Figuring out which commercial VPN provider is for you can be a challenge today. There are a lot of different providers and, on the surface, they can appear to be all the same.
They all have huge lists of features and they all promise to enhance your digital privacy.
That being the case, in this post, we do am in-depth comparison of ProtonVPN and Windscribe VPN to determine which one we should recommend over the other.
ProtonVPN vs Windscribe VPN - Side By Side
[vpn vpn_1="ProtonVPN" vpn_2="Windscribe"]
Can't choose between ProtonVPN or Windscribe?
This happens each time we compare two serious, high-quality players in the commercial VPN space: I predict a tie or at least a very close result. And this is one of those cases.
Both ProtonVPN and Windscribe, tick the right boxes in terms of privacy and security. They both offer secure VPN protocols, with strong ciphers, and they both commit to a robust no-logging policy.
Many of their respective features will be similar because, as I said, we already know these are two excellent VPN providers.
But let’s do a features rundown and that may give us a better idea as to the areas in which these two providers differ.
Here we go.
We’re going to start by comparing ProtonVPN and Windscribe on speed.
Whether you use a VPN or not, your connection speed is going to be important. A VPN will inevitably create some overhead, which translates to a slowdown, but this should be as limited as possible.
Tested on a 100Mbps (Download) and 30Mbps (Upload) network
Server: U.S.A., New York
Average Download Speed: 90.42Mbps
Average Upload Speed: 35.60Mbps
Tested on a 100Mbps (Download) and 30Mbps (Upload) network
Server: U.S.A., New York
Average Download Speed: 95.36Mbps
Average Upload Speed: 26.54Mbps
So we want to look at the difference between my ISP bandwidth and the speed test results.
And on that front, they both do extremely well. Speed does not seem to be an issue for either ProtonVPN or Windscribe VPN.
On download, Windscribe does every so slightly better than ProtonVPN. But ProtonVPN does better on upload - even going above my ISP bandwidth (likely due to network volatility).
But with these two VPN providers, on both download and upload, the speed hit is essentially negligible. I don’t think it would be noticeable in a real-world scenario.
We have excellent performance on speed from both providers. This one is a tie in my book.
It used to be that VPNs were a very niche product, but times have definitely changed. As I mentioned in the opening paragraphs, more people than ever before use VPNs today.
That means that user-friendliness is going to be of major importance.
ProtonVPN and Windscribe both provide official client apps on all major operating systems, which all include a VPN kill switch. But Windscribe also provides an official client for Nvidia Shield and KODI.
Both providers also offer Chrome and Firefox browser extensions - with Windscribe also offering an Opera browser extension.
As far as customer support goes, I didn't need to contact support for either company. Everything just worked. But it's worth nothing that Windscribe offers a live chat option - another small distinction in this ProtonVPN vs. Windscribe post.
Concerning simultaneous connections, ProtonVPNVPN allows up to 10 simultaneous connections, but the actual number depends on the subscription plan you signed up to. The breakdown looks like this:
- Free - 1 device.
- Basic - 2 devices.
- Plus - 5 devices.
- Visionary - 10 devices.
This is somewhat convoluted, in my opinion.
Windscribe, on the other hand, allows unlimited simultaneous connections.
I’m going to give the point to Windscribe here. Not that ProtonVPN’s offering is bad, but Windscribe provides more coverage, in terms of supported platforms and place no limit on the number of simultaneous connections. There’s just no way around it.
Streaming services are becoming the norm for watching video content.
And since the 2016 Netflix VPN ban, I’m sure you already know about, unblocking Netflix has become a major concern for many commercial VPN providers.
Both ProtonVPN and Windscribe claim to be streaming-friendly. But Windscribe doesn’t make any specific claims about unblocking Netflix.
ProtonVPN, on the other hand, claims to unblock Netflix, but only Netflix U.S. - no other libraries will be accessible. ProtonVPN provides a support document, detailing how to unblock Netflix U.S.
I tested them both and was able to stream Netflix over both provider’s networks, though only Netflix U.S. over ProtonVPN.
While I was able to access different Netflix libraries while on Windscribe’s network, there is a caveat.
In reading other Windscribe reviews online, some reviewers were not able to access Netflix at all over Windscribe’s network.
While this is likely due to the IP addresses of the tested servers being blacklisted by Netflix, and that there’s a good chance those reviewers could have eventually found a working server had they cycled through them, your mileage may vary.
I’m going to give the point to ProtonVPN here. Yes, they can only unblock Netflix U.S., but at least they make it clear to the user what is supported and what is not. Windscribe makes no misleading claims whatsoever about Netflix, they’re in a bit of a grey zone.
4. Security & Encryption
Let’s look at the VPN protocols each provider supports.
Both providers use the industry-standard AES-256 cipher for both IKEv2/IPSec and OpenVPN.
WireGuard, supported by Windscribe, uses more modern cryptography (which may even be more secure than AES-256).
Those ciphers are:
We’re happy to see that neither VPN provider here supports weak and obsolete VPN protocols, like L2TP/IPSec and the horribly obsolete PPTP protocol, supported by some providers.
This is good. But Windscribe supports WireGuard, while ProtonVPN does not…
We’re giving the point to Windscribe, simply for supporting WireGuard. ProtonVPN only uses secure protocols, but we would like to see them add WireGuard support (hint: it’s coming).
5. Logs & Privacy
Both ProtonVPN and Windscribe put forth and commit to robust no-logging policies. Let’s have a look at how they attempt to communicate this.
Both privacy policies are human-readable and are transparent about the data points they collect. And both these VPN providers collect connection timestamps logs.
They, of course, do this to mitigate abuse, but other providers manage to do just that without logging connection timestamps.
We hope to see both providers change this practice in the future.
Let’s turn to pricing now. Below, I’ve listed the different packages, prices, and accepted payment methods for ProtonVPN and Windscribe VPN:
ProtonVPN offers three subscription terms and a free version:
- Free - 1 device, throttled speed, no other features included.
- Basic - 2 devices, full speed, access to P2P, no other features included.
- Plus - 5 devices, full speed, all services except ProtonMail included.
- Visionary - 10 devices, full speed, all services including ProtonMail.
Each subscription is available on a monthly, one year, or two-year basis. And shorter terms obviously cost more than longer terms.
- 5$/month - monthly
- 4$/month - yearly
- 3.29$/month - bi-yearly
- 10$/month - monthly
- 8$/month - yearly
- 6.63$/month - bi-yearly
- 30$/month - monthly
- 24$/month - yearly
- 19.96$/month - bi-yearly
- Credit card
- Debit card
All their plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Windscribe VPNVisit Windscribe VPN
Windscribe offers three types of subscription:
- 9.00 USD for one month of service
- 49.00 USD for one year of service (works out to 4.08 USD per month)
- 1 USD per active server on their ‘Build Your Own Plan’ plan. With this plan, you choose the servers you want to access and you build your custom plan at 1$ per server.
As mentioned in the opening paragraphs, they also offer a free plan which gives you 10GBs of data transfer per month and 10 VPN servers to choose form.
- Credit Cards
Their plans are backed by a 3-day money-back guarantee. Yes, three days…
So Windscribe is, in most cases, cheaper than ProtonVPN.
Although it’s difficult to calculate the price difference in each possible scenario because ProtonVPN’s pricing structure is, shall we say, rather complex…
They don’t, however, offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, like ProtonVPN. They only offer a 3-day money-back guarantee.
But, one could argue that if you simply want to try Windscribe, you can jump on the free version (which is not throttled, like ProtonVPN’s free option) - and it’s hard to argue against that.
As far as payment methods are concerned, an advantage ProtonVPN has over Windscribe is that they accept cash. But, Windscribe, like ProtonVPN, accepts Bitcoin, so anonymous payments are possible.
The point goes to Windscribe. They’re (mostly cheaper), they have a much simpler pricing structure and their ‘Build A Plan’ option is innovative and makes so much sense.
In terms of P2P supprt, both ProtonVPN and Windscribe are P2P-friendly VPN providers. And they both take the approach of supplying dedicated P2P servers to their users.
The supported servers are clearly indicated within their respective apps (though Windscribe chose to mark the servers that don’t support P2P, because the overwhelming majority of their servers do indeed support P2P).
With ProtonVPN, you should really make to connect to one of their dedicated P2P servers, or else you will be disconnected. ProtonVPN explains this in a support document.
I tested both providers. And, in my tests for both providers, torrenting over their networks was smooth and fast.
Good stuff from both where P2P file-sharing is concerned.
They offer essentially the same thing and both pull it off extremely well.
8. Other Features
Let’s see if there are other areas in which these two VPN providers can distinguish themselves.
- ProtonVPN supports Secure Core multi-hop servers
- ProtonVPN supports Tor over VPN
- Windscribe offers a ‘Build a Plan’ subscription
- Windscribe offers a high-quality free plan
- Secure Core: ProtonVPN enables you to bounce your VPN connection over multiple server hops. Many VPN providers provide this functionality, but ProtonVPN does it with a twist. They name the feature Secure Core. Secure Core routes your traffic through a “secured core” of multiple hardened, ProtonVPN-owned servers. And from there, sends your connection off to the VPN server you selected when you initiated your connection. Multiple server hops are a great way to enhance your anonymity and Secure Core achieves this in an extremely secure way.
- Tor Over VPN: Tor over VPN is actually very similar to multiple VPN server hops. So like, multi-hop, Tor over VPN servers bounce your traffic from the VPN server over different locations, but these are on the Tor network. So from the VPN server you connected to, Tor over VPN will route your connection over the Tor network, where it is then bounced over multiple locations within the Tor network. Your traffic appears to come only from Tor, even though there’s a VPN “underneath” Tor.
- Build Your Own Plan: As I mentioned earlier, Windscribe really does take an innovative approach to subscription plans. Windscribe is the first VPN provider I know of to offer a ‘Build A Plan’ option. The way this subscription is set up, you literally select the VPN servers you want to use you and build a custom plan giving you access to those servers only. Each server added to the subscription adds 1USD to the cost of your custom monthly plan. This is such a common-sense option because I believe most people tend to use the same subset of servers available. Really refreshing to see a VPN provider offering such a flexible subscription.
- Free 10BG/per Month Subscription: Another original aspect of Windscribe’s service offering is their free plan - which is actually really good. Along with ProtonVPN, Windscribe is the only VPN provider to offer a high-quality free plan (although ProtonVPN’s free option has throttled speeds - Windscribe’s does not). Windscribe’s free plan gives you access to 10 different VPN servers and provides you with 10GBs per month of bandwidth. And this is a free plan, remember? I believe that Windscribe’s free plan is quite simply the best free VPN service in the industry. I’m extremely impressed.
As much praise I have for Windscribe’s subscription options, ProtonVPN’s other features have a more direct impact on user privacy and security and so they get the point here. Tor over VPN and Secure Core are very good features to have.
Conclusion: ProtonVPN vs Windscribe
So who wins?
We had eight categories, as usual:
The winner in each category is awarded one point. And both providers get a point in the event of a tie.
So the breakdown looks like this:
- Speed - (Tie)
- User-Friendliness - (Windscribe)
- Streaming - (ProtonVPN)
- Security & Encryption - (Windscribe)
- Logs and Privacy - (Tie)
- Pricing - (Windscribe)
- Torrenting - (Tie)
- Other Features - (ProtonVPN)
So that’s 5 points for ProtonVPN and 6 points for Windscribe VPN.
So it looks like I was right when I said it would be close at the beginning of this post. It’s really tight, and it deserves to be, as these are two very good VPN providers.
We can recommend them both. It simply depends on what you’re looking for and which features are more important to you.
But we totally recommend ProtonVPN. And we totally recommend Windscribe VPN as well. Whichever you choose, you’re signing up for a high-quality VPN service.
Go With ProtonVPN if:
- You want a trustworthy VPN provider.
- You want to use Tor over your VPN.
- You want the security benefit of Secure Core.
Go With Windscribe VPN if:
- You want a trustworthy VPN provider.
- You want to pay less than ProtonVPN users (and have a simpler pricing structure).
- You want to build your own subscription plan.
Thanks for reading!
ProtonVPN Vs. Windscribe VPN - Comparative Face-Off
By Marc Dahan
Last updated: September 15, 2020