ZenMate VPN is owned by ZenGuard GmbH,which is based out of Berlin, Germany, and was founded by Markus Hänel and Simon Specka in 2013.
According to their website, there are approximately over 41 million ZenMate users across the world who use the tool “to access the web securely, anonymously and without restriction.”
Zenmate used to offered free VPN service two years ago. That’s the reason why it now has an astonishing number of worldwide users .
Features & Facts
Here’s what Zenmate offers and provides:
- Anonymous IP
- Ability to install on a router
- Max 5 simultaneous connections
- 40 servers in 31 countries (that’s low)
Not all VPNs have kill-switch, but kill switches are critical when you’re out-and-about.
For example, having your connection fail when at home isn’t a huge deal. But it is when you’re in an airport or even hotel. You’re traveling for work and assume the networks at these big brand hotels are safe. Unfortunately, they’re anything but.
When your connection drops, for whatever reason, your VPN guard often falls, too. That can leave your existing browsing session wide open.
Kill switches act as a last-ditch effort to sever your connection to make sure no one else can take advantage of this momentary opening.
ZenMate is offered as a browser extension, mobile application, and desktop client. Here are all of the devices supported by ZenMate:
- Google Chrome
- Other browsers based on the Chromium Open Source Browser Project
- Mac OS X
- DrayTek routers and more
ZenMate Pros +
When you first signed up, you’ll get access to Zenmate instantly.
ZenMate’s user dashboard makes it really simple to view your account summary, devices, and find support.
Their Chrome extension is also sleek, simple, and easy to use.
Changing your location is as simple as one click, too.
ZenMate is pretty straightforward (especially from a browser version).
They’ve managed to pack a lot of features into a simple interface and nice aesthetic. Overall, I was very pleased with the experience.
But a lot of VPNs have a great interface, but that doesn’t make them good. There are other, most more important things like performance…
2. Decent Download/Upload Speed
I tested out the download and upload speeds for ZenMate for servers in the E.U., Asia, and the U.S. Here is the raw data:
- Ping: 39 ms
- Download: 63.44 Mbps
- Upload: 12.81 Mbps
- Ping: 232 ms
- Download: 24.33 Mbps
- Upload: 2.81 Mbps
- Ping: 204 ms
- Download: 57.03 Mbps
- Upload: 2.98 Mbps
So how do these stack up with the other reviews I’ve done? Are they best?
Unfortunately, they’re pretty average.
They’re not bad (which is why they’re still listed here under the pros), but they definitely aren’t anything special. Especially when you compare them with similarly priced competition.
Based on my tests, I found the following VPNs faster than Zenmate: ExpressVPN (84 Mbps), NordVPN (74 Mbps), Private Internet Access (81 Mbps), Astrill VPN (78 Mbps)
ZenMate’s speed is firmly middle of the road.
3. Torrenting is Allowed
ZenMate used to forbid torrenting.
However, they’ve recently opened up their Premium plans to allow for anonymous torrenting and P2P downloads.
4. 30-Days Money-Back Guarantee
Typically, ZenMate doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee. However, we’ve received confirmation that if you sign up through us, you’ll get a free 30-day money back guarantee. That way, you can give their service a go and see what you think before being locked into a long-term purchase.
ZenMate Cons –
1. Security Encryption (AES 126 – not 256)
According to ZenMate, they use “tested modern industry standards” to encrypt your data.
They use the latest TLS 1.2 (RFC 5246) protocol, and they support various cipher suites with PFS (Default for Chrome is TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256) and up to TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384.
ZenMate also says that no known attacks are currently targeting these ciphers.
They also use AES 128 rather than AES 256 because they claim that it seems to be more resistant to timing attacks.
However, AES 256 is usually the more common choice for other VPNs.
The main reason ZenMate cite’s to use the lower 128-version comes down to speed. It’s still secure, but can often produce faster performance.
Here’s my main gripe, though.
I’ve tested many other VPN services that have produced much faster speeds at AES 256 than ZenMate was able to deliver.
So I’m not buying that line.
Plus, many other VPN services will at least give you the option of switching between one or the other. Then you, the person actually using the service, can decide for yourself whether you’d like to sacrifice privacy for speed.
Unfortunately, ZenMate doesn’t allow you to make that decision on your own.
2. No Live Chat & Copy-Paste Answers
ZenMate doesn’t offer live chat.
The “Troubleshooting” section gives answers to FAQs about fixing issues with the service.
Under these three categories, there is an area where you can contact ZenMate support directly via a fill form. I wanted to try this out, so I submitted a question to ZenMate to review this feature myself.
You have to choose which platform you’re using to submit a question:
I wanted to find out if ZenMate was compatible with Safari or Microsoft Edge as an extension. Here’s the question I submitted.
Notice the small text under my question stating, “ZenMate Support replies in English, in regards to our international user base.”
About a minute later, this response came into my inbox:
It was basically a response letting me know my question was received, stating that I should expect to hear back in about one to five business days.
I also received a support ticket number.
A little over an hour later, I received another email from ZenMate support:
But this doesn’t end here.
Basically, the answer was from a chatbot named “ZenBot Rosa” letting me know which platforms ZenMate supports, which led me to infer that the answer to my question is no, ZenMate does not support Safari or Microsoft Edge.
However, I couldn’t get a straight answer. Shame on you, Zenmate.
However, it made me wonder if this was a preset response to my question based on the contact reason I had to preselect.
So I asked a different question about how to use ZenMate with Netflix.
I was eventually sent the exact same email from “ZenBot Rosa” in an hour. However, both emails did state that I could reply to the chat bot’s email to speak with a real person.
Overall, I was disappointed that this method is the only way to get in touch with customer service.
3. ZenMate Doesn’t Seem to Work on Netflix
I was excited to see if ZenMate worked with Netflix once being connected to their servers.
“Unblocking Websites” is one of the big benefits their site trumps.
So you’d think that Netflix is on that list, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
ZenMate seemed to work with Netflix at first, because I chose Germany as my country and saw this title when I logged into my Netflix account:
However, when I clicked on the title to watch it, Netflix knew I was using some sort of VPN.
I was greeted with this message:
This is a letdown for international Netflix users hoping to use ZenMate to access the thousands of shows available on Netflix in the US that they don’t have regular access to.
Update: I spoke with a rep from ZenMate who was able to fill in the following details:
“NETFLIX USUALLY BLOCKS US TWICE A WEEK ON AVERAGE. IF THEY RELEASE A NEW SHOW, THEY TRY TO BLOCK US SEVERAL TIMES A DAY. WE HAVE AUTOMATED SYSTEM IN PLACE AND IT TAKES US USUALLY FEW MINUTES TO UNBLOCK THEM AGAIN. I JUST DOUBLE CHECKED WITH OUR TEAM AND CURRENTLY NETFLIX IS UP AND 100% WORKING.”
So it looks like their Netflix access comes down a timing issue. If you’re looking to get access to Netflix using a VPN, read this.
4. Questionable Logging Policy
Here’s what ZenMate’s homepage says about logging:
NO LOGS. NO WORRIES.
According to the policy, ZenMate collects your data on the following occasions:
Overall, I can’t put a lot of trust or faith into their logging now.
Update: I received some clarification from ZenMate directly about what they do (and don’t) log to help clear this up:
“WE DON’T LOG NOR STORE ANY DATA RELATED TO BROWSING AND INTERNET ACTIVITY. THE SCREENSHOT IN YOUR REVIEW APPLIES ONLY TO INFORMATION SUCH AS EMAILS, SERVERS THAT USERS ARE USING (FOR US TO BE ABLE TO OPTIMIZE LOAD/SPEEDS), OR PAYMENT INFORMATION (OUR SERVICE IS SUBSCRIPTION BASED).”
ZenMate Pricing, Plans & Facts
For ZenMate premium, you can choose to be billed monthly, yearly, or every six months.
- The monthly version costs $7.99 per month
This isn’t too bad when you compare it with the competition. Many VPN services push you above $10 a month for their monthly plan (if they even offer it).
It’s a true month-to-month option, so it’s perfect if you want to test drive the service without getting locked in.
- The six month option is $7.49 per month
This option is billed as $44.99 every 6 months.
The discount here is minuscule, to be honest. So if you’re even considering it, you should just jump straight to the annual plan, instead. Otherwise, stick to the monthly one.
- The yearly option is $4.99 per month
That annual payment comes to $59.99 each year, which is only slightly more than the six-month option.
This is a 44% discount. So there’s no surprise that it’s the most popular plan.
There’s also a 14-day money back guarantee on all plans.
- No logging: Questionable logging policy
- Ease of use: Very smooth and user-friendly:
- Hidden fees & clauses: None
- Upsells: No upsells.
- Instant access after payment: Yes.
- DNS leaks: None.
- Jurisdiction: Germany
- Protocols: OpenVPN, IPSec, PPTP & L2TP.
- Kill-switch: Yes.
Do I Recommend ZenMate?
It’s an OK provider. It’s located in Germany, though .
While ZenMate could be useful for someone who is just starting to get acquainted with a VPN, ZenMate is a decent provider.
And since the whole point of using a VPN is to protect your privacy, their service is just fine.
Not being able to access Netflix with this VPN is a bummer for people across every country. Customer service of ZenMate could be better with the addition of a live chat to their site, too.
Overall, I recommend ZenMate, but there are still better VPNs to choose from.