ZenMate Review

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Review of: ZenMate

Reviewed by:
On February 26, 2016
Last modified:October 28, 2016


ZenMate have stepped up their game since our last review a couple years back. Read on to see why they're a top choice, whether free or premium.

We originally reviewed ZenMate as a free privacy extension for Chrome about two years ago. The service has now transitioned into the freemium realm, which isn’t bad at all, considering the generally positive reviews and efficacy of the service pre-evolved and the numerous and ongoing upgrades discussed in the balance of this review.

Visit ZenMate »

Pricing & Plans

The VPN proxy extension/plugin is since available on Firefox and Opera. Those who like the free service, but want access to all 12 servers (versus four), platforms beyond browser-based, whether on a PC or smartphone, and ‘turbo’ versus ‘best effort’ speeds, might opt for a premium plan. The balance of this review is primarily concerned with the premium service which encrypts all your activities, as opposed to the extension which only applies to the browser in use.


Zenmate is like most providers, in that several pricing tiers are offered for premium service, with perks commensurate to how long you register. A month’s subscription will set you back $9.90 –  six months come out $8.80 per month. If you choose to commit for an entire year, you’re looking at a monthly expenditure of $7.49. While the savings might not be the best, it’s worth considering the overall pricing, which falls on the lower end of the spectrum. (Also, note that pricing on the ZenMate website is listed in Euros, not Dollars.)

ZenMate_Pricing Benefits

All major credit as well as UnionPay, PayPal, and Bitcoin can all be used to pay. The latter is ideal for those looking to stay anonymous as possible. Refunds are straightforward, just keep in mind the period to request one is 14 days from the start of the first billing cycle.

Video Review

We here at put together this ZenMate video review for you to get a better feel of the service:


ZenMate is headquartered in Berlin, Germany, under the similarly named parent company, ZenGuard. The number of servers you can access ranges from 4 to 12, depending on your choice of free or premium service. Server choices are primarily limited to Europe, with Hong Kong, and Singapore – US East and West round out the bunch. Free users have US (East), HK, Germany, and Swiss servers available, but those based outside of Europe might want to look at a premium option for better performance, geographically speaking.


Being based in Germany, unfortunately, leaves ZenMate under the inauspicious umbrella of some pretty shifty laws, including the Data Retention Directive (DRD), though Germany is also famed for its stringent copyright law and hypocritical approach to exporting surveillance tech to nations that can best be rated ‘dubious’ on the human rights (privacy) front. Many providers opt to operate elsewhere due to these unfavorable factors from a VPN perspective.

ZenMate_Out Of Order

ZenMate is unfortunately unavailable or limited in functionality in China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Users in these countries should stick to the free iteration of the service, or bear in mind while paying: the unsavory effect of the sentence directly before this one and the screenshot of ZenMate’s position on the issue, found above.

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Security & Privacy

Things aren’t far from absolutely rosy on the security front, using TLS 1.2 (RFC 5245) protocol with 128-bit AES-GCM encryption, RSA handshaking, and robust SHA 256 used for authentication purposes, with PFS also in place.

ZenMate_Encryption 2Connection logs are kept, but only on an ad-hoc per server basis, according to the ZenMate team. P2P isn’t expressly disallowed, or encouraged, so the torrentphiles amongst you might want to check personally with support as to that end.

The website

Zenmate’s website is streamlined to make things easy while (rightly) touting the benefits of and reasons to engage with their services to begin with. The top banner clearly shows the relevant links to Downloads, Payment, and Account areas. Meanwhile, scrolling all the way to the bottom of the page has the F.A.Q section, as well as social media links and corporate information, in addition to the terms of service and privacy policy bread and butter. What’s most agreeable, is not needing to navigate through what seems like a mountain of clicks to find anything.

There isn’t a dedicated site blog – just the usual social media accounts to stay abreast of ZenMate’s news, more on which can be found below in the support section.


ZenMate review ZenMate unfortunately only has support through email, though responses were timely and courteous. On the other hand, the setup guides, and knowledgebase do a superb job of heading off most potential questions in a manner that clearly reflects actual user questions, with appropriate but not overwhelming detail. A forum would be an excellent upgrade in this regard, allowing users to exchange information on-the-fly, and likely further improving the service for all concerned.


Social media is pretty standard fare: news about the VPN services and various offers, in addition to infosec tidbits, though Twitter is the only one updated on a weekly or higher basis. Facebook is also kept relatively up-to-date, but more along bi-weekly to monthly timeframes.

The Process

Signing Up

Registration is speedy on all fronts. Free users just download the extension relevant to their browser software. Alternatively, paid users need just an email, which doubles as a username, password, and billing information (thus allowing for Bitcoin payment and near-full anonymity).

The VPNProvider Windows VPN client

ZenMate_Client 1

The ZenMate Windows client is simple, but quite effective. No need to mistake the lack of ‘artisanal’ polish for lack of functionality, with your connection stats clearly on display. Moreover, what’s under the hood is nothing short of quite impressive – Autostart with your PC, Eversecure (killswitch), Smart Locations (essentially a whitelist feature allowing you to choose which a VPN server to choose whenever you visit a particular site, say Netflix auto-switches you to a US server), and a Malware blocker (which didn’t interfere with my own antivirus software, and can be disabled).

ZenMate_Client 2

Navigating through the client borders on effortless, the design is made with unobtrusiveness in mind, or, at least, it comes across as such. Keep reading for the excellent performance portion of this review, DNS leaks were not to be found, but there’s more.

Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC and IPv6 Tests)

Speeds illustrated in the diagram below were above average to great, especially when using UK servers (which are ideal to our test location, geographically speaking). Tests were conducted using a 30 Mbps connection. The lowest speeds hovered in the 5 Mbps downstream range, when connected to US servers, though considering the distance, the results are expected, and more than adequate, to boot. What’s more, anecdotal testing ran problem free with more than ten tabs, YouTube, music streaming, and a file download, simultaneously – in peak traffic times.

Graphs show highest, lowest and average speeds for each server and location. See our full speed test explanation for more detail.

Quite pleasing, there were no WebRTC leaks, Ipv6 leaks, or other DNS leaks to report, on any server – all were tested in this regard! It’s rare to come across such thorough attention to DNS leakage from any provider (more a reflection on false advertising and truth-stretching than an explicit indictment of anyone, though examples aren’t tough to find), and ZenMate definitely aligns the security Feng-Shui – the way monks adorn a temple – sparely, but with singular purpose.

It’s always good practice to run DNS test of your own (at least periodically), using and, just to be sure your IP isn’t leaking.

Other Platforms

Free users can avail themselves of the same exact security benefits found in the browser-based plugin, while premium users have the added benefit(s) of the killswitch and autostart features, not to mention EverSecure and Malware protection.


As mentioned, ZenMate is accessible on pretty much any device or platform. After all, it’s once of the company’s newfound strengths. What you didn’t know however, is that German users can opt for a business-oriented router (admittedly for the not so cheap price of €395 per year, for entirely encrypted WiFi networks.


Those not based in Germany, or looking for a personal home solution, might want to check out our guide on router encryption.

Zenmate Review Conclusion

I liked

  • Ease of use
  • Speedy
  • Good Encryption
  • DNS leak free
  • Restrained marketing and overall unassuming atmosphere

I wasn’t so sure about

  • Plugin loads at start and runs all the time, even when browser is closed

I hated

  • Germany is dicey for privacy concerns

ZenMate is worthy of consideration in the upper tier of VPN providers on account of its encryption, software functionality, and simplicity (accessibility), if not being the cheapest, though, price does tend to correlate strongly with overall user experience. Security is redoutable, and though Germanic headquarters are alarming, users looking for reliability over the absolute highest anonymity available on the market could certainly find ZenMate fits their VPN bill.

Visit ZenMate»

Dimitri M Expat in Europe - pathos for good conversation and Italia's Grande Juventus.

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33 responses to “ZenMate Review

  1. I paid for their service for a year and then they took another years subscription from me without my consent. They have been unable to answer any of my questions or provide any evidence that I had signed up to an on going annual serivce.

    I personaly never sign up to anything direct debit or on going services for these reasons of business taking money with out consent.

    My recomendation would be to stay well clear!

  2. Never use their “service.” They will charge a full year subscription and refuse to cancel. You will need to call your credit card company to make sure _future_ charges will be disputed. I won’t even get into how low quality of service they provide. Stay clear.

  3. That’s very worrying. I’ve checked my account with them and thankfully it didn’t happen to me. I payed EUR 41.88 for a year’s sub in May 2015 and the same amount was deducted in May this year. I’ll be very vigilant now.

  4. They’ll try to scam you.

    The speed is incredibly slow and laggy. The amount of available locations is low compared to other VPN services.

    And what’s worse, I subscribed to their service for $15 (6 months) and they activated a Paypal recurrent payment. They silently changed the 6 months-subscription fee from $15 to $250. If I hadn’t noticed it they would have auto-charged me that amount of money at the end of the current period. Their service is definitely not worth $250 for 6 months. There are better alternatives out there. I can’t believe they tried to pull that scam on me.

    Avoid at all costs.

    Actual prices:
    Prices when your subscription ends:

  5. I used zenmate free for a few years now and last year upgraded to get additional access, which now includes Australia. I’ve been totally happy with it with regard to watching USA and Canada TV but the stream from Australia keeps dropping. It’s still the best VPN I can find – I’ve had big problems with every other one I’ve tried – and worth the price, in my opinion.

  6. Using the free version, I occasionally do get email notifications when doing P2P. Is this a result of a server being down for a brief period, during which time my home IP address is visible, or does ZenMate report my address to inquiring copyright holders because of Germany’s strict copyright protection laws?

    1. Hi Caruthers,

      ZenMate does not permit P2P, so when it receives a DMCA notice (or equivalent) it is probably passing your real IP onto copyright holders, who inform your ISP. Your ISP knows who you are are from your real IP address, and sends you a warning. If you want to protect yourself when using P2P please do use a paid-for service that actually permits P2P. Check out 5 Best VPNs for Torrenting, P2P, Filesharing.

    I tested out this VPN and it was blocked by Google and by Netflix and just wanted to close it out. OMG I have requested this like 2 times and they keeping wanting to help me and I don’t want any help since I know it will not work. I finally had to tell them to close the f**king account the third time. They do not listen. Also my email account is warning about emails from them. I am using and not having the problems with Google but still with Netflix. Closed my streaming Netflix account. Done with crappy streaming road Netflix sends us on. Before Netflix blocked my streaming with Unblockus the streaming quality was soooo much better. I was always blaming dsl company for downthrottling and now I blame Netflix.

  7. one of the disgusting VPN Service provider ever i have seen I my live. They really sucks. Also im not a competitor or i dont Run any VPN company or service the thing is this company is only disgusting lower the internate connection also they do not encrypt the data it just pass throw…

  8. hi, i ve been using the premium for quite time now… why the singapore server doesn’t working? is something happen? please respond thanks

    1. Hi Thomas,

      The ZenMate service reviewed here is a full VPN service. ZenMate also offers a free browser plugin. Somewhat confusingly, it describes this a VPN, but as far as I c can tell, it is really an encrypted proxy.

  9. My 246 premium days just turned into 34 overnight. And my gf’s account is reverted back to free account for some reason. Of course tomorrow I might have 370 premium days because Zenmate doesn’t seem to keep track of any of it, it just changes randomly. Other than that yea, great VPN. Just… Iffy.

    Has anyone had the issue from the windows client being flagged as possible malicious software? leaves me unsure whether to actually install it. I’ve been using it on my android devices and so far speeds and connection seems good.

    1. Hi james,

      Is this a Cloudflare issue? Unfortunately, whenever shared IPs are used, there is the danger that someone will abuse the service, causing those IPs to be blacklisted. Try using a different server to see if the problem persists.

    Could anyone please explain why Germany is “dicey” for privacy concerns?

    Afaik only iceland has stronger data privacy laws.. and it’s by far superior to USA, GB, Isreal or any country in asia (excpet China maybe 😉 ).


    1. Hi Hans,

      You might be interested in my article on 5 Best VPNs for Germany 2016, in which I discuss the current surveillance situation there. Germany does have strong privacy laws, but it also has a lot of government surveillance, new data retention laws, and an aggressively anti-copyright infringement climate…

    Hello and thank you for the careful review.

    I am a paid subscriber and have had no bad experiences with ZenMate so far, except for some rare slow connection speed, especially with FireFox 40.x for Mac OS X.

    About your mention of dicey privacy of consumers in Germany: is there anywhere diceyier than the US when it comes to data snooping? Germany or the EU resp. have ruled in favor of privacy and supported some strong verdicts over exactly those breaching attempts by the various US agencies…

    1. Hi Hans,

      Yes, I would say Germany is better for surveillance than the US, but that is hardly something to shout about! You might be interested in my article on 5 Best VPNs for Germany 2016, in which I discuss the current surveillance situation there.

      1. Unfortunately your article doesnt mention that VPN providers are no communication providers (ISPs are – VPNs are gateways), which means data retention is not applicable for them. Meaning a VPN provider from Germany is actually by far mor safe than anything you reccomend on your list “for Germany”. So your assumption in that article is wrong – and thereby your judgement of the privacy situation. 😉

        1. Hi mommo,

          Please note that I am not the author of this article. Whether or not VPN providers are classed as communication providers varies by country (frex in the UK and France they are). After some considerable research (remembering that I am not a German language speaker), I have been unable to determine the situation in Germany, so personally I consider it safest to assume the worst…

          1. I do understand that you are somewhat limited in your research due to not speaking German. But unfortunately your assumption does not reflect reality. 😉 Just a small hint from a German speaker..

          2. Hi mommo,

            If you can direct me to any reputable source that confirms VPN providers are not classed as communications providers in Germany (and are therefore not subject to data surveillance laws) I would be grateful. Although I do not speak German, at least one BestVPN staff member does, so sources in German are fine.

    just confirming use of zenmate for p2p works well Ive had full pc guard 4 six months no neg. emails
    from isp before zenmate I would get two warnings a week in email

    Thanks for the review, I’ve been a user of the free browser plugin for a while now, I wasn’t sure about how their encryption protocol stood up, but this has put my mind at rest some what.

    I’m using Linux, and it’s one of the few free VPN options available, so I’m grateful. Also whilst browsing I often use another website where VPN usage is strictly not allowed, so cannot use a full desktop client anyway for a lot of the time. I use one browser for browsing with zenmate, and another browser without zenmate for normal connection.

    I’m not sure if this is my computer, but I do notice sometimes with zenmate, if i open several links in new tabs quite close together the pages don’t load and just hang on a blank page. For example, reading a news site front page and opening the articles I want to read in new tabs. It’s a pain to rectify this. I have to go to each tab individually, stop the page loading for several of them, then go to the url bar on one tab at a time and press enter to reload the page.

    P.S I did not notice a slight inconsistency in your review “Free users have US (East), HK, Germany, Switzerland, and UK servers available” For the free browser plugin, it’s been Romania, Germany, HK and USA for a while. They used to have UK as well, but unfortunately they removed it.

    Hello, ZenMate is a bit too much pricey and servers do drop alot (not connection, i must either wait couple minutes or change server, because even while im conmected, it wont direct my connection).

    It has been like this always when i use their VPN, i mean if you use minimum 1hour/day then there is 80% probability you will encounter same issue as me EVERYDAY at least ONCE.

    In japan it works good, not very fast but it is okay, but like i said,connection spded or uplink gets cut on VPN-end while i still retain the connection between me and the VPN server.

    Been like this for months, please fix this issue!!!

    Does not connect to allow netflix connections… Netflix app showing proxy error

    I have test dozen of VPN, including the PureVPN thief (check refund and fake ads), but ZenMate is the most stable I got.
    What’s amazing is the connection time, less than 3 seconds, no matter to which server.
    For geeks, that’s not the one to choose, there is what most need, on-off and few settings as explained in this review.
    That’s my daily choice, use it all the time, except for some stuff.
    About them, they are honest, answer the truth and announce the limitations (eg. china…)
    And I have no link with them.

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