Zenmate is a VPN service that claims to have reached more than 40 million users worldwide. The company focusses largely on those who aren’t technically-minded, but simply want a way to protect their online privacy. Is Zenmate worth investing in? Let’s examine it a little more closely.
Zenmate offers several versions. There’s a free one, along with a couple of paid-for services, the more expensive of which, Zenmate Ultimate, employs the OpenVPN protocol. The free version is not a true VPN, but a proxy; it works through your computer’s browser, but the rest of the information you send remains unencrypted.
256-bit is the standard set by most VPN services. But Zenmate falls short of this, coming with just 128-bit. The company itself defends this decision on the grounds that 256-bit encryption unduly compromises performance, and is only necessary at government level.
Support for Multiple Devices
You’ll be able to install Zenmate onto Windows, Mac/iOS and Android platforms. There’s also a range of browser extensions to consider.
It must be said that Zenmate is cheap, particularly if you’re willing to pay for two years upfront – which averages out at a little over $2 per month for the premium version. The Ultimate version, however, is slightly more expensive.
You’ll be able to watch Netflix’s region-specific content with the help of this VPN – although you’ll need to use the right server to do so. The same applies to other region-locked content, such as the BBC’s iPlayer and certain YouTube clips.
Unfortunately, it only takes one failed test for a VPN’s entire credibility to be called into question. After all, it only takes one leak for your privacy to be compromised. Given that the company is based in Germany, one of the notorious ’14-eyes’ block of information-sharing governments, it’s difficult to place the slightest faith in the company’s privacy-ensuring credentials. This, along with the company’s admission that they log IP addresses, is enough to give most of us pause for thought.
The Windows version of the program in particular is notoriously buggy – and download and upload speeds vary drastically according to which server you decide to connect to. This might not come as much of a surprise, given the next of our list of concerns.
Small server count
Zenmate’s service comes courtesy of around 300 servers – this falls some way short of the thousands provided by some of the industry’s bigger fish. This becomes even more galling when you consider that most of these servers are concentrated in Europe. While this is a marked improvement on the situation just a year ago, the company will need to expand significantly in order to match the NordVPNs of this world.
One of the ways in which Zenmate have cut costs is in their technical support. Contact them and you’ll be met with a copy-pasted response. When something’s gone wrong, this can be exceptionally irritating.
While the free version of this program is worth a try, it’s difficult to say the same of the premium versions. Zenmate is buggy, unreliable, and logs your original IP address. And, perhaps worst of all, it will leak unencrypted data packets, which might plausibly give away your location and identity.
Sure, Zenmate comes at a very reasonable price tag. But if there’s the slightest possibility that your privacy is going to be compromised, doesn’t it make sense to invest in something more secure?