Privacy & Logging Policy
German-based VPN with vague logging policy
“The above-mentioned Personal Data is not, at any point, associated with any kind of activity done by the user inside the ZenMate VPN tunnel, which is NOT recorded, logged or stored at all.”
The policy states that it doesn’t log any of this information when using the VPN itself. However, it doesn’t state the data it actually does log.
In short, ZenMate has written a vague no-logs statement that almost every VPN on the market uses.
We spoke to a ZenMate representative to clarify the situation. They stated that the VPN does not keep records of user activity, metadata, timestamps, or IP addresses.
The company knows how many users there are on a particular server at any given time, but it doesn’t know who these users are.
Based on these responses, it seems that ZenMate is a private VPN that keeps minimal information about its users and their activity.
Based on this ambiguity, the company would benefit from an independent audit that verifies its no-logging claims. As it stands, the the current level of ambiguity is not acceptable for a top VPN.
Kape owns ZenMate
Kape Technologies purchased ZenGuard GmbH, the owner of ZenMate, in 2018. Kape owns three other (larger) VPN services: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access.
ZenGuard GmbH is still based in Berlin, Germany. ZenGuard is also merged with Mobile Concepts GmbH, which is based in the town of Übach Palenberg, Germany.
The VPN service falls under the jurisdiction of the European Union. This isn’t ideal for privacy as the EU has intrusive surveillance and data retention laws.
The European Union is also listed as an investor and/or partner in ZenMate VPN, which raises some concerns.
ZenMate works with 5 Netflix libraries
ZenMate is a relatively good VPN for beating streaming geo-blocks, but it doesn’t quite match the capabilities of the highest-rated streaming VPNs.
The VPN has lots of servers designed to bypass streaming geo-blocks, but over years of testing we’ve found that these servers don’t work 100% of the time.
Currently, ZenMate operates servers targeting the following streaming services:
- Amazon Prime
- BBC iPlayer
- Fox Sport
- Netflix (FR, DE, IT JP, US)
- Zattoo DE
We encountered numerous problems testing the above servers. The VPN often failed to connect to them altogether. When it did connect, it often didn’t unblock the relevant streaming platform.
ZenMate works with US Netflix
In our latest tests, ZenMate worked with 5 Netflix regions: USA, Japan, Italy, Germany, and France. This is very impressive compared to other mid-tier VPNs we’ve tested such as Avira Phantom VPN.
Sadly, due to the VPN’s slow long-distance speeds, we experienced a considerable amount of buffering.
ZenMate unblocks BBC iPlayer
Surprisingly, ZenMate still works with BBC iPlayer. The BBC’s video service is one of the hardest to unblock, however ZenMate’s BBC iPlayer server worked as intended and with ease.
HBO Max, DAZN and Disney+ block ZenMate
Despite working with US Netflix, ZenMate couldn’t unblock other popular US content platforms like Hulu, HBO Max and Disney+.
We tried both the streaming servers, and the regular US servers, with no success.
ZenMate doesn’t have a Fire TV Stick app
Frustratingly, ZenMate doesn’t offer a dedicated app for Amazon Fire TV.
Because the VPN company hasn’t released an official Android .apk file, it’s not possible to side load the Android VPN app, either.
Therefore, to use the VPN on your Firestick, you’ll have to install it on your home router. It’s a rather tedious process, so Firestick users should opt for a VPN with a native Fire TV Stick app, instead.
ZenMate has no Smart DNS support
Another failure of ZenMate is the absence of Smart DNS functionality. This is the easiest way to use a VPN on Apple TV and on games consoles.
Your only option to use ZenMate on these devices is, again, to set up the VPN on your router.
Torrenting-friendly servers but slow P2P speeds
ZenMate effectively hides your IP address, encrypts your data, and keeps your internet activity safe from ISP snooping. This is ideal for secure torrenting.
The service allows P2P traffic and file-sharing on all its servers, of which 60 (labeled ‘For downloading’) are specifically optimized for torrenting traffic.
We tested these P2P serveers with torrent clients like BitTorrent, Deluge, uTorrent, and Transmission, and they downloaded torrent files anonymously.
Also, the VPN’s kill switch, called ‘Secure Connect’, safely cut out our internet connection when the VPN unexpectedly failed. This prevented our true IP address from being exposed.
The problem with using ZenMate for torrenting are the VPN’s slow speeds. We couldn’t download files as quickly as we did when running ExpressVPN through our P2P tests.
What’s more, many of ZenMate’s servers aren’t fully optimized for torrenting. They’ll work, but torrent speeds weren’t as good in our experience.
Servers not optimized for torrenting include:
- South Africa
- South Korea
ZenMate lacks port forwarding
Another P2P shortcoming of ZenMate is that it doesn’t allow port forwarding. Not many VPNs do, but seeders often seek this feature that drastically improves file upload speeds.
We particularly like PIA VPN’s port forwarding tool, which is one of the most customizable we’ve reviewed.
Speed & Reliability
ZenMate's network delivers disappointing speeds
ZenMate’s speeds are disappointing.
We calculated local speeds by connecting to a London VPN server from our physical location in London. Here are the full speed test results:
Local Speed Test results before using ZenMate:
- Download Speed: 97.9Mbps
- Upload Speed: 99.59Mbps
- Ping: 1ms
Local Speed Test results with ZenMate:
Download speed loss when ZenMate is running: 52%
We recorded an average download speed of 47Mbps when connected to a nearby server, which is a 52% speed loss compared to not using a VPN at all.
This type of speed loss on nearby servers is alarming. ZenMate is significantly slower than the quickest VPNs we’ve tested.
Latency was also very high – 15ms at best – which is makes lag-less online gaming challenging to achieve.
Long-distance speed test results
ZenMate’s speeds over long-distance connections are also disappointing.
We connected to servers in the US, Australia, Singapore, and Germany from London and measured our connection speeds before and after.
Here are ZenMate’s average speeds when connecting to multiple international VPN servers:
- Download: 19Mbps (80% speed loss)
- Upload: 78Mbps
- Download: 89Mbps (9% speed loss)
- Upload: 92Mbps
- Download: 11Mbps (86% speed loss)
- Upload: 32Mbps
- Download: 10Mbps (90% speed loss)
- Upload: 21Mbps
We measured losses of 90% when connecting to an Australian server, and 80% when connecting to the US.
Singapore was equally bad, registering an average speed loss of 86%.
Based on the above, it’s clear that ZenMate is not suitable for connecting to far-away servers, especially VPN connections into the US.
At least the VPN performed much better connecting to its Germany servers, losing just 9% of normal internet speed.
It’s unclear why the German servers perform better than the nearby UK ones. It does suggest ZenMate’s UK servers are experiencing server load issues.
These slow international speeds are a problem for streaming overseas content in high definition.
We recently tested Hotspot Shield’s overseas speeds, which were vastly superior to ZenMate’s.
Overall, ZenMate’s speeds are mediocre at best. It’s fast enough for web browsing, but overseas streaming will suffer from buffering and picture quality loss.
4,800 VPN servers in 81 countries
ZenMate runs a large server network of 4,800 VPN servers in 81 countries.
It’s a good sized network, covering more countries than we’ve analyzed in NordVPN and Surfshark.
The VPN’s server locations are well spread out well across the world, even covering countries in North Africa, the Middle East, and South America.
However, like most VPNs, ZenMate’s servers are mostly concentrated in Europe and North America.
Additionally, ZenMate claims to own all its servers. In other words, the company doesn’t rent any servers. First-party ownership handled by any other third parties.
ZenMate lacks city-level options
The biggest issue with ZenMate’s server list is that you can’t select city-specific servers.
The VPN automatically selects a city within your chosen server location. ZenMate support agents confirmed this is intentional app behavior:
The countries with servers in more than one city include:
- Australia (Melbourne, Sydney)
- Canada (Montreal, Toronto)
- Germany (Berlin, Frankfurt)
- UK (London, Manchester)
- US (Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Phoenix, Washington)
The inability to choose a specific server is frustrating, and it makes it difficult to beat geo-blocks, particularly when it comes to US sports blackouts.
The company justifies this by referring to its Dynamic IP system, which ensures users can’t connect to the same IP address more than once when using the VPN.
While this system is very good for privacy, it does remove a degree of control from users, who need to connect to specific cities.
Security & Extra Features
ZenMate is safe but lacks certain security settings
|Protocols||Available in ZenMate|
|Encryption||Available in ZenMate|
|Security||Available in ZenMate|
|DNS Leak Blocking||Yes|
|IPv6 Leak Blocking||Yes|
|Supports TCP Port 443||No|
|VPN Kill Switch||Yes|
|WebRTC Leak Blocking||Yes|
|Advanced Features||Available in ZenMate|
|Tor over VPN Server||No|
ZenMate is a secure VPN service that comes with AES-256 encryption, an automatic kill switch, and no data leaks that could compromise your safety.
While the Windows and Android apps use the secure OpenVPN protocol by default, its macOS and iOS apps are limited to the less secure IKEv2 protocol.
WireGuard is only available on Android.
If you want to use OpenVPN or WireGuard on the Mac or Windows apps, you’ll have to set them up manually.
You can toggle DNS leak protection and disable IPv6 connections when connected to the VPN on Windows, and these features come with helpful descriptions explaining their function.
All of the ZenMate apps use the same level of AES-256 encryption, which is the most secure encryption cipher available.
ZenMate offers a standard level of security that is more than enough to protect your data on public WiFi networks. However, the VPN would benefit from investing in advanced features like a malware blocker, Double VPN, or obfuscation tools.
Without these features, ZenMate remains basic and unsophisticated when compared to the most secure VPN services on the market.
If security is your main priority, we recommend reading our Perfect Privacy review to understand how VPNs can benefit from a wider range of features.
ZenMate also needs to upgrade its security on Mac and iOS. The inability to switch protocols on these platforms means it’s currently more secure on Windows and Android.
Data Leaks, Malware, and Tracking Tests
We put ZenMate through a series of security tests to ensure that it’s as safe as it claims to be. We first tested the app to see what permissions and trackers it installs on your Android device. Here’s what we found:
We found that the Android app contains 8 trackers and 10 permissions – none of which are considered out of the ordinary.
We also ran all of ZenMate’s installation software through a virus scanning system to ensure it presents no threat to your device. As you can see below, the app is perfectly safe and free from malware.
Finally, we tested to see whether Zenmate VPN leaks sensitive data like your IP address or DNS requests. We found it is perfectly safe to use and did not leak any of our browsing data.
You can test it for yourself using our free VPN leak test.
Compared to services with GPS spoofing, split tunneling, MultiHop servers, and more, ZenMate’s security offering is quite basic.
However, it’s still a reliable and simple service and that will keep your browsing data safe.
Bypassing Web Censorship
ZenMate doesn’t work in China
ZenMate VPN does not work in China and hasn’t for a few years.
The company is open about this fact and doesn’t even sell its apps in China for this reason: “Because, unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that the product will work reliably.”
The VPN does still operate servers in Hong Kong and has confirmed that its service is still working there. Keeping these servers isn’t without risk, however, as the Chinese government may soon get access to Hong Kong ISPs and snoop on your online activity.
ZenMate doesn’t work in highly-censored countries like Saudi Arabia or Iran, either. The VPN recommends that you don’t subscribe to a premium account if you plan to use it in these countries.
The company’s honesty about its limitations is refreshing, but its inability to get around heavy censorship is disappointing.
The company does imply that its service is working in Turkey, Pakistan, and the UAE. However, this information was last updated over three-years ago, so the situation is likely to be different today.
Simply put, ZenMate is not private, effective, or reliable enough to be used as an anti-censorship tool. It doesn’t offer any obfuscation technology or the option to use SoftEther connections that may conceivably get around state censorship.
If you are looking to use a VPN in a highly-censored country, we suggest that you take a look at our recommendations for VPNs that work in China.
Device & OS Compatibility
Apps for major devices
ZenMate is available to download as an application on the major platforms, including:
It can also be installed on routers, but it doesn’t have a custom app for Amazon Fire TV or Linux.
There are setup guides on the ZenMate website for the various custom apps on offer.
ZenMate offers an unlimited number of devices under one subscription. This means you can protect as many devices as you’d like without paying more.
The company also sells business VPNs that come with managerial support and a management dashboard.
This is useful for companies looking to share confidential information and protect themselves from cybercriminals at a time when corporate hacks are frequent.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
It’s possible to install ZenMate on your router, which will encrypt the traffic from every device connected to your home network. This means that you can technically use ZenMate on gaming consoles and TVs, including:
- Amazon Fire TV
- Android TV
However, it’s only possible to do this with ZenMate on DD-WRT routers via manual OpenVPN configuration.
ZenMate has a router installation guide for this process but states that “you need to have at least some technical understanding.”
ZenMate’s slow speeds and high latency mean it’s not a good VPN for gaming anyway. Gamers need super-fast speeds and low ping, or ideally a Smart DNS feature – none of which ZenMate provides.
If you’re looking to use a VPN with your Xbox, we suggest checking our updated list of the best VPNs for gaming.
The same applies to its compatibility with Linux. There’s no ZenMate app for Linux so it requires manual installation.
Using ZenMate with games consoles and streaming devices like the Amazon Fire Stick ultimately requires a lot of manual work and technical understanding.
Helpful information on this process isn’t easily found, so we suggest looking for a VPN with wider compatibility.
There are ZenMate browser extensions for:
- Microsoft Edge
Most VPNs offer Chrome and Firefox extensions, so it’s good to see ZenMate cater to Edge, too.
ZenMate has two types of proxy browser extensions: a free (limited) version, and a more complete ‘Pro’ browser solution.
The free browser add-on is very popular, counting over 4 million users. But, you’re restricted to four countries, one device, and 2Mbps capped speed. You’ll also miss out on the streaming-optimized servers.
The Pro browser extension gives access to the full server list, including all streaming servers, with no speed throttling.
ZenMate’s Pro browser extensions also come with tracking blockers, malware blockers, and WebRTC leak protection.
However, they use AES-128 bit encryption, which is less secure than the desktop and mobile VPN apps.
Ease of Use
Basic apps designed for simplicity
How to Install & Set Up ZenMate
ZenMate’s VPN applications are extremely basic, designed for functionality and simplicity. There’s not much more you can do other than select servers.
That’s great for newcomers, but if you’re looking for advanced technical features you should consider a VPN with more customization options.
What’s frustrating about ZenMate is that the service is very different depending on what device you’re using.
To make things simple, we’ve put together this comparison table:
ZenMate’s Windows client
Out of all ZenMate apps, the Windows client is by far the most advanced and best-performing.
The PC software’s settings menu offers more diverse options, including the ability to change your connection protocol, auto-connect on start-up, use random-port to connect, and disable IPv6 connections when connected to the VPN.
The home screen consists of a big connect button and the option to change server location by selecting the arrows on the left hand side. It also includes servers optimized for streaming, torrenting, and regular servers.
The Windows app defaults to OpenVPN and, unlike on macOS and iPhone, you can easily change protocol via a drop down menu. The only other protocol available is IKEv2, so the choice is limited.
In the settings menu you’ll find simple switches and drop-down menus for:
- Auto-connect on start-up
- Automatic server selection
- Automatic kill switch
These options come with small explainers, which make the technical aspects of ZenMate easier to understand.
ZenMate’s macOS application
The Zenmate app for Mac is much simpler than the PC application.
The only setting available is the choice to automatically run ZenMate on start-up or not. You can also deselect the option to ‘Automatically check for updates’.
There is strength in simplicity, though, particularly in the way that ZenMate organizes its servers in distinct categories for streaming, torrenting, and favorites.
Frustratingly, you can’t change your connection protocol on the Mac app. You’re in fact limited to just the IKEv2 protocol.
ZenMate’s Android and iOS mobile apps
The ZenMate Android app is slightly different and more unsightly than its counterparts. Its blue background is darker and the font lighter, which makes for a less visually-appealing app.
But ZenMate’s Android app is the only ZenMate software that uses the WireGuard protocol.
ZenMate on iOS is identical in arrangement to its Android counterpart but lacks any of the additional settings, making it more like the threadbare macOS app.
You’re also restricted to the IKEv2 protocol on iOS, which you can’t change, just like on the macOS application.
It’s extremely simple to use and has been arranged so that you can select servers easily. You can choose between ‘All’, ‘Streaming’, and ‘Favorites’ but, like on Android, there are no P2P-optimized servers available on iPhone.
Helpful live chat and customer support
|Customer Support||Available in ZenMate|
|24/7 Live Chat Support||No|
|24/7 Email Support||No|
|Live Chat Support||Yes|
|Email Support via Online Form||No|
|No Support Available||No|
ZenMate offers 24/7 live chat support, an online knowledgebase, website FAQ, and in-app ticket system.
This has come a long way from when the service had no live chat, unhelpful support bots, and slow email responses.
Our experience with ZenMate’s customer support was mostly positive. It runs a friendly 24/7 live chat support system with polite agents. Sometimes we had to wait a considerable amount of time for a response, but the wait was a matter of minutes – not hours.
When the agents did respond, they answered with very little technical detail. In other words, ZenMate’s live chat is still lacking an expert angle and human touch. And we got the impression that they wanted to wrap it up as soon as possible.
Its online knowledgebase is fairly limited, too. Here you’ll find installation guides and troubleshooting FAQs. While there appears to be plenty of online resources, many of these pages are not very detailed at all and very often out-of-date.
Difficult questions are best directed towards the ZenMate support email. This service is slower than live-chat but provide answers that are typically more in-depth and useful.
ZenMate’s customer support doesn’t rival the exceptional support of other major VPN services. It’ll cover simple questions and troubleshooting, but it’s unlikely to solve any complex technical problems.
Price & Value
ZenMate is a very affordable VPN
ZenMate is available to buy on three plans:
US$10.99/moBilled $10.99 every month
US$4.49/moBilled $53.88 every 12 months
US$1.51/moBilled $59.00 every three years
ZenMate is a very cheap VPN that offers three different products: the free browser proxy, the paid extension (Pro), and the full VPN software (Ultimate).
The Ultimate product, which works on all devices, costs $1.51 per month on a three-year plan ($59.00 upfront). A monthly saving of 85% compared to the one-month plan.
The Pro pricing plans (for web browsers only) break down as follows:
- Pay monthly plan: $7.99 per month
- 6-month plan: $3.19 per month (billed $19.14 every 6 months)
- 12-month plan: $1.99 (billed $23.88 ever year)
ZenMate runs a student discount for UK users too, which is a great option.
While ZenMate is cheap, there are other cheap VPNs better than ZenMate, but priced similarly.
Payment & Refund Options
ZenMate can be purchased through these payment methods:
- American Express
These options are basic and limited. Some competing VPN services offer payments via cryptocurrency or cash to maintain user privacy.
For a privacy-focused app, it’s worth offering BitCoin or other private payment options.
ZenMate comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means you can sign up to any of these plans and get a full refund within the timeframe.
It’s a ‘no questions asked’ refund, so you don’t need to worry about any hidden conditions. This is generous but standard practice that allows you to thoroughly test the ZenMate experience before committing further.
ZenMate’s 7-day free trial
ZenMate also offers a seven-day free trial, available on macOS, Windows, Android and iOS. This way you can avoid the upfront payment that comes with the 30-day money-back guarantee.
To activate the trial, create a ZenMate account and follow the instructions. The trial doesn’t automatically upgrade you to a paid subscription after the seven days expire.
The Bottom Line
Budget option for basic browsing
ZenMate is a basic VPN service that offers a simple way to hide your IP address and encrypt your browsing data.
Its speeds and security are good enough for casual users but it doesn’t offer anything exceptional.
The VPN is extremely easy to use, but this comes at the expense of any advanced features.
ZenMate will work if you’re only looking to stream US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, or torrent occasionally. But there are more reliable services for this.
Casual users looking for a ‘click-and-protect’ service for public WiFi could also consider ZenMate, particularly as it is one of the cheapest VPNs on the market.
While its price is low and it has majorly improved in recent updates, ZenMate needs to continue improving its service before it represents real value for money.
Additional research by David Hughes
Alternatives to ZenMate
Surfshark does everything that ZenMate does but better and cheaper. It’s faster, more secure, just as effective at unblocking streaming, and offers all the advanced features that ZenMate is lacking. Read Surfshark review
ExpressVPN is our #1 overall recommendation. It’s a super-safe, extremely quick service that does everything you could ever want a VPN to do. If you’re prepared to spend a bit more, you won’t regret avoiding all doubt and going straight to the top of the pile. Read ExpressVPN review
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