A strong choice for getting around geographical restrictions – and you can use it on unlimited devices
- Unlimited devices
- Good at unblocking streaming services
- Flexible licensing, including free option
- Awkward interface on Windows
- Limited customer support
- Competitors can be much cheaper
There are plenty of VPN services to choose from, but they differ in price, privacy, speed, streaming support and more. Windscribe VPN ticks a lot of boxes, and provides a good service overall – though there are a few areas where it could do better.
Windscribe VPN operates a network of secure servers spread across 175 cities in 62 countries, and if you’re a paying customer you can send your network traffic through any one of them. This lets you access geo-restricted websites and services, and protects your online privacy: since the server connection is encrypted, your ISP can’t see what you’re doing online, or which sites you’re connecting to.
Windscribe VPN review: How much does it cost?
Unusually, you don’t need to pay to use Windscribe. Free users can connect to any of 10 servers in Europe, North America and Hong Kong, and exchange up to 10GB of data per month. While that might not be enough to binge on US Netflix, it’s plenty for the odd bit of secure browsing.
Paying customers get access to the full range of servers, with unlimited data and unlimited devices permitted to connect at once. Subscriptions are priced in US dollars, with the monthly service costing $9 including tax – around £7.70 at the time of writing. That’s pretty competitive for a month-by-month deal, as many VPNs these days charge well over a tenner.
You can reduce the effective cost by signing up for a year in advance for $69, equivalent to $5.75/mth, or around £4.70. That’s the extent of the discount on offer: there’s nothing to compare with multi-year deals from the likes of Atlas VPN or CyberGhost , which come to less than £2 per annum. However, depending on your needs you may be able to save more with Windscribe’s unique “build your own plan” option, which provides access to single servers for $1 per server per month. That covers 10GB of data, with additional 10GB chunks costing an extra dollar; if you don’t need to transfer a large volume of data, it could be a smart deal.
One final thing to note is that Windscribe’s refund policy is very strict compared to most other VPNs. You can get your money back if you decide not to keep the service, but only if you’ve transferred less than 10GB of data – and you have to request your refund within three days of purchase, rather than the 30 you’ll get with rival services.
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Windscribe VPN review: What’s it like to use?
Windscribe offers native applications for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS, and supports a range of additional platforms including Linux and Amazon Fire TV devices. Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Opera help you easily manage the VPN while you’re online.
Frankly, though, we’re not fans of the software. The Windows client is wilfully weird, with a cramped, irregular shape and cryptic buttons and labels dotted in seemingly random places. The window even changes size and shape when you click to open the Locations dropdown or the Settings page; from a usability perspective, it’s a nightmare.
Still, the location list is easy to get around, with collapsible entries that let you browse at a country level or drill down to specific cities. The individual Windscribe servers all have jolly names (the London ones are called “Biscuits”, “Crumpets”, “Custard” and “The Tube”), and each is shown with an icon indicating its relative latency, plus a little 10G icon if it has a 10Gbits/sec connection. You can search the list by name, curate a selection of favourites or just let the program choose the fastest available server.
The Settings interface is similarly straightforward, once you decode the icons down its sidebar. You can configure split tunnelling, set up automatic connections and manage the “R.O.B.E.R.T.” feature that blocks online ads, malware and other undesirable content while the VPN is connected. There’s no kill switch as such, but that’s alright because Windscribe includes a fully functional firewall instead.
The Android client, thankfully, has a more conventional front-end, with the location list helpfully appearing on the main app page. The main features of the Windows client are here, too, including split tunnelling, and there’s also a nice GPS spoofing option – though there’s no equivalent to the firewall, which could be a concern if anonymity is a priority.
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Windscribe VPN review: How fast is it?
Using a VPN is always slower than connecting directly through your regular ISP connection, but some services are faster than others. We tested Windscribe on both a Windows 11 laptop and a Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 tablet running Android 13; before we enabled the VPN, the Google Speed Test tool reported an average download speed of 378Mbits/sec over our Virgin Media fibre broadband line.
After connecting to Windscribe’s 10Gbits/sec “Custard” server in London, we saw this drop to 336Mbits/sec on our Windows laptop. That’s not bad at all – in practice, you probably won’t notice any slowdown. Things were slower on the Android side, though, with a download rate of 184Mbits/sec effectively halving our internet speed.
Predictably, performance fell further when we moved to a more remote location. The New York “Grand Central” server delivered 133Mbits/sec on our Windows laptop, and a very similar 126Mbits/sec on the tablet. We’ve certainly seen faster speeds than this: Hotspot Shield managed over 230Mbits/sec on both platforms. Nevertheless, Windscribe is plenty fast enough for most things you’ll likely want to do over a VPN.
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Windscribe VPN review: Is it good for video streaming?
Until recently, Windscribe offered special “Windflix” servers, dedicated to unblocking streaming services in selected countries. Those have recently been retired, however: in the words of Windscribe’s support agent, “all servers are Windflix-y now”.
To test this, we reconnected to the New York “Grand Central” server and tried to access a few of the most popular streaming services. We were delighted to see that, on both Windows and Android, Windscribe immediately provided access to US content from Hulu, Disney+ and Netflix.
The VPN works equally well for British travellers abroad. The high-speed “Custard” server in London let us enjoy BBC iPlayer, ITVX, Channel 4 and Now TV without a hitch, regardless of whether we were using a desktop browser in Windows or the native apps on Android. That’s a clean sweep that few VPNs can match: in our recent tests, Express VPN , IPVanish and Surfshark were the only other contenders that managed to unblock all the services we tested across both platforms.
Windscribe gets full marks for BitTorrent support, too. Almost all servers will happily carry peer-to-peer traffic, and the website even offers advice on safely using file-sharing software without exposing your activity to your ISP. The small number of locations that don’t permit torrenting (presumably owing to local legal agreements) are clearly marked in the server list.
Windscribe VPN review: Is it secure?
We pitted Windscribe’s Windows client against numerous VPN-testing websites, and all of them confirmed that the VPN doesn’t leak DNS lookups or other information. If you really want to be untraceable, it’s possible to set up multihop routes that send your traffic through two different servers – perhaps in different countries. Needless to say, though, this comes at the expense of speed.
Our only reservation about Windscribe’s security credentials is the fact that the company’s based in Canada – one of the “Five Eyes” nations that shares intelligence with the UK, US and others. If that makes you uneasy, consider a VPN based in a more neutral location, such as NordVPN in Panama or Hide.me VPN in Malaysia.
Then again, like almost every VPN, Windscribe has a “no-logs” policy, meaning no identifiable user data is stored – so even if the company is asked to hand over customer information, your privacy should be protected. If you really want to remain off the grid, you can pay for the service in Bitcoin, so the company never sees your real bank details.
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Windscribe VPN review: Customer support
One thing that Windscribe notably lacks is a live-chat support service. The interactive help option just connects you to an AI chatbot called Garry: naturally, this is available 24/7, but it doesn’t know everything and can give frustratingly robotic answers.
Still, email support is pretty fast: we tried firing off a few queries and received helpful answers within a few hours. However, note that it’s only available between 9am and 6pm Toronto time, which means 2pm to 10pm in the UK. There’s also an online Knowledge Base, plus a community subreddit and a Discord channel where support staff sometimes respond to questions and issues.
Windscribe VPN review: Verdict
Windscribe is a very capable VPN with excellent UK speeds and first-rate streaming and torrenting capabilities. However, the interface design certainly won’t please everyone, and the lack of live 24/7 technical support is a disappointment.
It’s worth remembering, too, that the service is located in Canada, so it can’t guarantee the absolute strongest privacy protections. But if you’re happy with that then there’s plenty to like about Windscribe, and it isn’t unreasonably expensive – especially for busy households that can take advantage of the unlimited connections it allows.
Windscribe VPN: Quick facts
|£4.69 if paid annually
|175 in 62 countries
|24/7 customer support
|No (firewall instead)