Ray Walsh

Ray Walsh

January 11, 2018

What is Windscribe?

Windscribe is a Canadian VPN service that provides excellent value for money. Windscribe has both a premium (paid) and free VPN plan available. This review primarily focuses on the premium VPN service. However, the free Windscribe plan is discussed later in this review.

Windscribe premium is a full-featured service that gives subscribers access to servers all over the world, unlimited bandwidth, and the ability to connect unlimited devices. Windscribe VPN has software for all popular platforms, as well as a Chrome browser extension that is also reviewed in this article.

Last time we analyzed Windscribe VPN it performed quite well, with slow speeds on the free version being the only drawback. So, let’s dive in and see whether this VPN is still performing at those same high standards.

PROS:
  • Strong encryption options
  • Software for all popular platforms
  • Excellent Chrome extension
CONS:
  • No live chat support

Visit Windscribe »

Pricing and Plans

Although Windscribe heavily advertises its free plan, it is mainly there to draw people into buying a premium subscription. The free version of Windscribe is useful but is much more restrictive than the full paid version. Windscribe Unlimited (the premium version) only comes in one plan, which can be purchased either yearly or monthly.

As with most VPN services, subscribers are rewarded for committing for a longer period of time. Subscribing for a year will cost just $49 (which is equivalent to $4.08 per month). Choosing to pay monthly will cost more than double – coming in at $9.

Subscribers can pay for Windscribe using MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, and American Express. For people that prefer to pay using Bitcoin (to retain higher levels of anonymity), this is also an option.

Although it does have a number of restrictions, it is worth giving the free “Windscribe Limited” plan a go before you decide to pay for the VPN. However, the good news is that even if you do decide to test the paid version Windscribe has a three-day money-back guarantee.

Windscribe Video Review

Here is a useful video (produced by Windscribe) that gives newcomers an introduction to the Windscribe VPN service:

Features

Windscribe Ltd is a fledgling VPN provider based in Ontario, Canada. It was founded in 2016, which makes Windscribe an incredibly young VPN service. Last time we reviewed Windscribe VPN, its features were not easy to find on its website. The good news is that since then Windscribe has updated its website to include a “Features” page. It can easily be found on the menu at the top of the website.  

In addition to the excellent new “Features” page, all the most important differences between the “Unlimited” and “Limited” plans can easily be compared on the “Pricing” page. Subscribers on the “Unlimited” plan get access to:

  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • 50 server locations
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • OpenVPN encryption
  • IKEV2 encryption (default on iOS) in Beta for Windows and Mac.
  • DNS leak protection
  • Killswitch (Knows as Firewall in the client)
  • Stealth mode and port forwarding options
  • Adblocker
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) support
  • Chrome and Firefox extensions

It is worth noting that Windscribe does warn users that (despite permitting unlimited devices) “Account sharing is prohibited”. This is interesting because on the features page Windscribe claims to keep no “permanent logs”.

In order to analyze where subscribers are logging into the VPN some connection logs would need to be kept – so this is something that I will investigate in the next section of the review.

Visit Windscribe »

Security

Windscribe is based in Canada, which is part of the Five Eyes surveillance agreement. In addition, it is known that CSIS (the Canadian version of the NSA) has previously been caught illegally accessing citizens’ metadata. Add to that the fact that ISPs in Canada are supposed to keep logs to comply with anti-piracy legislation (Bill C-11) and you understand why Canada is a less than perfect place for a VPN to be based.

It is for this reason, that it is important for a VPN located in Canada to have a zero logs policy. Any logs kept by a Canadian-based VPN provider could at some point be accessed via a warrant, or perhaps even be intercepted via CSIS.

In the EULA Windscribe specifies that:

This implies that the firm may keep an eye on what is happening with each VPN subscription to ensure that it isn’t being used by too many devices/IP addresses at one time. In order to do this kind of analysis, connection logs and IP addresses would need to be stored – at least for a short period of time if not indefinitely. However, later in the EULA, Windscribe states that any data collected about subscribers will not be “personally identifiable”.

I checked the privacy policy and it states that:

As you can see, Windscribe does delete all connection logs three minutes after a connection to the VPN ends. This means that Windscribe must monitor for potential abuse of the service during sessions (to make sure it isn’t being used by more than one person). This is good news and means that Windscribe is not keeping any data that could later be accessed by the authorities.

On the whole, it would appear that although Windscribe often mentions that the VPN should only be used by one person – the logs it keeps make it hard for Windscribe to actually enforce this. As such, you will be alright allowing other family members (who live in the same house as you) to use the VPN without concerns that Windscribe might notice.

Windscribe’s logging policy is fair and it is excellent. In addition, the privacy policy is written in a very clear and precise way. This allows you to trust that the VPN is doing its job properly and leaves no grey areas surrounding how your data will be handled. This is an extremely positive side of Windscribe’s VPN service.

Encryption and Security Features

The good news is that when it comes to encryption, Windscribe can be considered highly secure. It provides OpenVPN encryption (our recommended protocol) implemented to a high standard. The details of that encryption implementation are as follows:

AES-256 cipher, SHA512 authorization, and a 4096-bit RSA key – in addition to supporting Perfect Forward Secrecy using Diffie Hellman (DHE).

It is also worth mentioning that Windscribe clearly advertises these encryption details on the features page of the website. This is excellent and is something that many VPN providers could learn from. Transparency in this key area of the service goes a long way!

It is also worth noting that Windscribe is in the process of adding the IKEv2 protocol to its clients. IKEv2 is available for Windows and Mac in the new Beta version of the client. It will be rolled out as the default encryption on its new client in a few months time. Windscribe does also plan to add IKEv2 to the Android client, but this will take a little bit more time according to the firm. IKEv2 is a secure form of encryption that provides excellent speeds for streaming.

Here at BestVPN.com, as a general rule, we recommend OpenVPN (because it is the most mature and well-tested form of secure VPN encryption). However, having IKEv2 as an option is a fantastic option that definitely helps to give consumers more options.

In addition to strongly implemented encryption, the Windscribe VPN software also provides Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) and Domain Name System (DNS) leak protection. It also clearly denotes which servers can and cant be used for P2P Torrenting. The Windscribe client also has a kill switch that will disconnect you from the internet if your VPN connection drops out. This stops you from accidentally leaking unencrypted traffic to your ISP.

Finally, Windscribe also provides double hop (in the Chrome extension). This allows subscribers to tunnel through two proxy servers rather than one. This will slow down your internet connection a little bit more (and is not particularly necessary for most people). However, for people who want to obfuscate their location as much as possible, it is an interesting extra feature.

The Website

Windscribe’s website is both well designed and easy to use. The website is nice to look at and is extremely informative. The homepage is well organized and contains a useful introductory video. The menu at the top of the screen navigates users to the “Features” page, as well as links to important information such as “Pricing”, “Setup Guides”, and “Support”.

The features page is among the most informative that I have ever seen and includes precise information about encryption implementation. The Downloads page is just as good: providing software options for the vast majority of platforms (though it is worth noting that the Blackberry option is labeled as “just kidding” and does not provide a custom client).

This is in keeping with Windscribe’s generally wacky sense of humor. For example, it also claims that it will plant a tree for every dollar spent (in Minecraft). This is a harmless and generally pleasant side of Windscribe that makes their website (and emails) a bit more enjoyable.

The Downloads page also has resources for installing the VPN on WiFi routers (Tomato and DD-WRT), as well as a link to purchase a pre-configured router. The “Config Generators” section also allows subscribers to setup config files for OpenVPN, IKEv2, and SOCKS5 Proxy settings. Finally, Windscribe also has setup options for Kodi, Amazon FireTV, and Nvidia Shield.

Windscribe also has a blog section which can be accessed from the menu at the bottom of any page on its website. The blog is updated often with privacy and security related news. This is a useful feature that allows people to find information about updates to the Windscribe service, as well as privacy technologies in general.

Support

Windscribe has three different support options: setup guides, an FAQ page, and support tickets. Sadly it does not have a 24/7 live chat feature, so you will need to use the email ticket system to communicate with Windscribe.

Windscribe support page

The setup guides are fantastic and provide details about how to set up Windscribe on all devices and platforms. No matter whether you want to useWindscribe on Linux, Opera, Windows Mobile, uTorrent – or even a Synology NAS device –  you will find a detailed setup guide. What’s more, each setup guide provides clear step-by-step instructions with screenshots.

The FAQ page is also rich in content. It covers both basic questions and high-tech queries. The resource is honest and doesn’t make glaring errors. For example, it explains that the VPN will not provide anonymity but rather privacy (a fact that many VPNs don’t seem to understand the difference between). This is excellent and increases trust in the VPNs general knowledge (which appears to be superb).

If for some reason you can’t find an answer to a question it is possible to send a support request ticket to the Windscribe support team. I checked to see if I could use this service without registering, and was happy to find that I could use a fake Windscribe username on a ticket request to successfully ask a question.

Windscribe support ticket

I received a ticket response immediately, and the answer to my question within 24 hours.

After I had purchased a subscription, I sent a more technical query and again got a response within 24 hours. I found the support to be good but not 24/7 like many top-of-the-range VPNs.

The Process

Signing Up

For the purpose of this Windscribe review, I tested both the paid and free service. The free service has its own section later in this review. Signing up for Windscribe was extremely easy. First, you are prompted to select either the Free or the Unlimited plan. After clicking on Unlimited, I was asked to create a username and password. Adding an email to the account is optional but I chose to do so (to be able to test support response times) – I used a non-work email address to act as a mystery shopper.

signup for Windscribe

After entering this information, I was immediately taken to the user portal, where it is possible to view stats such as account status and bandwidth usage. At this stage, I downloaded the client from the downloads area. However, it is worth noting that you can download the software from the downloads page without paying for a subscription (to use the free version).

Installation took less than a minute, at which point I was able to log in using my credentials.

Windscribe on Windows VPN Client

I tested the Windscribe Windows client on my Windows laptop. The download and installation was very quick indeed. The Windscribe VPN client launches automatically after installing. After logging in, I was presented with this simple client:

Windscribe client

The VPN software is ergonomic and easy to navigate. Its appearance is intuitive and easily permits beginners to get the VPN going. As you can see in the image above, the main screen of the client allows you to toggle the VPN on or off, change server location, and activate the kill switch (or Firewall as it is called in the Windscribe client).

By clicking on the hamburger menu, you can access Support, Preferences, and Account details.  Click “Preferences” to access the software’s more advanced technical settings. These include auto connect, firewall (killswitch) settings, LAN proxy settings, and OpenVPN options. It also now has a secure hotspot feature that allows people to set up their PC as a secure VPN protected WiFi hotspot.

Windscribe client

Most people will only need to use the “General” tab to select settings such as launch on startup, auto-connect to recently used locations, show notifications, and set language.

The Connection tab permits you to manage the VPN firewall. The Proxy tab is for more experienced users – it allows you to configure your network LAN proxy, if you have one.

Windscribe client

Finally, the Debug tab lets you do things such as disable IPv6 and view logs (sometimes necessary in order to allow the support team to fix problems).

Overall I was very happy with the Windscribe VPN client. Beginner or casual VPN users are bound to appreciate its ease of use. More experienced users will enjoy its large choice of customization options and plentiful choice of server options.

The Windscribe Chrome Extension

In addition to the desktop client, Windscribe will prompt you to install an additional browser extension. A graphic inviting you to install it explains that a browser extension gives you the added privacy perks of an ad and tracker blocker, as well as a secure link generator. These two features work together to give you extra protection from websites that track you on the web.

Windscribe chrome extension

I decided to test out the Chrome extension. Once installed, the icon will appear in the upper right corner of your browser. To log in simply use the same username and password that you use for the desktop version of Windscribe.

Windscribe chrome extension

The Windscribe Chrome extension looks incredibly similar to its desktop counterpart. You can easily toggle the VPN on or off, see which location you’re connected to, and generate secure links. Location can be changed by switching ‘Cruise control’ to whichever country you wish. Its country list is the exact same as on desktop, so you are relatively spoiled for choice.

Windscribe chrome extension

The Windscribe browser extensions that I tested (Chrome and Firefox) are a fantastic addition that nicely complement the Windscribe desktop VPN software. While the majority of Windscribe users will be more than satisfied with the desktop client alone (which protects all traffic coming and going from not only your browser but every program), the browser extensions do provide good usability. It is worth noting, however, that the browser extensions are a proxy service as opposed to a true full VPN service.

I tested my connection to the Canadian server using ipleak.net and got just one IP address and one DNS address. This is an excellent result that demonstrates that the Chrome extension is proxying both web traffic and DNS requests.

Secure.link is an interesting feature that allows you to create short and secure URLs to any website that you wish. It is even possible to encrypt the links with a password to ensure that they aren’t used by anyone but the person they are meant for. This may come in handy for people that want to send links to URLs in a secure manner that stop the recipient being targeted by tracking.

 

 

Windscribe Free VPN Plan

The “Limited” plan is a free version of Windscribe that only permits the use of 11 server locations, 10 GB of bandwidth per month, and no OpenVPN config files. It does, however, have a built-in kill switch, and does permit P2P support and unlimited devices. In addition, free users can use the US Windflix server.

Sadly, at just 10 GB of usage per month, you won’t get to watch much content on Netflix. As such, it is fair to assume that Windscribe allows access to this server in order to advertise how well it works.

Other than having fewer server options – the free version of Windscribe is identical to the paid version. What’s more, 10 GB of usage per month for free is very generous.

The only problem I noticed when using the free version of Windscribe is the fact that all of the server locations still appear in the menu. This means you have to scroll through them to find the ones you are allowed to use. This isn’t a huge problem because the servers you aren’t allowed to use have a star over the flag to show you that they are for premium users only. However, it would be easier if the 11 available servers appeared at the top of the list.

In addition, I found the free version to provide extremely slow speeds. Here are the results I got using the free UK server (Best Location) using this test site. Considering that without the VPN I got downloads speeds in excess of 50 Mbps, this is really rather poor.

Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 Tests)

I tested the paid version of Windscribe using this speed test website. If you want to test VPN speeds yourself you can do so using that tool (it is the most reliable independent speed test site I have come across so far). I used a UK and US test server to get my base connection speed (with no VPN). I tested the UK and Netherlands VPN servers from a UK test server. I tested the US East Coast server from a New York test server. I ran all the tests five times to get an average.

As you can see in the above graphs, Windscribe Unlimted provides much faster speeds than the free version. In fact, it is fair to say that speeds on Windscribe are excellent – which makes it a superb service for streaming content online in HD. Although the VPN did slow my connection down a little, speeds remained high enough to do even the most data-intensive tasks.

The biggest drop in connection speeds was encountered on the US server, which was a little bit disappointing compared to the UK and Netherlands servers. However, even those results were more than adequate.

In addition to fast speeds, the good news is that I didn’t detect any DNS leaks during. I used ipleak.net to check for both DNS and Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) leaks. Sadly, I was unable to test for IPv6 leaks because my ISP does not provide it. While I found no leaks myself, here at BestVPN.com we do recommend that you run these tests every so often to make sure that your VPN is working well for you.

Other Platforms

Windscribe VPN has software for just about every platform on the market. The Windscribe client is supported on all of the following:

  • Computers: Windows, Mac, and Linux Ubuntu
  • Browsers: Chrome, Firefox, and Opera
  • Mobile phones: iPhone, Android, and Windows Mobile
  • Routers: DD-WRT, Tomato, and Asus
  • NAS: Synology and QNAP
  • Torrent clients: uTorrent, Deluge, qBitorrent, and VUZE

It is also worth bearing in mind that smart TVs and other types of devices can be used with the VPN via a router or computer. In the guides section, there is even setup information for Amazon FireTV and Nvidia Shield and Kodi. As such, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a device that you can’t connect to Windscribe.

It is also worth noting that it is possible to buy a pre-flashed WiFi router from Windscribe that comes with the VPN installed and ready to plug and play. This is an excellent option for anybody that wants a no-fuss way of protecting all the devices in their home.

Windscribe on Mobile

Windscribe can be installed and used on iPhone, Android, and Windows Mobile. Most VPNs have software for the first two platforms. Windows mobile, on the other hand, is usually only VPN compatible using OpenVPN config files and a third party OpenVPN client. This is an excellent work from the Windscribe team – who really have covered more bases than the vast majority of VPNs.

The clients are all available on the downloads page for Windscribe.

Windscribe mobile works and appears the same as the desktop version. With the iOS and Android versions, once you launch the App you’ll be prompted to log in. From there, you just need to tap the large On/Off button to start the VPN, and select your desired server.

Encryption on iOS is IKEv2 by default, and users will need to install the third party OpenVPN connect client to connect to Windscribe via OpenVPN on iOS devices.

Conclusion

I liked:

  • Excellent customer support
  • Extremely transparent website and privacy policy
  • Strong OpenVPN encryption
  • IKEv2 encryption for faster speeds (currently in BETA on Windows and Mac)
  • 50 server locations (Unlimited Plan only)
  • Additional features on browser extensions
  • Available on just about every platform
  • Free VPN option
  • Lots of payment options
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Windflix UK and US unblocks Netflix US/UK

I wasn’t so sure about:

  • Based in Canada (but is zero logs to make up for it)
  • No live chat
  • No account sharing permitted (but isn’t enforceable easily anyway)

I hated:

  • Speeds on the free service were almost unusable.

Let’s recap Windscribe VPN:

Windscribe is a Canadian VPN provider that is both transparent and privacy conscious. The firm’s honestly and well-presented privacy policy is a testament to its service, which can definitely be considered well above average. The free version of Windscribe is a slow service that will allow people to access blocked news websites and the like. Considering it costs nothing, it is a useful resource that will definitely allow people to bypass censorship and geographic restrictions. For data-intensive tasks like streaming, however, the free service is not going to cut it.

The Windscribe Unlimited plan, on the other hand, is a superb premium VPN that provides blistering speeds. Although the US server did perform more slowly than the European servers: it was fast enough to stream in HD. Considering the relatively low price of this VPN service (especially if you commit for a year), I found this VPN to be well thought out, well designed, fully featured, and a pleasure to use. With privacy assured thanks to OpenVPN encryption, this VPN is definitely worth considering.

Visit Windscribe »

Ray Walsh

Written by

Published on: January 11, 2018.

June 12th, 2018

Ray Walsh is one of BestVPN's resident VPN experts. Ray is currently ranked #2 VPN authority in the world by agilience.com. During his time at BestVPN.com Ray has reviewed some of the world's foremost VPNs. Ray is an advocate for digital privacy, with vast experience writing about the political and social aspects of infosec, cybersec, and data privacy. Find him @newsglug on Twitter.

164 responses to “Windscribe Review 2018

  1. Im using windscribe with my mac and it has been working perfectly for me. Really love how you can use multiple browsers and devices with the one account, a greeat wya of saving money which makes signing up to the Pro Plan 100% worth it. In my opinion Windscribe is an amazing piece of software and a great VPN! It provides some great features and the unli data is a bonus.

  2. Personally, I don’t agree with the negative comments about windscribe. I’ve been using it for a year now and I never had any issues with it. Yes they don’t give the perfect service, but does any company provide anything that’s ‘perfect’? They do provide great speeds and fantastic services, so I think if you are experiencing issues all you need to do is contact customer support. I’ve done so in the past and they’ve always been willing to help.

  3. I’ve only used windscribe for just a cuople of weeks, but so far I can say that I am already satisfied with their services.Their fast speed and cruise control is what got me hooked.

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