WindScribe VPN Review: It Is Generous but Is It Safe?
WindScribe is a VPN provider from Canada. With a free 10GB bandwidth monthly plan, it is certainly eye-catching at first. With a 256 bit AES encryption and OpenVPN tunneling, it gets the job done.
But as usual, we had to put it to the test to really see how it compares to the other VPN providers. In this WindScribe VPN review, we’ll examine its potential right down to the finest details.
This service is excellent for anyone in need of some privacy, anti-tracking tools and robust domain features that can protect you and your family while using the internet.
It works with torrenting and Netflix USA, but we have some serious concerns over how safe this VPN service is for those who need to put their trust in it.
Let’s take a look at why:
Speed and Reliability
The essential first step of any VPN review: Speed and consistency.
Speed Results Without a VPN
First, we recorded our speed without a VPN. This was carried out on a mobile 4G connection in Europe.
It averages around 7Mbps.
Speed Results with WindScribe from Europe
Next, we put it through some tests from European server locations.
From Germany, our download speed was 8.04 Mbps.
From Switzerland, our download speed was 6.16 Mbps.
From the United Kingdom, our download speed was 5.24 Mbps.
The industry average for short-distance VPN connections is considered to be 10-30% speed losses. During our review, it generally performed well and was fast at times, but not consistently.
Speed Results from the U.S.
From Chicago, our download speed results were 4.26 Mbps
From Los Angeles, our download speeds were 2.47 Mbps
The industry average for Europe - U.S. long-distance VPN connections is around 30-50% speed losses.
This service didn’t impress us for Europe - U.S. connections and in some locations it was very slow.
Speed Results from Asia
Our download speed tests for Hong Kong were 3.84 Mbps.
For Europe - Asia long-distance connections, the industry average is around 30-70% speed losses. In that respect, WindScribe performed about average.
Is It Fast?
Firstly, during our review, we noticed that the paid “Premium” servers were slightly faster than the “Free” servers. It is not the fastest VPN on the market at all.
But it’s far from the slowest. It ranks somewhere in the mid-tier. The consistency is also questionable.
That said, if you’re after a free VPN, then you should be satisfied.
How Reliable Is It?
It has 480 servers, which is about average. However, during our tests, we once experienced a server fail to connect.
When reading customer reviews, we also noticed some users say that the servers go up and down.
That leaves us with some doubt over how reliable WindScribe is as a VPN provider, and we suggest you also hold some doubt before paying.
Is It Safe?
WindScribe is based in Canada. As Canada is part of the Five Eyes online surveillance program, you have to worry about that.
Because of the laws in Canada, there is the chance that the company could be forced to hand over your information to the government.
The good news is that it's possible to be anonymous while using WindScribe. On their website's 'Transparency Report,' which details DMCA and Law Enforcement data requests, it stated that 'Exactly zero requests were complied with due to lack of relevant data.'
We would like to see them audited by an independent firm like VyprVPN and TunnelBear have chosen to do. This would clear up once and for all their logging policy and reveal the full extent to how safe they are.
As you can read below, our DNS and IP leak test results also revealed some uncertainty about just how secure it is. All our tests, on multiple servers, failed.
We believe you can trust them but with their Canada base and leaking DNS test results, the question is, why not just use something that guarantees total security?
It offers an OpenVPN encryption option by default. It also has AES-256 cipher with SHA512 auth and also a 4096-bit RSA key. Combined with support for perfect forward secrecy, you’ll possess some powerful encryption.
The keys are never re-used, so if someone did manage to find one of your private keys, they would only be able to see data from the single session you used it in.
Potential IPV4, IPV6, WebRTC, and DNS Leaks
Now we arrive at a crucial part of any review. To check the validity of their “No Leaks” promise, we connected to a European server and ran the VPN through some online tests.
DNS leaks happen when your ISP (Internet Service Provider) forces your connection through their DNS servers. When that occurs, they’re able to view what websites you’ve accessed even when you’re using a VPN service.
The results are concerning. Despite the official website stating no leaks occur, clearly, they do.
This is a major flaw and goes against their promises.
There is no live 24/7 chat, unlike most of the providers.
However, there is a smart “live bot chat.” It proves helpful if you need essential questions answered, but if you have a more complicated question, you’ll be left frustrated.
If you do want to talk to a human, you can request a chat ticket, but you’ll have to wait for a response.
The good news is that WindScribe only ever replies with their own employees so you’ll get informed answers, not cheap call center style replies. However, with such a small workforce, they admit their reply times will be slow.
'As we’re a relatively small company (13 employees), we’re unable to provide support 24/7, and since we provide support to all users, including millions of free accounts, things can be a bit overwhelming.'
Compatibility and Apps
During our WindScribe VPN review, we mostly tried out the Windows client. At first glance, it seems very basic and minimal, but we like that. It keeps things simple.
The small grey window has a location list, with a connection button, status information and firewall on/off switch. Thankfully, there is more to explore with a few clicks.
Select the location list and you can see all 480 servers, with more information available on the drop-down arrow. The server names are humorously named; London’s is “Tea,” Sydney is “Koala” for example.
Changing server is straightforward, although we wish that you could cancel the connection while it is still connecting.
If you accidentally click one of the servers, you have to then wait for it to connect before you can select another or disconnect. When connected, the app will turn a bright blue, which is helpful.
A great feature is that desktop users can import their own custom OpenVPN configuration files and then display those servers in the server list. That means you use WindScribe’s client as a front end of various different VPN providers.
We found the Windows app was super easy to download an install. We were signed up and connected within 5 minutes, without reading any tutorials.
The app is very slick and smooth for either VPN newbies or experts in need of more customization.
WindScribe’s Android app offers the basics of VPNs, but little else. It’s more of a watered-down version of the Desktop client. The visuals are very similar, and the main interface works the same. There is the full server list and the simple ON/OFF connection button.
We like that you can select specific cities as favorites for quick access. The only added feature compared to the desktop is a ‘Network Security Tool.’ This allows you to connect to the VPN when untrusted networks are detected automatically.
So if you’re in an airport using the airport’s WiFi, it will automatically turn on the VPN to protect you.
The iOS app is very similar, but without the favorites option. The settings page is slightly more basic too, with no ability to change your protocol or define protocols.
The Apps are relatively basic, but we're fans of them. They keep things simple and quick.
The browser plugins make VPN use quick and simple. They’re very basic as they’re mostly made for protecting your browser traffic, and working as a proxy.
They’ll be great for anyone who needs to access a website in a geo-blocked country, for casual use.
There are also some handy security options, ad blocking options, anti-tracking tools, cookie removal set (when you close a tab) and Time Zone Spoofing.
With a 4.75 rating on the Google Chrome store, it suggests that it does an excellent job.
Does WindScribe work with TOR?
It does work with TOR, but only with the standalone app and not with the browser extensions.
Locations and Servers
With 480+ servers, there is a lot of connection choice. There are servers in over 60 countries and 110 cities.
However, if you're using the free plans, you will only get access to 10 countries. If you want all the servers, then you’ll need to pay. Popular countries like the USA, UK and Germany are all free.
There is also a dedicated Netflix server called “WINDFLIX US.” This will allow you to watch US Netflix shows, without the often irritating task of searching for a specific server that works.
Finally, it has a feature called “Time Zone Spoofing.” This gives you the option to adjust your time zone to match the connection your using.
Is It Good for Torrenting?
Unlike most VPN providers, WindScribe is very open about their torrenting policy.
Head over to the company’s server status page and you’ll find a detailed list of which servers support P2P and which don’t (South Africa, Thailand, Russia and India for example). They even have tutorials on using torrents on their site.
Some online reviews complain that their speeds are just too inconsistent to be used for frequent torrenting. Our suggestion is to make sure the P2P servers are reasonably close to you to minimize download speed losses.
However, with the free plan and the ability to pay in cryptocurrencies, this is a decent VPN for anyone interested in torrenting. You shouldn’t be surprised, this VPN is based near Toronto after-all…
Is WindScribe Good for Netflix?
Netflix is one of the most challenging streaming sites to unblock. That’s why so many services are careful about making promises over Netflix streaming.
However, WindScribe VPN seems to have worked it out pretty well. With a dedicated WINDFLIX US server, you can access Netflix US with ease and without searching for the specific USA server that works.
Sadly, it’s only available on the paid plans. We also tried to access Netflix UK but we hit a block.
Does It Work with BBC iPlayer?
During our tests, we failed to bypass the iPlayer’s geoblock. We’re not surprised; the BBC has some robust measures in place!
Does It Work in China and Other Censored Countries?
Without the budget to fly out to China for our review, we instead used the cheaper option of a Google search for customer feedback on using this service in China.
The answer seems to be yes!
One top Reddit comment stated, “To bypass restrictions you have to try different combinations (I am sure it will work): Windscribe can automatically select the best for you.
I am using college restrictive network, using Windscribe I can bypass all the restrictions. This is the only VPN that worked well for me (tried so many VPN).”
If you’re in a country that restricts browsing or throttles your bandwidth, then try using “Stealth Mode”!
Where Is WindScribe from (Jurisdiction)?
They are based in Richmond Hill, near the city of Toronto, Canada. That means they are under the jurisdiction of Canada, which is part of the ‘Five Eyes’ surveillance alliance.
Anyone who wants total security and no risks should be wary of using a VPN service based in Canada. There are plenty of alternative VPNs in “safer” jurisdictions.
No Logs Policy
They state that long-term logging is limited to the total bandwidth you use per month and timestamp of your most recent activity (so that they can recognize inactive accounts).
WindScribe also collects connection details, such as user name, the server used, time of connection, bandwidth per session and devices connected - but these are supposedly only held in the VPN server's RAM. Once the session closes, it will be lost forever.
They state "'we do not store any logs on who used what IP address, so we cannot tie user activity to any single user.'" Browsing history, IPs and timestamps are not logged.
Every pro, paying member gets full access to WindScribe VPN’s customizable server-side domain blocking tool.
This powerful tool offers a plethora of very useful blocking features, to protect you.
The option to have a static IP address costs $8 a month, but gives you a great chance of accessing blocked sites. The Static IP feature allows you to:
Note that this is not supported in WindScribe’s browser extensions.
A great feature - let WindScribe automatically find the best server location for you, based on your criteria.
Send your connection through any two proxy servers on WindScribe’s server network.
WindScribe can remove any cookies from your browsing, as soon as a tab is closed.
Automatically generate secure links to prevent tracking.
No Email Option
It is great for anyone that needs a quick, anonymous VPN service without sign up information and without email.
The only downside is that you are limited to 2GB per month and you must remember your password, as without email there is no way of being reminded of it.
Multiple Device Support
Like all of the other services, you can connect an unlimited number of devices. This is great for anyone who wants to set-up a router for VPN uses, or wants to share their plan with the family.
Pricing and Discounts
They offer a free monthly plan and a pro monthly or annual plan. There is also a custom plan you can build, where you get to select the servers you want and this costs $1 per server, per month.
ScribeForce is a fantastic way of using a VPN for any team or business that needs organized and simple management.
Free Plan - $0 per month
10GB of Data per month if you sign up with an email, 2GB if you don’t use an email.
10 Countries to choose from only.
Pro Plan - $9 per month, or $49 per year ($4.08 per month)
Unlimited Data. Over 60 countries and 110 cities to choose from.
R.O.B.E.R.T. (Domain blocking tool) and the ability to create custom OpenVPN, IKEv2 and SOCKS5 configurations.
Build a Plan - $0 per month, plus $1 per new location server.
10GB of data per month, plus an extra 10GB added with each new location added.
Upgrade to unlimited data for $1 more.
ScribeForce (Group Plans) - $3 per user, per month.
All of the pro features.
Manage your group from a single control panel.
Share static IPs.
UK students can get 40% off the yearly subscription plan via a student discount with ‘Student Beans’. It’s very simple; you just sign up on Student Beans and enter the discount code.
Though of course, for any student who wants to prevent a trail of information, this defeats the point entirely.
WindScribe VPN Review Verdict: Is It Worth It?
It's time to conclude this. Here are our thoughts:
If we ignore the free version for a second, ultimately, there are cheaper VPNs out there that offer more protection and faster speeds.
However, with such flexibility and customization in the R.O.B.E.R.T domain tool and the Netflix dedicated server this a great VPN for families or businesses that need a quick, proxy and safe browsing.
If you need a VPN for torrenting, then know that P2P is supported, the only problem will be the consistent speeds.
Due to our fears over the DNS and IP leaks and its Canada location, we wouldn’t suggest it for any activists or journalists seeking total security. There are more reliable and secure VPNs out there than WindScribe.
If you need a free VPN to access a geo-blocked site, or to avoid bandwidth throttling or ISP tracking then consider WindScribe’s free 10GB monthly plan!