In the era of high technologies, the word anonymity almost lost its original meaning. With your online traffic, third parties like Internet providers, Wi-Fi hotspot owners, government, or even thieves get gigabytes of your personal information.
But, if you believe in the inherent right on private life, you may consider getting a VPN service. Not all VPNs are credible, but you can’t discern good ones from bad at a glance. In our Windscribe review, we’ll figure out in which category this popular provider falls.
The headquarter of Windscribe, basing on the information from the official website, is situated in the north of Toronto – in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
VPN services are legal in Canada. But the country has rather strict rules on the Internet surveillance. Canada is one of the Five Eyes states (along with Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and the US), which means it has a legitimate right to share the collected electronic data with other member states on call.
Still, numerous tests run by different sources allow us to assert with confidence: Windscribe VPN collects an absolute minimum of user data only to control the productivity of the service & servers. This data is later deleted without any possibility to restore it.
Talking about servers, Windscribe has around 500+ of them, located in such corners of the world like the US, Germany, France, and other European countries, South Korea and Africa. The list of the currently available servers can be checked in the desktop application or on the website.
Using this service for free, you get access to 11 of the countries Windscribe covers, with more than 270 available servers in total. This is a really generous offer, which also adds points to the usability rate of Windscribe.
In addition to that, Windscribe has a unique feature by the standards of the VPN market.
The provider allows to connect an unlimited number of devices for a single account – it means you can pay $9 per month (or even less) to give your whole family or office a cool multifunctional VPN. This feature works even during the free trial, yet, in this case you have a reasonable limit on 10GB of the monthly received data.
You can install Windscribe on any device/platform you want to. The service supports Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, Mac, as well as numerous browsers – in the form of extensions.
What Do You Get With Windscribe?
- Unlimited devices connection per one license
- Allows using Torrents (on some servers)
- Unblocks Netflix
- Doesn’t keep users’ traffic
- Supports many devices and platforms
- Has free version with high speed and quite a lot of servers
- Top security, different settings for personalization
- Comparatively small number of servers
- Low speed on some servers
- No KillSwitch option
- VPN conflicts with Windows Firewall
Privacy And Security
While using any VPN service, your requests and searching history comes through its servers. Some VPN providers act dishonestly, collecting this information and selling it to the third parties, but with Windscribe, which maintains a zero log policy, such a scenario is impossible.
For the additional “soul-soothing” you can keep the lid on your payment info too – Windscibe accepts Bitcoins as a payment, as well as more standard variants like a credit card or PayPal.
What may disturb the concerned users, however, is the absence of Kill Switch.
On the VPN’s official site you may find information about the Windscribe’s firewall, which, apparently, should fulfill the functions of the missing feature. However, in the reviews, some users state that the firewall doesn’t cut off the Internet connection when the VPN occasionally disappears.
Moreover, in some cases it conflicts with the Windows built-in firewall, causing troubles with the connection to the servers. There are some solutions for this issue, but if you’re not sure you want to set up a VPN manually, then, maybe, Windscribe isn’t the best option for you.
Encryption And Protocols
With Windscribe you get various connection modes at your disposal. The most basic mode – IKEv2 – can be used when you simply need to overpass the geographical restrictions. Stealth and Wstunnel – types of the OpenVPN protocol – are perfect in the most demanding cases, when top security is required.
Windscribe encrypts your data using the 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), which guarantees the impenetrable protection of your Internet traffic. Certain types of encryption are also applied on mobile and browser versions of this VPN.
And, finally, the VPN’s actual performance. Windscribe showed outstanding results when the multiple tests for the possible data leaks were conducted.
All the listed points allow us to summarize, that in terms of security, Windscribe receives a solid 10/10.
Windscribe has quite a standard functions package, missing some key features which could make it even better (read – Kill Switch).
The service, however, approaches very responsibly to the question of users’ data protection. When the VPN is active, you may not be afraid of anyone sneakily stealing your personal information – the VPN has a reliable DNS and IPv6 leaks protection.
The Windscribe website FAQ section states, that, instead of Kill Switch, the VPN has a built-in firewall, which duplicates Kill Switches’ functionality. It allows sending/receiving data only through the VPN tunnel when the service is ON and closes all the opened websites/programs if the connection with the server is lost. That said, we strongly doubt the equivalence of such a substitution.
Another great thing about this VPN is its free mode, which allows any user to get a full functionality of the service limited only by the amount of monthly received data (generous 10GB).
More Than Just A VPN
To get the reliable Internet connection whenever and wherever you are, you may use multiple versions of Windscribe, created for smartphones (Android, iOS), laptops (Windows, Linux) and even browsers (Chrome, Firefox).
Browser, desktop and mobile versions of Windscribe are equally pleasant to use and equally sustainable. The type of the VPN’s protection can be chosen in settings – Windscribe gladdens the fans of the open source protocols thanks to 3 different OpenVPN connection options.
Using Windscribe, you’ve probably already met R.O.B.E.R.T. – an add-on designed to block malware, phishing websites, ads, trackers and botnets. It’s handy if you want to enjoy fast & secure Internet protection without hidden pitfalls or haunting ads banners.
All these features significantly expand the functionality of the Windscribe, making it a universal tool for Internet surfing.
Windscribe Logging Policy
To check the number of website visitors, Windscribe uses open source platform Piwik. It collects such information about the visitor as:
- his browser type;
- the language determined as a standard;
- his screen resolution;
- the referring website;
- the first 3 octets (subset) of visitor’s IP-address.
If you were signed to the website through the affiliate program, it might also collect your cookies.
While using the actual VPN service, Windscribe receives the information:
- about the amount of traffic you used in a month, which you can manually clear in the settings;
- about the timestamps of your last service’s usage.
It does NOT store any information about your actual activity on the Internet, as well as your real IP or visited websites.
There’s no information on the official website about the compatibility of the service with the TOR browser.
Still, according to the users’ reviews, the software’s Firefox plugin is suitable for the TOR browser and shows decent results when it comes to the protection. The same holds if you want to use the desktop version of Windscribe.
We tested Tor-Windscribe compatibility ourselves, and it worked fine. Yet, the speed of this duo, obviously, leaves much to be desired.
In general, Windscribe shows a decent speed at all of the available servers. Of course, the basic rule – the closer is the server you connect to, the smaller the ping will be – applies to Winscribe’s performance.
However, some unpleasant exceptions do exist. We’ll get to them right now.
We conducted several speed tests, and the results weren’t so bright as promised.
First of all, it appears that not all of the available servers are suitable for Web surfing. At some relatively remote servers, the real Internet speed went down by 90%, leaving us tete-a-tete with a painstakingly long website loading and a growing irritation.
It may be a real trouble if the speed you have with your ISP is not particularly high. Windscribe along with initially bad Internet connection can make you a neurotic in an hour of such a torture.
This is a regular issue, nonetheless, which can be solved by connecting to another server. For those needs, Windscribe has a so-called Cruise Control feature – a function, which automatically attaches you to the server with the lowest ping and highest connection rate. This feature works excellent, actually.
You shouldn’t worry about the loading speed if you browse through the standard connection mode (IKEv2).
Then again, more elaborated protocols demand more resources – so if you’re planning to use Windscribe at its top protection capabilities, and speed is crucial for you, then you should probably consider choosing another VPN provider.
No Leaks Detected
Five different tests for leaks applied to different servers have shown the same results – DNS leaks protection of Windscribe works seamlessly. You can be sure that no data passes by the VPN tunnel when Windscribe is on guard; thus, no one, except you, can check your Internet activity or your browsing history.
Torrenting And Streaming
Windscribe allows to torrent and stream through the service. Yet, the devil hides in the details – not all servers are suitable for this purposes due to the countries restrictions, where the nodes are located.
In case P2P connection isn’t protected by Windscribe on some specific server, you’ll see a crossed out P2P emblem around server’s name in the list. This would basically mean that the connection to torrent clients via this particular node can be compromised to reveal your identity and that you should search for another server location to torrent.
In the same manner, not all servers allow you to stream your favorite shows from Netflix or other sources. To do that, a special feature from Windscribe is available, which we’ll discuss in detail soon, so keep reading.
Is Torrenting Allowed?
Windscribe’s official website doesn’t suggest an exact answer to this question. Still, you can find mentions of the torrenting allowance in the FAQ section.
In the list of the software’s capabilities, we noticed BitTorrent peers among the programs Windscribe can mask. From this we conclude: Windscribe can protect your data from being detected by copyright owners or government – in case you are not warned about the exact opposite.
What About Netflix?
You won’t be able to connect to the Netflix base or stream your favorite films & TV series from any random US or UK server. For those needs a special feature from the Windscribe called Windflix is available.
Windflix is really handy if you’re a traveler, who still wants to enjoy Netflix during the trips abroad. It creates a stable, fast connection with the Netflix library, providing users with all the favorite shows in an HD quality.
Windflix is not available for users who have the free plan, though.
Other Streaming Options
Aside from Netflix, Windscribe provides access to other popular streaming resources, like Firestick, Popcorn Time, or Kodi.
To reach them, you won’t even need special servers – just choose any of the locations with the high speed and entertain yourself with the smooth buffering-free streaming.
As always, the connection speed mainly depends on the server you’ve chosen, so there’s a possibility you’ll have to experiment with different locations before finding the best one for streaming.
How Much Does Windscribe Cost?
The VPN service offers three types of packages depending on the period of subscription. They are as follows:
• Free plan – comes with a number of limitations;
• Monthly plan – $9.00
• Yearly Plan – $4.08/mo (save 55%)
• Custom Plan – Build a plan to suit your needs
A single-month price of the service is quite high comparing to the rivalry VPNs. You’ll have to pay $9 to remove all the limitations and use Windscribe on its full capacity.
Windscribe’s yearly plan is much more advantageous thanks to the 55% discount.
You’re paying $49 for a whole year, which makes the monthly price drop to $4.08 – this is much more pleasurable price-tag for a VPN provider, especially taking into account the yearly plan prices of the other VPN titans – NordVPN ($6.99 per month) or IPVanish ($6.49 per month).
Both paid plans have the same set of features. They come with unlimited bandwidth and access to all servers including Windflix ones. Malware and ad blocker R.O.B.E.R.T. is also a part of the deal.
Finally, the recent upgrade allowed users to create their own Windscribe packages by choosing the functions they want to get, instead of buying a fixed set of tools. This way the price might be much more appealing than the fixed one.
With the custom plan, you can add the desired number of premium locations to the free plan. Each will cost you $1 and will add 10GB of traffic. Windflix servers cost the same $1 as other premim servers. Moreover, paying another $1 a month will remove all the data limits and let you use R.O.B.E.R.T.
And, of course, we can’t forget about a fantastic free plan which allows users to get almost all the coolest features of Windscribe for nothing. You’ll have to share a valid e-mail with the service, though, as otherwise you monthly bandwidth will be limited to 2 GB.
the service might feel uncomfortable due to certain rational limitations. You will have only 10 free servers at your disposal, and therefore the speed will not be fascinating. Still, it’s just the free version, and it anyway offers more than some paid services do.
On the Windscribe website, there are 3 contact options available: leaving a subreddit question, old-fashioned tickets and “talk to Garry” bot chat. The latter one may be of use if you don’t want to take some looking for the answer in the knowledge base and FAQ section.
Garry-the-bot searches for the keywords in the questions and answers with the standard phrases from the knowledge base. If such an approach is not of much use, you can submit a ticket and patiently wait for an answer.
The thing is a couple of support agents based in Toronto cannot answer to the queries of numerous customers of both free and paid editions. You may expect to get a fully professional reply in about a week, which is not really encouraging.
Do We Recommend Windscribe?
Taking into account all the positive and not-so-positive sides of the Windscribe VPN, we, overall, can recommend Windscribe.
It has lots of cool features like Windflix or R.O.B.E.R.T., allows to torrent and watch copyrighted content. The service treats with respect users’ right for having a private life, inviolately follows the zero-log policy and, what is more important, is honest with customers.
Windscribe has lots of exciting features that you won’t find even in the offerings of top-rated VPN services. Still, not all of them work as they should, and, due to quite a high price – especially, if you prefer paying month by month – these shortcomings are hard to forgive.
True, such blunders are rare and easy-to-solve. The question is – are you ready to do that after paying almost $10 for a month?..
We do hope that one day Windscribe will talke all the feedbacks into account and eliminate all the reasons users complain about to become a truly fantastic VPN.
Overall, Windscribe VPN is definitely worth giving a try. Luckily, a free version can be used for the unlimited amount of time – just until you realize Windscribe is actually the service you’ve been searching for and decide to upgrade your plan.
Alternatives for Windscribe
I tried Surfshark, Nord and Torguard before Windscribe, they all were less than stellar (various reasons).
For the $$, and the fact that WS stays connected far better vs.the others, it was worth it (for me) to go WS Pro.
Another selling point, WS android app has IKEv2 and Split-tunnel included, no need for strongswan app(another VPN hassle).