that the company would plant a single tree for each dollar that users spent on the company’s service IN MINECRAFT.
Of course, ideally one would want Windscribe VPN to take into account people for other cultures and countries who don’t have English as their native language and may not know what Minecraft is.
Overall though, we think it is pretty harmless.
Some feel that it shows the pleasant side of this VPN service provider.
Generally speaking, that may be the case.
The obvious advantage of this approach is that it makes Windscribe VPN website along with their emails just a touch bit more fun to actually read.
Coming back to the Downloads page and users should see that it also provides them with resources on how to install Windscribe VPN on various WiFi routers.
These routers include DD-WRT and Tomato routers.
The Downloads page also has a link for users from where they can directly buy a pre-configured VPN router.
There is also a Config Generators section.
What does this section do?
This section enables Windscribe VPN subscribers to actually setup various config files for SOCKS5 Proxy, IKEv2, and OpenVPN settings.
Towards the end of the page, Windscribe also furnishes options for users to setup Windscribe VPN on devices such as,
- Nvidia Shield
- Amazon Fire TV
The official Windscribe VPN also comes with a blog section.
Users can access this section from the neat little menu that appears right at the bottom of any given page on the official Windscribe VPN website.
People working for the company make sure that they keep on updating the blog on a regular basis.
Most of the topics that the blog covers belong to issues such as security and privacy and other related news items.
We think that adding a blog right alongside one’s official website is a good idea.
Not just a good idea, but a useful feature.
Because it enables prospective buyers and other visitors to know more information about the company and the coming updates to the company’s service.
The blog also talks about various upcoming privacy technologies so that may help the general readership as well.
As far as different customer support options ago, Windscribe VPN offers a total of three.
These are as follows,
- An FAQ page
- Setup guides
- Support tickets
You read that right.
Windscribe VPN service does not offer users any 24/7 customer support feature such as live chat and others.
Hence, users will have to make use of the email ticketing system in order to form a communication line with the Windscribe VPN staff.
We have already alluded to the fact that the setup guides that Windscribe VPN offers are helpful.
Some say they are fantastic for beginners.
What we know is that these guides provide great details on how to go about setting up the Windscribe VPN client on all major platforms and devices.
It doesn’t matter which platform the user wants to install Windscribe VPN on, chances are that the company has a guide on how to do it.
Currently, users should face no problems in setting up Windscribe on platforms such as,
- Windows Mobile
There is even a guide to set up Windscribe VPN on a Synology NAS device.
As mentioned just now, the setup guides themselves are filled with relevant content and are detailed enough.
There is more though.
Each of these setup guides follows a clear and easy step-by-step format and presents the instruction via screenshots.
Coming to the FAQ page and it is also filled with rich content.
The FAQ page managed to cover both the basic VPN questions as well as high-tech advanced VPN queries.
Our research shows that this FAQ resource is not only honest but also is devoid of any glaring errors.
To take an example, the FAQ simply explains that the Virtual Private Network would never provide anonymity but will always provide privacy.
There is a difference between the two.
Although we agree that it is a difference that not many people on the internet seem to have a grasp of.
This approach is great.
Because it increases the trust level between the user and the VPN service.
This VPN has a great level of general knowledge.
And this gives of the impression that it knows what it is doing.
Of course, no matter how superb an FAQ or Knowledge Base section is, there is always a chance that the user would not find the answer to his/her query.
For such users, Windscribe VPN supplies them with the ticket support system.
This is a system that users can take advantage of in order to find answers even to the most obscure questions.
The official Windscribe would receive the question after the user has written the problem done and has sent a ticket to the support team.
Our research shows that there is no need to register with the site in order to use the ticket submission system.
All that the user has to do is to make up a fake WIndscribe VPN username and use that in the ticket request.
This should successfully allow the user to ask the company’s customer support some hard questions.
Our research shows that users should get a response to their question within 24 hours.
Of course, users will receive the ticket to their question almost immediately.
But the actual answer should take from anywhere between a day and a week.
Our research shows that once users have bought a subscription package and then send a slightly technical query to the company’s customer support, they should get a response from the company within a day.
In our fact-finding mission, we found that the company’s customer support is good.
But since it is not 24/7, we cannot rate it alongside what some of the best VPN service providers in the world offer to their customers.
In all fairness, why should we?
Before installing the VPN client, one first has to sign up for the VPN service.
Just like every single VPN service available in the market since the dawn of time, Windscribe VPN service makes it very easy for the user to sign up for one of its subscription packages.
The first thing that users have to go through is a prompt where they have to choose either the Unlimited or the Free plan.
If users decide to click on the Unlimited plan, then the official website will ask the user to create a new username and provide a password for that username.
Users who don’t want to provide their email to the company can do so because that slot is marked as optional.
However, users who think they will need to get some help from the company’s customer support staff should provide the company with a valid email address so that they are able to communicate effectively.
Reviewers always have to provide an email address because they want to test the company’s response times to questions.
Of course, normal users are free to provide their non-work (but valid) email address if they want to act as an unknown shopper.
Moving forward, after the user has correctly entered all the required information, the website would take the user to the official Windscribe VPN user portal.
This is where users need to come if they want to view all of their VPN usage stats such as bandwidth usage and account status.
It is at this precise stage that the user should download the official VPN client by going to the downloads area.
With that said, users should note that they have the option of downloading the official software application for the VPN from this very downloads page even if they have not paid for the VPN subscription beforehand.
Our research shows that it should not take more than a minute to complete the installation process.
After the installation process has finished, the user should be able to log in to the client via his/her credentials.
In this section, we will talk about the Windows version of the Windscribe VPN service.
We don’t have any doubts that the official VPN client for Windows should work on any modern to semi-modern Windows laptop.
As alluded to earlier, a normal laptop should not take more than a minute to install the app.
The time it takes to download the VPN client will, of course, depend on the speed of the user’s internet connection.
After the user has downloaded and installed the official VPN client for Windows, the VPN client launches on its own without any user input.
The client is simple.
This is something users will have to deal with as soon as they log in to the VPN client.
Of course, being simple does not negate the fact that the client is really easy to use and ergonomic.
The overall appearance is fairly intuitive.
And this alone is enough for beginner VPN users to get their VPN setup going without seeking any sort of permission.
The main menu of the official Windscribe VPN client enables users to toggle the actual VPN connection off or on.
This same main screen also allows users to change the location of their VPN server and activate/deactivate the present Kill Switch feature.
Again, we would like to remind users that Windscribe VPN calls its Kill Switch feature by the name of Firewall.
There is also a hamburger icon in the top left corner of the main screen.
Users can click on this icon and access different sections such as,
- Account details
When the user clicks the Preference option, the client enables access to the app’s advanced and slightly more technical settings.
These settings include,
- Kill Switch or Firewall settings
- OpenVPN options
- LAN proxy settings
- Auto connect
The latest edition of Windscribe VPN client also happens to have a secure hotspot feature.
This feature enables users to set up their own personal computer as a secured WiFi hotspot that has VPN protection.
The majority of the VPN users will never have a need to go beyond the General tab.
The General tab is where all the normal settings are.
What are these normal settings?
These are settings which allow the client to launch automatically on startup and make note of recent locations to auto-connect to them the next time the user logs in.
The General tab also shows notifications.
If a user wants to change the language of the client, then this is the place where the user needs to go.
After the General tab, there is the Connection tab.
This permits users to manage their Virtual Private Network firewall.
There is also a Proxy tab which is basically meant for more advanced VPN users.
In other words, the Proxy tab enables users to configure their network Local Area Network proxy if they happen to have one.
The final tab we want to talk about is the Debug tab.
As the name suggests, this is the tab that users need to access when they want to do tasks which sound similar to disabling IPv6 and viewing logs.
Now, readers should note that “viewing logs” isn’t something that only advanced readers need to view.
Sometimes, when the user can’t solve a VPN related problem then the user has to provide the Windscribe VPN support team with the log files so that they are able to fix the problem.
From an overall perspective, we felt satisfied with the official Windscribe VPN client.
We are confident that casual and/or beginner VPN users would appreciate the fact that the VPN client is very easy to use and understand.
On the other hand, experienced VPN users are also likely to enjoy the wide array of options and customization settings that this VPN client offers.
There are also plenty of server option choices for those who want to view the internet from the perspective of another country’s user.
The official Chrome extension.
How can someone even begin to talk about Windscribe VPN service without talking about its Chrome extension?
The Chrome extension comes in addition to the official VPN client (the desktop version).
When the user is registering, downloading and installing all that Windscribe has to offer, the company will itself prompt the user to download and install an extra web browser extension.
Users are likely to see a graphic which invites the user to install the Chrome extension after explaining to the user that the Chrome extension would give the user additional privacy perks such as,
- Tracker blocker
The Chrome extension also comes with a link generator that is pretty safe and secure.
Now, it is here that we would like to mention that the two features mentioned above work together in order to give the user a little dose of extra protection from all those unscrupulous websites which track users across the web.
So how does the Chrome extension perform?
Well, our research shows that once the user has installed the Chrome extension, the official icon of the Chrome extension will appear directly and prominently in the upper right region of the user’s web browser.
In order to log in to the Chrome extension, the user has to use the same password and username that he/she used for the Windscribe desktop VPN client.
As far as looks go, there is no doubt about the fact that the Windscribe official Chrome web extension looks pretty similar to the company’s desktop client.
The Chrome extension enables users to toggle the Windscribe VPN connection off or on in an easy manner.
Moreover, using the extension users can monitor which location they have connected to.
And as mentioned before, users can also take advantage of the Chrome extension to generate secure links.
If users switch ON the Cruise control feature then the extension would change the location of the selected VPN server to whichever country the user’s wishes to connect to.
Now, about the country list.
The country list that is offered via the Chrome extension is exactly the same that users get via the desktop client.
In other words, relatively speaking, the user is pretty much spoiled for choice.
Our research shows that the Windscribe web browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome are simply fantastic and useful additions which successfully manage to complement the official desktop VPN client of Windscribe VPN.
We know that the large majority of online users who have subscribed to the Windscribe VPN service would not want anything more than the desktop client.
After all, the VPN client provides satisfaction in its own way as it protects each and every bit of internet traffic that comes to and goes from the user’s computer.
The desktop client doesn’t just protect traffic from the user’s web browser.
It protects all traffic.
Even the one that other programs generate.
The web browser extensions play the role of providing users with more usability.
One other thing that we think is worth it on part of the reader to note is that the web browser extensions act more like proxy service instead of VPN services with full functionality.
In order to test whether Windscribe protects against leaks, one only has to connect to a server in any country (such as Canada) and then use a service like ipleak.net.
Our research shows that tools like ipleak.net will always show a single DNS address and a single IP address.
You don’t need us to tell you that it is an impressive result.
The result basically demonstrates that the official Chrome web browser extension is successfully proxying both DNS requests and web traffic.
Now let’s come to the part where we talk about Secure.link.
It is just another feature.
Albeit an interesting one.
It enables users to generate secure and short URLs to any and all websites that the user comes up with.
Using the link generator, Windscribe VPN grants the user the ability to possibly encrypt their links with the help of a password.
This ensures that no one without the required password may access the link.
In this way, generated links only go to people who they should be going to.
Such a feature is particularly handy for users who want to ship lots of links and URLs in a safe and secure manner.
With tools like Secure.link users can rest assured that no amount of tracking will be able to target the recipient of the link.
I want to know more about the Limited Plan
Let’s talk about it.
The first thing users should know about the limited plan is that this plan limits the number of servers that the user can connect to 11.
That is, 11 server locations.
Not number of VPN servers.
It also limited the monthly bandwidth to just 10 GB.
Moreover, it doesn’t work with OpenVPN config files.
However, the Limited plan does come with a built-in Firewall or Kill Switch feature.
It also permits peer-to-peer support.
And of course, the Windscribe trademark feature of unlimited devices.
Additionally, with the Limited plan users can also access streaming sites such as Netflix.
Windscribe has special servers for US Netflix that the company likes to call as Windflix servers.
Plenty of readers would have already seen the downside of the Limited plan.
But here goes a toast to redundancy.
With just a meager 10GB of bandwidth usage available per month, there is a whole a lot that the user can watch via streaming sites such as US Netflix.
In fact, in our experience, the limit of 10 GB is not even enough to carry out non-video and non-audio tasks for a month.
The nature of the internet has changed.
MBs don’t do it anymore.
Now, we think Windscribe VPN knows this.
And it only offers the Limited plan with the ability to unblock Netflix because it wants to advertise and show to the user how well its US Netflix servers work.
The other thing we want readers to know is that the Limited Plan does come with fewer VPN server options.
But apart from that, this free version is pretty much similar to the premium or paid version of Windscribe.
Of course, we cannot neglect the fact that the 10 GB limit for a free version of a good VPN service is a pretty sweet deal if not an unbelievable deal.
There is one slight problem with the Limited plan though.
And it becomes apparent only when the user is actually using the VPN client.
The free version of Windscribe VPN service still shows the user the whole list of possible server locations via the appropriate menu.
For free users, this means that they have to scroll down quite a bit before they can see the VPN servers that Windscribe allows them to connect to.
Of course, this isn’t such a huge issue.
Because Windscribe VPN helps the user in identifying the servers that they can connect to by showing a star over the VPN server’s flag.
This star shows the user that these servers are only available to the company’s premium users.
However, Windscribe VPN would make the overall experience much better for free users (not that they have to) if they just limit the viewable server list to just the 11 VPN server that they can connect to.
Or at least show them at the top of the full list.
Additionally, our research has shown us that the free version of Windscribe VPN comes with slow VPN server speeds.
Sometimes, the speeds are extremely slow.
Users should expect even UK servers to perform slow.
Sometimes these slow VPN servers on the free version can slow down the download speed to absolute nothing even if the user has a 100 Mbps connection.
As mentioned before, in this review we will mainly talk about the performance numbers of the premium service.
There are lots of online tools for measuring speed.
The best ones are,
We believe that users who want to test out all the speeds on specific Windscribe VPN servers can do so on their own by using the tools that we have mentioned above.
The tools that we have mentioned are very reliable.
As far as speed test tools go, there aren’t any which are better.
Now you can’t just go out and use a speed tool just like that.
You have to know how to do it properly.
So first, you select a UK server and then run a speed test, because most VPN services concentrate on their UK servers for a variety of reasons.
Then you select a US server and then run the speed test again.
After that, you disconnect to any and all VPN servers and then do a speed test.
If you want to then you can also test the same server multiple times and at multiple points during a given day.
You can also add other servers such as those located in places such as the Netherland and others.
It is a good idea to test US East Coast VPN server as well.
After you get all the results, you need to average them.
And then compare the average with the speed that the internet connection gave you without any VPN service.
Then measure the difference.
Divide that with the pure internet connection speed with no VPN.
And that’s your percentage decrease in speed.
All VPN services decrease speed.
That’s just how they work.
But good VPN services decrease VPN speeds less rapidly than cheap VPN server speeds.
So what do our results show?
Our research shows that compared with the Limited plan the Windscribe Unlimited plan provides users with a lot faster VPN servers and hence speeds.
We have also come to know that the speed of Windscribe VPN servers, in general, are also very good.
This makes Windscribe close to an ideal choice for users who want to sign up for a VPN service just to stream content in HD from a platform such as Netflix and/or BBC iPlayer.
As mentioned before, expect Windscribe VPN to decrease your internet connection’s speed a little bit.
There is no way around that with any VPN service let alone Windscribe VPN.
Even with the slow down, our research shows that Windscribe should provide enough speed for users to do almost all of their data-intensive online tasks.
Our research also shows that users should expect the biggest drop in speeds when they connect to servers located in the US.
That is surprising since most VPN services concentrate on making their US servers faster.
Windscribe VPN though, has faster servers in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
With that said, it is also true that even the slowest of speeds would provide a reasonable browsing experience to users.
Now apart from fast speeds on the Unlimited plan, we are also happy to report that our research did not indicate any DNS leaks.
Users always have the option of going to ipleak.net and checking them out on their own.
As far as our investigation goes, users should not expect any WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) or DNS leaks.
Now, users don’t need to worry about IPv6 leaks because the majority of internet service providers don’t offer it.
This is also a good time to mention that even though our research shows that Windscribe VPN does protect the user against all types of leaks, users themselves would do well if they regularly keep checking for leaks just to make certain that their VPN service is alive and kicking.
As mentioned before as well, Windscribe VPN service offers software applications for pretty much every major platform that users can buy and/or install on their machine.
Let’s list out the platforms that the official Windscribe VPN supports at the time of writing this review.
- Torrent clients
- WiFi Routers
- Mobile phones
- Windows Mobile
- Web browsers
As you can see, everything is covered.
Users would also do well to bear in mind that they can use VPN protection for other devices such as Smart TVs and consoles by simply installing a VPN service on their computer machine and/or Wifi router.
If the user can make his/her way to the setup guides section on the official Windscribe website, then there is plenty of information there for the user on how to set up Windscribe VPN on Nvidia Shield, Kodi and Amazon Fire TV.
With all of that, we think that the user would have to work really hard to find an internet-enabled device which doesn’t work with Windscribe.
One other thing that users should note here is that it is entirely possible for them to purchase a WiFi router which is pre-flashed with Windscribe VPN.
What are these pre-flashed routers?
These are routers which already have VPN software installed on them.
They work via the usual Plug and Play principle.
Anyone who wants to protect his/her devices (all of them) with as less pain and fuss as possible, should purchase a pre-flashed VPN router.
What about Windscribe on Mobile?
Users have the option of installing Windscribe VPN on Android and iOS devices.
The list, as mentioned above, also includes Windows Mobile.
Many VPN services have dedicated applications for Android and iOS devices.
That isn’t anything special.
What is special is that Windscribe VPN also has support for Windows Mobile.
Very few VPNs have compatibility with this platform.
Moreover, even the ones that do support Windows Mobile platform aren’t able to do so over OpenVPN via OpenVPN config files.
Most of these services have to rely on third-party OpenVPN clients and OpenVPN configuration files in order to offer their VPN services to Windows Mobile users.
Windscribe VPN team has done a tremendous job of ensuring Windows Mobile support.
In the process of doing so, this VPN service provider has covered bases that very few other VPN services dare to cover.
To download a VPN client for any of the platforms that we have mentioned above, the user has to go to the Downloads page of the official website.
As explained earlier, the mobile version of Windscribe VPN looks and feels and work pretty much the same as the company’s official desktop VPN client.
The Android and iOS versions prompt the user to log in after the user has launched the appropriate application.
From that point onwards, the user just needs to tap the big Off/On button that appears on the screen to start their VPN connection.
The apps also buttons for server selection.
Windscribe VPN offers IKEv2 as the default encryption on the iOS platform.
If users want to use OpenVPN with iOS then they will need to download and install a reputable third-party OpenVPN VPN connect client in order to form a stable connection to Windscribe servers via OpenVPN on a given iOS internet-enabled device.
- Windflix servers unblock US and UK streaming services without any problems
- Unlimited simultaneous device connections
- Plenty of payment options
- Free version available
- Compatibility for almost all platforms
- Extra features available via web browser extension
- 50 VPN server locations for subscribers of Unlimited Plan.
- Excellent OpenVPN encryption
- For faster speeds, IKEv2 is available but only in beta version on Mac and Windows
- Well organized website
- Customer support is good.
- Lack of live chat feature
- Doesn’t allow users to share accounts but there are ways around that.
- VPN service is based in Canada.
Of course, a true zero-log policy would guard against that.
- Unusable free service because of mightily slow speeds
Let’s make it short.
Windscribe is a relatively new VPN service provider that is based in Canada.
It has a transparent mode of conduct and is very conscious about user privacy.
These are the two benchmarks for any legit VPN service.
Winscribe is an above average VPN service that also offers a free edition.
Though it is slow.
But it will at least allow users to access new sites and apps which are blocked.
After all, one cannot really complain about something that comes for free.
The free edition can act as a free resource.
The premium version will definitely allow people to get rid of geographic restrictions and censorship tools.
Users who involve themselves with data-intensive tasks regularly such as streaming ant eh like should ignore the free version and go straight to the Unlimited version.
When compared with the free plan, the official WIndscribe Unlimited plan is not only fast, but also more versatile.
It really feels like a premium subscription plan.
With that said, it is true that the performance of its US server did not impress us.
It had faster European servers, which is a bit of an anomaly.
Regardless, all servers looked ready and set for HD streaming.
This VPN service costs very low if the user takes advantage of the discounts that are available.
Our general feeling is that this VPN service has come into existence as a result of a well thought out plan.
The engineers behind the service have designed it as well as possible.
It has all the features one could need from a VPN service and it is easy to use.
Because of the fact that it makes use of OpenVPN encryption, the user’s privacy is ensured at all times.
Our recommendation is that users should definitely give this VPN service a try.
Windscribe VPN Review
- Good speed
- Works with Netflix
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- good compatibility options
- free version is slow
- no live chat
- based in Canada
Windscribe is a VPN service that is reasonable in everything. It is reasonable in its cost, features, customer support and speed. Leaving out the top 5 VPN services in the market today, we think Windscribe VPN deserves your attention.
Windscribe in brief:
- P2P allowed: Yes, on most servers
- Number of servers: 321
- Business location: Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
- Number of country locations: 50
- Cost: $49 billed annually
Metropolitan Toronto is something of a VPN hub these days. We’ve already looked at TunnelBear and recent Symantec acquisition SurfEasy, both based in Toronto. Now it’s time to look at Windscribe, a capable VPN based just outside of Canada’s largest city.
Windscribe sees itself as more than just a virtual private network provider. On its FAQ page, the company describes its service as “a set of tools that work together to block ad trackers and web beacons, restore access to blocked content, and help you safeguard your privacy online.”
In other words, it’s a VPN with ad and tracker blocking and a few extra features that some users might enjoy.
Windscribe’s primary interface.
Windscribe is another VPN that goes for a simplistic interface on Windows. There are no visual maps to find locations or even a full-panel interface with a list of server locations. Instead, you get a small window with your current suggested location connection (or the last location you connected to), your current IP address, and a big on/off button. You’ll also see something called Firewall. That option is Windscribe’s internet kill switch that automatically cuts your connection when you aren’t connected to the VPN. It’s activated by default when you initiate a VPN connection, but you can turn that off in the app’s preferences.
Windscribe’s country list.
To see Windscribe’s list of locations click on the downward-facing arrow next to your current server location to reveal a single-panel list of Windscribe’s 50 countries. At the top are the American and Canadian locations, followed by the rest.
The list isn’t quite organized alphabetically, nor is it organized by continent. First you get most of the European countries organized alphabetically, then a jumble of Asian and middle eastern/north African countries with Russia, Ukraine, and South Africa mixed in, that’s followed by Oceania (Australia and New Zealand), and then South America with Mexico added, because Spanish I guess. It’s a bit of a curious organizational pattern, but not a deal breaker.
Clicking on any of these countries will automatically connect you to it. You can also click on the downward arrow on the far right to reveal a list of server locations for each country.
Selecting Australia, for example, reveals two possible locations: Sydney - Crocodile and Sydney - Dundee. If you want to get a sense of the response time between your location and the server location, hover over the connectivity icon on the far left of the location list. A small balloon will appear with the ping response time in milliseconds. If a server location isn’t available there will be a little “X” on the icon.
One thing I didn’t like about the desktop app is that clicking on the “X” button in the upper-right corner of the window closes the program entirely. With a VPN I prefer the ability to remove it from the taskbar by dismissing the window, but keep it running in the background. Then any time I need to access the interface, I can just open it from the system tray.
Windscribe sees its service as being complete when you are using both the Windows desktop app and the browser extension—available for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. With the browser extension you get the added bonus of ad and tracker blocking, as well as a number of other features, including a nifty link-shortening service that we’ll get to in the next section. As for the extension’s interface, it’s not all that different from what you see on the desktop app.
Features and services
Windscribe is another service that works with Netflix. In the browser extension or desktop app, click the location named “Windflix” and you’ll get U.S. Netflix wherever you are in the world. This feature is currently in beta.
Windscribe’s browser extension provides beta access to U.S. Netflix.
If you’re already using the Windscribe desktop app, there may not seem to be much of a reason to use the browser extension, which uses a proxy service. It does have ad and tracker blocking as previously discussed, but most people use separate extensions for that.
Windscribe allows peer-to-peer file sharing on almost all of its servers. For those where it’s not allowed, you’ll see a small P2P icon with a slash through it to the right of the country name. At this writing, only the India and Japan servers disallowed file sharing.
Windscribe’s Preferences window.
Click on the “hamburger” menu icon in the upper-left corner of the desktop app and select Preferences to get to Windscribe’s settings. Most are pretty straightforward, but under the Share tab you’ll find the ability to turn your PC into a VPN-enabled Wi-Fi hotspot. This feature is currently in “Experimental” mode.
There’s also an option to enable a proxy gateway so that devices that normally don’t have VPN access can get it through your PC. This can be helpful for using with smart TVs, game consoles, and set-top boxes.
Moving on to the browser add-on we run into a few more helpful features. Windscribe’s Secure.link Generator, for example, is a link-shortening service with a security-aware twist. You click on a link and it takes you to a Windscribe landing page at https://secure.link/[shortenedLinkCode].
An example of Windscribe’s Secure.link splash page.
On the landing page you can see the name of the webpage you’re visiting, how many advertising trackers the page has, and a privacy letter-score rating (A,B,C,D, or F). Continuing to the page with the Windscribe browser extension enabled means all trackers will be blocked—though other extensions such as Privacy Badger and uBlock Origin can do this if you’re sans Windscribe.
Windscribe’s Secure.link provides encryption and message options.
The secure link can also be encrypted with a password, and you can include a message that appears on the landing page. The message can be seen by anyone with the link, but encrypted links can only be opened by users with the appropriate password.
There’s also a Force Install option that will require other users to have Windscribe installed before they will be able to see the destination of the link you’ve sent. I wouldn’t recommend using that option.
The browser extension in combination with the desktop app makes use of the double-hop feature, where you connect to two different VPN servers—one via the browser and one via the desktop app—for added anonymity online. Keep in mind, however, that double-hop only covers the browser you’re using, not the entire PC. Other VPN services offer a full “double VPN” such as NordVPN.
Diving into the extension’s settings via Menu > Privacy Options there are a bunch of features you can activate. There’s Anti-Social, which removes social buttons from the websites you visit. Proxy Time mimics your PC’s time to look like it’s set to the same time as the region you’re connecting to. Split Personality rotates your user-agent profile to avoid tracking through browser fingerprinting, and Cookie Monster destroys all cookies set during a browsing session once a tab is closed.
Windscribe is available for PC, Mac, Linux (Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, and CentOS), Android (phones, tablets, Amazon FireTV, and Nvidia Shield), and iOS, and there’s a setup guide for Kodi. There are also the usual router compatibilities including DD-WRT, Tomato, and an option to buy a pre-configured router.
Windscribe is priced at $49 billed annually, or $9 per month. There’s also a free option that limits your location selection to 11, and caps your monthly bandwidth at 10 gigabytes.
In our tests, Windscribe scored an average close to 25 percent of the base speed, with particularly standout scores in Europe, good American speeds, and a serviceable Australian connection. That puts Windscribe in “average” territory compared to other VPN services we’ve tested. It’s not faster than others, but its U.S. and European servers are speedy enough to satisfy most users.
Privacy, anonymity, and trust
Windscribe says it doesn’t track or store your internet browsing habits, as is typical of most VPN services. It does, however, track the total amount of bandwidth your account consumes in a one-month period. That bandwidth log is reset every month so there’s no long-term tracking of how much bandwidth you’re using. Windscribe says it does this to “enforce free-tier limitations as well as prevent abuse.”
The company also stores the timestamp of the last time you used Windscribe’s network. This is done to “weed out inactive accounts,” according to the company.
Windscribe also logs some other information during your connection including the OpenVPN username, the VPN server you’re connected to, the time of the connection, and the amount of data transferred. This data is kept for up to three minutes after you end your connection session, the company says.
The company is relatively open about who is running the service, though you won’t find specific information on the company website. Windscribe is based in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Its mailing address is 9251 Yonge St #8901, Richmond Hill, ON L4C 9T3, Canada. The company’s founders are Yegor Sak and Alex Paguis, as first discovered on LinkedIn.
Windscribe accepts payment via credit card, PayPal, Paymentwall, and Bitcoin, allowing for varying levels of anonymity. When you sign up for an account, you can supply just a username—that you create—and password. Windscribe asks for an email address, but you don’t have to provide one—although, without an email address you cannot reset your password.
Windscribe is a good VPN service. Its performance is fine, the server network is a little on the small side, but its account creation allows for more anonymity than a lot of services we’ve seen lately—mainly in that it doesn’t require (yet definitely encourages) an email address. It would be even better for anonymity if you could pay in cash, but that’s a rare feature. Bitcoin allows for pseudonymous payment for those who need it.
What really sets Windscribe apart, however, are the extras such as the Secure.link Generator that helps take the guessing out of where a shortened link is sending you—though some may not appreciate the extra landing page.
The various other privacy options in the browser add-on are also a nice touch. The Windflix feature is also helpful for those planning an overseas trip—though keep in mind Netflix could gain the upper hand in this cat-and-mouse game at any time.
As long as you don’t mind the various logging policies Windscribe is well worth a look.
Editor’s note: Because online services are often iterative, gaining new features and performance improvements over time, this review is subject to change in order to accurately reflect the current state of the service. Any changes to text or our final review verdict will be noted at the top of this article.
Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
Windscribe won't win any speed showdowns compared to other VPNs we've looked at, but it's still got some great servers in Europe and North America. The service also has added extras like a link shortener with warnings about ad trackers on the destination page, and it currently works with U.S. Netflix.
- Secure.link Generator is a helpful link-shortening service
- Works with Netflix
Ian is an independent writer based in Israel who has never met a tech subject he didn't like. He primarily covers Windows, PC and gaming hardware, video and music streaming services, social networks, and browsers. When he's not covering the news he's working on how-to tips for PC users, or tuning his eGPU setup.
Windscribe is a relatively new Canadian-based provider claiming to be “the best VPN on the market.” With fewer servers than many competitors, you might not expect this provider to perform all that brilliantly. We’ve been testing it out so that we can give you all the information you need to decide if Windscribe might be the best VPN for you.
Let’s take a look at how it fared!
Features and pricing
Windscribe has a free offering and while it’s not bad for a no-cost VPN, it is still pretty limited compared to premium options. You have access to servers in just 11 countries and get 10GB of bandwidth to play with per month. There is no OpenVPN configuration but you do get protection from IP address leaks and ad-blocking. P2P is allowed, although this may not be all that useful with only 10GB of bandwidth per month.
Aside from the free version, a single paid plan is available for which you can be billed monthly or annually. The monthly option will cost $9 per month but the annual plan comes with a steep discount of 55% making it $4.08 per month. These are pretty average prices for monthly and annual plans. However, many providers go a step further and advertise even bigger discounts on two or three-year plans, but we don’t see a similar offering from Windscribe.
When you do go to pay, you’ll find ample acceptable payment options including Bitpay, PayPal, PaymentWall, and most major credit cards. The ability to pay with bitcoin will be welcomed by privacy-conscious users. If you’re wondering about a free trial, there is a three-day money-back guarantee. This is one of the stingiest we’ve seen, especially when you consider many providers offer 14-day and even 30-day guarantees.
One thing that helps offset this is the fact that an account will allow you to connect to an unlimited number of devices. This is rare as most providers cap the number at two to six per account. We’ve seen other new providers offer an unlimited number of connections, so this may be a tactic to help gain an early following. We wouldn’t be surprised if a cap comes into effect down the road.
Windscribe apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android, and the VPN can be configured for Linux and certain routers. There are browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, but these are HTTPS proxies that don’t offer the same security as a VPN.
Once signed up, you’ll have access to a network of servers in 110 locations in 60 countries. The paid plan gives you unlimited bandwidth and allows P2P, so torrenting won’t be an issue.
Windscribe is competitive on the security front with 256-bit AES encryption and perfect forward secrecy. It also boasts a firewall which should protect against any kind of leak, including DNS and IPv6. The firewall reportedly offers a better alternative to a kill switch, so no kill switch is included. A number of protocols are available including OpenVPN, IKEv2 and SOCKS, and Stealth (a version of TCP run over OpenVPN).
The browser extensions can be used in combination with the VPN and offer a suite of additional privacy options, including ad-blocking and “anti-social” settings.
Setup and interface
Once you’ve got a Windscribe account set up, downloading and installing the apps is very straightforward. Windscribe describes its apps as “minimalist clients,” which may be welcome news for beginners who aren’t fans of a lot of bells and whistles. For this review, we’ve tried out the Windows and iOS apps.
When you’re logged into the desktop client, you’ll see that indeed the Windscribe app is very compact. The main screen shows you your current IP, whether or not the VPN is connected, and whether or not the firewall is on. The latter is Windscribe’s version of a kill switch, and will kill the internet connection if the VPN connection is lost. You can easily toggle it on or off from this main screen, which is a neat feature not typically supported in other VPN clients.
Clicking the location dropdown will open up the server list below the app. You can select a server based on country and be automatically connected to the optimal server for that location. If you want to be more specific, you can click the arrow to the right of the country name and view servers based on city, each server having its own witty name.
Once you’re connected, the whole app will change color from gray to bright blue. This means it’s always easy to tell when your connection is successful or if you have been disconnected.
To access the settings menu, you click the menu icon in the upper left-hand corner and select Preferences. You then have five tabs to choose from.
In the General screen, you’ll see simple startup settings and the option to change languages (there are dozens available).
Over in the Connection tab, you can adjust the firewall settings and change your protocol. There is also a spot to enter a manual IP address. This can be requested from Windscribe in case you’re getting an API connectivity error. This might happen when DNS requests are being blocked, for example by country or business firewalls.
The next tab,labeled Proxy, is where you configure a LAN proxy if needed.
Then you have the Share tab where you can configure your own wifi hotspot or create your own proxy server.
Finally, the Debug tab has options for sending or viewing logs and disabling IPv6.
The mobile application is sleek and well-designed albeit very limited. The main screen has a similar look to that of the desktop version, with a power button and server location dropdown menu. Once connected, the interface will turn bright blue.
Clicking the menu icon and selecting Preferences will take you to your settings.
It should really be labeled ‘Preference’ as there’s only one option here and that’s to add a manual API IP address. The app will probably be fine for beginners but advanced users might miss additional options.
Servers and performance
Although the company doesn’t disclose it’s server number, we do know it has servers in 110 locations in 60 countries. Many of the locations are in the US, which is great for those looking to unblock US streaming services. Switching between servers doesn’t require disconnecting first so you can do so with just one click.
You can select your server based on country alone or the specific city. All servers are suitable for use with P2P filesharing unless they are marked otherwise (a P2P icon with a strike through it).
We tested some of Windscribe’s servers for browsing, streaming, playing online games, and downloading files. Overall, the experience was great. Connecting to and switching servers was quick and painless, and we didn’t experience any dropped connection. We played online games with no issues and streamed 1080p through various servers with no buffering.
Windscribe speed test performance
When running speed tests we aim to be as empirical as possible. We use a test server in Canada and connect to each provider’s servers in the US, UK, Hong Kong, Australia, and Germany. For each location, a test file (50MB) is downloaded from a server in the US four times per day at six-hour intervals. We note the average download speed for each test and display the aggregate data.
In the Simple tab of the chart below shows how Windscribe compares to other VPN services we’ve tested purely on the basis of median download speed. As you can see, Windscribe performs well with speeds around the middle of the pack.
A more detailed version of our results can be seen in the Detailed tab. Here, you can see that the spread in results for Windscribe is fairly tight compared to many competitors. This indicates a fairly reliable speed range and means that you’ll likely know what kind of speeds to expect once you’ve been using the service for a while.
It’s important to note that these tests aren’t definitive and can only serve as a general indication of the performance you might see. The inherent volatility of the internet adds a significant factor of randomness. What’s more, you’ll likely see longer wait times with a slow connection, and perhaps smaller or larger discrepancies.
Does Windscribe VPN unblock Netflix?
Windscribe prides itself on being able to provide access to geo-restricted content such as that provided by Netflix. With Netflix cracking down on the use of VPNs in order to view geo-locked shows and movies, it can be difficult to find providers that can reliably bypass the proxy error.
We tested Windscribe’s ability to access US Netflix. The New York server we tried resulted in an error, but when we switched to a Los Angeles server, it worked seamlessly. Similarly, we were able to use a London server to unblock Netflix UK.
Even though it wasn’t much trouble to access Netflix via this method, Windscribe has another option. You can get access to US or UK Netflix through dedicated ‘Windflix’ servers. In the server dropdown, just select either WINDFLIX US or WINDFLIX UK from the list and you’re good to go. We were successful in unblocking the US and UK Netflix libraries through these servers respectively.
Aside from Netflix, we tested a few other streaming services with mixed results. A London server unblocked ITV Hub and All 4, but not BBC iPlayer. The Windflix UK option couldn’t provide access to BBC iPlayer, either. Amazon Prime Video was accessible through a regular UK server for the British content, and through the Windflix US option for the American content.
Does Windscribe VPN work in China?
With China’s Great Firewall blocking popular sites including Facebook, Google, and YouTube, many residents and travelers are turning to VPNs to access this restricted content. Unfortunately, many VPNs are blocked in China too, and there’s a dwindling list of providers that still work there.
Thankfully, according to users on a Windscribe subreddit, many are having success with this service in China. Just bear in mind that setting it up to actually work might not be straightforward. Plus, even if the VPN works in China, the website itself might be blocked, meaning little to no access to general support and troubleshooting assistance. So if you do plan on using the service in China, it’s probably worth becoming familiar with the setup and potential issues before you travel.
Security and privacy
Windscribe is headquartered in Canada, one of the Five Eyes countries. This means it could be subject to mass government surveillance by other countries. Thankfully, Windscribe not only hides your activity from your ISP and anyone else who might be snooping, but it also maintains a strict no-logs policy. This provider doesn’t keep any traffic logs and connection logs are kept to a bare minimum. “We store total amount of bandwidth your account has consumed in a 1 month period, which is reset every month on the day of your registration.” It also stores a timestamp of the last activity associated with an account to detect inactive accounts. However, this is linked to an account and not an IP address.
Windscribe’s security features are comparable to those of some top providers we’ve examined in the past. It uses 256-bit AES encryption with SHA512 authentication, in conjunction with 4,096-bit RSA keys and backed by perfect forward secrecy. Protocol options include OpenVPN, IKEv2, SOCKS, UDP, TCP, and Stealth. The latter is a version of TCP that might be useful in China.
According to Windscribe, “each VPN server has a recursive DNS server running on it, which means it does all the DNS resolution for you.” This means you should never have to worry about DNS leaks. IPv6 leak protection is also included and is enabled by default. This can be disabled in the Preferences>Debug tab.
When it comes to a kill switch, Windscribe claims that its “firewall” is superior to the kill switch feature offered by most VPNs. It states that it “blocks all connectivity outside of the tunnel to ensure there is zero chance of any kind of leak, including but not limited to DNS leaks, IPv6 leaks, WebRTC leaks, etc.” The firewall is enabled by default, but this can be altered in the Preferences>Connection tab. It can also be simply toggled off and on in the main screen.
One more added security feature is the ability to create a “double hop” by using the VPN client in combination with the browser extension. The idea is to connect to two different locations — one through the VPN and one through the browser extension. This serves to help privacy and anonymity by preventing a correlation attack on a Windscribe server. As a bonus, the browser extensions block ads and remove all trackers, including social widgets.
If you’re in need of any help setting up or using Windscribe, you have a few options for support. Clicking the Support tab on the website or selecting Help Me! from within the app will take you to the main support hub. Here, you’ll find a Self Help section including Setup Guides, FAQs, and a Knowledge Base. As far as FAQ sections go, we found Windscribe’s to be pretty thorough and upfront whereas many are limited and/or vague.
Moving on to Technical Support, you have three options: Subreddit, Talk to Garry, and Submit ticket. Talk to Garry is actually the ‘live chat’ option that you can alternatively access by clicking the green speech bubble icon in the lower left-hand corner of the website. Surprisingly, this is actually an automated bot that seems to give a predetermined response based on keywords present in your question.
This may be okay for some users, but it’s essentially the same as having a search function in an FAQ section or knowledgebase. After asking the same question several times and getting a few different confusing responses, we had the option to “escalate to Human.” Instead of taking us to an actual live chat rep, it directed us to submit a ticket through email. We got a response to one ticket query in around six hours but another took a lot longer. The Talk to Garry option seems a bit pointless and might be frustrating for some users. Hopefully, as this provider grows, it will see value in providing a real live chat option.
Windscribe has a very solid offering suitable for beginners and seasoned VPN users alike. It packs most of the features you might be looking for including strong security, ability to unblock sites like Netflix, fast speeds, and unlimited bandwidth. Whether you want to stream, torrent, or browse securely, Windscribe pretty much has you covered.
Highlights include unlimited simultaneous connections and dedicated streaming servers for Netflix US and UK. Downsides include the lack of 24/7 live customer support and the limited mobile application.
Windscribe has a tool for every platform. You can use the software directly on your Windows, Mac or Linux (Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, CentOS). However, the company also highly recommends using their Google Chrome, Firefox or Opera browser plugins as an extra layer of security. Windscribe can be used directly on your phone, your TV, and even your router. For the adventurous, Windscribe even allows you to setup the software on any device that supports the Open VPN, IKEv2, or SOCKS4 protocols.
Windscribe’s interface is simple and incredibly easy to use. Upgrading to the Pro version from the free version was lightning fast.
The user interface consists of a small window that displays the server location, your IP address, Firewall toggle switch, a giant On/Off button and a hamburger menu that allows users to adjust preferences, see their account details, and get help, among other options.
The default VPN connection is a U.S. server tagged “Best Location”. However, clicking the arrow displays all of Windscribe’s locations which are broad regions located in each country. For example, the United States is broken up into US Central, US East and US West, just to name a few and each location is listed along with its ping time.
Turning on Windscribe and connecting to a server took about two minutes to complete. Best Location featured a ping of 68 ms and while web pages seemed to open quickly at times, this wasn’t always the case. In addition to this, the connection would sometimes drop and force the software to have to reconnect. Since there is no kill switch feature with Windscribe your internet connection will no longer be secure and you can be vulnerable.
Selecting Preferences from the menu and then clicking the Connection tab reveals a number of protocols to choose from. If the Automatic setting isn’t for you, you can switch to Manual and choose between IKEv2, UDP, TCP and Stealth. These options also allow users to specify their own port numbers in case they are blocked from using the default setting.
Stealth mode, a TCP protocol via Stunnel, is Windscribe’s fix for those users who are walled in by Chinese censorship. If this isn’t successful, Windscribe even allows users to manually configure an IP through their API Resolution tool.
While many of these settings are geared primarily for advanced users, novices will have to seek out more information or speak to a technical team member.
Yet, the VPN isn’t all that Windscribe offers. R.O.B.E.R.T is a great addon that detects and blocks malware, tracking cookies, and much more. It’s easy to configure, so you can get the protection you need. The company also offers a number of Browser Extension Features to help keep you and your information safe online. Among them, Ad Blocking, Double Hop (gives you the ability to proxy your connection through any two servers on the Windscribe network), and Time zone Spoofing (changes your time zone to that of the server).
Windscribe VPN is a Canada-based provider that promises to help you browse the web privately.
In addition to its paid service, this VPN has a popular free version that attracts many users with its generous 10GB monthly data limit.
The Pro version gives you access to unlimited data and servers in 110 cities spread across 63 countries. Windscribe Pro also gives you the option of port forwarding.
Fans of its advanced feature R.O.B.E.R.T will be happy too. New updates to the feature allow you to spoof domains to an IP address of your choosing, and to block IPs and IP networks that may be untrustworthy. If you’re not sure what R.O.B.E.R.T is don’t worry, we cover it in further detail a bit later on in this review.
I put this VPN to the test to find out how its performance compares to other top VPNs on the market.
Overall, Windscribe VPN has a lot to offer. It can help you torrent, stream Netflix US, and is packed with privacy features.
There’s one major drawback, though. While you have access to Netflix US, all other countries are off limits. If you want to switch between worldwide Netflix libraries, check out one of these vendors.
I discovered a few other areas with some weaknesses as well. Keep reading to find out how this VPN performs in each category.
Streaming – Does Windscribe VPN Work with Netflix?
A high-quality VPN can help you access geo-restricted streaming content by masking your true IP address.
When you connect to a VPN, it assigns you a new IP address. If you connect to a VPN server located in a different country, you will be assigned an IP address from that location.
This can help you access geo-restricted streaming content all over the world. The problem is that many streaming platforms like Netflix have gotten better at detecting and blocking VPN traffic.
Windscribe has dedicated VPN servers to help users access Netflix in various countries. These are labeled as Windflix in the server selection menu.
I connected to Windscribe’s Windflix US server and opened up Netflix. I was able to stream content from the Netflix US catalog without a problem.
However, I was not able to access the Netflix catalogs of other countries I tested. But with a leading vendor like NordVPN, you have access to Netflix libraries around the world with no restrictions.
Windscribe’s dedicated Netflix streaming server in the UK was not able to access Netflix during my tests. I was blocked by the following message:
I was also blocked by Hulu’s VPN ban on all of the US servers that I tested:
I had similar issues accessing Amazon Prime Video:
Windscribe also failed to access HBO GO, and BBC iPlayer.
Windscribe VPN Speeds
One of the most important qualities that you should be looking for in a VPN is fast connection speeds.
A VPN that slows you down can quickly become very frustrating. Whether you are streaming, torrenting, online gaming, or simply browsing the web, you need a VPN that is fast enough to keep up with your needs.
I tested the connection speeds of Windscribe VPN to see how it compares to other popular VPNs.
Before connecting to Windscribe, my download speed was 61.74 Mbps.
By comparing my starting speed to my average connection speeds while connected to the VPN, I can find out if Windscribe is slowing me down.
I connected to a Windscribe server near my location in the US. Servers closer to your physical location tend to give you the best connection speeds.
My average connection speed on the US server was 26.22 Mbps:
Windscribe’s dedicated US Netflix server was a bit faster, with an average speed of 38.15 Mbps:
After connecting to a Windscribe server in the UK, my average connection speed was 30.28 Mbps:
A server in Germany had an average speed of 3.77 Mbps:
On a Windscribe server across the world in Japan, my average connection speed was 9.63 Mbps:
As you can see, there were some inconsistencies in Windscribe’s server speeds.
The good news for Windscribe is that its dedicated US Netflix server, which is only available to premium members, delivered pretty fast connections.
On the other hand, I experienced a noticeable drop in speed on some of the servers that I tested.
Windscribe has decent server speeds overall, but right now it can’t compete with the fastest VPNs on the market.
Is Windscribe VPN Good for Torrenting?
Windscribe VPN allows torrenting on most servers in its network.
The server selection menu identifies which servers should not be used for P2P file sharing activity. These servers are labeled with a crossed out P2P icon.
Security – Is Windscribe VPN Safe?
You need to be able to trust your VPN to keep you safe. It looks like Windscribe is doing its job correctly.
I ran multiple leak tests while connected to Windscribe VPN. I did not detect any DNS or IP leaks.
This is how I was viewed by the websites I visited while connected to a VPN server in the UK:
As you can see, my real location in the US was masked with an IP address in the UK. This is exactly what it looks like when a VPN is doing what it’s supposed to.
Windscribe offers DNS/IPv6 leak protection to ensure that there is no way for your location to be exposed.
The VPN also comes with WebRTC leak protection and an automatic kill switch, which Windscribe calls its firewall. The kill switch will cut off all internet traffic if your VPN connection suddenly drops.
Without a kill switch, your data could be exposed if you lose your VPN connection.
Other advanced features that you can use to customize your security include port forwarding, split tunneling, and double hop.
Does Windscribe VPN Keep Logs?
Windscribe is located in Canada, which is a member of the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance. That is typically not something that privacy lovers like to see.
The following types of information are never collected by Windscribe:
- Historical record of VPN sessions
- Source IP
- Sites you visited while connected to the VPN
This is what Windscribe does collect:
- Total amount of bytes transferred in a 30 day period
- Timestamp of your last activity on the Windscribe network
This data is collected to enforce the limitations of the free tier and to prevent abuse of the network.
The only things you need to provide to create an account are a username and password.
You don’t have to give Windscribe an email or any other type of contact information if you don’t want to. To maximize your anonymity, Windscribe allows you to pay with Bitcoin.
Does Windscribe VPN Have an Ad Blocker?
Windscribe offers Pro users a unique security suite called R.O.B.E.R.T. It is a customizable blocker that protects you from a variety of harmful and invasive content. R.O.B.E.R.T is available in a limited capacity on the free plan as well.
With R.O.B.E.R.T., you can pick and choose from a list of content to block, including advertisements, malware trackers, and cryptominers.
Blocking these web features helps keep you safe, but it can also have other benefits. It can sometimes increase your browsing speed because there is less content to load.
You can even use R.O.B.E.R.T. to help you control your own browsing habits. The feature allows you to block things like social networks, sexually explicit content, gambling sites, and more.
Does Windscribe VPN Work in China?
In recent years, China has been cracking down on VPN use in the country. More and more VPNs are struggling to compete with the Great Firewall of China.
That makes it even more impressive when a VPN like Windscribe is able to bypass these restrictions.
Most users report that Windscribe does work for them in China. The VPN has some special connection modes that are designed to work in restrictive environments like China.
Windscribe has a Stealth VPN mode that masks your OpenVPN traffic by hiding it inside of a secure TLS tunnel. The company recommends this mode for users in China.
If all other protocols fail in China, Windscribe also has a Wstunnel mode that wraps OpenVPN in a WebSocket.
In Windscribe’s FAQ, the company encourages users to contact support for help if they can’t get the VPN to work in China.
Price and Value for Money
Windscribe offers affordable packages that won’t break the bank. There are three types of paid packages – monthly, yearly, and a 2-year subscription.
The monthly subscription rate is reasonable for the great value that Windscribe offers with its VPN service.
Decent discounts are offered on longer subscriptions, which makes it even more affordable. The company also offers special discounts for students.
The company doesn’t offer dedicated IPs, but you can buy a static IP for an additional monthly fee.
Windscribe offers good value for money, but its long-term plans are still a little pricier than some top competitors like NordVPN.
Does Windscribe VPN Have a Free Version?
Yes, Windscribe VPN offers a free version of the service. If you’re on the fence about Windscribe VPN, the free version is a great way to test it out.
However, the free version probably won’t be enough for most people’s needs in the long-term. It comes with some big limitations.
For one thing, the free version doesn’t give you access to Netflix. The dedicated Windflix servers are only available with the Pro version.
With the free version, you only have access to servers in 11 countries. These servers are sometimes slower because they are more crowded.
The free package allows 10GB of data per month and offers unlimited connections. This isn’t a huge amount of data, but it is much more generous than most free VPNs.
Quick tip: Windscribe will permanently add 5GB to your monthly plan if you tweet about the company. Details can be found on Windscribe’s website.
Windscribe VPN’s Refund Policy
Windscribe VPN’s refund policy is pretty restrictive compared to many of its competitors.
When you buy the service, you only have three days to request a refund. It’s not a lot of time, but considering you can test it out with the free version, this is somewhat reasonable.
To request a refund, you must submit a written request to the support desk within three days of purchasing a subscription.
Keep in mind that you will only receive a refund if you have used less than 10GB of data.
Most popular VPN services offer a longer money-back guarantee without these kinds of restrictions.
Is Windscribe VPN Compatible with My Device?
Windscribe offers dedicated apps for all major platforms, along with router installation guides.
The company also sells pre-configured routers that make it easy to protect all the devices in your home or workplace.
You can download the Windscribe VPN app for Windows, Mac, and even Linux. The VPN also has browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. The Chrome and Firefox browser extensions now include malware and phishing blockers and location and API spoofing. Windscribe also recently developed a new iOS app, that offers IKEv2 and OpenVPN support, network whitelisting, and shortcuts for Siri. Its Android app was updated as well, and now includes IKEv2/OpenVPN support, split routing, and new design features like Dark and Custom Color Mode.
If you want to live stream videos on your TV, Windscribe can be installed on Amazon Fire TV, NVidia Shield, and Kodi.
For both the free and paid versions, you can connect an unlimited number of simultaneous devices, which adds a lot of value to the service.
Windscribe protects your data with strong encryption. The VPN uses AES-256 cipher with SHA512 auth and a 4096-bit RSA key.
The VPN also supports perfect forward secrecy. This is a method of encryption that regularly generates new, unique encryption keys for your VPN sessions.
This guarantees that even if your encryption key were somehow compromised, only a small amount of data would be vulnerable.
Windscribe allows you to choose your VPN protocol. By default, the VPN uses the IKEv2 protocol, which offers a good balance of security and speed.
You can also use the VPN with OpenVPN. Windscribe lets you choose between UDP and TCP OpenVPN connections.
The VPN’s Stealth Mode hides OpenVPN in a TLS tunnel via Stunnel. This makes it a good option to use in restrictive countries like China that often block VPN traffic.
Windscribe VPN Customer Service
In the past, the only way to contact Windscribe was through their ticket system, which still exists.
The customer service team typically responds to tickets within a few hours, but it can take as long as a few days.
If you want real-time assistance, you can turn to Windscribe’s live chat service. The company’s chatbot, Garry, can answer most common questions and support requests.
If your question is too complicated for Garry to handle, you will be transferred to a live chat team. I found the live chat customer service team to be responsive, friendly, and helpful.
The website also provides some helpful resources like FAQs, blog posts, and a searchable knowledge base.
Windscribe VPN is a very user-friendly service. The desktop apps and browser extensions have a stylish, minimalist design.
You can connect to the VPN with a single click from Windscribe’s main interface.
The Best Location feature will automatically connect you to a nearby server. You can conveniently toggle the automatic kill switch (called Firewall) on and off at the bottom of the screen.
To access the settings, click on the three horizontal lines in the upper left corner.
Clicking on your current location will bring you to the server selection menu.
Dedicated Netflix servers are named “Windflix”. Servers that do not allow P2P traffic are labeled in the menu.
The server menu and the settings interface are both intuitive and easy to navigate.
In a nutshell, Windscribe offers most of what you want in a VPN, including tight security and reliable performance.
You’ll be able to stream Netflix US and surf the web anonymously on as many devices as you like. The VPN also works in China thanks to its Stealth mode.
On the other hand, my tests revealed some inconsistencies in Windscribe VPN’s connection speeds and geo-spoofing abilities.
For a VPN that can help you access all your favorite streaming platforms and give you fast connection speeds at a reasonable price, take a look at our top six recommended VPNs for streaming.
Choosing a VPN can be tough, especially when you don’t even know what qualities to look out for. Today I’m reviewing Windscribe, a VPN with over 500 servers in more than 60 countries that are based in Ontario, Canada. At the end of the day, I’m looking for a VPN that’s secure and fast, so I’ll be checking out Windscribe’s pros and cons, its features, subscription options, customer support, and app. I’ll also be performing my own tests on Windscribe so I can see how it measures up in terms of security and speed. Then, I’ll determine if Windscribe is a good VPN overall, and a good VPN for you specifically. Let’s get started!
Pros and Cons of Windscribe
I’m going to go into a lot of detail in this review, so first I want to give you a nice overview of Windscribe. Let’s start positive.
What We Like
- Double-hop: Your data will be encrypted twice as it travels through two servers to get to the Internet.
- Positive app ratings: Both iPhone and Android users had good things to say about the Windscribe app.
- Free option: You can get Windscribe completely free in the U.S, Canada, U.K, Hong Kong, and more countries.
- Speed on Windows: Aside from download speed, Windscribe performed faster on my Windows Vivobook rather than on my Macbook Air.
Of course, Windscribe isn’t all good.
What We Don’t Like
- Part of Five Eyes: As Windscribe is based in Ontario, Canada, it’s possible that your data will be shared with other nations in certain situations.
- Netflix only works for U.S and U.K: Those outside of these places should not expect Netflix to work.
- Speed on Mac: I was disappointed with Windscribe’s upload and ping speeds on my Macbook Air.
- Data logging policy: While Windscribe won’t log your activity, they will keep track of the total amount of data transferred in the past month as well as the timestamp of your activity.
Okay, now for a little background on Windscribe as a company.
Windscribe is based in Canada
Based in Ontario, Canada, Windscribe has over 500 servers in over 60 countries. While I love Canada and Canadians, I’m not thrilled about the VPN’s location. Canada is a part of the international surveillance alliance Five Eyes, which means that you could be subject to hand over your data, completely legally. Sure, this would only be done in a very specific and dire situation, but you’re using a VPN for a reason (and I won’t ask why!). Canada itself has been known to have stricter policies on data retention and surveillance, so it’s not the best place for a VPN’s headquarters.
Now that I’ve given you some necessary background, I want to tell you about the features of the VPN itself.
Will Windscribe Log My Data?
Windscribe Data Logging Policy. Screenshot from the website.
The only data that Windscribe keeps is your username, password, email address, and payment method. They’ll also keep track of the total amount of bytes you’ve transferred in the past 30 days, plus the timestamp of your last activity and the number of parallel connections to prevent account sharing. They will not store your original IP address or the sites you’ve visited.
As far as logging data goes, Windscribe logs a little more than the bare minimum. I don’t love that they keep track of the number of bytes you’re transferring or when you’re using the VPN— it seems unnecessary, unlike your account information.
Does Windscribe Have A Kill Switch?
Windscribe does have a kill switch, also called a network lock feature. Say you’re in a coffee shop using the Windscribe VPN, and for whatever reason, your VPN fails. Immediately, all of your websites and applications will be “killed” so you won’t have any leaks onto the public server. That’s a good thing!
What Kind of Tunneling does Windscribe Offer?
Windscribe offers split tunneling, meaning you’ll be able to go on a public network and a private network simultaneously. This is great for bandwidth, an added bonus.
Can I Use Netflix with Windscribe?
You’ll be able to access Netflix on Windscribe servers in the U.S and U.K but watching Netflix from any other country probably won’t work.
Encryption is what turns the words you see on your computer into inscrutable code, indecipherable to any third party. Let’s see how Windscribe actually encrypts your data.
A Secure Hash Algorithm encrypts your data and also matches a specific public key to an identity. The “hashes” created are both irreversible, meaning that if you only had the hash, you couldn’t figure out what the original data was, and unique, meaning that no two pieces of data will result in the same hash.
Next, Internet protocols determine how your data is transmitted across a network. Let’s take a closer look.
Say you get disconnected from your VPN and you want to connect again. The Internet Key Exchange (version two) will re-establish your connection. This is especially helpful if you’re someone that likes to switch in between Wi-Fi and mobile hotspots through your phone. Basically, if you’re working in a coffee shop, IKEv2 is the protocol for you.
Picture yourself as a girl on the run. What’s the first thing you do? Buy a disguise, of course. SOCKS, which stands for Sockets, is what gets you in disguise through a spanking new IP address. Then, it gets the data to its destination, but keep in mind that with SOCKS alone, the data won’t be encrypted. That’s why we match it with encryption methods, to attain both the speed of SOCKS and the safety of encryption.
A user datagram protocol is responsible for sending the data packets, but it’s not responsible for keeping them in order. Think of UDP like a fun uncle sending you off to school one morning. While you’ll get there eventually, you will probably be missing some of your homework or lunch.
That’s why Windscribe pairs UDP with TCP, Transmission Control Protocol. Not only does it transport data, but it also makes sure that it gets to the right place. First, it creates a connection between the source and the destination and ensures that it’s active. Then, it breaks the data into smaller packets and makes sure it gets put back together in the right order. If UDP is your fun uncle, TCP is your responsible older sister picking up the slack.
Is it just me or does Stealth sound like a James Bond movie? Stealth is what disguises your VPN traffic as regular web traffic so it can get through firewalls. This is especially helpful if you’re using Windscribe in countries like China, Pakistan, Cuba, or the United Arab Emirates that don’t allow VPNs.
Now that I’ve shown you how Windscribe does what it does, I want to see how well it works. That’s why I’ll be testing this VPN for its speed, as well as checking for any DNS or WebRTC leaks. I test all my VPNs on both a Macbook Air and a Windows Vivobook from my apartment in Brooklyn, where my Internet service provider is Optimum. Let’s see how Windscribe performs!
Now here’s the fun part: actually getting to see how Windscribe affects the speed on my computer.
Windscribe Download Speed Test
As far as download speed goes, Windscribe worked better on my Macbook than it did on my Vivobook, with a decrease of only 20% compared to 43% on the Vivobook.
Windscribe Upload Speed Test
In upload speed, however, things were reversed. While upload speed was only decreased by about 16% on the Vivobook, it was reduced by a whopping 60% on the Macbook Air.
Windscribe Ping Test
The last thing I test speed-wise is ping, otherwise known as latency. Again, the Vivobook out-performed the Mac in this area, only increasing latency by 33% compared to 66% on the Mac. Overall, Windscribe performed faster on the Windows over the Mac, leading me to believe that it’s a better VPN for PC users over Mac users.
DNS Leak Test
DNS stands for Domain Name Server, and some would call it the phonebook of the modern age. It’s basically a website’s address that your computer gets to by using Internet protocols. But before there were websites with easy to remember names like google.com, there were IP addresses. Whenever you’re going to a website, your device needs to know that IP address, so the DNS acts as a shortcut.
If you’re using a VPN, it might be because you don’t want anywhere to know where you go online, a.k.a the DNS’s you visit. The good news for you is that Windscribe didn’t have any DNS leaks on either the Mac or the Windows computer, so your web traffic remains encrypted in the VPN’s tunnel.
WebRTC Leak Test
Have you ever heard about cutting out the middle man? It’s something that’s supposed to make things quicker, and that’s exactly what WebRTC is. It allows web browsers to communicate directly with each other rather than through a middle-man server. The pros? Faster speeds and less lag, especially for file sharing, livestreaming, or video chat. The con? All devices that use WebRTC will need to know the other device’s private IP address. If you’re using browsers like Firefox, Opera, Chrome, and Microsoft Edge, you should know that your default is WebRTC.
The WebRTC leak test makes sure that your private IP address hasn’t been leaked outside of the encrypted VPN tunnel. You’ll be glad to know that Windscribe didn’t have any WebRTC leaks in either of my tests, so it seems like the encryption is up to snuff.
Now I want to show you what you’ve probably been wondering about all along: pricing.
Windscribe Subscription Options
One subscription to Windscribe gets you an unlimited amount of server switches, simultaneous connections, and devices— that’s pretty generous, especially considering they offer a free VPN to certain countries! When you pay for a subscription, however, you do get some bonus features— unlimited data, the ability to block ads, trackers, and malware, and to configure your generator how you like. That doesn’t seem too bad for $9 a month! Plus, you can get Windscribe completely free in some countries, which is pretty unusual.
Windscribe works on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, routers, and NAS devices.
Windscribe will work in Chrome, Opera, and Firefox web browsers.
Windscribe Customer Support
Windscribe Customer Support. Screenshot from the website.
I find few things in this world more frustrating than having to call tech support. It’s 2020: why can’t things just work as they should? However, I live in the real world and understand customer support as a distinct possibility. Am I thrilled about it? No, but at least I’ll be prepared. How does Windscribe’s customer support work, and is it any good?
You can contact Windscribe’s customer support through live chat or an online form. You can also check out their subreddit or their lengthy setup guides, FAQ’s or knowledge base. I’m pretty happy that Windscribe offers live chat, as many VPNs skimp on customer support.
Customer Support Ratings
I’m a man of the people, so when it comes to customer support, I want to see what real Windscribe customers had to say about it. On Google, Winscribe has a 3.9 out of five-star rating, which is pretty good. Only two reviews mentioned customer support— one was positive, and one was negative, so that wasn’t the most helpful. On Amazon, however, Windscribe has a whopping 144 reviews and an overall 3.6 out of five-star rating. Unfortunately, none of the reviews mentioned customer support, but I’m going to take that as a good sign that Windscribe worked for many people without needing help.
The Windscribe App
The Windscribe app has good ratings of 3.9 and 4.2 from the Apple and Google Play stores, respectively. I’m glad to see that customers are digging Windscribe’s app!
Windscribe Vs. Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access Vs. Windscribe Features
I’m comparing Windscribe to a similar VPN called Private Internet Access, or PIA for short. Neither VPN logs your data, but PIA is stricter than Windscribe— they won’t keep the total amount of bytes you’ve transferred over the last month, nor when you used the VPN. However, Windscribe does have split tunneling, which PIA lacks. Other than that, PIA dominates Windscribe when it comes to Netflix access as well as dynamic IP addresses, much more secure than static IP addresses. When it comes to Internet speed, PIA wins over Windscribe, although neither had any security leaks in my tests.
Overall, I’d pick Private Internet Access over Windscribe due to its faster speeds and stricter data logging policy.
Recap of Windscribe
Windscribe is definitely not the VPN for everyone, but is it the right VPN for you?
I’d recommend Windscribe if you’d like…
- Double-hop: Your data will be encrypted multiple times, increasing security.
- Fast speed on Windows: I was pleased with Windscribe’s speed on my Windows Vivobook.
- Free option: There’s nothing better than free, and Windscribe is completely free in the U.S, Canada, Hong Kong, the U.K, and more.
- Good app ratings: Customers liked the Windscribe app on both iPhones and Androids.
But steer clear if you dislike the following…
- Speeds on Mac: While it wasn’t horrible, I wasn’t too impressed with Windscribe’s speed on my Macbook Air.
- Part of Five Eyes: As Canada is part of an international surveillance alliance, Windscribe can be legally forced to hand over your data.
- Netflix policy: If you’re on any other servers outside of the U.S or U.K, you won’t be able to use Netflix with Windscribe.
- Data logging policy: Windscribe logs more data than necessary, like the number of files you’ve transferred and when you used the VPN.
Windscribe is an interesting VPN service based in Canada. While it is not really a market leader, this VPN has some decent features to offer. But it also has some notable drawbacks.
In this new and updated Windscribe review, I put the service through extensive testing. Here is a brief overview of my findings and test results.
Pros of Windscribe:
- User-friendly applications
- Good leak protection features
- Ad blocker (ROBERT)
- Free plan with 10 GB of data per month
- Browser extensions
Cons of Windscribe:
- Slow speeds
- Uses IKEv2 as default protocol (rather than OpenVPN)
- Based in Canada (Five Eyes)
- AI-based support system
- Issues with professionalism
Additional research findings:
- Windscribe logging policies
- Does Windscribe work with Netflix?
- Is Windscribe good for torrenting?
- Windscribe prices and refund policy
Now let’s get into the results of this Windscribe review.
1. User-friendly applications
For this Windscribe review, I tested out both the Windows and Mac OS VPN clients. The apps are user-friendly and simple, while also having some nice features.
Here was the Windscribe Windows client I tested:
Clicking the three lines in the top-left corner of the VPN client will open up additional options and features for you to select. You can select startup options, auto-connection, customize notifications, and also modify the layout of the VPN client.
Overall I liked the look and feel of the Windscribe VPN clients. They are simple, clean, and intuitive. Although I did not test the Windscribe mobile apps for this review, they look similar and also have a pretty good rating (4.4) in the
2. Good leak protection features
Another “pro” with Windscribe is the leak protection features.
In both the Windows and Mac OS clients, Windscribe offers a “Firewall” setting to block traffic if the connection is not active. The Firewall feature gives you three options: Manual, Automatic, and Always On.
Windscribe also allows you to configure DNS settings within the client. Below you can see both the Firewall options and DNS settings in the Windows VPN client.
Ok, now on to the tests.
I ran Windscribe through a round of basic VPN tests and checks to identify any issues. The test results were good. I did not identify any leaks with Windscribe.
Here I’m testing the Windows client for IP address leaks and DNS leaks:
Above you can see that everything checks out (no leaks). I also ran the Windscribe Mac OS client through the same basic tests and the results were the same: no leaks.
Encryption – The Windscribe VPN desktop client uses an AES-256 cipher with SHA512 auth and a 4096-bit RSA key. The browser extension uses TLS 1.2, ECDHE_RSA with P-256 key exchange and an AES_128_GCM cipher.
In terms of basic security settings, Windscribe does well.
3. Windscribe’s ad blocker (ROBERT)
Another cool feature that Windscribe offers is an ad blocker. The Windscribe ad blocker is called ROBERT. I’m not sure if “ROBERT” is an acronym for something, but either way, it does quite a bit of blocking.
Windscribe offers basic filter lists, which will block the following categories of URLs:
- Ads + Trackers
- Social media
- Fake News + Clickbait
- Other VPNs
This is a pretty robust filter feature. It is similar to the TrackStop filter from Perfect Privacy. However, one cool aspect with Windscribe’s ROBERT is that it is customizable. In other words, you can create custom white-lists for domains or IP addresses as well as custom block-lists.
This is a server-side ad blocker, which means it works independently of the VPN client with any device you are using. If you want a good ad blocker, this may be an option to consider.
4. Free plan with 10 GB data/month
The last “pro” we will examine in this review is Windscribe’s free plan. Windscribe offers a free plan with the following restrictions:
- Only 10 GB of data allowed per month
- The ROBERT feature only includes the “Malware” filter list (no blocking of ads or trackers)
- Limited number of servers
On a positive note, Windscribe does give you a few different ways to increase your bandwidth allowance:
While I generally do not recommend free VPN services, this may not be a bad option if you don’t need very much data.
5. Windscribe browser extension
When you go to download Windscribe, you notice that they recommend downloading both a VPN application and a browser extension.
To use the ad blocker, you will need to download the browser extension.
More and more VPNs are offering browser extensions that can be used with VPNs. I’ve also recently noticed this with ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and VPN.ac, for example.
So why use the VPN together with the browser extension?
Using a browser extension may be good in certain situations. However, it’s also important to note that a browser extension is not a VPN. Instead, it is an HTTPS proxy, which does not offer the full protection of the VPN, such as firewall protection against IP leaks. This is noted in the table above, even though they refer to the proxy extension as a “browser-only VPN client”.
Note: Windscribe recommends using the VPN client (desktop) in conjunction with browser extension for full protection and more features.
Now let’s examine the cons of Windscribe.
1. Windscribe slow speeds
One big drawback with Windscribe is the performance with the OpenVPN protocol. To check for speeds with Windscribe, I used a 160 Mbps baseline (non-VPN) connection and tested many VPN servers throughout the world. My physical testing location was in Western Europe.
Note: I configured the VPN client to only use OpenVPN UDP, which offers better performance over OpenVPN TCP. I did not test speeds with the IKEv2 VPN protocol, simply because I run all speed tests with OpenVPN. IKEv2 is a good VPN protocol, but OpenVPN is the gold standard because it is secure, reliable, and open source.
The Windscribe VPN client gives you the option to connect to the “Best Location”, which should offer the best speeds. Here were the results:
“Best Location” speed test with a nearby Windscribe server in Germany: 28 Mbps
This is definitely not a good test result for a nearby server, which should be offering near full capacity bandwidth.
Next up was a Windscribe server in Switzerland, which gave me even slower speeds around 18 Mbps.
I also tested a few Windscribe servers in the UK, which gave me about 30 Mbps.
If you want a fast VPN for the UK, Windscribe would probably not fit the bill. There are certainly better options to consider.
Next, I tested Windscribe servers in the United States. The test results were equally disappointing.
Here is a Windscribe server in New York giving me about 10 Mbps.
Even with the longer distances, this is still very slow.
COMPARISON with ExpressVPN: For a quick comparison, I was able to get around 140 Mbps when testing ExpressVPN servers in New York (from my location in Europe).
As you can see, the difference in speeds is huge.
Continuing on with Windscribe, I then tested a server in Miami, which gave me around 9 Mbps.
Last up, I tested Chicago, which was the worst of all Windscribe servers I tested at under 6 Mbps.
Overall, these are definitely not good speed test results. I would not recommend Windscribe if you need a VPN for USA or other North American regions.
This is not too surprising, however. With my last Windscribe VPN review, I also experienced slow speeds with many different servers tested.
If you want to get faster speeds with Windscribe, you could switch to the IKEv2 protocol, which generally outperforms OpenVPN (but it is also less secure). If speed is your top priority, I’d strongly recommend considering other options, such as ExpressVPN.
2. IKEv2 is default protocol (rather than OpenVPN)
Another interesting thing with Windscribe is that it uses the IKEv2 protocol as the default option in the VPN clients.
While IPSec/IKEv2 is generally considered to be secure, it does have some noteworthy drawbacks. For one, IKEv2 is not open source and has not undergone extensive auditing like OpenVPN. Within the privacy and VPN community, OpenVPN is generally considered to be the gold standard. There are other experimental protocols as well, such as WireGuard.
If you examine the Windscribe client, you’ll see that the default option is set to IKEv2, rather than OpenVPN.
Windscribe probably decided to make IKEv2 the default because it offers the best speeds. Once again, however, there is a security tradeoff here and OpenVPN should probably be used as default.
Switching to a more secure protocol is easy. Simply open the settings, then select “Manual” and choose the protocol you want to use.
3. Based in Canada (Five Eyes)
One drawback with Windscribe is that it is based in Canada, which is not a good privacy jurisdiction.
As we have discussed before, Canada is a member of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance, along with the United States, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
Canada also has mandatory data retention laws and abusive surveillance practices. We discuss these issues more in my guide of the best VPNs for Canada. Jurisdiction is an important consideration when choosing a VPN because this determines what laws and governance the VPN must operate under.
Copyright violation laws are another aspect to consider with jurisdiction. As discussed in the VPN for torrenting guide, Canada has some strict laws against copyright violations, along with data retention that is used to prosecute piracy (copyright infringement) cases.
4. AI-based support system
One thing that I found rather annoying with Windscribe is that they are using a robotic AI-based support system, which they call “Garry”. When attempting to get help with some connection problems, I fired up a chat window. Garry did provide some suggestions and tips, but ultimately I wanted to speak with a human, rather than an AI bot.
After growing frustrated with the AI bot, Garry eventually offered me the option to “talk to a human”. This opened a screen where I could submit a support ticket and get help via email. There was no option to chat with a human.
Most of the top VPN providers, such as ExpressVPN and also NordVPN, offer 24/7 live chat support with real humans. On a positive note, however, someone did email me some suggestions within 24 hours. Nonetheless, live chat support with a human being would be a lot better.
5. Issues with professionalism
One strange thing I noticed with Windscribe is that it really seems to be lacking in the professionalism department.
The first red flag I noticed was during the Windows client installation process. If you choose “Custom Install” you will see the following options under the “customize the experience” tab:
- Slow down the connection
- Disconnect randomly
- Show random errors all the time
Below this, you see in light grey letters, “Just kidding. These checkboxes actually don’t do anything.”
I guess this is Windscribe’s idea of a funny joke. Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but given the importance of security and privacy, I don’t see this as the best venue for jokes about VPN errors and problems.
I saw another user on reddit also pointing out Windscribe’s unprofessionalism:
Maybe these jokes are popular among the Windscribe crowd – I don’t know. Either way, this is rather strange behavior for a VPN service.
Update: More unprofessionalism
When you uninstall Windscribe, you are redirected to a page with a monkey picture, profanity, and a YouTube video of the 90’s boy band N’ Sync. At the bottom of the uninstall page, you’re greeted with this message:
Keep it classy, Windscribe.
Additional research findings
Below are some additional findings for this Windscribe review.
Windscribe logging policies
In my previous Windscribe review, I called them out for falsely claiming to “delete everything” – a claim that does not align with their own policies.
Previous false claims:
On the Windscribe features page, you can see they are now claiming to have “no identifying logs”.
Current logging claims:
So let’s examine the fine print.
At the very bottom of the Windscribe End User License Agreement (EULA) you find the following:
“When you use Windscribe, we keep the following data associated with your account:
- Total amount of bytes transferred in a 30 day period. Bandwidth reset date is in your “My Account” section.
- Timestamp of your last activity on the Windscribe network.
This data is used to enforce free tier limitations, prevent abuse and weed out inactive accounts.”
Verdict: In terms of logging policies, this isn’t too concerning.
Many VPNs record timestamps (see ProtonVPN) and/or data transfer, which alone cannot be used to identify users.
If privacy is a concern, there are also a handful of no logs VPNs that have been verified.
Does Windscribe work with Netflix?
I tested Windscribe’s ability to unblock Netflix for this review and the results were rather interesting.
First, I found that Windscribe does indeed unblock Netflix. I tested this with the Windflix US and Windflix Canada servers. Both worked without getting blocked.
I did run into some problems, however, with playback speed and buffering. The connection did not seem very stable and consistently fast. To verify these issues, I ran some speed tests with the Windflix US server, which gave me around 5 Mbps.
Overall, Windscribe might be an OK option for streaming, but it’s not the best VPN for Netflix due to the speed issues.
Is Windscribe good for torrenting?
Windscribe may not be the worst VPN for torrenting, but it’s also not the best. The main issue is the speeds. After all, torrenting with a slow VPN can be a real drag.
Windscribe’s official policy is that they allow torrenting on most servers. From their website:
You can use the Bit Torrent protocol in any Windscribe server location except India, Japan and WINDFLIX. Simply connect to any other Windscribe location in our desktop applications and use any torrent client as you normally would. That being said, we don’t condone using Windscribe for any illegal activity.
There are other good VPNs for torrenting, although Windscribe certainly is not the worst choice.
Windscribe VPN prices and refund policy
The prices for the paid plans with Windscribe are about average for the VPN industry.
The “Build A Plan” option allows you to select which server locations you want and pay accordingly.
Although Windscribe is not necessarily a cheap VPN service, it still offers a pretty good value when you consider all the features.
Windscribe’s refund policy contains some fine print. Here are three important points to keep in mind before you purchase a subscription:
- The refund window is for 3 days.
- The refund policy only applies if you purchase directly from Windscribe (no third-party sites like StackSocial)
- If you use more than 10 GB of data your refund will be void.
Here is the exact wording from their website:
The Windscribe refund policy.
A shorter refund window is not too surprising since they encourage people to test out the free service before going with a paid subscription.
Windscribe review conclusion
Windscribe has both pros and cons, as we have detailed above in the review.
I’d say the biggest “pros” with Windscribe are the features, particularly the robust ad-blocking feature (ROBERT). The apps are also user-friendly and offer some great preferences and leak-protection settings.
With that being said, there are two remaining issues:
- Windscribe is based in Canada, a bad privacy jurisdiction.
- Windscribe is slow (at least based on my tests with the OpenVPN protocol)
The performance issues are a serious drawback, as this affects browsing, torrenting, downloads, and even streaming Netflix. For a seriously fast VPN with consistent performance, ExpressVPN would be the better choice.
Windscribe has certainly improved since the last review, but some issues still remain.
For other alternatives, see my overview of the best VPN services based on the latest test results.
Windscribe doesn't have the best support, but that won't be an issue for everyone. Mostly it's a great VPN, and a generous free plan makes it easy to try the service for yourself. Go check it out immediately.
- 10GB free data allowance
- Effective kill switch
- Unblocks Netflix, iPlayer, more
- Good value with very flexible plans
- No 24/7 support
- No live chat
- Can sometimes take a while to update apps
Windscribe is a very interesting VPN which piles on the features, yet remains easy to use, with some great value commercial products, and one of the most generous free plans around.
A decent-sized network provides locations in 110 cities spread across 62 countries. Windscribe claims its servers really are in these locations, too, rather than, we quote, 'some competitors who have most of their servers in US and Europe, and simply fake the location with false IP WHOIS data to make it appear that it's elsewhere.'
An array of apps means you're covered on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux. Chrome, Firefox and Opera extensions give you even more ways to connect and stacks of privacy-related extras, and the website has guides to help you set up the service on routers, Kodi, Amazon Fire TV, Nvidia Shield, and via any OpenVPN-compatible software or device.
IKEv2 and OpenVPN support with strong AES-256 encryption keeps all your tunnel traffic safe from snoopers, while stealth technologies try to obfuscate your VPN usage, perhaps allowing you to get online even in countries which actively block VPN traffic.
R.O.B.E.R.T is Windscribe's DNS-backed tool to help users block ads, malware, trackers and more (Image credit: Windscribe)
ROBERT is a DNS-based tool for blocking ads, malware, trackers and various internet content types (gambling, 'fake news and clickbait', and so on). This goes way beyond the basic DNS blacklist you'll get with other providers, and gives you more power and configurability than even many desktop applications deliver.
Unusual Windscribe account options include purchasing a static IP address. Adding a residential IP address costs $8 a month, for example (data center IPs are $2), but should greatly improve your chances of accessing any blocked sites. (Once you have a static IP, you can also enable port forwarding in the Windscribe web console).
Support is available via ticket, if you need it, but it's not 24/7 and there's no live chat. Still, there's an unusual bonus in Windscribe's own subreddit with many new posts every day. That's valuable as it allows potential customers to see what real Windscribe users are talking about, the questions they have and the issues they're facing – a level of transparency you rarely see with other VPNs.
Windscribe doesn't exactly update its software often – our Windows client version was more than 14 months old – but the company has been busy, and a lot has happened since our last review.
New features include major updates for the mobile apps. A shiny new iOS app supports network whitelisting, has IKEv2 and OpenVPN support, and includes Siri shortcuts. The Android app also supports IKEv2 and OpenVPN, and offers split tunneling to define which apps use the tunnel, and which don't. A major interface update sees a stylish new look applied across the range.
Brand new more comprehensive browser extensions support city-level location selection, block malware and phishing sites, and add a host of privacy boosting extras, including WebRTC blocking, location API spoofing and website notification blocking.
Then there's faster connections, improved streaming support which blocks almost everything, and the ad-blocking ROBERT is now available for free users, too. Works for us.
Editor's Note: What immediately follows is a rundown of the latest changes and additions since this review was last updated.
- A new location has been added for free users - Turkey. (April 2020)
- ROBERT now fully supports blocking of CNAME cloaked trackers on all servers. (April 2020)
In addition to paid plans, Windscribe also offers a very generous free plan (Image credit: Windscribe)
Plans and pricing
Windscribe's free plan offers a generous 10GB of data transfer a month if you register with your email address, 2GB if you don't. You're limited to just 10 servers – North America, Europe and Hong Kong – but that's still better than you'll get with many services ('sorry, our free app only connects to Brunei, is that a problem?').
Upgrading to a commercial plan gets you unlimited data, access to all 110 locations, and the ability to generate custom OpenVPN, IKEv2 and SOCKS5 configurations.
There are no annoying limits on simultaneous connections, either. You can set up and use the service wherever you like, as long as the devices are yours (the small print forbids sharing your account with others).
Prices are low. Monthly billing is only $9, for instance – many top VPNs charge $12-$13. Pay for a year upfront and the price plummets to an equivalent $4.08. That's well below most VPN providers' annual plans (ExpressVPN asks $8.32, HideMyAss $6.99, CyberGhost $5.99), but there are cheaper deals around. Private Internet Access and Ivacy's annual plans are priced at $3.33, for instance, and at $1.99 a month, you can get a two-year Surfshark plan for less than one year with Windscribe.
That's not the end of the story, though. Windscribe's 'Build a Plan' scheme might allow you to save money by choosing just the locations you need, for $1 each. Each location adds 10GB to your free bandwidth allowance, and your plan must have a minimum of two locations.
For example, if you register with your email address, you'll get 10GB data allowance a month. Build a plan with the US and UK locations, and you'll get 30GB of data for $2 a month. You can upgrade to unlimited data for another $1, or a total of just $3 a month, billed monthly.
If you don't want to sign up long-term, that looks like a great deal. Surfshark's monthly plan is four times as expensive at $12, for instance – okay, that's the full service with all the locations, but if you don't need them, who cares?
Another option, ScribeForce, enables signing up a group of users (a business, a family) with the same account. There's a five-user minimum, but you'll pay just $3 each, billed monthly, for access to the full and unrestricted service.
Whatever your preference, Windscribe gives you a wider than usual choice of payment options, which include card, PayPal, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies via CoinPayments.net, along with gift cards and assorted other options via Paymentwall.
Windscribe doesn't have the lowest headline prices, then, but it's monthly-billed plans are as cheap as you'll get, the others are fairly priced for the features you get, and its flexibility is a major plus.
If you don't require a full service all the time, the free plan may be enough for casual use, and you could, say, buy three months of unlimited bandwidth a year for a total of $9, with no lengthy contract required. Most VPNs charge more than that for a single month.
Windscribe protects your privacy with AES-256 encryption and doesn't keep logs (Image credit: Windscribe)
Privacy and logging
Windscribe's privacy features start with its industrial-strength AES-256 encryption, with SHA512 authentication, a 4096-bit RSA key and support for perfect forward secrecy (keys aren't re-used, so even if a snooper gets hold of a private key, it will only allow them to view data within one session).
The apps use multiple techniques to reduce the chance of data leaks, limiting IPv6 traffic, redirecting DNS requests through the tunnel to be handled by the VPN server, and optionally using a firewall to block all internet access if the connection drops.
We checked Windscribe's performance on a Windows 10 system using the websites IPLeak, DNSLeakTest and DoILeak, and found no DNS or other leaks.
We enabled the Windows client's kill switch (which Windows calls a firewall) and forcibly closed the VPN connection to see how it would behave. The results were almost perfect: our internet access was immediately blocked, the client interface updated to show there was a problem, then it immediately began reconnecting, and displayed a Windows desktop notification once we were online again.
We'd like to have seen a desktop notification to tell us when the connection had dropped, but otherwise the client and kill switch worked exactly as they should, protecting our privacy at all times.
There's a tiny amount of long-term logging, but it's limited to the total bandwidth you've used in a month (essential to manage usage on the free plan), and a timestamp of your last activity on the service to allow identifying inactive accounts.
The system does briefly collect some connection details – username, VPN server connected to, time of connection, bandwidth used during the session, number of devices connected – but these are held in the VPN server's RAM only, and are lost when the session closes.
As there is no data on your activities, Windscribe points out that there's nothing to share. This is backed up by a transparency report which covers the numbers of DMCA and Law Enforcement data requests over the year, and in both cases states that: 'Exactly zero requests were complied with due to lack of relevant data.'
This is all good, but we would like to see Windscribe go further. Competitors such as TunnelBear and VyprVPN have had their systems publicly audited to check for logging or other privacy issues, and that gives far more reassurance to potential customers than comforting words on a website. We hope that Windscribe (and other VPN providers for that matter) will soon do the same.
In the meantime, it's worth remembering that Windscribe will give you 2GB of data per month, for free, without requiring an email address or any other personal data. The data limit will be an issue for streaming users and heavy downloaders, but if you're just looking to protect email and basic browsing, this automatically gets you more guaranteed anonymity than you'll have with almost everyone else.
Speed testing is an important part of any VPN review (Image credit: TestMy.net)
To test VPN performance, we first use an automated tool to log into a sample group of servers – UK, Europe, US, rest of the world – and check the connection time, look for latency issues, and use geolocation to verify that each server is in the advertised country.
We were able to connect to all Windscribe servers first time, without a single connection error. OpenVPN connection times were average at a typical 12 seconds, but if that's an issue, using the default IKEv2 protocol keeps this down to 3-4 seconds.
Once we were connected, our other initial checks went well. There were no latency problems, and all servers appeared to be in their promised locations.
Our download speed tests began by connecting to the nearest servers from UK and US locations, using the Windscribe client, then measuring download performance using the benchmarking sites TestMy.net and SpeedTest.
UK results were good, with downloads reaching an average 67-68Mbps on our 75Mbps connection.
US speeds were more difficult to assess than usual, though most likely that wasn't the fault of Windscribe. SpeedTest results were very inconsistent, most likely because we were testing in mid-March 2020, when large numbers of people were staying at home, streaming Netflix and generally using way more data than usual.
That's why we use multiple websites, though, and TestMy.net's results were impressive, with average download speeds of 240-260Mbps. Even our lowest recorded speed was excellent at 199Mbs. Not bad performance, considering the circumstances. If you need a VPN which should cope even during a major global crisis, it looks like Windscribe could be a great option.
There are lots of factors that will influence speeds and as ever your mileage may vary. Still, that's where we have to (once again) applaud Windscribe’s transparency. While other providers don't even have trials any more, Windscribe gives you up to 10GB a month for free, with access to plenty of locations and full-speed servers. If performance is your top priority, that gives you plenty of time to try out the service before you buy and see how it performs for you.
Windscribe was able to unblock Netflix in our tests, so we didn't see any pesky error messages (Image credit: Netflix)
Connecting to a VPN server in another country may, in theory, allow you to access content you wouldn't be able to see (viewing US-only YouTube clips, for instance).
Unfortunately, it's not always that simple, as many content providers now attempt to detect and block visitors they think are using a VPN.
To test a VPN's unblocking abilities, we log in to various US and UK locations and attempt to view US YouTube, US Netflix and BBC iPlayer streams.
YouTube is usually the easiest to access, as it appears to do very few, if any, VPN checks. Sure enough, Windscribe allowed us to view US-only content without any issues, even with its free plan.
BBC iPlayer has more in-depth connection checking, and Windscribe wasn't able to unblock it during the last review. We had a few technical problems this time, including player errors, but it's possible they were website issues. What really matters is iPlayer didn't detect our VPN use, and most of the time we were able to view whatever content we liked.
Switching to Amazon Prime Video, we tried connecting to Windscribe's US streaming server and were able to view content from the US Amazon.com using our UK Amazon account.
Netflix is normally the most difficult site to unblock, which is why most VPN providers take care not to mention it specifically. They know that even if they can deliver Netflix access today, it could be blocked tomorrow.
Windscribe is far more confident, so much so that its paid plans include a virtual location called Windflix US, which allows customers to access Netflix without having to manually try different servers until they find one which works. We tried this and it worked just fine, enabling us to freely stream whatever content we liked.
That's not all. Unlike many competitors, Windscribe also has virtual servers to access Netflix in the UK, Japan and Canada, and they worked perfectly for us.
Note: The company tells us that users are now able to stream content from the other locations, too, making the Windflix locations unnecessary. We tried this with a small number of test servers and it seems to be correct.
Windscribe fully supports P2P and torrenting (Image credit: uTorrent)
VPN providers generally don't boast about their torrent support, and it can be a challenge to figure out what you're allowed to do. (TunnelBear was so quiet about its P2P policy that we had to email tech support to ask.)
Windscribe is much more open and transparent. Just point your browser at the company's Status page and you'll see its full list of locations, which of them support P2P (most) and which of them don't (India, Lithuania, Russia and South Africa, at the time of writing).
Your options are just as clear in the Windscribe apps. Locations where torrents aren't allowed are marked with the same crossed-out 'P2P', but select anything else and you can download whatever and whenever you like.
Factor in Windscribe's free plan and various anonymous payment options (cryptocurrencies, gift cards), along with its decent performance levels, and the company makes a great torrenting choice.
Windscribe offers clients for most major platforms
Tapping the Get Started button on the Windscribe site took us to the Download page. The website detected and highlighted the best choice for our laptop – the Windows client and Chrome extension – but there were also links to downloads for Mac, Android and iOS, extensions for Firefox and iOS, and guides to cover setup on routers, Linux, Kodi, Amazon Fire TV and more.
There's an unusual extra touch in direct links to old versions of the Windows and Mac apps. You may not care about that as a new user, but being able to rewind to a previous version could be very helpful if you find the latest build doesn't work on one of your computers, or an app update turns out to be buggy.
Installing the Windows app was easy. You're able to create an account just by entering a username and password, which gets you 2GB of data a month. Hand over your email, too, and you get 10GB. Tweet about Windscribe and you get an excellent 15GB.
To put all that in perspective, Avira Phantom VPN's free package gives you a monthly 500MB.
Manually setting up other devices can be more difficult, particularly if they're using OpenVPN. You're asked to manually define some low-level connection details, including type (TCP or UDP?) and port. You must repeat this for every server you'd like to download, and you can only do this at all if you have a paid plan (this feature is not available to free users).
This is a more awkward approach than you'll see with some of the competition, where often you're able to download perhaps hundreds of server setup files in an archive, then unzip and use them all immediately.
This kind of configuration generator does give you great flexibility, though. For example, you could have some locations use OpenVPN UDP for speed, and others use TCP for reliability. And, unusually, Windscribe has similar web tools to generate IVEv2 and SOCKS5 configurations, giving you the ability to fine-tune all your manual VPN connections.
This is the user interface of Windscribe's Windows client (Image credit: Windscribe)
Windscribe's Windows client looks very basic, at least initially: a small grey window with a location list, an On/Off button, a little status information (current IP, data allowance left for free users) and not much else. Begin exploring, though, and it's hard not to be impressed.
Tapping the default location displays the full list, for instance. This opens with a list of countries, but you can also expand any of these to view its available servers, complete with fun names (London server names include Tea and Crumpets, while you can connect to Los Angeles locations including Dogg, Pac and Lamar).
Each server has a latency indicator to help you find the fastest option. You can also mark countries as Favorites, displaying them at the top of the list for zero-scroll reconnections later.
Users on the free plan can only access a few of the servers and countries (US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Romania, Hong Kong). Everything else is marked with a star to indicate it's for paying customers only, and those locations aren't selectable.
The client does a good job of keeping users up-to-date, displaying a Windows desktop notification when you're connecting, and changing the interface from its original grey to a more cheerful blue (a simple way to ensure you can see whether you're protected at a glance).
One standout feature is that Windscribe's desktop clients can import custom OpenVPN configuration files from other providers, and then display those servers alongside its own. That could allow you to use Windscribe's client as a frontend for multiple free VPN providers, for instance, making it easier and more convenient to switch service if your data allowance runs out.
Windscribe's Windows client gives you a great deal of control over your connection options (Image credit: Windscribe)
A comprehensive Preferences dialog gives you an array of connection options. You can choose your preferred protocol (IKEv2, OpenVPN TCP/UDP, Stealth or WSTunnel to try and bypass VPN blocking), use a special API Resolution system to remove the need for DNS (useful for bypassing some types of VPN blocking), and set up a proxy (HTTP or SOCKS).
The client also supports setting up your system as a secure wireless hotspot (if your network adapter supports this) or a proxy gateway. Other devices on your network which support Wi-Fi or proxies can then connect to you and take advantage of Windscribe, without requiring any special VPN setup or software of their own.
There are unexpected but welcome extras everywhere you look. You can sort the location list by continent and country, alphabetically or by latency, for instance. A local View Log option gives a detailed view of recent program actions, great news for anyone trying to troubleshoot an awkward issue. And experts can choose their preferred TAP driver and OpenVPN version, or add custom OpenVPN parameters, giving a lot of extra control over how connections work.
We had a quick look round the incoming version 2.0 of the Windows client (Image credit: Windscribe)
Windscribe's current Windows client is good, but it's about to get a whole lot better with the release of version 2.0.
We didn't focus on this for the main review, as it's far from finished, but the company gave us access to a beta release and we took a quick look around.
The interface has far more visual panache, with rounded corners and classy flag backgrounds (check the screenshot above) to highlight your current location.
There are practical benefits, too, including more status information on your current connection (you can now see the selected protocol, for instance).
New Wintun OpenVPN driver support could bring a 2-3x speed improvement for some users, the company told us. If it can achieve a fraction of that, we'll be very happy.
There are some smart new features incorporated with the beta client, including privacy-protecting MAC spoofing (Image credit: Windscribe)
Some of the new additions – split tunneling, network whitelisting, a choice of app DNS (system default, OpenDNS, Cloudflare, Google) – are relatively familiar. That doesn't make them any less welcome, though, and there are some surprises, too. Looking for some privacy-protecting MAC spoofing, for instance? Assistance is just a click away.
We didn't test any of these in depth, as the client is still in beta. Windscribe's current client performs very well, though, and we've no reason to think the next release will be any different. Once it's released, check out the free Windscribe plan to see how it works for you.
The mobile apps are impressive (Image credit: Windscribe)
If you can't wait to try out Windscribe's Windows beta, check out the latest mobile apps instead. They're currently ahead of the desktop builds in many areas, and already have most of the new features.
The main status display is much like the Windows beta, for instance. The gorgeous background flag, the big On/Off button, details on your new IP and preferred protocol.
A list of countries (expandable to city level) makes it easy to find the server you need. As with the last release, you can switch to lists of Favorites and dedicated Streaming locations. And there's now even a Custom Config list, maybe enabling using other VPN servers with Windscribe's interface and features.
A comprehensive Preferences screen comes absolutely stuffed with features. The Connection panel alone enables choosing between OpenVPN UDP, TCP, IKEv2 or Stealth, or selecting your preferred port, and indeed choosing which apps use the VPN, and which don't (split tunneling). It also provides integration with Android's Always-On feature to let you set up a system-wide kill switch, or to enable GPS spoofing, define a packet size, allow or block local network traffic, and more.
A Network Whitelisting tool enables automatically connecting to Windscribe whenever untrusted networks are accessed, while ignoring others. So, for instance, you could have the service automatically connect to protect you in the library or coffee shop, while staying offline when you're at home or work.
iOS users are often short-changed by VPN providers, but not here. Windscribe's iOS offering has all the core features of its other apps, including some options you'll rarely find elsewhere. Can your desktop VPN client use a custom OpenVPN configuration to access a server from another provider, for instance, or set a preferred protocol depending on your current network? No? Didn't think so.
Windscribe even offers browser extensions for most popular browsers (Image credit: Windscribe)
Windscribe's Chrome, Opera and Firefox extensions provide a quick and easy way to connect to the VPN from your browser. This has its limitations – they're simple proxies and only protect your browser traffic – but if you only need the VPN for basic browsing tasks, they're your most convenient and straightforward option.
The extensions have seen a major update since our last review, with a revamped and more stylish interface along the lines of the new mobile apps and the Windows UI.
Basic operations work much as they always did. Autopilot mode enables connecting to the best location with a click, you're able to choose countries or individual cities from a list, and set your most commonly used cities as Favorites.
One major improvement sees the ad and malware-blocking ROBERT now available to free users. Known malicious and phishing sites, bandwidth sapping ads, trackers, social media widgets and more can all be exterminated in a click or two.
There are some nifty privacy features with the extensions
Need more? The extension can block WebRTC leaks, fake your GPS location and time zone to match your chosen Windscribe server, or maybe keep switching your browser user agent to make you more difficult to track.
This doesn't always work quite as you'd expect. On opening, the extension displayed a greyed-out panel complaining that it 'couldn't get tab info', for instance. A Windows tab suggested we install the desktop app to send our traffic 'through two connections with double hop mode', even though it was installed already. The icons weren't always intuitive.
None of these issues turned out to be important, though. The 'tab info' error only happened on our new tabs, and disappeared once we began browsing. The 'install the desktop app' message didn't happen when the Windscribe app was running, and we figured out everything else in under five minutes.
Put it all together and this is a very capable extension which delivers far more than you'll get with other VPN providers, and even many standalone Chrome privacy extensions. Don't just take our word for it: the excellent 4.7 rating on the Chrome store suggests most users agree.
Windscribe's knowledgebase has many helpful articles (Image credit: Windscribe)
If you have any technical troubles, Windscribe's support site is a good place to begin looking for answers.
Resources start with an array of setup guides for a very long list of platforms and devices (desktops, mobiles, routers, NAS, smart TVs, torrent clients and more).
These tutorials don't have the same range and depth that you'll see from the best VPN providers, but there are interesting touches.
For example, NordVPN has setup guides for Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 10, for instance, using its app, OpenVPN or IKEv2. Windscribe's Windows setup section only covers its app, Windows 10 and IKEv2, but in an unusual touch, it shows how you can install the client using PowerShell (it's easier than you think).
The Android guides also give you more choice than usual, with advice on how to get connected via IKEv2 using the Strongswan app, or via OpenVPN with OpenVPN for Android.
Other areas are, well, not so great. Keen on learning about the shiny new browser extensions, for instance? The support pages have links to 'setup guides' for Chrome, Firefox and Opera, but clicking on these takes you to YouTube videos dated July 2016. Comments are enabled and there are a few people asking questions, but most go unanswered.
If all else fails, you can contact support directly. There's no direct live chat (though apparently a simple support chatbot will sometimes escalate queries to a human support agent) and you can't just send an email, but the website does have a form you can fill in to raise a ticket.
Exactly how long it'll take to get a reply isn't clear, and a Windscribe blog post explains why: 'As we're a relatively small company (13 employees), we're unable to provide support 24/7, and since we provide support to all users, including millions of free accounts, things can be a bit overwhelming.'
But on the plus side, Windscribe points out that it does all its support in-house, rather than using 'outsourced minimal wage workers on the other side of the planet who are reading off a script.'
You might have to wait a little longer for a reply, then, but with genuine in-house expertise involved, it's much more likely to be worth the wait.
Windscribe is a likeable VPN and represents good value, with a host of useful privacy protecting extras, and one of the most generous free VPN plans around. We have some reservations – such as the lack of 24/7 support, and long gaps between updates with the Windows app – but these won't affect everyone, and so we'd recommend you install the free version in order to see how it works for you.
Canadian Windscribe is a good alternative for U.S. based VPN providers or for someone who wants to use their free VPN plan that comes with 10GB session bandwidth (per month).
Their server network performance isn’t fast as ExpressVPN or NordVPN, but they do offer industry standard OpenVPN tunneling protocol with 256-bit AES encryption.
Despite being relatively new VPN service, their Chrome extension, which provides free proxy access to users, has already been used by over 900,000 people.
Here’s everything we liked, disliked, and outright hated.
|OVERALL RANK:||#3 out of 78 VPNs|
|USABILITY:||Easy to use|
|LOG FILES:||No Logging Policy|
|LOCATIONS:||58 countries, 480+ servers|
|SUPPORT:||Service Bots with often unhelpful answers|
|ENCRYPTION/PROTOCOL:||256-bit AES, OpenVPN and more|
|COST:||$9.00/mo or $4.08/mo (yearly)|
Windscribe has excellent device compatibility. Their encryption and protocol options are strong. The app was very user-friendly. Torrenting allowed (albeit, slightly limited).
And their Netflix-specific servers worked brilliantly.
Here’s what we loved about their service.
1. Strong Privacy & Encryption Features
Windscribe supports the best VPN protocols known to man (and women), including OpenVPN, IKEv2, TCP, UDP, and SOCKS5 protocols.
Curiously, the IKEv2 protocol is used by default, despite OpenVPN being the industry standard. (So you might want to make a mental note to switch back over ASAP when you start using it.)
The reasoning is because you’ll get access to best-in-class AES-256 cipher encryption (with SHA512 auth and a 4096-bit RSA key) for their desktop apps, and AES_128_GCM cipher for their browser extensions. These technical details will have security professionals salivating.
If you’re not a security professional, just realize that these basically mean “really f-ing secure.”
No known hacks have occurred at either end of this encryption spectrum.
But let’s not stop there.
Because all of the encryption in the world won’t protect you from the very VPN service you’re using. Many of the shady ones log your data. Or they use it to sell to the highest advertising bidder.
That’s not acceptable here.
So to verify, we dug through the snooze-worthy details and discovered that Windscribe does not keep any logs.
No logs are being kept
They do collect a few details.
This includes about a month’s worth of bandwidth to keep free users in check. Otherwise, they will also keep your OpenVPN username, server, connection time, and amount of data transferred for about three minutes.
Otherwise, their terms are pretty standard an in-line with the rest of the VPN market. No secrets or fine print that might come back to haunt you in the end.
2. No Leaks, No Viruses = Safe to Use
DNS and WebRTC leaks give users a false sense of security.
You don’t actually know they exist. You have no way of knowing when they occur.
The only way to spot them is to actively check the IP address your client is showing, with the one that each test actually sees.
The two better match.
Because if not, it means that everyone else observing this connection can also see where you’re truly located.
Just to triple check, we also ran their installation files through VirusTotal.com to make sure you weren’t exposing your devices to any other hidden, malicious software.
These tests also came out clean. Three cheers for Windscribe.
3. Windflix Feature to Bypass Netflix Restrictions
Windscribe’s normal servers won’t work with Netflix (we got zero out of three when testing).
That’s not uncommon when you’re working with a VPN service. Netflix is the VPN world’s number one foe. It wasn’t always so. In the beginning, unblocking Netflix content was one of the major benefits to using a VPN. The streaming giant geo-locks its content, country by country. Someone in Japan would have a wildly different Netflix library than someone in Canada, for instance.
Initially, this was not an issue. Someone in Canada would simply connect to their VPN, select a server in Japan, and WHAMMO, they’re binging Japanese Netflix content.
Eventually, someone at Netflix caught wind of this, and they were not happy. The company fought back against VPNs, deploying one of the world’s most intuitive VPN detection services. Now, when VPN users try to access their favorite shows from around the world, they are met with the Netflix black screen of doom.
When you can find a VPN that unblocks Netflix, it’s a happy day, indeed. That’s why we’ve dedicated an entire page of our site to VPNs that work with Netflix. Thankfully, Windscribe is on that list, despite our initial failure.
That’s because Windscribe has a number of special “Windflix” servers. Some of these actually manage to work with Netflix, but not all.
There are four Windflix servers currently. They are located in the United States, UK, Canada, and Japan. We tested all four of them and got some encouraging results.
Three Windflix servers we tried worked perfectly.
- WINDFLIX US (New York – Radiohall)
- WINDFLIX UK (London – The Tube)
- WINDFLIX JP (Tokyo – Kaiju)
Unfortunately, the Canadian Windflix server did not work with Netflix when we last tested it in August of 2019.
The bottom line is, you can stream Netflix using Windscribe. In order to be successful, you have to use the right Netflix-compatible Windflix server. (Just not the Canadian one.)
4. Torrenting is Allowed
A VPN can help safeguard torrenting sessions, creating that impenetrable tunnel around your internet connection to keep you safe.
But a VPN won’t do you any good if it doesn’t work allow restriction-free use.
Some are starting to discourage or ban torrenting to make sure they don’t fall into any issues with DMCA complaints. Others will offer torrenting servers, but only a handful of them at best.
Where does Windscribe fall?
They also have tutorials on how to configure the following torrent clients:
However, not all of their servers support torrenting.
This comes down to the individual countries, and their stance on digital copyrights.
So yes, you can use Windscribe to lock-down torrenting sessions. But have a run through their servers, first, to make sure you can find some P2P-friendly ones that are relatively close to you.
5. Supports Multiple Devices Across Most Platforms
This might be one of Windscribe’s best aspects.
They have built-in apps for almost every platform imaginable.
That includes the basics, like Windows, Macs, iOS, and Linux. But it also extends to browsers with Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Plus, they’ll also throw in a few smart TV apps for Amazon, Nvidia Shield, and Kodi.
Oh, and you can connect unlimited devices, too.
Pretty awesome, right?
They’re also compatible with routers, however, this will involve a few manual steps to go through the standard OpenVPN option as a workaround.
You can also connect gaming consoles through these routers. Otherwise, there are no pre-built options to point, click, and install.
Finally, Windscribe works with TOR but only through the standalone app and not through the VPN’s browser extensions.
6. User-Friendly App
We downloaded Windscribe apps on both Windows and Android devices.
When you’re first downloading the app on a desktop computer, you’ll be taken to a download page which features the multitude of platform options available to Windscribe users.
For the purposes of this review, we selected the Windows desktop app. Before the download can actually begin, you’ll be asked what kind of installation you want.
The Express Installation is recommended. It allows you to install the VPN client without having to micromanage all of the little decisions, trusting Windscribe’s default settings.
This is ideal for someone who is new to VPN use and just wants a quick and easy installation. If you choose a custom installation, you’ll be in control of all the minutiae of the install process. If you’re a seasoned pro and you are very particular about your computer and how programs are installed, take the extra time to personalize your installation.
I chose the express installation. I timed the process and it clocked in at 9.2 seconds from the time I clicked to the time the VPN opened on my computer screen.
After the VPN was installed, I created my account. This was also straightforward. Select a username and a password and you’re good to go. You don’t even have to enter an email address if you’re concerned about privacy.
The account dashboard is your next stop. Here, you can review your account information, upgrade your service, and access some additional features like R.O.B.E.R.T., a malware and ad blocking service, or port forwarding.
The VPN client is simple and small. As you can see in the image below, there’s not a lot of over complicated elements to sift through.
On the righthand side is a large circular button. This is the button you click in order to connect with the Windscribe service. They made it large and centralized so you can’t possibly miss it.
On the bottom is their firewall feature. You can toggle it off and on via a button on the bottom right. The firewall acts as a kill switch feature, ending your session if it is threatened by leaks. When you connect to the service, the firewall is immediately turned on. You won’t be able to access the internet during the few seconds it takes to connect.
You’ll find the server list on the lefthand side. When you click on it, you’ll access a drop-down menu that lets you choose any of the 66 countries that have Windscribe servers. You can expand each country to choose the server of your choice, or click on the country itself to let Windscribe select one for you.
When you’re disconnected from the Windscribe service, the entire app is colored in gray. Once you connect successfully, you’ll see that it changes to blue, like in the image below.
Connecting was a breeze, taking only a few short seconds. Once I was in, I was able to freely use the internet and change servers at will.
Next up, we installed the 12.30MB Google Play file on an Android and were up-and-running in no time.
Our most recent test of the desktop app showed an experience consistent with what we saw the last time we checked it out. However, when it comes to the mobile app, they’ve clearly done a lot of work.
Here is an image of what the mobile app looked like when we first reviewed Windscribe.
Here it is in August of 2019.
That’s a pretty big difference. But the changes are more than just aesthetic.
When we first tried out this service, the mobile app was only able to access 56 of Windscribe’s servers. Now, it has full access to all 155 service areas in all 66 countries.
Much like with the desktop client, Windscribe’s mobile app turns blue when you’re connected.
Another cool feature is that the flag in the header image changes based on which country you’re connected to. Look what happens when you connect to a Canadian server.
Overall, usability was smooth and there were no major issues, lags, or crashes with either app.
Windscribe is slow.
And they’re a bit pricey.
Especially when you don’t have access to all of the servers you’re supposed to have access to.
Confused about that last part? Don’t be.
I’ll explain it all over the next few sections.
1. Canadian Jurisdiction Inside Five Eyes
Windscribe is located in Toronto, Canada.
Canada is a founding member of the 5-eyes jurisdiction that dates back to World War II. Not great by itself. But even worse when you consider that this alliance means both the U.S. and UK can get their grubby hands on your personal data.
And Windscribe would have no option but to comply if forced.
The chances are slim, no doubt.
But there is a chance.
So that’s a risk you need to be comfortable living with.
2. Slows Down Your Internet Connection to Less Than 50%
Windscribe’s server performance placed them towards the bottom third of our rankings at 51 (out of 78).
This ranking was the direct result of a combined server score.
First, we take our benchmark reading to see what an unencumbered internet connection looks like. Here was ours:
Second, we start connecting to Windscribe servers across the world to get an average reading. Here’s what we found.
U.S. Central Server
- Ping: 140 ms
- Download speed: 29.74 Mbps (70% slower)
- Upload speed: 2.07 Mbps (96% slower)
- Ping: 46 ms
- Download speed: 17.25 Mbps (82% slower)
- Upload speed: 4.86 Mbps (91% slower)
- Ping: 92 ms
- Download speed: 42.97 Mbps (56% slower)
- Upload speed: 5.12 Mbps (90% slower)
Windscribe’s servers were consistently slow across the board. The upload speeds were especially atrocious, slowing speeds over 90% in each case. We even used a “Premium” account for these speeds!
You shouldn’t have to sacrifice the performance up to 90%. And you don’t have to, either, when there are all-around options like ExpressVPN and Astrill available.
3. Not All Of The 480+ Servers Are Active
Ok. Here’s where the server discrepancy comes back into play.
According to official records, Windscribe has access to 480+ servers in over 50 countries.
It’s nothing compared to the 2,000+ from ExpressVPN, the 3,200+ servers from Private Internet Access, or even the 5,200+ servers from NordVPN.
But a total server network count around ~500 is respectable. It means you should have plenty of options to easily find fast servers at a moment’s notice.
That is if they’re all available.
Which, for some strange reason, isn’t the case with Windscribe’s servers.
Check it out:
That image is on their website.
It shows New Zealand as a server location. Yet zero out of zero servers are available.
So in reality, you’re only getting access to a fraction of the servers being promoted.
This, in addition to the already-limited number available to mobile devices (vs. desktop), make Windscribe’s server numbers seem unreliable at best, or an outright lie at worst.
4. Questionable Support (Using Bots)
Some VPN companies still live in the Stone Age of customer support.
They only offer FAQs, forums, or ticket-based systems that can take days to get a response.
Windscribe, in comparison, features a chatbot.
Finally, a simple, fast way to get easy questions answered.
We were pretty excited to ask “Garry” about that odd zero server number under New Zealand.
Here was his response:
Didn’t really answer our question.
And unfortunately, “Garry” never did. He/they just kept repeating irrelevant answers that didn’t line up exactly with the question we were asking.
From there, we had to travel back in time by reaching out through a support ticket.
Ten hours later, we got this response:
GARRY! IS THAT U?!
Another automated, irrelevant answer. This time from Arthur, King of the Britons.
Yes, I get the reference. No, it doesn’t make me feel any better. Besides, Windscribe is a Canadian company. So the damn reference doesn’t even make any sense.
Seeing as we’re complete masochists, we sent yet another follow-up question. This one took 20 hours for a response.
Don’t. Even. Bother.
Windscribe VPN Cost, Plans & Payment Methods
Windscribe has three paid plans.
The monthly one falls around the middle of what you’d expect at $9 monthly. Whereas the annual plan offers a massive discount of over 55%+.
The Yearly Plan is $4.08/month and last but not least the “Build a Plan” option costs $1.00 per location used.
Payment options include PayPal, Credit Card, and Bitcoin.
If you’re unhappy for any reason, you can request a refund.
BUT, and this is a big but:
- You have to request the refund within three days of purchasing a plan
- And you can’t use more than 10BG of bandwidth during that time
Windscribe refund policy
This is a pretty terrible refund policy, to be honest.
If you have any doubts, don’t sign up. Instead, go forward with their free option for a little bit before committing. Because once you’ve paid, your money is basically gone.
Just keep in mind that the free option only allows access to 14 server locations and 10BG of data each month.
Also, don’t be naive.
‘Free VPNs‘ come with their own risks. Lots of them.
So buyer beware.
Do We Recommend Windscribe?
No. I don’t recommend buying it.
Windscribe is a pretty good choice if being Netflix-friendly is at the top of your list.
Their protocols, encryption, and logging policy are also legit. And we loved the platform compatibility.
But there are a lot of other troubling signs we experienced.
Server speeds were consistently slow for starters. And that’s a bad sign if you’re trying to stream Netflix movies. Netflix and Chill would be more like Netflix and I’m going home now.
Then, there were more pressing concerns.
A Toronto homebase doesn’t bode well for keeping your private information private, either.
And customer support was utterly useless. (Come at me Garry.)
Windscribe’s pricing doesn’t do you any favors, either. They’re at the high end of the spectrum, despite not having access to ‘all’ of their servers.
To top it all off, the refund policy is only that in the name. No way you’re getting money back unless you walk an incredibly fine line for 72 hours.
If you want cheap, there are loads of cheaper VPN options out there.
Otherwise, just start at the top of this list and work your way down.
Windscribe offers plenty for its free plan and a lot more if you choose a paid subscription.
- 10GB monthly data limit
- Unblocks Netflix
- Customizable subscription plans
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Performance could be better
- No 24/7 live chat
Windscribe is a provider of VPN services founded in March 2016 in the Canadian province of Ontario. It has a free and premium version, both with plenty of interesting and quality features.
The premium version is available under two basic plans - the monthly plan at $9.00 and the annual subscription at $4.08 per month, billed $49.00 every 12 months. Customers even have the option to create their own subscription plans under the ‘Build A Plan’ option.
This allows them to choose whichever locations they want at only $1.00 per month per location (minimum is two locations). Each location also adds 10GB on top of your allowed monthly bandwidth. For an additional $1.00 per month, users can opt for unlimited data and the provider’s proprietary R.O.B.E.R.T feature.
Payments can be made using credit cards, Paypal, Mint, and cryptocurrencies.
There is no free trial in the classical sense, but the free version is more than enough to test the provider out. Full refunds can be issued for any reason, but only if the request is sent within three business days from the subscription payment and if the traffic volume hasn’t exceeded 10GB.
Windscribe has apps for all the major players - Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, and Linux, as well as browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, and even Opera.
If your connectivity requirements extend beyond these platforms, there are manuals on the website for installing the service on additional ones, including Amazon Fire TV, Kodi, and Nvidia Shield. Premium users can also set it up on routers and other OpenVPN, IKEv2, or SOCKS5-compatible platforms. An alternative is to buy a pre-configured router from one of the provider’s partners.
The paid service can be used on an unlimited number of devices at the same time, as long as you’re not sharing your account with others.
What you get
The free plan will give you a very generous 10GB of data traffic per month, under the condition you sign up for an account. If, however, you don’t wish to give out your email address, you can still use the service for free, only with a reduced amount of monthly traffic - 2GB. You’ll also have access to 10 servers, which is probably enough for light users.
If you need more, you can get the full VPN functionality by purchasing one of the paid plans. This will enable you to connect to a solidly sized network of 110 cities in over 60 countries.
A premium subscription will also give you access to content for various reasons blocked in certain regions, including Netflix for which the company has specific servers called Windfllix. Torrenting is supported, although not all servers are P2P-optimized.
Windscribe has a proprietary feature called R.O.B.E.R.T, which allows you to select specific content you want to block - malware, ads & trackers, social media trackers, porn, gambling, fake news, cryptominers, other VPNs, and more. You can also create a custom list of domains or IPs you want to block or those you want whitelisted.
If you’re using the desktop app with the extension, there is an interesting option at your disposal called Double Hop. It allows you to connect to a second location, additionally masking your traffic. Be advised that this can slow down your Internet connection.
The browser extension also has specific ‘Privacy Options’ for blocking ads, social media and other trackers and beacons from the websites you visit. It can also rotate the browser’s user agent every time you open it to help fight browser fingerprinting.
Users’ privacy is safeguarded with the help of the AES-256 cipher with SHA512 auth and a 4096-bit RSA key. The provider also supports perfect forward secrecy.
Windscribe uses several connection modes for connecting to its server and ensuring you can still connect if a certain port is blocked or your ISP is performing a deep packet inspection to discover VPN usage.
These include IKEv2 and OpenVPN (UDP and TCP) protocols, as well as the ‘Stealth’ mode which encapsulates OpenVPN in a TLS tunnel via Stunnel and ‘Wstunnel’ which encapsulates it in a WebSocket.
All of the apps have a firewall (called a kill switch by other VPN services). This feature blocks all Internet connectivity outside the VPN. This way your data is safe from leaking if your Internet connection suddenly drops or you restart your computer. The firewall operates under three modes - automatic, manual, and always on.
Windscribe doesn’t store any connection logs, IP timestamps, session logs, or monitor what users do on its platform. While these claims do sound reassuring, an outside confirmation would be even better.
Windscribe always connects without failures, although the OpenVPN connection takes a bit longer to establish (7-14 seconds) than IKEv2 (3-5 seconds). Download speeds are high, but they can get a bit flimsy when using the OpenVPN protocol. The results are much better with IKEv2.
Help is available in the website’s support section, which is divided into categories including setup guides, FAQs, and knowledgebase. You should also read the company’s blog which is full of well-written, informative and witty articles about the VPN industry such as ‘Shattering the Grand Illusion of Cookie Flavored Lies’ and ‘Best VPN for Your Cat 2019’.
If these resources aren’t enough to address your issues, you should try contacting the customer support. It’s available via chat on the website, although the questions are answered by a bot called Garry. You can also submit a ticket and wait for an email response from some on the team. Windscribe also has its own Subreddit where it answers all of Redditors’ questions.
Windscribe is an excellent VPN provider which offers a lot for its medium-range price. It will allow you access to various region-specific Netflix content wherever you are, as well as the secure exchange of large files via torrenting. It has wide platform support and a decent server network with unlimited concurrent connection support, which is astonishing in comparison to other providers which often allow only 3-5.
Our score: 4.5/5
Client software platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux; Chrome, Firefox and Opera extensions
Supported protocols: IKEv2, OpenVPN
Number of servers: 480
Number of countries: 52
Country of registration: Canada
Payment options: Credit card, PayPal, bitcoin, Paymentwall
Real name necessary? No
Encryption protocol: AES-256
Data usage: Unlimited
Bandwidth usage: Unlimited
Max. number of simultaneously connected devices: Unlimited
Customer support: Email