A VPN for every device and operating system; Windscribe VPN Review
Windscribe VPN is an unexpected combination of security and privacy services. On the surface, it’s an easy-to-use app that quickly connects any device to its VPN servers and a firewall. Behind the scenes, DNS-based tools provide customization controls that block ads, malware, trackers, fake content, and clickbait. It also has controls so that you can choose the type of threats to block and create rules that block specified domains.
What We Like
- Access a computer or home network remotely with port forwarding
- The free plan offers 10 GB of data transfer (must register)
- Includes a firewall; blocks ads, trackers, and malware
- The video on the Windscribe.com home page
What We Don’t Like
- Must commit to one year to get the best price
- Refunds must be requested within three business days of the subscription payment
Windscribe is an easy-to-use internet tool that helps you get around censorship, access geographically restricted content, download any type of content, hide browsing patterns from marketers, avoid surveillance, and keep criminals away from personal information. It provides access to servers in 110 cities across 63 countries.
Setup Process: Quick to install and a few preferences to set
The Windscribe desktop and mobile apps are quick and easy to set up. The Windscribe installation on a Windows PC uses the familiar Windows installer. The only difference is that the programmers at Windscribe added a little humor to the installation wizard. The download and installation on an Android tablet were also straight-forward and completed in a short amount of time.
There are only a few preferences to set up in the desktop and mobile apps. The app is set to launch on startup and show notifications by default. It is also set to start the firewall automatically. There are also options to automatically connect to the most recent location, change the order of the available locations, control when the firewall is on, and enable a secure hotspot.
Design: Intuitive, small, and easy on the eyes
When the Windscribe app first opens, it’s compact and looks easy to use. It feels very intuitive to work with it. To get started, turn it on. Windscribe defaults to the best server depending on the location. To browse more securely, Windscribe has a built-in firewall that can be turned on and off from the main app.
There’s also an option to change servers, add servers to a favorites list. The Servers list is arranged by country, and each country expands to display the server locations. In the Android app, this list is separated into sections that for all locations (it also expands to display the servers in a country), favorite locations, Netflix servers, and static IP addresses.
When the VPN is turned off, Windscribe displays a notification that includes that amount of data transferred during the session and the duration of the session.
The Windscribe added a cool design feature that makes it easy to see if the VPN is turned on or off. The app changes colors. When the VPN is off, the app is grey. When it’s connecting to a server, the app is dark blue. When the connection is made, the app turns bright blue.
The programmers at Windscribe added a little humor to the installation wizard
A strong feature of Windscribe VPN is the extensive device support. There’s a VPN app for PCs, smartphones, browsers, and more. Windscribe also provides config generators so that you can set up Windscribe on devices that support VPN/proxy protocols.
Windscribe VPN supports these systems:
- Operating systems: Windows 10, 8, 7; macOS 10.11 and newer; and Linux
- Web Browsers: Chrome, Firefox, and Opera
- Mobile platforms: Android and iOS
- TV devices: Amazon FireTV, Nvidia Shield, and KODI
- Routers: DD-WRT and Tomato
- VPN/proxy protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2, SOCKS5
Windscribe VPN also has browser extensions for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox. These extensions are a quick way to connect to the VPN, however, the extension only protects browser traffic.
Along with providing a VPN tunnel, these browser extensions include features to change servers, add URLs to a safelist, and create a secure link to any web page.
Performance: No noticeable difference with the VPN enabled
When we launched Windscribe VPN to start each of our Windscribe VPN bandwidth tests, it took only a few seconds to connect to a server with the best location. Changing to a different server took a few more seconds. This is quicker than we experienced when testing other VPNs.
We measured upload and download speeds with six different internet speed test sites. There was a slight reduction in download speeds after connecting to the VPN, but overall speeds were fairly average compared to other services that we have tested.
When connected to the Windscribe-suggested best location, we saw a maximum download speed of 158 Mbps on our 1 Gbps connection. By experimenting a little with nearby services, we were able to get that up to 206 Mbps. That isn’t as fast as the fasted VPNs we’ve looked at, but it’s pretty good.
Streaming: Works with Netflix and others
We were able to stream Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime while connected to Windscribe VPN, although we weren’t able to locate a server that worked with BBC iPlayer. Your experience may vary from ours, as VPNs and streaming services play an endless game of cat and mouse, but we found Windscribe to be a decent option if you’re looking to unblock Netflix.
The VPN and encryption protocols used by Windscribe are as strong as can be found.
Windscribe doesn’t store any historical data, your source IP, the sites you visit when connected to the service, or even timestamps of your connections other than your most recent one.
Security Features: Excellent account controls via the website
The privacy and encryption features of Winscribe are impressive. The VPN and encryption protocols used by Winscribe are as strong as can be found. Intruders and hackers have never been able to penetrate this encryption spectrum.
Winscribe uses AES 256 encryption with SHA512 authentication, a 4096-bit RSA key, and forward secrecy. These protocols are the highest level of encryption available, and the forward secrecy means that RSA keys aren’t reused. If a private key gets in the hands of the wrong person, they can only view the data for one session.
To use Windscribe VPN, you’ll need an account. Having an account does more than provide you with access to the VPN and firewall through the app. Use any web browser to log in to your account and access a variety of extra features. When you set up these features, the settings apply to every device that is associated with the account.
You’ll find many features when you log in to your account on the Windscribe website.
- DNS Blocking: One of these features is R.O.B.E.R.T., an advanced DNS level blocker. Set up blocking from the website and the blocker works on all your devices. Choose which type of content to block or create custom rules to safelist domains, block domains, change the IP address where a domain resolves.
- Port forwarding: Use Windscribe to set up a small local network for your connected devices. Port forwarding is a convenient way to access apps and data on any of your devices. For example, when you’re away from home, you can use your smartphone to access your PC and check your home security cam.
- ScribeForce: This feature is for small businesses or families. ScribeForce is a way to create a team account to manage multiple users. Each team member has the same protection, has access to the same services, and can connect unlimited devices. Also, there’s only one bill to pay instead of a bill for each team member.
- Secure Link: Give Windscribe a link to a web page, and Windscribe scans the web page for trackers and gives the page a privacy score. Then, it packages this score along with the link to the web page into a secure link. Anyone who clicks on the secure link sees the privacy score and the number of trackers before going to the web page.
Torrenting: Prohibited on some servers
Windscribe explicitly allows torrenting on the service. It is prohibited on some servers, but it’s free game on the rest. You’ll have the best luck using this feature if you spring for a premium subscription instead of sticking with the free plan.
Ad Blocking: Implemented via R.O.B.E.R.T.
Windscribe’s best-in-class ad blocker is R.O.B.E.R.T., which stands for Remote Omnidirectional Badware Eliminating Robotic Tool, according to the tongue-in-cheek blog post that announced the feature.
R.O.B.E.R.T. is technically an ad blocker, and it works at the DNS level to block ad trackers and malware across all of your devices. Unlike traditional ad blockers, it interferes with the ad process before a valid request can be made. This prevents the ad tracker from ever receiving a request from your browser, and it ensures that nobody will receive any information about your device or connection.
As we outlined above, R.O.B.E.R.T. is one of the features you can customize via the Windscribe website, allowing you to simultaneously protect all of your devices without making individual changes to the Windscribe app on each one.
Customer Service: A ticket system and chat bot
While the idea of a robot called R.O.B.E.R.T. preemptively zapping ads and malware is endearing, the idea of talking to a customer support robot is less so. Unfortunately, your options for customer support from Windscribe are to talk to a chat bot or to fill out a ticket and wait for a human reply.
Price: Slightly Higher than the competition, but with lots of extras
Many VPN providers charge between $3 and $6 per month for their service. The Windscribe Pro plan costs $9 a month. For this extra price, Windscribe provides features that other VPN providers such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN don’t include in their basic price. These features include a firewall, adblocker, tracker blocker, and double VPN. Plus, there are additional features you can set up from the Windscribe website that apply settings across all your connected devices.
Windscribe has several pricing plans to fit your budget, and you’ll save money when you commit to a yearly plan. The monthly plan is $9 per month, and the yearly plan is $49 (about $4 per month). Students save even more with the 40% off yearly subscription student discount.
Want to try the Pro version for 24 hours? Ask Garry the chatbot to upgrade you for 24 hours.
Windscribe VPN offers a free plan that is the same as the paid plan except that the free plan doesn’t provide access to Netflix and is limited to 10 GB of data transfer. This 10 GB is available only if you register with an e-mail address. If you don’t register, you’re limited to 2 GB of data transfer. Also, the free version has access to servers in 10 countries, and the paid version provides access to servers in 60 countries.
With both the free and paid plans, you use as many devices as you want with the VPN service, if you own the devices. You cannot share a subscription with family members or friends.
Competition: Small in size, large in features
Windscribe VPN has fewer server locations than the more popular VPN services such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN, however, they cover the same worldwide area. Windscribe has servers in 110 cities across 60 countries. NordVPN, for example, has 5,742 servers in 60 countries.
Windscribe VPN may have fewer servers, but they offer the same high-level of encryption as the larger VPN services. Windscribe’s prices are higher, but they offer additional services such as a firewall that other VPNs don’t offer.
If you want to find out how Windscribe compares to other VPN services, Windscribe compares their Free and Pro services to 17 popular VPN services. They compare basic features such as price, number of devices, locations, firewall, blockers, P2P, double VPN, and no logs.
A solid VPN with extra features.
Windscribe’s biggest strengths are the 256-bit encryption that is one of the safest encryption levels, its multi-platform compatibility that covers most devices and web browsers, and its ability to be configured on a router to secure an entire household. It’s the perfect solution for those that want more security features than those found in most VPNs.
- Product Name: Windscribe
- Price: $9
- Speed (Fastest Observed): 206 Mbps (Tested on a 1Gbps connection)
- Operating Systems: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
- Devices: No hard limit (account sharing prohibited)
- Server Locations: 60 Countries
- Number of Servers: 480+
- Streaming: Yes (Tested Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime)
- Torrenting: Yes, some servers (including kill switch)
- Encryption: AES 256 with SHA512auth and 4096-bit RSA key (desktops), AES 128 GCMcipher with P-256 key exchange and TLS 1.2, ECDHE_RSA for browsing extensions
- Logging: No
- Jurisdiction: Canada