Windscribe VPN Review (2020)
If you are cost-conscious before other considerations, then perhaps Windscribe is the right VPN for you.
That’s because Windscribe is one of the few relatively reliable VPN companies to offer a free version of its services. Of course, you’re limited as far as how many servers you can connect to and how much data you can use, but this could be perfectly acceptable for some users.
For others, Windscribe is a basic VPN service. They have some good points and some bad ones too. You get OpenVPN protocol, which is recommended, along with AES 256-bit encryption. Torrenting and file sharing are permitted, and their Netflix-specific servers sometimes function as advertised.
However, they have a limited server network, especially if you’re using the free version of the service. They also are based in Canada, which some may see as a disadvantage.
This is because Canada is a member of the Five Eyes network, an intelligence alliance in which the US, Australia, New Zealand and the UK also are members. All of these nations frequently share intelligence data with each other, which means that if one government agency discovers your Internet activity and personal data, all of that info will soon be splashed across numerous government databases. That’s not especially promising for someone who would prefer to remain private and anonymous.
The problem is that the countries that belong to this alliance and others like it tend to have laws about data retention. This means that ISPs and some VPNs may have to log certain data and keep it for a period of time.
This data could be vulnerable to hacking or may be subject to subpoena in a criminal investigation. If this sounds like bad news to you, then you should probably go with a VPN that is headquartered in a non-Five Eyes or even non-14 Eyes network country. Some of the best VPNs available today fit this description, such as Nord and Express.
If you aren’t bothered by Windscribe’s Canadian home base, then you may want to know more about it. Some of the good news is that the service is compatible with many devices. People running Mac, Windows, Android, iOS and Linux should have no trouble.
Additionally, they have extensions for Firefox, Chrome and even Opera. You also may appreciate that there are assorted smart TV apps. To go along with this diversity, it’s possible to connect an unlimited number of devices to Windscribe.
This is a particularly generous part of their service, one that is a rarity even among some of the best VPNs recommended by yours truly.
If you like, you can connect Windscribe VPN to your router, which makes it much easier to have all your devices connected. Once installed on your router, your gaming consoles can be connected to Windscribe too, another definite plus.
Another advantage that you may appreciate is that Windscribe is genuinely user-friendly. Even people who are new to VPNs will probably have little difficulty with installation and launching. However, it may be necessary to change some configurations as the default security and encryption settings are not optimal.
Ultimately, Windscribe was pretty slow, and that applies to the paid version too. If speed is a concern or if you plan to do a lot of torrenting, this probably isn’t the right VPN provider for you. Their server network is small as well, which also means that this service will likely have limited appeal.
|Usability:||Easy to use|
|Logging Policy:||No Identifying Logs|
|Server Size:||480++ servers|
|Server Distribution:||66 Countries|
|Support:||Automated chat support|
|VPN protocol and encryption:||OpenVPN protocol; 256 bit AES encryption|
Security and Encryption
The best-known VPN protocols are all available on Windscribe. OpenVPN is regarded as the foremost among these. Other recommended protocols are IKEv2 and SOCKS5. Even though OpenVPN enjoys the best reputation for security on the planet, Windscribe makes IKEv2 their default protocol.
This doesn’t make sense since it’s not unusual to see OpenVPN being described as the industry standard. When you use OpenVPN with Windscribe, you get AES 256-bit cipher encryption, which also is recognized as being the best available.
If you’re not an IT security professional, you should still have access to the best available encryption without having to fiddle with the defaults. People new to VPNs can probably figure this out, but why isn’t OpenVPN the default in the first place?
Testing for leaks and viruses revealed no problems. It’s safe to download and use Windscribe on any device in your home.
Windscribe’s Server Locations
Windscribe says that they own nearly 500 servers in about 50 countries. That’s not too bad, but when compared to high quality VPNs, it’s nothing to brag about.
Many of the most respected VPN companies, like NordVPN, have a massive network of over 3,000 servers. Even better, these servers are distributed across more than 100 countries. The chances that you’ll be able to find a server near you are much greater with one of these services.
It’s worth noting that if you go with a free Windscribe account, then you will only have access a few servers. These are found in Canada, the US, the UK, Hong Kong, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway and Romania. The servers in the remaining countries are reserved for the use of paying customers.
Many European nations are included on this list. They include Italy, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Finland and others. Windscribe even has servers in Russia. Mexico also makes the list as do South American countries Brazil, Colombia and Argentina.
Coverage in Africa includes South Africa and Libya, which is an unusual choice. Middle Eastern nations Israel and Turkey have servers too. In Asia, the company boasts servers in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia also have servers.
Using BitTorrent or P2P with Windscribe VPN
File sharers and torrent fans will be delighted to hear that Windscribe has no issues with you engaging in your favorite online activities. Tutorials on the website help you configure your system for torrenting on clients like VUZE, uTorrent and Deluge.
However, it’s worthwhile to note that not all of Windscribe’s servers are P2P and torrent compatible. Before deciding if this service is right for you, take a look at the locations of the P2P-enabled servers.
Watching movies and TV via streaming services is popular these days. Netflix is considered the leader in this industry. It stands to reason that you might want to watch this streaming service while using your VPN.
Unfortunately, Netflix doesn’t like people to use VPNs to view content. This is because using a VPN makes you look like you’re in a different location than where you actually are. Accordingly, you could get access to region-restricted Netflix content, and that may violate numerous contracts.
Netflix has gotten good at blocking people using VPNs from their service. They were able to prevent Netflix viewing while browsing through one of Windscribe’s typical servers.
However, this VPN has special servers that are enabled for use with Netflix. Called “Windflix” servers, these alternatives work like a charm for streaming.
Windscribe VPN’s Speed Test Results
Using Windscribe is going to slow down your data transfer rates. Of course, that’s true of all VPNS, but the top VPNs will slow down your connection much less than the inferior ones.
Unfortunately, Windscribe is one of those. Average download and upload speeds were essentially slowed by 50 percent with Windscribe. Benchmark speeds without a VPN were 98.71 Mbps for downloads and 53.00 Mbps for uploads.
All of that changed when Windscribe was connected.
This server in the Netherlands provided downloads of 42.97 Mbps and uploads of just 5.12 Mbps. Things got worse when connecting to a server in the US. With download rates of 29.74 Mbps and upload rates of 2.07 Mbps, it was clear that waiting for Windscribe to make connections was going to be a challenge.
Then, there was the server in the UK. The download speed of 17.25 Mbps was 82 percent slower than the benchmark while the upload speed of 4.86 Mbps was 91 percent slower.
These speed test results were achieved while using a “premium” account. This means that money was exchanged for this atrocious performance.
It’s difficult to imagine how disappointing the results would be with a free account that provides access to a handful of servers. If speed is at all important to you, then you would be better off going with a service that gets better VPN reviews for data transfer rates.
Windscribe VPN’s Logging Policy
The best VPN protocols and encryption in the world don’t mean anything if your VPN is keeping logs regarding your activities and identity. Some shady VPNs sell this info to advertising and marketing firms. Others keep it so that they can market to you. These logs also may be used by government authorities in a criminal investigation.
The good news is that Windscribe says that they do not keep any logs regarding their customers. They may track how much bandwidth you have used, particularly if you are on the free plan, which only receives a pre-defined amount of data each month. As for other records, they only store these for about three minutes.
The upshot is that you don’t have to worry about logs being maintained regarding your online activities. Also, Windscribe isn’t holding a bunch of your personal information on a server where it might get hacked.
Pricing Options for Windscribe VPN
It is possible to use Windscribe without incurring any costs at all. However, this option is extremely limited. You can only use 10 GB of data each month. If you are a heavy user of the Internet, you’ll quickly hit your quota each month.
Moreover, you’ll only have access to a handful of servers. These are located in Canada, the US, the UK, Hong Kong, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway and Romania. Potential users who live in other regions likely will not receive good enough performance to make Windscribe a reasonable gamble.
Users who decide to go with one of the “Pro” paid plans gain access to the entire Windscribe network, though this is a far less impressive network than that provided by the best VPNs. The monthly plan costs nine dollars every month. That is fairly expensive, especially when compared with other VPNs that have many more servers, better coverage and better speed test results yet do not cost as much.
You can save with a yearly plan that costs approximately $4.08 per month. This plan is billed on an annual basis of $49.
Alternatively, you could purchase two years in advance. Costing $3.70 per month, the total $89 is billed once every 24 months. People who choose this plan also get a six-month subscription to Dashlane, a great password manager.
Before you commit yourself to any kind of paid plan with Windscribe, it’s helpful to understand their refund policy. Once you’ve paid, you only have three days to change your mind. If you’ve used more than 10 GB of data in those three days, then you may be out of luck.
It’s not the most generous refund policy out there. It’s best to test this provider as a free service. Only purchase a plan if the free service is performing really well for you.
Is Windscribe VPN Recommended?
With its relatively high cost and lackluster performance in speed testing, it’s difficult to recommend Windscribe. Also, keep in mind that their refund policy is fairly terrible and that their server network is hardly extensive.
If you need a more cost-effective solution, allow us to point you to the right direction. Check out our reviews of Surfshark and NordVPN for a breath of fresh air. Both remain to be the best-reviewed VPNs today, and for many reasons. Price, performance and speed all are marked improvements over those offered by Windscribe. See for yourself.