Windscribe is well known as a light-hearted company that keeps its users entertained while also taking their privacy and security very seriously.
The big appeal that gets most people using this is the incredible free service that offers lots of data with a 10GB allowance, making it one of the best free VPN services. But sign-up and you'll find it's also one of the best VPN services overall thanks to lots of useful features.
What you need to know is that this service isn't perfect, and we found a few issues that might affect your choice of VPN. So check out our in-depth Windscribe VPN review below to see if this is the service for your needs.
Windscribe 1-minute review
Windscribe's free service is one of the best with 11 server locations and 2GB of data (boost that up to 10GB if you hand over your email). It's really remarkably powerful compared to the competition. Upgrade, and you'll pay a $9 monthly for a rolling monthly plan, dropping to a reasonable $4.08 a month when you commit for a year.
Windscribe's apps and systems look great and are 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.
Connection speeds are just OK, with relatively better results when using OpenVPN than WireGuard. With OpenVPN we got 230-240Mbps on a 1Gbps line in the UK, and a similarly impressive 220Mbps on a similar line in the US.
Testing with the WireGuard protocol we were surprised to see a drop in the US, with a top speed of just 150Mbps. Looking at the UK, it's more what you'd expect with decent speeds of 430-480Mbps. It's by no means the fastest out there, but it's more than enough for the average broadband connection.
The paid version of Windscribe is excellent for streaming, unblocking pretty much every service we tried. However, the biggest downside is that Windscribe could not unblock US Netflix, despite having been able to do this in the past.
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.
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: WireGuard, OpenVPN UDP & TCP, IKEv2
Country of registration: Canada
Support: Articles, ticket system, 24/7 bot support
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 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. That's all very generous for a free service.
But, imagine how amazing everything would be if you gave Windscribe money for Pro! (Windscribe's words on the upgrade page, 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 pretty reasonable, just $9 per month. If you decide to opt for an annual plan, the price drops to just $4.08 per month. 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.
However, you've still got more options here. With Windscribe's 'Build a Plan', you can select which servers you need for $1 a month each. Each server selected will give you 10GB of data to play with, and you must select at least two.
So, if you picked two servers (let's say UK and US), you'll start off with your 10GB for handing over your email address, and 10GB for each server chosen. For $2 a month, that's 30GB of data, and if you don't need any other servers, that's pretty good value, although some of the very cheapest VPNs offer their complete services for just pennies more.
Add on another $1 a month for unlimited data, however, and it looks pretty tempting – especially thanks to the fact that the Build a Plan is billed monthly, and there's no commitment involved.
Another option is ScribeForce. If you've got a group of five or more, you can gang up and pay just $3 a month for the full service, again billed monthly.
Finally, you can purchase a static IP – $8 a month for a residential IP, $2 a month for a data center IP. While this doesn't offer the same privacy as a regular VPN IP, it does make sure your browsing isn't tainted by someone else's dodgy actions, and should provide much better streaming capabilities as it's unlikely to be flagged as a non-domestic connection by Netflix and the like.
With payment options including PayPal, credit card, Bitcoin, gift cards and more, Windscribe is extraordinarily flexible when it comes to taking your money – and if you configure it right, you could save a packet without being tied into a long plan.
- Check out the cheap VPN competition
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 kill switch to block internet access in the event that the VPN connection drops, 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 (called Firewall in Windscribe-speak), we closed down the connection manually during a browsing session. The switch worked well and our internet connection dropped instantly. While we weren't notified of the connection dropping, we were when we reconnected – and there were no leaks in the interim.
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.
Logging is very minimal, limited to the total bandwidth you've used in a month and a timestamp of your last activity so as to identify inactive accounts. Connection details are also recorded temporarily, including username, VPN server, time and bandwidth as well as number of devices connected – but this is in RAM only so is lost when the session closes.
A transparency report supports its privacy levels, and shows "exactly zero requests were compiled due to lack of relevant data", referring to DMCA and law enforcement contact. But still, a public audit would be a welcome addition to add more peace of mind.
But, it's worth noting that you can use the service for free without handing over as much as an email address. If 2GB of data is enough for whatever job you want to do in privacy, it's a remarkably capable option.
How fast is Windscribe?
Windscribe claims to be a fast VPN, and while it's not quite up there with the very best, it's certainly capable. 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 lines could operate at speeds up to 1Gbps, and we used a number of sites and services to measure connection speed.
The results from the UK were promising. OpenVPN speeds averaged at 180-240Mbps, which outperforms a number of big names such as Surfshark, but can't quite match the likes of NordVPN or CyberGhost.
US tests were about the same, delivering results of around 220Mbps. So, not the fastest, but good speeds on the whole for OpenVPN.
With the upgrade to Windscribe, we saw the addition of WireGuard, but unfortunately this didn't help much in US testing where speeds actually dropped to 150Mbps which didn't make a lot of sense. Perhaps a glitch, based on how it did in the UK.
In the UK, the results were more expected with WireGuard getting a respectable range of 430-480Mbps. That's good, but still not as fast as some of the competition, being beaten by CyberGhost, IPVanish, Mozilla and NordVPN which all topped the 700Mbps mark.
How good is Windscribe for streaming?
Many users want a Netflix VPN to access geo-specific content from the streaming site. Unfortunately, when it comes to US Netflix, Windscribe failed in our testing. This is a change from our last round of testing, and very likely because of Netflix's VPN blocking tech upgrades. We've seen almost every VPN affected, but the very best have found at least half-decent workarounds by now.
To put Windscribe through its paces as a streaming VPN, we also attempted to view US YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video from a range of locations in the US and UK.
BBC iPlayer is a streaming service with very capable VPN blocking tech, but, Windscribe had no issues, getting us access every time we tried.
Rounding off the testing were Disney+ and Amazon Prime, and again Windscribe has no problems accessing either of these, giving it an impressive full house when it comes to unblocking content.
Be aware, however, that these are results when using the premium service – 'WindFlix' servers aren't available with free plans, and there are no guarantees any other servers will do the job.
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're looking for a VPN for the sole purpose of torrenting, you might be better choosing a more specialized option like ExpressVPN or CyberGhost.
How good are Windscribe’s desktop apps?
The biggest change since our last review is probably the introduction of Windscribe 2.0 – which brought with it the WireGuard protocol and a shiny new interface. However, it's still much the same fare, with everything being contained in a compact (and now asymmetric) window, with plenty going on behind the scenes.
It's worth noting that Windscribe is one of the few providers to offer a back catalogue of previous versions, meaning that if the new update doesn't play nicely with your machine, you can rewind and use the last stable version until whatever bug you had issues with is fixed.
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. The latency indicator is a useful addition, showing you the speeds of each server so you can find the fastest one for your needs.
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, and you can sort your servers by name, location, or latency – all good stuff. Plus, split tunneling allows you to select which apps route through the VPN, and which route through your regular connection, which is great for torrenting.
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 WireGuard, 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?
Surprisingly, Windscribe's mobile apps had many of the 2.0 features before the desktop version, and for those who don't like learning new software, it's all impemented in much the same way.
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.
How good are Windscribe's browser extensions?
A very useful part of Windscribe's suite of software are its browser extensions. Featuring on our best Chrome VPN guide, the free add-on is powerful and effective, offering more flexibility than most – all for free.
As you'd expect, the Chrome and Firefox extensions are only proxies (unlike ExpressVPN's out-of-the-ordinary add-on that controls the desktop client). While this does mean only browser traffic is affected, for simple location-changing tasks, it's the perfect tool.
As well as a number of locations, you'll get Autopilot, which connects to the best server with a single click, the option to connect to cities, not just countries, and a favorites list.
R.O.B.E.R.T. is now available to free browser extension users, too, which means you'll get a pared-down version of the full malware and ad=blocking tool paying customers are privy to.
Finally, you'll also be able to block WebRTC leaks, spoof your location and swap your time zone to match your server, switch your users agent to avoid tracking, and even delete cookies when a tab is closed.
So, on the whole, Windscribe's browser extension is just about the best on offer – only rivalled by ExpressVPN's which, while powerful, works in a very different way.
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.
The Android guides were useful with helpful tips on how to connect with IKEv2 using the StrongSwan app, or via OpenVPN with OpenVPN for Android.
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 a little 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.