Out of the top 10, yet still a decent choice
Do you believe that your browsing history should be taken to the grave? Well, Windscribe certainly believes so…
That’s their premise for their VPN services.
So, in this Windscribe VPN review, let’s see if they live up to their promise of protecting your browsing history. We are going to take a deep dive into the world of Windscribe VPN service and see how well it protects your online browsing data and personal information.
About Winscribe VPN
Windscribe Limited is a VPN service based in Richmond, Ontario, Canada. They aim to allow users the world over to “circumvent censorship” through access to close to 60 countries.
Windscribe is accessible on a wide range of devices across most platforms. It is available as a download for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. Windscribe could be used as a desktop standalone VPN for PC, Mac, and Linux devices. There are also browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
You can connect to an unlimited number of devices, and the service is compatible with routers.
With over a million downloads, you can see that this is already popular service. The range of features that it offers are quite an enticement to users.
Windscribe VPN synopsis
|Parent company:||Windscribe Limited|
|Locations:||63+ countries/300+ servers|
|Overall test result:||SAFE|
|Torrenting:||PASSED (P2P torrent allowed)|
|Netflix:||PASSED (Unblocks Netflix 2/3)|
|Encryption/protocols:||AES-256/IKEv2/OpenVPN UDP & TCP|
|Support:||E-mail response ~11 min/Live Chat robot (24/7)|
☑ Windscribe VPN features list
The general features of Windscribe include:
- Blocking ads and trackers
- Blocking malware
- Encrypting all online activity (AES-256 cipher with SHA512 auth and a 4096-bit RSA key)
- A strict no-logging policy (they can’t identify you based on your IP and timestamp)
- Options for teams
- Static IPs
- Port forwarding
Windscribe allows you to unblock geo-restricted content. For example, one of its signature products is Windflix which allows paid users to access Netflix USA.
Desktop-specific features include firewall protection, secure hotspot, and proxy gateways. As a browser extension, you can use Windscribe to pick the best location to connect, double-hop through any 2 servers, block ad trackers, spoof a time zone, delete tracking cookies, and more.
Working with Windscribe – privacy settings
In terms of data that they do not collect, you can rest assured that they won’t keep a log of the sites you visit, your IP address or your VPN sessions.
These, after all, can go to the grave with you…
Plus, because IPs are shared by dozens, if not hundreds, of persons at a time, they state that it doesn’t make sense to store historical logs to keep track of the IP address you may have used when on their service.
However, you should be aware that unless Windscribe, like any other VPN service, owns the server locations, the actual owner of the server may still be able to or actually does log your user data.
So, just keep that in mind when you consider the statements of Windscribe and other VPN services on the type of data they may or may not log.
☑ User-friendly VPN app
As we’ve stated, you have a choice of close to 60 countries for your server locations and accessibility on multiple devices. Now, Windscribe likes to boast that it’s a “set it and forget it” type of app and it may be right. It is easy to download and install on both desktop and mobile. The user interface is intuitive once you open it up.
The main limitation between the desktop and the mobile versions are access to options for specific city servers. But, the good thing about their drop-down list is that you can sort locations based on latency to find the faster server if you don’t need a specific location.
☑ No DNS leaks
A good VPN offers leakage-proof tunneling. We also found this to be true for Windscribe. When we tested, we did not find any backdoors or DNS leaks when connected to a server. So, you can trust that once connected, your traffic is encrypted.
When checked, IP data matches the server location.
Plus, the always-on functionality makes it easy to block non-VPN traffic to your device. And the kill-switch will block all ingoing and outgoing internet traffic if you lose your VPN/internet connection. This is extremely important as it prevents your actual IP address from being exposed should your VPN connection drop.
☑ Reasonable pricing
Windscribe offers a free plan and a 3-tiered paid plan. Theirs is quite a robust free plan that has a few features that are only available on paid plans for some of the other VPN services.
Free Windscribe VPN – Guide to access Windscribe for free
Windscribe offers a generous free plan compared to some of the other players in the VPN market. As a free user, you could access up to 10GB of data per month for Free on smart devices, and desktop or as a browser add-on. However, to access the full 10GB of free VPN services, you will need to supply a confirmed email address. Without that, you will get up to 2GB.
The paid version starts at a rather cost-effective price and the different tiers come with a wide set of features.
Pro vs. Free
Free VPN from Windscribe
- 10 GB per Month
- Limited Connections
- Access to servers in 11 countries (includes major countries such as the UK, Canada, USA)
Pro VPN from Windscribe
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Unlimited connections
- Access to servers in over 55 countries
- Access to Windflix for Netflix Streaming
Upgrading to a paid VPN account
You have 3 options for a paid VPN account. You can choose to pay monthly, or pay annually and save 55% on the monthly plans. Monthly plans start at $9, and Yearly plans at $49.
The third option is to build your own plan where you can pay based on the number of locations you want to access at $1 per location per month. Therefore, if you only need a VPN for one country’s location, then you can choose to pay for that service only. You can pay what you can afford to start protecting your online browsing history and accessing geo-restricted content.
They also offer a team option through their aptly named ScribeForce that starts at $3 per month (February 2019).
If we look at their pricing through the years, it seems they have stayed quite consistent. The only difference is that yearly plan pricing has decreased by -45%.
Accepted payment methods for Windscribe
Windscribe offers a variety of payment methods to help you subscribe to the paid version of their service. These include PayPal, Credit Card, Bitcoin, and Paymentwall.
☑ Using Windscribe VPN servers
Set it and forget it
Windscribe says you can just turn it on and forget about it. They limit the amount of settings options you need to go through to make it a simple process to set your VPN to a specific location with no need to worry about it after…
That’s it unless you need to change the VPN location.
Fast server connection speeds
There have been complaints about inconsistent and slow connection speeds with Windscribe, and we wanted to test it for ourselves. Having reviewed the connection speeds for a few popular locations where you might want to connect your VPN, it’s not bad news…
This is the internet speeds we started with:
- Ping: 20 ms
- Download Speed: 20.93 Mbps
- Upload Speed: 5.60 Mbps
Results: Using Windscribe VPN can slow down your internet speeds. But, not by much as it offers significantly high speeds – especially for downloads.
Speed test with server set to the US
- Ping: 161 ms
- Download Speed: 19.48 Mbps
- Upload Speed: 4.22 Mbps
When the server was set to the US, the ping increased by 805% meaning you’ll have a little more lag time, especially if you’re playing an online game. But the download speeds only decreased by 6.93% and the upload speed decreased by 24.64%.
Speed test with server set to the UK
- Ping: 70 ms
- Download Speed: 18.67 Mbps
- Upload Speed: 5.64 Mbps
For the speed test in the UK, the ping only increased by 350% while the download and upload speeds decreased by 10.8% and 0.71%, respectively,
Speed test with server set to Asia
- Ping: 299 ms
- Download Speed: 14.78 Mbps
- Upload Speed: 1.80 Mbps
The worst performance was when the server location was set to Asia. In Asia, the ping increased by a whopping 1,495.00%, download speeds decreased by 29.38%, and upload speeds by 67.86%.
The slightly lower connection speeds compared to your average speeds are to be expected with any VPN service.
Some locations are a little worse than others.
But, overall, download speeds are pretty high which makes it acceptable for browsing, streaming, etc.
☑ Torrenting and Netflix allowed
One of the main reasons you may want to pay for a VPN is to access Netflix.
…and Windscribe delivers.
You can access Netflix shows and movies via Windscribe’s WINDFLIX feature that is designed to support Netflix USA. As you can see below, we had started to stream The Office on Netflix with no issues. So, if your main reason for getting a VPN is Netflix, then you’re more than set to go.
The other good news is that Windscribe does allow torrenting. The bad news is that the Bit Torrent Protocol is not accessible on servers for India, Japan, and WINDFLIX as we’ve confirmed directly with Windscribe.
Before you jump for joy at the fact that it supports torrenting, let’s take a look at a couple of issues we’ve seen with the VPN service from Windscribe.
☒ Windscribe VPN main cons
There are no perfect VPN services. And like most, Windscribe does have its share of not so favorable issues.
Accessing customer support aka Garry is a chatbot
Yes, it may seem that we received a response to our query on torrenting on Windscribe rather quickly.
…But that’s only because Garry is a Chatbot.
This means unless you’re asking a question that it’s already programmed to respond to, Garry might produce what you consider an irrelevant response. But, apart from those issues, Garry is live support that can assist with most queries that a regular VPN user may have.
Apart from Garry, Windscribe also offers users a self-help section through their FAQs, Setup Guides, and Knowledgebase.
And if those areas cannot help you, you can join a subreddit discussion or submit a support ticket. So, with these options you may or may not solve your problems with a quick turnaround.
Windscribe’s not so friendly refund policy
There is only a short window after upgrading to a paid plan to determine whether you may want a refund…
Only 3 days…yikes
So, if you do upgrade, make sure to test it out as much as possible (up to 10GB) within that 3-day window to determine if it’s a service you want to stick with.
Or better yet…
Test on the free version so that you get the hang of it, then upgrade, and if you don’t like what you get, then cancel. Just remember you have to do it within 3 days of joining the paid plan. So, since you do have the option of a robust free version, take advantage of it to learn the service.
Five eyes surveillance jurisdiction
Windscribe is based in Canada…
Canada is one of the 5 countries included in the multilateral United Kingdom – United States of America Agreement (UKUSA) Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence.
As part of this agreement, “communications service providers”, including ISPs, can be required to turn over user information through secret warrants, insert malware on user devices, and more. Further, if the servers used are located in one of the 5-eyes, 9-Eyes or 14-Eyes jurisdiction, the server owners can be compelled to hand over user data.
So, if you’re worried about what type of data may be collected on your use, then you may want to forgo this VPN service. The good thing with Windscribe is that it has explicitly stated that it does not keep logs.
Conclusion of the Windscribe VPN review
Windscribe is a strong contender for VPN services. Based on the features offered and the data they log – or rather not log – they are trying to help you keep your browsing history from seeing the light of day.
With a range of free and affordable paid plans, it is a serious player among the top dogs in the VPN space. This is a free VPN you may actually want to use and even feel happy to upgrade to the paid version, especially if you’re a heavy Netflix user.
Share your experience with Windscribe VPN below.