ZenMate VPN Review (2021) – Specialized Streaming Servers
ZenMate VPN is a VPN operated by the ZenGuard GmbH company. ZenGuard GmbH is based in Berlin, Germany. While this country has some strict privacy laws, Germany also is a part of the “14 Eyes” alliance, which isn’t always great for your privacy. Nevertheless, ZenMate complies with the GDPR. ZenMate is used by more than 47 million people worldwide and it first came on the market as a popular free VPN. It was started by two young friends who wanted to guarantee online safety, privacy, and freedom all around the world. They wanted to focus on everyday internet users, so everyone would be able to get free access to the internet. This idea culminated in the creation of ZenMate VPN.
ZenMate is backed by a full team of employees from all over the world, i.e. the “ZenMates”. It currently offers several paid subscriptions. In this review, we test the speed, security, user-friendliness, and server network of this premium VPN.
- Torrenting allowed
- Works with Netflix
- Zero logs
- Credit card
Speed – How Fast is ZenMate VPN?
Using a secure internet connection shouldn’t result in a dramatically lowered speed. For many, waiting five minutes to watch a YouTube video isn’t worth it. You want to be able to surf, play and stream normally. Consequently, it’s very important that a VPN is fast and works well. With a decent VPN, you shouldn’t be able to notice whether it’s running or not.
To see whether this is the case with ZenMate VPN, we tested it using an objective speed test and during daily use. You can read the results below.
Speed test results ZenMate VPN
We ran several speed tests with ZenMate VPN to objectively determine its speed. The speed tests were carried out from our office in the Netherlands using the speedtest.net website. Keep in mind that the results of such tests depend on your location, your internet provider and the time the tests were run. The tests don’t tell you exactly what your connection speed with ZenMate VPN will be. They only give you an indication of the kind of effect you can expect ZenMate to have on your connection.
In order to be able to compare results, we also tested our connection without a VPN.
Speed without VPN (speedtest.net):
These are the speedtest.net results of our own internet connection without using a VPN. This is our baseline measurement to which we compared the other results.
Speed with a local server (speedtest.net):
These are the speedtest.net results of our internet connection whilst connected to a Dutch ZenMate VPN server. This is the server closest to our actual location. As you can see, the ping response time has increased slightly, while the download speed has decreased. The upload speed suffered the most, but the results were still quite good.
Speed with a faraway server (speedtest.net):
Our speedtest.net results whilst connected to a faraway ZenMate VPN server (in our case this was a US server) were much worse. The ping response time increased greatly, while the download and upload speeds were both around 6 Mbps. This faraway US server was considerably slower than our bare internet connection. While this makes sense, since all our data traffic is being routed through a country far from our own and therefore has a longer route to travel, the results were nonetheless disappointing.
Speed during daily use
For these general ZenMate speed tests, we used their Dutch servers, unless otherwise stated. Overall, the speed of this VPN was very good. No browsing delays were experienced. We were also able to watch YouTube videos without any problems. Streaming both music and video was fast as well. During gaming, we experienced a slight slowdown: loading took a little longer than usual, and the connection seemed a little unstable since the game was slower at times, which can be problematic while gaming.
While downloading we used the nearest (i.e. Dutch) ZenMate streaming server. With this server, downloading happened fast, even if it was left running in the background while we worked.
We ran into some serious problems when we tried the various specialized streaming servers. To check that Netflix was working properly, we used servers in the US, UK, France, and Germany that were optimized for this purpose. Although some servers were fast and performed well straight away, we experienced a lot of connection problems, especially with the American and German servers. However, if a server connected and gave us access to Netflix, the speed was decent.
Conclusion speed ZenMate VPN
- Our local ZenMate server’s speed test results were quite good, while the faraway server was a lot slower.
- Our speed while browsing, downloading, and streaming was fast, and we only encountered some problems while gaming.
Safety – How Secure is ZenMate VPN?
An important factor for any VPN is its security. VPNs guard your privacy and anonymity, and for many users this is their main reason for purchasing a VPN. Unfortunately, not all VPNs offer the privacy and anonymity they promise. To make sure you can rely on your chosen VPN, we test and examine the security of all VPNs we review. We look at the supported protocols, their logging policies, whether a kill switch is available, and the amount of information you need to provide when creating an account.
ZenMate VPN supports several protocols. Furthermore, they recently launched a special version of their software that supports the OpenVPN (UDP/TCP) protocol. OpenVPN is generally regarded as a particularly good protocol that uses strong encryption and protection. Using ZenMate’s software settings, you can switch from TCP to UDP.
The other protocols supported by ZenMate VPN are IKEv2/IPSec and L2TP/IPSec. In general, ZenMate VPN offers a good level of protection and encryption, especially since its addition of the OpenVPN protocol.
Logging and privacy
ZenMate states on its website that they don’t keep logs on users’ internet use. This is important to know when using ZenMate VPN, since all your data traffic is routed through a server that’s under their control. They could therefore have access to all your online activity data. However, their log policy claims that they don’t view this information and certainly don’t store it.
The privacy statement of ZenGuard GmbH, which is ZenMate’s parent company, also has clear policies regarding the collection of user data. ZenGuard collects data concerning the use of their websites and products, but this is never linked to ZenMate customers and their online activities. This wouldn’t be possible anyway, because the activities of ZenMate users are never tracked and stored. However, some personal information is collected when you use ZenGuard’s services, including ZenMate. This information, however, isn’t connected to internet usage data or logs. You can read exactly what data you have to provide them with under the heading “What information does ZenMate VPN need?” below.
Although the previously popular free version of ZenMate has been widely criticized and has even leaked data, there seems to be no reason not to trust ZenMate Premium. They claim not to collect data, and there have been no known incidents that show this to be untrue. Also, no security vulnerabilities have been encountered in this provider’s premium VPN version.
ZenMate VPN’s kill switch is easy to find, as it is located in the software settings. Here you can also find the DNS Leak Protection button. The kill switch uses a slider, which is easy to activate. If activated, all your internet traffic is automatically blocked if there is any problem with your VPN connection. If your VPN connection is lost, you’ll still be protected and won’t leak information online.
What information does ZenMate VPN need?
To open an account with ZenMate VPN, you need to provide some personal data. First, however, you need to choose a payment method. ZenMate doesn’t offer anonymous payment options, so you always need to provide some information at this stage. This is the case for iDeal, PayPal, credit card and SOFORT payments. You also always need to provide an email address to setup an account. For the credit card payment option, for example, you then need to enter your first name, surname, zip code, and country.
Conclusion safety ZenMate VPN
- ZenMate VPN supports various protocols, including OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec and L2TP/IPSec
- Log policy: no logs
- ZenMate VPN has a built-in kill switch
- To create an account, you will need to provide an email address, payment details and other personal information
Usability – How User-friendly is ZenMate VPN?
Before you can start using a VPN, you need to find, purchase, and install it. You also have to have some idea of how the software works. In order for all users to be able to work with the software swiftly, a VPN has to be user-friendly. A VPN provider that makes it as easy as possible for its customers, immediately scores extra points. In this section we look at the user-friendliness of ZenMate VPN.
The ZenMate VPN website
The home page of ZenMate VPN’s website is clear and uncluttered. You’re immediately encouraged to purchase the service or make use of their seven-day free trial. Beyond that, the home page is pretty standard: it provides information about the VPN, testimonials from satisfied users, and mentions other ZenMate products, such as their firewall and identity shield.
By using the website’s top menu bar, you can easily find information about the various benefits of VPNs. Under “Downloads” you’ll be able to download the software on various browsers and operating systems. ZenMate also has its own blog, a support page, and additional information about ZenMate VPN for businesses.
The website is available in English, German, Spanish, French, Turkish, Russian and Korean and is very informative.
Installing ZenMate VPN
On the “Downloads” page you can easily find the right software for your device, browser, or operating system. ZenMate VPN is available for the Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux operating systems and for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera browsers. We downloaded the VPN software for Windows.
Before downloading the software, it’s best to create an account first. From the download page you can choose whether to purchase the VPN (by clicking the orange ‘Get ZenMate VPN’ button) or try the service for free for seven days first. If you click the latter option (or first create an account and then download the software), a file is automatically downloaded to your computer. Opening this file automatically starts the installation process.
ZenMate VPN’s appearance and ease of use
ZenMate VPN’s software feels very familiar. The screen basically consists of nothing but an ON button and a box indicating your virtual location. Clicking the white arrow on the side of the screen opens an extra window providing a list of all available servers and their locations. These servers are sorted under four different tabs: “All servers”, containing a list of all servers and their locations; “For downloading”, containing a list of all available servers specifically targeted at P2P traffic; “For streaming”, containing a list of available servers optimized for various online streams; and “Favorites”, containing a list of your favorite servers. Each server shows how far it is from your current location – which is somewhat worrying from a privacy standpoint. Also, the “server load” (the percentage of a particular server currently being used) is indicated.
To turn on the VPN, simply choose a server and click the round button with the shield. You can submit feedback or raise a problem by clicking on the talk bubble in the top righthand corner of the screen. The gear button takes you to your settings. In the settings you can indicate whether you want the software to open automatically when your computer starts, what language you want to use, and whether you want to use the kill switch. You can also view and customize your account information under “My Account”.
All in all, ZenMate’s software is pretty straightforward. There aren’t many extra options, making everything easy to find and activate.
Pricing and methods of payment
Like many VPN providers, ZenMate provides three different packages. The rule of thumb is, the longer the subscription you choose, the lower your monthly payment. Consequently, it’s more beneficial to sign a contract for three years, which costs only a few dollars a month, than to pay for just one month at a time.
Below you can see the prices of the various subscriptions ZenMate VPN offers.
- 1-month subscription: $10.99 per month
- 1-year subscription: $4.49 per month (billed $53.88 per year)
- 3 years: $1.64 per month (billed $59 every 3 years)
There’s also a moneyback guarantee of 30 days with the longer subscriptions. If you aren’t satisfied with the service, you can get your money back within the first month.
We noticed that prices don’t always change according to the chosen currency. The price you pay in dollars is exactly the same as the one in euros. If the dollar’s worth is less than one euro, which it often is, paying in dollars is more beneficial, provided you’re able to do so and no additional costs are incurred.
ZenMate VPN accepts the following payment options:
- Credit card
No fully anonymous payment method is provided.
You’ll find the customer service on the ZenMate website’s support page. First, you’ll be taken to their FAQs. Here you can find answers to many basic questions you might have about ZenMate VPN. If you have a question you can’t find an answer to in the FAQs, you can submit a question to the Support Team. This can be done on the website via live chat.
In the live chat, you’ll first be sent automated links to pages on the ZenMate support site where you might be able to find the answer to your question. If you click on the “Live chat” option, however, you’ll be put through to a real employee who can help you with your specific query.
Conclusion usability ZenMate VPN
- ZenMate VPN’s website is clear and easy to navigate.
- ZenMate’s installation process is quick and simple.
- ZenMate’s software is easy to navigate and doesn’t have many options.
- You can try ZenMate VPN for free for seven days.
- The longer the ZenMate subscription you choose, the cheaper the monthly costs will be.
- ZenMate VPN has several payment methods, but no anonymous options.
- ZenMate VPN’s customer service can be reached via live chat and is very responsive.
Server Network ZenMate VPN
The size of a VPN’s server network is very important. A large network has several advantages. One advantage is that servers are less likely to become overloaded: the carrying capacity is distributed as customers can spread across multiple servers in the same country.
Another, and perhaps greater, advantage is that a large international network will allow you to unblock more parts of the internet. For example, with an English server you can use BBC iPlayer, and with an American server you can watch the American version of Netflix.
In this section, we’ll tell you how many server locations ZenMate VPN has at its disposal, for what purposes these servers are suitable, and whether it’s possible to request a dedicated IP address.
Number of servers and locations
At the time of writing, ZenMate has approximately 3,500 servers spread across 74 countries worldwide.
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Travnik|
|Hong Kong||Hong Kong|
|Isle of Man||Douglas|
|United Arab Emirates||Dubai|
|United Kingdom||Londen, Manchester|
|United States||Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Phoenix|
|Vietnam||Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City|
ZenMate’s network has grown much in recent years. Although they had only a few servers in a limited number of countries before, they now have over 3,500 servers in 74 countries.
In addition, ZenMate has dedicated servers for both downloading and streaming. With streaming, each server listed also states the type of streaming that server is most suited for. One specific American server might be most suited for accessing American Netflix, for example, while another is best for YouTube, Amazon Prime, or Comedy Central. Other options include French servers for Radio France, RTL, Europe1, Netflix FR and TF1, Brazilian servers for Globo and Fox Sport, and English servers for Channel 4, Eurosport, Netflix UK and BBC iPlayer. This allows you to quickly and easily choose the right server for your needs.
Dedicated IP address
Currently, ZenMate VPN doesn’t offer dedicated IP addresses. This means you can only use servers through which you share an IP address with multiple people. An advantage of this is that it protects your privacy: if everyone uses the same IP, it’s more difficult, although not impossible, to track data traffic back to one person. However, without dedicated IP addresses, the likelihood that IPs are blocked by websites that reject proxies is much higher.
Conclusion server network ZenMate VPN
- ZenMate VPN has a substantial server network with locations in 74 different countries.
- There are dedicated ZenMate servers for both downloading and streaming.
- ZenMate VPN doesn’t offer dedicated IP addresses.
ZenMate VPN’s Options
ZenMate is a fairly simple VPN with a large network and several good options. A lot of ZenMate’s attention is paid to making sure downloading is possible and Netflix works.
ZenMate VPN and Netflix
ZenMate has specific servers that focus on unblocking streaming services. These servers are so specialized that different servers are available for each streaming service offered. For example, ZenMate has Netflix servers in the United States, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. However, Netflix is actively fighting against VPNs and trying to block as many known servers as possible. We also noticed this to be the case with ZenMate VPN.
Although the French and British Netflix servers worked without any issues, the German and American servers did not. For the latter two, Netflix realized we were trying to use a proxy to access certain content. As a result, we could no longer watch anything on the streaming service. When we tried this again a little later – even after emptying our cookies – we couldn’t access the Netflix website at all with the American VPN server. The German VPN server also struggled with this. We tried a “normal”, non-specialized US server, which did help us get access to the website. Unfortunately, we received another error when we tried to watch actual content.
We asked ZenMate VPN Support for help, and they informed us that they were experiencing some technical issues that caused some servers to stop working. These problems would soon be resolved. Although this wasn’t the case two days later, we assume it’ll be fixed in the future. In conclusion, there are some problems with Netflix and ZenMate, but we expect that they will resolve these problems relatively quickly.
ZenMate VPN and torrents
ZenMate VPN has special servers for torrenting. We were able to download torrents very quickly and easily when using the nearest downloading server. You don’t need any additional options or settings for this. You just need to make sure that you use one of the servers under the tab “For torrenting”.
Conclusions options ZenMate VPN
- ZenMate VPN has specialized servers for watching foreign Netflix, though they don’t work 100% of the time.
- Downloading torrents with ZenMate VPN is done through dedicated servers and is quick and simple.
Conclusions – Our Experience with ZenMate VPN
|Servers in 74 countries||Anonymous registration isn’t possible|
|No logs||Sometimes Netflix doesn’t work|
|Clearly structured website|
|Provides access to Netflix in various countries|
|Dedicated servers for streaming and downloading|
ZenMate VPN is a very intuitive VPN that is easy for the average internet user to comprehend and navigate. Their website is clear, and the installation process is completed in no time at all. The software itself is also user-friendly, although it has limited options. However, this is often a benefit for novice users, or for users who want to get started quickly without too much fuss.
A big plus of ZenMate VPN is that they have separate servers for various streaming platforms, including Netflix and the BBC. There are also specialized servers for P2P traffic. By providing these specific servers, they make unblocking online content much easier, although the various Netflix servers don’t always work. Finally, according to their privacy statement, ZenMate VPN doesn’t keep logs. Overall, ZenMate VPN is a very decent VPN that is especially useful for beginners and works with streaming and torrenting.
Below you’ll find answers to some frequently asked questions about ZenMate VPN. If you can’t find the answer to your question, please leave your question in the comments.
Most of the time, yes. ZenMate VPN has specialized streaming servers, so streaming Netflix shouldn’t be a problem. However, during our testing we noticed that we couldn’t access Netflix USA as easily as we had hoped.
ZenMate VPN indicated that this was a temporary problem and that it would be solved soon, but nevertheless it’s annoying that Netflix doesn’t always work.
Yes, ZenMate makes it easy for you to download torrents. ZenMate has dedicated servers that are aimed at downloading files while keeping the user safe and anonymous.
ZenMate has several subscriptions. The longer the subscription period, the higher the discount. The costs for each subscription are as follows:
- 1-month subscription: $10.99 per month
- 1-year subscription: $4.49 per month (billed $53.88 per year)
- 3 years: $1.64 per month (billed $59 every 3 years)
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