Windscribe is an interesting VPN service that aims to dethrone the best providers out there and almost succeeds. Though it comes with a few issues, generally speaking it's an excellent VPN and definitely has the best free plan out there. Check out our Windscribe review for all the details on this up-and-comer.
Windscribe is a solid, but expensive VPN that impresses with its suite of privacy features and excellent streaming performance. It stumbles in other areas, however, mainly in latency, upload speeds and a small list of servers.
In this Windscribe review, we’ll compare it to the best VPN providers on the market. We’re going to discuss features, pricing, ease of use, supported devices, server locations, speed, security and customer support before giving our verdict.
You can get another VPN for less, but Windscribe is enticing for streaming especially. It’s not perfect, as you’ll see in our speed and privacy sections, but it has enough merit for a spot at the VPN table.
- Dedicated streaming servers
- Unlimited connections
- Privacy options
- Support for OpenVPN & IKEv2/IPsec
- Generous free plan
- Solid DIY support
- Poor latency results
- Lack of direct support options
Windscribe has a simple interface that doesn’t show off its features at first. You’ll find controls for a killswitch, which Windscribe confusingly calls a “firewall” at the bottom on the window. You can set the killswitch to turn on as you’re connecting to a remote server or to stay on constantly.
If you choose the latter, Windscribe will disconnect you from the internet unless you connect through one of its servers. In most cases, though, the killswitch will just cut your internet connection in the event you disconnect from the remote server.
Windscribe Privacy Options
Most of the features come from the browser extension. Windscribe has a list of privacy options as well as the Secure.link generator to aid in locking down your online experience. There are four main privacy options: Anti-Social, Ad Blocker, Untraceable and Split Personality.
“Anti-Social” deals with social media. Turning it on will strip away all trackers from Twitter, Facebook, G+, Pinterest and more. Even with a VPN, your activity will be monitored and recorded by a social media site and, this way, it can’t be.
While impressive, you can find plenty of tracker blocking alternatives in our guide on 99 free tools to protect your privacy.
“Ad Blocker” is self-explanatory and, despite it being a feature bullet point for Windscribe, it’s no different than the slew of other ad blockers on the Chrome store (or those built-in to the most secure web browsers).
“Untraceable” blocks all ad beacons and trackers. It does so on a continual basis, however, meaning that cross-site tracking isn’t possible. Many sites not only track what you do on their URL, but what you do afterwards to generate a marketing profile. Obviously this is a major privacy concern and Windscribe helps bypass it.
Lastly, Windscribe includes “Split Personality,” one of our favorite features. It rotates your browser’s user agent each time you open it, meaning you’re less likely to be identified through browser fingerprinting.
Each time you open your browser and connect to a website, you send a load of information along with it. This often includes your browser type and version, operating system type and version, screen resolution, language, time zone, fonts and even hardware configuration.
While it doesn’t seem like much, it’s unlikely that there are many others in your location with the exact configuration that you have. That’s browser fingerprinting and it’s an increasingly common way to figure out someone’s identity. Thankfully, Windscribe protects against it, and we found it reliable during our testing.
Windscribe has Secure.link as well. It’s available for everyone, even if you’re not using the VPN, but it’s built into the browser extension for easy access. It works like a URL shortener, except it redirects to a page that rates whatever page your trying to access in overall privacy. It’s a proactive way to protect yourself that only takes a few seconds.
Paying users can access Windscribe’s Windflix servers in the U.S. and UK. They’re built for streaming Netflix and, from our testing, they work very well. There wasn’t a noticeable slowdown (though we didn’t gather exact numbers for speed) and Netflix didn’t come back with a proxy error.
We tested again with servers natively in these locations and accessed Netflix without a problem, too. This could be luck of the draw but, as long as you’re a subscriber, you could always default to the Windflix option.
We like the privacy options and dedicated Netflix servers from Windscribe. It’s missing features like diagnostic reports and split tunneling that ExpressVPN offers. However, that’s a high bar to meet, and Windscribe does an excellent job in the features department for where it stands.
Windscribe Features Overview
Windscribe has the most generous free plan we’ve seen and joins our selection of the best free VPN services. If you opted not to enter your email address during sign up, then you get 2GB of data, the same as Hide.me (read our Hide.me review). Entering your email is strongly encouraged, though, as you’ll get 10GB of data instead.
There are ways to increase that data cap each month. You get an extra gig for each person you invite that signs up with your link, and additional five if you tweet about Windscribe once a month.
Furthermore, you can use your leftover CPU horsepower to mine for data. Your computer can solve hashes to mine Monero. Windscribe has a custom webpage for you to do so where you can set utilization caps and view your history. The URL is accessible from any machine, as well, so you can mine on anything.
When all is said and done, you could feasibly earn 20GB or more per month without spending a dime. It makes TunnelBear’s 500MB limit look pretty embarrassing in comparison (read our TunnelBear review for our thoughts on that service).
Bandwidth isn’t limited, but server locations are. To gain access to non-tech centers and log into U.S. Netflix, you’ll need to upgrade to Pro.
|Plan||Free||Pro Monthly||Pro Yearly||Pro Biennial|
$ 9 00monthly
$ 4 08monthly
$ 50 00yearly
$ 3 70monthly
$ 45 00yearly
|Bandwidth||10 GB||Unlimited GB||Unlimited GB||Unlimited GB|
There’s only one paid plan, but it comes in three different flavors. Month-to-month runs $9, which is about on par with VyprVPN (read our VyprVPN review), annual plans are under $50 and biennial plans are under $45. Biennial plans also come with a six month premium subscription to Dashlane (read our Dashlane review), our first pick for the best password manager.
The rate sits in between ExpressVPN and CyberGhost (read our ExpressVPN review and CyberGhost review). However, unlike those service, Windscribe supports an unlimited number of simultaneous connections. Sharing those connections with those outside your household, however, is against the rules and a swift way to get your account banned.
Windscribe accepts all major forms of payment, including credit cards, PayPal and bitcoin. It doesn’t accept cash like Mullvad, though (read our Mullvad review). There’s no money-back guarantee in place as such, understandable as the free plan acts as a trial, but Windscribe will refund you within three days of purchase if you’re unhappy with it.
It recently added a new plan to the lineup that extends the free offering. You still have 10GB of bandwidth, but you can add new locations for $1 each per month. Each location you add will add an additional 10GB of bandwidth. If you’re looking to, say, access U.S. Netflix, this is a good option. Otherwise, it’s best to go with an unlimited subscription.
For the money and inclusion of Dashlane, a biennial subscription makes the most sense. Month-to-month rates from VPN providers are traditionally bad, and Windscribe isn’t breaking the mold on that front.
That said, it’s quite cheap. Even compared to PIA, which has some of the lowest rates in the biz, Windscribe is shaving a few dollars off of comparable plans (read our Private Internet Access review).
Windscribe toys with you during setup, especially if you’re select the “I’m a control freak” setting on the installer. Outside of that, installing the application is a painless process, Windscribe guiding you through configuring it and the browser extension.
There are two parts to Windscribe: the desktop application and browser extension. The two operate independently of each other, but can used together for a more secure connection.
The extension is a bit like Windscribe “lite.” You have fewer server locations and no control over what protocol you’re using. However, it has quick access to the Secure.link generator and a list of privacy options.
Digging in, you can find controls for Anti-Social, Ad Blocker, Untraceable and Split Personality. If you skipped ahead and those names mean nothing to you, make sure to check our “features” section above.
The extension can be used for a simple connection, but you can use it with the desktop UI for a double hop connection, a feature NordVPN released earlier this year. You connect to one server on the desktop and one through the browser extension, adding a second layer of security to your connection. It’ll slow down speeds, though.
The desktop application has a tiny window with a few controls. You can turn on your connection and firewall, and view your IP and signal strength. Clicking on the down arrow next to your location will bring up the server list.
The list is ordered by signal strength and split up by country. Navigation is better than most VPN applications, but it doesn’t have the map view that NordVPN does.
The three dashes at the top open up the preferences panel. There are a good amount of options, such as switching your VPN protocol and port, but Windscribe’s naming scheme is confusing. For example, OpenVPN is available, but Windscribe calls it “UDP” and “TCP” for the different ports instead of clarifying that these connections are using OpenVPN, an annoying habit that Windscribe shares with PureVPN (read our PureVPN review).
Still, it’s a small concern for an otherwise excellent interface. Windscribe has a no-frill user experience that’s simple enough for technophiles to use, but has the options for techies to tinker with.
Windscribe supports just about any device on the market. For conventional machines, there’s support for Windows, macOS and Linux. Winscribe supports Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora and CentOS for Linux distribution.
The mobile end of things is covered as well with iOS and Android support. There are guides for installation on different versions of these OSes such as those found on the Amazon Firestick, Kodi and Nvidia Shield.
For a deeper install, you can configure Windscribe on routers configured with DD-WRT or Tomato, or just buy a router with Windscribe preinstalled. Windscribe has configuration generators for OpenVPN, IKEv2 and SOCKS5, too, for any device that supports those protocols.
For the adblocker, Windscribe has an extension available for Chrome, Firefox and Opera.
One of Windscribe’s selling points is an unlimited number of simultaneous connections, a feature that many VPNs don’t offer — though read our Goose VPN review another example. There’s no strict fair use policy outside of sharing your connection with other people.
Windscribe has over 600 server locations in 55 different countries. The spread is nice, covering most of the globe, but the server count doesn’t impress. NordVPN, in contrast, has 3357 servers in 60 countries (read our NordVPN review).
Servers are focused in the U.S. and Europe, each location having multiple options. The rest of world, however, usually has only a single data center (with a minimum of three servers inside). The placement makes sense, but there isn’t much leeway if you’re having connection issues.
Windscribe isn’t the fastest VPN we’ve tested, but it isn’t bad either. The largest slowdown comes from your initial connection. After that, even when traveling across oceans, the speed changes very little.
|Location:||Ping (ms):||Download (Mbps):||Upload (Mbps):|
|Best Location (Central U.S.)||46||46.55||9.84|
The most surprising result is from the automatic setting Windscribe has. Despite being in the same state, Windscribe’s servers slowed download speeds by 50 percent and upload speeds by around 20 percent. Oddly, the German server we tested only slowed download speeds by 25 percent.
Latency times are poor, making Windscribe a bad choice for the best VPN for gaming. It’s apparent that Windscribe is focusing on browser based activities that require large downloads over latency times.
Download speeds drop by, at most, fifty percent, when connected to a server on the other side of the globe. That makes data heavy tasks, such as streaming, ideal for Windscribe to handle.
Upload speeds aren’t as good. Sending data from your machine to a server will cause significant slowdown, up to 90 percent based on our testing.
For the majority of users, upload speeds and ping should be largely irrelevant. Normal browser tasks, and even intensive ones, will carry out without a noticeable slowdown as long as your raw connection has decent speeds. Gaming and large uploads shouldn’t be carried out using Windscribe, though.
Windscribe defaults to the IKEv2 protocol using AES-256 paired with a 4096-bit RSA key. 256-bit AES is twice the size of AES-128, which is still considered by many to be secure. It would take a supercomputer multiple billion years to decode a single key.
If you’re using the “automatic” connection mode, you’ll be set up using the IKEv2 protocol over UDP port 500. It makes sense, too, as this is the best blend of security and speed for an average user. The port in which IKEv2 uses, though, is notorious for being blocked by firewalls.
You can use OpenVPN over UDP or TCP if you’re having trouble bypassing a firewall. UDP suffers the same issues as when you’re using IKEv2 but is faster than using TCP.
Windscribe includes a “stealth” mode as well that uses a TCP protocol over Stunnel, an open source TLS wrapper. Windscribe advises only to use it “if all other methods fail.” It’s a slow connection but can get past most firewalls, including the Great Firewall of China.
Windscribe is open with how anonymous you’ll be when using it. For the most part, logs are kept to a minimum, and there’s no chance that your data could ever be tied back to you.
That said, Windscribe stores some information.
There’s a log of the total amount of bandwidth used each month that’s removed at the end of the month. Windscribe says this is to “enforce free tier limitations as well as prevent abuse.” There’s also a timestamp of your latest activity that’s written over whenever you connect again.
When you’re actively connected, Windscribe stores your OpenVPN/IKEv2 username, the server you’re connected to, the time of connection and the amount of data transferred in the server’s memory. Individual VPN sessions are not stored, however.
Because you can pay with bitcoin and opt out of providing an email address, the logs Windscribe keeps are negligible at best. We wouldn’t recommend it if privacy is a matter of life or death as there is some information kept on record. That information, however, holds nothing of true value and couldn’t be tied back to a single user.
We tested IP, WebRTC and DNS leaks from three locations using Windscribe. It passed all of these tests without a hitch. Windscribe is completely safe to use.
Customer service is strong for Windscribe. Direct support options consist of talking to Garry, an AI controlled live chat that’s surprisingly good, and submitting a support ticket. Outside of that, you get a general knowledgebase, FAQs, setup guides and the Windscribe subreddit.
The knowledgebase is more like a troubleshooting guide. They cover topics like Kodi support, streaming services not working, forgotten usernames and slow speeds. The articles are as straightforward as possible. For example, an article dedicated to Netflix spells out that VPN blocks exist and it’s a constant game of cat and mouse to get past them.
The FAQs should be essential reading. Windscribe clarifies everything that’s not explained in the interface here. We understand, however, that details like the protocol you use don’t pertain to every user.
Setup guides are impressive. Windscribe runs over every possible install route from Windows to your NAS to your torrent client. The guides are written with step-by-step instruction and filled with screenshots, too.
Garry, the AI support agent, is surprisingly good. We asked about the number of simultaneous connections and received an answer within seconds. There wasn’t a redirect to the knowledgebase or anything like that, just a straight answer. Admittedly, it was a bit awkward trying to tell the bot goodbye, though.
You can submit a support ticket to speak with a human. As with many support systems, Windscribe will attempt to find an answer to your question within the knowledgebase before sending you to the form. When we reached out, Windscribe got back in a little over three hours.
Instead of a dated forum, Windscribe has a dedicated subreddit with just over 6,000 subscribers. As with most subreddits, the community is very active and you should receive multiple responses within a few hours.
Windscribe has a good list of features, good security and decent speeds, to boot. It’s best when used for basic browsing and streaming, though, as the latency times and upload speeds see too significant of a decline.
We like Windscribe’s features more than anything else the service offers. The privacy options show an attention to detail that few other VPN providers offer, and tuned servers for streaming means that you should get past a proxy error without any issues.
It comes with some drawbacks, though. There are logs kept, no matter how minimal the data is and how long it stays on record. If privacy is the utmost concern, then Windscribe’s slight leeway may be too much to offer. For other options, read through our VPN reviews.
What do you think of Windscribe? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.