ZenMate’s tagline is “Fast.Secure.Easy.” Is ZenMate, with over 47 million users, the dark horse in the VPN industry or a pretender amongst other leading providers? This no-holds-barred ZenMate review will bare it all.
ZenMate – The Details
In 2018, ZenMate was acquired by Kape Technologies, the same parent company that also owns CyberGhost VPN. This explains the similarity between the apps of both providers, but each has distinct features and pricing strategies.
Here are some quick facts about ZenMate:
- It operates more than 1,500 VPN servers in 35+ countries.
- ZenMate is downloadable on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and features a free extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers.
- Standard protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP are supported by ZenMate.
- Connects up to 5 devices simultaneously.
You can start using ZenMate for free, but it’s limited to browser plug-ins. However, the free version of ZenMate is highly restricted in speed, location, and without premium features.
ZenMate’s paid plans, or ZenMate Ultimate, are priced competitively.
- $2.05 per month for 2-years plan (billed $49.20)
- $3.99 per month for a 1-year plan (billed $47.88)
- $9.99 per month for a 1-month plan
Each of the paid plans is backed by a 30-day-money-back guarantee. Pricing-wise ZenMate has proved to be one of the most affordable VPNs, but is it worth subscribing?
We took advantage of the risk-free subscriptions and downloaded the apps for our devices. Here are what stood out during our review.
ZenMate VPN Review—The Pros
ZenMate has been getting some bad rep in the past, but in our recent testing, it seems like there have been major improvements.
1. Supports Major Protocols and Strong Encryption
Except for ZenMate’s browser extension, which uses the AES-128 encryption, all of its apps on various platforms use the military-grade AES-256 encryption. AES-256 encryption is the de-facto standard when it comes to VPN security, and it’s used by banks, military, and government agencies.
As for protocols transporting messages between devices and the Internet, ZenMate offers OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP on its apps. You can manually choose any of the protocols or allow the app to select the best protocol for your device automatically.
2. No DNS/IP Leaks
There were complaints about ZenMate having issues with DNS leaks in the past, but we believe the flaw has been fixed by its development team.
We tested ZenMate for DNS, IP, and WebRTC leaks, and the result was encouraging.
Our actual IP address, which is located in Malaysia, was hidden when we ran a test using IPLeak.net.
3. No Viruses Either
The VPN industry is tainted by some low-quality products that also inject malware into PCs and mobile devices.
To prevent some nasty digital infections, we did a quick check on the ZenMate Windows installer file.
A squeaky-clean result gave ZenMate more brownie points from us!
4. Strict No-Logging Policy
Vague logging policies often spell trouble for VPN users.
However, the last sentence of the Personal Data section puts all doubts to rest. It highlighted the fact that none of the user activities are recorded, stored, or logged by ZenMate.
We wish that ZenMate could be more concise with its logging policy, but we’ll accept that it doesn’t store information that may reveal its users’ browsing behaviors.
5. Easy Installation And User-Friendly
It took less than 5 minutes to register for an account, purchase a plan, and install the software on our Windows PC. As for the Android app, it installed almost instantly.
ZenMate has obviously got it right with its intuitive app design. When the Windows ZenMate app is launched, a vertical mobile-like screen pops up at the bottom right corner of the taskbar.
With the shield-like icon, you can connect instantly to a server closest to your location. Alternatively, you can expand the app to access the entire server list.
You can also view the servers by its specialized torrenting and streaming functions. The search bar also proves to be helpful, as it quickly displays the relevant server based on the search term.
Both general and connection settings are neatly organized on a screen. You’ll find the configurations self-explanatory, and some handy settings include the Kill Switch and protocol selection.
As for the ZenMate Android app, the developer chose to stick to a similar theme, to maintain consistency.
You’ll get a similar startup screen that allows quick connection to the VPN on the Android app.
The server list is accessible with a single tap, and you’ll find a dedicated list of streaming-friendly servers on the app.
We could only hope that other VPNs follow suit in creating interfaces as simple as ZenMate.
6. Great but Inconsistent Speed
Often, you’ll get claims of high-speed connections from VPN providers only to be left disappointed later.
In all honesty, we didn’t expect much on ZenMate’s speed performance, but we got a pleasant surprise after several tests.
Here’s what our internet speed is like in Malaysia, without connecting to a VPN.
We connected to the “best server” on the app, and found rather disappointing figures, considering it’s supposed to be the closest location, and hence the fastest speed.
But our expectations were raised when a connection to a random server in Germany, where ZenMate is based, yielded promising results.
A quick test on a random server in the US also provided acceptable download rates but dismal upload speeds.
Then, we specifically connect to the Netflix-optimized server in the US and got marginally higher bandwidth.
There seems to be a lack of inconsistency in some servers, but overall, we’re quite happy with ZenMate’s connection speed.
7. Unblock Netflix
For some reason, unblocking Netflix seems to be the unofficial yardstick for a VPN’s streaming capability.
ZenMate has only 3 Netflix-optimized servers. We tested all of the servers in the US, France, and Germany, and all proved to be functional.
We managed to grab a few minutes on one of the new releases on Netflix without any issues.
With Netflix clamping down on VPNs, ZenMate is doing an excellent job of maintaining access to the streaming provider.
8. Torrenting-Friendly Servers
ZenMate offers more than a dozen torrenting-friendly servers for P2P users. These servers are in countries where torrenting is not banned.
Without speed limit and secure VPN connections, these servers are great for sharing files safely within the P2P community.
ZenMate VPN Review—The Cons
We’re done giving credit where credit is due. Now, we’ll take a few pegs off ZenMate.
1. No Kill Switch For Android App
A Kill switch is handy in keeping VPN users’ privacy when the connection to the server drops suddenly.
ZenMate has a kill-switch in the Windows app, but the same feature is sorely missing in the Android app.
We doubled and tripled check, but we’re unable to locate any toggle button that indicated a kill switch.
An attempt to get an answer from customer support took a while, which brings us to the next disadvantage.
2. No Live Chat Support
A 24/7 live chat support is handy when you’re stuck with ZenMate and need urgent help. Unfortunately, you'll have to rely on the ticketing support system to get help from the customer service personnel.
There isn’t a stated time frame where you'll get a response. Thankfully, we got our reply in about 30 minutes for a question on ZenMate's functionality in restrictive regions.
As for our second ticket on the Android kill switch, it took 5 hours before we got a reply.
ZenMate does have a pretty decent knowledge base, though, where we managed to get our question on whether the app is working in China answered.
And, it’s a no.
Check out these VPNs if you're looking for one that works in China.
3. Not The Best Jurisdiction
ZenMate is based in Germany, which belongs to the 14 Eyes countries. The 14 eyes are a group of countries that have an agreement to share intelligence with its members.
In other words, ZenMate is obliged by law to submit data in its possession to any government in the 14 eyes when required.
While it’s true that the no-logging policy helps to prevent the leak of privacy, being in a bad jurisdiction for VPNs may unnerve some users.
4 Confusing Sign-Up Process
Signing up for a VPN account should be relatively straightforward. But we ended up with an account without a password on the first try.
If you create an account when subscribing to the ZenMate Ultimate plan, you don’t get to set your password.
This makes it impossible to log in to the VPN app that you’ve just installed.
When you try editing the password in the account settings, you’ll be asked for the PUK code, which you obviously don’t have.
You’ll then need to request a password change, and its the only way to create your credentials to log in to the VPN app.
Is there a workaround for an easier process?
Yes, and we'll demonstrate shortly.
ZenMate for Chrome
ZenMate is available as a free extension to the Chrome browser. Here’s how you could get it installed.
1. Follow this link and Add Zenmate Chrome Extension to Chrome.
2. You’ll need to sign up for a free account. Enter your email and password as directed.
3. Once the extension is installed, you’ll find the shield icon next to the URL bar. Toggle the connection button to start securing your browser.
ZenMate VPN for Windows
As we’ve mentioned, signing up for ZenMate and installing the Windows VPN app can be confusing. Follow these steps to get started without hassle.
1. Visit ZenMate’s homepage on your browser. Click My Account instead of Buy Now.
2. Sign up with your email address and password.
3. You’ll be given a PUK code upon success. Jot it down as you’ll need it for retrieving your account.
4. Return to the ZenMate homepage and click Buy Now. Choose your preferred ZenMate Ultimate plan.
5. Choose between Paypal Or Credit Card and complete the payment. The ZenMate Windows installer should automatically download.
6. Launch the ZenMate Windows app and sign in with your credentials.
7. You now have access to all servers and features of ZenMate VPN.
What is ZenMate’s Web Firewall?
ZenMate’s offerings for internet security doesn’t stop at a VPN. The team has also developed the ZenMate Web Firewall, which protects computers and mobile devices against malware and other forms of malicious agents.
You’ll also find the ZenMate Web Firewall helpful in blocking annoying ads. The firewall is available as an extension for the Chrome browser and is free.
Is ZenMate Safe?
ZenMate uses the most robust encryption and protocols to provide a balance of security and speed. This has been demonstrated in decent connection speeds and passing DNS/IP leak tests with ease.
We also found no signs of attempts by ZenMate free VPN or its paid versions, to inject malware into unsuspecting devices.
As far as technologies and apps are concerned, ZenMate passes our standards for safety.
In terms of logging policy, ZenMate has made it clear in its latest policy that any activities that happened within the VPN tunnels are not logged in any form.
Like most VPNs, ZenMate collects some personal data for billing purposes and improving its services. It has clarified that none of these personal data can be linked to browsing activities on the VPN.
There’s no denying that being headquartered in Germany isn’t ideal for a VPN provider. Being in the 14 Eyes alliance means an increased risk for data requests by government agencies.
However, with nothing incriminating stored in Zenmate’s server, there isn’t any serious threat to user privacy.
With decent connection speed, Netflix-support, and P2P servers, ZenMate is an attractive option for streaming and downloads. ZenMate also features industry-standard security features and practice a strict no-logs policy.
Despite a few negatives, ZenMate is a decent VPN when you’re considering the subscription pricing. Its long-term plans are one of the cheapest in the industry.
We strongly recommend you to try out ZenMate. If you’re looking for an affordable and functional VPN, sign up to ZenMate now.