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In a nutshell, ZenMate is a generally slow VPN with particularly vague logging practices and a surprisingly high price tag.
If you’ve heard about or experienced the German precision and quality, you may have some natural expectations about ZenMate. We’ll attempt to find the truth behind this popular and somewhat controversial cybersecurity service.
ZenMate claims to be a no logs VPN service, but it does keep some connection logs. It will also ask for your email address when signing up for the free version or the 7-day premium trial.
This VPN doesn’t offer live chat support and, currently, its support is rather sluggish and problematic. It’s also possible that ZenMate may clash with other VPN apps installed on your device. When it’s running in the background, it may not allow you to launch any other VPN.
So much for the appetizer. Now, let’s take a deeper look at why ZenMate is a popular but relatively uninspired VPN service.
Security and privacy
To be frank, we’re a bit concerned when it comes to ZenMate’s security credentials, and not only because of its German home.
The good news is that ZenMate seems to have implemented some major changes to its services. This VPN can now offer you a higher level of technical security online:
- Unbreakable AES-256 encryption
- L2TP/IPSec and IKEv2 VPN protocol pair
- Kill switch
- WebRTC leak protection (browser extensions)
- Malware blocking (browser extensions)
- Tracking protection (browser extensions)
ZenMate only supports the L2TP/IPSec and IKEv2 VPN protocols right now.
The most popular protocol, OpenVPN, is missing from the repertoire.
There’s a ZenMate for OpenVPN product, however, which you will find on the ZenMate website.
The free Chrome, Firefox, and Opera proxy extensions also offer malware blocking, tracking protection, and WebRTC leak protection. All ZenMate VPN apps are very basic and easy to use for beginners. However, this may well be a drawback for more tech-savvy users.
Even if ZenMate seems to have improved on its security and privacy, we found some other worrisome details.
Does ZenMate log your data?
Short answer: some.
ZenMate claims to be a no logs VPN, yet it does seem to keep certain information about you and your connections.
“This data is not passed on to third parties unless there is a statutory obligation to pass on the data, or if the transfer serves the aim of criminal prosecution.”
To be frank, we wouldn’t recommend that either. If you need proper anonymity, you’d better look elsewhere.
Does it leak?
Some reviews mention possible DNS leaks, but our tests didn’t manage to replicate this. Perhaps it’s a reflection of the reports that a few months ago ZenMate implemented a number of changes affecting its level of online security and privacy protection.
As we all know, Google is one of the main headaches for those concerned with privacy. So, when the news of third-party app developers gaining access to private Gmail inboxes hit the web, our first question was: which VPN providers use Gmail?
The list was long and contained some big names, one of which is ZenMate. We’re not claiming that ZenMate did anything wrong, but you may still want to find out more about this Gmail privacy issue to see more clearly. Click this link to see which other VPNs use Gmail and how this might be relevant to you.
To summarize the whole security and privacy question, we can say that ZenMate certainly didn’t use to be the most secure and private VPN, but it has improved and is still improving. Still, their practices lack transparency and there are other issues, which could scare away those in need of total privacy.
Speed and performance
The first word that comes to mind in relation to ZenMate’s performance is “glacial.” It’s possible that a closer server will provide you with half-decent speeds. However, once you try to stream in HD from a far-away server, you will run into buffering issues and annoyingly slow speeds.
We took our time and tested ZenMate VPN in some popular locations to see for ourselves how it performs. Our baseline download speeds without the VPN activated we 270 Mbps.
Then, we launched our ZenMate Premium app and connected to the US, UK, an Japan servers.
Here’s what we found:
- Download speed: 11 Mbps (96% drop)
- Upload speed: 22 Mbps
- Download speed: 21 Mbps (92% drop)
- Upload speed: 62 Mbps
- Download speed: 10 Mbps (96% drop)
- Upload speed: 6 Mbps
Well, these numbers should talk for themselves. As you can see, the drop from our base speeds is substantial, to say the least.
If you’re located in South America, Africa, or Asia, this VPN may not be the best choice for you, since there’s almost no coverage in these regions. Your connection speeds will be slow simply because of the physical distances from the “nearest” servers.
Although you may find reviews mentioning 1,000+ servers, from looking at ZenMate’s server map, it seems that the VPN only has a fleet of about 300+ servers in 30+ countries (with 3,000+ IP addresses to offer). This is a relatively small network compared to some other top VPN providers, some of which have thousands of servers globally.
This, combined with the 45+ million users could explain ZenMate’s slowness, may be the issue of overloaded VPN servers.
Ease of use and multi-platform support
This VPN supports a good range of platforms, including:
- Firestick TV
- Apple TV
Note that these platforms are only available for the ZenMate Ultimate version. The free ZenMate VPN is only supported on Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
All the available clients can be easily downloaded and installed. Once you launch your desktop app and log in to your account, it practically vanishes and operates from the background.
You can easily disconnect or change your location from the main screen. The connection time to VPN servers is quite impressive but you may experience lags with far-away servers.
To change your spoofed location, simply click on your currently-assigned server location (country name) and select another one from the list. As simple as that.
ZenMate is really easy to use, even for the least experienced VPN users.
The other clients (Android, iOS, and the extensions) are quite similar, although they may have fewer options for customization.
It’s important to mention, though, that the browser extensions and the mobile apps have features that the desktop apps don’t: Malware Blocking and Tracking Protection. So, it makes sense to use a combination of these apps for an extra layer of security.
Our ZenMate review finds that this is a very easy-to-use VPN service, which is certainly its main strong point.
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
You may get lucky and be able to use ZenMate for Netflix.
As you can see, we managed to use the United States server to access Netflix US.
Other regions like Canada, the UK, or France don’t seem to work at all with ZenMate.
Netflix has apparently blocked them and you will likely encounter the usual error message.
It’s also possible that you can unblock BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub via the UK server. But, again, the quality of your connections may be questionable – decent for some, sluggish for others.
If you want the best VPN for Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Kodi, or any other media streaming platforms, we advise you to take a look around our website.
P2P and torrenting
Although torrenting and P2P usage used to be explicitly forbidden by ZenMate, the provisions seem to have disappeared from the Terms of Service. With that said, this is a German VPN and Germany is notoriously tough on copyright infringements. Also, as we’ve already mentioned, the speeds are atrocious anyway.
In other words, once again, we would advise you to look elsewhere and find a decent VPN service for torrenting.
ZenMate has no live chat support.
It’s very disappointing because sometimes you do need a solution or answer right away, if possible. You may not have days or weeks to figure something out.
All you are left with is the following:
- A relatively good and informative FAQ knowledge base
- Online support ticketing system, which can take a week or so to get resolved
Although low-quality support should not be the primary reason for you to look for a more decent VPN service, ZenMate doesn’t shine elsewhere either.
From a certain angle, we could say that ZenMate is decently priced.
The service has a rather limited but free version and offers a 7-day premium free trial as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee with the following Ultimate VPN subscription plans:
The pricing and the plans have gone through some impressive changes. Except for the monthly plan, they’ve dropped considerably.
The payment methods include the usual:
- Credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Maestro)
- Bank Transfer
However, you cannot pay with Bitcoin, which can be a minus for more privacy-conscious users.
Even though these prices look decent, you can get more for the same money elsewhere.
ZenMate may be a German product, but it’s certainly not as precise as other products from Germany, such as Mercedes and Porsche cars. Its speeds can be more like an old Volkswagen at times.
In general, the service may be worth trying out for free (7-day trial) if you want to experience the speeds and security level this VPN can provide. We would recommend the free 7-day trial version for those who simply want to spoof their IP address and location to access geo-blocked content.
But, to be honest, even for that you can find better free VPN services.
How about learning from other VPN users?
Have you tried to use ZenMate or any other VPN apps before? What are your impressions?
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Feel free to leave your comments or questions below.