ZenMate VPN Review
- Free Chrome and Firefox extensions
- 14-day money-back guarantee
- Includes DNS leak protection and a kill switch
- Easy for anyone to use
- Fast setup times
- 5 simultaneous connections
- No OpenVPN protocol
- Slow download speeds
- Slow customer support responses
- No live chat support
- Based out of Germany, in privacy unfriendly EU
- Vague logging policies
- Limited number of countries
- Cannot select specific locations
- No IPv6 leak protection
- Average pricing for below average features
- Below average latency
ZenMate VPN is meant for one purpose only - to unblock sites as an anonymous internet surfer. Their privacy, security, and speeds are all subpar. Despite that, the product is priced at an average level compared to industry competitors. We can only recommend ZenMate to novice users who mainly are looking for a VPN with a solid Chrome or Firefox add-on.
Privacy and Security
ZenMate's biggest flaw is the lack of OpenVPN protocol. The service is limited to L2TP/IPSec, which is fine for typical anonymous browsing. However, it's simply not as capable as encrypting user data as OpenVPN. Thus, if you are seeking a VPN for true anonymity we recommend looking elsewhere. You'll find better options on our top 10 VPNs page.
Additionally, ZenMate VPN is based out of Germany. This means they are bound by EU regulations and laws. Their service temporarily logs connection IP and may record other personal information depending on the data protection laws. Their log recording policy is fairly vague. Between that, the lack of OpenVPN, a minimal number of advanced security features, this really isn't a great option for those seeking true privacy. They do offer key basic functions of a VPN though such as DNS leak protection and a kill switch to cut one's internet if the VPN connection gets severed.
Speed is not where ZenMate shines either. Speed tests ranged from 5 - 20Mbps depending on the server location. While this is plenty fast for browsing the web, there's no heavy lifting here. The US servers were slightly faster than their European and Asian counterparts, but not significantly so. It's at least fast enough for watching videos so those seeking to unblock BBC iPlayer or hide their adult site usage may turn to this tool. The ping time isn't fast enough for gaming and VyprVPN is a better pick for that.
ZenMate grants access to 30 countries, with a decent spread in Europe and Asia. Other continents are lacking. That's not too surprising given the relatively small number of locations offered. I suspect the majority of ZenMate users connect to UK or USA for site unblocking purposes.
Ease and Usability
ZenMate VPN is among the easiest VPNs to signup for and setup. Even the most amateur VPN users will be ready to use the service as intended within minutes. While power users will complain about lack of features such as city or server selection, it really does make the whole process simpler. As ZenMate is geared more towards simple site unblocking or anonymous surfing, this is completely in line with their product offering.
A Firefox and Chrome add-ons work well. They block malicious sites and automatically alter IPs. Many VPN services are starting to offer these extensions, but ZenMate's have been refined over time. Normally we would ding their 128-bit AES encryption on their extension, but it is faster and as mentioned before, ZenMate is not a good tool for tool privacy.
No live chat is a real drag. Even worse, their support staff is slow to respond. If you can't find the answer in their documentation, it will take a while to get an answer out of a live person. That documentation isn't as deep as competitors, but the product is a whole lot easier to use. ZenMate gets a little bit of a pass because their software works well and will require less support than other products. However, customers won't be happy if something does go wrong.
ZenMate is easy to use, but their weakness in speed, location options, and privacy should mean a cheap product. That's not really the case. A year-plan will run you about $60. Meanwhile, the 3-year plan with the vastly superior NordVPN costs around $100. The lack of value is upsetting and really leaves us scratching our head.
ZenMate VPN will appeal to novice VPN users to want a simple, no-frills option. If you want to get started quickly and only need a VPN to unblock non-Netflix services, then ZenMate might be a good option. It does come with a 14-day guarantee so there's at least adequate time to determine if it's a good product for you. That's about all the good I can say about ZenMate.
This VPN is severely lacking in the privacy and encryption department. It uses 128-bit encryption and tries to pass this off as a superior alternative to 256-bit. Choosing to go with L2TP/IPSec over OpenVPN alone speaks volumes to their concern over privacy. The fact that ZenMate offers mostly basic functionality then is not surprising. The service isn't particularly fast, doesn't provide particularly good support, and it's not particularly cheap. Thus, it's difficult to recommend for the majority of readers. That doesn't mean it doesn't have it's place in the world, just that such a place is very narrow.