ZenMate

April 2018 Review & Coupons

Visit ZenMate website
7.3
Our verdict

“Simple VPN whose browser extensions trump its apps”

7.3
RECOMMENDED FOR
  • Privacy
  • Travel
  • Unblocking
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Easy-to-use VPN
  • Effective browser extensions available
  • Works with major streaming services
Works with
  • Netflix
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Kodi
  • Torrenting

Top ZenMate plans for April 2018

1 Month
$8.99 per month
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Connect to 30+ countries
  • 5 simultaneous connections
View Plan
2 Years
$8.99 $2.99 per monthsave 67%
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Connect to 30+ countries
  • 5 simultaneous connections
View Plan
15 Months
$8.99 $3.33 per monthsave 63%
  • Includes 3 months free
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Connect to 30+ countries
View Plan
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Top10VPN Rating for ZenMate

Recommended for

ZenMate Overview

ZenMate is a very simple, easy-to-use VPN app on desktop and mobile that offers basic protection and privacy. Based in Germany (making it subject to EU data regulations) and launched in 2013, it started out as a browser extension and is a more developed and fully-featured product for Chrome, Firefox and Opera than it is for Windows, Mac, iOS or Android. The good news is that you access to all platforms as part of your subscription.

ZenMate is most notable for its speed, although its performance is not always consistent. Privacy performance is mixed: appealing logging policies are undermined by the lack of OpenVPN (the best VPN protocol) and a lack of more advanced features, such as first-party DNS servers.

The ZenMate server network is on the small side but has all the locations casual users will need. ZenMate is very easy to use and has an attractive interface but would benefit from more features on desktop. Customer support was subpar: there is some good information on their site but it’s less than comprehensive. There’s no livechat option and email response was very patchy.

What we like
  • Simple one-button VPN
  • Browser extensions have some smart features
  • Very limited temporary connection metadata logging
What we like less
  • Few settings and no transparency on protocols
  • Poor performance in speed tests for desktop apps
  • Subpar customer support and information

Privacy
7.0

On the plus side: logging of connection meta-data is close to zero with IP addresses temporarily stored on ZenMate’s servers to “prevent against attacks”. A recent update has also introduced a VPN killswitch and DNS leak protection.

On the minus side: ZenMate doesn’t make it clear how long this information is stored, while on Limited plans the volume of data used is recorded. This lack of transparency makes us a little nervous given the company’s incorporation in Germany, making it subject to EU data retention laws.

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There’s also a general lack of information about encryption and protocols used. It took more digging than we’d like to discover the preferred OpenVPN protocol is not used in ZenMate. It really offers only the most basic privacy.

FeatureZenMateExpressVPNNordVPN
Open VPN (Auto) FalseTrueFalse
Open VPN (UDP/TCP) FalseTrueTrue
PPTP FalseTrueTrue
SSTP FalseTrueTrue
L2TP/IPSec TrueTrueTrue
IKEv2 TrueTrueTrue
Supports TCP Port 443 FalseTrueFalse
Supports Multihop FalseFalseTrue
Permits P2P TrueTrueTrue
Strongest encryption AES-256AES-256AES-256
First party DNS servers FalseTrueTrue
DNS Leak Blocking TrueTrueTrue
Killswitch TrueTrueTrue
Accepts cryptocurrency FalseTrueTrue
Accepts Paypal TrueTrueTrue
Activity logging FalseFalseFalse
Connection logging TrueTrueFalse
Tor over VPN server FalseFalseTrue

Speed & Performance
8.0

Despite clocking some impressive speeds on its European servers, we are unable to give ZenMate a higher score as it does not offer VPN connections using OpenVPN, the industry-leading protocol. As we use OpenVPN in all speed tests wherever possible, this means it’s not really a fair comparison with those services that do offer this preferred protocol. On top of that, ZenMate is very inconsistent, both from one day to the next and between server locations.

In initial tests, Euro servers maxed out at a paltry 15Mbps download speed and yet the next, they were as much as six times as fast. The North American network was consistently poor however and not good enough to deliver watchable video streams. It was a similar story for Hong Kong, Israel and Australia. Ping time was below average so gamers should look elsewhere.

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The browser extensions were more consistent and performed at over 80% of our normal connection speed however we did run into some technical issues (more details in the ease-of-use section below).

FeatureZenMateNortonStrongVPN
Avg global DL speed 85.11 (DE)65.13 (DE)76.89 (FR)
Avg global UL speed 87.32 (UK)86.56 (NL)90.63 (NL)
Ping time 13ms4ms2ms
Unlimited bandwidth TrueTrueTrue
Average time to connect 2s19s12s

Speed breakdown

Server LocationDownload Speed (Mbps)Upload Speed (Mbps)
Australia7.864.01
Germany85.1182.25
UK72.7087.32
USA17.0427.63
Singapore8.707.59
Netherlands24.6860.49
France66.9464.05
Canada20.2635.10
Japan12.036.40

How do we test these VPN speeds?

  • We continuously test the performance of all our featured VPN providers to ensure you have all the latest information you need to choose.
  • For this provider we use the Ookla speed test tool, on our fibre-optic line in central London and via our own paid-for VPN subscriptions.
  • Our base (no VPN) download speed is around 80Mbps, upload 90Mbps and ping 3ms and results are from London to the listed locations.
  • Our tests are intended to give you an idea of the range of connection speeds. The closer the server and faster your connection, the faster your speeds.

Locations
7.1

ZenMate has one of the smallest server networks in the market as just 29 locations. If you live outside major European countries or the main Anglo nations, you are likely to be disappointed in your search for a truly local option.

Of course not everyone needs to connect to exotic locations, so if all you care about are the most popular locations, such as US, Australia, UK and western Europe than you will be covered. However very popular locations such as Mexico and Brazil, among others, are missing. Check out the server list on ZenMate’s website to see if they have what you need. Of course, one major downside of a small network is that it’s more likely to get congested and harder for you to “get lost in the crowd”.

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FeatureZenMateExpressVPNNordVPN
Server locations 2914861
Servers 292,000+3,500+
IP addresses 3,000+20,000+3,500+
Dynamic server switching FalseFalseTrue

Ease of use
7.0

What we like
  • Simple one-button interface
  • Extensions have "cool smart locations" feature
  • Easy to switch servers
Read more
What we like less
  • Desktop apps lack settings and features
  • Lack of transparency about connection details
  • Extensions are a bit buggy

ZenMate started as a browser extension and that’s clear when comparing the newer VPN desktop and mobile apps with the fuller-featured extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Opera. The desktop app is the most basic of all and lacks much in the way of features beyond server location selection and a big connect button. There’s also a lack of compatibility with a broad range of devices (no Linux or router installation for example).

If the idea of click-and-forget is your idea of the perfect VPN then ZenMate could be a great choice for you. We personally prefer a few more settings to tweak and more transparency about the details of our connection, such as the VPN protocol being used and the new IP address. Be aware that for Windows, ZenMate is a system tray app and only appears when you find and click the icon, which is a bit fiddly.

We preferred the browser extensions, which offer malware and ad-tracking blockers plus a clever feature that allows you to set different “smart locations” for specific websites. They are also the most reliable way to access streaming services. Why doesn’t the desktop app offer all this?

It’s not all perfect with the extensions however as we ran into some bugs and had to reinstall on Chrome. We also experienced conflicts when accidentally running both at the same time. Importantly, don’t forget that browser extensions only encrypt that browser’s activity, leaving others apps connections unsecured.

Is ZenMate compatible with my device?

Device/OS/BrowserZenMateExpressVPNNordVPN
Windows TrueTrueTrue
Mac TrueTrueTrue
Linux FalseTrueManual
iOS TrueTrueTrue
AndroidTrueTrueTrue
Router FalseTrueManual
Games consoles FalseManual False
Fire TV Stick FalseTrueManual
Chrome extensionTrueTrueTrue
Firefox extensionTrueTrueTrue
Safari (for mac) extensionFalseTrueManual

Customer Support
6.0

The good: we really like the general information about privacy in the Academy section of the ZenMate site. It covers everything from public Wi-Fi safety to Edward Snowden and Net Neutrality. It’s good info even if the presentation is very basic. Troubleshooting FAQs are also well-organised and clear but could also benefit from richer presentation with images and video.

The not-so-good: the website lacks a lot of basic info about the server network and technical specifications of the product. Also, for a product that prides itself on quality support, there’s no live chat and email response was pretty much nonexistent. While the idea of a having bot try to answer your question prior to a human is fine in principle, the execution was poor with irrelevant answers. We never actually received a human response to our initial enquiry and our ticket was deleted, which is disappointing.

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FeatureZenMateExpressVPNNordVPN
Support quality 2.3109.2
24/7 support FalseTrueTrue
Live chat FalseTrueTrue
Knowledge base TrueTrueTrue
Video tutorials FalseTrueTrue

Value for money
7.1

What we like
  • Browser extensions add value
  • When it's fast, it's very fast
  • Works with major streaming services
Read more
What we like less
  • Lack of settings is frustrating
  • Small server network
  • Inconsistent performance
Our Rating
7.3
“Simple VPN whose browser extensions trump its apps”
Visit ZenMate website