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Windscribe Free Review

By Simon Migliano | Updated September 10, 2019

This score is calculated using our 10-step testing process.

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Ranked #42 out of 74 VPNs

Windscribe Free screenshot

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Windscribe’s Free VPN claims to offer a “generous” free service for those “on a tight budget”, but is it possible to offer a premium product at absolutely no cost?

We put the free version of Windscribe through its paces in order to discover:

  • Why is Windscribe free?
  • How secure is Windscribe VPN?
  • Does Windscribe have a kill switch?
  • Is Windscribe good for torrenting?
  • Does Windscribe hide your IP?

We reveal the answers to all of these, along with lots of other important questions, in our full-length VPN review.

This review is just for the free version of Windscribe VPN. You can check out our review of the full, premium version of Windscribe here.

Overview

Windscribe Free Pros & Cons

  1. Reliable local download speeds
  2. Good selection of servers
  3. Strong logging policy
  4. Extremely easy to use
  5. Available on lots of devices
  1. Data usage is capped
  2. Could be better for streaming

Windscribe Free Key Summary

Top Download Speed54Mbps
Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
IP, DNS or WebRTC LeaksNo
JurisdictionCanada (Five-Eyes Member)
ServersNot disclosed
IP AddressesNot disclosed
Countries10
US NetflixNo
TorrentingUnlimited
Works in ChinaUnreliable
SupportEmail & Online Resources Only
Official WebsiteWindscribe.com

Read on to find our more details about Windscribe Free, as well as the results of our in-depth VPN testing.

About & Logging Policy

Who is Windscribe Free?

Windscribe was founded in 2016 in Ontario, Canada, and it still has its headquarters there today.

Usually this would be far from an ideal location for a VPN service, as Canada is part of the Five Eyes data-sharing alliance. However, thanks to Windscribe’s minimal logging policy, however, this isn’t really a concern at all.

There’s so little data retained by Windscribe that even if it were forced to turn over its logs by the government there would be nothing to see.

Logging Policy

Windscribe’s VPN logging policy is good, as it outlines in no uncertain terms just how little is truly collected. It only collects:

  • The amount of data transferred in a 30-day period
  • Timestamp of your last VPN connection

These figures are reset at the start of every month.

When you’re actively connected to one of Windscribe’s VPN servers, the server temporarily stores:

  • Your OpenVPN/IKEv2 username
  • Time of connection
  • Amount of data transferred

Once you end your Windscribe session, the VPN connection information is deleted.

This information is only collected to ensure Windscribe’s service can operate smoothly and with as few issues as possible – none of it can be used to trace your online activity back to you.

Speed & Reliability

Local speeds approaching 30Mbps

Despite the high percentage speed loss, for a free VPN service, Windscribe’s speeds are still very promising – even if they don’t quite match up to the premium version of Windscribe.

Windscribe Free’s performance is less consistent when connecting out (from London, UK) to the US and Canada, though.

Overall the speeds we recorded with Windscribe Free were good, although if minimal speed loss is fundamental to your needs then you may want to consider Hotspot Shield VPN instead.

Speed results from our physical location in London (100Mbps fibre optic connection) to a London test server.

Before using Windscribe Free:

  1. DownloadMbps

    98

  2. UploadMbps

    86

  3. Pingms

    10

When connected to Windscribe Free:

  1. DownloadMbps

    28

  2. UploadMbps

    29

  3. Pingms

    17

Download speed without Windscribe Free: 98Mbps

Download speed with Windscribe Free: 28Mbps

Our download speed loss when Windscribe Free is running: 71%

Windscribe Free’s upload speeds were, in most cases, even quicker than its download speeds, making it a good choice for torrenting (be aware of the data cap, though). Same-country latency of 18ms isn’t ideal for lag-free gaming, however.

Connecting out to the US from the UK you can expect speeds of just over 20Mbps, which isn’t bad at all. Windscribe’s European speeds are largely similar to those we measured in the UK.

Thankfully, just like its paid counterpart, Windscribe Free was pretty consistent and speeds didn’t tend to change much from one test to the next. We also didn’t experience any connection drops during our tests.

We currently test speeds using the OpenVPN protocol, as this is widely available among VPN services and therefore helps us maintain a high level of consistency in our results.

It should be noted, however, that Windscribe’s apps default on startup to IKEv2, which it claims is the best protocol, so you could see slightly faster speeds if you connect this way.

If you’d like to know more about how we test VPN performance, take a look at our VPN speed testing methodology.

Server Locations

Servers in 22 cities spread over 10 countries

Globe with a blue flag10Countries
Image of a city landscape22Cities
Image of a pink markerUndisclosed number ofIP Addresses

Considering that this is a free version of the premium Windscribe VPN service, the 10 server countries provided is a very good start, but it’s Windscribe’s city-specific server choice that really impressed us.

The ‘US East’ location, for example, allows you to pick between Windscribe’s VPN servers in Chicago, New York and Washington DC, plus two in Miami.

There are two city-level options each in the US Central (Atlanta & Dallas), US West (Los Angeles & Seattle) and UK locations, too.

Windscribe Free connection settings

Sadly, Windscribe doesn’t have any server options available in South America, Africa or Australia, and the entirety of Asia is funneled through one VPN server in Hong Kong. There’s also no indication of exactly how many VPN servers or IP addresses it operates, which is disappointing.

If you want access to servers in those locations, plus dozens more, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version of Windscribe VPN.

Streaming & Torrenting

Won’t work with streaming but torrenting is allowed

A mixture of good and bad, this is where Windscribe Free VPN most shows its deficiencies compared to the paid version.

Windscribe’s streaming servers (known as ‘Windflix’) are reserved for paid users, so it’s hardly a surprise that we haven’t been able to watch Netflix for  a while.

BBC iPlayer is also difficult to stream, and we weren’t able to access it in our most recent tests. We’ve has more luck streaming through Windscribe’s browser proxy, though, but this doesn’t offer the same kind of security as the full VPN.

There’s no information in Windscribe’s FAQs about accessing streaming services, nor was ‘Garry’ the live chat bot very helpful, so it’s a case of checking back regularly to see if the situation changes.

If streaming is very important to you then you should really think about using a paid VPN service. Check out our best VPNs for streaming, or alternatively take a closer look at our overall best VPN, ExpressVPN.

Torrenting

Torrenting worked well for us in testing, and appears to be permitted on the majority of Windscribe Free’s VPN servers, which is great. Torrenters will also benefit from Windscribe’s kill switch feature, DNS leak protection and solid privacy policy.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that Windscribe is our current favorite free VPN for torrenting. The 10GB monthly data cap will always be a limiting factor here, though.

Bypassing Censorship

Reliable option on desktop but less so on mobile

With the sheer number of VPN protocols available, at least on desktop, Windscribe Free should be a reliable option for bypassing censorship in places like China.

When we asked Windscribe how effectively it believes its VPN apps can bypass censorship blocks, Windscribe told us that it can be ‘hit-and-miss’ on mobile, but should operate trouble-free on desktop.

When we checked Windscribe’s subreddit, it looked promising for users in China, with some stating it’s the most reliable service for the country there is.

Comment on Windscribe's subreddit describing its excellent performance in China

This means that the free version of Windscribe should also be an effective VPN solution for those in other high-censorship countries such as Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, although the limited server network means your speeds will probably suffer.

Platforms & Devices

Compatible with all major platforms

Apps

Windows LogoWindows
Mac LogoMac
iOS LogoiOS
Android LogoAndroid
Linux LogoLinux
Router LogoRouter

We tested Windscribe’s free VPN apps on our full suite of operating systems and devices, including Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and Linux, and were consistently impressed throughout.

You can also install Windscribe at router level, and there’s no limit on the number of simultaneous connections you can have, although a router install on your home network would drain your data cap far too quickly.

Games Consoles & Streaming Devices

AppleTV LogoAppleTV
Amazon Fire TV LogoAmazon Fire TV
Chromecast LogoChromecast
Nintendo LogoNintendo
PlayStation LogoPlayStation
Roku LogoRoku
Xbox LogoXbox

Windscribe Free is even available on a whole host of extra devices, like the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Apple TV, which is rare for a free VPN service.

Be warned though – those devices will still eat data from the same allowance as all the other devices you have Windscribe installed on.

Browser Extensions

Chrome LogoChrome
Firefox LogoFirefox

Windscribe Free shares firefox and chrome browser extensions with its premium equivalent. They’ve been updated and we really like how they work and feel.

The browser extension is a proxy, rather than a full VPN – but this is pretty common practice and Windscribe don’t try to hide it (we wish the same could be said of all VPN providers).

Unlike a proper VPN, the proxy won’t fully protect your data and it will only redirect traffic which passes through your browser. On the other hand it is much better than nothing at all, and is an effective measure to spoof your location.

Screenshots of the Windscribe browser extension

The add-on includes some great, privacy focused features, like an ad blocker, a firewall and tools to prevent you from being tracked by advertisers online, alongside advanced tools to help you spoof the location and time of your browser.

You can randomly allocate your user agent, too, which prevents your browser from being able to determine what OS and browser you are using.

All these features are available for both free and paid accounts – the only difference is the number of locations available.

We really like this privacy and security focused suite. Plus its minimal design allows it to feel lightweight even with all these features.

One feature we would like to see more of is desktop app integration. As of right now the add-on only lets you see whether or not your computer wide VPN is running. Hopefully this will eventually be upgraded to allow full VPN control from your browser.

Encryption & Security

Just as secure as the paid version

Protocol

IKEv2/IPSec

OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)

Proprietary

Encryption

AES-256

Security

DNS Leak Blocking

IPV6 Leak Blocking

Supports TCP Port 443

VPN Kill Switch

Advanced features

Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.

Windscribe Free allows you to access exactly the same array of privacy settings granted in the full version of the app, meaning you can choose from four different VPN protocols:

  • OpenVPN (our favorite)
  • IKEv2
  • Stealth
  • WStunnel

Windscribe Free also comes with a VPN kill switch feature, protecting you from any potential connection drops, and you can even choose to set an IP address manually.

There are also some advanced VPN settings on Windscribe’s desktop app, from proxy configuration to how you’d like your servers sorted. It’s just a shame that almost all of these features are unavailable on the mobile app.

Screenshot of Windscribe's leak test results on browserleaks.com

This is what browserleaks.com looked like while we were connected to Windscribe Free’s Atlanta server

We also tested Windscribe Free VPN for IP and DNS leaks and it passed both with flying colors, proving it will keep you safe online.

Windscribe also recently announced the introduction of a new ad-tracker and malware-blocker, known as R.O.B.E.R.T, which is available on both the free and paid apps. This differs from those offered by other VPN services as it includes eight individual blocklists as well as a custom whitelist feature. You can read more about R.O.B.E.R.T. here.

Ease of Use

Modern and easy to use

How to Install & Set Up Windscribe Free

Regardless of platform, the Windscribe free VPN app looks exactly the same as the premium version. That means you get a simple, intuitive and slick user experience.

There’s no ads, either, which is a welcome breath of fresh air in the world of free VPNs.

Windscribe presents you with a VPN server network and a power button: simply choose your location, switch it on and you’re up and running in seconds.

Customer Support

Handy online resources but no live chat

Email support via an online formYes
Online ResourcesYes

Windscribe has no live chat support, which is disappointing for a VPN provider of its size. The closest thing you get to live chat support is an automatic chat bot – which proved utterly useless whenever we asked it a question, and simply directed us to submit a support ticket so we could ‘speak to a human’.

Fortunately there’s an array of handy help guides and FAQs online, plus you can always submit a support ticket if you still can’t find what you need. We also found Windscribe’s subreddit to be particularly useful, asking our more specific queries in great detail.

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon leads our investigations into VPN safety and internet freedom research. His work has been featured on the BBC, CNet, Wired and The Financial Times. Read full bio

Top10VPN

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User Reviews for Windscribe Free

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  1.  100% 

    Happy bunny.

    Easy to install, start/stop and operate. For intermittent use, monthly data cap is no problem. DNS Leak tests have always been successful.