A very strong VPN for the most part, Windscribe is a particularly good choice for those who have never used a VPN before.
Its focus on privacy combined with fast local connection speeds and availability on a variety of devices and platforms help it stand out, even if it lacks consistency in some areas.
Pricing & Deals
Windscribe offers a couple of different pricing deals to help you decide on the best option. You get access to all the same features but pay less on a monthly basis the longer your subscription.
The most expensive option is the single month plan at $9.00, but this is reduced by 55% to $4.08 if you sign up to an annual package, which is fantastic value.
Windscribe also recently introduced a ‘Build a Plan’ feature which allows users to pay per server location, from $1 a month.
Get 55% off Windscribe's 12-month plan
Windscribe Pricing & Deals
Windscribe offers both a free subscription and a money-back guarantee. It strongly advises potential customers to test out the free service before signing up to a paid subscription to get a good idea as to whether or not you like the software.
You get access to all the privacy features of the paid plans but are limited to 10GB of bandwidth and 10 server locations. If that’s piqued your curiosity then click the link to read our full Windscribe Free review – it’s our Best Free VPN for 2019.
If you sign up to the paid version then you get three days to apply for a complete refund, which is noticeably stingy compared to the 30- or even 45-day money-back guarantees offered by other top-tier providers. Refunds are also subject to a 10GB data cap, so if you’ve used more than this you won’t be able to get your money back.
Windscribe also takes up to 30 days to return the money to your bank account, so we’d advise using the free package before you sign up to make sure you’re going to be completely satisfied.
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.
Speed & Reliability
Windscribe offers speedy performance on local connections, with downloads that are more than good enough for HD video streaming on multiple devices at once. Quick uploads make it a fantastic choice for torrenters, with the added bonus of P2P traffic being permitted on nearly every server.
Connecting internationally wasn’t as reliable, but this shouldn’t be an issue for most users. It’s worth noting that we test using the OpenVPN protocol as standard, but we did find speeds to be better using IKEv2. While we prefer OpenVPN as it’s an open-source protocol that does very well to balance performance and privacy, IKEv2 will offer enough security for most.
While download speeds on local connections don’t quite measure up to those offered by top-tier providers, they’re certainly quick enough for HD streaming and speedy multiple file downloads, peaking at just over 70Mbps in the UK and averaging at around 50Mbps throughout the rest of Europe (we test from London).
Connecting out to the US East Coast provided decent speeds of around 30Mbps. Performance dropped over long-distance connections, with Australia coming in at 16Mbps, but this is to be expected and won’t affect the majority of everyday users.
We found latency to be fairly average, coming in at 8ms on same-country connections. This will be more than fast enough for most, but considering that some providers boast super low ping times of less than 1ms, hardcore gamers may be left dissatisfied.
Uploads are very similar to downloads in that they’re very quick on local connections, with speeds of up to 87Mbps on local connections. This makes Windscribe a great option for torrenters.
If you’d like to find out more about how we conduct our speed tests, take a look at our guide to How We Review VPNs.
Windscribe offers a mid-size server network with the majority of popular countries covered on its paid plan. A choice of 55 countries should be enough for most, however there are providers out there that do offer more should you need access to any exotic or unusual locations.
We were a little disappointed that Windscribe wasn’t willing to tell us the number of servers or IP addresses it maintains, which leads us to believe there aren’t many. If this is the case it could feasibly lead to congestion at peak times.
That said, they’re well-spread around the world, with city-level options in countries like the UK, Canada and Japan. The choice of 27 US cities is one of the best we’ve seen, too.
You can find the complete list of Windscribe server locations by country and purpose on their website below.
Platforms & Devices
Windscribe offers a good range of custom apps for the usual platforms including Microsoft Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android. You can also buy a router with Windscribe VPN software already installed, preventing you from having to set up multiple apps on all your devices.
The Android app was recently given a total makeover, making it just as sleek and user-friendly as the other custom clients.
We love Windscribe’s browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera, and actually found them much easier to use than the desktop apps.
They’re incredibly easy to download, and feature an even bigger range of privacy features – like an ad-blocker and tracker. You can even choose to randomly rotate your user agent, making it far harder for you to be tracked.
It’s important to remember that while these are useful bonus features, they only encrypt your browser traffic and therefore shouldn’t be used in place of the desktop client. Windscribe actually encourages using both at the same time for the highest level of security, and we would agree.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
Windscribe can be used with a variety of games consoles and streaming devices either by connecting them to a manually configured router or sharing the VPN connection with another device also running the software, like your laptop or smartphone.
There are dedicated apps for the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Kodi, too.
A huge plus here is that there’s no limit on the number of simultaneous connections you’re allowed, so you can use Windscribe on all the devices in your home at the same time.
Streaming & Torrenting
Windscribe offers optimized streaming servers for fast, easy access to popular streaming sites. We’ve had absolutely no problems accessing Netflix through the Windflix US and Windflix UK servers.
Due to the BBC’s recent crackdown on VPN providers, we continue to be unable to access BBC iPlayer. This is unfortunately a common problem among VPN providers at the moment, and only a few – such as Hotspot Shield and SaferVPN – offer reliable access to the site.
Despite this, solid speeds and hassle-free access mean Windscribe is a great choice if you want to watch other streaming services like Hulu, Sky or Now TV.
Encryption & Security
Windscribe excels on several privacy fronts, offering a load of advanced features that you won’t get with many other providers. Encryption is via super-secure AES-256, which is used by the US federal government and widely considered unbreakable.
The desktop app offers a few different protocol options including OpenVPN, IKEv2 and the proprietary Stealth protocol. OpenVPN is our preferred protocol as it’s the most secure, and you have the option to toggle between UDP and TCP connections. Just beware that the app defaults to IKEv2, so change it to OpenVPN as soon as possible.
Windscribe offers its own take on the VPN kill switch with the ‘Firewall’ feature, which prevents your true IP address from being exposed should the VPN connection drop. We were disappointed by the lack of first-party DNS servers, but it was great to see no DNS leaks during our tests regardless.
The fact that TCP port 443 is supported is also very useful, as it means you appear online as normal web traffic rather than a VPN user. We also really like the built-in ad-blocker R.O.B.E.R.T, which blocks various malware, ad and tracking domains at DNS level.
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
- DNS Leak Blocking
- IPV6 Leak Blocking
- Supports TCP Port 443
- VPN Kill Switch
- Ad Blocker
Due to China’s recent VPN crackdown, Windscribe has become a less reliable options for people living in or traveling to the country. Customer support informed us that some users have been experiencing some login and connectivity issues.
Due to its proprietary Stealth protocol, which uses TCP via Stunnel to make it more difficult to detect as VPN traffic, Windscribe remains a good choice for those wishing to connect out from other high-censorship countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
A good-size server network comes in useful here, as it means no matter where you are in the world you should never be too far from a free-speech nation.
Windscribe’s logging policy is practical and minimal, collecting only temporary logs of connection metadata in order to monitor server performance. These include:
- Total amount of bandwidth consumed each month (this is deleted on a monthly basis)
- Timestamp of your last activity on the Windscribe network
- Username, chosen server, time of connection and amount of data transferred (this is stored for the duration of your session)
We love this level of transparency, and the fact that no personally identifiable data is collected means that there’s no way your online activity can be traced back to you as an individual.
Windscribe operates under the jurisdiction of Canada, which is part of intelligence-sharing agreements with the US and EU. While far from ideal, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue for the majority as the strict Windscribe logging policy means it’s impossible to tie user activity to a single person.
Windscribe states that any request for user data, from law enforcement agencies or otherwise, would “yield nothing of value” as it only stores the bare minimum of connection information.
Ease of Use
Windscribe’s range of custom apps are simple and user-friendly without sacrificing advanced privacy features. The main screen on the desktop client is compact but packs in lots of useful information, including your chosen server location, new IP address and an on/off toggle for the Firewall (kill switch) feature.
More configurable options can be found behind the menu in the top-left corner. We love that the more advanced features warn inexperienced users to steer clear “unless you know what you’re doing”. There are handy links to the support pages should you need further clarification, although it’s a shame this information isn’t embedded in the app.
We were a little unimpressed with the responsiveness of the desktop client, which doesn’t feel anywhere near as snappy as it should.
The mobile apps are sleeker and more responsive, but they don’t include some of the more advanced privacy features.
Even if you’ve never used a VPN before, download and installing Windscribe is incredibly easy and takes only a couple of minutes from start to finish. There are set-up guides for the majority of popular platforms on the support section of the site, including loads of helpful screenshots and video tutorials.
The process is as simple as downloading the relevant software from the website and following the prompts given to you by the installation wizard.
Windscribe’s customer support can be quite intimidating in comparison to other providers. Unlike other VPNS at this tier, like VPNArea for example, there’s no live chat and it’s hard to know where to start looking between the Setup Guides, FAQs and Knowledge Base.
Once you know where to look, the content is actually very accessible to inexperienced users, avoiding technical jargon but also including enough information to satisfy the more tech-savvy.
If you need more personalized advice, you can either ask ‘Garry’ the support chatbot or submit a ticket through the website. Sadly for poor Garry, he seems unable to answer even the most basic of questions, so we’d recommend not wasting your time and just contacting the support team straight away.
Response time was swift, but it felt very scripted and the agent wasn’t willing to answer our more in-depth and trying questions. You should be able to use the Self Help section to solve most common problems, but it’s frustrating to not have the instant support offered by other VPN providers.
The Bottom Line
- Solid performance with speeds of up to 72Mbps on local connections
- Quick, easy access to Netflix through dedicated streaming servers
- Very user-friendly apps. Instant set-up on popular devices
- Decent-sized global network - connect securely to 55 countries
- Browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox offer extra privacy features
- Customer support lacks live chat feature
- Below average server performance on international connections
- Desktop app can be unresponsive
Windscribe is a great choice if you’re looking for an easy-to-use yet powerful VPN that offers some strong privacy features. If you sign up to the annual plan it works out at a very reasonable price, and the free option provides you with a generous 10GB of data to test out the service.
Performance is quick on local connections, with speedy uploads making it very appealing to torrenters. However, keen gamers can experience much lower ping times with other providers. Streaming fans will love the quick access to popular sites such as Netflix through servers optimized for video.
When it comes to privacy, Windscribe is about as close to zero-logs as you can get without sacrificing on server performance. The apps pack in lots of advanced privacy features including a VPN kill switch, and we really like that you can route your web traffic through two DNS servers for an extra layer of encryption.
Overall, Windscribe is a secure and user-friendly VPN that’s great for fast and easy streaming.