Zenmate VPN Review
Zenmate was initially established to function as a browser-based proxy service and has since expanded to offer users full virtual private network (VPN) packages. The service offers several intriguing features such as a free version, a free trial, and money back guarantee, and the option to connect up to 5 devices to a single account at a time.
Zenmate VPN was created by the Berlin-based firm, ZenGuard and is one of the few VPN services that have support for non-English users. The VPN service is available in a variety of languages such as Spanish, German, Korean, Russian, Turkish, and of course, English.
Zenmate pricing and plans
Zenmate has a basic free version, which unlike most other free VPN services has no data restrictions, but instead only allows the user access to four server locations. While this is a great option for VPN newbies it’s not comprehensive enough for the more intensive user. In addition, subscribers to the free version are plagued by advertisements and pleas to upgrade to the paid version.
The premium version allows users access to the entire service and the user can opt to be billed monthly, bi-annually, or annually. Annually-billed users get a substantial discount, to encourage long-term commitment to the service.
Zenmate accepts payments from all credit cards, or payments made using Qiwi Wallet, PayPal, or Union Pay.
Free Trial and Money Back Guarantee
Usually, when a VPN service has a free version they don’t offer the user a free trial of the premium version. This is not the case with Zenmate. The interested user can access a 7-day free trial of the premium version which will allow the user access to all features of the premium version.
In addition to this, Zenmate still offers a money back guarantee after 2 weeks if you find yourself not fully satisfied with the service.
Sign Up and Client
You can signup for the free VPN browser extension via the zenmate website. While this service does come with certain limitations, it's a useful way to decide whether this service is for you.
Once you signed up you get a browser extension as well as an app that you can use to control your settings. The signup process is somewhat convoluted and the app is not very user-friendly. The app was designed to be used entirely in conjunction with the website. Most pages that you open the app merely direct you to a website page which is a time-consuming and unnecessary process. The design is not intuitive and is definitely not recommended for VPN beginners.
The free service only gives the user access to four different services. The paid service, however, grants you access to over 39 different servers all over the world which includes popular locations such as the US, UK, and various European countries. The servers performed at average speeds and will offer the VPN user a wide selection of content.
A variety of independent speed tests were performed which tested the performance of both the Zenmate app as well as the browser extension. The speed tests were conducted using the service testmy.net from within the UK with a Virgin Media internet connection.
Zenmate server speeds were shocking in some areas. While the speed performed well enough when connected to a local server, the download speed slowed down significantly once the VPN was connected to a US server. Most notably the VPN demonstrated terrible speed performance when it was connected to servers in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is a powerful force in the world of internet connectivity and is known for being home to some of the world’s most powerful servers.
The speeds were equally average or below average when the browser extension was tested. More worryingly was the fact that there was evidence of DNS leaks while testing both the performance of the app as well as the browser extension.
These speeds will not be conducive to streaming high definition content and might prove impractical if you intend to use Zenmate purely via its browser extension.
Privacy and Encryption
One of Zenmate’s primary issues is the fact that it’s located in Germany. Since Germany falls in the European Union its companies are subject to several policies that often put user privacy in jeopardy. The EU previously employed data retention laws that only became invalidated by the European Court of Justice and the European Union Commission in 2014. These laws required ISPs to retain data of their customers for monitoring. While these laws have since been abolished, many ISPs still practice these policies.
The company does not clearly state which security features they offer, which is not great for a VPN. They don’t offer a killswitch but instead offers a feature called EverSecure, which is similar but doesn't do the job quite as well. Zenmate uses standard AES 256-bit encryption for its app, but curiously use a lesser encryption method with a 128-bit key for its browser extension.
The nail in the coffin for Zenmate is definitely its inefficient customer service. There is no live support chat option. Instead, the user in need of a solution to submit a ticket on the website and wait for a response.
After submitting the ticket, the user receiving an email confirming that they received the ticket. Shortly after the user is sent another email urging them not to re-submit the same ticket. After this already painful process, the user is expected to wait 1-5 business days before receiving a response.
Zenmate is not the best VPN solution in any sense. Their servers demonstrate a below than average speed and their vague security policies is enough to cause alarm in any VPN user looking for privacy. Their encryption is below average and what’s more, their customer service is a highly frustrating process. There are several other VPN services available which offer much more comprehensive features and are more user friendly at exactly the same price.