ZenMate is a simple and user-friendly VPN. It will protect you at home and when using public WiFi. It has an extensive server network, with servers optimized for P2P and streaming services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+.
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).
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.
You have to look elsewhere if you need a VPN that works reliably in China, as ZenMate can’t bypass the restrictive Chinese firewall. However, customer support gave me some workaround tips that might work for strict censorship countries, like Saudi Arabia or Iran.
Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
- Competitive pricing and a free trial. Plus, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee. Learn more about it here.
- Unlimited simultaneous device connections. There are no annoying connection limits.
- Unblocks many streaming services, including Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. See my full streaming test results here.
- Easy to use with a decent sized, P2P-friendly server network. It has 4,200 servers in 70 countries , all of which scored well in my performance tests.
- Reliable customer support. You can read my full opinion here.
- Compatible with major operating systems. Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, Linux, and more.
- Fast speeds and unlimited bandwidth. There were only minor reductions on long-distance servers in my speed tests.
ZenMate Features — Updated in October 2021
|📆 Money Back Guarantee||30|
|📝 Does VPN keep logs?||No|
|🖥 Number of servers||4200|
|💻 Number of devices per license||Unlimited|
|🛡 Kill switch||Yes|
|🗺 Based in country||Germany|
|🛠 Support||24/7 Live Chat Support|
|📥 Supports torrenting||Yes|
ZenMate bypasses the geo-restrictions of many popular streaming services. It offers servers optimized for the following channels:
|6 Play||7 TV||Amazon Prime Video|
|Android TV (Germany, US)||ARD||BBC iPlayer|
|France TV||Globo||Globo SporTV|
|Netflix (DE, FR, IT, JP, US)||ORF||Rai Play|
|Rai Play Diretta||Servus TV||Sling TV|
ZenMate used to have a streaming guarantee, where it promised to discount your next renewal if there was an outage and you couldn’t choose your favorite streaming service from the comprehensive list. I could not find this guarantee anymore.
Unblocked: Netflix US and Other Local Libraries, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and More
I tried to bypass Netflix’s geo-restrictions using the servers that are optimized for Netflix. These give you the best chance because their IP addresses are updated more often to avoid Netflix’s VPN bans. They’re also slightly faster, which means you get less buffering.
I had no issues unblocking US Netflix and watching New Girl with little loading time and minor buffering. The speeds are good for streaming, especially when connected to nearby servers.
Accessing French and German Netflix through the optimized servers went very smoothly. I could not connect to the Italian server, though. I reached Netflix Japan, but it took me a while, and the buffering made watching quite annoying. You can see the list of best Netflix VPNs that work reliably here.
ZenMate offers 4 servers optimized for Amazon Prime Video in the US, Italy, UK, and France. I tried them all. The US server allowed me to watch The Boys, an Amazon Original series. I experienced some buffering at the beginning, but it was not a problem later on. The Italian, French, and UK servers worked well too.
I could not test BBC iPlayer and Disney+ by myself, so I reached out to customer support. They guaranteed that ZenMate can unblock BBC iPlayer with their streaming-optimized UK server. Two servers are optimized for streaming Disney+ in India and Italy. If you are a big Disney+ fan, check out the best VPNs to watch Disney+ anywhere.
Netflix and other streaming services constantly work to block VPN connections, so it is common for some servers to be blocked. In particular, BBC iPlayer is trying new sophisticated methods to block VPN connections; that’s why I was impressed that ZenMate can overcome them.
Blocked By: Amazon Fire TV, Hulu, ITV Hub, and Kodi
ZenMate does not offer servers optimized for streaming Hulu, Kodi, ITV Hub, or Amazon Fire Stick. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to unblock them with ZenMate, but it didn’t work for me. Having no Smart DNS tool or Amazon Fire TV app might be a drawback for you, too. Take a look here to check the best VPNs for Fire TV Stick instead.
There might be some workarounds, though; for example, you can use your Fire Stick if you install ZenMate on your router. ITV Hub might work while connected to the UK server. It should be fine using Kodi on a device that ZenMate has a native app for, like Windows or Android.
ZenMate has fast and consistent speeds on nearby and long-distance servers. It offers unlimited bandwidth, which means your speeds won’t be throttled when you’re downloading large files. 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, such as loading web pages and streaming. 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, video calling, 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 for online gaming and streaming 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|
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. That’s why it’s better to choose them for online gaming, streaming, and torrenting. ZenMate’s speed is good for streaming in SD, HD, live HD, and even for 4K UHD videos.
|Download speed (Mbps)||37.93 (2.72% decrease)|
|Upload speed (Mbps)||4.60 (10.51% decrease)|
|Average time to connect (sec)||4|
|Download speed (Mbps)||36.44 (6.55% decrease)|
|Upload speed (Mbps)||4.71 (8.37% decrease)|
|Average time to connect (sec)||4|
|Download speed (Mbps)||34.35 (11.91% decrease)|
|Upload speed (Mbps)||5.09 (0.98% decrease)|
|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. That might cause some slowdowns and buffering while streaming, but not to the extent it is entirely unwatchable. The ping might be a bit too high for online gaming, though.
|Download speed (Mbps)||28.82 (26.09% decrease)|
|Upload speed (Mbps)||1.29 (74.91% decrease)|
|Average time to connect (sec)||7|
|Download speed (Mbps)||36.64 (6.03% decrease)|
|Upload speed (Mbps)||4.79 (6.81% decrease)|
|Average time to connect (sec)||5|
|Download speed (Mbps)||35.20 (9.73% decrease)|
|Upload speed (Mbps)||4.84 (5.84% decrease)|
|Average time to connect (sec)||5|
Are ZenMate’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? Yes, If You Are Connected to a Nearby Server
Yes, ZenMate is fast enough for gaming (and it works on game consoles). If you are a gamer, it is good news that Zenmate works with consoles like Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox. However, setting Zenmate up on game consoles is a complicated process that requires advanced technical knowledge.
Before choosing a VPN provider, you should consider high latency and high ping on long-distance servers. ZenMate’s speeds are fast enough when connected to a nearby server but are too slow on faraway ones. A ping of of 100ms or below is considered suitable for online gaming. The ping on all of the European servers I tested was between 43 to 58ms, which is good for gaming.
While I was connected to the long-distance ZenMate’s servers, my ping ranged from 128 to 275. This is too high for a smooth gaming experience. If online gaming is on top of your priority list, check out the best VPNs for gaming here.
ZenMate’s server network is not the biggest compared to other top-rated VPN providers, but it is workable. It has 4,200 servers in 70 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. The great advantage is the physical presence of servers in some strict censorship countries like Turkey, the UAE, Russia, and Vietnam. That’s good news if you live there because you don’t have to compromise speed by logging into an international server. It lacks a server presence in Pakistan, though.
ZenMate’s server locations:
|Belgium||Bosnia & Herzegovina||Brazil|
|Isle of Man||Israel||Italy|
|Slovakia||South Africa||South Korea|
|Turkey||Ukraine||United Arab Emirates|
|United Kingdom||United States||Venezuela|
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”.
ZenMate uses virtual VPN server locations, too. That means that they are physically located in one country, but have an IP address of another. There are pros and cons of using virtual server locations, but the bottom line is that you should know where the servers you’re using are located. It should be accurately disclosed that the locations are virtual. I only came across this information because I wondered why ZenMate has servers in mainland China if its service is not available there. I asked customer support, and they told me these servers are virtual locations.
ZenMate is a secure VPN for all devices. However, it has better security options for Windows, Android, and Linux than macOS and iOS.
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. While TCP is more reliable, UDP is generally a better option for streaming and gaming.
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.
ZenMate offers a solution to protect against WebRTC leaks, too. This kind of leak can occur in web browsers and exposes your actual IP address. The ZenMate browser extension has a built-in WebRTC Protect feature, which, when enabled, guarantees your anonymity by disabling WebRTC. If you don’t have the ZenMate browser extension installed, the website prompts you to use the separate Chrome extension and provides a link, but I found that it doesn’t work.
The browser extension offers malware and tracking blocker features. These block malicious attacks and limit websites from recording your online activity.
The Android app has some extra features, too. Connecting to a random port, as well as domain fronting, is helpful to bypass censorship put in place ISPs and governments. The iOS app is more limited.
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.
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 doesn’t use obfuscation tools to bypass censorship. Obfuscated servers hide that you’re using a VPN to reroute your traffic and connect in heavily restrictive locations. Using obfuscation in these hostile environments is always a better option because it makes your browsing activity invisible to third parties. Its absence could be dangerous for you if you’re somewhere like China.
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.
Also, the TOR service doesn’t work with ZenMate’s network. You may wonder why to use a VPN with TOR if TOR allows you anonymous browsing itself. Well, your ISP knows when you use TOR. And while using it is not illegal, it has a bad reputation, and you might be listed as a suspicious user just for connecting to it. It’s better to use a VPN and avoid this.
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.
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.
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.
- 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?
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.
ZenMate’s servers support P2P, and apps like BitTorrent, uTorrent, Deluge, and Transmission.
Be aware, though, that torrenting copyrighted material is illegal, and in some places, torrenting at all is against the law. My team and I don’t condone unlawful torrenting, so be sure to check the rules and regulations in your country.
The speeds were fast enough to download large files. I connected to the US server and found a 1.5GB video file available in the public domain. With around 80 seeders available, the download was completed in 9 minutes. ZenMate also shows you how congested the servers are so that you can choose the fastest one based on the number of active users.
Most of the servers (60) are optimized for downloading. That means they are faster than others and will make your download experience more smooth. You can find them in the left panel of the desktop app’s interface, in the For Downloading tab.
Torrenting is only safe when using a secure VPN because it hides your actual IP address and geographic location from others in your swarm. ZenMate’s kill switch makes torrenting safer because if your VPN connection accidentally drops, it will not expose your IP address.
ZenMate does not work in China. I contacted a customer support agent, and he confirmed this for me. He mentioned that ZenMate’s team is looking into possible solutions to that issue, but cannot tell when it can be solved. If you plan on visiting China, don’t take any chances with ZenMate. This country is blocking VPNs, so make sure you have unlimited access before you arrive.
ZenMate is honest about its limitations and doesn’t sell the service in China. One of the articles in the support section of ZenMate’s website says: “Even if you are able to download the application in these countries, we strongly recommend that you do not sign up for a paid subscription. We are not responsible for the lack of service and are not liable to provide refunds. This applies to China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia”. You can check out the best, still working VPNs for China here.
In other countries with strict censorship, like Turkey, Pakistan, and the UAE, the access is either wholly blocked or depends on the internet service provider (ISP). I could experience it myself — in Turkey, ZenMate works just fine when I use Turkcell ISP, but Turksat Kablonet blocks my connection.
The customer support agent informed me that currently, ZenMate doesn’t work in Pakistan but connecting through the browser extension might allow me to use a VPN there. In my opinion, ZenMate could be more effective in overcoming censorship if it invested in some obfuscation tools or the SoftEther option.
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, even when I was streaming, torrenting, and browsing at the same time.
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”.
ZenMate supports all major operating systems and devices. Here is the full list:
|iOS||Linux||Android Smart TV|
|Amazon Fire TV||Nintendo Wii||PlayStation|
|Xbox||Apple TV||Firestick TV|
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 70 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:
|Kill switch||IPv6 leak blocking||DNS leak protection|