Toronto-based VPN provider Windscribe has always had a pretty great freemium offering, but it's getting better with the addition of R.O.B.E.R.T., Windscribe's customizable server-side web filter, ad blocker and tracker blocker.
Until now, R.O.B.E.R.T. (don't ask us to spell out the acronym), was available only to Windscribe's paid customers as part of its best VPN package. As of today, Windscribe's free customers get R.O.B.E.R.T.'s ad and tracker blockers, as well as the option to create up to three filter access rules. (Here's the meme-tastic Windscribe marketing email announcing the change.)
Users of Windscribe's free VPN service have always had the option of installing one of the service's browser extensions to block ads and trackers on desktop versions of Chrome, Firefox and Opera. They also get up to 10GB of free VPN data per month, as long as they sign up for a Windscribe account.
But "ROBERT is a server side ad-blocker that blocks things at the DNS level," Windscribe head honcho Yegor Sak told us via email, "so it works on all devices including mobile, as well as outside of the browser."
The benefits of going pro
Of course, if you pay for Windscribe's $49-a-year "Pro" plan, you get to also block porn sites, social networks, gambling sites, cryptominers and several other categories, plus the known malicious websites that Chrome or Firefox will also likely block.
You also get to create up to 1,000 access R.O.B.E.R.T. rules and unlimited data for an unlimited number of devices. Windscribe says it has "servers in over 63 countries and 110 cities," though we haven't verified that ourselves.
Then there's Windscribe's "Build a Plan" a la carte option that lets you save money if you don't need servers in quite so many places.
We can tell you that Windscribe is one of the most reliable VPN services for streaming Netflix and other services from overseas, not that we encourage that sort of thing. And, of course, it's very handy when you're traveling abroad and need to use an untrusted Wi-Fi network in a dodgy two-star hotel in a forgotten corner of Central Europe.