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. In fact, the two walk rather close to each other.
|“Best for” winner||Best overall, Best for Netflix, Best for P2P, Best for China, Fastest VPN|
|“Best for” nominee||Best for Mac|
|Price starts from||$3.71/month||$1.00/month|
|Review||NordVPN review||Windscribe review|
In short, NordVPN sits at the top in every category, even though Windscribe is a fair opponent. But let’s be thorough and go over each category.
Security of NordVPN and Windscribe
|Protocols||NordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2||OpenVPN, IKEv2,|
|Security features||Double VPN, Onion Over VPN, CyberSec, SOCKS5 proxy, Obfuscated servers||SSL secured network, R.O.B.E.R.T., Split Tunneling, Secure Hotspot, Proxy Gateway, Double Hop|
NordVPN and Windscribe both boast military-grade AES-256 encryption – the same kind of algorithm used by US government institutions and financial institutions.
Tunneling protocols are just as important – you don’t want to send your data through a vulnerable link. Both VPN providers have you covered there, as well. You can use OpenVPN and IKEv2 with either NordVPN or Windscribe. However, NordVPN has NordLynx, its proprietary tunneling protocol based on WireGuard. This revolutionary protocol means much better performance without compromising security.
Not everything rests purely on technical specifications. Sometimes, additional features may be impressive enough to win over customers. NordVPN has fewer of those, but the ones included are worth it. For example, NordVPN’s Onion over VPN mixes VPN with the Tor network. You can connect to a NordVPN server, which will use the Tor network’s nodes to reach your destination. This makes you untraceable. You can also use multi-hop connections (Double VPN) that combine two VPN servers, hiding your true identity behind an additional layer.
You can find the same feature on the Windscribe camp, but it’s named differently – Double Hop. However, they have no equivalent to Onion over a VPN.
Windscribe have additional security features, such as R.O.B.E.R.T., but these are far less impactful.
I tested both services for DNS leaks. When connected to NordVPN’s French server, I checked whether my IP address or DNS queries were leaking. Naturally, the leak test displays the VPN-assigned IP address with no leaks.
I did the same test with Windscribe.
As you can see, the test was successful in both cases. Always do keep in mind that WebRTC leaks happen at the browser level. So generally, you’ll get the best safety by just disabling WebRTC in your browser.
In any case, NordLynx and advanced bonus security features make NordVPN a more secure service, but Windscribe is certainly among the strongest VPNs in this regard.
Privacy features of Windscribe vs NordVPN
|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 and no connection to the 5 or 14 eyes groups. Windscribe operates from Canada, a 5 Eyes surveillance alliance member. 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.
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.” They do promise that they do not keep any “identifying logs,” which is to say the connection and user data they store cannot be traced back to you.
However, both NordVPN and Windscribe throw a lifeline with their payment options. Both accept cryptocurrencies. For example, you can buy NordVPN with ten different cryptocurrencies via CoinPayments.
Windscribe also accepts cryptocurrencies via CoinPayments. There’s even more of them so you can pick whichever works the best for you.
In short, NordVPN wins this round because Panama is a better VPN location than Canada, and “no logs” is better than “some logs.”
Windscribe vs NordVPN speed and performance
|Average speed||121 Mbps||57 Mbps|
|US server||213 Mbps (29% drop-off)||22 Mbps (drop-off 91%)|
|Australia server||177 Mbps (41% drop-off)||9 Mbps (drop-off 96%)|
|US server||88 Mbps (71% drop-off)||132 Mbps (drop-off 54%)|
|Australia server||5 Mbps (98% drop-off)||65 Mbps (drop-off 77%)|
|US server||136 ms||115 ms|
|Australia server||339 ms||337 ms|
NordVPN has one of the biggest networks around the world. It has 5400+ servers across 59 countries.
Meanwhile, Windscribe has a relatively-modest fleet of 480+ in more than 60 countries. You can probably expect a higher server load with a service that has fewer servers. The speed tests are consistent with this, although they are also impacted by the difference between NordLynx and OpenVPN.
In short, NordVPN is almost twice as fast as Windscribe. As a matter of fact, it takes the top spot on our list of fastest VPN services.
Again, however, Windscribe’s speeds are nothing to scoff at.
Windscribe vs NordVPN apps: ease of use and support
|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|
|Manual setup||Routers, firewalls, NAS||Routers, NAS|
|Customer support||24/7 live chat, email, FAQ, tutorials||Setup guides, FAQ, knowledge base, subreddit, talk to Garry feature, tickets|
Fourth time isn’t the charm for Windscribe either. NordVPN simply has better customer support and is easier to use.
Both providers have dedicated apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android, which should take care of the basics for most users. Windscribe even has an Opera browser extension, a rare feat among VPNs. There are also many guides to configure the VPN on DD-WRT, Tomato, or Asus routers. This greatly expands the range of devices on which you can use your VPN.
Unfortunately for Windscribe, NordVPN simply has more guides and supports more device types. This includes tutorials for even the more niche devices like MikroTik or Sabai routers. Guides include everything there is to know that range from installing custom firmware to configuring settings on pre-existing presets. NordVPN also has apps for Amazon Fire TV and Android TV.
Most users will probably stick to automatic configurations due to the ease of use provided by the apps. When we look at the UI, both NordVPN and Windscribe are pleasant to the eye and intuitive enough to get you going.
I particularly liked NordVPN’s stylized map with a sidebar which lets you quickly find what you need and connect. Windscribe clearly had a different design direction in mind.
You just pick a country, then choose a server location and connect. In a way, it’s an equivalent of NordVPN’s sidebar. It’s going to be a question of personal preference, but we feel that the map provides a useful simplification, especially on mobile.
It’s nice to see that neither service imposes heavy restrictions. You can connect up to 6 devices simultaneously with NordVPN and an unlimited number with Windscribe. Whichever you pick, you’ll likely be able to protect all of your devices. However, if you want a VPN for the whole household/family, then you should probably grab Windscribe.
What about customer support?
When it comes to customer support, Windscribe quickly loses its edge. There is no live chat option, so you’re left with tickets, emails, and chatbot Garry.
It sounds cool, but the actual functionality leaves a lot to be desired. Most of the time, you’ll have to redirect your queries to live customer support agents. Think of this chatbot as an interactive FAQ. 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.
Overall, when it comes to ease of use and support, NordVPN once again is just better equipped. Even if we put subjective UI convenience aside, live chat and support for a broader range of devices is something that tips the scales in their favor.
Torrenting and P2P with NordVPN and Windscribe
|Allowed on||Select servers||Select servers|
|Free SOCKS5 proxy||Yes||Yes|
|Split tunneling||Yes (on Android app only)||Yes|
Naturally, whichever VPN wins in the speed department will have a big edge when it comes to P2P. However, not everything just boils down to the speeds – for example, some VPNs block P2P traffic altogether.
NordVPN and Windscribe both have specialized servers for torrenting. The critical difference, of course, is that the former is faster, has a bigger network and a wider array of locations to choose from. In any case, P2P traffic is allowed on both services, and performance is what sets them apart.
It’s a good thing that both providers offer a free SOCKS5 proxy. This is slightly less secure than VPN because it doesn’t encrypt your data. However, it provides a certain layer of protection with a smaller drop to your download speeds. If your internet isn’t the fastest in the world, a SOCKS5 proxy might be a perfect solution – not only is it faster due to the lack on encryption, but it will also impact your other online activities a lot less.
Windscribe claims a minor victory by having split tunneling on their desktop app. It allows you to select which apps should connect directly and which should be connected through a VPN. That way, you can additionally encrypt the connection (which doesn’t happen with SOCKS5).
Regardless, NordVPN, with its larger network and better speeds, is just better suited for all your torrenting purposes.
Netflix and other streaming platforms
|Other Netflix libraries||Yes||Yes|
NordVPN and Windscribe are both great for streaming. Both services unblock American Netflix but do so in different ways. NordVPN lets you to 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. You’ll be able to watch the content in both cases, but one of them will be less secure.
With NordVPN, I’ve encountered no issues when watching 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.
Both services have apps for Android TV and Amazon Fire TV & Fire Stick. It’s perfect for cord-cutters that deal with geo-blocking restrictions. Both services can comfortably unblock various streaming media platforms.
I favor NordVPN for this one, simply because it offers better speeds and more flexibility in how you want to stream.
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. Windscribe is nowhere to be seen on the list. That does not mean that the service is bad for China. Both of them work and 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. This method uses the Stunnel algorithm to wrap your VPN connection within a layer of SSL encryption. It makes the traffic look indistinguishable from other user browsing patterns that don’t trigger VPN blocks.
I’d also like to mention that 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.
So, which service is better for China? Well, both of them will work, but NordVPN has stronger features and is simply faster.
Windscribe vs NordVPN pricing comparison
|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. Their service also has a free version, a rare sight in the VPN world.
NordVPN doesn’t have much to throw at its competitor in this section. It’s more expensive, doesn’t have a free trial, and now it’s only possible to test the service with their 30-day money-back guarantee. It’s a sore sight considering the free version of Windscribe gives you access to 10 servers and has a 10 GB/month data cap.
If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll save more by going with Windscribe – period.
NordVPN vs Windscribe – which is better?
|Total wins||7 out of 8||1 out of 8|
NordVPN wins against Windscribe, yet that doesn’t mean the latter is bad. Windscribe is certainly a capable and versatile VPN – NordVPN is simply the market leader.