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Windscribe VPN Free review

Windscribe's free plan is powerful, but not quite perfect – here's our in-depth review

Windscribe on a PC screen
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

With 10GB of data a month, some rudimentary streaming unblocking power and surprisingly powerful apps, Windscribe Free is a very capable contender in the free service space. While it's not quite as fast as others and may be a little complex for some, it's definitely worth testing out.

Pros

  • +

    Unlimited connections

  • +

    Includes a firewall

  • +

    Unblocks Netflix and BBC iPlayer

  • +

    10GB data cap

Cons

  • -

    Cramped interface

  • -

    A bit of a learning curve

  • -

    Not quite class-leading speeds

Windscribe is one of the best VPN providers on the market, and for many, Windscribe Free may have been their first foray into the world of VPNs. With plenty of great features and an idiosyncratic marketing tone, it’s an intriguing free VPN – and here we’ll see how it matches up to the competition.

One advantage Windscribe has over other free services is that it supports unlimited simultaneous connections. Most other free services limit access to a single device, and even many paid programs have some kind of restriction.

You get a monthly data allowance of 10GB. This is enough time to watch 20 hours of video or browse online for 120 hours. This is generally enough to keep you protected for most of the month, but you’ll go through it quicker with more than one device using it simultaneously. Windscribe also gives you a little bit of wiggle room, so you’re not automatically cut off once your monthly limit is reached.

Windscribe Free comes with a few perks that we found useful. One of these is a DNS blocker. The basic use of this function is to stop ads, trackers, and even malware, but it also includes internet filtering to block unwanted content including adult sites, social networks, etc.

Windscribe has several servers in 10 different countries. One of these is in the United Kingdom, a location not many VPNs offer. Other countries include Switzerland, Hong Kong, and France.

Windscribe Free review

(Image credit: Windscribe)

Windscribe Free on Paper

Number of countries: 10
Platforms supported: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
Simultaneous connections: Unlimited
Split tunneling: Windows, Mac, and Android
Kill switch: Yes
Supported protocols: WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2
Country of registration: Canada
Support: email

Privacy and logging 

While connected to Windscribe, all your data will be encrypted using AES-256 encryption. This is the same level of protection used by financial institutions and even militaries to ensure their information is protected. On top of this security, Windscribe also has a firewall that you can enable. This protects your information when the VPN is disconnected so bots, hackers, and snoops trying to sneak in through your internet are blocked.

Windscribe does log a bit of user information, but it's limited to when you connect to its service to keep track of your monthly data usage. No personal identifying information or internet history is ever kept, and because it is based in Canada, your information can’t be handed over to another country or government agency.

You don’t need to commit fully to using Windscribe right away. You can download a smaller, more limited program to try out first. This free program only gives you 2GB of data per month, but it also doesn’t require a valid email address as the fuller free version does.

During our in-house tests of Windscribe Free, we checked and double-checked its security. We tried everything to penetrate through this VPN without success. We also checked out the kill switch and how secure the firewall protected our data when the connection was lost. Everything worked exactly as it should, so we’re pretty confident in recommending this VPN. 

Windscribe hasn’t undergone third-party audits of its service, so there isn’t any supporting data beyond what we’ve found, but there also isn’t any sign of Windscribe getting into any trouble or dealing in anything illegal or unethical – and its desktop apps are also open-source, which is a bonus.

Windscribe Free review

(Image credit: Windscribe)

Windows and Mac apps 

For the most part, the desktop application of Windscribe is pretty straightforward. Simply click the Connect button and you’re done. You can choose a specific location, but that requires you to scroll through the list of server locations to find one that is available. The real tricky and potentially intimidating part comes when enabling advanced tools, such as the firewall, and technical protocols. 

Some of the functions are hard to understand, and the apps are quite small and fiddly on-screen. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but the UI could certainly be improved. However, most casual users will be able to use them with ease, and even if you keep the default settings as is you’ll get excellent security.

Some other features included with Windscribe are the ability to set your device as a Wi-Fi hotspot, choose a custom background, and split tunneling. Split tunneling lets you pick and choose what data to send through the VPN which helps with connection speeds and your monthly data allowance. Unlike most other free VPN services, split tunneling is included with both the Windows VPN and Mac VPN apps.

One handy feature of Windscribe Free is that it’s able to unblock some streaming content, though it was limited to UK-based services including UK Netflix and the BBC iPlayer. Most free services don't offer this, so while not as comprehensive as rival PrivadoVPN in this respect, it’s still a considerable bonus.

Windscribe on an Android device

(Image credit: Windscribe)

Android and iOS apps

Though they look and feel basic, Windscribe’s mobile apps are packed with features and extras. Only the Android VPN app has split tunneling, but both Android and iOS VPN applications have ad and content blockers. You can also choose settings and configurations and have Windscribe save them for the next time to connect to the VPN rather than having to reset protocols each and every time.

As with the desktop applications, Windscribe’s mobile VPN apps don’t list server locations by availability, so you’ll have to scroll through the list until you find one that is open. Connection is as easy as hitting the Connect button and then the Disconnect button when you’re finished.

You aren’t limited to a single connection with Windscribe. You can use the VPN on all your mobile devices and your computers at the exact same time and not have any of them experience lag or drop in protection. However, connecting more than one device simultaneously will burn through your data allowance in no time..

Performance

Overall this VPN offers decent connection speeds for a free service. We reached a maximum of around 240Mbps. Compared to other free services, this is pretty average – providers like Proton VPN Free and PrivadoVPN Free delivered faster connections, but others like Hide.me are substantially slower. Still, Windscribe is a fairly fast VPN, and you can still watch streaming services without lag, upload files decently fast, and send emails with attachments quickly.

One great feature of Windscribe is that it automatically updates with patches or new features without you having to click anything.

Though we didn’t encounter any issues, we did send test questions and common support issues through Windscribe’s email support. The answers we received were explained so well that even a beginner could understand and follow the instructions.

Final verdict 

With decent connection speeds, a decent data cap and fairly powerful but fiddly apps, Windscribe Free is a compelling choice if you’re looking for a free service. A big draw is also the fact you can use your plan on as many devices as you like at once – much better than most paid services, let alone free ones. Definitely worth testing out.

Nicole Johnston
Nicole Johnston

Nicole is a commissioning editor for Tom's Guide covering everything VPN. With over 17 years of research and writing experience, and 10 years of testing and reviewing internet security solutions, Nicole knows how to dive deep to get the information consumers need to make better buying decisions. She is also a mom to 10 children, and personally uses many of the products she reviews to ensure the safety of her own family.