ZenMate Review 2019

BEST FOR: Ultra fast VPN for streaming

  • Super fast browser speeds
  • Zero logs policy
  • DNS leak prevention and kill switch
  • Free trial available
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ZenMate Overview

Joel Timothy

Last updated: 17 April 2019

ZenMate VPN is a product of ZenGuard GmbH, a company based in Berlin, Germany. ZenMate was initially a proxy service that worked through a browser extension. Now, ZenMate has grown to become a fully-fledged VPN service supporting quite a number of devices with dedicated apps.

ZenMate VPN uses a simple approach to securing user data in a fast, secure, and easy way. It’s a simple VPN without bells and whistles, but that doesn’t mean it there aren’t any advanced functionalities available. It is a solid VPN option with quite a large user base. In this ZenMate VPN review, we will take a closer look at the product and see how it stacks up against the tough competition in the VPN market.

Pros

What we liked

  • Free version
  • 7-day free trial for premium service
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Up to 5 simultaneous connections
  • Browser applets

Cons

What can be improved

  • Few number of servers
  • Poor customer support
  • Doesn’t work with Netflix

Security & Privacy

Privacy

Germany may not be the best location for a VPN, but the country is far better than the US, UK, Australia, and other countries where VPNs are based. The country has been known to support digital privacy. ZenMate VPN takes advantage of this and offers its users a “no logs” policy.

ZenMate promises that “No personal data is collected, processed or permanently stored.”

ZenMate VPN states the following:

  • ZenMate is not storing your IP address or personal data
  • ZenMate is not tracking who you are or what you do online
  • ZenMate is not selling data to third parties
  • ZenMate cannot give away your personal data to authorities or third parties as it is not stored in the first place
  • ZenMate is proudly based in Berlin and operates under strict German data protection laws

This applies except for various circumstances that ZenMate clearly outlines, including:

  • When users contact their customer support
  • When subscribing to their newsletter
  • When providing information upon a user’s request
  • When users connect to a certain server to use ZenMate
  • When users post a comment on forums and communities

Security

ZenMate uses the latest TLS 1.2 (RFC 5246) VPN protocol and supports different cipher suites with PFS. For Chrome, the Cipher ranges between the following:

TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256 to

TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384

These ciphers are quite secure.

As for encryption, ZenMate uses AES 128-bit. This is because they don’t really agree with all the hype regarding AES-256-bit encryption. ZenMate believes that AES 128 offers good security, is really fast, and seems to be more resistant to timing attacks.

  • L2TP/IPSec
  • OpenVPN

For data authentication, the VPN uses HMAC SHA2 with the RSA-4096 handshake. Forward secrecy is implemented using ECDH-2048.

ZenMate VPN now also provides DNS Leak Protection and Kill Switch features for their Windows desktop client.

Pricing & Payment

ZenMate VPN features 3 pricing plans:

  • The monthly plan goes for $9.99/month
  • The 1-year plan is $3.99/month, billed at $47.88 every 12 months.
  • The 2-year plan for $2.05/month, billed at $49.20 every 24 months.

All the plans offered have the same features, and the only difference is in the billing duration.

Monthly plan

$9.99

Per month

30-day money-back guarantee

most popular
Yearly plan

Save
67%

$3.99

Per month

$47.80 for the first 12 months

30-day money-back guarantee

2 Year Plan

$2.05

Per month

$49.20 for the first 24 months

30-day money-back guarantee

*Although we make every effort to ensure all prices are accurate, we cannot guarantee thet they are always up to date

All of ZenMate’s plans are subject to a 30-day money-back guarantee.

It’s important to note that the above prices vary in currency depending on the country you’re in.

If you wish to request a refund, you will need to contact support using the email address that was used to purchase your ZenMate Premium account. Provide them with the payment details of your purchase and they will then process your request.

7-day Free Trial

ZenMate VPN has a free 7-day premium trial. To you this trial, you don’t even need to provide your payment details. All you have to do is create an account using your email address and then verify it.

You won’t need to cancel it, as it will automatically revert to a free service (more on that below) after your 1-week trial. If you wish to proceed and buy the product, you can then enter your payment details. You will still be eligible for the money-back guarantee. This gives you a total of 37 days to try ZenMate VPN.

ZenMate VPN’s Free VPN

ZenMate VPN also offers a free service. However, free connections are limited to only 4 locations with 12 servers. This means that more often than not, you will encounter crowded servers and hence slow speeds. Further, you will have to endure advertisements from ZenMate and other third parties.

Payment Options

ZenMate VPN is limited in terms of payment options. The VPN only accepts payments by PayPal, credit cards, and Union Pay or Qiwi Pay. ZenMate should consider at least adding bitcoin payments to support anonymous financial transactions.

Credit cards
Payment Service
Others
and more!

Performance

While using ZenMate VPN clients and web browser, we didn’t experience any trouble. The only problem was after we installed the Windows client and we couldn’t get a connection. To overcome this we had to restart the app. However, this may have just been a temporary glitch in the system; we expect this is not a normal occurrence. Server connection took us only an average of 10 seconds.

Speed test

We did a speed test just to establish how fast ZenMate VPN is. We had high hopes because the client uses 128-bit encryption, which is usually speed-friendly.

The screenshot below shows our speed test without a VPN, which is meant to give us a baseline.

ZenMate

We then connected to a VPN server near us, but in a different country. Here are the speed results.

ZenMate

You can see that our speeds only took a minor hit.

We also wanted to test the speed offered by the ZenMate Chrome version. Here’s the speed when connected to a server quite some distance away.ZenMate

 

You can see that the browser VPN is also quite fast, and is, therefore, suitable for HD streaming. Its upload speed only takes a small hit, unlike the desktop VPN.

This speed test was recently conducted on April 21, 2019.

Servers & Location

ZenMate VPN can’t really compare to the big names when it comes to the number of servers. The VPN has only about 30+ servers in 30+ countries. This is a small number in comparison to most VPNs, though the company hasn’t been in the VPN business for long.

However, ZenMate VPN tries to make up for the small number of servers with good distribution. The most common countries are covered, with most of the servers found in Asia, Oceania, and North America. The servers in the US are well-distributed on the East and West sides of the US, in a bid to make connections from Europe and Asia faster on both ends of the ocean. Here is a full distribution list of ZenMate servers:

  • Asia – Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Singapore
  • Europe – Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom
  • North America – Canada, United States
  • Oceania – Australia
  • South America – Brazil

ZenMate says that they are still expanding their servers, and they’ll certainly have to if they are to compete for a user base the likes of NordVPN (who has 3400+ servers in 59 countries).

ZenMate server switching is unlimited, and you can connect up to 5 devices simultaneously.

ZenMate free proxy is however limited to a few servers. Free proxy users have access to 12 servers, which in truth is still pretty awesome for being available even on their free plan. These servers are found in:

  • Europe
  • The US
  • Hong Kong
  • Singapore

Features

ZenMate VPN doesn’t really offer many features. The Windows client, however, has two privacy and security features: a Kill Switch and a DNS Leak Protection.

Kill Switch

The kill switch is a very important tool in any VPN. The tool works by making sure that you can only have internet access when you are connected to ZenMate VPN. This means that if for whatever reason your VPN connection drops, your internet access will be disabled. This helps prevent identity leaks when your internet connection is not secured by the VPN.

Features
Smart DNS
Bypass Netflix
Onion Tow Web Address
Split Tunneling
Stealth Technology/Servers
Allow Torrenting
Automatic Kill Switch
ipv6
Open Ports

DNS Leak Protection

Domain Name System (DNS) is a protocol that is used to translate a domain name into an IP address. When you type in the domain of a website, the DNS acts like a phone book and looks up the IP address of that website and then opens it.

Normally, this is usually done by the ISP DNS servers. When you use a VPN, the VPN DNS servers take over this task, and the ISP can no longer tell what sites you are visiting.

However, sometimes Windows overruns this procedure and sends your DNS requests to the ISP. This exposes your online activities, and this is where the ZenMate DNS Leak Protection comes in.

The ZenMate DNS Leak Protection feature ensures that Windows doesn’t send any requests to the ISP and that they only pass through ZenMate VPN servers.

The VPN lacks advanced features like Smart DNS and Split Tunneling. However, it offers an ad-blocker and anti-tracking on the smartphone version. While these features are not found on the desktop version, they can be installed as a separate browser add-on.

ZenMate Setup & User Interface

The Website

The ZenMate VPN website is available in a number of languages, and so is the VPN app too. These are:

  • English
  • German
  • Turkish
  • Korean
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Portuguese
  • Italian
  • Polish
  • Indonesian
  • Dutch
  • Russian

The website doesn’t give you much info about the VPN, and stuff like encryption protocols can only be found on the FAQ section by doing a search. Furthermore, there’s no support button on top of the page to lead you there. This is available once you log in.

Getting Started with ZenMate VPN

To get ZenMate VPN, you can simply just download their VPN client from the home page. This won’t require you to pay or even create an account. You can create one within the app. This way, you won’t be asked for payment details.

Upon confirming your email address, ZenMate will automatically give you a premium trial.

The free premium trial is a good starting point so that you can evaluate every feature of the VPN and decide whether it’s the product for you – before you commit to a subscription.

If you wish to start with their browser version, you can do a search on the Chrome store or on Firefox if you use Mozilla.

ZenMate VPN Review

After installing the extension, you will be redirected to an “onboarding” page that lets you create an account. Pay attention here: if you click Join ZenMate Now, you will be required to sign up and pay for ZenMate Premium VPN. Written in a very light font below this button is Try ZenMate Limited Instead.

ZenMate VPN Review

Go for this option. From there, you will then be given another chance to choose between Premium and Limited. Choose Limited.

ZenMate VPN Review

Signing up for the Limited version won’t require any payment details.

ZenMate VPN Review

After signing up, you will then get the option to Try Premium for Free.

When you choose it, you will get a 7-day premium trial.

ZenMate VPN Review

You can then download ZenMate VPN for any of the supported platforms.

ZenMate Windows Client

The ZenMate client presents a very straightforward interface without complex features.

ZenMate VPN Review

However, we noticed that the ZenMate client couldn’t be moved around. It just sticks to the bottom right side of the screen. You can’t resize it either.

We guessed this might be because of the extra functionalities ZenMate has implemented so that you can Connect or Change Server without necessarily opening the client interface.

ZenMate VPN Review

You can easily select a server just by right-clicking the ZenMate icon on the tray.

To do it through the app interface, you just need to click the current server location, and you will get a list.

ZenMate VPN Review

When you select one, the VPN client will start connecting to that particular server. We experienced some connection issues at first, but when we restarted the app, and it worked just fine.

ZenMate VPN Review

Customization Options

The ZenMate VPN client doesn’t really offer many customization options. The only features found under Settings are EverSecure, the Kill Switch, and DNS Leak Protection. EverSecure is the only one here enabled by default.

ZenMate VPN Review

The only other way you can customize ZenMate Windows client is by disabling Run ZenMate on Startup and Enable locations monitoring.

Android Client

ZenMate Android looks just like the ZenMate Windows client, albeit with a white theme.

ZenMate VPN Review

To get a VPN connection, you just need to tap one button. Server change is done in the same way as in the Windows client by just tapping the selected country.

In the settings, we don’t have the Kill Switch and DNS Leak Protection features found in ZenMate desktop client. However, this one has Malware Blocking and Tracking Protection.

ZenMate VPN Review

There’s also the EverSecure feature that tries to keep the app ‘always on.’

Device Compatibility

ZenMate VPN doesn’t support many devices, but it does support the most common ones. Here is a list of the supported platforms:

  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Android
  • iOS

ZenMate VPN now supports various browsers:

  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Opera

Compatibility

For this ZenMate VPN review, I did some tests to determine whether ZenMate is suitable for geo-restricted streaming services.

Netflix

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use ZenMate’s good speeds for streaming on Netflix. From our tests, we weren’t able to stream any Netflix library with the VPN.

The VPN doesn’t work with BBC iPlayer either.

Devices

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows
  • Mac

Browsers

  • Chrome
  • Firefox

Others

Customer support

ZenMate user support isn’t the most intuitive we’ve ever seen. First of all, it’s not easy to find the support page. You have to scroll to the bottom of the website and look for the support page link from there.

ZenMate VPN doesn’t have a live chat or phone system for support, and the only way you can reach the team is via a ticket system. The form can be accessed by clicking the last link on the support page, Contact ZenMate Support.

After submitting your request, you will receive a confirmation email telling you that your request has been created and that you should receive a “first reply” within 48 hours.

You won’t have to wait too long for it. The reply will come from Rosa, the ZenMate Support Bot. We got a reply after 2 hours. It will encourage you to use their troubleshooting guides to solve your problem. To proceed to Support, you have to reply to that Support Bot email. It is only then that your request will be redirected to a real person. Needless to say, it’s not the most efficient way to get in touch with some assistance.

After 6 hours, we received a reply. Apart from contacting support, you can also use their troubleshooting guides and FAQs to get answers to your queries.

Conclusion

ZenMate VPN comes out as a good quality VPN, but it is best-suited for users who don’t need many functionalities from their VPN. The VPN isn’t necessarily suitable for users that are adamant about their online security, because the VPN only uses 128-bit security. However, ZenMate still keeps no logs and offers excellent speeds that are great for HD streaming. The only problem is that you won’t be able to use it on Netflix and BBC iPlayer, but most other streaming services work just fine.

Written by: Joel Timothy

Joel is a tech writer and editor with a special interest in cyber security and internet freedom. He likes helping readers tackle tricky tech and internet issues, as well as maximize the boundless power of the internet.

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