Windscribe VPN is the fun cool uncle of the VPN world. Its official page is actually interesting to read, its servers have witty names, and it has a great marketing team that never fails to send us an amusing newsletter.
However, marketing is only a (very) small part of what makes a VPN truly great. In this Windscribe VPN review, you’ll find out everything you need to know about this Virtual Private Network. Speed, compatibility with Netflix, features, and any potential issues – let’s see what this VPN is all about.
|Price:||From $4.08 a month|
|Support:||Self-help, bot chat, tickets|
Windscribe pros & cons
- Free version with 10GB of data
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Works with Netflix
- Unblocks various streaming sites
- Supports torrenting
- Highly configurable
- Military-grade encryption
- Lots of tunneling protocols
- Reliable kill switch
- Split tunneling on Android
- Potential speed issues
- Not that many servers
- WireGuard only on Android
- No independent audit
- Based in a 5-Eyes country
Speed performance: How fast is Windscribe?
Testing OpenVPN UDP
Baseline: 1ms, 300 Mbps download speed, 300 Mbps upload speed
|Location||Ping (ms)||Download Speed (Mbps)||Upload Speed (Mbps)|
Even though you should expect your speed to drop a bit when using a VPN, the program shouldn’t slow you down too much – or else it’ll become frustrating and you won’t be able to enjoy your online activities anymore.
For this Windscribe VPN review, I tested all of its supported tunneling protocols and was a bit disappointed by the overall results – simply because the speeds weren’t that spectacular.
However, I got some good results with the OpenVPN UDP protocol. Even though the speeds were quite unstable, I managed to get fast download and upload speeds with certain servers like Germany, Australia, and Lithuania. For example, when the German server was in use, my upload speed dropped by 22%, which is negligible if you have a fast internet connection. At the same time, this server made the download speed drop by 36%.
On the other hand, some servers slowed down my connection a lot. For example, I was left with only 1% of my original download speed when connected to the Argentinian server. Unfortunately, the WireGuard protocol is available only for Android users, which leaves lots of users with OpenVPN UDP as the fastest option.
Speed with other tunneling protocols
I also performed speed tests with other tunneling protocols of Windscribe VPN: IKEv2, OpenVPN TCP, Stealth, WStunnel, and WireGuard.
I tested the IKEv2/IPsec tunneling protocol on my Mac device because it didn’t work on Windows for some reason. As a result, the baseline speed is a bit different – 1/296/283 (the first number represents ping, the second – download speed, while the third one – upload speed).
Luckily, I got some great results. For example, I was left with 93.5% of my original download speed when connected to the German server and 86.4% when connected to the US LA server. However, the situation wasn’t perfect with all the servers – I was left with only 2.3% of my baseline download speed when Windscribe VPN connected to India.
The WireGuard protocol is available only on the Android app of Windscribe VPN. Unfortunately, even though it’s the fastest tunneling protocol of the bunch, it sometimes managed to slow down my connection quite significantly.
So, my base speed on the phone was 1/257/334. With WireGuard, it dropped to 6/100/183, when connected to the nearest server. In other words, I was left with 38% of my original download speed and 54% of upload speed. I even got slightly better results using IKEv2 on the same server (6/101/255).
Now, the situation with OpenVPN TCP (which I tested on my Windows device) was a bit disappointing. The speed drop was significant in comparison with the results of OpenVPN UDP. For example, I got 276/4/3 with the TCP protocol on the US Florida server while the same server gave me 133/69/227 with OpenVPN UDP.
WStunnel and StealthVPN
Both upload and download speeds were extremely slow when WStunnel was in use on a Windows PC. For example, when connected to the UK server, the download speed was only 2 Mbps, while the upload speed reached only 0.05 Mbps. However, sometimes the upload speed dropped to zero. This happened with some of the US, Japanese, Lithuanian, and Indian servers.
The Stealth protocol disappointed me even more. That’s because most of the time, it failed to connect at all. I only managed to connect to the US Florida server, but the speed drop was significant. However, this might simply be a compatibility issue with my device or software and your experience may be vastly different.
Streaming: Does Windscribe work with Netflix?
It was nice to discover that Windscribe VPN is great for streaming. Many other VPN services claim to unblock various streaming services and often fail, so Windscribe was truly a breath of fresh air.
First of all, Windscribe offers servers that are optimized for streaming. These are called Windflix servers and they are available in the US, Canada, the UK, and Japan. I successfully managed to access geo-blocked content on Netflix, DAZN, and Youtube by using Windflix US. I also tried out Windflix UK to unblock BBC iPlayer and it worked.
You may have luck even with non-Windflix servers, especially if you try the more obscure ones, not yet recognized by Netflix and other platforms.
Does Windscribe allow torrenting?
If you’re looking for a VPN that’s good for torrenting, Windscribe VPN might be exactly what you need. It supports torrenting on the vast majority of its servers. The only locations that don’t allow it are India, Russia, Lithuania, and South Africa. They are marked with the “No P2P” icon.
So, for this Windscribe VPN review, I tried to download a 4.75 GB Linux installation image. It only took me around 10 minutes, even though the download speeds were a bit unstable, fluctuating between 5 and 12MB/s (40-96 Mbps). However, all of this also depends on your internet connection, seeders, and other factors, so you might experience no fluctuations at all.
Windscribe VPN features
Before using a VPN, make sure that it has a reliable kill switch that shuts down your internet connection in case the VPN connection gets compromised. This is done to make sure that your real IP address doesn’t get accidentally exposed.
Thankfully, Windscribe’s kill switch performed really well during my tests. It instantly terminated my internet connection when the VPN was forcefully shut down. When the VPN connection was not at risk anymore, the app reconnected me to the internet, displaying a notification.
Right now, split tunneling is available only on the Android app of Windscribe VPN. However, it will also appear on Windows, macOS, and Linux applications in the future.
Let’s hope this happens sooner than later, because split tunneling is a really useful feature that allows you to choose the apps that are excluded from the VPN connection. This can be helpful when you need to conserve bandwidth or visit a website that requires your real location.
However, it’s a bit confusing to select the programs that should bypass the VPN connection. That’s because the list you get contains different themes, gestures, and low-level services, and it’s difficult to find the app you want.
The Double Hop feature lets you connect to any two servers of your choice. In other words, instead of connecting to one location, you will be connected through two different locations to hide your real IP address better. The websites you visit will see the second location, which adds an extra layer of anonymity.
To use this feature, you will have to install a desktop application as well as a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, or Opera. That’s because the second location is added through the extension.
The Secure Hotspot feature lets you create a secure wifi hotspot on your computer so that other people could connect to it and use the safe connection of Windscribe VPN without the need to install the app themselves.
However, this feature works only on Windows devices, and you can make use of it only if you have a compatible wireless adapter.
The Windows and macOS apps of Windscribe have a built-in firewall that’s here to prevent any DNS, IPv6, WebRTC, and other leaks if the VPN connection shuts down. It does this by blocking any other connections outside of the VPN tunnel so that no packets leave your device if the VPN disconnects. A firewall is far more effective than a kill switch in case of real danger.
This is a feature available only on the browser extensions of Windscribe. It’s really simple – Auto Pilot will pick the best location for you in terms of speed, so you won’t have to worry about your internet lagging anymore.
In addition, if you visit a site that’s geo-blocked in your country, Auto Pilot will automatically connect you to the server needed for unblocking it. In other words, this feature just makes your browsing much easier.
Yet another feature available on the browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, Time Warp will fake your timezone to match the one of the server you’re connected to. In this way, websites will be less likely to detect that you’re using a VPN.
When you have Windscribe VPN installed on your device, you don’t need additional ad blocker software anymore. That’s because R.O.B.E.R.T. does its job pretty well. It’s a highly customizable domain and IP blocking tool that will protect your device from various online threats.
Its free version blocks ads and trackers, while those who have a paid subscription to Windscribe will also get protected from malicious pages that can infect the computer with malware. Paid users can also choose to block or whitelist various sites related to gambling, explicit content, and clickbait.
Is Windscribe VPN safe?
All of the applications of Windscribe VPN use the strongest security options available.
For starters, your data is encrypted using the AES-256 cipher, which is a symmetric encryption algorithm that has never been broken. The fact that a brute-force attack would take billions of years to crack it makes AES-256 a go-to cipher for various organizations that deal with sensitive data, including governments and online banks.
Unlike Surfshark or TorGuard VPN, Windscribe VPN doesn’t let you change the encryption cipher (for example, to choose AES-128 or Blowfish). If implemented in the future, this could be useful on weaker devices.
It’s also worth mentioning that Windscribe VPN uses the strong SHA-512 algorithm for authentication, as well as the 4096-bit RSA key as a handshake method.
Windscribe VPN offers a lot of different tunneling protocols to choose from. However, if you’re an inexperienced user, this freedom of choice might be a bit confusing. In that case, simply leave the default protocol (IKEv2) and don’t worry about it anymore – especially if you experience no connection problems. Unfortunately, my internet connection struggled when IKEv2 was in use, so I had to select another protocol.
So, if a given tunneling protocol doesn’t function properly (for example, the connection is very slow), you can try changing it – this should solve the problem. Read the descriptions provided below for a better understanding of how each tunneling protocol stands out.
This is one of the fastest (and safest) VPN protocols available today. Unfortunately, only the Android app of Windscribe VPN supports it.
OpenVPN (TCP and UDP)
Currently, OpenVPN is one of the most widely used protocols thanks to its strength and versatility. Windscribe VPN lets you choose between its two variations, TCP and UDP. Use TCP when security is your top priority, and pick UDP when you want better speed. Both are available on all Windscribe applications.
WStunnel and StealthVPN
These two bad boys are the protocols that might help you unblock websites if you reside in China or other countries where VPN use is restricted. Both of them hide VPN traffic, making it seem like you’re not using a VPN at all. However, your speed might suffer drastically, so use either of them only if absolutely necessary.
Set as the default protocol on all Windsribe’s apps, IKEv2/IPsec will often give you the best speeds and great security. On the other hand, the IKEv2 VPN connection can be easily blocked.
- The transaction ID of your payment (for 30 days)
- The amount of bytes transferred each month
- Timestamp of your last activity using the VPN
Windscribe VPN also logs some information during your VPN session, which is immediately deleted after you close the program. This includes the OpenVPN/IKEv2 username, time of connection, and the amount of data transferred.
On the other hand, Windscribe VPN doesn’t log (or monitor) your browsing activity or source IP, making your browsing completely anonymous. In fact, they even issue a transparency report with the legal requests and Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaints they have received. They write that none of the requests were complied with due to the lack of data.
However, I’d also like to see an independent audit in the future, especially as Windscribe VPN is based in Canada, which is a Five Eyes country.
Even though Windscribe VPN has fewer servers than many other VPNs we reviewed so far (like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, or Surfshark), the selection of countries is quite diverse: you can choose from 480+ servers in 60+ countries.
The vast majority of servers are located in Europe, but there is also quite a lot of coverage in Asia and North America. Meanwhile, the selection of servers in Africa and South America could be better.
On the other hand, Windscribe VPN claims to own only physical servers, which means that it might be difficult to cover certain countries due to legal restrictions. However, I find it hard to believe they actually have servers in Antarctica, especially when the name of the server is “Fake Antarctica – Troll Station”.
When connecting to a Windscribe server, keep in mind that you’ll have better speed with servers near your location. You can also check the status of the servers (current usage and availability) on the official page of Windscribe VPN.
Finally, Windscribe is the only VPN I know that gave its servers witty names. For example, you can connect to “Philadelphia – Fresh Prince”, “Miami – Florida Man”, or “Las Vegas – Casino.” I really like this light-hearted touch, which gives Windscribe some personality.
Plans & pricing
Windscribe VPN isn’t the most expensive VPN service you’ll see. You can get it for as low as $4.08 a month when buying the yearly subscription (this would cost you $48.96 a year).
You can also try out the Premium version for a month, but that makes it more than twice as expensive at $9 a month. In turn, this would cost you $108 a year, so getting the yearly plan sounds like a much better deal.
Both plans offer the exact same features and give you unlimited simultaneous connections. There’s also the possibility to build your own plan. However, unless you only need two or three specific locations, it can quickly become more expensive than the yearly subscription.
Additionally, Windscribe VPN lets you purchase a static IP in either a data center or residential locations. The price goes from $2 to $8 a month depending on the type of IP you want to buy.
Just keep in mind that Windscribe’s money-back policy gives you only three days to decide whether you want to keep the VPN service or not.
The free version of Windscribe VPN
It’s nice that Windscribe offers an unlimited free version to those who are on a tight budget. Usually, the only trial version of a VPN you get is a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is definitely not as useful as a real free subscription.
If you don’t want to share your email address with Windscribe, you can simply get its default free version that gives you 2GB of data every month. However, providing an email will give you 10GB of monthly data.
However, the free version of Windscrive VPN doesn’t offer all the locations available to paid users. You’ll only get to use servers in the US, Canada, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Switzerland, the UK, Turkey, and Hong Kong. On the other hand, this is quite a long list of countries for a free VPN – usually, unpaid users get only three or four locations.
Interface and ease of use
Most of the apps of Windscribe VPN (except for the Linux version) are really easy to install and set up. However, if you encounter any difficulties, you can read the setup guides provided in the Support section on the webpage of Windscribe.
Protocols: OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IKEv2, Stealth, WStunnel
The design of Windscribe’s Windows application might not be the most convenient for some users. That’s because its main window is extremely small. Compare it with the design of, say, NordVPN, and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. There’s no map to choose a location from, and you might not spot the settings menu right away.
Also, I found it a bit weird that you can only mark countries as your favorites, but not specific servers. Locations like the US have lots of different servers, and it would be more convenient to be able to bookmark them.
I was also upset to see that some of the available connection protocols didn’t work or worked very poorly. For example, IKEv2 didn’t connect while Stealth and WStunnel provided very poor results.
On the bright side, the OpenVPN UDP protocol worked quite well. I also liked the high level of customization the app provided, as I could choose not only the protocol, but also the port and some DNS configurations.
Protocols: OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IKEv2, Stealth, WStunnel
In terms of design, the macOS app of Windscribe is very similar to its Windows counterpart. It has the same options for the kill switch, as well as the same connection protocols. In addition, the UI functions in the same way. Thankfully, it didn’t have the same issues with the IKEv2, WStunnel, and Stealth tunneling protocols.
However, I found it a bit annoying that it would display a “connected” notification before actually connecting.
Protocols: OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, Stealth
Windscribe VPN offers CLI applications for both Debian and Red Hat users. However, the installation guide for the app could be a bit better – I had some trouble setting up the Linux app. At first, I wasn’t able to connect, as the program failed to create a virtual interface.
In addition, the Linux app of Windscribe has fewer tunneling protocols. Fortunately, the Stealth protocol is still available, giving some hope for Linux users in China.
All in all, this application is definitely geared towards advanced users.
Windscribe mobile apps
Protocols: OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IKEv2, Stealth, WireGuard
First of all, I really like the look of the Android app of Windscribe VPN. It looks much slicker and more modern than the desktop version. It’s also the only Windscribe application that supports the WireGuard tunneling protocol.
It also allows the user to make lots of connection modifications and choose a specific server. In addition, it includes some cool features like GPS spoofing, MTU customization, and split tunneling. However, I found it annoying that the app made my phone vibrate when scrolling through the country list.
Some of the issues aside, I think that this version of the app is better than its desktop counterparts thanks to the broader selection of features and a nicer user interface.
Windscribe iOS app
Protocols: OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IKEv2
The user interface of the Windscribe app for iPhone and iPad looks almost identical to the Android version. However, the iOS application has the least tunneling protocols of all the Windscribe apps. On the other hand, it has a really good rating of 4.7 out of 5 on the App Store and the user reviews seem rather positive. When it comes to complaints, though, people sometimes report an unstable VPN connection.
You can also set up Windscribe VPN on the following browsers: Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. These browser extensions offer a lot of features like Smokewall, Ad Crusher, Tracker Eradicator, and Malware Evader, which aren’t present on Windscribe’s main applications.
In theory, the extensions should also allow you to control the desktop app. However, in my case, the Chrome extension didn’t detect the app installed on my computer.
If you run into problems while using Windscribe VPN or if you simply want to know more about it before downloading the service, you can check out the self help center on the official site of Windscribe.
Here, you can read through the setup guides, the knowledge base, and the FAQ section. In addition, you might check out Windscribe’s subreddit, which is quite active.
You can also try talking to Garry, a friendly bot that’s capable of answering most questions about Windscribe VPN (and a few other topics).
If you can’t find your answer by using the methods mentioned above, try submitting a ticket. A customer support agent should be able to answer your questions in a span of a few hours or a day.
Should I get Windscribe VPN?
I’m going to be blunt here – if I had to pick the perfect VPN, it wouldn’t be Windscribe. In my experience, it had too many connection problems, providing unstable speeds with some of its tunneling protocols.
However, if you’d ask for a decent VPN, I’d recommend Windscribe in a heartbeat. I especially appreciate its ability to unblock Netflix and other streaming platforms, which is the main reason to use a VPN for some people. Also, it’s really nice that Windscribe VPN lets you have unlimited simultaneous connections and offers a generous free version with 10GB of monthly data.
All in all, Windscribe VPN has a really good head start to become one of the best services in the industry – but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
More on VPN providers from CyberNews:
PrivateVPN review: not famous, but worth attention
IPVanish review: how good is this VPN?
PureVPN review: is it OK to use it?
How much does Windscribe cost?
Windscribe is quite an inexpensive VPN service if you consider its yearly plan. It will cost you $4.08 a month with no limit on simultaneous connections.
Can Windscribe be trusted?
Yes. Windscribe VPN offers military-grade encryption and lots of safe tunneling protocols to keep your data safe. In addition, it keeps no logs or any other personal information.
Does Windscribe VPN work in China?
Windscribe might work in China because it supports two tunneling protocols, WStunnel and StealthVPN, which are sometimes able to bypass the Great Firewall of China. See also our best VPN for China list.
Can I use Windscribe for free?
Yes. Windscribe VPN has a great free version that gives you 2GB of data every month. However, if you register with your email address, you get 10GB of data in total.