LOCATION AND PRIVACY
WHAT IS WINDSCRIBE?
Windscribe is a fairly new VPN software founded in 2015, being based in Ontario – Canada, which is a member of the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance, is not something that VPN users love to hear.
Because if a Canadian VPN service keeps logs about their customers, that means Canadian authorities can access it, completely legally.
More than this, it’s known that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) collected online information about its citizens.
So, the important question here is, does Windscribe keep logs?
What Windscribe collets for 30 days:
- Total bandwidth in a 30 days period (to manage free plan accounts).
- The timestamp of your last activity (to identify inactive accounts).
What Windscribe collets during an active session:
- Time of connection
- Bandwidth used
- Simultaneously connected devices
- A counter is incremented that stores the total number of bytes downloaded/uploaded in a 30 day period.
Because this information is stored in the server’s RAM, it’s automatically discarded after your session ends.
What Windscribe does not collect:
- A historical record of VPN sessions
- Originating IPs
- Sites you visited when you are connected to the VPN
From all of this information, I can say that once you disconnect, what Windscribe collects cannot be tied to you.
- Transparency report:
Another thing that Windscribe tries to comfort us with is this transparency report, where she shares that even if there are data requests from the DMCA and Law Enforcement, they didn’t comply due to the lack of relevant data.
Yes, thank you Windscribe for this unique move, but we still need an independent external audit to be sure about what you claim.
- Blog posts
Windscribe’s co-founder (Yegor Sak) has published in 2019 a blog article where he explains in detail Windscribe Logging and how “no logging” VPN companies like PureVPN and IPVanish helped authorities with their kept logs.
Another blog post where this co-founder tries to comfort us with is this one where he devalues the importance of jurisdiction. Even if your blog post looks logical, having a VPN company based outside of the 5, 9, 14 Eyes is much safer for us VPN users.
- Anonymity options:
If you want to stay anonymous, you can signup for a Windscribe Free account without giving your email address. The only downside to this is the limit of 2GB of data per month.
For paid accounts, you can also pay using Bitcoin.
WINDSCRIBE AND STREAMING
During my tests (Dec 2020), Windscribe was a powerful Netflix’ unblocking tool.
Windscribe unblocked Netflix with the Pro version and also with the Free version.
More than that, I unblocked Netflix using the dedicated server locations (named Windflix) and also using the normal server locations
My test consisted of trying to access Shaun the Sheep: Adventures from Mossy Bottom, which is not yet available for me here in Morocco.
Before using Windscibe:
With Windscribe turned-off, all I get is this “Reminder” button.
After using Windscibe Free:
Connected to Chicago-Cub (Windflix servers are not available in the free version).
After using Windscibe Pro:
Connected using the server location “Windflix US”.
I’ve also tested unblocking Netflix using normal server locations (Argentina) in Windscribe Pro, and I got some encouraging results.
A static IP address is also another thing that can increase your chances of accessing geo-blocked content like Netflix, because this way, the chances of your IP being blacklisted is reduced.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, or Disney+ account to test this VPN with, but from the results above I can see that this VPN would not have any problem unblocking them.
For me personally, VPN speed is the most important factor in choosing a VPN software after privacy capabilities.
Usually in my reviews, even if a VPN offers a free version, I only test and talk about the paid version. But because Windscribe Free is powerful and amongst the best free VPN software, I also tested it here in this review.
If you are not sure if these speeds can allow you to watch Netflix bufferless. With 5 Mbps of speed, you can watch Netflix in HD quality.
At the time of writing this review, Windscribe officially states that it owns servers in 63 countries and 110 cities.
I don’t like the fact that Windscribe doesn’t share how many servers it owns, but the internet says it’s around 500 servers. I found this number as near the reality because if it was bigger than that, the company will blast us with it first thing on their website.
This is a medium-size network that covers almost every region in the world, but it still nothing compared to big brothers like ExpressVPN (2,000+), PIA (3,200+), and NordVPN (5,200+).
Sometimes, when a VPN company has a large network, some of their servers may not actually be there where they say, on the official website, Windscribe confirms that their servers are physically in the countries that they are advertised to be in.
- Server locations list – Windscribe Pro :
Windscribe torrenting is allowed on the majority of the servers.
They even provide you with guides to show you how to configure different torrent clients:
But Windscribe torrenting is prohibited in Russia, South Africa, Lithuania, and India. And these 4 servers are labeled like this.
IS WINDSCRIBE SAFE?
There are 5 protocols, IKEv2, OpenVPN (UDP and TCP), Stealth, and Wstunnel.
The default protocol is IKEv2, so it’s better to switch it to OpenVPN due to its high encryption security.
If you want to know the difference between some protocols :
- IKEv2: Fast, but may not work on all networks
- OpenVPN UDP: The best combination of speed and security
- OpenVPN TCP: Likely to function with all types of networks, but might be slower than UDP.
Windscribe works using strong encryption to protect your data.
For the browser extension, you get AES_128_GCM cipher, with TLS 1.2, ECDHE_RSA with P-256 key exchange encryption.
For the desktop application, you get AES–256 ciphers, with SHA512 auth and a 4096-bit RSA key encryption.
It also supports Perfect Forward Secrecy with the desktop application, which means your encryption key is used one time per session, so even if someone gets to your encryption key, only a small amount of data will be vulnerable.
DNS & IP LEAK TEST
I’ve completed multiple DNS and IP leak tests using different web-tools. Fortunately, no one showed my real identity.
- Perfect Privacy
As you see, the only information he gets is one of the Windscribe servers I’m connected to.
WEBRTC LEAK TEST
Due to the high-security encryption, I didn’t found any WebRTC leaks during my test, and my real identity remains masked.
Kill-switch is a VPN feature that prevents you from exposing your real identity when your internet connection drops and reconnects again. It functions by blocking your internet connection until everything is under control again.
In the Windscribe application, it’s called “Firewall”.
During my tests on my Macbook, the Firewall did well and was always disabling my internet access before being connected to the VPN.
I’m not sure about the availability of this feature in the Android app, so make sure you have it in case you want to rely on it.
From the settings, you can set the Firewall mode to be manual, automatic, or always on.
IS WINDSCRIBE COMPATIBLE WITH MY DEVICE?
Windscribe is available on the majority of platforms, including:
In the iOS apps, Windscribe offers network whitelisting, shortcuts for Siri, and it supports IKEv2 and OpenVPN protocols.
It’s also available as an extension for Chrome (1,000,000+ users), Firefox, and Opera. For Chrome and Firefox, you get malware/phishing blockers, a city-level servers selection, WebRTC blocking for privacy, and location and API spoofing.
Do not forget that the Windscribe extension works differently than the desktop, it’s just a proxy when the desktop app provides a full VPN tunnel.
You can also install Windscribe on your streaming media player like Amazon Fire TV, Kodi, NVidia Shield.
And if you want to protect all of your home devices at the same time, you can install Windscribe on your router or get a pre-configured one for around $250.
What I love about Windoscribe, is that even with the free plan, you can connect an unlimited number of simultaneous personal devices.
DOES WINDSCRIBE WORK IN CHINA?
Windscribe is one of the VPNs that work effectively in China.
Yes, I didn’t try it personally in China, but most users said that it’s working great in China.
But don’t forget to install it before arriving.
If Windscribe doesn’t work for you in China, you can try the Wstunnel protocol because he merges between OpenVPN with WebSocket, or Stealth protocol because he hides OpenVPN inside TLS tunnel.
If all of this doesn’t work, Windscribe encourages you to contact them for help.
For iPhone users, the Stealth protocol is not available due to Apple restrictions, so don’t rely on using it in China.
The Windscribe browser extension is only a proxy, which means using it you are only protecting your browsing traffic and not your other stuff like a torrent.
R.O.B.E.R.T is a custom DNS browser extension with a 4.7 rating, that can block:
- Ads that eat bandwidth
- Pishing sites
- Gambling content
- Fake news and Clickbait
- Other VPNs
- Sexually explicit content
Other than being safe after blocking this, your browsing speed increase because there is less content.
With R.O.B.E.R.T, you can also change your GPS location and time zone to match the Windscribe server you are connected to or change your browser user agent in order to become hard to track.
STATIC IP ADDRESS
As mentioned before, with Windscribe, you can get a static IP (residential IP address for $8/month or a data-center one for $2/month).
With this, your chances of accessing geo-blocked content get higher and you can also enable port-forwarding.
Upgrading is also straightforward if you know that you should click on the remaining data at the top-right of the Windscribe window.
After installing it on my Mac, the first thing that welcomed me is this gray interface that turns to blue once I’m connected to a server.
After you click on your current location, a dropdown list appears starting with the “Best Location” feature that connects you automatically to the nearest server most of the time. The same feature is named Autopilot in the browser extension.
Below this, you found the “Firewall” feature (Kill-switch), with her status if it working at the time or not. Don’t forget that you can also change the Firewall mode to be manual, automatic, or always on from settings.
How to Change Settings in Windscribe on Desktop
Windscribe offers a generous free plan, you get a 2 GB data cap per month if you only provide your username and password, if you provide your email address also, you get 10 GB per month.
If this is not enough for you you have other ways to get extra data by:
- Tweeting and get a permanent 5GB of data.
- Refering a friend and get free Pro.
- Or follow their Subreddit page for promotions, contests, and giveaways.
The limitations of this free trial are multiple, first thing is the short server list that covers only 10 countries (US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Romania, Turkey, Hong Kong).
The second limation is the server’s speed as we saw above.
The other drawback is that the free R.O.B.E.R.T. is only limited to the Malware blocking tool.
The last inconvenience that I found is that the Netflix special servers (Windflix) are not available, but since I unblocked Netflix with another server within Windscribe Free, this is not a big deal.
Long story short, I do not just dislike Windscribe support, I hate it.
There is no 24/7 live chat or working hours’ live chat.
The available support options are average setup guides, because some guides are in-depth, and others are a joke like this one about Nvidia.
The FAQs is a one-page with short answers.
The knowledge base section is what I consider acceptable, but they still can enhance it with images.
Giving technical support via Subreddit is not something interesting for me, because first, I’m not familiar with the website layout, second, I’m not creating a Reddit account when what I only want is to ask “why my VPN is not working?”.
Unfortunately, talk to Garry which is supposed to be intelligent turns out to be a search tool that scraps your question to found keywords and gives you an irrelevant response.
When I’ve asked him for a refund, instead of asking me for some useful information to help the real human that will process my request, he requested me to fill in a form to cancel my account.
Even it’s not something I’ve asked for, I went to see this page and the big surprise was written under the form “If you delete a Pro account we won’t be able to refund your payment after the fact“.
When our intelligent chatbot gets stuck he redirects you to open a ticket system that copies your chat current chat history and gives the option of adding a comment (more on this ticket at the refund section below).
Another support channel that is not promoted on their website is the Discord server, which has 11,231 members (1634 online) at the time of writing this review.
Yes, they offer a full refund but it’s restrictive, and their refund policy should be read because:
- Subscriptions bought outside their official website are not refunded.
- Your refund request should be sent within the first 3 commercial days.
- Your VPN usage should not exceed 10 GB.
But what I love about their refund policy is that they state it’s “no question”. Since I hadn’t got my money back yet, I couldn’t guarantee that.
Now that we’ve discussed their refund policy, let talk about my experience asking for a refund.
I’ve opened two tickets in this regard.
For the first one (#4470949), I didn’t a response even it’s created 5 days ago.
For the second one that was opened at the same time, I did get a reply the next day, but they were asking me for my username 😒
I don’t know if they did it intentionally or what, because since we are not instantly chatting, you should work harder minimize the question asked to resolve my problem, and in this case, if you search with my email address you will found my account created within the previous three days.
WINDSCRIBE VPN COST
Windscribe offers 3 plans :
- The monthly plan at $9
- The annual plan at $49 ($4.08/month), cheaper than top VPNs ExpressVPN: $8.32, HideMyAss: $6.99, and CyberGhost: $5.99.
- The “Build A Plan” plan, that allows you to buy only the server location you need at $1/location per month (you are required to take 2 locations at least).
- The ScribeForce plan, that allows you to signup 5 members minimum with the same account ($3/seat monthly).
This variety of payment plans is a great thing to see, I love to see other VPN companies offering this payment plans flexibility.
Compared to other VPN services, you can get the best deals like :
- 12 months of Private Internet Access (PIA) for $39.95 (read the review summary)
- 24 months of Surfshark for $47.76 (read the review summary)
- 12 months of ExpressVPN for $99.95 (read the review summary)
For the payment methods available, you can pay using your card, Paypal, Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies or gift cards.
WINDSCRIBE FREE VS PAID
Windscribe offers a free service and a paid one, the difference between them are like this:
|Bandwidth up to 15 GB||Unlimited|
|Only 11 server locations||110 server locations|
|Very slow speed||Fast speeds|
|Unblocks Netflix||Unblocks Netflix|
If you are looking for Windscribe promo codes, I don’t have ones but there are some tips to get Windscribe’s best deals.
- Windscribe Free:
Even if you can sign-up without your email address, provide it and get free 10GB/month instead of only 2GB. You can also tweet the company and get a total of 15 GB.
- Windscribe Pro:
If you are a paying customer, you can play with the “Build A Plan” plan and get just two locations, one closer to you to get fast speed and one in the USA to unblock Netflix for example, and select unlimited data for another $1. The total will be only $3 per month instead of $9.
If you are a student, you can benefit from the special discounts for students that Windscribe publishes on Reddit from time to time.
IS WINDSCRIBE A GOOD VPN?
Yes, if all you want is unblocking streaming services like Netflix, but if you are concerned about your privacy or you often need customer support, this VPN is not for you.
WINDSCRIBE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS