Windscribe Review

WindscribeVPN is rated 11th out of 78 VPNs on TheBestVPN.com

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Canadian Windscribe is a good alternative for U.S. based VPN providers or for someone who wants to use their free VPN plan that comes with 10GB session bandwidth (per month).

Their server network performance isn’t fast as ExpressVPN or NordVPN, but they do offer industry standard OpenVPN tunneling protocol with 256-bit AES encryption.

Despite being relatively new VPN service, their Chrome extension, which provides free proxy access to users, has already been used by over 900,000 people.

Here’s everything we liked, disliked, and outright hated.

WindscribeVPN Overview

OVERALL RANK:#11 out of 78 VPNs
USABILITY:Easy to use
LOG FILES:No Logging Policy
LOCATIONS:58 countries, 480+ servers
SUPPORT:Service Bots with often unhelpful answers
TORRENTING:Limited Torrenting
NETFLIX:Yes 2/5
ENCRYPTION/PROTOCOL:256-bit AES, OpenVPN and more
COST:$9.00/mo or $4.08/mo (yearly)
OFFICIAL WEBSITE:www.windscribe.com

WindscribeVPN Pros :-

Windscribe has excellent device compatibility. Their encryption and protocol options are strong. The app was very user-friendly. Torrenting allowed (albeit, slightly limited).

And their Netflix-specific servers worked brilliantly.

Here’s what we loved about their service.

1. Strong Privacy & Encryption Features

Windscribe supports the best VPN protocols known to man (and women), including OpenVPN, IKEv2, TCP, UDP, and SOCKS5 protocols.

Curiously, the IKEv2 protocol is used by default, despite OpenVPN being the industry standard. (So you might want to make a mental note to switch back over ASAP when you start using it.)

The reasoning is because you’ll get access to best-in-class AES-256 cipher encryption (with SHA512 auth and a 4096-bit RSA key) for their desktop apps, and AES_128_GCM cipher for their browser extensions. These technical details will have security professionals salivating.

If you’re not a security professional, just realize that these basically mean “really f-ing secure.”

No known hacks have occurred at either end of this encryption spectrum.

But let’s not stop there.

Because all of the encryption in the world won’t protect you from the very VPN service you’re using. Many of the shady ones log your data. Or they use it to sell to the highest advertising bidder.

That’s not acceptable here.

So to verify, we dug through the snooze-worthy details and discovered that Windscribe does not keep any logs.

They do collect a few details.

This includes about a month’s worth of bandwidth to keep free users in check. Otherwise, they will also keep your OpenVPN username, server, connection time, and amount of data transferred for about three minutes.

Otherwise, their terms are pretty standard an in-line with the rest of the VPN market. No secrets or fine print that might come back to haunt you in the end.

2. No Leaks, No Viruses = Safe to Use

DNS and WebRTC leaks give users a false sense of security.

You don’t actually know they exist. You have no way of knowing when they occur.

The only way to spot them is to actively check the IP address your client is showing, with the one that each test actually sees.

The two better match.

Because if not, it means that everyone else observing this connection can also see where you’re truly located.

Windscribe’s leak tests show up under the Pros column for a good reason:

No leaks detected across five tests.

WebRTC leak test result:

IP leak test result:

DNS leak test result:

Leak test result 5

Just to triple check, we also ran their installation files through VirusTotal.com to make sure you weren’t exposing your devices to any other hidden, malicious software.

These tests also came out clean. Three cheers for Windscribe.

3. Windflix Feature to Bypass Netflix Restrictions

Windscribe’s normal servers won’t work with Netflix (we got zero out of three when testing).

That’s not uncommon when you’re working with a VPN service. Netflix is the VPN world’s number one foe. It wasn’t always so. In the beginning, unblocking Netflix content was one of the major benefits to using a VPN. The streaming giant geo-locks its content, country by country. Someone in Japan would have a wildly different Netflix library than someone in Canada, for instance.

Initially, this was not an issue. Someone in Canada would simply connect to their VPN, select a server in Japan, and WHAMMO, they’re binging Japanese Netflix content.

Eventually, someone at Netflix caught wind of this, and they were not happy. The company fought back against VPNs, deploying one of the world’s most intuitive VPN detection services. Now, when VPN users try to access their favorite shows from around the world, they are met with the Netflix black screen of doom.

When you can find a VPN that unblocks Netflix, it’s a happy day, indeed. That’s why we’ve dedicated an entire page of our site to VPNs that work with Netflix. Thankfully, Windscribe is on that list, despite our initial failure.

That’s because Windscribe has a number of special “Windflix” servers. Some of these actually manage to work with Netflix, but not all.

There are four Windflix servers currently. They are located in the United States, UK, Canada, and Japan. We tested all four of them and got some encouraging results.

Three Windflix servers we tried worked perfectly.

  • WINDFLIX US (New York – Radiohall)
  • WINDFLIX UK (London – The Tube)
  • WINDFLIX JP (Tokyo – Kaiju)

Unfortunately, the Canadian Windflix server did not work with Netflix when we last tested it in August of 2019.

The bottom line is, you can stream Netflix using Windscribe. In order to be successful, you have to use the right Netflix-compatible Windflix server. (Just not the Canadian one.)

4. Torrenting is Allowed

A VPN can help safeguard torrenting sessions, creating that impenetrable tunnel around your internet connection to keep you safe.

But a VPN won’t do you any good if it doesn’t work allow restriction-free use.

Some are starting to discourage or ban torrenting to make sure they don’t fall into any issues with DMCA complaints. Others will offer torrenting servers, but only a handful of them at best.

Where does Windscribe fall?

Technically, the allow it. Here’s a statement from their FAQ page regarding torrenting:

They also have tutorials on how to configure the following torrent clients:

  • uTorrent
  • Deluge
  • qBittorrent
  • VUZE

However, not all of their servers support torrenting.

This comes down to the individual countries, and their stance on digital copyrights.

So yes, you can use Windscribe to lock-down torrenting sessions. But have a run through their servers, first, to make sure you can find some P2P-friendly ones that are relatively close to you.

5. Supports Multiple Devices Across Most Platforms

This might be one of Windscribe’s best aspects.

They have built-in apps for almost every platform imaginable.

That includes the basics, like Windows, Macs, iOS, and Linux. But it also extends to browsers with Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Plus, they’ll also throw in a few smart TV apps for Amazon, Nvidia Shield, and Kodi.

Oh, and you can connect unlimited devices, too.

Pretty awesome, right?

They’re also compatible with routers, however, this will involve a few manual steps to go through the standard OpenVPN option as a workaround.

You can also connect gaming consoles through these routers. Otherwise, there are no pre-built options to point, click, and install.

Finally, Windscribe works with TOR but only through the standalone app and not through the VPN’s browser extensions.

6. User-Friendly App

We downloaded Windscribe apps on both Windows and Android devices.

When you’re first downloading the app on a desktop computer, you’ll be taken to a download page which features the multitude of platform options available to Windscribe users.

For the purposes of this review, we selected the Windows desktop app. Before the download can actually begin, you’ll be asked what kind of installation you want.

The Express Installation is recommended. It allows you to install the VPN client without having to micromanage all of the little decisions, trusting Windscribe’s default settings.

This is ideal for someone who is new to VPN use and just wants a quick and easy installation. If you choose a custom installation, you’ll be in control of all the minutiae of the install process. If you’re a seasoned pro and you are very particular about your computer and how programs are installed, take the extra time to personalize your installation.

I chose the express installation. I timed the process and it clocked in at 9.2 seconds from the time I clicked to the time the VPN opened on my computer screen.

After the VPN was installed, I created my account. This was also straightforward. Select a username and a password and you’re good to go. You don’t even have to enter an email address if you’re concerned about privacy.

The account dashboard is your next stop. Here, you can review your account information, upgrade your service, and access some additional features like R.O.B.E.R.T., a malware and ad blocking service, or port forwarding.

The VPN client is simple and small. As you can see in the image below, there’s not a lot of over complicated elements to sift through.

On the righthand side is a large circular button. This is the button you click in order to connect with the Windscribe service. They made it large and centralized so you can’t possibly miss it. 

On the bottom is their firewall feature. You can toggle it off and on via a button on the bottom right. The firewall acts as a kill switch feature, ending your session if it is threatened by leaks. When you connect to the service, the firewall is immediately turned on. You won’t be able to access the internet during the few seconds it takes to connect.

You’ll find the server list on the lefthand side. When you click on it, you’ll access a drop-down menu that lets you choose any of the 66 countries that have Windscribe servers. You can expand each country to choose the server of your choice, or click on the country itself to let Windscribe select one for you.

When you’re disconnected from the Windscribe service, the entire app is colored in gray. Once you connect successfully, you’ll see that it changes to blue, like in the image below.

Connecting was a breeze, taking only a few short seconds. Once I was in, I was able to freely use the internet and change servers at will.

Next up, we installed the 12.30MB Google Play file on an Android and were up-and-running in no time.

Our most recent test of the desktop app showed an experience consistent with what we saw the last time we checked it out. However, when it comes to the mobile app, they’ve clearly done a lot of work.

Here is an image of what the mobile app looked like when we first reviewed Windscribe.

Here it is in August of 2019.

That’s a pretty big difference. But the changes are more than just aesthetic.

When we first tried out this service, the mobile app was only able to access 56 of Windscribe’s servers. Now, it has full access to all 155 service areas in all 66 countries.

Much like with the desktop client, Windscribe’s mobile app turns blue when you’re connected.

Another cool feature is that the flag in the header image changes based on which country you’re connected to. Look what happens when you connect to a Canadian server.

Overall, usability was smooth and there were no major issues, lags, or crashes with either app.

Windscribe Cons :-

Windscribe is slow.

Support useless.

And they’re a bit pricey.

Especially when you don’t have access to all of the servers you’re supposed to have access to.

Confused about that last part? Don’t be.

I’ll explain it all over the next few sections.

1. Canadian Jurisdiction Inside Five Eyes

Windscribe is located in Toronto, Canada.

Canada is a founding member of the 5-eyes jurisdiction that dates back to World War II. Not great by itself. But even worse when you consider that this alliance means both the U.S. and UK can get their grubby hands on your personal data.

And Windscribe would have no option but to comply if forced.

The chances are slim, no doubt.

But there is a chance.

So that’s a risk you need to be comfortable living with.

2. Slows Down Your Internet Connection to Less Than 50%

Windscribe’s server performance placed them towards the bottom third of our rankings at 51 (out of 78).

This ranking was the direct result of a combined server score.

First, we take our benchmark reading to see what an unencumbered internet connection looks like. Here was ours:

Second, we start connecting to Windscribe servers across the world to get an average reading. Here’s what we found.

United States

  • Ping: 140ms.
  • Download: 29.74 Mbps (70% slower).
  • Upload: 2.07 Mbps (96% slower).

Europe (UK)

  • Ping: 46ms.
  • Download: 17.25 Mbps (82% slower).
  • Upload: 4.86 Mbps (91% slower).

EUROPA (EU)

  • Ping: 92ms.
  • Download: 42.97 Mbps (56% slower).
  • Upload: 5.12 Mbps (90% slower).

Windscribe’s servers were consistently slow across the board. The upload speeds were especially atrocious, slowing speeds over 90% in each case. We even used a “Premium” account for these speeds!

You shouldn’t have to sacrifice the performance up to 90%. And you don’t have to, either, when there are all-around options like ExpressVPN and Astrill available.

3. Not All Of The 480+ Servers Are Active

Ok. Here’s where the server discrepancy comes back into play.

According to official records, Windscribe has access to 480+ servers in over 50 countries.

Not bad.

It’s nothing compared to the 2,000+ from ExpressVPN, the 3,200+ servers from Private Internet Access, or even the 5,200+ servers from NordVPN.

But a total server network count around ~500 is respectable. It means you should have plenty of options to easily find fast servers at a moment’s notice.

That is if they’re all available.

Which, for some strange reason, isn’t the case with Windscribe’s servers.

Check it out:

Huh?

That image is on their website.

It shows New Zealand as a server location. Yet zero out of zero servers are available.

So in reality, you’re only getting access to a fraction of the servers being promoted.

This, in addition to the already-limited number available to mobile devices (vs. desktop), make Windscribe’s server numbers seem unreliable at best, or an outright lie at worst.

4. Questionable Support (Using Bots)

Some VPN companies still live in the Stone Age of customer support.

They only offer FAQs, forums, or ticket-based systems that can take days to get a response.

Windscribe, in comparison, features a chatbot.

Awesome!

Finally, a simple, fast way to get easy questions answered.

We were pretty excited to ask “Garry” about that odd zero server number under New Zealand.

Here was his response:

Um. Ok?

Didn’t really answer our question.

And unfortunately, “Garry” never did. He/they just kept repeating irrelevant answers that didn’t line up exactly with the question we were asking.

Useless.

From there, we had to travel back in time by reaching out through a support ticket.

Ten hours later, we got this response:

GARRY! IS THAT U?!

Another automated, irrelevant answer. This time from Arthur, King of the Britons.

Yes, I get the reference. No, it doesn’t make me feel any better. Besides, Windscribe is a Canadian company. So the damn reference doesn’t even make any sense.

Seeing as we’re complete masochists, we sent yet another follow-up question. This one took 20 hours for a response.

Ugh.

Don’t. Even. Bother.

Windscribe VPN Cost, Plans & Payment Methods

Windscribe has three paid plans.

The monthly one falls around the middle of what you’d expect at $9 monthly. Whereas the annual plan offers a massive discount of over 55%+.

The Yearly Plan is $4.08/month and last but not least the “Build a Plan” option costs $1.00 per location used.

Payment options include PayPal, Credit Card, and Bitcoin.

If you’re unhappy for any reason, you can request a refund.

BUT, and this is a big but:

  • You have to request the refund within three days of purchasing a plan
  • And you can’t use more than 10BG of bandwidth during that time

This is a pretty terrible refund policy, to be honest.

If you have any doubts, don’t sign up. Instead, go forward with their free option for a little bit before committing. Because once you’ve paid, your money is basically gone.

Just keep in mind that the free option only allows access to 14 server locations and 10BG of data each month.

Also, don’t be naive.

Free VPNs‘ come with their own risks. Lots of them.

So buyer beware.

Do We Recommend Windscribe?

No. I don’t recommend buying it.

Windscribe is a pretty good choice if being Netflix-friendly is at the top of your list.

Their protocols, encryption, and logging policy are also legit. And we loved the platform compatibility.

But there are a lot of other troubling signs we experienced.

Server speeds were consistently slow for starters. And that’s a bad sign if you’re trying to stream Netflix movies. Netflix and Chill would be more like Netflix and I’m going home now.

Then, there were more pressing concerns.

A Toronto homebase doesn’t bode well for keeping your private information private, either.

And customer support was utterly useless. (Come at me Garry.)

Windscribe’s pricing doesn’t do you any favors, either. They’re at the high end of the spectrum, despite not having access to ‘all’ of their servers.

To top it all off, the refund policy is only that in the name. No way you’re getting money back unless you walk an incredibly fine line for 72 hours.

If you want cheap, there are loads of cheaper VPN options out there.

Otherwise, just start at the top of this list and work your way down.

Add your own review:

Have you ever used Windscribe before? If so, what was your experience like? I’m always interested to hear what other enthusiasts have to say about the VPNs that I review! Let me know below.

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