Windscribe (the free version) is the best free VPN you get can get right now. It barely strips anything away from the premium version, meaning that you get a remarkably secure and professional experience.
The 10GB data cap is one of the most generous we’ve seen, and there’s an equally charitable range of servers and server locations all wrapped up in an intuitive and presentable package.
This is a terrific introduction to the VPN world, and one that casual users may not even need to upgrade to the premium version from.
If you’re looking for the paid product, head over to our full Windscribe review.
Speed & Reliability
For a free VPN, Windscribe Free’s speeds are very impressive.
We test from the UK, and were treated to average download speeds of 50Mbps and upload speeds of 54Mbps. Even venturing further afield to Europe yielded a very serviceable average of around 55-60Mbps down and 50Mbps up.
Speeds were less consistent when connecting to the US and Canada. US download speeds fell to 27Mbps, while upload speeds averaged around 26Mbps. Still, those are some strong figures when you consider you’re not paying a dime for the service.
It’s never convenient having a data cap, but as far as they go 10GB per month is generous. You’re initially given just 2GB, but can bump it up to the full figure by confirming your email address.
To read more about our speed testing methodologies, please read How We Review VPNs.
Considering that this is a free version of its full VPN, 10 countries is a very good start. There are options in North America, Europe and East Asia, but it’s the choice of city-specific servers that really impressed us.
The ‘US East’ location, for example, allows you to pick between servers in Chicago, New York and Washington DC, plus two in Miami. There are two options each in the US Central, US West and UK locations, too.
Sadly, there are no local options for those based in South America, Africa or Australia, and the entirety of Asia is funneled through one server in Hong Kong.
If you want access to servers in those locations, plus dozens more, you’ll need to splash out on the premium version.
Platforms & Devices
We tested Windscribe 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 it at router level, and there’s no limit on the number of simultaneous connections you can have, although a router install would drain your data cap far too quickly.
Windscribe also has browser extensions for Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera Browser which work extremely well, with a vast array of options and features. That said, it’s important to remember that these aren’t full VPNs, and will only encrypt your browser traffic.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
Windscribe Free is even available on a whole host of extra devices, like the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Apple TV.
Be warned though – it will still eat data from the same allowance as all the other devices you have it installed on. Running it on everything that you own may see you hit your cap sooner than expected.
Streaming & Torrenting
A real mixture of good and bad, this is probably where Windscribe Free most shows its deficiencies compared to the paid-for version.
Torrenting worked for us in testing, and appears to be permitted on all servers, which is a great start. Of course the data cap will always be a limiting factor here.
The servers optimized for streaming are reserved for paid users, so it’s no surprise that we were unable to access Netflix in our most recent tests. BBC iPlayer was also pretty temperamental, with access varying from one week to the next.
If you’re going to pay for a VPN with streaming in mind, though, we would suggest you try NordVPN.
Encryption & Security
You can access exactly the same array of settings granted in the full version of the app, meaning you have a selection of five different protocols, each with its own range of ports. You can choose to set an IP address manually, and there’s the trusty kill switch to top it all off.
There are even advanced settings, from complicated extras like proxy configuration to simple preferences like how you’d like your servers sorted. It’s just a shame that almost all of the security features mentioned in this section are unavailable on the mobile app.
We also tested it for IP and DNS leaks – and it passed both with flying colors.
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
- DNS Leak Blocking
- IPV6 Leak Blocking
- Supports TCP Port 443
- VPN Kill Switch
With the sheer number of protocols available, at least on desktop, Windscribe Free should be a fine option for bypassing privacy in places like China.
When we asked Windscribe directly how effective it believes the service to be it informed us that it can be ‘hit-and-miss’ on mobile, but trouble-free on desktop.
Windscribe Free’s logging policy is a joy to behold, 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 connection
These figures are reset at the start of every month.
When you’re actively connected to a server, the server itself stores:
- Your OpenVPN/IKEv2 username
- Time of connection
- Amount of data transferred
Once you end your session that information is deleted.
Zero identifiable or personal data is stored or even monitored, making Windscribe (even in its free version) one of the most private VPNs out there.
Windscribe is based in Canada. Canada is part of a data-sharing agreement with several other major Western nations, which is less than ideal for a VPN.
In this instance, though, we’re not too concerned: there’s so little data retained by Windscribe that even if it were forced to turning over its logs by the government there would be nothing to see.
Ease of Use
Regardless of platform the Windscribe Free application looks exactly the same as its paid-for counterpart. 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.
It presents you with a list of locations and a power button: simply choose your location, switch it on and you’re up and running as quick as can be.
Installing Windscribe Free is as about as simple as installing a piece of software can be. If you’re setting it up on a device that isn’t a computer or smartphone it’s a little trickier – if you struggle, though, you can always refer to the guides on the Windscribe website.
The process is as simple as downloading the relevant software from the website and following the prompts given to you by the installation wizard. After you’ve finished installing the software, all that’s left to do is enter your login details and you can start using the VPN.
Disappointingly for a provider the size of Windscribe, there’s no live chat. The closest thing you get is an automatic chat bot – which proved utterly useless whenever we asked it a question.
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.
The Bottom Line
- Average local download speeds of 50Mbps
- Good selection of servers
- Extremely easy to use
- Terrific logging policy
- Available on lots of devices
- Data cap, while generous, is still restricting
- Not too useful for streaming
The free offering of Windscribe is one of the very best going – to get a more complete experience than this you’ll almost certainly have to pay a subscription.
It’s fast, has a nice selection of servers around the globe and is super secure. It falls a little flat with its hit-and-miss streaming, and a data cap is never welcome, but these can be overlooked for the well-rounded package on offer.