Windscribe VPN Review

June 20, 2018

5:00 am

Rating

74%

Ease of use:5 stars
Features:3 stars
Privacy:5 stars
Speed:3 stars
Help & Support:4 stars
Value for Money:4 stars

Pros
  • Distinctive app and add-on combo approach
  • Good free option with no nagging and no ads
  • Decent speeds
  • Unblocks Netflix
Cons
  • Technical style

A good, well priced VPN

Windscribe is a great value VPN service that also has an impressive free edition. It works effectively to mask your online identity, and while it’s a little technical to use at times, it’s still a smart choice for a VPN.

While you can use Windscribe as a normal VPN, it’s really designed to be used with a browser extension or add-on. Windscribe does a VPN’s main job and it does it well – connecting you to the internet through an encrypted network link to a VPN server, disguising your IP address and location.

The Windscribe browser add-on then adds an extra layer of anonymity through an optional proxy server, while also blocking ads and protecting you from malware.

Windscribe Free with 2GB BandwidthWhy use Windscribe?

There are dozens of VPNs out there, but Windscibe’s 1-2 approach between the desktop client and browser add-on is unusual, if not unique.

Like any VPN, it protects your privacy and anonymity when you’re browsing the internet, plus additional security when you’re connecting to a public WiFi network, like the kind you’d find in a hotel lobby or a coffee shop.

What’s more, because the VPN server gives you a new IP address – the string of numbers that identifies your computer – and a new location, you can use it to get past content blocks that might stop people in one country visiting certain websites, or content locks that prevent those outside a country watching certain TV shows.

Windscribe can do all this, but the proxy server add-on gives you a double layer of privacy protection.

Windscribe Free

As an added bonus, there’s a free version available. This constrains you to 2GB of bandwidth a month with all the premium locations locked, but that’s not as limiting as you might expect.

In fact, Windscribe Free is one the best free VPNs we’ve tested. It doesn’t have the same security and reputational concerns of a brand like Hola VPN, for instance – check our review of Hola VPN to see why we have some serious worries about Hola’s approach.

Getting Started With Windscribe VPN

You can download both the add-on and the Windows app from the website without signing anything first, but the app will ask you to sign up for the service on launch. When you do, it just involves entering a username, an email address and password, so it’s not all that onerous a process.

The app itself is a tiny thing that hovers above your taskbar, extending only when you need to change location or tinker with the settings. It’s very easy to switch from location to location and there are, oddly, two buttons to connect and disconnect, in case you found one a little hard to spot.

Windscribe Select a VPN Server

Windscribe: The Good

This is an impressive VPN, though less technically confident users may find it takes a little time to get accustomed to the settings.

Windscribe Server Selection

At first it looks like Windscribe only lets you select a country for your VPN, but press the little crosses to expand the selection and you’ll see cities, all with cool and appropriate server names.

Killswitch Function

Windscribe also has some unexpected features, including a killswitch – dubbed a Firewall – a choice of VPN protocols and the option to turn your laptop into a secure, shared WiFi hotspot.

Netflix Unlocker

The pleasant surprises don’t end there. Windscribe is one of the few VPNs we’ve tested recently to sneak past Netflix’s VPN-detection tools and stream video, and it also works with other US and UK streaming sites and services.

No Leaks

It’s leakproof enough that our leak tests couldn’t even work out our location or timezone. Not bad for a relatively cheap – or even free – VPN. Throw in the ad-blocking and malware-protection features, and it has a lot to offer.

Windscribe Settings and Control PanelWindscribe: The Not-So-Good

This is a strong VPN service to choose, but it has a couple of cons to be aware of.

Average Speeds

Performance is pretty good but not quite in the major leagues. With Windscribe enabled, you’ll see a speed impact – which is true of any VPN. Overall, the speed impact is average, rather than anything concerning.

Technical Approach

Both the Windows app and the add-on can be a bit technical in their approach and language, which might intimidate some less experienced users.

Canadian Firm

The company is based in Ontario, Canada, and so there’s some risk that Canadian or US authorities might request information, though Windscibe has a clear zero-logging policy. Still, if you’re worried about state surveillance, this might be enough to put you off.

Windscribe Free vs Windscribe Premium

As mentioned above, we’re big admirers of Windscribe Free. It limits you to 2GB bandwidth a month, so wouldn’t be the best service to choose if you’re planning on streaming a lot of Netflix. But, its features and performance are otherwise impressive.

If you were to start with the free version, you might soon be persuaded to upgrade to Premium. The good news is Windscribe has definitely got the pricing right. The Premium version costs a reasonable $9 per month, $49 per year or $89 every two years.

This makes it one of the cheapest – and best value – VPNs.

The Verdict

Windscribe isn’t quite user-friendly enough to be the best choice VPN for complete beginners. All the same it’s very affordable, fully-functional, fast and effective, with a Free version that’s more than good enough to tempt you to pay up for the Premium edition. Windscribe might be a bit of a VPN dark horse, but if you have a little expertise it’s well worth giving it a try.

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Stuart Andrews has been writing about IT and consumer technology for over twenty years, working across many of the UK's biggest specialist titles. While specializing in PCs and related technology, software and cloud-based services, he also writes about IT in education, video games and internet security

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