Windscribe is a Canadian VPN service that provides excellent value for money. They have both a premium (paid) and free plan available. This review primarily focuses on their premium VPN service.
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.
- Simultaneous connections 100
- Countries 51
- Jurisdiction Canada
- Lots of payment options
- Strong encryption options
- Software for all popular platforms
- Excellent Chrome extension
- Free VPN option
- Live chat support, but can be slow
- WebRTC IPv6 leak on Mac
- Based in Canada
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Bare metal or virtual servers
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
- 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.
Speed and Performance
I tested the paid version of Windscribe using speedtest.net. 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. 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.
IPv4 leak detected?
WebRTC leak detected?
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 ProPrivacy.com we do recommend that you run these tests every so often to make sure that your VPN is working well for you.
Although Windscribe heavily advertises its free plan, it is mainly there to draw people into buying a premium subscription. 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.
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. A three-day money back guarantee is available (valid for up to 10 Gb of usage). Though, of course, you can test Windscribe risk free thanks to it's excellent free plan.
Ease of Use
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.
If you want to use a VPN specifically for torrenting, take a look at our best VPN for torrent sites guide.
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.
Free basic account
Live chat 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.
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.
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.
Privacy and 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".
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.
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 ProPrivacy.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 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.