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Windscribe VPN review

Windscribe is a feature-rich VPN with an very generous free plan

Windscribe vpn review
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

Windscribe is a powerful yet easy-to-use VPN with a comprehensive free plan. Although its support features could do with a rethink as they trail behind some of its competitors, Windscribe's worth trying out for yourself – with such a great free plan there’s very little to lose, even if you burn through your data allowance in a couple of days.

For

  • Incredibly generous 10GB free plan
  • Paid plan unblocks all major streaming sites
  • Fairly simple to use

Against

  • No 24/7 support
  • Connections speeds could be an issue

Windscribe is one of the best VPN services available, it has a widely distributed network, and comfortably adheres to all the usual requirements, like unblocking streaming sites and providing security and anonymity. Yet, despite being packed with advanced features, Windscribe is still an accessible VPN, and first-time users won’t struggle to navigate it.

The service is compatible with Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux, and there are extensions for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox too. You can even integrate the service with your Amazon Fire TV and other third-party devices.

We were impressed to discover that many of Windscribe’s features were available as a free VPN. In fact, the platform offers one of the most comprehensive free plans you can find – so read on to learn whether Windscribe could be the right VPN for you.

Windscribe VPN review - homepage

(Image credit: Windscribe)

Windscribe 1-minute review

For many, Windscribe will be best known as a free service, but there a few ways to upgrade and get full access to all its servers and unlimited bandwidth. A month will cost you a flat 49, while a signing up for a year will drop that to $4.08 a month. You can also customize your plan, but in truth it's probably not worth doing.

Windscribe's apps and systems seem secure, and do a fine job of blocking any DNS leaks, too. The kill switch works well, encryption is what we expect, and while there is minimal logging, Windscribe is upfront about this. We'd like to see an audit, but this is all a good start.

Connections speeds in our UK tests were excellent, regularly reaching above 200Mbps, but US speeds lagged below 100Mbps on average. Strangely, UK to US speeds were better than US alone.

The paid version of Windscribe is excellent for streaming, unblocking pretty much every service we tried. However, the big surprise is that Windscribe proves to be an effective free Netflix VPN, successfully unblocking US Netflix and BBC iPlayer on servers available to non-paying users.

Apps on both desktop and mobile are fairly rudimentary, but there's plenty going on and they work very well. You'll get favorites, a selection of protocols, and even WireGuard support.

Customer support is probably Windscribe's weakest area – while the ticket system ensures you get a response from someone knowledgeable on the core dev team, it does mean you can't get quick, easy help when you need it, which is made worse due to the fact the written articles and guides aren't exactly perfect.

Windscribe on paper

Number of servers: Undisclosed
Number of countries: 62
Platforms supported: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Amazon Fire TV, Nvidia Shield, Kodi, DD-WRT, Tomato (router)
Simultaneous connections: Unlimited
Split tunneling: Yes
Kill switch: Yes
Supported protocols: OpenVPN UDP & TCP, IKEv2
Country of registration: Canada
Support: Articles, ticket system, 24/7 bot support

Windscribe review

(Image credit: Windscribe)

Windscribe price: how much is it, and is there a Windscribe free trial?

As we mentioned in the introduction, Windscribe has a very comprehensive free plan. It includes access to servers in a wide spread of 11 countries, up to 10GB of data (although this drops to 2GB if you don't sign up with a valid email address), and unlimited connections.

But, imagine how amazing everything would be if you gave Windscribe money for Pro! (Windscribe's words, not ours...)

To get the most from the service and access all the available features, you'll need to opt for a paid plan. With this in place, you can access all of Windscribe's 110 server locations, and create personalized IKEv2, OpenVPN, and WireGuard configurations. You’ll also enjoy an unlimited data allowance and full access to Windscribe’s unique malware-blocking tool, R.O.B.E.R.T.

Windscribe's monthly prices are very reasonable, just $9 per month. If you decide to opt for an annual plan, the price drops to just $4.08 per month when paid yearly. Compared to other leading providers, this is fairly good value – it’s not as cheap as Surfshark, but is more affordable than our #1-rated service ExpressVPN.

That said, Windscribe has yet another billing option that's even more flexible, the Build a Plan option. With this plan, you only pay for the locations you require, at a cost of $1 each. You are required to choose a minimum of two locations, and each one adds 10GB to your allocated bandwidth.

Realistically, you’re probably best off just signing up to a regular plan, but if you absolutely need to pay just $2 a month and only need two locations and 20GB of data, it’s good value.

Windscribe enables you to pay for its services in a surprisingly wide number of ways. You can pay by credit or debit card, via PayPal, using a number of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, or with gift cards and other means using Paymentwall.

How private is Windscribe, and does it keep logs?

Windscribe boasts some substantial security features: It uses military-grade AES-256 encryption complete with SHA512 authentication, and in terms of private keys, Windscribe uses 4096-bit RSA and commits to a one-time use of each key.

Furthermore, Windscribe is also committed to securing your data against leaks and uses a range of techniques to do so. These include a firewall, better known as a kill switch, to block internet access during a connection blackout, a limit on IPv6 traffic, and the redirection of DNS traffic through the VPN.

We tested Windscribe’s performance claims on a Windows 10 machine and discovered no DNS leaks – or any others, for that matter.

To test the VPN’s kill switch, we closed down the connection manually during a browsing session. The technology worked well and our internet connection dropped instantly. We received an instant notification flagging the problem before we were quickly reconnected.

Another safety measure deployed by the platform is R.O.B.E.R.T. This advanced domain- and IP-blocking tool protects you from malware and trackers and enables you to browse faster.

Windscribe VPN review - features

(Image credit: Windscribe)

In terms of logging, Windscribe is very transparent about the information it collects, and you can find a succinct rundown of its logging procedures in Windscribe's privacy policy. 

Windscribe does do a small amount of logging in order to measure your bandwidth usage over time and timestamping your most recent sessions so it can root out inactive accounts. Other data, like connection times and devices connected, is stored temporarily and deleted once you complete a browsing session.

While we appreciate Windscribe's forthrightness with this, we'd love to see the provider undergo an external audit of its systems and servers to prove any and all claims it makes.

How fast is Windscribe? 

Windscribe claims to be a fast VPN, and most of our tests confirmed these promises. To begin with, we connected to the closest servers from a data center based in the UK and a location in the US. Our test line could operate at speeds up to 600 Mbps, and we used two websites – TestMy.net and SpeedTest – to record our download speeds.

The results from the UK were promising. The average download speed was between 220 and 260Mbps, a great deal quicker than our previous tests with Surfshark (150 Mbps), but slower than NordVPN (310–380Mbps).

Unfortunately, this level of performance wasn't replicated in our US tests. We completed two tests, both averaging 60–80Mbps download speeds. Strangely, and for reasons unbeknownst to us, when we connected from the UK to the US, the average speed rose to 210Mbps.

Windscribe’s free plan gives you complete access to a number of full-speed servers in multiple locations. So, if speed is a top priority for you, you can always try out Windscribe for nothing before committing to a paid plan.

How good is Windscribe for streaming?

Many users want a Netflix VPN that they can use to access geo-specific content from the streaming site. We're happy to say that Windscribe does just that. We could visit US Netflix from all of the locations we tested, and the British, Japanese, and Canadian versions too.

To put Windscribe through its paces as a streaming VPN, we attempted to view US Netflix, US YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video from a range of locations in the US and UK.

Even with the platform's free plan, we were able to watch US YouTube with no problems, and, unlike in previous tests, we were able to access BBC iPlayer too.

When we switched over to Amazon Prime Video, we were able to access US Amazon.com with Amazon.co.uk and log on to Disney+ too.

Windscribe VPN review - Windscribe client

(Image credit: Windscribe)

How good is Windscribe for torrenting?

Windscribe is a good option as a torrenting VPN and is very upfront about the platform's torrenting capabilities. If you navigate to the Status page on the Windscribe website, you'll find a list of server locations that are compatible with P2P. This transparency is replicated in the app, where noncompatible locations are flagged.

On top of this, if you want to torrent without revealing your identity for security reasons, you can enjoy the free plan anonymously and pay for the premium service with privacy-focused payment options, like bitcoin and gift cards. That said, if you are looking for a VPN for the sole purpose of torrenting, you might be better choosing a more specialized option like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, or CyberGhost.

How good are Windscribe’s desktop apps?

Aesthetically, the design is rather basic, but there's a lot going on behind the scenes that you'll quickly discover once you start using the service.

When you access the default location list, you'll see a list of countries. Click on each of these countries and you can expand the option to reveal available servers – complete with humorous monikers like Tea and Crumpets for one of the London-based servers.

You can select countries to add to your Favourites list, and a clever latency marker shows you the quickest options in real time. If you enable locations, you'll receive instant updates regarding status, connections, and changes.

We were impressed by how Windscribe's desktop app was able to import custom OpenVPN config files from third parties. These are then displayed along with Windscribe's existing ones, so in essence, Windscribe could be a hub for all your free plans, enabling you to toggle between them if your data ran low.

You can select your favorite connection protocol by navigating to Preferences. These include IKEv2, Stealth, OpenVPN TCP/UDP, or WSTunnel. You can also utilize an API Resolution system navigating the requirement for DNS, and set up an HTTP or SOCKS proxy too.

If your hardware allows it, you can even use the technology as a secure wireless hotspot or proxy gateway.

How good are Windscribe’s mobile apps?

Unlike Windscribe's desktop clients, the platform's mobile apps include the majority of its latest upgraded features and WireGuard too. With the service’s Android VPN, you'll find a status display that includes a large connection button, an image of a flag in the background, IP and preferred protocol details, and location lists.

It's possible to toggle the Favourites and Custom Config lists and view specific Streaming servers. The Preferences window is rich in features. You can choose to connect to OpenVPN UDP, IKEv2, Stealth, or TCP, or choose a bespoke port. There are also options for split tunneling.

You can integrate with Android's Always On feature and initiate a cross-system kill switch, activate GPS spoofing features, specify local network traffic, and more. Using Network Whitelisting, you can instruct the Windscribe VPN to initiate when connected to an unsecured network automatically.

And unlike many other providers, when it comes to an iPhone VPN, Windscribe's iOS app is equally as powerful and feature-rich as the offering for Android, with one of the only limitations being the lack of split tunneling, which is a issue on Apple’s side, not Windscribe’s.

Windscribe review

(Image credit: Windscribe)

What customer support does Windscribe offer? 

With no 24/7 support available, Windscribe does lag behind its competitors in this area. However, there is a dedicated support site that includes numerous setup guides covering a wide range of devices and operating systems.

That said, we did find the FAQs lacking too, and some areas, like how to set up browser extensions, were very outdated. If you can't find what you're looking for, you can contact support via email or raise a ticket via a web form.

Although you can't guarantee a quick response, all support queries are dealt with in-house so the answer you receive should be well-informed and more than adequate.

Windscribe: Final verdict

Windscribe is well-priced, packed with features, and accessible to even the most novice users. The company’s commitment to privacy is obvious, and its free plan is one of the most comprehensive we’ve seen.

That said, its support features are seriously lacking and the anomalies that appeared during our speed tests were a worry. Still, with such a great free version, we’d recommend anyone to download the service and give it a try.

It may not quite reach the standard set by ExpressVPN, with its massive range of server locations, impeccable speed and performance, and 24/7 support, but Windscribe gives it a pretty good go.