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Zenmate VPN Review & Test 2022 - Surprisingly Better than Others

Author Image Magdalena Madej'
Magdalena Madej Cybersecurity Researcher

ZenMate is a simple and user-friendly VPN. It will protect you at home and when using public WiFi.

ZenMate can lure you with its competitive prices, especially for long-term plans. It offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to try it out. There is also a business offer available, and a free version for browser extensions. The free plan is quite limited, though. It only offers the IPSec, IKEv2, and L2TP protocols (not OpenVPN, which is the most secure).

ZenMate has a kill switch and DNS leak protection, with no IP or DNS leaks detected. It offers 2 choices of high-standard encryption, 128 and 256-bit, both of which are safe for public WiFi. It is not very private, though, as it stores lots of your personal data and has a very vague privacy policy. If security is high on your priority list, check out 100% secure VPNs here.

If you are a Mac or iOS user, you might like ZenMate less because the OpenVPN protocol is available only for Windows, Android, and Linux. There isn’t even an extension for Safari available — browser extensions work only for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.

Try ZenMate Today!

Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings

Zenmate VPN Features — Updated in August 2022

8.2
💸 Price 1.51 USD/month
📆 Money Back Guarantee 30 Days
📝 Does VPN keep logs? No
🖥 Number of servers 4100+
🛡 Kill switch Yes
🗺 Based in country Germany
🛠 Support 24/7 Live Chat Support

Speeds — Fast and Consistent

ZenMate has fast and consistent speeds on nearby and long-distance servers. It offers unlimited bandwidth, which means your speeds won’t be throttled. I tested 3 servers close to my location (Germany, France, and the UK) and 3 long-distance servers (Australia, Singapore, and the US).

The speed test I performed using the speed test by Ookla examined 3 things:

  • Download speed — the rate at which your internet connection can retrieve data from the internet. It’s measured in megabits per second (Mbps).
  • Upload speed — the rate that your internet connection can send data from your device to the internet, such as posting on social media, and sending emails. It’s measured in megabits per second (Mbps).
  • Ping — the speed at which your device gets an answer after sending a request. It’s measured in milliseconds (ms).

It’s preferable to have download speeds of at least 15Mbps and upload speeds of at least 1Mbps. The lower your ping is, the better your connection is since you will have less lag. Local server connections have a better ping, but the download and upload speeds don’t differ so much. An exception was the Australian server, which had lower rates but was not slow enough to be noticeable.

If you’d like to compare the speeds of over 40 VPNs, check out our VPN speed test tool. You can use it to compare each VPN’s performance in different locations, too. It also gives you an option to see if a particular VPN decreases your speeds and by how much.

I started with testing my base speed without the VPN turned on to compare it later with VPN speed tests results. The results in Istanbul, Turkey were:

Download speed (Mbps) 38.99
Upload speed (Mbps) 5.14
Ping (ms) 6

Nearby Servers

My test results on nearby servers showed that my speed was minimally lower. That is fine because every VPN slows your speeds at least a little bit. Nearby servers are always faster than long-distance ones.

German server:

Download speed (Mbps) 37.93 (2.72% decrease)
Upload speed (Mbps) 4.60 (10.51% decrease)
Ping (ms) 43
Average time to connect (sec) 4

French server:

Download speed (Mbps) 36.44 (6.55% decrease)
Upload speed (Mbps) 4.71 (8.37% decrease)
Ping (ms) 46
Average time to connect (sec) 4

UK server:

Download speed (Mbps) 34.35 (11.91% decrease)
Upload speed (Mbps) 5.09 (0.98% decrease)
Ping (ms) 58
Average time to connect (sec) 4

ZenMate’s speeds were not much different from my base internet speeds on servers near my actual location

Long Distance Servers

My speed test results on the long-distance servers were quite diverse. I experienced minor slowdowns with my download speed when connected to the servers in Singapore and the US. The Australian server speeds, mainly the upload rates, were lower. The download speed was still above average.

My ping was higher on all the servers I tested.

Australian server:

Download speed (Mbps) 28.82 (26.09% decrease)
Upload speed (Mbps) 1.29 (74.91% decrease)
Ping (ms) 275
Average time to connect (sec) 7

Singapore server:

Download speed (Mbps) 36.64 (6.03% decrease)
Upload speed (Mbps) 4.79 (6.81% decrease)
Ping (ms) 200
Average time to connect (sec) 5

US server:

Download speed (Mbps) 35.20 (9.73% decrease)
Upload speed (Mbps) 4.84 (5.84% decrease)
Ping (ms) 128
Average time to connect (sec) 5

Enjoy Fast Speeds With ZenMate

Server Network — Decent-Sized Network With Reliable Connections

ZenMate’s server network is not the biggest compared to other top-rated VPN providers, but it is workable. It has 4,800 servers in 81 countries. The website doesn’t disclose how many IPs it has. ZenMate also does not mention the exact number of cities the servers are located in. There are only 4 servers available on the free plan — in Germany, Romania, Singapore, and the US.

When choosing a VPN, it's important to look at both the number of servers and the number of locations to make sure your speed won't be compromised by server overload. Having said that, you shouldn’t be worried about congestion as the network is big enough to avoid it. During all my tests, ZenMate had consistently fast speeds that resulted in short loading times.

When connecting, you can only choose the country you want to connect to. Selecting a specific city is not an option. The inability to choose city-level servers is a significant disadvantage as you can’t look for the best server in a particular country. You are stuck with the only option that ZenMate gives you.

Most of the servers are located in Europe and North America. However, ZenMate has coverage in Asia, Australia, South America, and the Middle East.

ZenMate’s server locations:

Albania Algeria Andorra
Argentina Armenia Australia
Austria Bahamas Bangladesh
Belgium Bosnia & Herzegovina Brazil
Bulgaria Cambodia Canada
China mainland Croatia Cyprus
Czechia Denmark Egypt
Estonia Finland France
Georgia Germany Greece
Greenland Hong Kong Hungary
India Iran Ireland
Isle of Man Israel Italy
Japan Kazakhstan Latvia
Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg
Macao Malta Mexico
Moldova Monaco Mongolia
Montenegro Morocco Netherlands
Nigeria Norway Panama
Philippines Poland Portugal
Qatar Romania Russia
Saudi Arabia Serbia Singapore
Slovakia South Africa South Korea
Spain Sri Lanka Sweden
Switzerland Taiwan Thailand
Turkey Ukraine United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom United States Venezuela
Vietnam

I noticed that my IP kept changing while I was connected, so I asked customer support, and they told me the reason behind it is a dynamic IP. It is an IP address that an internet provider lets you use temporarily, and it constantly changes. ZenMate’s website says it this a helpful tool to make you untraceable: “When you connect to one of our servers, your IP address is instantly replaced to one from our servers. This means your virtual location is changed, and you become totally untraceable”.

Explore Multiple Locations With ZenMate

Security — Secure but Some Options Are Missing

ZenMate is a secure VPN for all devices. However, it has better security options for Windows, Android, and Linux than macOS and iOS.

Protocols

ZenMate uses 2 protocols: IKEv2 and OpenVPN. IKEv2 is available for Windows, macOS, and iOS. According to ZenMate’s website, IKEv2 tends to work best when the server you’re connecting to is nearby.

OpenVPN is only available for Windows, Android, and Linux. The website tells us: “Using OpenVPN, you connect to ZenMate via an encrypted TLS (Transport Layer Security) connection. (...) As for the security, OpenVPN is a must-have, for it provides an up to 256-bit encryption and works with the OpenSSL library of both the control channels and the data you send through”. It is also better for long-distance connections.

In my opinion, OpenVPN is the best option — it's very secure and well-tested. Most of the top VPN providers offer a choice of protocols; ZenMate doesn’t give us this option. However, on the Android app, you have the option to use TCP instead of UDP.

ZenMate’s browser extensions use AES 128-bit encryption, while desktop and mobile clients use AES 256-bit. AES 128 is supposed to be faster and more efficient, while AES 256 provides extra security. The AES algorithm is so secure that it is approved for use by the federal and private industries, like Fortune 500 companies.

Leak Test Results

ZenMate provides leak protection on the Windows app. I ran DNS and IP leak tests on servers in the US, the UK, and Japan. ZenMate was able to hide my original IP and routed my DNS requests correctly.

Its website states: “Unfortunately, it sometimes happens that Windows goes its own way and uses the default settings. This means that the request is sent via the ISP rather than through ZenMate, and the ISP can see what page is visited. This is known as a DNS leak. The DNS Leak Protection feature prevents this from happening by making sure that the DNS request cannot be performed by the native platform but only by ZenMate”.

You will find the DNS Leak Protection feature essential because the only time you are secure is when there are no DNS leaks. Otherwise, your ISP can see what you’re doing despite using a VPN service, making the VPN pointless. Here you can check out how to test your VPN for leaks and what the results mean.

The browser extension offers malware and tracking blocker features. These block malicious attacks and limit websites from recording your online activity.

Kill Switch

The kill switch function is available on all of ZenMate’s apps. It’s referred to as the Always-On/EverSecure setting. It prevents data leaks by ensuring that your device only has access to the internet if the connection goes through the VPN and temporarily disconnects your device if the VPN connection accidentally goes down. That way, nobody can see your information while it's reconnecting.

ZenMate comes with the kill switch already turned on, but if for some reason you don’t want to use it, you can go to settings and disable it. I strongly recommend keeping it enabled, though, as the kill switch enhances your security and privacy. You aren't safe without it.

The only disadvantage here is that the client doesn’t notify you if your connection drops, but it usually reconnects very quickly, so most of the time, it’s unnoticeable.

Missing Features

Although ZenMate has your basic security features covered, there are still a few missing options I'd like to see. One of them is Double VPN, an advanced security feature that routes your traffic through 2 VPN servers instead of one, thus encrypting your data twice. This isn't necessary (you're safe without it) but it's really useful if you need extra protection. For example, it's great for journalists.

ZenMate also lacks other security features that top VPN services provide, like split tunneling. It is disappointing because these options significantly enhance online security and are available for many other major VPN providers.

VirusTotal Scan

I found out that ZenMate installs several trackers and requires several common (but invasive) permissions on Android devices. I ran the executable file through VirusTotal just to check, and no malware was detected.

Enjoy Security-Enhanced Browsing With ZenMate

Privacy — Not Very Private

ZenMate’s privacy policy is very vague and says that VPN shares personal data with third parties and other vendors.

Since 2018, ZenMate has been owned by Kape Technologies. Kape might be familiar to you as it owns 2 other well-known VPNs — CyberGhost and Private Internet Access.

ZenMate’s headquarters are located in Germany. Its full address is included in the Privacy Policy: ZenGuard GmbH, Carlstraße 50, 52531 Übach Palenberg, Germany.

Germany is part of the 14 Eyes Alliance, which aims to create a legal framework for intelligence gathering. Members of this agreement rely on the cooperation of telecom companies and internet service providers to access private personal data. If you’re interested in maximum privacy, I think that you should look for a VPN provider that's outside of the 14 Eyes.

ZenMate’s privacy policy uses unnecessary jargon, and contains little information of genuine interest to you. According to this document, ZenMate collects some of your non-personal and personal data. This includes:

  • Your browser type and version
  • Your operating system
  • The date and time that you access the site
  • Your IP address and ISP
  • Your name and address
  • Your email address
  • Your username
  • Your payment information
  • Your approximate location

Its websites states this data is collected “With the aim of increasing the data protection and data security of our enterprise and to ensure an optimal level of protection for the personal data we process. The anonymous data of the server log files are stored separately from all personal data provided by a data subject”.

ZenMate assures this data “Is not, at any point, associated with any kind of activity done by the user inside the ZenMate VPN tunnel, which is not recorded, logged or stored at all.” Compared to other VPNs, that’s quite a lot of our data ZenMate wants to collect. Isn’t that suspicious?

ZenMate’s Privacy Policy says your personal data might be shared: “We do not share, sell, rent, or trade your Personal Data with third-parties other than as disclosed within this Privacy Policy. We may disclose your Personal Data to any member of our group of companies (this means our subsidiaries, our ultimate holding company, and all its subsidiaries) insofar as reasonably necessary for the purposes set out in this Policy”. Furthermore, “We may share certain Personal Data with trusted vendors to carry out a transaction you have requested.”

In my opinion, sharing personal data with third-parties and “trusted vendors” is not something a VPN provider should do.

Most of the other VPNs’ privacy policies I analyzed are a lot easier to understand, too. ZenMate uses a lot of confusing jargon that isn't easy for the average person to follow.

It hasn't released a third-party security audit, either. An audit would confirm what ZenMate does with your information. Without an audit, you need to trust the company.

Moreover, ZenMate does not own its servers. It rents them from third-parties. Leasing servers is usually safe, but only if they are constantly and effectively monitored. If not, it might pose a security risk.

Join ZenMate Today!

Simultaneous Device Connections — Unlimited

You can use the same ZenMate account across unlimited devices. That is excellent news for you if you have a big families,  or want to share with a group of friends. I tested it on 4 of my devices, and I didn't experience any slowdowns.

However, if that option is not used correctly, ZenMate can limit our user experience. According to the Terms of Service: “When we detect something out of the ordinary in your use of ZenMate Services, we'll contact you to discuss the situation and potential alternatives. If the situation continues, reserve the right to limit your usage of the ZenMate Services”.

Stay Secure With ZenMate

Device Compatibility — All Major Operating Systems

It is possible to configure ZenMate via OpenVPN on a DD-WRT-compatible router. Doing so will protect all of the devices you use at home. The configuration process is quite complicated for novice users; however, ZenMate offers a detailed installation guide on its website to help you out. You can install ZenMate on almost any device using the OpenVPN app.

ZenMate is available for browsers too. The extension is officially available for Google Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. According to the website, it is also compatible with some other desktop browsers based on the Chromium Open Source Browser Project. It is worth noting that, contrary to what other reviews say, ZenMate does not support Opera anymore.

The extensions can be used for free, but I found them pretty limited. They only give you access to 4 server locations (Germany, Singapore, the US, and Romania). Note that they only protect your browser traffic, too. Other apps on your device won't be safe.

ZenMate's premium plans gives you access to over 81 countries, and they come with malware blockers, tracking protection, and the smart locations feature. That means it is faster, more secure, and convenient, as it automatically picks the best server location for you.

I tested two versions of ZenMate’s software, both a mobile app and a desktop client. The app for Mac is user-friendly. To connect to the VPN, you just have to click on the main button displayed. ZenMate will choose the best server location for you by default. You can change it by choosing another server from the list. The connection time is fast; it takes only a few seconds.

ZenMate's app for Windows has a few more options, as you can select between OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols. I like it when the VPN provider lets you choose the protocol of your preference — you can select your favorite one, or test which one works best for you. ZenMate does not support older protocols, like L2TP, anymore.

There are also other settings, like auto-start, auto-connect on start-up, automatic server location, language, automatic kill switch, DNS and IPv6 leak blocking. They all aim to enhance your online security and make web browsing more private. If you tend to forget about turning your VPN on, the auto-start option is a good idea.

The Android app has a very similar design and is easy to operate. The iOS app is almost the same as the Android one, but lacks additional settings.

All in all, it is a very easy-to-use VPN on mobile apps as well. It can be a big plus for novice users but is kind of a drawback for advanced ones looking for more options to choose from. Watch out if you have other VPNs installed on your device because ZenMate can clash with them.

Take a look at a quick review of ZenMate apps’ features:

App Protocols Auto-connect
on start-up
Kill switch IPv6 leak blocking DNS leak protection
Windows OpenVPN,
IKEv2
Yes Yes Yes Yes
macOS IKEv2 Yes Yes No No
Android OpenVPN No Yes No No
iOS IKEv2 No Yes No No

Installation & Apps

8.2

Set-Up & Installation — Fast and Easy

Getting started with the ZenMate app is quick and easy. The only steps I had to follow were downloading the installation file from ZenMate’s website, double-clicking to start the installation,  and logging in.

I noticed there were helpful articles on the website to guide you through the installation process. I found it best to choose one of the “Getting started with ZenMate VPN client for…” articles with direct download links. A guide titled “Platforms that are compatible with ZenMate VPN” takes you to the main page instead of downloading the installation files, which isn't very useful.

Get Started With ZenMate Today!

Pricing

8.4
3 Years+3 Months FREE
$ 1.51 / month per month
1 Year
$ 4.49 / month per month
1 Month
$ 10.99 / month per month

ZenMate's pricing differs depending on the subscription period you choose. There are several options available: 1 month, 1 year, or 3 years. The 1-month option is quite pricey compared to other VPN providers, the 1-year option pricing is rather average, and the 3-year plan gives you an excellent deal. It looks like the company tries to push the customers towards the long-term plan. The price of a business plan depends on individual requirements.

ZenMate accepts several payment options, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Maestro, Diners Club, JCB, Discover, Giropay, Direct Debit, Sofort Banking, UnionPay, PayPal, and  bank transfer. ZenMate does not accept cryptocurrency payments; however, it does offer coupons and discount codes.

The desktop and mobile apps have a free 7-day trial period. According to the website, “Your Ultimate 7-day trial will automatically start as soon as your e-mail is confirmed, and since it's a free trial, no charge will appear on your end because you are not asked for any billing information at all”. You can check out the list of the best VPN free trials here.

The free version is quite limited and is available for the browser extensions only. If you want more advanced options or need a VPN for other devices, too, you can choose a paid subscription plan: Pro for browsers or Ultimate for all devices.

ZenMate offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you are not satisfied with the service provided, you can ask for a refund. It is a common practice, so don’t worry; there’s nothing crafty here.

Try ZenMate Today!

Reliability & Support

8.4

ZenMate offers many support options. In my opinion, after testing them all, the best and fastest one is 24/7 live chat. It is very easy to access; just click the blue support button at the bottom right corner of ZenMate’s website. The customer support agents are helpful and answer almost immediately. If they can’t answer your question, they offer to create a ticket for you and provide an answer via email a few hours later.

You can contact customer support through email by filling up the contact form on the website. It is a helpful tool as well. The agents usually reply within a few hours.

Another option is to look through the website's guides, although many are not updated and contain contradictory information. I think it’s easier to contact customer support on live chat or via email.

ZenMate’s support has improved recently; however, it still cannot compete with the best VPN providers’ service. It is outsourced to Zendesk, a third-party company responsible for customer relations. Having another party involved is not good for the users’ privacy.

Compare Zenmate VPN With The Top Alternative VPNs

The Bottom Line

Final Verdict

An affordable VPN with many good features, but limitations, too.  It is user-friendly and has a decent network size.

On the one hand, ZenMate lacks some privacy and advanced security options, but it has some useful tools, like its kill switch, malware blocker, and tracker protection.

  • 4,800 servers in 81 locations
  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • Offers a 30-day money-back guarantee
Money Back Guarantee (Days): 30
Mobile app:
Number of devices per license: Unlimited
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