Based in Berlin, Germany, ZenMate VPN made the leap from a proxy service to a full-fledged VPN. But how do its features stack up to those of household names? In our ZenMate review, we set out to find out.
ZenMate VPN Review – Pros and Cons
ZenMate VPN is certainly in the category of lesser-known VPNs. This operation, based out of Berlin, Germany, started life as a proxy service. Now that it’s made the leap to the VPN world, how do its features compare to those of more established providers? Here’s how we evaluated it.
- Easy installation
- Browser apps for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera
- Built-in DNS leak protection
- Auto connect and always on modes available
- Bare user interface
- Limited selection of features
- No router, Linux, or Amazon apps
Overall Score for ZenMate: 77/100
ZenMate Setup and Usability
ZenMate’s core products can be downloaded from the website’s downloads page. The Windows client can be up and running in a couple of clicks and downloading the ZenMate extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera isn’t much harder. Applications are also available for Mac, iOS, and Android.
The user interface is certainly rather simplistic – in fact, it wouldn’t be unfair to call it a little bare. While the key functionalities (selecting a connection server, toggling the auto-connect settings) are certainly there, the application certainly doesn’t offer much in the way of visual eye candy.
Rating: 6.5/10 – Quite a minimalistic interface, which may suit some users better than others.
What is ZenMate offering in the features department that other providers aren’t? Here are some of its main draws.
Feature 1: Unlimited Data
Every ZenMate server offers unlimited bandwidth. This means that users have a convenient way of bypassing internet service provider (ISP) bandwidth throttling. This makes the solution a wonderful choice for those who want to use the VPN as their tool of choice for working around multimedia georestrictions.
Feature 2: Always On
ZenMate offers an ‘always on’ switch, called EverSecure in their application. As the name suggests, turning this on ensures that the VPN automatically and immediately connects every time a connection to the internet is initiated. For those that need their VPN to be constantly running, this is an important feature not to be missed. The Android app will even automatically reconnect in the background even after the user has removed it from the recent apps screen.
Feature 3: Automatic Startup Connection
For users that want to run their VPN continuously, the ability to automatically launch the app immediately after startup is the other important half of the automation picture. Thanks to ZenMate’s automatic startup feature, users are able to have peace of mind that the application will automatically initiate as soon as the system is booted up.
Feature 4: DNS Leak Protection
DNS leaks are a common problem that VPN users often encounter. In addition to sending and receiving information from websites, they are visiting, typing a web address into a browser also creates DNS queries which, if not protected against, can leak an entire user’s browsing history even with a VPN connected. Thankfully, ZenMate includes DNS leak protection as standard in all its applications. ZenMate for Opera users should just make sure that “use proxy for local servers” is checked in the preferences window.
Feature 5: ZenMate Pulse
ZenMate also offers Pulse a dedicated advertisement blocking tool that can be used in conjunction with the VPN to block unwanted advertisements. In addition to blocking ads, Pulse also let you know why it has done so.
Rating: 7.5/10 Overall, an underwhelming selection of features.
Can ZenMate Unblock Netflix?
Although ZenMate’s United States servers were previously caught up in the Netflix anti-VPN dragnet, we’re happy to report that currently all the provider’s American servers are allowing users to access the world’s favorite multimedia website. There’s also room to be optimistic about ZenMate’s Netflix-unblocking potential in the long term. VPN servers that are able to provision new servers to work around Netflix’s IP bans stand a better chance of being able to repeat the tactic in the future should the need arise.
Rating: 9.3/10 Currently functional
ZenMate offers both a limited functionality free version of its software and ZenMate premium, its paid offering.
Free users are limited according to which platforms (Chrome and Firefox extensions only), features, and servers they can access. Thankfully, for free users, our ZenMate Chrome review is positive, with the extension preserving much of the desktop applications’ functionalities, but more advanced users are likely to find the choice of platforms frustrating. In addition, speeds on the Premium plans are turbo-boosted, while free users must make do with only regular connectivity.
ZenMate Premium is available for $8.99/month (billed monthly); $4.99/month (billed yearly); and $7.49/month (billed every six months). Users can also get access to a two-year subscription using this link.
All Premium plans are backed up by a 14-day money-back guarantee and a wide variety of payment methods (excluding cryptocurrencies) is supported.
Overall, the platform is relatively good value for money and is certainly a little cheaper than some of the more feature-rich competitors on the market.
Rating: 8.2/10 The value is good, but we’d like to see the standard 30 day money-back guarantee
How Fast is ZenMate: Servers and Performance
ZenMate’s list of server locations isn’t the most extensive we’ve come across. While free users get access to four countries, premium users can connect to all the servers (in total, there are 30 servers and five simultaneous connections allowed). Whatever way you cut it, the number is relatively low and will be a negative for users that want to route their traffic through some more exotic locales that are unlikely to be found on the list.
Speedwise, from a baseline downlink of 37.08Mbps we achieved:
A download speed of 5.49 Mbps routing traffic through Romania.
A download speed of 13.39 Mbps routing traffic through the UK server.
Although the UK speed provided a usable connection, overall these speeds do not compare favorably with the extensive competition in the VPN market. The app now offers support for the OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP/IPSec VPN protocols.
Rating: 7.2/10 Small server network and just OK performance.
How Secure is ZenMate? ZenMate Logs
ZenMate is a proud card-carrying member of the ‘no-logs VPN club.’ Despite the fact that no logs about user activity are maintained by the company, potential subscribers should be aware that the company is located in Germany which is a member of the 14 Eyes internationally signals intelligence gathering alliance. Additionally, the Bundestag has proven itself to be an eager exponent of privacy-limiting legislation. Scary laws even allow police to use trojans to hack into encrypted messaging systems.
Rating: 9.3/10 A no logs provider, but there are more privacy-respecting jurisdictions than Germany.
Is ZenMate Reliable? Customer Support
ZenMate makes its customer support team through a ticketing system. The customer support hasn’t exactly prompted rave reviews on consumer rating websites, with some users venting about customer support “that doesn’t exist.” Despite some of the mediocre reviews, our test query was handled expeditiously and professionally. Nevertheless, the availability of live chat and telephone support would certainly have been appreciated.
Self-service is adequate. The company maintains a well-populated knowledge base through its ZenDesk page and tutorials – such as changing emails and passwords- are generally carefully documented.
Rating: 7.5/10 We were pleasantly surprised, but clearly not everyone’s a fan.
ZenMate Rating by SecureThoughts.com
ZenMate isn’t a top-draw provider although its features do provide everything that basic users will need to connect through one of their server locations. Value for money is good, it’s a zero logs provider, and we found the customer service team to be responsive and competent. Although not the best in the industry according to our ratings, we are confident this service will give you the security and streaming capabilities you need.