ZenMate VPN has been on the market since 2013, which is plenty of time in today’s fast-evolving world, especially when it comes to online services. It comes with numerous promises and claims to be the ultimate VPN for any category of user. Therefore, it’s no wonder why it’s used by dozens of millions of individuals, as this VPN claims on its official website. However, we know better than to trust any marketing messages, and we’ll take this VPN for a test-ride ourselves. With this said, we welcome you to our ZenMate VPN review!
First of all, let’s take a brief look at the most important aspects of ZenMate VPN. We’re sure you’ll find the following table to be helpful if you’re comparing this VPN to its alternatives. So, here are some of the basic things that you need to know.
|Jurisdiction||Germany (the EU / 14-Eyes Alliance).|
|Logs||Collects anonymized data.|
|Number of Servers||70+ countries; 3,700+ servers.|
|Encryption Standards||AES 256-bit; OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec.|
|Speed Reduction||63.5%, on average.|
|P2P Support||YES (copyrighted content is forbidden).|
|Live Chat Support||NO|
|Supported Platforms||Windows, macOS, Android (including Android TV), iOS, Web browser extensions, and routers.|
|Price||Starting at $2.22/month.|
With the basic information out of our way, we’ll continue with our next segment. We test each VPN for its website-unblocking abilities, especially with media streaming platforms. The following table will tell you how ZenMate ranks in terms of unblocking such websites.
Media Streaming Support
|Amazon Prime Video||YES|
And lastly, we have just one more table for you. We’ve created the following one for those readers who just want the highlights. Therefore, here’s our opinion after having tested ZenMate VPN for ourselves.
The Bottom Line
|Pros||Easy to install; Fully automated; Unblocks Netflix; Nicely designed UI; Affordable long-term plans.|
|The Final Verdict||ZenMate has recently improved in every imaginable aspect, but there are still a few problematic points. We do recommend it to average home users, though.|
We are now finally ready to dive deep into everything this VPN offers. So, keep on reading this review if you want to get to know ZenMate VPN in-depth.
ZenMate VPN – TechNadu’s Hands-On Review
We’ll begin by taking a look at ZenMate’s background and jurisdiction. Then, we’ll jump to testing this VPN and reporting on its strengths and weaknesses. If you’d like to know more about this procedure, here’s how we review VPN services.
Background, Jurisdiction & Reputation
ZenMate VPN comes from Germany, and it was accused of operating in a grey area in the past. It’s definitely still haunted by some ghosts from the past. Our Score: 5/10.
When choosing a VPN, you’ll want to know where it comes from. That’s because every country has its laws regarding data privacy that affect you, being a VPN user.
Jurisdiction & Applicable Laws
ZenMate VPN comes from Germany (ZenGuard GmbH, Berlin), a country that is one of the leading members of the European Union. With this said, this country has two polarizing (yet equally important) sides. On the one hand, it offers strong laws surrounding the protection of private data. On the other hand, it actively collects different kinds of data and is ready to exchange that intelligence with other countries.
You’ve probably heard about the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). This is a set of laws that apply to the European Union, dictating the way your private data can be collected. The effect of those laws has already become visible, with Germany going into conflict with Facebook and actively trying to restrict Facebook’s data collection policies. Let’s not forget that Germany is harsh towards malicious actors, and it’s also trying to criminalize the Dark Web. This tells us that there are ruling individuals who care about protecting your online safety while working within the GDPR limits.
Let’s also not forget to mention some less-than-stellar developments. A while back, Germany’s Vodafone has blocked a series of domains without a court order. And since this country is a member of the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance, it actively collaborates with the USA and a group of other highly developed countries.
With all of this said, the question is – can you trust ZenMate? Well, this is definitely a grey area. You can only hope that this VPN will oblige to those laws that prevent it from collecting data, and not otherwise. And finally, let’s not forget to mention that Kape Technologies acquired ZenMate in October 2018. This company owns CyberGhost VPN, known for its user-friendly policies, and has recently acquired Private Internet Access as well. All of those VPNs are known for protecting the privacy of their users, so we can only hope ZenMate follows the same path.
Previous Data Leaks
Upon doing background research on ZenMate, we’ve discovered plenty of interesting information. For example, there was a bit of confusion back in 2017 when ZenMate failed to explain the strange behavior of its macOS client. This was the first sign that something odd might be happening.
Then, in March 2018, a team of independent researchers found that ZenMate VPN had minor data leaks. And not long after, a serious vulnerability was found in ZenMate’s extensions. At the time, it was estimated that around 3.5 million users were affected.
As you can see, ZenMate does have some ghosts from the past. To decide whether using this VPN is the right thing to do, make sure to dive deeper in this entire review.
Supported Platforms & Devices
This VPN can be installed on computers and mobile devices. Also, Web browsers and a range of routers are on this list as well. Our Score: 10/10.
Now, let’s check out what kinds of platforms and devices this VPN supports. To get a brief overview, take a look at the table found below, where we’ve listed the platforms supported by ZenMate VPN via native applications.
|Desktop Platforms||Windows, macOS, Linux.|
|Mobile Platforms||Android, iOS.|
|Web Browsers||Chrome, Firefox, Opera.|
|Routers||OpenVPN- and DD-WRT-compatible routers.|
|Other Devices||Android TV.|
As you can see, ZenMate covers plenty of popular platforms. In terms of computers, you can use it on macOS and Windows when it comes to its native apps. You can also use it on Linux computers, but you’ll have to rely on a manual configuration for this purpose.
Next, we have Android and iOS, which are also covered by native apps. It’s also interesting to note that several Web browser extensions are present. However, these work as proxies. It means that you should avoid them if you can, as these are somewhat limited. Therefore, going for a native app should always be the top priority.
Another important thing – you can install ZenMate VPN on a range of routers. You’ll get OpenVPN configuration files for this purpose, which means that you need a compatible unit. Zenmate offers easy-to-follow guides on how to install this VPN on DD-WRT routers, so even inexperienced users should be well covered.
Lastly, let’s not forget to mention that you can use ZenMate on an unlimited number of devices, which is a rare thing to see. As far as we can tell, only Surfshark offers this type of functionality right now.
Installation & Initial Configuration
ZenMate VPN comes with an unbelievably simple installation method. It takes only a few seconds of your time – so even first-timers won’t have any trouble. Our Score: 10/10.
As you can guess, getting started with ZenMate first includes getting a subscription with this VPN. After selecting a subscription plan and paying for it, you’ll get your username and password. This is when you can download ZenMate’s official app from its website. For this purpose, you can log in to your account on the official website and download the correct software version from the ‘My Devices’ tab.
On desktop platforms, you simply need to launch the installation file. ZenMate will ask where to save the files once installed, and will then go through the rest of this procedure on its own. In less than one minute, this VPN will be ready to use. Log in using your credentials, and that’s about it.
ZenMate brings a nice set of standard features and even some interesting extras. You can also be protected against malware and trackers. Our Score: 8/10.
After going through dozens of VPNs, we know a thing or two about what kinds of features to expect. Therefore, we’ve come up with a list of features that every powerful VPN needs to have. Let’s see if ZenMate meets our criteria.
VPN Features Checklist
|DNS Leak Protection||YES|
|IPv6 Leak Protection||YES/NO (disables IPv6 instead).|
|Ad-Blocker, Anti-Malware||YES/NO (via browser extensions only).|
|Unlimited Server Switches||YES|
When it comes to protecting you against data leaks, ZenMate includes DNS leak protection. Your IPv6 traffic will be protected as well (if your ISP supports this kind of traffic), but note that you’ll have to disable IPv6 manually. This is something that many VPNs do, and it has become increasingly hard to find a solution with full and native IPv6 support.
Among more advanced features, you will find a kill-switch. This feature disables your Internet connection if your VPN connection becomes compromised or unstable. Also, you need to know that ZenMate doesn’t offer split-tunneling support. Therefore, it does step into the territory of advanced VPN features, but not much.
We also need to tell you that ZenMate VPN doesn’t offer an ad-blocker via its native apps. However, you can find something similar in ZenMate’s Web browser extensions. These come with malware protection (by blocking malicious websites), and they also restrict third-party trackers. So, these extensions don’t actively block ads, but they still block third-party trackers, which is what matters here.
ZenMate VPN now comes with more than 3,700 VPN servers – which seems like plenty. This is one of the biggest changes that happened to this VPN recently. Our Score: 9/10.
Next, we’re going to check what kind of server network you can expect. Ideally, you’ll want a massive number of servers spread across the entire globe.
Server Count Info
|Number of Servers||3,700+|
|Number of Locations||80+|
|Number of Countries||70+|
|Specific Cities Selection||NO|
As you can see, ZenMate VPN currently offers 3,700+ servers. In comparison, top-rated VPNs now come with 6,000+ servers. So, you might think that this difference is drastic. However, having 3,700+ servers under your fingertips will most certainly meet the needs of even the most demanding users. And also, it’s worth knowing that ZenMate VPN has come a long way during the recent year or so, always adding a bunch of new server options.
What’s problematic is that ZenMate doesn’t offer specific locations or cities. This means that you can only click on a particular country within its UI, and this VPN will connect to an ‘optimal’ server. Since some Web services support only specific regions (within a single country), you can’t count on accessing those. This is certainly a downside.
To end this segment on a positive note, ZenMate comes with no restrictions. You can switch between different servers with ease and at any moment. And you should also know that ZenMate VPN is not available in certain countries that have rigorous Web filters, including China, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
Ease of Use
ZenMate VPN now comes with a brand-new UI that looks modern and is easy to use. A major improvement over the previous version. Our Score: 8/10.
The first time you open this VPN, you’ll see a tall window tied to your system bar (taskbar). This is actually a very thoughtful continuation of a previous UI design that used to power ZenMate. However, the newly designed UI comes with a modern interface, and this is now a free-floating window. On the left side of the window, you’ll see an arrow-themed icon that can expand ZenMate’s UI, which is when you’ll recognize its resemblance to CyberGhost. So, let’s talk about the fully unfolded UI of this VPN.
On the left side, you’ll see a series of categories of different servers. There’s your list of favorites, and then you can check the full list of servers, or find specialized servers for torrenting and streaming. To connect to a server, simply double-click on any country’s name in the central portion of the UI.
To dive deeper into what this VPN offers, you need to click on the cogwheel icon, found in the top-right corner. This is where you can review your account details, check out the application’s preferences, see customer support resources, and log out. Speaking of ZenMate’s preferences – here’s what you can adjust:
- General: Using this tab, you can set ZenMate to run on system startup, check for updates automatically, reset the VPN, and more.
- Account: This tab allows you to review your account information. You can check out your email and username, your current subscription plan, as well as when that plan is due to expire.
- Connection: The final tab of ZenMate’s preferences pane allows you to check your Web connection. There are three tests here, all of them done automatically. ZenMate can check its reachability, your Internet connection, and its connection to ZenMate API.
All in all, the latest version of ZenMate VPN comes with a significant improvement in terms of its UI. It is now a modern-looking VPN solution that’s very easy to use. Even though there isn’t plenty of fine-tuning available, we think the majority of users are going to love it, nonetheless.
Media Streaming & Torrenting Support
ZenMate VPN can unblock a wide range of streaming platforms. Also, it helps you download (legal) P2P files via specialized servers. Our Score: 9/10.
So, does ZenMate VPN work with Netflix? We’ve tested this service by trying to access the world’s most popular streaming platforms, and here are the results.
Media Streaming & Torrenting Support
|Amazon Prime Video||YES|
|Torrenting (P2P)||YES (legal P2P files only).|
As said earlier, ZenMate VPN and CyberGhost VPN are now owned by the same company. Therefore, it’s not that surprising to see ZenMate receiving a boost when it comes to unblocking media streaming websites. Previously, this VPN was semi-successful in unblocking specific platforms. However, that’s no longer the case. You can now easily unblock Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Eurosport, Comedy Central, RTL, Globo, Europe1, Channel 4, and many other TV channels and streaming platforms.
Security & Privacy
Even the most attractive features mean very little if you can’t trust a VPN with your data. This is why we’ll inspect ZenMate VPN from three different perspectives. Here’s what you need to know.
Supported Encryption Protocols
Depending on your platform of choice, ZenMate comes with an array of VPN protocols. For its Windows client, it offers IKEv2 and L2TP, and on macOS, it comes with IKEv2. There’s OpenVPN involved as well, which is perhaps the most reliable VPN protocol at the moment. And they also offer AES-256, the strongest type of commercially available encryption at the moment.
All in all, ZenMate is truly equipped with everything you’ll need in terms of security. Of course, we’ll do a DNS leak test soon, to see if all those protocols are watertight.
ZenMate is capable of collecting data via its website related to your operating system, Internet browser, dates and times of accessing ZenMate’s website, information about your ISP, and ‘similar data and information.’ This might sound alarming, but none of this information is tied to your VPN username. In other words, this information is anonymous, and it’s used for diagnostic and fraud-prevention purposes only.
DNS Leak Test
As you can see from the screenshot above, no DNS leaks were detected. Our IP address stayed hidden at all times, and third-parties could only see what ZenMate was presenting them.
Speed & Performance
ZenMate certainly isn’t one of the fastest VPNs out there. In our case, it throttled the speed of our Web connection by 63.5% on average. Our Score: 4/10.
Next, we’re going to test ZenMate’s performance. For this purpose, we’ll first test the speed of our Web connection, without using this VPN. Then, we’re going to connect to both nearby and remote servers – which, as a result, will show us if there’s any throttling.
We’ve started with our ‘naked’ Web connection, to establish the baseline data. Upon doing a speed test, we got 486.78 Mbps for downloads and 48.64 for uploads. Now, let’s launch ZenMate and see what kind of performance it brings.
As we do in our every review, we’ll start with connecting to a nearby server. We’re located in Europe, and ZenMate decided to connect us to a server in our own country. After doing a speed test, we got 48.43 Mbps for downloads and 35.21 Mbps for uploads. Needless to say, we felt very disappointed by this result, as it showed a tremendous speed loss.
Then, we wanted to test the performance of a remote server. In our case, that would be a server located in the USA. This time around, we got 305.98 Mbps for downloads and 44.30 Mbps for uploads. So, let’s put all those numbers into a table.
|Download Speed||Upload Speed||Speed Reduction|
|Baseline Speed||486.78 Mbps||48.64 Mbps||0%|
|Nearby Server||48.43 Mbps||35.21 Mbps||90%|
|Remote Server||305.98 Mbps||44.30 Mbps||37%|
In conclusion, we can say that ZenMate throttled the speed of our Web connection by 63.5% on average. We’ll be honest with you – this below what you can usually expect from average VPN services.
There are ways to get help, but all of those support channels are half-baked. You really need to be determined to have your issue resolved in a timely manner. Our Score: 5/10.
When paying for a VPN service, you expect it to be fully accessible 100% of the time. However, being highly technical solutions, VPNs can face certain issues from time to time. That’s why you’ll want to know what kind of support you’ll be getting.
- Installation Guides: There’s a set of helpful installation guides covering pretty much any version of ZenMate. These aren’t the most in-depth guides we’ve seen, but they should do the job of letting you know all the ins and outs of installing ZenMate.
- FAQ: There are several dozens of questions answered on ZenMate’s website. They range from specific troubleshooting question, up to payment-related ones. However, they seem to be scattered across the website, without a clear categorization.
- Support Tickets: Finally, there’s a way to send an official inquiry. You can open a support ticket by filling out a form (on the website’s support page), where you can explain your problem. Prepare to wait up to 48 hours before a response arrives.
ZenMate comes with highly affordable long-term plans that certainly undermine their competition. However, its monthly plan is far from being affordable. Our Score: 6/10.
Just like other VPNs on the market, ZenMate VPN is offering several subscription plans. All of those come with the same feature set – the only difference is in their length and price.
|Total Price||Per Month||Savings|
We can see that ZenMate is doing its best to steer you towards its long-term plans. The monthly subscription costs $10.99, and we can say that it’s far from being affordable (it used to cost $9.99/month until recently). In comparison, top-rated VPNs are usually priced at around $10 per month, but these bring a powerful set of advanced features (which is something that ZenMate VPN lacks). However, the situation changes dramatically upon taking a look at this VPN’s 6-month and 12-month plans.
You can save up to 51% if you buy ZenMate’s 6-month plan. Or even better, save up to 80% on ZenMate by getting its 12-month plan (and you’ll get an additional 6 months completely free of charge). This means that you’ll be charged $39.96 for the first 18 months, and then yearly thereafter.
Before you decide to get a subscription, keep in mind that there’s a 14-day money-back period, which seems generous enough. If you change your mind, you can ask for your money to be returned. And finally, you can pay for the subscription via PayPal and credit cards. As you can see, there’s no support for cryptocurrencies.
Differentiating Free vs Paid
It’s true that ZenMate VPN can be used free of charge, in a limited capacity. More precisely, you’ll get to test-drive ZenMate by using its Internet browser extensions. However, please note that you’ll face serious limitations, as explained below.
|Free Subscription||Paid Subscription|
|Number of Locations||4 Locations||All Locations|
|Speed Limitations||2 MB/s||Unlimited Speed|
|Available Platforms||Firefox, Chrome, Opera||No restrictions|
|P2P / Torrent Support||Not Available||Available|
|OpenVPN Protocol||Not Available||Available|
|Identity Shield||Not Available||Available|
It’s clear that ZenMate’s (free) Web browser extension is overly limited. So, even if you decide to try it out, don’t think of it as a trial version of its premium counterpart. To see what ZenMate VPN truly has to offer, you need to get a premium subscription.
Do We Recommend ZenMate VPN?
- PROS: Easy installation; Fully automated VPN solution; Unblocks Netflix and other streaming platforms; No DNS leaks; Strong encryption; Capable VPN protocols.
- CONS: Collects some data; Limited performance; High-priced monthly plan.
- OUR SCORE: 7.2 out of 10!
In case you believe this VPN could be a good pick for you, don’t hesitate to check out ZenMate VPN in greater detail. The provided link will take you to the VPN’s official website, where you can review its features, check its pricing, and more.