Last update: 11.13.2018
Windscribe is a growing child that has impressive privacy features and keeps no identifying logs to boot. All this, for a reasonably cheap annual plan? Read our Windscribe VPN review to find out if it sounds just a bit too good to be true.
Windscribe VPN is based out of Canada, an eager surveillance alliance member of the Five Eyes. So when it comes to your online security and privacy, you’d better know what to expect. But is the location alone enough to doubt a VPN? We hope this Windscribe VPN review will help you better understand what this VPN can bring to the table.
Windscribe is a “no identifying logs” service.
This service offers 540+ VPN servers in 55+ countries and 100+ cities physically in the claimed locations. In other words, Windscribe has no virtual servers. Many users seem to complain about slow speeds. But always make sure these claims are up-to-date.
We experienced average to good speeds at the time of doing this Windscribe VPN review. It also seems that there have been many changes in the past months regarding the number of servers, the quality of support, features, and so on. Therefore, comments and complaints about previous versions shouldn’t be considered anymore.
We can’t agree with the “best VPN on the market” claim, but we will admit that Windscribe offers impressive security and privacy features. If you combine the desktop apps with the browser extensions, you can have ad blocking, media streaming services (Netflix US/UK), double hopping, timezone spoofing, and more. In addition to all that, Windscribe VPN can also bypass the Great Firewall of China.
Their free VPN version is well worth a try. If you like the speeds and feel that your online activity is private enough, you may get good value for your money by purchasing the paid version.
With that said, let’s uncover in more detail what we found while writing this Windscribe VPN review.
Is Windscribe VPN safe to use?
Unlike other competitors, Windscribe doesn’t claim to be a “no logs policy” service. Instead, they make a promise that they also seem to keep: no identifying logs. In other words, they do collect some connection and other user data. It’s usually not such a big security risk. So, is Windscribe VPN safe to use? Well, it does appear so.
“We do not store connection logs, IP timestamps, or sites you visit.”
Of course, this is mostly used to send you promotions and customize the website, and so on. Remember, nobody said “no logs,” right?
No identifying logs vs. logs
“Since we store the bare minimum for a customer to actually use our service, any request for user data would yield nothing of value. We do not store any logs on who used what IP address, so we cannot tie user activity to any single user.”
So, once again, whatever data this VPN provider collects and stores is of no use to the authorities to identify you. Period. Sadly enough, we have seen a few VPNs fail on no logs claims. For example, in connection with an FBI case as you can read in our PureVPN review.
Nevertheless, we’ve found some positive transparency data while writing our Windscribe VPN review. It seems that 2018 has been a busy year for data requests. According to the statistics on the official site, there have been around 400 thousand DMCA and 34 law enforcement data requests this year.
Here comes the good news you’ve been waiting to hear:
Windscribe claims to have complied with exactly zero requests “due to lack of relevant data.”
In our book, this means that they take the “no identifying logs” statement seriously. So, from this angle, Windscribe is indeed safe to use.
Read more: Does Windscribe Keep Logs?
Windscribe VPN features
Previously, we found WebRTC leaks and managed to detect our true geolocation when we tested the browser extensions. These extensions are not real VPNs but proxies. Windscribe informs its users about possible issues when using these extensions alone. They recommend the combination of desktop and browser apps for the best possible online privacy assurance. Our test updates, however, didn’t show any subsequent leaks.
We’ve also discovered that it makes sense to use the desktop client along with the browser extensions for additional features. For example, the following privacy features are only included in the browser extensions:
- Ad Blocker: to block annoying and tracking third-party ads
- Anti-social: to block social media trackers from Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, G+, and more
- Untraceable: to remove ad trackers and beacons to stop cross-site tracking and building profiles based on your interests
- Secure.Link: to expose tracking practices
- Split Personality: to block browser fingerprinting; it rotates your browser’s user agent
Unfortunately, though, our browser fingerprinting test failed as you can see in the screenshot below:
If you want to play it safe and avoid browser fingerprinting, you may want to use the Tor browser (with the Tor network disabled) with this VPN. This seems to be the best recipe for the highest possible level of online security and privacy.
Windscribe VPN uses the IKEv2/IPsec VPN protocol pair by default. But you can also select UDP, TCP, Stealth (TCP via STunnel), or Wstunnel modes manually. The Stealth and Wstunnel features are suggested if all other options fail. For example, when you’re trying to connect to a VPN server from China or any other restricted country. These obfuscation modes are possibly the most secure and slowest of all.
This VPN service also offers a firewall, which prevents DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks.
When the Windscribe firewall is switched on, you can only connect to the internet through a secure, encrypted VPN tunnel. Therefore, it works as a kill switch, too.
Other online security and privacy features include the Double Hop and Timezone Spoofing. It’s not a real double VPN per se. But when you’re using the desktop client with the browser extension, you can route your traffic through two different locations. This provides an extra layer of security. The Timezone Spoofing is for setting your time zone according to your chosen server location for more consistency.
Our Windscribe VPN review found that the free VPN and the paid versions offer the same protection. Thus, this service may be tempting for travelers and expats to access geo-restricted web content and stream videos from media providers, such as Netflix or BBC iPlayer.
Windscribe VPN Speed & Performance
When it comes to VPN download and upload speeds, there are many factors at play. It’s impossible to test speeds and draw general conclusions. Different users may experience entirely different results. Your computer hardware, router, ISP (Internet Service Provider), and physical location, as well as the VPN server’s load and quality, the chosen connection mode (IKEv2, UDP, TCP, OpenVPN, and so on), can all influence your speed.
These were our baseline speeds at the time of testing:
And, this is what we found when connecting to different servers using the default IKEv2/IPsec connection mode:
Even if you could watch HD and 4K quality videos, or play games online with these speeds, the 100-250ms latencies might cause some lag. But these latencies are entirely typical for any VPNs. Also, if your internet speed without VPN is less than 100Mbps (for example, 30Mbps), you may experience way slower speeds. In such a case, even your HD experience could be questionable.
Our tests indicate that the UDP protocol connections can be up to 4 times slower than the default. And the TCP connections can slow you down by another 75%. But then again, this is not an exact science.
The free version allows you to use 10 locations, including Hong Kong, the UK, Switzerland, Norway, Canada, and the US. Due to the large number of free users and the server limitation, it’s possible that you’ll connect to a rather crowded one. This can cause slower speeds again.
When using the paid version, you may want to avoid the free servers for better performance. On the whole, our Windscribe VPN review has found that the paid version may be faster than the free VPN, but not significantly so. We also need to mention that the connection times were usually very fast, taking only a few seconds.
In general, our Windscribe VPN review concluded that this VPN does not provide lightning speeds as some of the competitors can boast. But you may still get a good enough performance to stream videos and access geo-restricted censored web content.
How to download and install it
You can either click the green “Get Started” button at the top of the official website or click the “Download Windscribe” button further down. There are also specific client links in the footer. All these will redirect you to the “Download” page. One more click, and you can download your chosen VPN app.
It’s easy to both download and install Windscribe VPN. You’ll find a great variety of platforms, including Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Kodi, routers, and browser extensions.
In fact, Windscribe also shows a sense of humor by listing Blackberry as a supported platform. But below the button, it says, “Just Kidding.” To be frank, our Windscribe VPN review team found it refreshing and even cracked a smile.
How to use Windscribe VPN
You can either use Windscribe VPN for free or purchase one of the Pro plans. The free VPN version (Windscribe Limited) limits your bandwidth to 10 GB monthly data usage, and you can only access 10 locations out of the 55, which is quite generous for a free VPN.
All clients are fairly easy to use. You can connect to a recommended best location with a single click. Of course, before you can start using this VPN service, you need to log in.
If you don’t enter your email address in addition to your username, you’re only entitled to use 2GB per month. What’s more, you won’t be able to reset your password either.
Once you log in, you will see a small blue app window. The clients feature minimalist design but are relatively good-looking.
There are more differences apart from the shade of blue used. For example, the browser extension has a Secure.Link Generator and you can also create a Whitelist of tracking websites at the bottom of the app home screen.
The Settings menu is also called differently. The browser extensions call it Privacy Options while the desktop apps call it Preferences. But this is not even the most significant difference.
Have a look at the Windscribe browser extension to find all the extra privacy features that the other clients don’t have:
That’s why it’s worth using it together with the desktop client for better security.
The desktop client Preferences menu looks entirely different and offers more options to tweak:
Such a variety of privacy and security options means that Windscribe VPN will impress not only novice users but seasoned VPN veterans as well.
How to change your location
It’s very easy to change your virtual location with the Windscribe VPN apps. Just click the location to display the list of servers and choose another one. In a few seconds, you should be able to start browsing from your new virtual home.
If the main Power button is OFF and you select a server from the list, the VPN will automatically connect. Some VPN apps require you to disconnect first, then choose a server, and click the Connect button. In other words, Windscribe makes it much more convenient and click-friendly for you.
By default, Windscribe offers the fastest location. All you need to do is click the Power button on the right-hand side of your Windscribe VPN client to connect to that server.
The desktop VPN app also comes with a firewall for maximum DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leak protection. This firewall also functions as a kill switch that you can switch off and on below the current connection information area.
At the top, all clients display either “PRO” or the amount of GB you have left from your free plan. When you use up all your traffic, you’re prompted to upgrade or wait till the next month.
All in all, these apps work just fine, although our Windscribe VPN review team did experience occasional issues of freezing in the case of the browser extensions. But these may be fixed with future updates.
Windscribe VPN for Netflix
Netflix is one of the major players in the media streaming service market along with BBC iPlayer and Hulu. These services impose restrictions based on your physical location due to copyright deals and censorship. Therefore, the question of whether you can use Windscribe VPN for Netflix is genuinely important.
Typically, you will not see the very same catalog of TV shows and movies in the US, the UK, France, and other parts of the world. Since more and more users try to circumvent these geo-restrictions and use VPN apps to spoof their location to appear in a particular country, Netflix wages war on them.
This is the reason why more and more VPN providers get busted and have their servers blocked from access the Netflix servers.
You should be able to use Windscribe VPN for streaming Netflix US and Netflix UK.
You may not be able to use the regular Windscribe servers to stream Netflix. However, they have dedicated servers called WindFlix US and WindFlix UK that do work with Netflix. Though there’s no real guarantee for how long, but they both worked for us when testing for this Windscribe VPN review.
While you’re connected to these dedicated servers, your internet traffic is not encrypted. Therefore, you can get better than usual speeds.
Interestingly enough, our dedicated Netflix speed tests on fast.com failed. We ended up with this warning:
Nevertheless, these above speeds are far more than you need to stream HD or even 4K shows. Naturally, user reports differ like always. Some claim that they can stream Netflix with Windscribe VPN without any issues. Whereas, others say that it’s impossible to watch a show without problems. Of course, this all depends on your location, your base internet speed, and more.
Another plus for Windscribe is that you can enjoy Comedy Central or NBC from all over the world. However, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime fans will need to look elsewhere.
If you don’t think you’ve found the best VPN for Netflix, please read our related post.
Windscribe VPN for Torrenting
The good news is that P2P file-sharing is allowed, so you can use Windscribe VPN for torrenting. However, we need to add right away that there are a few server locations in the list with a crossed-out P2P icon. Therefore, you shouldn’t try to connect to the South Africa, India, and Russia servers for torrenting. Let’s just say those countries are not fans of BitTorrent, uTorrent, or Vuze users.
As you can see, Windscribe makes it quite clear which server locations you shouldn’t use. You should also avoid the VPN servers offered to the free users. You can imagine how overcrowded and unsuitable for large file transfers those may become.
Windscribe also shares some related information on the official site regarding how to set up your VPN to prevent your ISP from ever knowing about your torrenting.
However, before using any VPN for torrenting, consider that copyright infringement may have severe consequences in your country. If in doubt about your choice, you can always check our dedicated Windscribe for torrenting post or our picks for the best VPN for torrenting.
Live chat support
There are six ways for you to get help through the official website. As a matter of fact, the VPN clients also redirect you to the main Support page when looking for help.
There are two sections here, Self Help and Technical Support:
You may find some useful information by going through the Self Help section, but you may also end up empty-handed. This is when you would want to talk to a human customer support agent in a live chat support window, right?
Well, there’s indeed a pseudo-live chat window. You can activate it if you click the green chat button in the bottom right corner of your screen (see above). In all fairness, it doesn’t claim to be live at all. After identifying the issue category (Account, Sales, Technical, or Other), you need to select your platform. Then, “Garry” greets you.
At first, you may actually believe that it’s a live chat with a human. Garry’s quite responsive and appears to be typing the very moment you send your message.
But when your question doesn’t make sense to this bot, he reveals himself as a robot. This can be a bit frustrating. Although, it’s not like Windscribe is trying to hide the fact that you’re not talking to a human support agent.
Basically, this chatbot is capable of answering less complex issues like pricing plans or a forgotten password. Why would anyone use a human to do that, right? But this is not all Windscribe support has to offer.
We also found a red Escalate to human! link in the bottom right corner of this pseudo-live chat support window. When you click this link, you need to confirm whether you’re sure about your “escalation.”
However, even this won’t connect you to a human support agent, not directly.
You’ll be presented with a screen to submit a support ticket. We certainly appreciate the effort.
Nonetheless, despite all the help they try to give, our Windscribe VPN review has to conclude that there’s no real live chat support. This could be bad news for some. But, then again, you need to consider all pros and cons before you make up your mind about a VPN service.
Apps and extensions
This is an aspect where Windscribe VPN shows some real strength. There’s a wide range of clients that work on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android, and has proxy extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. TV enthusiasts will be glad to hear that this VPN can be installed on Amazon Fire TV, NVidia Shield, and Kodi as well. What’s more, you can also install this VPN on routers like DD-WRT and Tomato, or you can buy pre-configured routers as well.
There are some differences between the apps regarding server locations. It seems that the mobile apps and browser extensions have fewer locations to choose from as you can only select countries or regions instead of data centers. Of course, this may change in the future with coming updates. Our Windscribe VPN review found that these clients are quite user-friendly with an appealing interface.
Pricing: Good value with a 3-day refund
Although you can find cheaper VPN services, after going through our Windscribe VPN review, we can’t really complain about what it has to offer. First off, you can use this VPN for free with a limited number of servers (10 locations) and a 10GB bandwidth cap. You can also use the free version without registering with your email address. In this case, your bandwidth limit becomes 2GB, which can easily be used up in a matter of a few hours though.
The paid plans are as follows:
- 1-month plan: $9.00 per month
- 1-year plan: $4.08 per month
- 2-year plan: $3.70 per month (comes with a free 6-month premium subscription to Dashlane password manager)
These are relatively low prices for the range of security and privacy features Windscribe VPN provides.
The refund is a bit tricky, so you’d better read the policy carefully before investing and losing your money. Your refund is only valid if you purchase your VPN app directly from Windscribe (no third-party vendors like StackSocial), you apply for your refund within three days after your purchase, and your traffic doesn’t exceed 10GB.
This is not the cheapest VPN we have reviewed, but it’s definitely good value for these prices.
Windscribe VPN by Reddit
Windscribe VPN has a real presence on reddit.com. Not only because they have an account, but there are many threads and comments as well. They also have accounts on Facebook and Twitter, but these could use a bit more interaction.
Apart from the tons of “lifetime subscription” and “how to get more GB for free” types of promotions, there are several technical issues addressed. We think it’s important to mention one particular issue about using Windscribe for torrenting.
A user had a serious problem because they didn’t set up their qBittorrent client correctly to exclusively use the VPN connection. Therefore, they got warnings from their ISP about copyright infringement since qBittorrent was using the default internet connection.
The good news is that it wasn’t Windscribe VPN’s fault, but the wrong configuration led to the leak.
In other words, make sure your setup is complete before using Windscribe VPN for torrenting, P2P file sharing, or any other sensitive traffic.
Some users also talk about annoying connection drops and the VPN reconnecting automatically in the background, then dropping again. This would be a serious privacy issue if the desktop client didn’t have leak protection, i.e., the firewall. Make sure you keep that on and have the latest software version installed. Also, try to use other servers if you keep experiencing connection drops.
Conclusion of Windscribe VPN review: Pretty good for a 2-year-old
Windscribe VPN has only been around for two years. Thus, we believe that this service certainly has the potential to climb up the ladder. It’s not yet a perfect VPN. But hey, who said there’s such a thing as perfect?
It’s available on all major platforms, and you can use limitless parallel devices with one license. If you go for the Pro version, you need to be aware of the refund policy because you only get three days to change your mind.
How about learning from other VPN users?
Do you have any related questions? Have you ever tried to use Windscribe VPN or any other VPN apps before? Maybe you have written a Windscribe VPN review of your own? What are your impressions?
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