Windscribe isn’t just one of the best free VPN providers around, it’s also one of the best paid services, and one month’s dubious performance in a couple of tests isn’t enough to affect that, although it has lost a couple of points in our overall score. The only downside Windscribe has against some competitors for users with major privacy concerns is that the accuracy of its logging policy has never come up in a court case nor been independently audited. If security is a priority, ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access have both established their privacy credentials and have comparable – and typically even faster – performance in our data transfer tests.
- Generous free tier
- Wide range of endpoint countries
- Excellent for streaming
- Unproven logging policy
- Review Price: £39.20
- £7.20/month, £39.20/year
- 10GB per month free account available
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Clear information on connecting other devices without dedicated clients
- Clients for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Blackberry, Fire TV, Nvidia Shield, Chrome, Firefox, Opera
What is Windscribe?
Windscribe is a Canadian VPN (virtual private network) that’s gained popularity due to its free service and dedicated support for streaming TV. Unlike fellow Canadian VPN TunnelBear, Windscribe also allows torrenting.
If you are looking for the best for your buck when it comes to a streaming VPN then Windscribe is the one for you. With a generous 10GB free tier, it costs just $4.08 per month there after.
Related: Best VPN
Windscribe – Features and usability
Windscribe’s privacy and logging policy clearly indicates what data it does and does not keep, with only total bandwidth consumption and the time your account was last used stored in the long term. The service supports anonymous payment via Bitcoin and gift vouchers, and you don’t have to provide an email address in order to sign up.
Its desktop client is simple to use and includes a number of extra security features. By default, Windscribe activates its integrated firewall feature, a kill switch that prevents any internet traffic from being transferred if you lose your connection to the VPN for any reason. You can also share your encrypted connection as a secure wireless hotspot, if your router supports the feature.
Windscribe has dedicated endpoints for streaming Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other streaming services. After some unusually weak streaming test results last month, we’re happy to report that Windscribe is back on form. We were able to watch U.S. Netflix and Shudder content, as well as All 4 and iPlayer in the UK using dedicated endpoints. iPlayer was sometimes a little hit and miss, and you have to ensure that ad-blocking is disabled to stream All 4, which also took exception to the Windscribe browser plugin, detecting it as an ad-blocker.
Windscribe has a generous 10GB per month free tier. Free users get access to locations in 11 countries – not including any of the Windflix video streaming endpoints.
If you like the service enough to pay for it, it works out at £7.43 monthly or £40.43 per year, which are among the cheapest prices we’ve seen for a quality VPN service.
Windscribe – Performance
We recently carried out dedicated tests of Windscribe’s free service: unlike most free VPN services from commercial providers, it performs just as well as its paid-for version, although you get a more limited selection of endpoints, and no access to its U.S. Windflix specialist streaming servers.
Our latest speed tests focus on paid-for servers. This month, all its HTTP speed test results were decent but unremarkable, hovering around the average point, although its FTP speeds were significantly faster, in keeping with our usual expectations of the service.
On our ultra-fast reference connection, Windscribe’s UK endpoints gave us HTTP throughput of 110.24Mbps (13.78MB/s), with FTP speeds of over 21MB/s. Its Netherlands servers, although recovered from August’s anomalously slow performance, gave us a rather mediocre HTTP speed of 104.6Mbps, while FTP downloads zoomed along at 22.2MB/s (177.43Mbps).
Finally, U.S. HTTP speeds were bang on the mean average among its rivals, at 177.43Mbps (8.28MB/s), which is about what we expect from Windscribe, while U.S. FTP was unusually fast at 15.9MB/s.
Related: What is a VPN?
Should I buy Windscribe?
Windscribe has a lot of strong features, has historically always been one of the best choices for both speed and streaming, and although its streaming performance took a hit during last month’s test period, Windscribe clearly got everything back to working as it should very promptly.
It’s transparent about its privacy policies and, although it keeps some logs to help manage its service, says that it doesn’t keep any identifying information. The service supports a wide range of devices and is generally easy to use, although its endpoint list isn’t searchable. It’s generally fast, provides a technically unlimited number of simultaneous connections – although we’re not sure how far users are allowed to push that in practice – and its pricing is very competitive.
- Read our view on the free version of Windscribe in our Best free VPN round-up
- Buy now: Windscribe from $3.70 (£2.80) a month
Windscribe isn’t just one of the best free VPN providers around, it’s also one of the best paid services, and one month’s dubious performance in a couple of tests isn’t enough to affect that, although it has lost a couple of points in our overall score.
The only downside Windscribe has against some competitors for users with major privacy concerns is that the accuracy of its logging policy has never come up in a court case nor been independently audited. If security is a priority, ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access have both established their privacy credentials and have comparable – and typically even faster – performance in our data transfer tests.
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