Windscribe only keeps minimal usage logs
Logging & Jurisdiction
Windscribe has a minimal logging policy, which can't be used to personally identify you. It's jurisdiction is Canada, though, which is part of the five-eyes data sharing alliance. Ideally, we'd like Windscribe to confirm their policy via an indpendent audit.
Windscribe does keep a minimal amount logs for maintenance purposes, which isn’t ideal. Other VPN services work just fine with less logs, so Windscribe should be able do the same.
That said, the data kept by Windscribe cannot be used to identify you, or retroactively match your activity back to you.
Windscribe logs the following information:
- The amount of data transferred in the past 30 days
- A timestamp of your last activity on the Windscribe VPN network
- The number of simultaneous connections on your account
- Your OpenVPN or IKEv2 username (until the end of your session)
- The time you connected (until the end of your session)
Windscribe collects this information to ensure that its VPN service runs smoothly. However, there is nothing in the above data that could be used to personally identify you once you have disconnected from the server.
According to Windscribe, your username and connection time are also stored in the server’s RAM, which means they will be deleted by design as soon as you end your session.
Windscribe does not log:
- Your originating IP address
- Browsing activity data
Yegor Sak, the company’s co-founder, has published a detailed explanation of what data is collected when you use the Windscribe VPN apps.
With an independent external audit, we would find this explanation wholly satisfactory.
Based in Canada
Windscribe is located in Canada, which is part of the Five Eyes data-sharing alliance. It has a public PO address, but has kept the exact location of it’s Toronto office private.
The CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service)collects frightening amounts of personal user data to track and identify people of interest.
Under the Copyright Modernization Act, Canadian ISPs must log user data for six months, although it is not clear if VPN services have been compelled to adopt similar practices.
Usually, this is very concerning, but because of Windscribe’s minimal VPN logging policy it’s much less worrying.
Also, Windscribe maintains a page documenting the DMCA requests and law enforcement data requests it has received since 2018.
No Logging Policy Audit
Transparency reports are always welcome, but we want to see an independent external audit of Windscribe’s traffic logging practices.
The company claims that it only stores connection information in the server’s RAM, and that that information is lost by design whenever a session ends.
Beyond this, it claims, since no browsing history, timestamps, or IP addresses are stored, it would be impossible for Windscribe to hand over information to companies or governments.
We only have Windscribe’s word that it doesn’t log more (inadvertently or on purpose).
Without an audit, or any concrete evidence, Windscribe’s claim that “exactly zero requests were complied with due to lack of relevant data” can’t be verified.
How fast is Windscribe?
Speed & Reliability
Windscribe is fast enough for streaming in HD and 4K, or torrenting large files, but it can't match the very fastest VPNs. It's better on local connections than international ones, where it underperforms slightly.
Windscribe is one of the fastest VPNs available for a same-city connection. However, its international speeds are less impressive.
We saw a drop from 100.45Mbps to 94.72Mbps download speed when connecting to a same-city server from our London connection when using OpenVPN. This is a drop of around 5%, which is very fast.
Local Speed Test results before using Windscribe VPN:
- Download Speed: 100.45Mbps
- Upload Speed: 98.45Mbps
- Ping: 1ms
Local Speed Test results with Windscribe VPN:
Download speed loss when Windscribe VPN is running: 6%
By comparing our connection speeds before and after connecting to a nearby VPN server, we’re able to see exactly how much Windscribe slows our connection when connected to local server.
The speed results were positive, some of the best we’ve seen, with an average speed loss of just 5%. This is the type of performance you can expect when connecting to a Windscribe server near your physical location.
It’s also very reliable VPN service – we didn’t experience any connection drops while connected to the servers, and speeds were very consistent from one test to the next.
This means that Windscribe should comfortably handle anything you’re planning on doing online, even with multiple devices connected to the VPN at once.
It isn’t quite the fastest VPN we’ve tested, though. If you want the absolute fastest VPN out there, though, then you should consider choosing an option from our list of the fastest VPNs.
Ping times on short-distance connections of 12ms isn’t the best we’ve seen, either. This means there might be better choices available for gamers, particularly in online games where low ping is really important.
On the other hand, Windscribe’s maximum upload speeds of 93Mbps should keep torrenters satisfied, allowing them to seed easily.
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.
Windscribe’s apps, however, 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.
Global Speed Tests
In addition to local speeds, we tested the speed of the connection between our office in London and Windscribe VPN servers world-wide.
The results were less consistent than our local tests: Windscribe performed fine, but simply didn’t match up to the very best long-distance providers.
These are the average speeds you can expect when connecting out from the UK to these international locations with Windscribe:
- USA: 68Mbps (download) & 73Mbps (upload)
- Germany: 85Mbps (download) & 86Mbps (upload)
- Singapore: 4Mbps (download) & 14Mbps (upload)
- Australia: 9Mbps (download) & 24Mbps (upload)
These speeds will be enough for most users, but don’t expect to be streaming video from Asia in Europe without issues.
How Fast Is Windscribe Compared to Other VPNs?
The results that follow are taken from our custom VPN speed test tool.
We run speed tests automatically four times per day on a standard 100Mbps connection (a standard speed for home internet).
Here are our results from the last eight weeks on our New York server.
Windscribe hasn’t performed as fast as top competitors recently. On our New York to New York connection it caused a 30% download speed drop, compared to under 10% from NordVPN.
Despite issues, Windscribe is safe
Security & Features
Windscribe comes with industry standard AES-256 encryption and trusted VPN protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2 and Wireguard. Unfortunately it recently suffered a minor security breach, so we would like it to carry out indpendent security audits in the future.
Until recently, Windscribe appeared to be a solid choice for VPN security with industry standard AES-256 encyrption, well tested protocols like OpenVPN and Wireguard, and most importantly no evidence of any security faults occuring in the company’s past.
However, in June & July 2021 it suffered a potential security breach. The vulnerability has since been resolved, but could have allowed some users’ traffic to be monitored.
Server Seizure & OpenVPN Vulnerability
On 24th June 2021, the Ukrainian authorities seized two of Windscribe’s OpenVPN servers as part of an ongoing investigation. But these servers were running an outdated configuration, and contained an unencrypted OpenVPN server configuration and key.
In the unlikely situation that the Ukrainian authorities also had control over a user’s network, and that user was running a legacy DNS resolver an using a manual configuration, rather than an official Windscribe app, this could have allowed the authorities to decrypt and monitor OpenVPN traffic.
As far as is currently known, no user was monitored in this way. However, the vulnerability in question was identified several years ago, and the outdated configuration should not have been on any of Windscribe’s servers.
The provider has stated that: “Although we have encrypted servers in high-sensitivity regions, the servers in question were running a legacy stack and were not encrypted.”
This incident occured as a result of Windscribe’s neglegence, and while there is not any evidence the breach was used to harm users, it reflects poorly on the service. As a result, we have reduced the provider’s Encryption & Security score.
Windscribe has taken measures to repair the vulnerability, primarily by updating its OpenVPN certificate authority to match industry best-practice.
Windscribe has previously expressed an intent to carry out security audits, and we see this as necessary to regain full trust in the service. Other VPN providers have used audits to identify similar vulnerabilities well before they could be used to jeopardise the privacy and security of users.
Beyond this incident, Windscribe’s security is exactly what you would expect from a top-tier VPN: it comes with lots of extra features and customization options, AES-256 encryption and a choice of the OpenVPN, IKEv2 and Wireguard.
It operates Perfect Forward Secrecy, a standard we want more VPN providers to adopt. This means that encryption keys aren’t reused between sessions; even if someone got their hands on your private key, it becomes useless as soon as you disconnect.
In the case of the Ukrainian server seizures, this means any historic traffic would not have been accessible to the authorities.
Windscribe lets you choose between UDP and TCP OpenVPN connections. Each of these protocols comes with its own advantages. UDP is faster but less reliable, but TCP offers the most consistent connection.
If you’re gaming or making video calls, we recommend UDP. If you’re aren’t doing these things and you experience stability issues we recommend changing to TCP.
By default, Windscribe uses the IKEv2 protocol on all platforms. We like IKEv2 as a choice for mobile connections, but it is a proprietary protocol without the same tested security as OpenVPN.
Generally we prefer OpenVPN for desktop platforms, but IKEv2 isn’t a terrible default either. It’s pretty easy to change protocols in all the apps’ settings menus, too, which is good.
There’s also now an option to use WireGuard, which we consider to be a great alternative to OpenVN.
SOCKS5 is also on offer, an old favourite of torrenters but not a protocol we would recommend using.
We like Windscribe’s ‘Firewall’ feature, which serves the same purpose as a VPN kill switch, so you’re also protected against DNS and IP leaks in case your internet connection drops. It operates in three modes: automatic, manual, and always on.
The applications boast lots of advanced security features including WebRTC protection (dubbed the “WebRTC slayer”), port forwarding, and double hop – which makes your Windscribe connection even more secure by bouncing it between two different VPN servers (at the cost of speed).
In addition to this, Windscribe also includes a split tunneling feature – dubbed “Split Personality” – which lets users route certain apps inside/outside of the VPN. This convenient feature is thankfully becoming more and more standard, as it helps keep users in direct control of their data flow.
Windscribe also offers a seperate DNS service called ControlID, currently in beta. It requires a seperate subscription, though.
IP, DNS, & WebRTC Leak Tests
Why should you just trust that it’s safe? You shouldn’t.
We’ve put Windscribe through a leak test so you can see for yourself that it doesn’t leak.
This was the result when we connected to a US server from our office in London, UK. The DNS, WebRTC, and IP address all show up as being in Boston, US.
There is no way that this information could be used to detect we are based in the UK, let alone our actual IP address.
R.O.B.E.R.T: Windscribe’s Security Suite
Windscribe provides its own ad-tracker and malware blocker called “R.O.B.E.R.T.,” which is integrated into its custom VPN apps. R.O.B.E.R.T. includes eight different blocklists, making it easy to customize your VPN profile to your needs.
R.O.B.E.R.T. is basically a DNS-level malware and ad blocker – an increasingly common offering from VPN providers. If you’re a fan of these things, Windscribe was one of the first to integrate such a service with its VPN.
It lets users choose from a list of content they’d like to block, including advertisements, trackers, and cryptominers. You can also block social networks, sexually explicit content, gambling websites, and more.
The system isn’t without problems, though: the “fake news” blocklist includes a few well known parody sites like The Daily Mash, despite explicitly claiming not to block satire.
There’s more than a little irony in having a VPN service mistakenly block content.
You don’t have to turn-on the fake news block, of course. Generally we have found the other R.O.B.E.R.T. filters to function as expected.
At the risk of sounding flippant, though, all this isn’t really what VPN services are about. The functionality doesn’t hurt, but it also really isn’t necessary, and becomes little more than bloatware once turned off.
We generally recommend using established open-source add-ons to protect your browser from third party trackers and malware.
Malware & Tracking
VPNs process huge amounts of data coming in and out of your device, so it’s really important they aren’t loaded up with any dangerous malware or viruses. To make sure Windscribe is clean, we ran the desktop application through a full virus and malware test.
Here are the results we got from Malwarebytes:
Windscribe came out 100% virus and malware free. This is a great result, and another piece of evidence that Windscribe is a trustworthy provider.
To double check the security and privacy of Windscribe across all platforms, we also ran it through the εxodus tool, which produces reports on the trackers and permissions present in Android apps.
We found that the Android app has two trackers: Google CrashLytics and Google Firebase Analytics. Neither of these are necessarily too concerning, they are both event-based data collection tools which will help Windscribe know how users interact with the app, and respond to issues like crashes. They also aren’t completely private, though.
Windscribe comes out well here – Free VPN by FreeVPN.org contains a truly horrifying 28 trackers – but we think all VPN providers should aspire to minimise or completely remove the trackers in their apps.
The εxodus report also reveals that the app asks for 14 permissions, two of which – GPS and network-based location – are considered ‘dangerous’ or ‘special’ in Google’s protection levels.
These could be explained as part of the fastest server function, but many other VPN apps with similar functions do not ask for such information. This is one area where Windscribe could earn trust by making their app open-source.
Unblocks BBC iPlayer and 40+ Netflix Libraries
Windscribe is one of the best VPNs for streaming, unlocking BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, a huge number of Netflix libraries and more. Uniquely, most of this works through Windscribe Free, too.
One of the biggest benefits of a VPN like Windscribe is that it can get you around geographical restrictions on content. It does this by masking your true IP address with one from the country you want to access.
This is great news for expats and fans of foreign TV or cinema alike.
Platforms like Netflix have caught on to this loop-hole, though, and made it more difficult for VPNs to connect to their services. In 2021, only the very best VPNs can consistently pull it off.
Luckily, Windscribe is one of these VPNs, and all Windscribe servers now work for streaming – including the free servers.
As a result, Windscribe is now the best free VPN for Netflix.
It works in all 10 free server locations, too, which is better than many paid VPNs.
We’ve tested Windscribe in all it’s server locations and found that, in addition to the basics like Netflix US, Netflix UK and Netflix Japan, Windscribe premiumm unlocks over 40 international Netflix libraries. This makes it one of the very best VPNs for Netflix right now.
Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get Disney+ running on the US servers, so fans of the Mandalorian should look at an alternative VPN like Surfshark.
We also tested Windscribe to see if it offers access to BBC iPlayer. We found that the browser proxy will always get you access to BBC iPlayer, but the full VPN is less consistent. Read our guide to the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer for a more reliable solution to streaming BBC videos.
The VPN unblocks geo-locked content on YouTube, though, which is a plus. We also found that Windscribe was the most effective VPN for unblocking DAZN. Out of all the popular regions we tested, it was the only VPN to work with all 9 libraries.
How Does Windscribe Compare to Other VPNs for Streaming?
The table below compares Windscribe to four of the other best VPNs for streaming:
Torrenting works well (but beware of Canada)
Both Windscribe apps (free and premium) are great for torrenting, with P2P traffic allowed on almost every server. It's only let down by its Canada jurisdiction - a country with strict copyright laws.
Windscribe is a good VPN for torrenting, too, as P2P activity is allowed on the majority of Windscribe’s servers worldwide, although not all servers are P2P-optimized. Servers which won’t work are marked with a “P2P” icon.
The speeds are consistently good enough for torrenting, too, which is really important. What’s key here is that Windscribe distributes its P2P servers around the world, which maximizes your chances of getting good upload and download speeds.
This means you can seed as well as leech – just make sure you keep Windscribe active if your torrent client continues seeding in the background.
If you’re new to torrenting, Windscribe has guides to setting up a SOCKS5 proxy with uTorrent, Deluge, qBittorrent, and VUZE. These are useful, but both we and Windscribe recommend using the full desktop VPN client in conjunction with your torrent client for maximum privacy.
Another thing to be aware of is Canada’s aggressive copyright laws. Fines for copyright infringement in Canada can be up to $5000, so it’s a good idea to make sure you never fall foul of them.
When thinking about jurisdiction it’s always a good idea to keep in mind:
- The location of the server you’re connected to
- The jurisdiction under which your VPN provider operates
We haven’t seen any examples of copyright trolls getting their hands on Windscribe user data, but you should be aware that Canada is a country in which they have the upper hand, legally speaking.
When you do torrent using Windscribe, we definitely recommend against connecting to servers in Canada, the US, or the UK.
110 server locations in 64 countries
Windscribe has a diverse VPN server network of 110 cities in 64 countries. This is a big number which includes almost every region in the world.
Windsribe’s large server network puts it among the best VPNs for global coverage. East Asia is especially well represented, which is uncommon – there are Windscribe VPN servers in Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and more.
Altogether Windscribe offers over 110 individual VPN locations, meaning you get city-level choice in a number of different countries. There are multiple servers in a number of locations, but you can choose your city within:
- Australia (Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney)
- Canada (Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver)
- France (Marseilles, Paris)
- India (Chennai, Indore, New Delhi)
- Israel (Ashdod, Jerusalem)
- Italy (Milan, Rome)
- Russia (Moscow, Saint Petersburg)
- Spain (Barcelona, Madrid)
- UK (London, Manchester)
- US Central (Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Louisville, New Orleans, Salt Lake City)
- US East (Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Miami, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC)
- US West (Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oregon, Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Seattle)
- Turkey (Bursa, Istanbul)
Unsurprisingly, there’s very good coverage of Canada here, with servers on both the East and West coast of the country.
We’re a little disappointed that Windscribe refuses to reveal the total number of individual VPN servers or IP addresses it maintains, though, and a number of its servers are rented rather than owned outright – which could mean Windscribe play less of a role in their security than we would like.
We can presume that there are at least 110 of each, though.
Windscribe does claim that all of its servers are actually located where they say. Surprisingly, this often isn’t the case when VPNs have large server networks. HideMyAss!, for instance, has the largest server network we’ve seen, with “servers” in all but five of the world’s countries, but a huge number of them are actually located in the US and UK.
In Windscribe’s case, at least one of its servers lies about its locations: pinging the Troll Station, Antarctica server reveals it is actually physically located in Canada. We think this is probably a one-off, though – the server is called “Fake Antarctica,” after all.
The Windscribe website features a page with real-time updates of server status and capacity. This is great when you’re trying to find a quick server or want to troubleshoot a slow connection.
There’s also static IP addresses available in 13 different locations, which can make it easier for you to get consistent access to streaming services. With Windscribe this IP will be shared with about 10 other users.
A static IP connects you to the same IP every time you connect. This comes with a few benefits like reducing the chance of websites blacklisting your IP.
You can also choose between a datacenter or residential IP. The residential IP is more expensive, but really improves the chance of streaming services working properly.
Since a residential IP makes you look more authentic, it also stops you seeing unnecessary captchas around the web.
An example where this comes in handy is Amazon Prime Video, which will log you out on desktop every time your IP address changes. With a residential IP your streaming experience becomes more seamless.
"Stealth VPN" feature works in China
Windscribe is consistently one of the best VPNs for besting censorship. Over the past year, it's almost always worked to beat censorship in China. Windscribe Free is also the only free VPN we've seen working in the country.
China and other countries with privacy-hostile censorship regimes are increasingly using technologies like deep packet inspection (DPI) to identify and block VPN traffic – preventing people from accessing the global internet.
Many VPNs – including Windscribe – have pushed back at this censorship but employing obfuscation technologies, which make it harder for censors to identify VPN traffic.
Windscribe uses a “Stealth protocol” to avoid detection by the censors. This protocol uses the open-source algorithm Stunnel, to route your OpenVPN traffic through an additional TLS tunnel.
We’ve seen it working first-hand in China, using our Shanghai server. Windscribe allowed us to break out of China’s firewall without much issue. We can’t measure performance, though, so it’s hard to say how smoothly the VPN will run in China.
We were even able to use Windscribe Free in China, by connecting to the Hong Kong > Victoria server.
If this doesn’t work, there’s also a Wstunnel mode which wraps OpenVPN in WebSocket instead of TLS. It’s nice that Windscribe gives you the ability to play around with which form of obfuscation you use – particularly as what works in China is known to change so frequently.
The Stealth VPN protocol isn’t available at all on iOS, which we would like to see change in the near future. This means you won’t be able to use your iPhone in China with Windscribe.
If you do try Windscribe in China, you’ll need to make sure you have it pre-installed on all your devices before you travel, though, as it’s blocked for download inside the country.
In other high-censorship countries with less effective censorship apparatus – like Saudi Arabia, the UAE or Turkey – Windscribe also looks to be a an effective solution.
Using Windscribe with Tor
If you are worried about your communication being surveilled by a government, employer or corporation, or you are looking to overcome censorship at any level (from your network administrator, ISP, or government), Tor can be a very useful tool.
It works by routing your traffic through three random servers, giving you total anonymity – even from the Tor network itself.
Windscribe doesn’t have explicit Tor compatibility, but a basic Tor over VPN setup – where you open the Tor browser on a computer – is possible.
This comes with two benefits:
- Your ISP or network manager won’t be able to see you’re accessing the Tor network, potentially helping you get around any government, workplace or campus bans
- Were anything to go wrong with the Tor network, it would be Windscribe’s IP that would be exposed, not your own
But it also has some downsides – namely that using Tor with a VPN is not as totally anonymous as using it alone.
Custom apps & browser extensions
Windscribe has user freindly apps for most platforms, including iOS, Android, PC and Mac. It can also be installed onto a router, to use with smart devices or games consoles.
Windscribe has a custom VPN app for almost every platform and OS, and they’re all very user-friendly. The mobile apps have also recently undergone an update, and a good one too.
Apps for Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS are all available, plus apps for more niche platforms like Linux and Android TV, too.
As is often the case, the iOS app is more limited than the others. We’ll go over every app in detail in our Ease of Use section.
Importantly, Windscribe allows unlimited simultaneous connections, meaning you and your family can all have the VPN running at the same time – a fairly unique offering among VPNs who generally impose device limits.
Connecting on a variety of platforms is easy, and Windscribe even has its own Config Generators tool, which automatically gives you the exact information you need for manual setups.
This is ideal if you want to connect a platform that isn’t officially supported by an app, including:
- Amazon Fire TV
- Nvidia Shield
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
You can also install Windscribe VPN on your router – or buy a preconfigured router to protect all the internet-connected devices in your home at the same time. This includes Apple TV, Microsoft Xbox One, Sony PlayStation 5, and many more.
There are dedicated Windscribe VPN apps for the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Kodi, too, which is still fairly rare to see.
The Fire TV Stick app has a good array of features, including Windscribe’s full range of VPN servers and the ability to favorite your most used locations, plus some extra technical settings.
Windscribe has revamped its hugely popular (almost 1,000,000 installs) browser extension, and we’re impressed by the results.
This more comprehensive extension supports city-level server selection and malware and phishing blocks among other security extra like WebRTC blocking, location API spoofing, and website notification blocking.
Like most VPN browser extensions, this is strictly speaking a proxy not a VPN, and Windscribe is upfront about that fact. These browser add-ons provide a quick and simple way to connect to Windscribe servers from your browser window.
Quick setup and user-friendly apps
Ease of Use
Windscribe's apps are all pretty easy to use. Their simple layouts don't compromise on usability or advanced settings.
How to Connect to a Server with Windscribe
How to Change Settings in Windscribe
Windscribe’s custom apps are incredibly easy to use and do not compromise on the need for specific features that cater to serious VPN users.
The Windscribe home screen is simple on both desktop and mobile, with a big on/off button and a list of VPN server locations. The advanced options are tucked away in their own menu, with users warned not to touch them “unless you know what you’re doing,” which we quite like.
The Windows app is exceptionally well presented and easy to use. A central power button connects or disconnects the VPN, and you’re clearly shown which server you’ve connected to, alongside its IP address.
There’s a country search bar, which is a must have feature for usability with a VPN that has as many options available as Windscribe does.
Advanced options are easy to find, too, in a drop-down menu at the top-left of the app.
Windscribe offers lots of space for customisation. You can toggle the latency display between a performance bar or specific ms measurement. There’s also 25 language options available, which is a welcome option for accessibility.
You can toggle the app between window and tray, too, which we like (although we really prefer the window mode). You can also customise notifications and the order in which countries are listed within the app.
We’ve been told split tunneling is soon to be added to Windows, Mac and Linux; it will be a welcome addition.
The Mac app differs slightly from the Windows app. It’s a menu bar app, rather than a standalone window.
Don’t mistake that for simplicity or poor design, though. The MacOS looks pretty similar to the Windows app, and has several of the same features – with the only notable absence being the “always on” option on PC.
Again, there’s a broad range of customization options available within the app. You can change the location order, toggle notifications on and off, and alter the appearance of server latency.
Unique to the MacOS app, you can hide the Windscribe icon from the dock – allowing the app to feel like it’s running passively in the background. This is a nice platform-specific touch.
The Android app is the most complete of all of Windscribe’s apps. The only major feature it’s lacking is the “Firewall” kill switch. Although this is a significant omission, which we would like to see added.
The app includes a network whitelisting option, which allows you to select certain networks for Windscribe not to activate over – such as your home network or other trusted network. We really like this addition for mobile, where you don’t always notice your phone moving between networks.
There are also Windscribe’s standard customization options: location order (which is particularly welcome on mobile), latency display, language choice and notification.
Unique to mobile, Windscribe has also included a dark/light mode toggle, although the impact of this is really minimal.
Like all of Windscribe’s apps, the iPhone and iPad app is easy to use and nicely laid out.
You’ll get all the same customization options on iOS as on Android: location order, latency display, notifications, language and light/dark mode.
What you won’t get, however, is many of the advanced features available on the other apps. There isn’t a split tunneling feature, or the ability to set the app to “always on”, for instance.
There’s no stealth protocol, either, so you won’t be able to use the iOS app from censored regions.
Unlike the Android app, though, there is an all important kill switch, which means you don’t need to worry about being exposed if your VPN connection drops out.
We really like Windscribe’s browser add-ons. They come with an unusually large suite of features including ad and malware blocking, advanced leak protection and city level server selection (for Pro accounts).
As we’ve already mentioned, the Windscribe browser add-ons for Firefox and Chrome aren’t strictly speaking VPNs, they’re proxies.
Being proxies, these extensions won’t fully protect your data like a desktop VPN would, and they will only redirect the traffic from your browser window.
What it can do, however, is successfully spoof your location. There’s a long list of city or country level servers on offer, too.
The add-on comes with plenty of browser features, like the R.O.B.E.R.T. ad blocker, a firewall, and tools to prevent you from being tracked by advertisers online, such as “Cookie Monster” which keeps tabs on and even deletes first and third party cookies based on your preferences.
There are some advanced tools to help you spoof GPS location (Location Warp) and browser time (Time Warp), too.
You can even randomly allocate your user agent to prevent your browser from determining what OS and browser you are using.
This is a great suite of privacy- and security-focused tools which are easy to use thanks to a lightweight and intuitive user interface.
In theory, R.O.B.E.R.T. is what really distinguishes Windscribe’s browser plug-ins from those offered by competing VPNs. Very few can say they offer malware and phishing and ad protection, alongside the ability to add custom filters to control your internet experience.
The reality is, though, that you can get more utility from an open source add-on like uBlock Origin. Windscribe may beat out some other providers’ add-ons with its security features, but it doesn’t come close to dedicated free software.
There is also some limited integration with the desktop app – allowing you to view the status of, but not change, your device-wide VPN. We’re hoping Windscribe will move towards more complete integration in the future.
For now, though, if you’re looking for the best in privacy and security we still recommend using the desktop app alongside a privacy-first browser setup.
Windscribe also maintains a smart TV app for Android TV or Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Let’s start with the obvious: it’s ugly.
Compared to all of Windscribe’s other apps, the TV app looks bad and can be fiddly to use. You can filter locations down to just the Windflix servers, though – a good call for a TV VPN.
The app includes a split tunneling feature – called “split routing” – which we like. It allows you to apply the VPN to only certain apps on your smart TV.
In general, it comes with more features than we expected. You can toggle on/off LAN connections to other local devices or set it to connect when you boot your TV.
The app keeps local logs, which you can choose to send to Windscribe – presumably with troubleshooting in mind. We understand the value of this, but don’t love it from a privacy perspective.
By default it runs on OpenVPN UDP over port 443, and you can also connect via OpenVPN TCP, Stealth, and IKEv2.
This app clearly hasn’t been prioritized, though.
We don’t recommend picking Windscribe for this app specifically – see our list of the best VPNs for Fire TV Stick – but it’s a bonus if you already have your heart set on Windscribe.
Comprehensive resources but no live chat
Customer support is an area where Windscribe sometimes falls behind the competition. It lacks personal support options like telephone or live chat, and can sometimes come be abrasive when contacted.
Windscribe’s customer support is missing live chat – it’s something we always look for in a top VPN (ideally it will be 24/7, too).
Instead, Windscribe has a seriously extensive online library of guides, FAQs, and even its own subreddit and discord channel.
There’s also an online support ticket submission and a chatbot, Garry. We suggest you don’t waste your time with Garry, as it is generally unhelpful. It also only understands English, which is disappointing for an automated agent.
When you get stuck with the chatbot it will offer you the chance to “Talk to a Human.” This just puts you through to a ticket system, though.
Response time could be better, we found Windscribe generally got back to us within a day, though.
Cheap monthly price on a 12-month plan
Price & Value
Windscribe is a pretty good value VPN, particularly on the one year deal. It comes in cheaper than most the top-tier providers without having to sacrifice quality. The free service is exceptionally good value.
You have two options with Windscribe: pay for a month or pay for a year. The $9.00 cost of a single month is rather steep, but it comes all the way down to $4.08 per month on a 12-month deal.
There’s also a ‘Build-a-Plan’ option, which allows users to purchase Windscribe server locations for $1 each per month. This means that if you only need to access one or two VPN servers, you can keep the monthly cost down to just a couple of dollars – an extra dollar gives you access to unlimited data and the full R.O.B.E.R.T. feature, too.
You get the same extensive set of features and servers regardless of how you choose to pay, as there’s only one tier of paid subscription: Windscribe Pro.
On top of this there’s a customizable package called ScribeForce available. This is essentially a corporate plan that allows you to build a subscription of a “per seat” basis for 5 or more team members, at a rate of $3.00 per seat, per month.
We really like that Windscribe has so many bespoke options available.
Of course, if you opt for the free plan you won’t need to pay anything at all – and you don’t need to enter payment details, either. Great for anonymity.
All plans have 3-day money-back guarantee
Payment & Refund Options
Windscribe accepts the usual range of payment methods including most popular credit and debit cards, PayPal and Bitcoin, as well as several international options through its partnership with Paymentwall.
Once you’ve signed up for a paid subscription, the refund period is just three days, and you’re only eligible if you’ve used more than 10GB of bandwidth, which isn’t all that much.
Windscribe can also take up to 30 days to refund your money into your account. This is a really restrictive returns policy. Our advice is to test out a free account before you subscribe to the service, instead.
As we mentioned right at the top of this review, Windscribe also has a free plan available.
Its free plan is one of the best we’ve seen, and a great way to try out Windscribe before commiting to a subscription.
The plan comes with servers in 10 of Windscribe’s 63 countries and a 10GB monthly data cap.
Using a free Windscribe account you can connect to:
- Hong Kong
The data cap is actually pretty generous for an ad-free, free VPN. This is one of the reasons Windscribe’s free plan is our favorite free VPN.
You might find the performance isn’t quite as good on the free version, either. When we tested, the free app consistently performed slightly slower than the Pro alternative, even when connected to the same server.
The free version of R.O.B.E.R.T. only gives you access to the Malware block list, but this is the most useful feature in the blocking suite anyway.
Beside these absent advanced features, though, you get access to the same service as the paid version. The biggest drawback is that you won’t be able to access Windscribe’s streaming Windflix servers.
Depending on your needs you might even be able to use Windscribe Free long term, but we expect most users will want to upgrade to the premium subscription for faster servers, streaming, unlimited data and all Windscribe’s advanced features.
We Rate Windscribe Highly
The Bottom Line
On one hand, with just a few tweaks Windscribe Pro could be one of the best VPNs on the market. But, as things stand, it falls slightly short.
On the other hand, Windscribe free is definitely the best free VPN we’ve seen, and we highly recommend it.
There is still a lot that Windscribe Pro does well. All its apps are intuitive, and maintain good standards of security. Its local speeds are more than adequate and its Netflix streaming capabilities are excellent.
However, to compete with the very best VPNs, the paid VPN service needs to reduce the amount of data it logs, even during the VPN session, and achieve faster, more stable international speeds.
Overall, we recommend Windscribe Pro as a good value VPN.
Additional research by Luke Williams
Alternatives to Windscribe VPN
ProtonVPN is another provider which operates under a free/ premium structure. It has a more limited server network available than Windscribe free, but has fully audited and open-sourced all of its apps. Read ProtonVPN review
ExpressVPN has what we believe to be the best customer support in the VPN industry. It's available 24/7, and is always manned by friendly and knowledgeable support staff. Read ExpressVPN review