Last update: 02.14.2019
Outstanding privacy features, great browser extensions, and no identifying logs to boot. All this, for a reasonably cheap annual plan? Time to find out if it sounds a bit too good to be true.
When we first saw what this VPN offers on paper, we weren’t entirely convinced. After all, most VPNs promote themselves as pinnacles of the industry. As a 3-year-old upstart, Windscribe just seemed too proud. Too bold. Too overconfident.
So, can Windscribe VPN actually walk the walk?
Turns out, it can. While we can’t agree with the “best VPN on the market” claim, we’ll admit that the service offers impressive security and privacy features. And that’s precisely where we’ll begin our review.
Security and privacy
We found that the free and the paid Windscribe versions offer the same protection, with some exceptions:
- Military-grade AES-256 encryption
- IKEv2/IPsec VPN protocol pair (you can also select UDP, TCP, Stealth (TCP via STunnel), or Wstunnel modes manually)
- Firewall that prevents DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks as well as works as a kill switch.
- Double Hop feature for an additional layer of protection
- Timezone Spoofing for setting your time zone according to your chosen server location.
- R.O.B.E.R.T. (Remote Omnidirectional Badware Eliminating Robotic Tool) for reducing tracking, seeing fewer ads, using less data, and reducing the risk of infection
- Port Forwarding (available only to users that have a Static IP subscription) for accessing your home network and all services on your computer remotely and securely
We’ve also discovered that it makes sense to use the desktop client along with the browser extensions that have additional features:
- Ad Blocker to block annoying and tracking third-party ads
- Anti-social to block social media trackers from Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, 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
Unfortunately, though, our browser fingerprinting test failed:
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.
Does Windscribe keep logs?
Windscribe is based out of Canada, an eager surveillance alliance member of the Five Eyes. But is the location alone enough to doubt a VPN?
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.
“We do not store connection logs, IP timestamps, or sites you visit.”
We’ve also found some positive transparency data: there have been around 400 thousand DMCA and 34 law enforcement data requests in 2018.
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.
For a more in-depth look on this provider’s logging practices, read Does Windscribe Keep Logs?
Speed and performance
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:
New York, US
- Download: 144 Mbps
- Upload: 26 Mbps
- Download: 129 Mbps
- Upload: 232 Mbps
- Download: 47 Mbps
- Upload: 14 Mbps
In general, while Windscribe does not provide lightning speeds as some of the competitors can boast, it’s still one of the fastest VPNs on the market. The service performs well enough to stream videos, play online games, and access geo-restricted censored web content.
This service offers 540+ VPN servers in 55+ countries and 100+ cities physically in the claimed locations. In other words, this VPN has no virtual servers.
While Windscribe’s server fleet is not in the ballpark of giants like NordVPN, CyberGhost, or TorGuard, these are above average numbers. Considering the positive results of our speed tests, the current server count seems to be more than enough. At least at the moment.
Ease of use and multiplatform support
This is an aspect where Windscribe VPN shows some real strength. It offers apps for a great variety of platforms:
- Amazon Fire TV
- Routers like DD-WRT and Tomato
- Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera
When it comes usability, all apps are fairly user-friendly, with privacy options that VPN enthsiasts will also appreciate.
You can connect to a recommended best location with a single click.
Both the desktop and browser extension apps feature minimalist design but they look relatively good.
However, 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 Windscribe browser extension also offers some extra privacy features that the other apps don’t have:
That’s why it’s worth using it together with the desktop app for better security.
The desktop client Preferences menu offers more options to tweak:
There are some differences between the apps regarding server locations. 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.
Such a variety of privacy and security options means that Windscribe VPN will impress not only novice users but seasoned VPN veterans as well.
All in all, these apps work just fine, although we did experience occasional freezing issues in the case of the browser extensions. But these may be fixed with future updates.
Streaming and unblocking content
While you may not be able to use the regular servers to stream Netflix, they have dedicated servers called WindFlix US and WindFlix UK that do work with Netflix. While you’re connected to these dedicated servers, your internet traffic is not encrypted which gives you better than usual speeds.
You should be able to use Windscribe VPN for streaming Netflix US and Netflix UK.
Another plus is that you can enjoy Comedy Central or NBC from all over the world. However, if you fail to access BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, or other media centers, no need to panic. For a little extra monthly cost, you can purchase a Static IP to avoid blocking and detection.
For BBC iPlayer, a Datacenter Static IP ($2/month) should do. But streaming Amazon Prime could be a bit more expensive as it may require a Residential Static IP ($8/month).
All in all, while Windscribe might not be the best VPN for Netflix at the moment, it should be good enough for most of your streaming needs.
P2P and torrenting
Windscribe VPN allows P2P file-sharing, which means you can safely use it for torrenting. However, there are a few server locations with a crossed-out P2P icon.
As you can see, you shouldn’t try to connect to South African, Indian, and Russian servers for torrenting. Also, be sure to avoid the VPN servers offered to the free users. You can imagine how overcrowded and unsuitable for large file transfers those may become.
Note: 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.
There are six ways for you to get help through the official Windscribe VPN website:
- Setup Guides
- Knowledge Base
- Talk to Garry
- Submit Ticket
“Talk to Garry” is a pseudo-live chat window:
Basically, this chatbot is capable of answering less complex issues like pricing plans or a forgotten password. But this is not all their support team has to offer.
While chatting with Gary, we also found a red Escalate to human! link.
However, even this won’t connect you to a human support agent, not directly.
Instead, you’ll be presented with a screen to submit a support ticket. While it’s somewhat disappointing, we certainly appreciate the effort.
Nonetheless, despite all the help they try to give, there’s no real live chat support. This could be bad news for some. Then again, you need to consider all the pros and cons before you make up your mind about a VPN service.
Windscribe offers the following plans for paid subscribers:
- 1-month plan: $9.00/month
- 1-year plan: $4.08/month
- Build a plan: $1.00/month/location
These are relatively low prices for the range of security and privacy features this VPN provides.
Windscribe also offers a free version with a limited number of servers (10 locations) and a 10GB bandwidth cap. You can 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.
If you choose to subscribe but end up disappointed, you should read the refund 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).
Windscribe VPN has only been around for three years and we believe it has great potential to climb up the ladder. Our only major gripe with this service is the lack of live chat support, which shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for most. That’s certainly not bad for a three-year-old.
All things considered, we recommend Windscribe for geo-unblockers, gamers, streamers, and travelers mostly, which are the majority of VPN users.
It’s not yet a perfect VPN. But hey, who said there’s such a thing as perfect?
How about learning from other VPN users?
Have you ever tried to use Windscribe VPN or any other VPN apps before? Maybe you have written a review of your own? What are your impressions?
Feel free to leave your questions or comments below.