Windscribe VPN Review
Our take: Windscribe is a popular VPN service with first-class security and encryption and a freemium payment model that gives users a chance to explore at no cost and upgrade whenever they’re ready. For those concerned about data leaks, ISP tracking, intrusive ads and geographically restricted content, Windscribe has a spotless track record and can ensure private, secure browsing on desktops, laptops and mobile devices. At its price point, however, the limited server coverage may be an issue, especially when it impacts performance. The free plan’s restrictions will likely inconvenience gamers, streamers and torrenters who want to use their VPN for data-intensive activities. A VPN provider with a larger network is more suitable for those purposes. Overall, Windscribe is a decent choice for users who want robust security with a flexible payment model.
Based in Canada, Windscribe VPN combines a desktop application and browser extension to protect everyday internet users’ privacy online by blocking ads, trackers and malware. In addition, the company focuses on freedom of information and aims to develop tools to counteract unethical censorship, third-party data collection and surveillance. This review will cover some of the pros and cons of using the Windscribe app and browser extension, including core features, pricing plans, and what current customers are saying.
Pros & Cons of Windscribe VPN
|What We Like and What We Don’t Like|
Key Features of Windscribe VPN
We separated the most important VPN features into four distinct categories: security and privacy, server coverage, performance and price. Here’s a breakdown of Windscribe’s features.
Security and Privacy
To ensure safe browsing, a VPN service must have strong, reliable security and privacy features. This includes using trusted security protocols like OpenVPN, SOCKS5 and IKEv2. OpenVPN is the industry standard and widely recognized as the best available for secure activity.
Windscribe uses IKEv2 as its default protocol, which is not optimal, but users can easily switch between the three protocols under their account settings. It uses AES 256-bit encryption, another industry standard that’s trusted by military and government organizations around the world. It also has a kill switch that prevents any data from leaking in the case of a VPN malfunction, blocking the internet connection until the user is connected to a Windscribe server. Users can be certain that their browsing sessions are safe.
That said, Windscribe is based in Canada, one of the countries that make up the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance — the United States, UK, Australia and New Zealand are other members. These nations frequently share intelligence information with each other, and some VPNs as well as ISPs may be required to log and retain sensitive data, making users more vulnerable to hacking or security breaches.
A good VPN service should have widespread server coverage to accommodate a range of users and needs without compromising privacy or performance. Ideally, the VPN has multiple servers situated within a region to balance the load of many simultaneous users.
Windscribe owns over 600 servers across more than 60 countries, including the United States, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Norway and Hong Kong. These are physical servers, not virtual ones, but only 10 countries are available to users on a free plan. Other VPN services, such as NordVPN, have a much more massive, distributed network of thousands of servers, which makes it easier to find a local option. However, Windscribe does cover most of Europe and parts of Asia, South America, the Middle East and Africa.
Windscribe has four dedicated streaming servers for Netflix enthusiasts, conveniently named Windflix US, Windflix UK, Windflix Canada and Windflix Japan. Connecting to the service means the user’s internet traffic is no longer encrypted, which results in higher speeds but less privacy. Still, it is a useful option for getting around geographical restrictions.
Security features and server coverage are crucial for a VPN service, but it must have good enough performance speed to be effective for the average user. The VPN shouldn’t interfere with gaming, streaming, torrenting or other data-heavy activities.
While all VPNs slow down performance to a degree, the best VPNs keep the speed reduction to a minimum. Unfortunately, even on a premium Windscribe account, connection speed can be halved or worse. Surprisingly, speed tests show sluggish performance in some of the well-covered areas, such as the United States and the Netherlands. Gamers and streamers may encounter inconsistent speeds that make their programs unplayable/unwatchable.
As for torrenting, users with a free account are bound to connect to overcrowded servers, which makes large file transfers extremely difficult. Additionally, although Windscribe generally supports P2P sharing, torrenting isn’t allowed on South African, Indian and Russian servers, so users may face harsh penalties for copyright infringement if they aren’t careful.
VPNs can be quite cheap or costly, depending on the plan and provider. Many VPN services break their offerings down into tiers based on subscription length — Windscribe is in this category. Users can create a free account to access both the desktop app and browser extension, but they’re limited to a maximum of 10GB of data per month across the 10 free-to-use servers.
For paid options, Windscribe offers a monthly and yearly subscription. The monthly plan costs $9 per month, and the yearly plan costs $4.08 per month, billed as $49 every 12 months. The longer subscription saves a bit of money over month-to-month renewal. These prices are somewhat higher than competitors with wider coverage and faster speeds. There is also the Build a Plan option. Users are billed $1 per location each month, allowing them to pay for and connect to only the servers they choose.
Windscribe offers a very short refund window of three days and instead encourages users to try out the free plan before paying. Fortunately, the differences between the free and paid plans boil down to server area and bandwidth limit.
|Windscribe Plans & Pricing|
|Build A Plan||$1/month/location|
|Free Trial||Free account with data/coverage limits|
|Customer Support||Setup Guides, FAQs, Knowledge Base, Reddit, Talk to Garry, Email, Ticket|
|Platform/Browser Compatibility||Chrome, Firefox, Opera|
|Server Coverage||610 servers in more than 60 countries|
|Number of Devices||Unlimited devices|
|Security Encryption||256-bit AES|
|Website||Learn more at Windscribe|
What Customers Are Saying
Customers report positive experiences using Windscribe’s VPN service, with one satisfied user saying: “A+! Great VPN, prob[ably] one of the best I’ve used over the last couple of years. Some great features too, and most importantly the speeds are ace. I upgraded to the pro plan after using the free plan for a month, and was really impressed with the various upgrades I recieved [sic].” Another remarks, “I too have been happy with Windscribe and have found it to be very useful and safe to use.”
Windscribe is a popular VPN service with first-class security and encryption and a freemium payment model that gives users a chance to explore at no cost and upgrade whenever they’re ready. For those concerned about data leaks, ISP tracking, intrusive ads and geographically restricted content, Windscribe has a spotless track record and can ensure private, secure browsing on desktops, laptops and mobile devices. At its price point, however, the limited server coverage may be an issue, especially when it impacts performance. The free plan’s restrictions will likely inconvenience gamers, streamers and torrenters who want to use their VPN for data-intensive activities. A VPN provider with a larger network is more suitable for those purposes. Overall, Windscribe is a decent choice for users who want robust security with a flexible payment model.