Free plans are generally a useful way to see what a VPN can do, but Windscribe’s goes so much further that you might find you never need to upgrade.
There’s a 2GB monthly data allowance, for instance, rising to 10GB if you register with your email address. You get eight locations to choose from, and the service is available through highly-rated (4-star+) browser add-ons as well as native Windows, Mac and iOS clients, and an Android app is coming soon.
Paying $9 a month (£7.25, AU$12.25), or $7.50 per month (£6, AU$10.20) if you subscribe annually, gets you unlimited bandwidth and a choice of servers in 40+ countries.
- Want to try Windscribe? Check out the website here
Unlike most of the competition, Windscribe’s commercial plan allows unlimited connections, and they're not explicitly for single users only. You're not allowed to resell the service, but this does mean you can let the whole family have access without worrying about hitting some arbitrary connection limit. Though beware, if you’re streaming HD video or torrenting 24 hours a day we suspect they'll complain eventually.
The good news keeps coming. Headings are clear. The word count is relatively low. And the lengthier sections have short summaries on the right-hand side, so the ‘Termination or suspension of access’ clauses are summarised as "we can disable your account if you do bad stuff, or if it’s the full moon."
There are reassuring details on service privacy. Windscribe doesn't log VPN usage, connection logs, IPs or anything else. Session data (user name, VPN server, data transferred) is discarded three minutes after session termination. The company doesn't even use third-party analytics on its website, opting to host its own Piwik service instead.
One minor issue is that Windscribe is based in Canada, where there have been more privacy-related concerns than some European jurisdictions. But as the service doesn't log anything significant, it's hard to see how it will cause you any problems.
Windscribe’s Windows client has a tiny interface, yet still squeezes in everything you'll need: server list, connect/disconnect button, a display of your current IP address, and any remaining bandwidth on the free edition.
There's also a ‘firewall’ which disables connectivity if the Windscribe connection goes down, and some low-level tweaks including connection mode (UDP, TCP, Stealth), API resolution and more.
In our tests*, basic performance when using nearby servers was surprisingly good. Latency was up 40%, but upload and download speeds were within 10% of normal, so close you'll barely notice any difference. Impressively, we found the free plan delivered the same level of service.
Our UK-California tests were relatively disappointing. Latency doubled, and hugely inconsistent download speeds ranged from acceptable to useless (about 50% of normal, on average).
We didn't test the service with Windscribe’s browser add-on, as this isn't a core part of the service. This does block ads, though, and if you're not currently using an ad blocker you should find it improves browsing speeds.
Windscribe’s free plan is one of the best around, and if you've money to spend, and a large family, the ‘unlimited connections’ feature will enable everyone to use the service at once. The long-distance performance can be poor, though – spend some time trying before you buy.
*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we've reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.