ZenMate Review

You may be interested in using ZenMate thanks to its attractive pricing and intuitive interface. This would be a mistake: the service is inherently insecure and you may as well stand on the rooftops and yell your personal information out from there. Check out our ZenMate review for more details.

By Brian Murray
— Last Updated: 26 Mar'18
2017-03-07T07:21:32-08:00
Table of Contents Rating
Features
70%
Decent
Pricing
70%
Decent
Ease of Use
80%
Good
Speed
85%
Very Good
Security
30%
Terrible
Privacy
55%
Fair
Streaming Performance
85%
Very Good
Server Locations
75%
Good
Customer Service
75%
Good
User Reviews & Comments

Decent
Starts from $ 205 per month
Visit ZenMate
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Just over a year ago, we checked in with ZenMate VPN and found there were many things that needed improvement. The design choice to try to make a VPN that doesn’t require users to do configuration is common in the VPN market, but many providers, including ZenMate VPN, take it too far.

The minimalist approach to settings options held the VPN back, with no choices for protocols or encryptions offered. Questionable security, including DNS leaks, made ZenMate VPN a “no” for us.

The DNS leaks are still present, there are still no options regarding encryption and protocol and many of the same issues that plagued ZenMate VPN in our last review persist. Needless to say, it’s still a long way from making it on to our best VPN list.

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths:

  • Good speeds
  • Broad compatibility
  • Competitive pricing
  • Excellent browser extensions

Weaknesses:

  • Contradictory information on website
  • No choice of protocols or encryption
  • Oddly worded settings options
  • DNS leaks

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Features

70% - Decent

ZenMate VPN has features that we’ll address more in the “ease of use” section, which are strangely named and hardly mentioned anywhere on the website. They’re called “EverSecure” and “locations monitoring,” and we’re looking at them alter because they’re special cases.

Those troublesome exceptions aside, ZenMate VPN does a decent job of covering the most in-demand features compared to some providers, but if you’re interested in a feature-rich VPN, you should check out our Astrill review. In ZenMate VPN’s settings, there’s an easy-to-find killswitch, as well as a simple toggle setting for DNS leak protection, which we’ll get into later.

The client is available in several languages, including English, German, Korean, Russian and Spanish. More importantly, ZenMate VPN offers an application for many platforms, including Windows, macOS, Android and iOS.

There are browser extensions, too, and they’re among the best we’ve seen for Chrome, Mozilla and Opera. They offer tons of features that are usually exclusive to the desktop application.

Where ZenMate VPN begins to fall short is the protocol and encryption options. We’ll delve into it in more detail in the “security” section, but for the most part, you’re stuck using a TLS protocol and have no choice of encryption.

ZenMate VPN is also missing support for split tunneling, which is a surprisingly hard feature to find in the VPN market, despite how useful it is. Split tunneling gives you control over which programs on your computer use the protected VPN connection and which programs use a standard unprotected connection.

If that’s a feature that interests you, check out our ExpressVPN review, where we cover its user-friendly split tunneling integration.

Zenmate VPN Features Overview

Starts from$ 205per month

General

Payment methods
PayPal, Credit card, Union Pay
Accepts cryptocurrency
Simultaneous connections
5
Supports split tunneling
Unlimited bandwidth
Free trial available
7 days
Refund period
14 days
Worldwide server amount
30+ locations (only 4 for free accounts)
Desktop OSes
Windows, MacOS
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
128-AES, 256-AES
VPN protocols available
OpenVPN
Enabled at device startup
Allows torrenting
No-logging policy
Passed DNS leak test
Killswitch available
Malware/ad blocker included

Support

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

Pricing

70% - Decent

Though there’s mention on ZenMate VPN’s website of Premium and Ultimate plans, we were only able to find the Ultimate plan for purchase. You’ll see throughout this review that kind of thing is a theme with ZenMate VPN’s website.

Monthly
  • Unlimited GB Bandwidth
  • 5 Included Devices
6 Monthly
  • Unlimited GB Bandwidth
  • 5 Included Devices
1-year plan $ 3.99 / month
$47.88 billed every year
2 Years
  • Unlimited GB Bandwidth
  • 5 Included Devices
2-year plan $ 2.05 / month
$49.20 billed every 2 years

For the Ultimate plan, you’re presented with three options. You can sign up monthly, yearly or for two years. All those plans come with access to the desktop applications, unlimited bandwidth, all browser extensions and up to five simultaneous connections.

The pricing is competitive with the monthly plan coming in at about the market average, while the annual and especially the two-year plans offer deep discounts. In fact, you can upgrade from a one-year to a two-year subscription for only a couple bucks more.

Though the long-term pricing is a great value, there are better options for monthly plans. For example, you’ll see in our Windscribe review that it offers up to 10 simultaneous connections for even less per month than ZenMate VPN.

ZenMate VPN also offers a free plan, but it puts several restrictions on it. You’re only given access to four of the servers. One is in the U.S. and one is in the UK, which makes it almost suitable for streaming.

You’re also only allowed to use the browser extensions and not the desktop applications or mobile apps. Finally, the free plan limits your bandwidth to 2 megabits per second. That’s limiting and will keep ZenMate VPN out of our free VPN services roundup. There’s a free one-week trial of the Ultimate plan, too, if you verify your email address.

We want to touch on one more thing. As we mentioned, and will continue to mention, ZenMate VPN’s website is rife with contradictory and confusing phrasing. On some parts of the website, you’ll see that ZenMate VPN claims to have a 30-day refund policy, but upon reading the refund policy, we found that it’s only for 14 days.

We can’t emphasize enough how widespread those kinds of errors are on the website, and that should raise red flags with users.

Ease of Use

80% - Good

When you arrive on ZenMate VPN’s website you’re greeted with a good layout that puts the most important things in highly visible places. Signing up for a free account is easy, as is installing the client or extension.

The client is visually appealing, with a blue background that offers a strong contrast with the white text. Connecting is as simple as pressing a button, and the list of servers is easy to browse.

Things get baffling when you dig into the settings, though, even for those who are familiar with VPNs. As mentioned, the settings menu is simple, but it has a pair of checkboxes that offer few clues as to what they do.

For starters, the first thing you see if you go to the settings menu is a checkbox that says “EverSecure,” which is checked by default. On the website, there’s little information regarding what it does.

All we were able to find was this entry in the knowledgebase that says the feature is designed to keep mobile devices from disconnecting when asleep. It also says that when the device is woken back up or reconnected to a network, the VPN will connect automatically.

That said, the feature’s also visible in the settings on the desktop application. There’s no mention of what it does that we could find elsewhere on the website, so one would assume, it connects to the VPN automatically when your computer connects to a network. That’s not what it did in our testing, though. As far as we could tell, it doesn’t do anything in the desktop clients.

Another checkbox further down is labeled “enable locations monitoring.” Unlike the “EverSecure” option, it’s off by default. Again, there’s nothing on the website regarding what it does. That said, in several places, such as this post, ZenMate VPN mentions malware blocking and tracking protection.

Though those settings are available in the browser extension, there are no other clear options in the settings in the desktop applications for them. Perhaps that’s what location monitoring is, but that’s merely a shot in the dark, which is the best we can do when we’re provided no information.

Without those options, the settings page would be fine. Alternatively, including information on the website or even just renaming them would go a long way toward improving the overall usability of the clients. For the most part, the clients and apps look nice and function well, but those strange options disrupt an otherwise streamlined experience.

Speed

85% - Very Good

Speed is ZenMate VPN’s strong suit. As you can see from our testing, every server we looked at performed well, with only South Africa lagging behind the rest. In fact, the speeds were so high that they raised suspicions regarding how traffic is handled on ZenMate VPN, but we’ll touch more on that in the “security” section.

Location:Ping (ms)Download (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)
Unprotected (Virginia)1472.075.84
United States6871.755.82
United Kingdom10971.855.08
Japan18351.893.71
Germany11370.494.74
South Africa28131.962.58

Starting with the nearest server to where we did our testing in the U.S., we found that ping time was manageable and we lost so little of our download and upload speeds that the difference in performance wasn’t noticeable. The same was true with the UK servers which were much farther from us at over 3,500 miles away.

Japan is even farther, measuring a whopping 6,800 miles away, and still retained a respectable level of performance. Browsing was responsive and there was only a brief moment before pages began to load. Once they began loading, they were loaded in about the same amount of time as they would take without a VPN connection.

Germany is roughly 4,200 miles away and offered similar performance to the UK with an almost negligible drop in performance. Finally, South Africa was the only server to underperform. Granted, it’s the farthest server from where our testing was done at just over 8,000 miles away.

ZenMate VPN gave a strong performance in speed, with responsive browsing and high enough sustained download speeds that it might make its way onto our fastest VPN roundup soon. That said, the ping times were unimpressive and would be hard to play games with.

If you’re aiming to play competitive games online against people in other countries, read our best VPN for gaming article.

Security

30% - Terrible

Yet again, ZenMate VPN has contradictory information regarding its performance, but this time the conflicting information is about security, which is the most important aspect of any VPN.

There’s no way to change the encryption level or protocol in the settings. That means you’re stuck with whatever you’re given, but it’s unclear what that is. In this post on the knowledgebase, you can see that it says the Windows and macOS clients use IPSec (IKEv2), but in this post from the knowledgebase two months later, it says it uses TLS v1.2.

Elsewhere on the website, it mentions OpenVPN, which might be what it referred to as TLS v1.2 in the knowledgebase post. If you dig deeper, though, OpenVPN can only be manually configured on certain devices and only if you have the Ultimate plan. If you’re curious about what all those acronyms mean, take a look at our VPN protocol breakdown.

As for encryption, AES 256-bit is used for the desktop and mobile clients, which is excellent, and AES-128 is used for the browser extensions, which is satisfactory. That said, the encryption didn’t prevent the DNS leaks we caught. While connecting to South Africa, the VPN was connecting to a Google DNS in Belgium.

In short, that means information regarding your browsing habits is being passed to Google’s servers every time you connect to a website. What’s worse is that spies, or anyone with the ability, can still track you across the web when the VPN is connected. You can learn more about that in our what are DNS leaks article.

Plus, as we mentioned in the “speed” section, there’s a real question as to whether the connection is encrypted. The speeds we saw shouldn’t be possible because the processes of encryption and decryption while transferring data take time and have to reduce your speeds more than we saw.

We’ve contacted ZenMate VPN for more information and will continue to check in with the service in the future. If we learn anything new, we’ll update this article to reflect that. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a secure VPN, we suggest that you check out our NordVPN review.

Privacy

55% - Fair

ZenMate VPN has a zero-logs policy and it’s based in Germany, which has strict data protection laws. Unfortunately, “zero-logs” doesn’t quite mean that.

On the website, ZenMate VPN records non-personal information regarding usage, including what browser you’re using and how much time you spend on the website. Personal information is collected during the account creation process, including email address, name and, if you choose to get the Ultimate plan, payment information.

ZenMate VPN also uses what are called “tracking pixels” when it sends emails, which allows it to track the success rate of its emails by seeing whether you opened them.

Streaming Performance

85% - Very Good

We sent an email to the support team as a test saying that we were unable to get BBC iPlayer working, and we received a response saying that it was a known issue. We weren’t having the issue, though, and we only said so as a way to test the support staff.

In fact, the streaming performance of ZenMate VPN was impressive. It pierced through Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu’s VPN detection systems without issue. Videos loaded quickly and almost always played at 1080p immediately.

Though some of the other issues with ZenMate VPN might hold it back from our best VPN for BBC iPlayer list, it’s worthy of an honorable mention.

Server Locations

75% - Good

ZenMate VPN has just over 30 locations spread across the globe, including servers in Asia, Europe, Africa, North America and South America. The locations offered are distributed well and cover the needs of most VPN users.

There are several server options in the U.S. as well as the UK so your favorite streaming sites should be available. Only four servers are available on the free plan, but you still get access to one server each in the U.S. and the UK.

Customer Service

75% - Good

When it comes to customer service, ZenMate VPN is hit or miss. There’s no live chat support or phone support, which isn’t that bad on its own because many VPN providers don’t offer them. ZenMate VPN’s email support is good and provides the answers you need in a timely, helpful and polite manner. We received our responses in less than eight hours.

That said, the knowledgebase is far from excellent. Many of the more general questions regarding VPNs and setup might be answered, but more technical questions are often left unanswered or worse have contradictory answers, as we’ve seen many times during this review.

Cleaning up the knowledgebase and erasing outdated information or rewriting the entries would be a great move towards improving the customer support experience.

The Verdict

There are several things that ZenMate VPN could take care of that’d improve the user experience. The performance of the VPN is impressive, the free option allows you to test the service and the customer support is helpful and responsive.

A strong foundation has been laid, but much of the execution misses the mark. The website contains contradictory information on many topics and the lack of options regarding protocol and encryption is upsetting.

While ZenMate VPN could certainly be positioning itself to one day grow into an industry giant, most people prefer services that are already at the peak of what can be offered. If that sounds like you, take a look at our archive of VPN reviews, which are sorted from best to worst for easy browsing.

If you have experience with ZenMate VPN, let us know in the comments. We love hearing from you and, as always, thanks for reading.

ZenMate Review

ZenMate plays fast and loose with your data. Avoid.

You may be interested in using ZenMate thanks to its attractive pricing and intuitive interface. This would be a mistake: the service is inherently insecure and you may as well stand on the rooftops and yell your personal information out from there. Check out our ZenMate review for more details.
Starts from$ 205per month
Visit ZenMate
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