Windscribe isn’t one of the big guns you hear about all over the internet, but it’s still a solid candidate if you’re looking for a VPN. Today, we’re going to dive into the topic and see what Windscribe has to offer. Can it live up to its more famous competitors?
With Windscribe VPN, you have connections on an unlimited number of devices, excellent privacy and protection from third-party audits. It unblocks most streaming services with dedicated Windflix US and UK servers, and is reasonably priced at $49 per year. There’s also a free plan and a monthly subscription.
Windscribe VPN Service: The Basics
Windscribe’s first standout point is transparency. Many VPN companies secretly keep your data, or they refuse to disclose much about their encryption and what they’re doing to keep you safe. It’s particularly prevalent with the free ones—and Windscribe has a free service.
Does this mean you should worry about Windscribe? Not exactly. It doesn’t stay as a free VPN, as you can choose one of the three pro plans to obtain a better service.
After you use your 10GB of monthly data you’re out of luck—unless you wish to speed up your connection and get unlimited data by switching to the pro plan. Therefore, you can trust this VPN more than an exclusively free contender.
With both the free and pro Windscribe plans, you get 256 AES encryption which is adequate at keeping your data safe online.
The service also utilizes OpenVPN, which is a tunneling protocol. It ensures all data exchanged between your device, the websites you visit and the other devices you connect remains private.
Despite this complex sounding aspect of the VPN, it remains user friendly for veterans and first time VPN users alike. It has a simple interface and easy-to-understand operations.
Where Is Windscribe Based?
Windscribe is a Canadian company, which is a refreshing change from all the American-based companies out there. There are fewer Canadian-based VPNs flooding the market, so in theory, Windscribe has to be incredibly impressive to stand out among all the American services.
Its overseas location also keeps readers like you Australian customers safe from using VPNs made closer to home. Some users dislike VPNs based close to home as they feel third parties in their country are trying to obtain their information.
Windscribe and its Canadian-based service is also a great alternative to US-based VPNs for US readers and customers with the same fears.
However, being based in Canada, Windscribe Australia users may struggle when it comes to customer support. It’s an extreme time difference, so if you have any issues with the VPN, be sure you’re prepared to respond to replies at an awkward time for you.
You’re 16 hours ahead of Canada. Be sure you get your Canadian dates straight too, as your “yesterday” is still their “today” in some cases. There’s no call-based customer service so you won’t have to make these time jumps live, luckily. This gives you time to prepare your story ahead of time as you open a ticket or enter the live chat.
Third-Party Audits: Is Your Information Safe?
Going back to that privacy concern, although not situated in your own country, VPN companies still have the ability to sell your data to third parties without your knowledge.
Many VPN companies keep extensive logs on you, your browsing history and much more. You’re giving the company full access to your device if you install a program on it.
There are some protections against keeping logs on you in some countries, but Canada isn’t one of them. The company can do whatever it pleases.
So, full disclosure: if Canadian VPN companies hold your data, third parties can easily audit it and the VPN company can’t do anything to stop it.
Does Windscribe Keep Logs?
Windscribe is upfront about their logging, unlike many companies. Many VPN services claim not to keep logs but it’s a blatant lie, which often comes out in the form of data leaks or scandals after an investigation.
Here’s what Windscribe keeps track of:
- Every application you have open on your computer.
- Your browser placement—whether it’s minimized, half-covering your monitor, or on a second (and beyond) external monitor.
- The traffic you’re sending and causing on all of your connected devices.
- Your open tabs, and the pages from the tab’s history.
Windscribe tracks much more than this too, but that’s the more complex data that ensures your service stays running and working as it should.
It seems like a total invasion of privacy, but in some cases it’s mandatory. There are some things the VPN needs to track in order to work—for example, your location and a website you’re trying to access that’s location-locked.
Windscribe affirms that the company tracks all of the above in real time, along with your IP address and other aspects of your browsing sessions. However, Windscribe also states the company doesn’t store the data when your session is complete.
You still have your privacy—there are no secret spies watching your sessions as they happen. None of it is saved to a hard drive after the fact, either.
Apart from that mandatory set of data, Windscribe also accesses your bandwidth usage, your connected devices and your last activity on a location server. It’s not mandatory to measure this data, but doing so helps your service run smoothly.
Collecting this data in the moment also helps protect you and the law from illegal activity. For example, if the company detects suspicious activity like hundreds of simultaneous connections and extreme bandwidth usage, they’ll know something strange is going on and ban you.
You’ll most likely have a chance to appeal your case if you can prove your innocence.
Again, though, none of this measured data gets saved to a hard drive, so Windscribe has no official logs on you outside of your sessions. Each new connection and browsing session is a fresh, blank slate.
Windscribe goes into all of this and more in extremely technical detail in this blog post on Windscribe’s Medium. It’s one of many helpful guides and articles that Windscribe makes public.
It’s nice to have such apparent transparency, but some people feel it’d be better if they could prove it by partaking in a full-system external audit.
So now we’ve got the transparency and your privacy out of the way—what are Windscribe’s actual features like, and how well does it perform?
Windscribe VPN Features and Performance
Most VPNs have a handful of basic features, some better than others. Windscribe shares the essential elements, but there are a few aspects alongside them that you should know about too.
We’ve already discussed your privacy in terms of logging and third-party audits—now let’s focus on your privacy as far as hacks and leaks are concerned.
The VPN uses several up-to-date techniques to secure your data, including:
- A firewall.
- IPv6 traffic limit.
- Redirecting DNS traffic.
- Advanced IP and domain blocker, R.O.B.E.R.T which also boosts your browsing speed and keeps you safe from malware and tracking.
Many users, professionals and amateurs alike, have put Windscribe through rigorous testing and they all came up satisfied. There were no DNS leaks, their IP address stayed hidden and they appeared to be safe from attacks.
One of a VPN’s main selling points is unblocking region-locked websites. Windscribe does this well, with an undisclosed number of servers across 62 countries.
These unblocking features are great for unlocking news websites outside of your country and letting you view YouTube videos blocked in your region for copyright reasons.
Unlocking region-blocked content is vital to many VPN users, especially for streaming and torrenting, which we’ll discuss later.
VPNs can slow your internet connection. They have to detect your location, the web page you’re going to and reroute your network. With that said, the speed shouldn’t be too much slower—although some VPNs have issues in this area.
Users found that with Windscribe, servers were faster on the premium plan than the free.
With the free plan, several users found the speeds inconsistent. For example, a US-based user experienced slower speeds when connected to a US server than a UK server. For the US server, their speed dropped by 75 percent—for the UK it was only a 50 percent drop.
Connecting to countries in Eastern Europe they experienced a drop of over 90 percent, with a similar drop connecting to regions in Asia.
You should keep in mind that this isn’t everyone’s experience, and will depend on your starting speed, too. If your average speed is 200 GB per second, you have nothing to worry about. If your speed is under 100, on the other hand? You’re in for a tougher time.
Users had more luck with premium plan speeds. The reduction was always less than 50 percent, although some found this poor compared to other VPNs they’d used. This was measured using speed tests, though—many users noticed little to no difference when actually using the VPN compared to when not.
Streaming and torrenting speeds typically stayed static with and without use, too.
However, this wasn’t an all-day experience. The connection tended to fluctuate quite a bit making web pages load slowly and streams buffer. Users described it as a “hang” in the connection.
VPNs aren’t foolproof and like everything else they have connectivity issues sometimes, despite the rather decent speeds detailed above. When the connection drops you lose your protection—unless you enable the kill switch.
The kill switch will cut your internet connection as soon as your VPN connection drops, ensuring you stay safe. However, take note of the word switch here—this isn’t automatic until you enable the feature.
If you’re someone who relies on an internet connection to save your work or power an important program, you don’t need to use the feature. If one day you’re in public and using less internet-sensitive software, you can utilize it then.
Windscribe has one of the better customer support features out there, in that there’s a ticket system you can avail of. The ticket system is great for communicating across large time differences, but remember to keep your dates and times in check and convert them to the Canadian standard.
Alongside this, there’s also all-day chatbot support which can help you solve smaller queries. Windscribe’s selection of articles is another asset to utilize.
Despite all this, the ticket system can be quite slow and the article guides are far from perfect—you’ll need some know-how to follow the latter.
Many VPNs offer features on a limited number of devices, with an additional fee to use it on more.
Windscribe lets you access your VPN connection on all of your devices, on every plan including free. It’s compatible with the following devices, platforms and operating systems:
- Amazon Fire TV.
- Nvidia Shield.
- Tomato (router).
Is There a Windscribe Browser Extension?
Browser extensions are incredible for VPNs. Sometimes you just want to unblock a website without telling every website and application that you’re somewhere you’re not. You end up with some strange Spotify ads if you have your whole PC set to another country.
Thankfully. All the major browsers excluding Microsoft Edge have Windscribe browser extensions. This lets you connect to multiple Windscribe servers, or have Windscribe’s downloadable program disconnected while keeping your browser running the software.
How Many Servers Does Windscribe Have?
Windscribe hasn’t disclosed the exact number of servers the VPN has to offer. However, there are several locations in each of the 62 countries the servers come from.
The VPN service recommends you connect to the best server for your location, which is usually a nearby town or city. This server is supposed to give you the best speeds while keeping your information private and secure.
For the most part, the above is all you need if you’re not using Windscribe to unblock or stream.
With that said, there are also dedicated servers for some streaming services. One example is Windscribe’s dedicated Netflix streaming servers which are supposed to provide optimal speeds and quality for US and UK Netflix.
Users found the dedicated Netflix servers work—but what else does?
What Can You Stream With Windscribe?
Unblocking sites is one challenge VPNs often overcome, but they’re frequently a let down when it comes to streaming.
The US, UK and Canada have some of the largest Netflix libraries in the world, not to mention all the other services out there. Let’s break down a few and see how Windscribe does with them.
Netflix is the big one with streaming, and has one of the harshest crackdowns on VPNs—but Windscribe bypasses it, and you can stream Netflix with this VPN.
Furthermore, Netflix works with the free version of Windscribe. There are few other VPNs you can say this about, and the ones that work have limited features. For example, Hola VPN only lets you watch 30–60 minutes per day.
The only restriction you’ll face with Netflix using Windscribe is the 10GB data limitation. Still, if you use that allowance for nothing else, it’s enough to get you about 10 hours of watch time.
However, there’s a catch with this: many users found that free Windscribe only unlocks US Netflix. You can access it from anywhere in the world and watch its entire catalog.
If you switch to one of Windscribe’s servers from another location, you’ll be blocked by the same old groan-inducing message that you’re using a VPN and you need to switch it off. Some users had this problem even with a paid plan.
This experience can vary, though—especially if you use the dedicated Netflix server. There are currently two dedicated servers for Netflix, called Windflix US and Windflix UK. Windscribe is working on developing WindFlix JP (Japan), too.
Amazon Prime Video
Keep in mind that to access the US or UK’s Amazon Prime Video library, you’ll need a prime account in that country. It’s a fair price to pay for an additional streaming service, even if you don’t utilize the other Prime benefits.
Windscribe worked on Amazon Prime for a while in 2019, but users found that it stopped. This isn’t unusual. Amazon is incredibly strict with VPNs and even some of the biggest names in the VPN business don’t work for Prime Video.
On the plus side, at least you’re saving yourself the cost of a UK/US Prime subscription!
Users found that Hulu works with the US Windflix location, but no other servers or countries.
As of July 2020, there have been issues with Windscribe and HBO Max. Most of the time it works with the Windflix US server, but some users have it cut out on them at random times.
The issue usually goes away if you disconnect, reconnect and refresh. If this doesn’t work, try the San Jose server and go back and forth between that and Windflix as needed.
If you have any issues, open a ticket or consult the Windscribe Reddit forum—developers sometimes hang out there and invite you to message them about bugs and problems.
Although, be aware that you’ll need a US credit card of some kind to sign up for an HBO Max account to access the service.
Users have access to BBC iPlayer on the free plan, which like Netflix, is difficult to come by. That said, it’s not perfect.
Customers haven’t spoken out about Windscribe and iPlayer in a while, but it was questionable in 2017. Oftentimes users would lose access to iPlayer for a week or more at a time.
Some found that disconnecting and reconnecting prompted iPlayer to work. Others discovered that some, but not all, of Windscribe’s servers were blocked on iPlayer.
If the problem persists across multiple servers and devices, it’s clear it’s a problem with the VPN as a whole. You can try again in a week or two and see if Windscribe has fixed the issue—chances are that someone reported it as soon as iPlayer stopped working.
What Can You Torrent With Windscribe?
Most of the time, people torrent copyrighted material.
Torrenting isn’t exactly moral, or particularly legal in general, but it’s the one common questionable activity that many people wildly partake in.
With that said, it’s somewhat within the law in Canada. The Canadian Copyright Act is a difficult read, but it essentially says this: if you’re not publicly showing or making a private profit from what you’re torrenting, it’s not a criminal offense.
So, though morally wrong, it’s technically legal to torrent media for personal use in Canada, where Windscribe is based.
With that in mind, you can torrent with Windscribe. In fact, Windscribe has a post on how to download uTorrent.
Despite the semi-legality of the act and your ability to perform it with Windscribe, we would advise against it. It’s more of a legal issue in Australia, and other countries around the world.
Can You Have Simultaneous Connections?
Torrenting can put a strain on your computer, so you might wonder if you can simultaneously browse the web on your phone with Windscribe connected. The answer is yes, you can.
Windscribe allows unlimited simultaneous connections and lets you access your plan on any of your devices. Although, keep in mind that if the company detects a high number of simultaneous connections, it’s a red flag.
The company is against VPN sharing, so giving others your login details isn’t a smart move. You may share with a spouse, sibling or a highly trusted friend, but ensure they keep your details private, too.
Before you know it, everyone using the plan shares the details with one person and you have a dozen people connected to 100+ devices at once.
Keep your account to yourself, and feel free to use your phone while your computer is busy with something else.
Is There a Free Trial?
Not all VPNs work the same for everyone, so getting to try it out before committing is vital for some people.
While there’s no official free trial of Windscribe, you can use the free plan for as long as you want before committing.
Yes, you’re restricted to 10GB a month, but that’s plenty if you’re only using the VPN for privacy when connected to public WiFi.
The free version of Windscribe offers almost all the same perks as the paid, except you’ll have fewer servers to utilize. You’ll also experience slower connection speeds. Luckily, you still have your kill switch, Netflix access and use on unlimited devices.
Windscribe Subscription Price
Windscribe is quite a unique VPN as far as subscriptions go. There are three premium plans—not tiers, but payment options for the single pro plan.
This is a considerable upgrade on the free plan, with faster speeds, more locations and unlimited data per month. It also provides further protection as well as an ad block and tracker block.
Please note, the prices below are in USD and show up as such regardless of your location.
This is a fantastic VPN plan for an extremely fair price. The yearly plan is billed annually at $49 which boils down to $4.08 per month.
It’s a bargain deal and worth buying considering you get a year for the price of just over five months of the monthly plan.
The monthly plan is billed every 30 days. Each bill is $9, which is a pretty fair price considering how much a VPN does. Protection, location unblocking, ad-block and a partial antivirus all in one neat package.
Still, the yearly plan is far better value.
The monthly plan would suit someone who doesn’t often have a lump sum of $49 laying around, but can reliably pay monthly bills.
Build Your Own Plan
If you have a less reliable income and can’t spare a lump sum or $9 a month, then you can build your own.
This plan has you pay $1 per location per month. You can choose any of the pro locations, so consider your needs. Do you need a local spot to keep your speed fast and private, or is streaming your purpose? In the latter case the Windflix locations would be best for you—one or both.
You can always upgrade your plan at a later date if your funds grow, or your needs do. It’s extremely fair, and an almost entirely unique plan.
Windscribe: A Summary
Windscribe is an excellent VPN with a free and pro mode. The free plan gives you limited data and basic security features. Upgrading unlocks better features, unlimited data and better yet, far more server locations for you to play with.
It’s a fantastic VPN, for streaming and torrenting purposes. It keeps you private and secure, with decent speeds on top of that.
Truthfully it’s not the fastest VPN out there, but for this price and the fairness of the free plan, we feel it’s worth it. Plus, if you don’t like the pro version there’s a money-back guarantee window of three days.
However, if you disagree, no worries. Below you’ll find a handful of the best alternatives to Windscribe and who they’re best for.
Final Thoughts: Best Alternatives to Windscribe
There are three alternatives that people considering Windscribe may be interested in—if Windscribe isn’t for you, maybe one of the services below will be.
Windscribe isn’t the most well-known VPN in the world, despite its busy online community. If you’d rather something more well-known, NordVPN is a fantastic option.
NordVPN secures your connection, keeps it speedy and unblocks the typical streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.
There are over 5,500 servers to choose from across 59 countries. You can access these servers on up to six devices per account.
If you require a static IP, you can opt-in for a personal IP address that only you’ll be using. You can also change your IP twice to up your security, while Nord works hard to block malware and ads, too.
You can use the VPN as a browser extension or computer program, with no data leaks, allegedly no logging and full-time safety.
NordVPN has three pricing plans, with the 2-year plan packing the most value. In a lump sum of $89, you get 24 months for $3.71.
If you’d rather commit for a year instead, it’s $59 at $4.92 per month. However, the regular monthly plan with no lump sum and no required commitment is $11.95 per month.
Note, this pricing is in USD.
Hotspot Shield—Best Speeds
We admitted that Windscribe doesn’t have the best speeds of all the VPNs out there. Nobody can say for sure which is the fastest, but our research tells us that Hotspot Shield is pretty speedy—better than Windscribe.
Alongside its impressive speeds, Hotspot Shield offers alleged military-grade encryption with its 3,200 servers in over 80 countries. Users say it works excellently with Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu, but they had issues with other streaming services.
Besides the above and the speeds, the features aren’t particularly impressive. You get all-day tech support and a 45-day money-back guarantee, which shows that Hotspot Shield is proud of the few features they have.
It’s really just one to choose if you need the fastest of the fastest, some protection and nothing more.
The pricing below is in USD.
Like Windscribe, Hotspot Shield has a free plan but it’s severely more limited than Windscribe. You get one server in the US, one device, slow speeds of 2 megabytes per second and only 500 megabytes of data use per day. There’s also limited access with streaming.
The free version lacks many advanced features like malware protection, too.
If you upgrade to the premium plan, it’s $7.99 a month. The VPN is optimized for streaming, you get speeds of up to 1 GB per second and unlimited data. You can connect five of your devices with this plan, including TVs, routers and Linux computers.
On top of that you get several security suite features, such as spam call blocking and password management.
With a bump up in price you get most of the perks of premium, but across 25 devices. It’s a family plan, so it lacks all security related to passwords, call blocking and identity theft protection. This plan is $11.99 per month.
If Windscribe isn’t your top choice, then hopefully one of the two VPNs above appeals.
Once you’re satisfied with the servers available, find the speed and privacy adequate and can afford the subscription, then you can’t go too wrong. Remember, most VPN services have a money-back guarantee period so you’re not stuck if you dislike the service.