Windscribe Review

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.

By Jacob RoachDeputy Editor
— Last Updated: 25 Jan'19
2018-08-27T22:31:30-08:00
Table of ContentsRating
Features
90%
Excellent
Pricing
95%
Excellent
Ease of Use
90%
Excellent
Speed
60%
Fair
Security
85%
Very Good
Privacy
85%
Very Good
Streaming Performance
90%
Excellent
Server Locations
80%
Good
Customer Service
90%
Excellent
User Reviews & Comments

Very Good
Starts from $ 417 per month
Free plan available

It’s easy to write Windscribe off as just another free VPN provider, though that’s thankfully not the case. Although its free plan is impressive — worthy of our best VPN guide, in fact —  Windscribe stands out for other reasons, most notably its unique approach to pricing and long list of features. 

In this Windscribe review, we’re going to explore those features, talking about pricing, ease of use, security, speed, streaming performance, privacy and customer service along the way. At the end, we’ll give you our verdict and determine if the Windscribe VPN is worth it or not. 

If you’re in the market for a free VPN, Windscribe is easily the best option. However, when you start paying — for the full plan, at least — that changes. Windscribe’s subpar speeds look lackluster in comparison to the top dogs, such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN, even if you’re saving a few bucks.

Strengths & Weaknesses

Pros:

  • Excellent free plan
  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive
  • Ad/malware blocker included
  • Kill switch
  • Multiple unique features
  • No DNS leaks
  • No-logs policy

Cons:

  • Slow
  • No split tunneling support
  • No phone support

Alternatives for Windscribe

cloudwards rating
$ per month
top features

Features

90% - Excellent

Windscribe is absolutely packed with features, and not in the same way as, say, CyberGhost is (read our CyberGhost review). The essentials are mostly accounted for, but rather than building out the features list with standard offerings, such as split tunneling and app kill, Windscribe has unique ones. 

That could be good or bad depending on what’s important to you, which we’ll get to in a minute. As for the features that are included, Windscribe packs them in. 

The most prevalent is Secure.link, which you can access through the account dashboard or the browser extension. Secure.link scans an entered URL for trackers before you head to it, giving the site an overall privacy score. 

Hand-in-hand with Secure.link is R.O.B.E.R.T. This tool is a DNS and IP-level blocker that allows you to filter certain types of content based on Windscribe’s established lists. It blocks malware by default, but it can also be set up to block social media sites, porn, gambling and even sites that publish fake news.

The lists available cover most bases, but you can create custom rules, too. You choose to block, whitelist or spoof IP addresses or domains. Furthermore, R.O.B.E.R.T. is simple to use within the account dashboard. 

Essential features are accounted for, too, the Windscribe VPN includes DNS settings, proxy settings and a kill switch, which it confusingly calls a “firewall.” Windscribe says in its FAQ that “kill switch” is the incorrect term, but that’s the terminology every other VPN uses. Calling it something different just makes it confusing. 

Along with those settings, you can choose your protocol and port, which we’ll talk more about in the “security” section below. 

Windscribe offers some features that no other VPN does, but there are still some omissions. Most notably, Windscribe doesn’t include split tunneling, which would allow you to send some traffic through the VPN tunnel while keeping other traffic on your main connection (read our IPVanish review for a service that uses split tunneling). 

Similarly, app kill isn’t included, which would allow you to use the kill switch on some apps but not others. These features aren’t essential — many VPNs move past them — but given how much else Windscribe includes, they’d make sense here. That said, if those features aren’t important to you, Windscribe’s current offerings are still excellent.

Windscribe Features Overview

Starts from$ 417per month

General

Payment methods
PayPal, Credit card
Accepts cryptocurrency
Simultaneous connections
Unlimited
Supports split tunneling
Unlimited bandwidth
Free trial available
Refund period
Worldwide server amount
59 countries
Desktop OSes
Windows, MacOS, Linux
Mobile OSes
Android, iOS
Browser extensions
Chrome, Firefox, Opera
Can be installed on routers

Streaming

Can access Netflix US
Can access BBC iPlayer
Can access Hulu
Can access Amazon Prime Video

Security

Encryption types
256-AES
VPN protocols available
IPSec, OpenVPN, Stunnel, IKEv2
Enabled at device startup
Allows torrenting
No-logging policy
Passed DNS leak test
Killswitch available
Malware/ad blocker included

Support

Live Chat
24/7
Email support
24/7
Phone support
User forum
Subreddit
Knowledgebase

Pricing

95% - Excellent

Windscribe is in a league of its own when it comes to pricing. It’s not only inexpensive, it’s also flexible, allowing you to build a plan specifically for your needs. There’s a generous free plan, too, which is why Windscribe took the crown in our best free VPN guide, beating the ever-popular TunnelBear (read our TunnelBear review).

Build a Plan
  • Customized plan
  • 10 GB Bandwidth
  • Unlimited Included Devices
  • Bitcoin
Free
  • 10 GB Bandwidth
  • Unlimited Included Devices
Pro Monthly
  • Unlimited GB Bandwidth
  • Unlimited Included Devices
  • Bitcoin
Pro Yearly
  • Unlimited GB Bandwidth
  • Unlimited Included Devices
  • Bitcoin
1-year plan $ 4.17 / month
$50.00 billed every year

Before getting to that, though, let’s talk about the standard plan. Windscribe offers its service monthly or annually, with the annual plan receiving a 55-percent discount. Although Windscribe doesn’t offer multi-year plans like NordVPN or CyberGhost do (read our NordVPN review), it doesn’t need to. The annual rate is low enough as is. 

The monthly rate isn’t as impressive when compared to a service like Mullvad, but as you can see in our Mullvad review, that’s just about the cheapest monthly VPN around. Compared to greedier services like Astrill, Windscribe’s monthly price is excellent (read our Astrill review).

Windscribe Free

We’ve seen similar pricing with TorGuard, though, as you can see in our TorGuard review. What sets Windscribe apart isn’t its standard plans, but its free one. Windscribe’s “build a plan” option starts free, offering you a small list of servers and 10GB of data transfer each month. You can get an extra 5GB per month by tweeting about Windscribe, too. 

If you want to expand your plan, you can add additional locations for $1 a piece. Each location comes with 10GB of additional data, and every location is available. 

For example, if you want the Windflix U.S. server — Windflix servers are specialty servers built for streaming; more on that in the “streaming performance section — it’ll run you $1 per month, and you’ll have 20GB of data to use. There’s a $2 minimum when buying locations, but even then, this plan is a great deal. 

In addition to purchasing new locations, you can also buy unlimited data and R.O.B.E.R.T. for $1 per month. Building a plan makes sense for most people, especially if you’re just interested in streaming content from a certain region. 

With the option to purchase unlimited data, you’ll likely only spend a few dollars per month on a subscription, which is unmatched by any VPN service we’ve reviewed. 

Outside of personal plans, there are some other services Windscribe offers. ScribeForce is a team-focused VPN that runs $3 per person per month — a 40-percent off student discount is available on annual plans — and there are static IPs available from $3 to $8 per month. Like the standard plans, you can use bitcoin, PayPal and credit cards to purchase these services. 

There isn’t a money-back guarantee, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, seeing as there’s a free plan. We prefer a free plan or trial to a money-back guarantee, anyway, as you don’t have to hunt down a refund.

Ease of Use

90% - Excellent

Starting with Windscribe is simple. From the home page, simply click the “get started” button to be directed to the download page. There, Windscribe will detect your browser and operating system, then recommend the proper installers. You can choose to install the browser extension, local application or both, and while it’s going, sign up for an account. 

Windscribe handles things a little differently than other VPNs. Rather than going through the checkout process and signing up for an account, you can create login credentials whether you’re paying or not. Your login will automatically be tied to a free plan, which you can change later on.

From there, you can log in and view your account dashboard. Although the dashboard is used for managing your subscription like other VPNs, Windscribe has more going on. You can set up port forwarding, configure R.O.B.E.R.T. and check links using Secure.link. Some of the dashboard features are available in the browser extension, too. 

If you’re content with starting on a free plan, you can head back to the application. If you want to upgrade, click “upgrade” in the “account status” tab. Windscribe will direct you to the pricing page where you can purchase a full subscription or build your own plan. 

Compared to, say, ExpressVPN, Windscribe has a complex pricing structure (read our ExpressVPN review). However, that’s never made apparent. Windscribe’s simplistic approach through signup makes it feel effortless to purchase a subscription, even though, on paper, the pricing structure is more complex than other VPN services. 

Windscribe Windows

Back on the local application, Windscribe will ask you to log in. If you don’t have the browser extension installed, it’ll open a window asking if you want to install the extension. Although it’s mainly a different way to control the VPN, the extension adds an ad-blocker and Secure.link, which we’ll get into in a minute. 

The local application is dead simple. Windscribe selects a “best location” by default, but you can change your location using the server list, which you can access by clicking the “down arrow” next to your currently selected location. 

If you’re using the free plan, you can access only the locations without a star. The ones with a star are the “pro” locations, which are included with the full subscription or can be purchased separately.  

Ticking the “on” switch will start the connection process and engage the firewall. Although it’s not explicitly said when the connection is finished, your IP address will update once connected and the gray background will change to blue. If you have Windows notifications enabled, Windscribe will let you know there, too. 

No matter if you’re connected or not, you can browse the server list and change settings, though some settings won’t come into effect until you disconnect and reconnect. The settings menu is thorough enough to provide critical controls without divulging into technobabble (read our AirVPN review for a painful example of that). 

Windscribe Android

It should come as little surprise that Windscribe has an Android app available, but more than that, it has apps for normally restrictive Android platforms. For instance, you can set it up on your Amazon Fire TV or Nvidia Shield. In that past, you’d have had to use the APK and manually set up the VPN, but there are now native apps for both of those platforms. 

That flexibility is huge. When using a media center device like an Nvidia Shield, you’d normally have to set up a VPN on your router — Windscribe also supports that — and pass all of your traffic through it. With Windscribe, there’s a simple way to get up and running on a media center, even if you’re using a platform like Kodi (read our best VPN for Kodi guide for more on that). 

Windscribe for Chrome

In addition to mobile and desktop applications, Windscribe has extensions available for Chrome, Firefox and Opera. For the most part, the extension is just another way to control the VPN. You can still browse servers and connect, as well as change some basic settings. Advanced options, such as your VPN protocol and DNS settings, are reserved for the local application. 

The extension is more than a proxy for the VPN, though. It gives you quick access to Secure.link, blocks ads and lets you enable online privacy features, which we talked about in the “features” section above. Unlike most VPN extensions, it’s not a matter of the extension or the local app. You should use both. 

Windscribe seems to understand that, too. You can switch the extension between “browser” and “local” mode. “Browser” mode gives you full access to the VPN and the locations list, whereas “local” mode keeps the features of the browser extension intact while allowing you to control the VPN locally.

Speed

60% - Fair

Speed testing for Windscribe VPN was all over the board. Although we were able to get decent speeds close to home, Windscribe won’t be making our fastest VPN guide. Jumping over the pond from our testing location in St. Louis, Windscribe dropped nearly 90 percent of our unprotected download speed, which is abysmal.

Location:Ping (ms)Download (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)
Unprotected (St. Louis)886.7120.53
Best Location (Canada)3031.9315.07
Windflix U.S. 3673.5418.85
Netherlands11320.418.5
United Kingdom1158.7311.25
Windflix Japan1787.6114.31

We used OpenVPN and UDP for our speed tests, even though Windscribe defaults to IKEv2. Additionally, we mixed paid and free servers together to see if there was any pattern. Although that appeared to be the case early on in testing — the Windflix U.S. server blew the Canadian server out of the water — it was apparent by the time we wrapped up that distance is the greatest factor. 

Canada and the U.S. were fine, though it was strange that Windscribe recommended a Canadian data center to us. The Netherlands, UK and Japan fell behind, though, dropping the download rate by around 70 to 90 percent. The upload speed was kept intact, thankfully, but download rates are most important. 

Surprisingly, though, the latency was resilient throughout testing. Japan made it close to 200ms, but even that’s reasonable. Windscribe, with its consistent ping times, sits among the best VPNs for gaming

For other purposes, it’s best to go with a faster VPN or stick with IKEv2 as your protocol, which performs much better than OpenVPN with UDP. Seeing as other VPNs can deliver solid speed while using OpenVPN, though, Windscribe is still knocked down a few pegs in this section.

Security

85% - Very Good

When it comes to VPN security, Windscribe VPN abides by the established practices, though you’ll have to change some settings to get there. Out of the box, Windscribe sets the connection mode to “automatic,” which, in our case, selected IKEv2 as the correct protocol. Seeing as we were testing on a Windows 10 desktop, we’d rather use OpenVPN. 

In fairness, Windscribe isn’t the only VPN to default to a strange protocol or cipher. Private Internet Access, for example, launches with AES-128 instead of the normal AES-256 (read our Private Internet Access review). Like PIA, though, it’s easy to change the security settings with Windscribe. 

IKEv2 is the default, and if you’re using a mobile device, we suggest you stay with it, as your connection will stay intact as you’re changing networks. On desktop, OpenVPN is probably a better option, and Windscribe allows you to choose between UDP and TCP as your transport protocol. 

There are also two encapsulated OpenVPN options: Stealth and Wstunnel. These protocols wrap an OpenVPN connection, making it appear like a normal internet connection, which is useful for bypassing censorship. They’re common options among our best VPNs for China, too.

Windscribe Torrenting

With the stealth options and AES-256 encryption — read our description of encryption to learn about that — Windscribe is suitable for torrenting. That said, you can’t use just any location for torrenting. Some locations, such as South Africa, Russia and India, have a P2P icon with a slash through it, indicating you can’t torrent in those locations. 

Although using the standard desktop app should be enough to keep your torrenting protected, Windscribe also has a uTorrent setup guide available. Note, though, that although you can use the desktop client and not set up a proxy in uTorrent, it’s a bad idea to use a proxy in uTorrent without the desktop client (read our VPN vs. proxy vs. Tor guide for more on that).

We tested DNS leaks, as well as IP and WebRTC leaks, to ensure torrenting — and all other online activity, for that matter — was safe. Windscribe came out clean, even after testing multiple locations. Its advertised leak protection is working well.

Privacy

85% - Very Good

Windscribe clearly understands why you’re purchasing a VPN, saying at the top of its privacy policy that it realizes it has “to walk a thin line” in terms of what it can collect. Some data is collected, but nothing that can be tied back to you. 

When you sign up, you’ll need to provide a username and password, but not an email address. You can add an email address to your account for password recovery, but as long as you’re using one of our best password managers, that shouldn’t be an issue. If you’re paying, you’ll have to enter some billing information, but it’s processed by a third party. 

When it’s actually connected, Windscribe collects the total amount of data transferred in a 30-day period, as well as the timestamp of when you were last connected. Past sessions, your original IP and sites you’ve visited are not stored. 

During your session, Windscribe stores the time of connection, the amount of data transferred and your username, but only in the server’s memory. 

This means when you disconnect, that data is immediately discarded, with nothing tracing back to you. Since you don’t need to provide your email, the account username can’t necessarily be tied back to you, either.  

To further prove this point, Windscribe provides a transparency report that’s updated monthly to show the number of DMCA and law enforcement requests, as well as the number it has complied with. At the time of writing, Windscribe has received tens of thousands of DMCA requests and a handful of law enforcement requests, and it has cooperated with none.

Streaming Performance

90% - Excellent

Using Windscribe’s free servers, we were met with roadblocks from Netflix and Hulu, which should come as little surprise, seeing as Windscribe has paid Windflix servers made specifically for streaming (more on that in a minute). Even so, we tested it first with the free servers to confirm that they wouldn’t work. If you want to stream for free, Windscribe isn’t the VPN for you. 

You can still stream for cheap, though, with the unlimited data option and multiple “pro” servers. Even on the free servers, we were able to access BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video, which is impressive (read our best VPN for BBC iPlayer and best VPN for Amazon Prime Video guides). For Netflix and Hulu, though, the Windflix servers are needed. 

Windscribe, Netflix: Windflix

We moved on to the Windflix servers, which are available in the U.S., UK and Japan. Sure enough, once we switched to the U.S. Windflix server, we were able to use Netflix and Hulu without any issues. If you’re only interested in streaming, you can get a Windflix server and unlimited data for only $2 per month. 

Because of that, Windscribe earned a spot on our best VPN for Netflix and best VPN for Hulu guides. Windscribe works flawlessly as long as you’re using the Windflix servers, and seeing as they’re included with the “pro” plan, this section is a slam dunk.

Server Locations

80% - Good

Windscribe has locations in 59 countries, with multiple points of presence within each of those countries (it works out to about 110 cities). Although the list may seem unimpressive compared to a service like HideMyAss (read our HideMyAss review), Windscribe doesn’t use virtual servers, whereas HideMyAss does. 

All of the locations feature real, physical servers, so when you’re connecting to, say, Latvia, you’re getting an IP address for a server in that location. 

The spread is solid, too, with Windscribe covering areas in the Middle East and Asia, where VPNs typically don’t go. For instance, there are servers in Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore. Although some of the more exotic locations seen with a service like HideMyAss aren’t on the list, they aren’t usually needed.

Customer Service

90% - Excellent

Windscribe presents multiple support options, including a thorough knowledgebase, technical support through live chat and email, and even a subreddit, which, at the time of writing, has more than 10,000 members. The subreddit, despite having a doge meme header, is helpful, with most threads receiving a response within a matter of hours. 

That’s the most direct way to get support, as email takes a while — though not too terribly long — and live chat isn’t exactly live. Around the site, you can click on the little green circle in the bottom-right corner to launch a chat with Garry, Windscribe’s AI-driven support representative.

Garry does the job for basic questions — you can see one such question above — but anything more complex needs a human. For instance, we asked “do Androids dream of electric sheep?” and Garry prompted us to speak to a human. Thankfully, you can do so through the same live chat window, but it requires you go through Garry first. 

You shouldn’t need to contact anyone, though. Windscribe’s knowledgebase is filled to the brim with setup guides, FAQs and troubleshooting articles. The setup guides are especially useful, for example, detailing how to install Windscribe on Asus routers. Even basic installations are covered in great detail, which is nice to see.

If you run into issues, the troubleshooting guides are the first place you should look. Windscribe covers basic topics, such as forgetting your password, but also complex ones, such as the Windscribe API being blocked on your network. Between the setup guides and troubleshooting articles, you should rarely, if ever, need to seek direct support.

The Verdict

As far as free VPNs go, Windscribe is our go-to recommendation. The paid version is impressive, too, considering you can build your own plan while accessing the long list of features. 

That said, you’re still getting what you pay for, particularly when it comes to speed. Windscribe isn’t slow when staying close to home, but when traveling far away, it’s best to go with another option. 

You can find those options in our best VPN for travelers guide. Otherwise, Windscribe is impressive, with its no-nonsense interface, flexible pricing and extensive list of features. That’s why we rate it highly in our VPN reviews. 

Do you plan on downloading Windscribe? What sold you on it? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.

Windscribe FAQs

  • What Is Windscribe?

    Windscribe is a virtual private network popular for its free plan that offers 10GB of data and a limited server network. It also has a “pro” plan available, which comes with unlimited bandwidth and the full list of servers, including the specialty Windflix streaming locations. 

  • How Does Windscribe Work?

    Windscribe, like any VPN, works by encrypting your internet connection before sending it to the open web. By doing so, you’re protecting your IP address and all other personal information from websites and online services. 

  • How Safe Is Windscribe?

    Based on our testing, Windscribe is safe to use. It passed our tests for DNS, WebRTC and IP leaks, and maintains a no-logs policy.

Windscribe Review

A good service with a fantastic free plan.

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.
Starts from$ 417per month
Visit Windscribe

2 thoughts on “Windscribe”

  1. Windscribe User Rating

    Windscribe has been a fantastic VPN to use and one I would highly recommend. What you get as the whole package is way much better than what is curently being offered by other VON providers. The speeds are great and the features are the perfect combination when it coms to securely and safely surfing the net.

  2. Windscribe User Rating

    Very happy with windscribe and its recent update. Lots of cool features going on, plenty of servers and a good support system that gets back to you in a reasonable timespan. Windscribe is work looking to if you’re a heavy vpn user that wants something that gets the job done well!

Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Windscribe Review

A good service with a fantastic free plan.

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.
Starts from$ 417per month
Visit Windscribe
Top
Top