Windscribe's free tier is fantastic, and so is its low-cost, fast and streaming-friendly subscription service
- Generous free tier
- Wide range of endpoint countries
- Extremely good value
- Great for streaming
- Slightly slow result in Netherlands speed test
- Review Price: £39.93
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- 10GB per month free account available
- US pricing: Free, $9 per month, $49 per year
- UK price: Free, £7.33 per month, £39.93 per year
- Clear information on connecting other devices without dedicated clients
- 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 relable for streaming, and although it lacks long-term subscription options, its annual and monthly subscriptions are both very cost-effective.
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 to sign up. It doesn’t have the zero-logs policy of some rivals and it’s not yet published an independent logging audit, but it’s a reasonable option for privacy enthusiasts.
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.
Options in your online account management interface allow you to instantly apply features including ad and tracker blocking and an anti-malware filter. 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 50-odd countries.
If you like the service enough to pay for it, it works out at £7.33 per month or £39.93 per year, which are among the cheapest prices you’ll see 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.
Windscribe – Performance
Average HTTP download speeds for the entire April 2020 VPN group test, measured from a test system in London with a fast and stable internet connection, were 65.63Mbps from UK endpoints, 71.37Mbps for the Netherlands and 51.15Mbps from the US.
As you’ll see from the table above, Windscribe suffered an uncharacteristic blip in performance when I tested throughput on its Netherlands endpoints. Although below average, 56.64 is nonethless quick enough for any online task you’re likely to carry out, and although things were a little slow on the day of testing, Windscribe’s previous performance means that you’re likely to see higher speeds from the Netherlands in general.
I have no complaints at all about its UK and US speeds, nor about its typically excellent streaming performance. However, you’ll have to disable Windscribe’s powerful integrated ad-blocker to access some services, if you keep it on by default.
I also recently carried out dedicated tests of Windscribe’s free service and found that, unlike most free VPN services from commercial providers, it performs just as well as the paid-for version, although the selection of endpoints is limited and you don’t get to its specialist streaming servers.
Related: What is a VPN?
Should you buy Windscribe?
Windscribe has a lot of strong features, has historically always been one of the best choices for both speed and streaming in these tests, and regularly appears in Trusted Reviews’ top VPN recommendations.
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. Moreover, it maintains a live transparency report to show how many DMCA and law enforcement data requests it’s received. To date, it has complied with “exactly zero” of either, because it simply does not retain user data.
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.
- Read our view on the free version of Windscribe in our Best free VPN round-up
- Buy now: Windscribe from $4.08 (£3.14) a month
Windscribe isn’t just one of the best free VPN providers around, it’s also one of the best paid-for services. It’s generally a safe bet for both speed and streaming performance and its subscriptions are reasonably priced.
This month, it’s come out on top, hitting a sweet spot for streaming, value and speed. You’d be hard pressed to find a better general use VPN service, although is security is a priority, ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access have both established their privacy credentials through unfortunately government equipment seizures, which Windscribe hasn’t been unlucky enough to suffer thus far.
However, if you’re balancing streaming, speed and transparency against price, Windscribe’s £39.93 annual subscription is brilliant value and well worth having.