Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, are popular among people who do a lot of traveling because it provides a more secure way to browse the web when connecting to public Wi-Fi, and grants access to the full web in countries where censorship is prevalent. However, you don’t need to be a world traveler to benefit from a VPN.
Whether you’re working from home or shopping online from your favorite coffee shop, you can make your online activity private and anonymous with a VPN. But, with dozens of VPNs available, it can be challenging to determine the differences between each one and to work out which service is really the best VPN for you.
In our review of ZenMate VPN, we take a closer look at some of the basic features, discuss the pros and cons, and give you other useful information so that you can confidently decide if it’s the right VPN for you.
What is ZenMate?
ZenMate is a Berlin-based software company that was established in 2013. ZenMate’s primary mission is to “simplify the world of online security and privacy,” making it accessible to all. ZenMate VPN was created after one of the founders was traveling and using free unsecured wi-fi but struggled to access the websites/content he needed for his studies in the U.K.
Today, ZenMate VPN has over 47 million users and servers in more than 30 countries. While there are servers in North America, and other locations around the world, the majority of servers are in European countries.
If you’ve never used a VPN, you might not know what type of features to pay attention to or which ones are more important than others. We take a look at some of the more commonly sought-after features and then discuss the pros and cons of ZenMate.
Ease of Use
Even if you consider yourself to be tech-savvy, the VPN you choose should not be difficult to install or use. If a VPN isn’t user-friendly, your more likely to misuse the VPN and put your privacy and personal information at risk.
ZenMate VPN is relatively straightforward and easy to use, particularly for users who have never used a VPN before or have limited tech experience.
To register with ZenMate, it’s a simple three-step process. You select your plan, enter your email address, and then select your payment method. Since ZenMate supports multiple platforms, you can download and install the VPN easily, and if you don’t know what to do, you are guided through the setup process.
ZenMate has a browser extension as well as an app for up to five devices. The app has a basic layout, which makes it easy to navigate and make changes. If you go to “My Account,” you can control your subscription settings without exiting the app.
You can also keep track of your connection and pay attention to your download and upload traffic (which many users with a limited plan find helpful). Switching servers and other actions are easy to use and clearly marked.
Reliability and Performance
Whether you are on the go or working from home, a VPN should be reliable and relatively hassle-free. One of the reasons that ZenMate VPN was established was because its co-founder wanted a reliable VPN that performed well regardless of your location.
It’s essential to keep in mind that even VPNs that guarantee fast and reliable service may experience some slower speeds or lag in service depending on where you are located and the server that you choose. Servers that are furthest away from your location are typically the slowest.
Most speed tests result in decent (and even above average) speeds and uninterrupted service. Since ZenMate is a German-based company, the best connection speeds came from servers in the UK, Germany and other areas in and around Europe.
There are browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and other Chromium-based browsers. If you are unsure about how to install ZenMate or which platform you should use, Zenmate has some platform/browser-specific instructions on its site.
Privacy and Security
No one should have to worry about whether or not their online identity and other personal information is safe while using the internet. Unfortunately, governments and private companies insist on tracking the personal data of the public, and invading on their privacy. And they make extremely difficult to opt-out, if it’s even possible at all.
When it comes to privacy and security, ZenMate VPN gets mixed reviews. Overall, it is private and secure, but like most VPNs, it could use a little work (especially if you’re a user who wants complete anonymity).
ZenMate VPN’s browser extensions use AES 128-bit encryption while the desktop and mobile versions use AES 256-bit. Both encryptions are top-rated and used by the US military and government. ZenMate also performs monthly security checks to see if your email has been part of a data breach. If your email has been compromised, ZenMate will let you know.
For an extra layer of security, ZenMate has a built-in kill-switch which will come on if an unsecured connection is detected.
Now let’s discuss a few of the things that makes ZenMate’s security and privacy a bit questionable. ZenMate allows torrenting through P2P (peer to peer communication). Many people like that the VPN allows torrenting, but there’s always the risk of security and privacy breaches when using P2P, so it’s kind of a win-lose.
A Few Pros and Cons
Now that we’ve reviewed some of the basic features let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons.
What We Like About ZenMate
- Easy to use
- Strong encryption
- Built-in kill switch
- Large number of servers
- Torrenting is allowed (with P2P)
- Unlocks Netflix and YouTube
What We Don’t Like
- Questionable privacy and logging
- Limited customer support
ZenMate offers a 30 money-back guarantee and three subscription packages. If you pay monthly, ZenMate is $9.99 a month. If you opt for the year plan, it will cost $3.99 a month, and if you decide to sign up for two years, ZenMate only costs $2.05 a month.
Most VPNs offer a limited free plan, and while we assume that ZenMate has a similar offer, we couldn’t find any information on the site talking about a free trial.
ZenMate doesn’t have a live chat, but you can submit a request at the support page. There’s also an expansive knowledge library filled with topics that might be helpful but depending on what you need help with; you might just end up feeling overwhelmed.
While ZenMate has quite a few features that we like, that aren’t necessarily available with other VPNs, such as a built-in kill-switch and the ability to unblock Netflix and other streaming sites, we are left a little underwhelmed by it’s P2P torrenting, logging of IP addresses, and questionable privacy and security.
We recommend giving ZenMate a try (if you can find the free trial) if you don’t care about whether or not you’re a completely anonymous user. If you’re looking for a VPN that offers more privacy and can be paid for anonymously, we suggest looking elsewhere.