When I first saw what Windscribe VPN had to offer, I wasn’t entirely convinced. After all, most VPNs name themselves as one of the best, if not the best. As a 3-year-old upstart, Windscribe just seemed too proud, too bold, and too confident.
So, can this VPN actually walk the walk? That depends on what the answers will be to the following questions: is Windscribe VPN safe? Does it unblock Netflix? Is torrenting allowed on Windscribe servers? And is it fast enough for all your online activities?
I will try to answer all these questions and then some in this in-depth Windscribe VPN review.
- Rank: #9
- Based in: Canada
- Servers and locations: 480+ servers in 60+ countries
- Logs: minimal data collection
- Encryption and protocols: main protocols OpenVPN and IKEv2, stealth protocols, military-grade encryption (AES-256)
- Netflix: Yes
- Torrenting: Yes, P2P allowed on most servers
- Apps: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Kodi, Chrome, Firefox, Opera
- Support: email
- Price: from $1.00/month
- Free version or trial: Yes, free version with 10 GB bandwidth
- Website: windscribe.com
Security and privacy features
Those wondering whether Windscribe is safe can relax – this VPN has enough security and privacy features to be considered as one of the safest. The good news is that the free version has almost the same level of protection. It also makes sense to combine your client with a browser extension as those add even more helpful features.
Encryption and tunneling protocols
Windscribe VPN uses military-grade encryption, which is near-impossible to break. Even if your connection is intercepted by a third-party, cracking this code would take not millions but billions of years!
The protocols offered by Windscribe VPN are as follows:
- Open VPN (UDP)
- Open VPN (TCP)
OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols will be enough for most users, but those residing in countries where internet access is restricted will find Windscribe’s two stealth protocols handy. The first is named Stealth (!), and it’s basically OpenVPN via STunnel. Sadly, it doesn’t work on iOS, so iPhone and iPad users are left with Wstunnel, which is OpenVPN in a WebSocket.
Some users might miss L2TP/IPSec or even PPTP protocols that offer more speed at the cost of safety. However, we can only say that Windscribe VPN is among the best services when it comes to privacy and security.
The Windscribe kill switch is a special one. It’s so special that it’s even called a Firewall, though it being a part of the firewall would probably be a better way to put it. Considered to be superior to any regular kill switch by its creators, Windscribe kill switch ensures that not even a single packet leaves your device in case of a VPN malfunction.
In Preferences, you’ll have the option to allow LAN traffic with the firewall tuned on and also change its modes from Automatic (default) and Manual to Always On. The latter blocks internet connection until you connect to a Windscribe server.
To sum up, Windscribe has a kill switch that’s probably even better than those of its competitors. Should this VPN go down, your identity won’t be compromised.
In short, Windscribe VPN has no DNS, IPv6, or WebRTC leaks at all. And this comes not without the help from the browser extension’s privacy features, to be fair.
The image above shows my test results where I connected to a Windscribe server in the UK and checked for DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks. As you can see, I couldn’t find any.
Unfortunately, though, my Panopticlick 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.
Founded in Canada, a Five Eyes country
The first serious privacy blow comes after checking where Windscribe is registered. Turns out it’s in Canada – one of the Five Eyes countries where mass-surveillance can be considered a norm. It also means that Canada can share its intelligence data with any other member of a broader Fourteen Eyes alliance.
On the bright side, Windscribe VPN is yet to share any data that would allow identifying its client. In fact, there already have been dozens of requests from law enforcement, and all failed to extract any personal data. Therefore as long as Windscribe keeps its no-logs policy, users should be safe even in such surveillance-friendly conditions.
No identifying logs
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, Windscribe does collect some connection and other user data, but it’s not a big security risk.
“We do not store connection logs, IP timestamps, or sites you visit”
I’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 my book, this means that they take the “no identifying logs” statement seriously.
For a more in-depth look at this provider’s logging practices? Read Does Windscribe Keep Logs?
Windscribe offers anonymous payments in Paymentwall’s gift cards and bitcoin. What’s more, you can create an account without using an email, so there’s no need to bother creating a throwaway mailbox. However, if you plan to use Windscribe’s free version, adding an email will increase your monthly bandwidth limit from 2 GB to 10 GB.
Naturally, Windscribe doesn’t ask your name, address, or any other personally identifiable information. So it’s up to you to not include such data in your username and optional email fields.
Other technical features
Windscribe is rich with security and privacy features, especially if you use both the app and the browser extension of your choice.
Here are the most important ones:
- 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
- Secure hotspot lets your computer act as a secure wifi router
- Ad Crusher is not a version of Candy Crush – it’s for blocking third-party ads
- Social fence to block social media trackers from Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and others
- Tracker Eradicator to remove ad trackers and beacons to stop cross-site tracking and building profiles based on your interest
- Double Hop routes your traffic via two servers for an additional layer of protection
- Time Warp for setting your browser’s time zone according to your chosen server location
And that’s only a few of them. You can easily check out the rest by installing a free Windscribe version.
Speed: is Windscribe still fast?
Windscribe used to provide some of the best speeds, even when compared to our Top 3 fastest VPN services. And while it’s still among the fastest ones, its positions are no longer what they used to be. Nevertheless, my test has shown that Windscribe should be fast enough for most gamers, torrenters, and streamers out there.
These were my baseline speeds in Europe at the time of testing:
- Download: 243 Mbps
- Upload: 284 Mbps
- Ping: 4 ms
And this is what I got after connecting to different Windscribe servers using OpenVPN (UDP):
- Download: 16 Mbps (drop-off 93%)
- Upload: 73 Mbps (drop-off 74%)
- Ping: 41 ms
- Download: 22 Mbps (drop-off 91%)
- Upload: 132 Mbps (drop-off 54%)
- Ping: 115 ms
- Download: 9 Mbps (drop-off 96%)
- Upload: 65 Mbps (drop-off 77%)
- Ping: 337 ms
Windscribe speed test results have shown that while it no longer provides lightning-fast connections, it’s still one of the fastest VPNs on the market. That probably has to do with the fact that none of their 480+ servers in 60+ countries are virtual.
Does Windscribe support my device?
Windscribe VPN supports your device or OS if it’s on this list: Windows, macOS, Linux (beta), iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Kodi, routers, and NAS servers. There are also browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, which I recommend using with the app for that synergy effect.
One subscription gives you an unlimited number of simultaneous connections – a rare feat among premium VPNs.
When it comes to usability, all apps are fairly user-friendly, with privacy options that VPN enthusiasts will also appreciate.
You can connect to a recommended best location with a single click
Both the desktop apps and browser extensions feature a minimalist design and look relatively good, although the updated extensions removed the warmer colors from their palette and went for a more strict look, similar to that of mobile apps.
Windscribe VPN desktop apps: Windows, macOS, and Linux
Windscribe for Windows looks like the macOS version. The home screen has an “On/Off” button for connecting to a Windscribe server and a smaller “On” slider below for toggling the firewall.
Pressing the drop-down button will give you a list of all possible locations that can be ordered by geography, alphabet, or latency. Finally, the hamburger menu will lead you to the connection and security settings under Preferences.
Here you can select your connection protocol, firewall mode, DNS servers, and proxy settings.
The Linux version, still in beta, is console-based. Windscribe has clients for Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, and CentOS distributions. The website also gives clear instructions on how to install the app on them.
Windscribe mobile apps: Android and iOS (iPhone & iPad)
Windscribe mobile apps have a different design when compared to their desktop counterparts. They use a different palette and show the extended server list, starting with the best and the most popular ones before switching to the alphabetic order. There are also filters for your Favorites and Windflix streaming servers.
However, the differences between the Android and iOS versions become apparent when we delve deeper into the Windscribe VPN settings. Not only there’s less of those when compared to the desktop versions – the iOS app barely has any of them!
As you can see on the right, iOS users get Windscribe’s firewall that includes a kill switch and the option to change the protocol or port. In the meantime, Android users get the native “Always on VPN” for a kill switch instead of a firewall, but are compensated with split tunneling and packet size selector. As a bonus, Windscribe throws in the options to allow LAN traffic bypass VPN and to automatically connect the app on boot.
To sum up, Windscribe for Android and iOS are safe to use, despite them lacking some functionality that the desktop versions have, such as stealth protocols.
Windscribe for web browsers: Chrome, Firefox, and Opera
Windscribe browser extensions have many unique features and should be used together with the app for maximum security and privacy. 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’s home screen.
The Windscribe browser extension also offers plenty of extra privacy features that the other apps don’t have, such as Ad Crusher, Malware Evader, and WebRTC Slayer, to name but a few.
That’s why it’s worth using it together with your desktop or mobile app for enhanced security.
Other platforms for Windscribe VPN
Windscribe also has apps for Amazon FireTV, Nvidia Shield, and Kodi (Android and Linux based). You can also configure it for routers (DD-WRT, Tomato, Asus-WRT) and NAS (Synology, QNAP).
Since Windscribe VPN provides SOCKS5 proxy, on their website, you will find the setup guides for uTorrent, Deluge, qBitttorrent, and Vuze torrent clients.
Netflix and other streaming services
For those wandering how to watch Netflix with Windscribe, the provider has dedicated servers called WindFlix US, WindFlix Canada, WindFlix Japan, and WindFlix UK for that. When you’re connected to these, your internet traffic isn’t encrypted, which gives you better speeds but less privacy.
Unfortunately, my last Windscribe test has shown that while the speeds were good enough for HD across the globe, only Netflix US library was unblocked for me.
You should be able to use Windscribe VPN for streaming Netflix US
However, if you fail to access Disney+, 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.
Does Windscribe support torrenting?
Windscribe VPN allows torrenting, but there are a few server locations with a crossed-out P2P icon.
As you can see, Windscribe doesn’t allow using 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.
While Windscribe offers a free SOCKS5 proxy connection, most torrent trackers block them, and it’s not considered secure. Using the split tunneling feature might prove more beneficial.
With the Always-on Firewall that also acts like a kills switch, you should be safe from your ISP since it allows the traffic only to Windscribe servers.
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.
Support: email, chatbot, and guides
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 queries like pricing plans or a forgotten password. While chatting with Gary, I found a red Escalate to human! link, which presented me with a screen to submit a support ticket. Nonetheless, despite all the help they try to give, there’s no real live chat support.
The setup guides for different devices and OS have screenshots and are easy to follow. The FAQ is a bit of a lackluster – i.e., it says nothing about unblocking Netflix and mentions bitcoin in an answer that’s not directly related to anonymous payments. The knowledgebase is a more informative version of the FAQ with a helpful search bar, while the active Windscribe subreddit may be your fastest way to get help from a human.
Pricing: is Windscribe asking too much?
Windscribe VPN offers its service for relatively low prices:
- Free: 10 servers, 10 GB/month
- 1-month plan: $9.00/month
- 1-year plan: $4.08/month
- Build a plan: $1.00/month/location
Payment options include credit cards, Paymentwall gift cards, and bitcoin. Since Windscribe account creation doesn’t require your email, you can buy and use this service completely anonymously.
These are relatively low prices for the range of security and privacy features this VPN provides
All Windscribe VPN plans have the same security features, including military-grade encryption, tunneling protocols, kill switch, leak protection, and so on. They also allow an unlimited number of simultaneous connections.
Windscribe also offers a free version with a limited number of servers (10 locations) and a 10 GB bandwidth cap. You can use the free version without registering with your email address, but your bandwidth limit will shrink to 2 GB.
Also, be sure to read the refund policy carefully – your refund is only valid if you:
- Purchase your VPN app directly from Windscribe (no third-party vendors like StackSocial)
- Send your request within three commercial days from your subscription
- Don’t exceed the 10 GB traffic limit
If you meet the following criteria, expect a refund within 30 days.
Should you get Windscribe VPN?
You should get Windscribe VPN, at least its free version. After all, it’s among the best free VPNs and isn’t going anywhere. As to whether you should pay for Windscribe, which has only been around for several years, well, we believe it has great potential to climb up the ladder. Our only major gripes with this service are the lack of live chat support and complicated refund policy.
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?