Windscribe claims it’s not like other VPNs. It takes pride in being self-funded and avoiding paid ads and affiliate deals. Plus, its free plan is one of the most popular, but does its premium subscription compare to the top VPNs?
To find out, I tested every feature Windscribe has. That included performing leak tests, speed checks, and exploring its streaming capabilities with free and paid plans. I also thoroughly investigated its no-logging claims.
After my tests, I highly recommend trying the free app. It’s one of the fastest and safest free VPNs available. However, the paid version isn’t perfect. This is because support is a little tough to get a hold of, and the server network is a bit small. You can check out one of the best VPNs available today in this list.
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Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
Windscribe VPN Features — 2023 Update
Money Back Guarantee
Does VPN keep logs?
Number of servers
Based in country
Streaming — Its Paid Version is One of the Best9.4
Windscribe unblocked every streaming platform I tested, and the playback was always excellent. I was especially impressed that this was true even while using the free version. It works so well because Windscribe uses a proprietary spoofing technology (called Location Warp) that helps mask your IP, so you can access geo-restricted streaming platforms.
However, the data limit means you won't be able to stream for long if you have a free account. You can get 10GB of data monthly if you confirm your email address (and an extra 5 Mbps when tweeting about the VPN). Still, this will only get you around 7 hours of HD streaming. So, if you want a VPN for binge-watching your favorite shows, Windscribe's paid account is difficult to beat.
Unblocked: Netflix, Disney+, Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer
Windscribe can access several entire Netflix libraries. I only found one server (Tokyo Kaiju) that couldn't unblock more than just Originals. Netflix Originals is a version of the site that only has the content Netflix owns, so there are many region-blocked movies and shows you can't watch.
I could also access entire libraries in Australia, Brazil, Japan, the UK, France, and Canada
Most videos loaded almost instantly, with no buffering or quality issues. The longest I had to wait for a video to start was with the Sao Paulo server, which is far from where I live. However, it only took 8 seconds, so it wasn’t a big deal.
Max can be tough to unblock, but Windscribe did it easily. I was able to watch it on my first attempt with no troubleshooting. I never had to switch from the default protocol (WireGuard) in my tests.
It loaded in a few seconds and playback was perfect, even when I skipped around
I was also able to access Disney+ and Hulu. After testing around for a while, I did find one server that was blocked by Hulu (Dallas BBQ). But that’s very impressive. It’s rare I use a VPN where I have to search around to find a server that gets detected.
I didn’t experience buffering, long load times, or any dips in quality
Amazon Prime Video worked too, but it took a while to load my movie. I had to wait 20 seconds for Three Thousand Years of Longing to get started. I also got blocked by BBC iPlayer with the Edinburgh server, but a London location unblocked it in my next test.
In addition, I could unblock All 4, ITV, DAZN, and even use it with Kodi. Overall, Windscribe is a great choice for streaming, and I’m impressed you can watch each of these platforms for a brief amount of time with a free account.
Speed — Very Fast on Free and Premium Servers9.0
Windscribe has the fastest free servers I’ve tested, and paid servers are impressive too. You’ll get great speeds on the vast majority of Windscribe’s servers even when they’re far away.
We use a dedicated speed tester to get our results. That way, all of the tests are done from the same location with the same connection. The chart below shows you results from the free servers. However, we got comparable speeds with paid servers.
I lost 4% of my speed on nearby servers and 29% on distant ones
There is also a Best Location option, but Windscribe is so fast it doesn’t really make a difference. In our tests, just about every server under 4,000 km away dropped our speeds less than 5%. That’s a great result because most VPNs lower your speeds by 15% at least in that range.
Speeds were just a little slower with IKEv2 and OpenVPN UDP
The only issue is some protocols are very slow. Our tester even lost 100% of her speed with several servers using OpenVPN TCP, Wstunnel, and Stealth. My tests weren’t as bad, but I did lose 93% of my speed while testing my closest location with TCP. And the Stealth protocol lowered my speeds by 75% or more each time.
It also has a few select 10GBPS servers, but there wasn’t much difference in our tests. There were even a few cases where regular servers were faster.
Since there was only 1 free server over 6,000 km from our tester, I did a few more tests with distant servers. Auckland, New Zealand is almost 12,000 km from where I live, but it only dropped my speeds by 24%. Most VPNs drop your speed by around 70% or more when the server is that far away, so Windscribe has some of the best long distance speeds I’ve seen.
Overall, you won’t easily find a faster free VPN than Windscribe. It could even be one of the fastest premium VPNs someday, but for now, there are just too many slow protocols.
Gaming — Too Much Lag for Online Play6.0
Even though my ping was low, I still had glitchy gameplay while connected to Windscribe. Ping is very important during gaming. It tells you how long it takes the network to respond to your commands. When it’s high, the lag between your button presses and your character’s actions makes games unplayable.
I’ve never tested a VPN that lets you game on long-distance servers
I only had a ping rate of 27 ms during my test. That’s great because you can usually play with minimal lag if you’re at 85 ms or under. But despite that, the game kept on freezing and stuttering. There was such a long gap between clicking the mouse and seeing my character fire that I continuously lost.
There are several VPNs that can keep you safe while you’re enjoying games. Check out this list of the best VPNs for gaming to find one that lets you play without lag.
Server Network — Good Coverage for a Small Network7.4
Windscribe doesn’t have the largest network, but it gives you locations in 69 countries with 112 cities. Actually, all of Windscribe’s servers are city-level, and there are 45 different locations in the US, which tops what many of the most popular VPNs offer.
All of Windscribe’s servers are physically located as well. That means they’re actually in the city you connect to. Some VPNs offer virtual servers, which are located somewhere else.
It also uses some rented servers while it owns others. Unfortunately, the company doesn’t disclose a lot about its network, including the exact number of servers it owns. It did claim to have 177 in the past.
The list also displays which servers are 10GBPS and which are recommended for P2P
I also like that Windscribe lets you access several countries many VPNs neglect, like Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Turkey. You can also purchase static IP addresses, which are helpful if you need a consistent, encrypted IP to operate a website.
The free service lets you use the Hong Kong location, 10 US servers, and 8 European countries. For free and premium apps, Western Europe and North America have the most coverage. One small issue is it can take a while to connect on distant servers. But overall, Windscribe’s network is slightly above average due to its features.
Security — Plenty of Solid Features That Keep You Safe9.4
Windscribe is very safe, and it comes with military-grade AES 256-bit encryption which makes your data virtually unreadable.
It also lets you turn on IPv6 and WebRTC leak protection
Its whitelisting feature can automatically activate the VPN. I love this because I often forget to turn on a VPN when using public networks. You can also access your home network remotely with port forwarding, but only if you pay extra for a static IP ($2/month for Datacentre and $8/month for Residential) .
In addition to the features listed below, it offers some additional obfuscation options like Time Warp and Location Warp. There’s also double hop, secure hotspot, all the protocols mentioned in the speeds section, and tons of highly technical options. These are things like packet size, API resolution, and more. They’re not especially important for most people, but big time tech nerds will appreciate them.
Split tunneling lets you choose which apps or websites move through the VPN tunnel. This can be helpful if you want to stream foreign content while still being able to access local services (like your banking app).
R.O.B.E.R.T. (Ad Blocker)
This is a very customizable tool that serves as Windscribe’s ad and malware blocker. It does even more with the premium app. It will let you block social networks, porn, gambling, clickbait, and more. It’s a nice addition, although some things like native banner ads would still show up occasionally even with it activated.
Firewall (Kill Switch)
Windscribe calls its dedicated kill switch Firewall, and it works as advertised. This feature will disable the network when your VPN connection drops, so you don’t leak any data. To test it, I tried to open a tab while the VPN was connecting. It always blocked the page until the connection was complete. This is a necessary feature every VPN needs to have.
Privacy — A Great Policy With a Few Minor Issues9.0
I can recommend Windscribe as a private VPN because it follows a strict no-logs policy. You’re not even required to enter your email address when signing up. This is pretty rare and makes its free option one of the safest around.
Windscribe also offers transparency reports which verify its policy. These let you see any time there have been DMCA requests for its data, and they show that Windscribe has never shared anything.
Does Windscribe Keep Logs? No
Your IP address, the sites you’ve visited, and timestamps for your VPN sessions aren’t collected. Windscribe only stores anonymous data that’s necessary for maintaining the service. While you're in a session, the server's memory will have your OpenVPN/IKEv2 username, the time of connection, and the amount of data transferred. All of this is deleted as soon as you disconnect.
This was actually put to the test when Windscribe’s servers were seized in Ukraine in 2021. Thankfully, there was nothing on any of the servers, which showed Windscribe backs up its privacy claims.
Was Windscribe Audited? Yes
According to Windscribe’s website, the VPN’s desktop app has been audited and open-sourced, along with the mobile apps. However, Windscribe didn’t state who performed the audits. I hope it will be more transparent about this in the future, following the example of the best premium providers.
Based in Canada
Canada is not the best location for a VPN’s headquarters because it’s in the 5 Eyes Alliance. This is an agreement between several countries to share data on their citizens. Luckily, the VPN doesn’t store any data that could compromise its users. Still, if privacy is crucial to you, there are many VPNs headquartered in more privacy-friendly countries.
Does Windscribe Work in China? Yes
You can use Windscribe in China. Support has claimed that it will work in just about any country.
The Hong Kong server is slow, so you may need to try another one
The only issue here is it’s recommended that you use the Stealth protocol, which seriously reduces speeds. If you’re looking for a faster option in China, you can check out these VPNs that can all get past the Great Firewall.
The Chinese government has banned many VPNs, but it rarely goes after people for using them. However, my team and I don’t condone any illegal activities. I suggest you read the laws before deciding to use a VPN in China.
Torrenting — Fast Downloads on Most Servers9.0
You can torrent on nearly every Windscribe server, and it hardly slowed me down at all. The only servers you can’t use are located in India, Lithuania, Russia, and South Africa.
I tested it out with uTorrent (it works with all major torrenting clients), downloading a 1.62 GB file. I can finish this in about 5 minutes with no VPN connected. While on Windscribe’s Bend Oregon Trail server, I could complete the file in only 7 and a half minutes. That’s impressive as some VPNs increase my wait time with this file by up to an hour.
While Windscribe does offer support for port forwarding, it is not a mandatory requirement. Although this feature can potentially facilitate slightly faster downloads, it doesn't make a significant difference due to Windscribe's inherent speed. Furthermore, it's worth noting that Windscribe is compatible with TOR, despite the absence of mention on its official website.
Just be aware that torrenting is legal in most countries, but accessing copyrighted files isn’t. You should only download torrents in the public domain to be sure you don’t break any laws.
Installation & Apps
Windscribe is easy to use although its interface isn’t the most attractive. I never had any issues connecting to servers or accessing the settings, but it’s missing some of the eye candy its competitors offer like interactive maps.
There are 4 settings tabs along with tabs for your account and tips
However, it makes up for this with tons of customization options. You’ll have a tough time finding a VPN that lets you tweak more aspects of your app, so that’s a big plus if you’re a techie.
Setup & Installation
It only took me a few minutes to install Windscribe, no matter what device I was using. You can download it from Windscribe’s website for desktop, and you’ll use the proper store on mobile devices.
This can also be done on a phone by visiting your device’s app store
The Linux app can be downloaded just as fast too since it offers a full GUI. That means you won’t have to control it through the command line, which can be a little clunky. I like that the free version is available for Linux too since many VPNs don’t offer that.
Windscribe gives you a way to connect to its servers on nearly any device. There are native apps for every popular OS. Its proxy gateway feature also gives you an easy way to connect game consoles and smart TVs. There are plenty of options for setting it up on a router, so you can use it on anything connected to your network. So, it rivals the best VPNs in this category.
Desktop — Apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux
Each desktop app is similar with a few key differences. The Windows app comes with everything Windscribe offers except for the Network Whitelisting feature. The Mac app is missing the always on feature, and split tunneling.
Android and iPhone (iOS)
Mobile apps are almost the same as desktop versions, but they each lose a few features. The Android app misses out on the very crucial kill switch. You’ll get that on iOS, but that app doesn’t come with network white listing, split tunneling, the Stealth protocol, or the always on option. Neither phone version lets you access proxy settings either.
Browser Extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge
Overall, I’m impressed by Windscribe’s browser extensions. These come with many features other VPNs don’t offer. You can use all of the same servers you use on the other apps, plus double hop. It can also automatically pick the best server for you, block ads, and prevent WebRTC leaks.
What I liked most is the Cookie Monster feature that automatically deletes all the cookies you’ve accepted as soon as you close the tab. Another unique Windscribe feature is Split Personality, which randomly rotates your user agent to hide your OS and browser version.
These extensions are very popular, especially because they can easily be used for free. However, you just need to remember they’re only proxies. That means they don’t fully encrypt your connection, so you’re always safer using the full app.
Apps for Amazon Fire TV & Nvidia Shield
You can download native apps for Fire TV and Nvidia Shield. These don’t look quite the same as the other apps, but they get the job done and even offer split tunneling. This lets you choose which of your televisions’ apps use the VPN tunnel.
There are no apps for game consoles, but you can connect them easily. This can be done with the proxy gateway feature. Basically, this lets you connect any device with proxy settings through your computer. It’s easy to set up, but it can be a little slower than smart DNS due to the rerouting.
Windscribe does offer smart DNS, but it charges extra. Since many VPNs offer this along with your subscription, I don’t recommend paying for it.
You can install Windscribe on DD WRT, Asus, and Tomato routers. It also sells its own Invizbox pre-configured routers. Setting it up on a router lets you connect any WiFi-enabled device in your household. However, you can find VPNs that offer more robust router options here.
Simultaneous Device Connections
You can connect as many devices as you want with a free or paid account. This is a great feature; almost no free VPNs offer Unlimited simultaneous connections. I tested it out by connecting it to my Fire TV Stick, 2 laptops, and my Android phone. Its speeds were just as fast even when I streamed on all 4 devices.
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