How Does Windscribe's Free VPN Compare to Its Premium Service? – MUO – MakeUseOf

No one wants to spend out on a costly VPN service if a free plan is just as good. But is Windscribe’s paid-for VPN far superior to its free version?
Windscribe's VPN service has become the preferred option for many internet users, as it offers a trusty product, useful features, and even a free subscription. But how does Windscribe's free plan work? Is it worth it? And should you opt for the premium version instead?
Windscribe is a VPN provider launched in April 2016 and based in Canada. This service has over 57 million users worldwide, and can be used on your desktop, smartphone, or as a browser extension.
Windscribe uses the trusty AES-256 encryption cipher to secure your data, and has a no-log policy, meaning your information won't get recorded and sold to third parties. Some free VPN providers keep VPN logs as a way to make a profit via data sales, so make sure you're not dealing with such a service before signing up.
Windscribe's free plan gives you a long-term VPN service at no cost. Let's start by looking at the perks of the free app version.
If you want a relatively straightforward VPN app that doesn't involve a steep learning curve, Windscribe may suit you well.
Windscribe's free app is easy to navigate, has clear menu options, and simplifies the process of changing server location.
The main page of the Windscribe app consists of a simple on/off VPN activation button, the location of your connected server, the VPN protocol in use, and some other connection options laid out in the gray horizontal icon bar. You can scroll through the available server locations via the main page, and can view any of the server choices available within a given country if you click on an option.
Windscribe's free app version also allows you to view your account information, data limit, remaining data, and other metrics. If you run into a problem, you can head to the app's Help Me! section to talk to Windscribe's virtual assistant, search the knowledge base, or send a "ticket" to Windscribe to alert them of your issue.
By clicking the arrow next to green text above the server location (in this case, the text reading "IKEv2 | 500"), you can view the other VPN protocols on offer. This brings us to the next perk of Windscribe's free plan: the features.
Even on Windscribe's free plan, you can switch between a number of VPN protocols. This list includes WireGuard, UDP, TCP, Stealth, and WStunnel. The OpenVPN protocol is not available on Windscribe's app.
Windscribe also has a feature known as "R.O.B.E.R.T", which can help you avoid an array of dangerous or frustrating elements online.
First and foremost, you can use R.O.B.E.R.T to block malware and ads to keep your device safe and steer clear of irritating marketing. You can also select other site genres to block, including those hosting gambling, cryptocurrency, pornography, and clickbait. R.O.B.E.R.T even lets you block other VPN connections!
To quickly connect to your top servers, you can add locations to your favorites list, shown as a heart icon on the main page's gray menu bar.
A common limitation you'll have to deal with on many free VPN apps is the number of VPN connections you can make. Thankfully, Windscribe's free plan does not pose such an issue. You can enjoy unlimited connections across all your devices via the free Windscribe version, but note that the company does not permit you to add other people's devices using your account.
Though Windscribe's no-cost plan offers some useful features, there are drawbacks involved here (as is often the case with free app versions).
Windscribe's free VPN service has a pretty restrictive data cap of 2 GB per month. This can place some limitations on your internet usage while connected to Windscribe's VPN.
Let's say you're an avid Netflix viewer, and spend around three hours streaming on the service daily. Just one three-hour session will eat up 1.5 GB, as estimated by Armstrong's data usage calculator. Using the same calculator, gaming for three hours a day online would eat up 0.6 GB of data, while web surfing for three hours would consume 0.55 GB.
Given that many of us spend hours a day online, reaching Windscribe's free 2 GB data cap wouldn't take very long at all. Note that this is also monthly, not daily, so you'll likely be extremely restricted on what you can do while connected via the free plan.
If you were to spend just two hours streaming video content daily, you'd be consuming about 30 GB of data monthly, 15 times that of the Windscribe free limit.
However, there is a way around this. If you provide and confirm your email address, you can increase your monthly data limit to 10 GB. This is considerably higher, but may still restrict your online activity.
VPN apps usually offer a range of servers to connect to, which are often distributed around the globe. Some VPN apps also provide multiple server locations per country. This is the case for Windscribe, but your options are restricted using the free version.
If you simply want to connect to any server to encrypt your traffic data, this won't be a problem. But if you're looking to connect to specific locations, say to bypass geo-blocking, the restricted choice of servers may pose a problem.
You can subscribe to Windscribe's premium service in a number of ways, including:
The app on offer for Windscribe's premium VPN plan is identical in its layout to that of the free version, but has additional perks that you can access, starting with a longer list of server locations.
As you may have guessed, Windscribe's premium VPN plan has no monthly data cap. This means you won't have to worry about the amount of data you're consuming online, as you'll never hit a limit.
If you spend a lot of time online, or frequently stream and play games, an unlimited amount of data may be better for you.
With the Windscribe premium plan, you can access all the server locations on offer. At the time of writing, Windscribe has over 100 servers in 62 countries worldwide, with many of these countries having their own choice of locations to choose from. In the United Kingdom, for example, Windscribe has five VPN locations—three in London, one in Manchester, and one in Edinburgh.
On top of the features already offered by Windscribe's free version, you can also use the provider's WINDFLIX feature using the premium plan, which unblocks Netflix and other streaming services so that you can bypass geo-blocking and access the content you want to watch. Windscribe offers its WINDFLIX feature for streaming platforms in the UK, US, Japan, and Canada.
Windscribe's premium plan further offers a static IP feature, which keeps your IP address the same. This increases your online privacy, reduces the chance of your IP being put on your ISP's blacklist, and allows you to access network services remotely. You can also share your static IP address with other individuals in your ScribeForce team account, the other premium plan type offered by Windscribe for multiple members.
While Windscribe definitely offers some great features and a great application, we found that it took a toll on our connection speeds.
As you can see above, the download speed achieved while connected to Windscribe was just 14.26 Mbps. The upload speed, surprisingly, was higher than the download speed, sitting at 16.42 Mbps.
When we disabled the Windscribe VPN, the download speed drastically increased to 72.78 Mbps, with the upload speed increasing slightly to 18.09 Mbps.
This indicates that the VPN connection is having a pretty severe effect on internet speeds, which is worth keeping in mind if you're considering signing up for Windscribe.
You can certainly make good use of Windscribe's free VPN plan, but it's important to note that this version does come with some restrictions that may make your online experience frustrating. However, if you're looking for a VPN to cover only certain activities, Windscribe's free version may be a useful tool that won't hit your wallet!
Katie is a Staff Writer at MUO with experience in content writing in travel and mental health. She as a specific interest in Samsung, and so has chosen to focus on Android in her position at MUO. She has written pieces for IMNOTABARISTA, Tourmeric and Vocal in the past, including one of her favourite pieces on remaining positive and strong through trying times, which can be found at the link above. Outside of her working life, Katie loves growing plants, cooking, and practicing yoga.


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