Windscribe's free tier is excellent, and so is its low-cost, fast and streaming-friendly subscription service
- Generous free tier
- Wide range of endpoint countries
- Great for streaming
- Current speeds are uncharacteristically slow
- Review Price: £6.64 per month
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Supports OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, SOCK5 Proxy, WireGuard
- Clients for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Blackberry, Fire TV, Nvidia Shield, Chrome, Firefox, Opera
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.
It’s consistently quick and reliable for streaming, and although it lacks long-term subscription options, its annual and monthly subscriptions are both very cost-effective. Windscribe was the winner of our last best VPN group test, and still comes highly recommended, despite a slightly disappointing performance in our latest speed test results.
Pricing and subscriptions
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. Pay for the full service and you get access to endpoints in 65 countries.
If you like the service enough to pay for it, it works out at £6.64/$9 per month or £36.13/$49 per year. Aided by a weak dollar, these already great-value prices have come down a little in recent month and are among the cheapest you’ll find for a top-tier VPN service. I only wish that multi-year and lifetime subscriptions were currently available, as they have been at various points in the past.
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 you don’t have to provide an email address to sign up.
The Canada-based firm is 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. Windscribe maintains a live transparency report showing both DMCA and law enforcement data requests. None of them have ever been complied with because Windscribe doesn’t log any identifiable user data.
I found the Windows desktop client simple to use, including a solid range of extra security features. By default, Windscribe activates its integrated firewall feature, which includes a kill switch preventing 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’s powerful integrated ad-blocker is handy, but I found it to entirely block access to some ad-gated websites and services.
Options in your online account management interface allow you to instantly apply features including ad and tracker blocking and an anti-malware filter.
Buy now: Windscribe VPN
|Reference Group Average HTTP||179.7Mbps||160.13Mbps||91.805Mbps|
|Reference HTTP without VPN||604.8Mbps||544.8Mbps||700.8Mbps|
All of my testing was carried out on a virtual desktop physically located at a data centre in London with a high-speed internet connection. This testing setup produces results under optimal connection conditions. VPN clients are tested on their default settings.
Although Windscribe’s relative performance was outstripped by its rivals this month, a top speed of 134Mbps from UK endpoints and bottom speed of 52Mbps to the US is still entirely usable. Windscribe also tends to be perform reliably well on slower domestic connections.
Unlike most free VPN options from commercial providers, Windscribe’s free service performs just as well as the paid-for version, although the selection of endpoints is limited and you don’t get access to its specialist streaming servers.
Should you buy Windscribe?
Windscribe has a lot of strong features, and is generally reliable for both reasonably fluid day-to-day web browsing and streaming, regularly putting it at the top of Trusted Reviews’ VPN recommendations.
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, and its pricing is very competitive. Windscribe isn’t just one of the best free VPN providers around, it’s also one of the best paid-for services, and its subscriptions are very reasonably priced.
It’s not the fastest this month (that honour goes to NordVPN and Surfshark) but Windscribe is one of the best general-purpose VPN services around. If security is a priority, though ExpressVPN has both established its privacy credentials through unfortunate government equipment seizures, which Windscribe hasn’t been unlucky enough to suffer thus far.
However, if you’re balancing streaming and transparency against price, Windscribe’s £36.13 annual subscription is brilliant value and well worth having.