One of the most rewarding parts of running this blog is getting to interact with readers. I learn a lot from you all, and your questions force me to challenge some of my own assumptions about security and privacy. A reader recently wrote in asking me about Windscribe VPN. I have to admit that my first reaction was to tell the guy to go check That One Privacy Site, imagining an abyssal review of this unheard-of VPN. Reading further he said it got a decent review from TOPG, so I checked it out. It turns out he was right, so I decided to give Windscribe VPN a deeper look.
Affiliate Disclosure: I’ve always written that I wouldn’t try to make money from a product I don’t personally use or believe in. Since the VPN industry is so rife with affiliates I want to make clear that I have an affiliate relationship with Windscribe VPN. I paid full price for my subscription and was given no incentive to write this review, but I do receive a small compensation for every purchase made through the links found on this page. If you like what I do here, please consider supporting operational-security.com by using one of these links.
Windscribe VPN: Admin and Logistics
Website: The first thing I did after looking at TOPG’s assessment of Windscribe is visit their website. Immediately a couple of things jumped out at me. First, there are no Google Analytics or Optimizely scripts running on the page. This should be expected, but it’s not the case with most VPNs.
Pricing: Windscribe’s pricing is a bit more expensive than Private Internet Access, but not oppressively so. At $49.99/year it is 25% more expensive than PIA. It’s performance makes it well worth it. Interestingly, Windscribe does not limit your number of simultaneous connections. Though I have never used the five that PIA offers, it is easy to imagine a family maxing this number out. Windscribe’s site warns against account sharing, and one assumes it is enforced by bandwidth monitoring. Like ProtonVPN, Windscribe VPN also offers a free tier with limited server access.
Account Setup: Setting up an account with Windscribe VPN was painless. I had to provide only an email address and credit card number. In this instance I used a Blur email address and a Privacy credit card. Windscribe also allowed me to use the username of my choice, so I chose something randomly-generated, and logged in.
What I Love About Windscribe VPN
I’ve looked into a lot of VPNs. Some didn’t get past an initial look of the website. A few I installed and decided almost immediately they didn’t work. Only a very few have lasted more than a day or two. I took a liking to Windscribe VPN right away. First, the app is extremely simple. There are no complicated settings; simply install the app and tap “Connect.” To ensure that the app maintains a constant connection, navigate to Settings >> General >> VPN >> Windscribe and ensure “Connect on Demand” is toggled on.
The performance of the iOS app is pretty amazing. Windscribe VPN connects extremely quickly and maintains a constant connection very well. Unlike Private Internet Access, I only have to open the Windscribe VPN app once a week or so to reset the connection. I attribute this to Windscribe’s use of the IKEV2 protocol rather than the more common (on iOS) IPSEC.
Disadvantages: There’s no such thing as a free lunch, however. I have noticed that my battery drains much more rapidly since I’ve started using Windscribe VPN. Using Low Power Mode eases this quite a bit, but if you’re a heavy user you’re likely to impacted by this. I gave my credentials to another tester who initially loved the connection stability. She dropped it after just a few days, though, because of how fast it killed her battery.
Windscribe VPN on Desktop
I’ve also worked with Windscribe VPN on desktop. Since I’m paying (and asking readers to pay) for a VPN, I’d like it to work on all my devices. Like the iOS version, Windscribe offers a very simple, very clean interface. The “Firewall” function is what Windscribe calls their kill switch. The screenshot below depicts three separate views of the Windscribe interface.
The desktop interface offers a deeper preference menu than the iOS version.
I want to re-emphasize the battery aspect of Windscribe VPN. Because of the this drawback, I’d recommend testing this VPN for a month before committing to a year’s subscription. For me though, Windscribe is THE virtual private network of choice for iOS, and Private Internet Access has been relegated to backup duty. This doesn’t mean I don’t like PIA. Overall, though, I will go with Windscribe for day-to-day iOS use because the connection is so stable. It does cost about 25% more than PIA, but I feel this cost is well worth it.