The Canadian VPN Windscribe has attracted plenty of fans in recent years thanks to its high speeds, reliable encryption, and compatibility with almost every device under the sun.
And that’s not all: the Windscribe free VPN option (also known as Windscribe Limited) is thought to be one of the most secure free VPNs around. But before you join the crowds flocking to Windscribe and sign up for the proverbial free lunch, read our Windscribe free VPN review to look through the full menu.
Things to remember before downloading any free VPN services
Before we get into the details about what Windscribe has to offer, it’s important to raise the issue of free vs. paid VPNs. Why? Because so many free VPN options fail to include bulletproof security features, and some are actively engaged in collecting user data.
That doesn’t necessarily apply to Windscribe, but there’s a genuine distinction between free and paid VPNs. Even when you look at the same VPN provider, the free version can be incredibly limited and unreliable compared with the full package. Sometimes free users have only a couple of servers to choose from. Other times, their encryption is weak. And most VPNs won’t go out of their way to tell you about these problems before you sign up.
Introducing the Windscribe free VPN: What do you get?
Before you get the idea that all free VPNs are worthless, let’s be clear: some free trial versions are useful and functional privacy tools. They rarely offer as much as paid versions, but they can be fine for entry-level users.
In Windscribe’s case, free users can enjoy the following list of features:
- Generous free data allowances – Free Windscribe users receive a data allowance of 10GB, which is much more than you’ll get from most free VPN providers. So if you’re keen to stream a movie or two every month, it could be the right free VPN to go for.
- IP address masking – As with all good VPNs, Windscribe reliably scrambles your IP address, giving you a completely new virtual persona that conceals your location and identity.
- Anti geo-blocking features – Windscribe claim to be able to bypass censored content in over 30 countries, including geo-filters on major streaming sites.
- No logs – This is a major issue with some free VPNs. However, Windscribe is adamant that the company keeps zero logs of user activity when connected to their servers.
- Combine desktop and browser VPNs – Windscribe gives free users the option of using a standalone desktop VPN client or combining that client with a browser extension. This should make your web browsing even more private.
- Single devices – Free Windscribe users can connect a single device to the VPN.
- Servers – Windscribe Limited users have a choice of 11 servers, which isn’t much when compared to the 50 on offer for full users, but still beats many competitors who may only set aside a single server for free users.
Checking out the Windscribe free VPN security features
All of those features are pretty good by the standard of free VPNs, but they would mean very little without decent encryption, protocols, and leak protection. So how does Windscribe do in these critical aspects?
Well, the first thing to note is that Windscribe is a Canadian VPN. We’ve got nothing against Canada, but that rings a few alarm bells. Canada is in the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing alliance (with nations like the UK and USA). Ottawa has also recently cracked down on P2P sharing, with VPNs possibly now compelled to provide user logs when copyright holders bring complaints. So that needs to be kept in mind.
The Windscribe Limited edition is impressive where encryption is concerned, though. 256-bit AES encryption is as good as you’ll find among commercial VPNs, while Windscribe uses 4,096-bit RSA keys and SHA512 authentication as well. OpenVPN protocols are supported, along with IKEv2 – which are also as secure as VPNs get.
There’s no kill switch function with Windscribe free VPN, but that may not be an issue. Instead, the VPN uses a firewall to ensure that information doesn’t leave its encrypted tunnels. But not all users will be persuaded that this is better than automatically dropping your internet connection if VPN coverage fails.
However, that’s a pretty decent overall portfolio of security features for a free VPN. But are there any hidden drawbacks about the Windscribe free package that users should know about?
Looking at some of the weak spots of Windscribe’s free VPN
Well, we’ve already mentioned the Canadian location as one “minor” problem. And the relatively limited quota of servers for free users could lead to speed issues in some cases.
Then there’s the limit of one device per user. This is very common among free VPNs, but it’s restricting. Many people have smartphones, multiple computers, or even Smart TVs and gaming consoles, and may need all of them protected by their VPN. That’s only possible with the Pro version of Windscribe, which allows for unlimited devices.
Finally, there’s that 10GB data limit. While 10GB is relatively generous, P2P fans will want to give the Windscribe free VPN a pass, as they will probably hit their monthly quota very quickly.
Data limits and restricted connections lead to another potential privacy issue. While Windscribe free VPN doesn’t log what users do on their servers, they have to record which devices connect to their service, and how much data users consume. If they didn’t do so, how would they police their data restrictions? Not everyone will be happy about giving away information like this, but it comes with the territory when using free VPNs.
The verdict: Is the Windscribe free version worth using?
Overall, Windscribe Limited is – as the name suggests – a stripped down version of the real thing. But it’s not entirely worthless. If you just want a VPN to conceal everyday web browsing or email, it can work pretty well. But for streaming and P2P, or for people who are obsessed by privacy, the paid-for alternatives will definitely be preferable.
However, the one thing Limited does have going for it is its cost (or more precisely, the lack thereof). It’s an excellent way to try Windscribe without paying anything, before making the upgrade to Windscribe Pro.