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It’s hard not to fall into marketers’ traps when choosing a VPN. All of them claim to offer ultimate online security, speed, and unblocking ability, but this isn’t always the case. Hence, the main goal of this comparison between Windscribe and NordVPN is to find out which of these two services does more to deserve your money.
It is true that NordVPN is widely considered to be a better service, but Windscribe is certainly no slouch either. To find out the real winner, I’ll be judging each contestant’s security, privacy, speed, P2P, streaming, and price, among other factors.
In short, NordVPN sits at the top in every category, except pricing. However, the difference between these two is not always that significant. So let’s be thorough and go over each category.
|“Best for” winner||Best overall, Best for Netflix, Best for P2P, Best for China, Fastest VPN|
|“Best for” nominee||Fastest VPN, Best free VPN, Best for Mac|
|Price starts from||$3.71/month||$1.00/month|
|Review||NordVPN review||Windscribe review|
Speed and servers
While having a large server fleet is usually an advantage, that doesn’t automatically translate to blazing-fast speeds. In fact, some VPNs with a few hundreds of servers are successfully competing with the “big boys” that manage a list ten times the size. To put it short, quality always wins over quantity.
The same can be said about tunneling protocols. Some providers offer a bunch of options, some of which are even no longer considered safe. In the meantime, having the next-gen WireGuard protocol usually decides the winner of the speed race.
NordVPN vs Windscribe VPN: 14-Day Speed Average
|Download Speed||1,125 Mbps||847 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||1,048 Mbps||315 Mbps|
|Download Speed||1,251 Mbps||633 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||1,212 Mbps||310 Mbps|
|Download Speed||1,414 Mbps||882 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||1,244 Mbps||485 Mbps|
As our speed test has shown, both services offer great performance, thanks to WireGuard. However, NordVPN still manages to leave Windscribe and everyone else behind, sometimes by a considerable margin. My guess here would be that the latter has managed to squeeze more out of WireGuard by creating its in-house version, named NordLynx.
|Owns all servers||Some||No|
|P2P servers||Not all||Not all|
NordVPN has one of the biggest networks around the world. Meanwhile, Windscribe has a relatively-modest fleet, but as we’ve seen from the speed test results, that doesn’t stop it from offering top-notch performance.
We liked that NordVPN already owns some of its servers, and all standard ones are RAM-only. As for Windscribe, at least they don’t use virtual servers and allow P2P on them all.
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||30 days|
Windscribe is cheaper overall. It’s one of the few VPNs that have a flexible ‘Build a plan’ option. With it, you can add additional locations to your free version for $1/month per location. It’s great for people who don’t need access to all the servers.
NordVPN scores some points with its 2-year option, which results in a significant discount. But overall, NordVPN pricing doesn’t have much to throw at its competitor in this section.
Furthermore, Windscribe has a great free version that gives 10+ locations, allows P2P, and unblocks Netflix. In the meantime, NordVPN is hesitant about a free trial, giving 7-days to Android users only. At least it has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
|Protocols||NordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2||WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2|
|Kill switch||App-level and connection-level||Yes|
|IP and DNS leaks||No||No|
|Security features||Double VPN, Onion Over VPN, CyberSec, SOCKS5 proxy, Obfuscated servers, Split tunneling,||Ad & malware blocker, split tunneling, Stealth VPN, SOCKS5 proxy, Shadowsocks, HNS, port forwarding, Double Hop|
NordVPN and Windscribe have excellent security. Both boast military-grade encryption, no leaks, and the latest tunneling protocols. However, the former has a more sophisticated kill switch, which can work either on the app or connection level.
Each contestant has quite a few security tricks up their sleeve. NordVPN comes with Tor over VPN, and Windscribe shows off its Shadowsocks and port forwarding. Both also have their malware blockers, split tunneling, SOCKS5 proxy, obfuscated servers, and multi-hop.
|Logging||Independently-audited no-logs policy||No identifying logs|
|Anonymous payment||Cryptocurrencies||Cryptocurrencies, gift cards|
NordVPN is based in Panama, a small country with no data retention laws. Windscribe operates from Canada, a Five Eyes surveillance alliance member.
But what about logs? This is where it gets tricky. NordVPN guarantees a “strict no-logs policy” for its users. They even went as far as to order an independent audit by the notorious accounting firm PwC to demonstrate the veracity of their statements.
Windscribe, on the other hand, does not claim to have a “no logs policy.” This, of course, does not necessarily mean Windscribe can’t be trusted. Consider, for instance, that in 2018, they received approximately 400,000 DMCA and 34 law enforcement data requests but chose to comply with zero of them.
Apps and ease of use
|Major apps||Windows, Android, macOS, iOS||Windows, Android, macOS, iOS|
|Other apps||Fire TV & Fire Stick, Android TV||Amazon Fire TV, Kodi|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox||Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge|
|Manual setup||Routers, firewalls, NAS||Routers, NAS|
Both providers have dedicated apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android, which should take care of the basics for most users. And while NordVPN doesn’t have a Kodi client, Windscribe lacks Android TV support.
Moving on to browser extensions, we find that Windscribe has add-ons for Opera and Edge, a rare feat among VPNs. Finally, its biggest advantage is unlimited simultaneous connections. The only way for NordVPN users to beat this is to connect as many devices as possible behind a router. It has tutorials for manual configuration for a bunch of brands, including the likes MikroTik or Sabai.
Both providers have easy to use apps. While some might like NordVPN’s full-windowed map with server locations, others might prefer Windscribe’s A-Z list.
Netflix and other streaming platforms
|Other Netflix libraries||Yes||Yes|
NordVPN and Windscribe are both great for streaming. They unblock Netflix US but do so in different ways. NordVPN lets you use any server for streaming and additionally offers the SmartPlay DNS service.
Windscribe, on the other hand, only lets you pick one of their dedicated streaming servers like WindFlix US or WindFlix UK. They do not encrypt your traffic to allow better speeds and essentially work as Smart DNS.
With NordVPN, I’ve encountered no issues when watching Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, or streaming with Kodi. It also has access to more Netflix libraries, which might be vital to you if you’re chasing a specific TV series or film, which is not available on the US Netflix library. In the meantime, Windscribe cannot consistently unblock other platforms than Netflix.
Both services have apps for Amazon Fire TV & Fire Stick, while NordVPN also has a client for Android TV. In turn, Windscribe offers a dedicated Kodi app.
Torrenting and P2P
|Allowed on||Select servers||All servers|
|Free SOCKS5 proxy||Yes||Yes|
|Split tunneling||Yes (Windows, Android)||Yes (Android)|
P2P traffic is allowed with both services, and download speeds should be either fast or very fast.
NordVPN and Windscribe offer a free SOCKS5 proxy. This is slightly less secure than a VPN because it doesn’t encrypt your data. However, it provides a certain layer of protection with a smaller drop to your download speeds.
When it comes to split tunneling, NordVPN has it on Windows and Android. Unfortunately, Windscribe doesn’t offer this feature for desktop users, which is a drawback, given that not many people download torrents on their phones.
While it may seem that Windscribe wins the battle of port forwarding, the truth is that it costs extra. You get this feature only after buying a static IP.
China and other restricted countries
|Works in China||Yes||Yes|
|Tor over VPN||Yes||No|
This round is going to be easy for NordVPN, which is the best VPN for China. However, both VPNs can be used to circumvent The Great Firewall.
NordVPN uses Obfuscated Servers to scramble your data so the government won’t be able to block you using Deep Packet Inspection. Windscribe has StealthVPN, instead. It makes the traffic look indistinguishable from other user browsing patterns that don’t trigger VPN blocks.
With NordVPN, it’s also possible to turn the privacy knob to 11 with the Onion over VPN feature. This will mix the Tor node network with VPN servers to create the most secure connection possible.
When it comes to customer support, NordVPN’s opponent quickly loses its edge. Windscribe doesn’t have a live chat, so you’re left with tickets, emails, and chatbot Garry.
NordVPN, on the other hand, has both a chatbot and live chat, so you’ll be able to contact a real person for your queries and without long queues.
Each contestant has extensive knowledgebase with FAQs, setup guides, and more. However, NordVPN has it better structured and easier to navigate.
Winners by category
|Speed and servers||Wins✔️||Loses❌|
|Apps and ease of use||Wins✔️||Loses❌|
|Total wins||7 out of 9||1 out of 9|
Windscribe vs NordVPN video review
Bottom line: NordVPN or Windscribe?
NordVPN easily wins against Windscribe, yet that doesn’t mean the latter is bad. Windscribe is certainly a capable and versatile VPN with some unique features, but NordVPN is simply the market leader.
Both providers will give you excellent performance and security. However, NordVPN is better for privacy because of its jurisdiction and independently-audited no-logs policy. It’s also a better choice for China, thanks to its Onion over VPN feature.
Each is a great option for torrenting, but NordVPN excels at streaming. If Windscribe manages to reliably unblock not only Netflix but other streaming platforms as well, this might well be a tie next time we make this comparison.
The only battle that Windscribe wins is that of pricing. It has a great free version and allows you to create custom plans, starting from $1/month. NordVPN’s two-year option is the only thing that keeps them from capitulation.
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Jan is a cybersecurity and consumer protection specialist focused on investigations that help readers navigate the complex infosecurity sphere. His research and commentary has been featured in Forbes, ComputerWeekly, PC Mag, TechRadar, ZDNet, The Mirror, Entrepreneur, and many other leading publications around the world.