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ZenMate Review

Callum Tennent
By Callum TennentUpdated
Get ZenMate
ZenMate screenshot

ZenMate: Ranked #43 out of 99 VPNs that we tested

  1. Peak local download speeds of 36Mbps
  2. Quick, easy access to Netflix
  3. Torrenting and P2P permitted on all servers
  4. Simple set-up on most popular platforms
  5. Connect securely to 27 countries
  1. Inconsistent speeds across the server network
  2. Customer support lacks live chat and email response is patchy
  3. Very few configurable settings
  4. Based in privacy-unfriendly Germany

Works with

Netlix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Sky, Now TV, HBO, SlingTV, Torrenting, Kodi

Available on

  1. Windows
  2. Mac
  3. Ios
  4. Android

Price from

Speed & Reliability

Unreliable, below average speeds

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

Before using ZenMate:

  1. DownloadMbps

    97.8

  2. UploadMbps

    95.4

  3. Pingms

    14

When connected to ZenMate:

  1. DownloadMbps

    63.2

  2. UploadMbps

    81

  3. Pingms

    18

Download speed without ZenMate: 98 Mbps

Download speed with ZenMate: 63 Mbps

Our download speed loss when ZenMate is running: 35%

ZenMate offers below-average speeds across its server network. It’s also wildly inconsistent with fluctuating speeds and connection drops.

Long-distance connections performed very badly and latency was also very high, meaning gamers will want to look elsewhere. It’s worth noting that we use OpenVPN in all of our speed tests wherever possible, but this protocol is available on just two servers (US and UK) and requires manual configuration. This means it’s difficult for us to make a totally fair comparison with other providers.

Still, on local connections you can expect good enough performance for HD streaming. Outside of Europe, performance is about good enough for general browsing.

Considering that the app doesn’t operate on OpenVPN, the most secure protocol, you are sacrificing a level of privacy and not receiving heightened performance in recompense.

Server Locations

Very small network of servers

Globe with a blue flag30Countries
Image of a city landscape31Cities
Image of a pink marker3,000+IP Addresses

ZenMate has one of the smallest networks on the current market with just 30 countries on offer and no city-level choices.

The one exception to this is the US, but even then you only get a choice between East and West. For comparison, ibVPN offers more than 20 cities in the US alone. The whole Asia Pacific region is limited to three locations, and only one apiece in Africa, Australia, and South America.

ZenMate only has 3,000 individual IP addresses, which is likely to lead to congestion. But the most popular are covered (US, Canada, and Western Europe).

Streaming & Torrenting

Good for Netflix but less so for BBC iPlayer

ZenMate is a decent option for access to major streaming services. It offers a dedicated US streaming server for Netflix, which makes watching your favorite shows quick and hassle-free.

ZenMate isn’t as reliable when it comes to BBC iPlayer as there’s no UK streaming server. We found access on the general servers to be inconsistent, but more often than not you can unblock the service using ZenMate’s browser extension.

It’s also a good choice for Kodi fans, as ZenMate’s software will work so long as it’s installed within an operating system that has a custom ZenMate app, like Windows or MacOS.

Torrenting

Solid local upload speeds make ZenMate a decent option for torrenters, as unlimited P2P traffic is permitted on every server.

Bypassing Censorship

No promises for getting around censorship

Following China’s 2018 VPN crackdown, ZenMate is no longer a suitable choice for the country. It can’t publish its apps in China because there’s no guarantee that they will work reliably, and advises that even if you choose to download the software not to purchase a premium account.

We love ZenMate’s openness on the subject, but unfortunately it only confirms that it’s not suitable for escaping the censors. Click the link to take a look at our guide, Best VPNs for China.

Potential customers in Iran and Saudi Arabia are also advised against downloading the app for the same reason. ZenMate states that it is investigating ways to get around censorship issues, but can’t promise an immediate solution.

Other high-censorship countries fare better, though – on the support section of the ZenMate site there is a list of all the supported, available platforms in Turkey, Pakistan and the UAE. Included in this list are ISPs that are known or suspected to be blocked, helping users work out the best way to connect.

Platforms & Devices

Standard range of apps

ZenMate offers the usual range of native apps for a various platforms including Microsoft Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android. The site offers manual setup guides for manual for those devices without custom apps, such as Linux, but we found them fairly tricky to follow.

ZenMate also provides one set of instructions for manually configuring a few other devices with its VPN, including routers, Amazon Fire TV and a couple of games consoles. Again, these are a little too simplistic for our liking and newbies may struggle.

Apps

Windows LogoWindows
Mac LogoMac
iOS LogoiOS
Android LogoAndroid

Browser Extensions

Chrome LogoChrome
Firefox LogoFirefox

The only way you can use ZenMate on your games consoles or streaming devices is by configuring your router, which protects all connected devices. That’s useful, but what we’d really like to see in future is dedicated apps for these devices.

ZenMate offers a setup guide on its website but it isn’t specifically for routers – more a general guide for devices that support the OpenVPN client. It’s pretty basic – you might be better off reading our own comprehensive guide for installing a VPN at router level.

Encryption & Security

Basic level of privacy

Protocol

IKEv2/IPSec

L2TP/IPSec

OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)

Encryption

AES-256

Security

DNS Leak Blocking

VPN Kill Switch

Advanced features

Ad Blocker

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

ZenMate offers an incredibly basic level of privacy in comparison to the top-tier VPN providers. The only pre-installed protocols are IKEv2 and L2TP, and connecting through our preferred protocol, OpenVPN, requires manual configuration – and even then you are limited to just two servers (UK and US). Encryption is via AES-256, a top cipher and considered ‘unhackable’.

ZenMate has a VPN kill switch, which stops your true IP address from being leaked by blocking all web traffic should the VPN get disconnected for any reason. DNS leak protection is another greatly-appreciated feature, preventing DNS requests being sent to your ISP and therefore keeping your online activity private. Be sure to enable this setting before you connect as we found the app to leak DNS requests when it was switched off.

We would have liked to see first-party DNS servers at this level, however a near zero-logs policy goes some way to making up for this.

ZenMate also provides a couple of ‘premium features’ on its browser extensions such as malware blocking and tracking protection. These block malicious sites and prevent third-party services from tracking you and collecting information on your online activity, however it’s disappointing that these aren’t available on the desktop client.

Other providers offer many more security extras if you are looking for higher levels of security – one we’d recommend is Astrill.

Logging Policy

Confusing logging policy

ZenMate’s privacy policy is one of the most confusing ones we’ve come across. However, after looking through it in detail we’re confident that only a minimum amount of connection metadata is collected, with IP addresses temporarily stored on ZenMate’s servers to “prevent against attacks”.

ZenMate states its objective is that no personal data is “collected, processed or permanently stored,” which is reassuring, although we would like to know how long your true IP address is stored for.

The only other information that ZenMate collects is the amount of data you transfer and receive, and this is only on accounts with limited data volumes.

This is about as close to a zero-logs policy you can get whilst still maintaining performance.

Jurisdiction

ZenMate operates under the jurisdiction of Germany, making it subject to EU data retention laws. That’s less than ideal, yes, however ZenMate’s near-zero-logs policy means this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

The only time ZenMate will pass information onto third parties is in accordance with the law, when it is obliged to provide inventory data, data on usage and invoicing data. Considering the limited amount of data it collects, it’s fairly unlikely that this will affect you, and so far there is no record of anybody being convicted as a result of ZenMate’s cooperation with the authorities.

Ease of Use

As simple as a VPN service gets

How to Install & Set Up ZenMate

ZenMate’s range of custom apps are about as simple as they could possibly be, which will really appeal to more inexperienced VPN users. The desktop app is the most basic of all, but be aware that for Windows it’s a system-tray app that only appears when you find and click the icon.

It offers a short list of configurable settings, but it’s limited to just a few basic options like kill switch and DNS leak protection, and it’s very easy to turn each one on or off. We would like a few more advanced features to tweak and also a bit more transparency about the details of our connection, such as our chosen VPN protocol or new IP address.

You can install the OpenVPN configuration files onto your device by following ZenMate’s simple instructions, however, we’d rather see this protocol included as an option within the app itself.

The ZenMate browser extensions offer a much better experience but unfortunately only encrypt your browser traffic, meaning it isn’t possible to use them as a complete substitute.

Customer Support

No live chat or basic information

Email
Online Resources

ZenMate’s customer support is very limited in comparison to top-tier providers, with no live chat and a lack of basic information about the specifics of the product.

What’s more, email responses were very unreliable, which is incredibly frustrating when you can’t find the answer to your question in the list of FAQs. Even if you do eventually get a reply, it’s usually from ‘Rosa the SupportBot’, and mainly consists of irrelevant answers copied and pasted from the website.

ZenMate really needs to do better on this front in order to compete with other providers – there’s a number that offers genuine 24/7 support from actual humans, such as the very impressive VPNArea.

On the plus side, we love the general privacy information in the Academy section of the ZenMate site, which covers everything from public WiFi safety to Net Neutrality issues. The troubleshooting FAQs are also well-organized and clear but could benefit from some extra images and video to make them a little more accessible.

Pricing & Deals

Special deal is cheap, but monthly subscription is pricey

ZenMate Coupon

ZenMate Pricing Plan

ZenMate offers a range of pricing plans that get cheaper the longer you subscribe. A single month is the most expensive option at $11.99, but if you commit to the 12-month plan the monthly cost is reduced by 67% to just $3.99.

ZenMate is currently running a special deal where it’s only $2.05 per month on the two-year plan, saving a massive 83%.

ZenMate offers both a money-back guarantee and a free trial. The money-back guarantee is genuinely ‘no questions asked’ with no hidden data caps or restrictions, as long as you cancel before the end of day 14 of your subscription.

You can also take advantage of ZenMate’s seven-day free trial. This gives you unlimited use of the service for one week, and the great thing about it is that you aren’t automatically upgraded to the paid version, meaning you don’t have to hand over any billing information when you sign up.

  1. Monthly

    US$11.99/mo

    Billed $11.99 every month
  2. 12 months

    US$3.99/mo

    Billed $47.88 every 12 months
    Save 67%
  3. 2 years

    US$2.05/mo

    Billed $49.20 for the first 2 years and $47.88 every 12 months thereafter
    Save 83%

All plans have 14-day money-back guarantee

Payment Options

ZenMate accepts the usual range of payment methods, including most major credit and debit cards, PayPal and UnionPay. You can also pay by UK or international bank transfer. This is pretty limited in comparison to top-tier providers, who will usually accept cryptocurrencies as well as a much wider range of international options.

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