We Reviewed Windscribe’s ROBERT Tool and This is What We Learned
Windscribe’s VPN is known for its customizability. It consists of a range of features that are available in both free and paid versions. The free service allows for limited use each month. You can try it out long-term before committing to it.
We tried it out for ourselves so that we could help you decide whether Windscribe is right for you. Specifically, we focused on its ROBERT feature. You’ll have some access to ROBERT in whatever version of Windscribe you run. And it’s a major selling point of this VPN.
What is ROBERT?
At the most basic level, ROBERT is a malware and ad blocker. But when you pay to customize your Windscribe experience, it allows you to block much more. All the sites on the block lists that you select (or create) are blocked by the server. This enables you to prevent threats and unwanted content from reaching your browser or app.
If you want to let something through, you can easily whitelist it or create a direct connection. These options demonstrate how much control users have over how they use Windscribe.
ROBERT always blocks malware and ads. But the paid versions include block lists for pornography, gambling sites, and more. You can also create your own lists or specify up to 1,000 custom access rules. The free version allows three custom rules.
Installing Windscribe couldn’t be easier. We tested the Windows version, although the app is also available for a range of browsers and for iOS.
Once installed, it opens in a small window on the desktop. By default, this launches on startup, but you can change this in “preferences.” One click connects you to the closest Windscribe server, and as long as the firewall is on, all other direct connections will be refused.
The Windows app protects any other apps you have that connect directly to the internet. But to use Windscribe in your browser, you’ll also need to install the browser extension.
When we had the app and extension up and running, it was instantly clear the VPN was working. Sites like Google no longer recognized our location. Services stopped tracking our activity, so things like newsfeeds stopped making recommendations based on past browsing. And because of the ROBERT feature, banner ads disappeared.
As with any ad blocker, some websites recognized that it was running and refused to grant access. This is the warning we got in one case:
But it only took two clicks to whitelist the site and resume normal browsing. When we no longer needed to let that site through, we were able to remove it from the whitelist just as easily.
ROBERT gives you the option to just allow ads for these pages, which doesn’t affect your VPN protection. Or, if you need to, you can establish a direct connection for one site only.
Benefits of ROBERT
There are a few different reasons why the ROBERT feature of Windscribe might appeal to you. Your specific concerns will influence whether you choose the free version, the pro version, or build a custom plan. Here are the benefits we found:
Blocking ads also means blocking adware. Based on our testing, ROBERT seems like a reliable way to prevent advertisers from reaching you without your consent.
There are several ways they might try to do this. Not all adware is malware, but all types of adware can be annoying. Some of it is bundled into free software and some of it is written into the code of online services. In either case, it may harvest your data to generate tailor ads.
ROBERT will recognize adware in either form. It will keep unwanted software off your device or block the ads themselves. If this prevents you from using a service you really want, you can whitelist it and accept the ads. And even then, Windscribe’s VPN will keep you anonymous so the adware doesn’t mine your data.
Some forms of adware do more than just display targeted messages. Some of them bombard you with pop-ups or don’t let you close them. These are just some examples of the malware lurking online.
Spyware gathers your personal information and can lead to identity theft. Ransomware can lock your computer and force you to pay money to regain access to your files. Trojans can give hackers remote access to your computer, and botnets can dramatically slow down your connections by secretly using your bandwidth.
These all have their own sources, and ROBERT keeps track of them all. The malware list is available to everyone, including free users of Windscribe. It is also constantly updated, so you can be confident that your browser won’t ever display infectious sites.
As mentioned above, ROBERT blocks every unwanted site at the point of Windscribe’s server. Nothing on its lists will ever pose a threat to your computer.
Custom DNS Blocking
Ads and malware are the main things that most users want to keep out of their browsers and apps. That’s why malware lists are available to all ROBERT users. But some users might want even more control. Such users can have ROBERT block specific domains or entire categories.
This can be a form of parental control, to stop children from accessing porn sites or other sensitive material. It can also be used on public terminals to stop them from displaying the website of a competing business, or anything harmful to the device’s owner.
Of course, ROBERT is also useful as a guideline for your own online behavior. Pre-made block lists can help you avoid the temptation of gambling sites. They can stop you from buying into fake news or from wasting your time on clickbait. And with custom lists, you can block out anything that negatively affects your online experience.
Disadvantages of ROBERT
Although the ROBERT tool worked as advertised, we couldn't keep it on our device. During several hours of testing, Windows displayed a "blue screen of death" three times. The problem went away only after uninstalling Windscribe. But you may have a different experience. The existing user reviews show that some people have similar issues, but most don't.
This is why free trials are important. If the advantages of ROBERT seem appealing, it's worth trying out for yourself. We just advise you to be careful. Try running the free version for a few weeks. If your device freezes or crashes, look for another DNS blocker. If it doesn't, then you can consider upgrading to a paid version with more data.
If you don't want to pay for a DNS blocker at all, the ROBERT tool comes with strict limits. Although it resets every month, your free data can disappear quickly. Still, you can add more data for a low cost with no commitment. You might not get everything you want from ROBERT without having to pay. But you'll have a hard time finding another service that is as flexible.
Windscribe is a functional VPN, especially for users who expect customization. The ROBERT tool is an effective way of controlling how your browser and apps interact with the internet. While Windscribe gives you standard VPN protection, ROBERT adds an extra layer of security.
As long as its developers continue updating its lists, you can count on it to keep you away from anything unwanted. Its domain blocking will shut out most malware, as well as minimizing unwanted ads. And that’s just the free version. With a little bit of money and time, you can really make ROBERT work for you.
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