As a VPN with one of the most flexible pricing structures ever concocted, Windscribe has been making waves in the market for several years now. But is there more to this solution than just accessibility? Today, we’re taking an in-depth look at what Windscribe has to offer to private users as part of our latest VPN review.
Unlike many of its rivals, Windscribe VPN comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, including a browser extension for Chromium-based browsers, as well as a dedicated desktop app for Windows, macOS, and Linux. This review primarily deals with the latter as Chrome VPN plugins are more akin to half-measure proxy solutions.
First things first: network density. Windscribe’s ecosystem spans 110 cities across 63 countries, making it relatively versatile when it comes to circumventing censorship and keeping your online identity and browsing history protected. The server variety is obviously geared toward American consumers interested in privacy more so than bulletproof security; that isn’t to say Windscribe is insecure, just that it makes more sense for someone who wants to ensure they aren’t tracked by their ISP more so than people looking to access Netflix Japan’s library from the United States.
That’s because server performance outside of North America isn’t stellar, particularly in regards to ping. Gaming experiences hence won’t be the best, so if that’s the kind of entertainment you like, you should probably look past Windscribe.
The speeds themselves are fine but nothing more than that. Expect around 20% worse performance compared to your VPN-free connection that may go up to 40% during busy hours. Windscribe is still a perfectly solid choice for streaming, even in 4K resolutions.
Windscribe Privacy & Security
Windscribe is so privacy-minded that it doesn’t even require an email address in the account registration phase. Naturally, don’t go misplacing your password if you decide to take advantage of that opportunity.
The company doesn’t keep user logs of any kind, with its local VPN client also offering built-in protection against tracking and other sorts of malicious web code. An ad blocker is also part of the package, though chances are, you’re using one of those already and Windscribe doesn’t really thread any new ground in this regard.
Beyond industry-standard 256-bit AES encryption, IP obfuscation, and everything else you’d come to expect from a modern virtual private network, Windscribe also offers a refreshingly direct, no-BS approach to transparency. Which leads us to its stance on warrant canaries.
Windscribe Warrant Canary
In 2018, Windscribe called warrant canaries “a nice idea but of little practical value.” Put down your pitchforks just for one more second, please.
Instead, what the company offers to users is a twofold Transparency Report which is updated in real time and covers both DMCA and law enforcement data requests. As you may notice, both of those data streams come with a footnote claiming Windscribe has so far complied with exactly zero requests of any nature – precisely due to its no-logging policy.
If that sounds super consumer-friendly to you, that’s because it is. In fact, this bluntly transparent take on PR is exactly what you’d want to see in a trustworthy VPN and its importance cannot be stressed enough. This practice is a good example of how traditionally popular warrant canaries aren’t the be-all, end-all when it comes to VPN policy opaqueness.
Windscribe Ease of Use
The Windscribe desktop app is designed in a straightforward manner and shouldn’t be a challenge to use even for the most tech-illiterate subscribers. The service also scores extra accessibility points due to its introductory tier that is free and allows you to get comfortable with its interface before committing any money to a more robust VPN solution.
The Chrome extension is also relatively basic and can be activated in just a few mouse clicks, though calling it a traditional VPN is a stretch at best and outright misleading at worst.
Pricing is another aspect of Windscribe that’s rather unique in the VPN space. Instead of buying a subscription from the get-go, Windscribe requires you to first register with a free account and then upgrade it. Those upgrades are where things get interesting; you pay $1 per an extra server location per month, with the only requirement being you have to choose at least two options.
Every additional location also adds 10GB to your monthly data allowance, which, admittedly, isn’t a lot. While there are other bonuses that raise your data cap further, choosing anything but the unlimited data tier obviously isn’t an option if you’re interested in streaming videos via Netflix, Amazon Prime, and the like.
In practice, what you’re looking at is around $50 per year or $9 per month if you aren’t willing to pull a plug on a longer commitment. That’s not terrible by any means but it’s nothing out of the ordinary when compared with similar VPN solutions.
Windscribe VPN Review Summary
Windscribe is neither the cheapest nor the best-performing VPN out there. It doesn’t even come close to the top when looking at the VPN space from a value-oriented perspective. Yet it’s an option that we’ll be happy to support moving forward and can’t fault anyone for doing the same. Its totally pro-consumer stance on privacy, security, and (not) cooperating with any sort of authorities means this is a firm that deserves to be rewarded for its tenacious dedication to keeping you protected online.
BSN’s Windscribe VPN Review has been written by Dominik Bosnjak, a long-time VPN-user-turned-advocate who spends more time scrutinizing VPN Providers on a daily basis than he’d like to admit. When he isn’t writing VPN Guides and covering general Tech News, he’s probably spending time with his dog, video games, or both. Fun fact: the Shih Tzu in question is the only remaining creature in Dominik’s life who hasn’t told him they’re sick of him talking about Best VPN practices and government-sponsored erosion of digital privacy which made using the Internet less convenient over the years. He occasionally dabbles in video editing, Wall Street memes, and demonstrating a remarkable lack of guitar-playing ability.
If you want more tidbit-sized rants about any of those things, you can find him on Twitter @dddominikk.
The overall score doesn’t represent an average of all individual ratings but a weighted average which values Performance as 33%, Privacy & Security as 33%, Ease of Use as 12%, and Pricing as 22% of the final figure. It’s meant to standardize our reviews by giving more weight to the attributes we value the most in VPNs (speed, privacy, and security) without completely disregarding the rest. Naturally, much like any other review out there, the starting points/ratings are still inherently subjective to a particular reviewer’s experience.