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Windscribe VPN review

Generous free data is tempting, but Windscribe lacks support

Windscribe vpn review
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

Windscribe competes strongly with the best VPNs available today, acing our performance tests, offering advanced customization, and including a generous free plan. However, customer support is somewhat lacking, so if you have any problems you might be waiting a while for help.

For

  • Free option offers 10Gb a month
  • Flexible plans
  • Easy-to-use apps

Against

  • Slower speeds outside the US
  • No 24/7 support

Windscribe is a popular VPN service with a great free plan, some useful advanced features, and servers in 62 countries. Regardless of how you connect to the internet you’ll be covered, as Windscribe has apps for Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, and iOS, browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, and the possibility to set up a VPN on routers, TVs, and other OpenVPN-compatible devices.

In this Windscribe VPN review, we’ll look at its features, pricing, and performance to see how it stacks up against other VPNs on the market today.

Windscribe VPN review - homepage

(Image credit: Windscribe)

Plans and Pricing

Windscribe has a free plan, a full paid plan, and a build-your-own plan where you can pay only for the locations you need. You can pay extra for a static IP that improves site-blocking circumvention, and there’s a ScribeForce group membership option for teams of five or more.

The free plan includes 2Gb of data transfer per month, rising to a healthy 10Gb if you register your email address. However, you’re restricted to a paltry 10 servers in America, Europe, and Hong Kong unless you shell out.

  • More: Save your hard-earned cash with the best cheap VPN

Upgrading to a paid plan gets you access to all server locations and an unlimited data transfer limit. If you go monthly, it'll cost you $9 per month—already cheaper than most premium VPNs—and if you pay annually, the price drops to the equivalent of $4.08. While this isn't the cheapest VPN we've ever seen—Surfshark bottoms out at less than $2 a month—Windscribe still offers decent value for money 

The Build A Plan option can save you money if you only need to connect through a few locations. It’s priced at $1 per location with 10GB of data each, but you have to include at least two locations. You can also opt for unlimited data for an extra $1 per month. 

If you’re a casual user on a budget, you could potentially use the free plan for most of the year and just pay $3 for a month of unrestricted data as and when you need it—perhaps if you go on holiday or a business trip and want a streaming VPN.

Yet another option is ScribeForce, a group plan designed for businesses or families. It costs $3 per month per user, gives everyone access to the full unrestricted service, and has a five-person minimum.

Features

The list of Windscribe's features is pretty lengthy. Besides the standard VPN service, Windscribe includes a free malware-blocking browser extension that blocks malicious websites, trackers, ads, and widgets that bog down your browsing experience. 'R.O.B.E.R.T', as the extension is named, is surprisingly advanced, allowing you to fake your GPS location, block WebRTC leaks, whitelist sites, and switch your browser user agent to make you harder to track.

The apps use multiple techniques to keep your connection private, such as powerful AES-256 encryption, redirecting DNS traffic and limiting IPv6 traffic. We also liked the kill switch feature that immediately blocks internet access if the VPN connection fails for any reason, keeping your browsing private at all times.

Windscribe VPN review - features

(Image credit: Windscribe)

However, you may have noticed that we've neither praised nor penalized Windscribe on its server count in this review. That's because Windscribe doesn't disclose exact server numbers to users. We don't know exactly why this is, but we're fairly sure that if it had thousands it'd be plastered over all its marketing material.

There are numbers in the mid- to high-hundreds flying around the web, but nothing we'd consider concrete enough to state as fact in this review. In our usage, though, we had no problems finding decent connections in the locations we selected, so even if the service is lacking in quantity, the servers it does have do the job just fine.

Interface and in use

The Windscribe site has a download page for all the various clients, including applications for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, as well as browser extensions. Installing the apps is easy, and the interfaces are cheerful and simple to use. 

A big on/off button makes the process of getting connected obvious, and you can browse the available servers by continent, country, city, and latency. The comprehensive list of preferences is hidden in the settings, so advanced features are available if you need them without confusing users who don’t.

Windscribe VPN review - Windscribe client

(Image credit: Windscribe)

One of the most common uses of VPNs is to access content blocked in your country. We tested Windscribe with geo-blocked content from YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix, and were impressed to find that all were unblocked and we could stream video perfectly.

Windscribe also works well as a torrenting VPN, and we appreciate that the company lists the countries that don't support P2P sharing on their servers (Lithuania, India, Russia, and South Africa, at the time of writing).

When testing servers, it took an average of 12 seconds to connect and we never experienced a connection error. Windscribe also proves to be a speedy VPN—on our 600Mb US test line it delivered connections averaging at 250Mb, and on our 75Mb UK line, around 68Mb. That's up there with the best, and what's more, if you feel like doing some testing yourself, the free version has no speed limitations.

Support

Windscribe’s support is a mixed bag. The site contains a huge list of guides for setting up the VPN on devices from desktops and mobiles to routers and smart TVs, but they rarely go into much depth. Support for the browser extensions is worse, with just a few YouTube videos from 2016 to guide you.

24/7 support from humans isn’t available, and there’s no live chat or email support. The website has a contact form where you can create tickets, but as a Windscribe blog post laments, the company only has 13 employees and performs all support in-house. Windscribe has millions of users, so this minimalist approach to technical support could see you waiting a while for a reply.

However, for common issues Windscribe has developed the 'Garry Bot', which will be your first port of call should you have any problems. He's available in the bottom right on the website, and will reply to your questions with pre-written answers. This is fine for some issues, but it's not nearly as comprehensive as many of WIndscribe's rivals that have dedicated support operators working 24/7.

The competition

ExpressVPN has all of Windscribe’s features, almost certainly more server locations, 24/7 support chat, and faster speeds outside the US. However, Express doesn't offer a free plan, and the paid plans are around 50% more expensive than Windscribe’s.

For a cheaper unlimited data plan, Surfshark offers a 24-month contract for just $1.99/month. However, Surfshark can have issues accessing Amazon Prime Video, so if that's a priority for you, Windscribe is a better bet.

Windscribe: Final verdict

Windscribe is easy for us to recommend thanks to its good value paid plans, comprehensive privacy protection tools, and straightforward, modern app design. 

The free plan gives you a whopping 10GB to play with monthly, and there’s a lot of choice in the customizable paid plans. However, there are slightly cheaper options available, and the skeleton support crew might give you reason to go elsewhere if after-sales care is a deal breaker.

Specs

Supported platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Amazon Fire TV, Nvidia Shield, Kodi, DD-WRT, Tomato (router)
Supported protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2, SOCKS5
No. of servers: Undisclosed
No. of countries: 62
Country of registration: Canada
Payment options: Credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, Paymentwall
Real name necessary? No
Encryption protocol: AES-256
Data usage: Unlimited (paid), 10Gb/mo (free)
Bandwidth usage: Unlimited
Max. no. of simultaneously connected devices: Unlimited (restricted to family)
Customer support: 24/7 bot support, ticket system
Privacy policy: No identifiable logging