Key Takeaways: Windscribe and NordVPN
- The main difference between NordVPN and Windscribe is that NordVPN is a faster VPN and more reliable at unblocking streaming platforms.
- NordVPN is also slightly easier to use and offers extra options like double VPN servers, dark web monitoring and dedicated IPs.
- Windscribe is more affordable than NordVPN and has a free plan.
Updated the comparison to reflect the latest VPN speed results.
Updated Windscribe’s free data cap to 15GB due to it offering 5GB extra permanently when you tweet about the service.
08/30/2023 Facts checked
We rewrote this article to focus on which is better for a user’s needs and updated it with current information.
Updated the article to reflect ExpressVPN’s expansion of server presence from 94 to 105 countries.
Finding it hard to decide between Windscribe and NordVPN? That’s not surprising. Both are excellent VPNs with impressive feature sets. Windscribe is often heralded for its free and flexible plans, while NordVPN takes plaudits for its speed and security features. In this Windscribe vs NordVPN comparison, we put the VPNs side-by-side.
Through decades of experience, our experts know what to look for in any VPN provider. We examined the similarities and differences between Windscribe and NordVPN across many categories, including speeds, price, security features, server networks and streaming performance. We’ll highlight which of the two is better in each case.
Average speedDownload Speed94 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency6 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, Cash
- : 6
Average speedDownload Speed94 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency2 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : Unlimited
How Did We Rate Windscribe vs NordVPN?
In order to form this Windscribe and NordVPN comparison, we here at Cloudwards have spent countless hours reviewing different VPNs to figure out which are the best. If you want to learn more in-depth details about either service, you can check out our NordVPN review and Windscribe review.
NordVPN vs Windscribe: Similarities & Differences
In order to see what the main dividing lines are between NordVPN and Windscribe, we’ll go through the similarities and differences of each, starting with what the two VPNs have in common
|$3.19 / month(All Plans) 30-days money-back guarantee||$5.75 / month(All Plans) 3-days money-back guarantee|
|Payment methods||PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, Cash||PayPal, Credit card|
|Supports split tunneling|
|Free trial available||7 days on mobile|
|Worldwide server amount||5,800 servers in 60 countries||servers in 69 countries|
|Desktop OSes||Windows, MacOS, Linux||Windows, MacOS, Linux|
|Mobile OSes||Android, iOS||Android, iOS, BlackBerry|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox, Edge||Chrome, Firefox, Opera|
|Can be installed on routers|
|Can access Netflix US|
|Can access BBC iPlayer|
|Can access Hulu|
|Can access Amazon Prime Video|
|Encryption types||256-AES, ChaCha20||256-AES|
|VPN protocols available||OpenVPN, IKEv2, NordLynx||OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard|
|Enabled at device startup|
|Passed DNS leak test|
|Malware/ad blocker included|
Let’s start with the common features shared between NordVPN and Windscribe. There might be slight differences in each section, but not enough to make the services fundamentally dissimilar.
Encryption, Protocols and Leak Protection
At the barest minimum, a VPN should encrypt your data, offer multiple protocols and never leak your IP address. Both NordVPN and Windscribe meet those standards.
The VPNs encrypt user data using AES-256 encryption with 4096-bit keys. This means that hackers would need supercomputers and billions of years to make sense of your VPN traffic. They also incorporate perfect forward secrecy — any stolen key can only be used to decrypt one session, limiting the amount of information available if a data breach occurs.
NordVPN and Windscribe VPN offer a similar selection of protocols: They both come with OpenVPN, which offers the best combination of security and speed, and IKEv2/IPSec, which has excellent reconnection capabilities and is ideal for mobile devices.
Windscribe VPN supports the WireGuard protocol, currently the fastest protocol around. NordVPN has the NordLynx protocol, which is essentially its own take on WireGuard.
Windscribe goes a step further, offering the Stealth and WSTunnel protocols. These protocols obfuscate your traffic and are a large part of why Windscribe makes it onto our best VPNs for China list. These protocols are slow, so only use them as a last resort.
After encryption, your VPN should not leak your data. We tested NordVPN and Windscribe’s ability to prevent IP, WebRTC and DNS leaks. After connecting to Windscribe and NordVPN servers in the U.S., we didn’t experience any leaks at all.
Your VPN could easily disconnect for various reasons, like poor internet service, server congestion and your device’s settings. A kill switch is the last line of defense, disconnecting you from the internet if your VPN connection becomes inactive.
NordVPN and Windscribe both offer kill switches, although there are minor differences. NordVPN offers system-wide and app-level kill switches on Windows and macOS (the latter only with the OpenVPN protocol). iOS and Android users only get a system-wide kill switch.
A system-wide kill switch disconnects your device from connecting to the internet, while an app-level kill switch disconnects specific apps.
Windscribe claims to offer more than a kill switch: the Windscribe firewall. In our experience, it works just like a system-wide kill switch, and it’s available on Windows and Mac desktop applications.
Platforms, Interface and Ease of Use
There are both NordVPN and Windscribe apps for the major operating systems on mobile and desktop: Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android and iOS. You can also use both VPNs with Chrome, Firefox and Edge through browser extensions, and on smart TVs like Android TV (NordVPN also offers an unencrypted smart DNS service for TVs).
NordVPN and Windscribe are also good options to install on a router. They support and offer tutorials for various router firmware, including DD-WRT and Tomato. Both VPNs also have routers that come with their software preconfigured. NordVPN has a deal with FlashRouters, while Windscribe’s preconfigured router is called InvizBox.
Using a router can help you bypass the device limit on any VPN. Once you connect your router to the VPN, any device connected to the router will enjoy VPN protection, and a router only counts as one connected device.
Both VPNs are fairly easy to use. Connecting to a server and finding the various settings was a walk in the park. That said, Windscribe seemed more cluttered compared to NordVPN, with its options crammed into less space. Choose NordVPN over Windscribe if you need a beginner-friendly VPN.
In this section, we’ll explain what makes NordVPN and Windscribe different. This will help you choose one based on your needs.
Generally, Windscribe is the better choice if you’re on a tight budget. Unlike NordVPN, it offers an extensive free version, which includes 15GB monthly data, unlimited stable connections and 11 free servers. If you’re looking for a free VPN, the choice is obvious.
Windscribe also offers a cheaper monthly plan: $9 compared to NordVPN’s $12.99. However, when you turn to the yearly plans, NordVPN is more affordable. For a yearly subscription, NordVPN asks for $4.99 per month, while Windscribe pegs the price at $5.75 per month.
Unlike Windscribe, NordVPN offers a two-year plan, billed at $3.19 monthly. Although you can get cheaper two-year plans in the VPN industry, NordVPN’s offer is reasonable considering its performance and roster of features.
NordVPN offers other plans that rope in a password manager and cloud storage with the VPN, but you’ll have to pay extra.
One of Windscribe’s main selling points is its Build a Plan option. This plan allows you to choose the paid servers you want (on top of the free servers) for $1 per server per month. You can add unlimited data and access to R.O.B.E.R.T. (Windscribe’s tracker, ad and malicious website blocker) for another 1$ per month. You have to reach a minimum checkout value of $3, though.
For instance, you can choose a Windscribe server in the U.K. and the U.S. for $1 each. Then you can add the unlimited data and R.O.B.E.R.T. access for $1. That meets the minimum quota of $3. The good thing about Windscribe’s Build a Plan is that you can change your server locations anytime without paying extra.
Dedicated IPs/Static IPs
If you need a dedicated IP, NordVPN is your best bet. NordVPN offers dedicated IPs, while Windscribe offers static IPs. We’ve broken down the difference between these two types of IPs in our best VPNs with dedicated IPs article, but we’ll give you a quick explanation here.
Dedicated IPs are IP addresses that are assigned only to you. This is great if you want to keep your VPN from running into blocklists and CAPTCHAs, and access sensitive sites like online banking. Static IP addresses are similar, but shared by multiple users; they’re cheaper to run, but can cause trouble if another user gets the IP address banned or reported anywhere.
When choosing a VPN, speed is critical. A slow VPN will leave you with lag and pauses while browsing or streaming. Between NordVPN and Windscribe, choose NordVPN for fast speeds. Windscribe holds its own with the pack, but it’s hard to catch NordVPN.
Looking closely at our speed tests, you’ll notice that NordVPN’s speeds are both faster and more consistent. For example, NordVPN and Windscribe lost only 6% of our initial download speed. However, in the U.K., while NordVPN lost only 5% of our initial speeds, Windscribe speeds dropped by nearly half.
NordVPN is a shoo-in if you need a VPN to perform any download-related activity, including streaming, torrenting and downloading large files.
With upload speed, NordVPN and Windscribe are tied, maintaining 90% of our starting speeds. Either VPN is a good choice if you upload content often.
Windscribe is a much better VPN for gaming, thanks to its relatively low ping times. If you examine our speed graphs, you’ll see that Windscribe boasts the lowest latency of all competing VPNs in every location we tested.
If you’re less experienced with VPNs, you’ll appreciate a service with tons of resources online.
We checked NordVPN and Windscribe’s knowledgebases, and we can confirm that both offer a wealth of setup guides, FAQs and troubleshooting guides to help you. However, if you need real-time support, NordVPN is your best bet. It has live chat agents ready to assist you at a moment’s notice.
In contrast, Windscribe has a chatbot known as Gary. It can point you to the right article, but if you need to talk to a support agent, you must send an email ticket. Just like NordVPN, Windscribe’s email support responds in a few hours.
Extra Security Features
NordVPN offers way more security extras than Windscribe. Both offer obfuscated server functionality and ad and tracker blocking, but that’s where the similarities end.
For instance, unlike Windscribe, NordVPN has a double VPN feature that encrypts your data traffic twice, adding extra safety in case one server has a leak. NordVPN also offers dark web monitoring, which checks the dark web and alerts you if your credentials are exposed there.
Simultaneous Device Connections
NordVPN caps the number of devices you can connect to simultaneously at six. Your workstation, laptop, tablet and phone should be covered, but if other people want to use your subscription too, we recommend going with Windscribe.
Windscribe lets you use its VPN service on as many devices as you’d like. However, there’s a catch. Windscribe states on its website that the service is “strictly for personal use.” Your account might be banned if you use one Windscribe subscription on 25 or more devices, indicating that you’re running a business or data center.
If these warnings are a problem for you, Surfshark offers unlimited simultaneous connections without any such caveats. Find out more about their differences in our Surfshark vs Windscribe review.
When we review VPN server networks, we look at how many servers there are and how many locations are covered. NordVPN states on its website that it has more than 5,000 servers worldwide, but Windscribe doesn’t give away its server count. This makes a clear NordVPN vs Windscribe comparison virtually impossible on that front.
NordVPN’s servers are in 60 countries, while Windscribe has servers in 63 countries. These are reasonably good server spreads, but if the country you need isn’t covered, look at ExpressVPN (servers in 105 countries) and Surfshark (servers in 100 countries). You can check out our ExpressVPN review and Surfshark review for more info.
It’s important to mention that both VPNs primarily use bare-metal or physical servers. These are generally safer and more stable than virtual servers, and you can trust they’re actually located where the VPN claims they are.
Windscribe’s free plan gives you access to 11 free server locations: the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Hong Kong, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Romania and Turkey.
NordVPN offers a 30-day refund window, the standard in the VPN space. NordVPN will give you your money back without asking questions as long as you make your request within 30 days of your purchase.
Windscribe only offers a three-day money-back guarantee, which would be inadequate for testing it fully if not for the free plan. If you want to examine Windscribe before purchasing, use the free option.
We recommend NordVPN over Windscribe if you’re after a VPN for streaming. We tested NordVPN against many of the top streaming platforms, and on every count, NordVPN proved its mettle. Regardless of the server we connected to, we could unblock Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus and even the usually stubborn Netflix.
Windscribe is a mixed bag when it comes to streaming. We were able to access BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video on the first attempt, but we didn’t have the same luck with other streaming sites, including Netflix, Disney Plus and Max. We needed to connect to multiple servers before getting access.
In addition, we couldn’t unblock Netflix and other streaming services with Windscribe’s free servers. Overall, NordVPN’s unblocking ability, coupled with its faster download speeds, makes it the better choice for streaming.
Logging Policy and Audits
NordVPN and Windscribe both claim to adhere to a strict no-logs policy. This means they don’t log data that can be traced back to you, like your IP address and browsing history, nor do they share any sensitive user data with third parties. This makes them good VPNs for privacy.
We thoroughly examined both VPNs’ privacy policies and can confirm they only collect data that is necessary for delivering their services to clients. Both VPNs run RAM-only servers, meaning any data they store about you is wiped away each time the servers reboot.
In this section, we give NordVPN the thumbs up over Windscribe because its no-logging policy has been independently audited and verified at least three times. The latest was an audit by Deloitte, which confirmed that NordVPN indeed follows a strict no-logs policy.
Windscribe has also been audited once by Leviathan Security Group. The audit was to check Windscribe’s source code for weaknesses and vulnerabilities. The audit identified minor vulnerabilities which Windscribe had to work on, but there was no explicit comment on its logging policy.
Which Is Better: NordVPN vs Windscribe?
NordVPN is better for most use cases. It boasts fast speeds, which makes it the natural option for data-heavy activities like streaming and torrenting. Add the fact that it consistently unblocks any streaming platform it faces, and you have a solid streaming VPN on your hands. NordVPN also has a lot of extra options, including dedicated IP addresses.
If you’re on a budget, Windscribe is the go-to choice. It has a free plan, which offers 15GB of free data and access to servers in over 11 countries. The Build a Plan option allows you to only pay for specific servers and unlimited data. Go for Windscribe if you want a gaming VPN, because its servers have lower latency.
We Recommend Windscribe If You Want…
- A free VPN: Windscribe offers a free plan which gives you access to servers in 11 countries.
- A gaming VPN: Windscribe has low latency, which makes it a fast option for playing video games.
- An affordable VPN: Windscribe offers a Build a Plan option which allows you to pay for what you use.
We Recommend NordVPN If You Want…
- A fast VPN: NordVPN offers consistently fast download and upload speeds regardless of your location.
- A VPN for streaming: NordVPN is more reliable at unblocking Netflix libraries, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and more.
- A dedicated IP: NordVPN offers dedicated IP addresses at an extra cost. These make it less likely that you’ll face problems online for using a VPN.
If You Want to Consider Other Services, Check Out…
Average speedDownload Speed92 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency5 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, PaymentWall
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, cash
- : 10
Average speedDownload Speed95 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency200 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, Amazon Pay
- : Unlimited
Average speedDownload Speed94 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency4 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Amazon, Paygarden, Apple Pay, Google Pay
- : Unlimited
Average speedDownload Speed81 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency39 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin, Amazon Pay
- : 7
The Verdict: Why We Think NordVPN Wins Overall
Between NordVPN and Windscribe, NordVPN is the better service. Windscribe edges out NordVPN on affordability. It has a free plan and offers flexible pricing options, but that’s about it.
NordVPN is faster, more reliable at unblocking and its apps are slightly easier to use. Plus, it offers better customer support, thanks to its live chat feature. You’ll also find extras like a double VPN.
If you’re not convinced about any of the VPNs in this comparison, feel free to check other top VPN suggestions below.
FAQ: Windscribe vs NordVPN Compared
NordVPN is better if you need a fast VPN for streaming or torrenting. Opt for Windscribe if you want a free or affordable VPN.
Yes. Windscribe doesn’t log data that can be traced back to you and doesn’t share your data with other parties, including law enforcement. In addition, there’s been no record of any Windscribe data breach.
NordVPN is better than Windscribe in many respects. Its faster speeds are ideal for streaming Netflix and downloading large torrent files. It also has many extra features, like a double-hop VPN connection, which Windscribe lacks.