ZenMate is a virtual private network (VPN) service based in Berlin, Germany. ZenMate was created by a company called ZenGuard. Based in Germany, ZenMate is one of the only VPNs in the world that offers multilingual options. This includes customized text options for German, English, Turkish, Korean, Russian and Spanish.
On their homepage, ZenMate claims to be “Fast. Secure. Easy.” – will they live up to their claims? Let’s find out!
- Simultaneous connections 5
- Countries 30
- ProPrivacy.com SpeedTest (average) 7
- Jurisdiction Germany
- 14-day money-back guarantee
- 7-day free trial
- Free basic plan
- Multiple protocols and encryption options
- Extremely poor quality customer support
- Slow speeds at times
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ZenMate offers a variety of features – more so for their premium plan than their free plan.
- 4 server options in US, Hong Kong, Germany, and Romania
- Chrome & Firefox extensions
- Unlimited data
- Encryption protocols L2TP/IPSec
- Everything included in the free plan
- High speeds
- 3000+ shared IPs
- 30 servers worldwide
- Ad-blocking capabilities
- Up to 5 simultaneous devices connected
- Unlimited P2P traffic
- Malware blocking & tracking protection
The thing to remember here is that ZenMate’s free plan is extremely restricted when compared with their premium plan. For this reason, the free version will not be suitable for most people's needs. When it comes to protocols, ZenMate supports the standard protocols UDP and TCP via OpenVPN, as well as L2TP/IPSec, PPTP and SSTP.
Speed and performance
When choosing a VPN, it’s important to test its performance before sticking with it indefinitely. Performance testing can include things like testing for speed and leaks.
ZenMate doesn’t offer manual OpenVPN configuration, which means we had to do their speed tests using our old speed test method. While the new method is preferred, our old methods are still mostly accurate and helpful for comparison. Our results for ZenMate’s download/upload speeds were performed using L2TP rather than OpenVPN. The download speed results were very disappointing.
Uploads speeds fared slightly better on the UK server, but overall were again disappointing. Not a fast VPN by any stretch of the imagination.
ProPrivacy.com SpeedTest (average)
If your VPN leaks your IP address, the entire point of it is defeated. By visiting ipleak.net, I was happy to report no leaks by ZenMate VPN – including IP, DNS and WebRTC leaks.
For more information on IP leaks, view our Complete Guide to IP Leaks.
ZenMate is a bit costly when compared with other VPNs, but you can save a little cash by choosing certain plans as opposed to others. Currently, ZenMate offers the following plans:
- 1-month subscription – $9.99/month
- 6-month subscription – $59.94/6 months
- 1-year subscription – $119.88/annually
At the moment, ZenMate is promoting a limited time offer for their 6 month and annual plans!
- 6 months – $53.99 instead of $59.94
- 1 year – $71.99 instead of $119.88
In addition to this, ZenMate also offers a 14-day money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with their service. Finally, ZenMate offers a variety of payment methods. Unfortunately, this doesn’t include a cryptocurrency option like Bitcoin.
ZenMate payment methods:
- Major credit cards
- Qiwi Wallet
ZenMate still offers the free “limited” version of their service, but it is barely functional in comparison to their paid plans. You can access a free ZenMate premium 7-day trial by selecting ZenMate limited, registering your account, and then confirming your email address. Features
Ease of use
Installing and using ZenMate is fortunately very easy. This example will illustrate using ZenMate on Windows OS.
- Download the appropriate file for your OS
- Install the file by following installation prompts
- ZenMate interface will pop up
- Log in to your account
- You will automatically be connected to a server
- To change your server, select the one you are connected to
- In this case, it’s Spain
- Select your preferred server
That’s it! You’re all set!
ZenMate offers support for the following platforms:
Android & iOS Apps
The ZenMate apps for Android and iOS are visually and mechanically identical to their desktop counterparts. Setup and installation are basically the same, except for mobile it asks for permission to configure the VPN.
The browser extensions for ZenMate are a bit different than the desktop and mobile apps, but still user-friendly. To download the extensions, simply navigate to the appropriate app store and install it. After installation is complete and you’ve logged in, you can change your server by selecting Change Location.
Furthermore, you can access special security features via the extensions by selecting Features and enabling Malware Blocking and Tracking Protection.
ZenMate’s customer support is very disappointing. To begin, there is no live chat option. This would be all right if they had a support system that was easy to access with fast responses. Unfortunately, that was most certainly not the case.
To begin, you have to click through several pages to even access the ZenMate ticket-based support system.
When you submit your request, you will get an automated email giving you the response time (1-5 days). In the next several hours, you’ll receive another automated email aiming to help you solve the problem yourself through different help articles.
To open the ticket (that should have been opened the second you sent the first email), you have to reply “PERSONAL SUPPORT” to the second email. After this, you’ll have to wait anywhere from 1 to 5 days for a reply. I received a response in a little over 24 hours, so I was not too disappointed with the result.
On the other hand, some people report waiting over a week for a reply, despite the 1-5 response time written in the first email. The lack of effective customer support definitely puts a damper on what could be a very useful VPN service.
Privacy and Security
Let’s take a look at ZenMate’s privacy implementations.
ZenMate offers the standard TLS 1.2 protocol via OpenVPN. The protocol supports different cipher suites with Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS), and encrypts both data and control channels with 256-bit-AES encryption and HMAC SHA384 authentication.
As you can see, Zenmate provides high standards of encryption in its apps. However, do bear in mind that the AES encryption is not part of the browser extensions (which are proxies rather than VPNs). In addition to these security features, ZenMate also offers DNS leak protection (and its own DNS servers), malware blocking, tracking protection, and no logging.
German Data Retention Laws
Because ZenMate is based in Germany, they fall under the internet privacy and data disclosure war being fought by the European Union Commission and the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Generally, Germany is considered a place that is pretty good for privacy. As such, ZenMate’s assurances that they are loyal to German data privacy laws is not a problem in of itself.
This is troubling because what Zenmate is referring to is the connection timestamp. That data - stored alongside an IP address or the account holder's name/personal info - means that an e2e attack (time correlation attack) can be mounted against the VPN subscriber. As such, despite Zenmate's suggestion that this is a no-logs VPN, the reality is that Zenmate does keep connection logs.
For more information on how to stop websites from tracking you, click here.
It's important to know who the payment processor is for the VPNs you choose to use. If your main concern is privacy, that concern is amplified if the VPN's payment processor is located in the US - and therefore subject to US jurisdiction.
Fortunately, ZenMate's payment processor is located in the Netherlands. The company is also used by other major websites like eBay and GroupOn.
ZenMate VPN is a VPN that has a user-friendly interface but provides slow connection speeds that are probably going to cause problems when streaming in HD. Their customer support is terrible and their website is somewhat confusing. Overall, ZenMate has potential if they make some vital changes to their services. If you’re looking to test out their services for yourself, be sure to take advantage of their 7-day free trial. An overpriced VPN for what you get.