ZenMate Review

Operating under the ZenGuard umbrella, ZenMate has certainly come a long way since its launch in 2013, from a simple proxy service to a full-blown VPN provider. It now offers plenty of options for different users, especially beginners.

ZenMate came into the market as a free VPN, but it has since grown to be one of the best mid-range services in the industry. The VPN, which operates from Berlin, Germany, was initially solely owned by an internet giant, ZenGuard GmbH, who has recently had a change of ownership. The UK-based security giant, Kape Technologies, now holds 100% ownership of ZenMate.

ZenMate now runs a large user-base of more than 4o million happy users around the world. And while it might not be a top choice in terms of features, ZenMate gives an excellent balance of ultra-fast speeds, high performance, and a decent privacy and security service.

ZenMate also gives you the best Netflix deal. Apart from offering optimised servers for streaming, the VPN gives you a discount on your next Netflix renewal. ZenMate also does well in terms of torrenting and P2P filesharing.

Quick Stats

Money-back guarantee30 days
Free trial period7 days
Allowed concurrent connectionsUnlimited number of devices
Supported streaming servicesNetflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, YouTube, HBO Now, YouTube Red, Globo, Fox Sport, Comedy Central, CBS, ARD, ORF
No logs policyYes
P2P allowedYes
SmartDNSNo
Encryption128-Bit AES
AuthenticationHMAC SHA2
Data Cap/ BandwidthUnlimited
Handshake encryptionRSA-4096
VPN ProtocolsOpenVPN, IKEv2
Special featureskill switch, P2P allowed, IPv6/WebRTC/DNS leak protection,
Customer support24/ 7 livechat
Server locations74+ countries
Number of servers3600+ servers
Supported platformsWindows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox
Supported devicesRaspberry Pi, Firestick, Xbox, PlayStation, Apple TV, Smart TV, Xbox, Routers.
VPN legal jurisdictionBerlin, Germany

This review looks at what ZenMate can offer. We put ZenMate to the test on every aspect, including pricing, server coverage, features, performers, and usability. We also look into its privacy policy and test its security strengths. Customer service is also the main aspect that determines the quality of a VPN.

ZenMate Pricing and Payment Methods

Zenmate Pricing and Payment

At the time of this review, ZenMate sells three paid plans as well as a free package. All three premium plans offer the same VPN features but vary with their monthly rates and billing cycles. The free plan won’t cost you a penny, but you’ll access a minimal number of features and benefits – no fun at all.

In the days we’ve taken testing ZenMate, here’s how the premium plans compare:

  • The 1-Month Plan – sells at $10.99 per month. This is billed every month, making it the most expensive package of the three. Not a good deal!
  • The 6-Month Plan – costs $5.39 a month, billed at $32.24 every six months. You’ll save up to 51% of your money. This is a good deal if you need the ZenMate for less than six months.
  • The 18Month Plan – goes for $2.22 per month, and is billed at $39.96 the first 18 months, then you’ll be billed annually after that. This is currently the most preferred plan, given it’ll save you up to 80% of your money. An excellent package!

All ZenMate paid plans to qualify for a hassle-free 30-day money-back guarantee. Getting your refund is quite easy. An email to the customer support displaying your payment details will help you get your money back hassle-free. Additionally, keep in mind that the price rates we’ve listed above can change depending on the local currency of your region.

ZenMate Free Trial

ZenMate gives a generous 7-day free trial. The trial gives you full access to the VPN’s premium features. The best part, you don’t have to provide your payment details. Create an account with ZenMate, and you’ll qualify for the free trial.

Furthermore, you won’t have to cancel it, as your account will be returned to the free version automatically when the free trial ends. However, if you’d love to upgrade to a premium package, you’ll still be covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee. This period coupled with the free trial, gives you enough time to try ZenMate and experience what they can offer.

ZenMate VPN’s Free VPN

If you’re short on budget, ZenMate offers a free version of the VPN. However, you’ll have to compromise on the number of features you’ll get. At the time of this review, ZenMate only gives 4 locations with a total of 12 servers. You’ll also get a maximum of 2Mbps speeds, but you won’t get it on the dedicated client apps – only available as extensions on Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. When we tried the free service, we also learned that you have to endure adverts. Fortunately, you’ll still enjoy a zero logs policy.

Zenmate Payment Options

Currently, ZenMate only accepts two payment options, including all major credit/debit cards and PayPal. The Germany-based VPN should, however, consider including cryptocurrencies as a mode of payment. This is thanks to their anonymity when making payments – something that will work well with users who want to maintain their anonymous identity.

Zenmate Payment options

ZenMate Servers

In terms of its server coverage, ZenMate has always lacked a foothold to compete with other big-name VPNs on the industry. Luckily, that has changed recently, as the VPN has been investing heavily in its global server distribution. At the time of this review, ZenMate runs a decent 3600 plus servers in over 74 countries. The VPN also presents an impressive server distribution, covering almost every part of the world. For instance, they have servers in Asia, Oceania, Africa, Europe, North, and South America. However, they have a slightly higher presence in the US.

ZenMate Features

Noteworthy, ZenMate offers a limited number of features – a bit of a downside. Nonetheless, its Desktop client gives two privacy and security features, including an automatic kill switch as well as a DNS and IPv6 leak protection feature.

Kill Switch

ZenMate offers an impressive kill switch feature that automatically blocks internet traffic whenever the VPN connection drops. This is a cool feature considering you can leave your device unattended, especially torrent lovers. An automatic kill switch also ensures data leaks when your VPN connection drops.

DNS Leak Protection

Domain Name System (DNS) is a naming system that translates the domain name to IP addresses of a website you visit. The DNS works by identifying the IP address of a website and opens it. Usually, this is a task assigned to your local ISP’s DNS servers – allowing the ISP to see every website you open. But when you opt to use a VPN, this role is now transferred to the VPN’s DNS servers – this blocks the ISP from reading the sites that you visit.

Unfortunately, your device occasionally sends your DNS requests to the local ISP, something that exposes your internet activity. ZenMate DNS leak protection, however, is the ultimate feature that stops this from happening. ZenMate’s DNS leak protection feature blocks your device from sending DNS requests to the ISP. Instead, these requests will only run through the ZenMate server you’re using.

Ad-blocker and Anti-tracking features

ZenMate lacks important features like a SmartDNS and Split Tunneling. But it makes up for it with an Ad-blocker and Anti-tracking features on its mobile apps. And while you can’t get these features on the desktop client, you can still install separately as browser add-ons.

ZenMate Privacy and Security

Privacy and situation in Germany

Germany is not an excellent location to base a VPN, but it’s much safer than most anti-privacy plagued regions like the US and the UK. The European country is known to advocate for online privacy, and it’s the first country to integrate its data protection laws with the GDPR fully. However, since Germany is also part of the 5/9/14 Eye countries, it has recently implemented EU’s Data Retention Requirement as a national law, popularly called “invalid-on-human-rights-grounds.” The law, which was enacted in 2016, demands that every telco and internet service provider should store user metadata for up to ten weeks.

Since the definition of “metadata” used implies a list of websites visited as well, this complicates our conclusion. At the time of this review, it’s not clear if the Data Retention Act includes VPNs based in the country as well.

Sadly, however, Germany is a close state friend of the United States, and this brings controversy, given the annoying US surveillance agencies. Moreover, ZenMate was recently acquired by Kape Technologies, a company that has its headquarters in the UK. This is also not a great sign considering the UK is always enforcing mass surveillance laws.

Privacy claims by ZenMate

Fortunately, somehow, ZenMate has found a way to observe a strict no-logs policy. ZenMate claims that “No personal information is collected, processed, or permanently stored.” The VPN doesn’t mince its words when they make these claims.

According to ZenMate, here’s what they also say in their privacy policy:

  • ZenMate doesn’t keep your data or IP address
  • ZenMate doesn’t sell your data to third parties
  • ZenMate doesn’t keep tabs of what you do online
  • ZenMate doesn’t share your information with authorities or third parties
  • ZenMate operates from Berlin and enjoys the strict data privacy laws of the country

However, the VPN also states the circumstances where they may collect your data, including:

  • When you contact their customer service
  • When you sign up for their newsletter
  • When you connect to a particular server to access ZenMate
  • Whenever they offer information every time you ask for it
  • When you comment on ZenMate forums and communities

Security

ZenMate does well in terms of security. The VPN encrypts your data using the AES 128-bit encryption technique. While most VPN is already using the advanced AES 256-bit encryption, ZenMate doesn’t share the hype affiliated to this [AES 256-bit] encryption level. The Berlin-based VPN claims that AES 128-bit gives the best security levels, it’s quite fast, and more resistant to timed attacks.

ZenMate also uses the most recent TLS 1.2 (RFC 5246) security protocol, which also supports several cipher suites alongside PFS. For instance, ZenMate extension for Chrome gives you cipher options, including TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256 and TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384

In terms of information authentication, ZenMate uses the famous HMAC SHA2 key as well as the RSA-4096 handshake. The VPN also uses the ECDH-2048 key to enforce Perfect Forward Secrecy.

You can also enjoy security features like an internet kill switch as well as a DNS and IPv6 leak protection features on the desktop app.

ZenMate Performance

During our testing phase, we didn’t experience any bad performance worth mentioning. Unlike most mid-range VPNs, both the desktop and mobile apps installed seamlessly and gave us a connection immediately. But we advise that if you experience any connection problem – though unlikely – restart your app and it’ll perfectly. Both the connection and disconnection processes take less than 5 seconds – a big plus to ZenMate.

ZenMate Speed Test

We also had to confirm the speed levels of ZenMate, as per their extraordinary claims. According to them, ZenMate is one of the best streaming VPNs in 2020. This is claims can be traced to the specialised streaming servers around the world.

Therefore, we used an online speed test tool to check the speeds you can experience when using ZenMate.

Our first screenshot result below displays what we got when we run the speed test without a VPN connection. This is also our baseline result.

Our first VPN speed test involved a specialised streaming [BBC iPlayer] server in the UK:

Our second VPN speed test screenshot displays what we got after connecting to specialised streaming [Disney+] server in the United States:

Our third VPN speed test results show the result we got after connecting to a specialised torrenting server in Greece:

Our final VPN speed test result confirms what we recorded after connecting to a random distant server [in Turkey] via mobile app [iOS]:

ZenMate Setup and Ease of Use

The Official Website

Admittedly, ZenMate has an excellent website makeover recently, something that has enabled them to compete in this category. The website, which was somewhat dated and less informative, presents a premium look and easy-to-navigate links. You can now find almost all the information about the ZenMate on the homepage. The VPN always has an offer-timer running and displays their latest package deal. You can also easily access their LiveChat service by clicking the “Support” floating button at the bottom surface of the website.

The website is also available in multiple languages depending on your local region.

Getting Started with ZenMate

It takes less than 7 minutes to register your account with ZenMate. Follow these easy steps to get started with ZenMate:

  • Download the compatible VPN app to your device from the home page to get started – it’s free at this stage.
  • Launch the app and enter your signup account details (email and password) and check your mailbox for a confirmation email.
  • Once you’ve confirmed your email, you’ll automatically qualify for a premium trial.

You can use the premium trial period – usually seven days – to experience what ZenMate has to offers. You’re also free to test the browser extension client- faster to set up but a bit tricky.

Once you’ve installed the browser extension on your favourite browser (either Chrome or Firefox), you’ll be rerouted to an “onboarding” window that’ll prompt you to create an account. Caution: if you choose the “Join ZenMate” option, ZenMate will ask you to create an account with them, and you’ll have to enter your payment details right away. Instead, choose the “Try ZenMate Limited” text link.

ZenMate Client Apps

ZenMate Desktop Client

ZenMate sports one of the best straightforward interface that’s easy to use. The desktop client, which has a mobile design, can easily be moved around.

Once you’ve launched the app, you’ll be required to enter your login details to get started. Once you’ve logged in, click the “Best server location” button at the center of the home page to access the server listing. Alternatively, toggle the left-sided arrow icons at the edge on the center-left of the homepage to open the complete server list. Luckily, ZenMate has categorised into four categories, including favourites, all servers, for torrenting, and streaming.

Still, on the server list page, navigate to the Settings – bottom left – link to open. ZenMate offers two settings bars, including General and Connection. The General tab gives you features like an auto-start option and the ultimate internet kill switch. The connection tab allows you to switch on and off the DNS and IPv6 leak protection features.

Zenmate ipv6 leak protection

ZenMate Mobile App

ZenMate is one of the few mid-range VPNs that offer client apps that are similar in design. This is the new trend that even top VPNs are now adopting – shows ZenMate is ready to compete against top VPNs in the industry. Navigating the mobile app is pretty much the same as that of its desktop counterpart.

Launch the app, enter your login details, and decide to either “Auto select” servers by tapping the ZenMate emblem or choose a specific server location. To access the server list, tap the “Auto select” button. Like the desktop app, they’ve also categorised servers in favourites, streaming, and the general listing. The mobile app doesn’t have a separate list for torrenting-optimised servers. Luckily you can use the torrent server list on the desktop client to identify them on your smartphone app.

Unfortunately, ZenMate doesn’t give an option to customise connection and security settings. You’ll have to use app in-built setting options available. Good news, we didn’t experience any issue that can otherwise be fixed on the settings menu.

Zenmate Mobile App

ZenMate Compatibility

ZenMate Compatibility with platforms and devices

ZenMate has one of the best compatibility with platforms and devices. You can get dedicated clients for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux. They also offer extensions for popular browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. You can also get clients for devices like Firestick, Apple TV, Smart TVs, Raspberry Pi, Gaming consoles, and Routers. Interesting fact, ZenMate also offers a dedicated OpenVPN protocol that you can use for P2P filesharing.

ZenMate Compatibility with streaming services

Unlike most mid-range VPNs, ZenMate has one of the broadest compatibility with popular streaming services. Even better, the Berlin-based VPN provides specialised streaming servers for all major outlets, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, YouTube, HBO Now, YouTube Red, Globo, Fox Sport, Comedy Central, CBS, ARD and more.

We tested most of the streaming services and confirmed that ZenMate could unblock all of them. Here are some of the random screenshots we were able to capture:

Zenmate iPlayer

ZenMate Compatibility with torrenting

ZenMate supports P2P filesharing as well as torrenting. This makes the VPN an excellent choice for torrent lovers. You can take advantage of the specialised torrenting servers and unblock some of the best content libraries around the world.

ZenMate Compatibility in China

Unfortunately, ZenMate doesn’t work well in China’s mainland. We also learned that ZenMate has always taken the initiative to warn users in China against purchasing a premium subscription since the VPN might not work well in the country. This is somehow a huge letdown.

We also sort to ask them about the subject, and here’s what one of their staff [Jhullieann] had to say, “Unfortunately, we are banned in China, and you cannot use our VPN service there.” Jhullieann continues to say, “However, there are some users that we’re able to use ZenMate VPN using the ZenMate browser extension.

ZenMate Customer support

Zenmate Customer support

ZenMate has made massive to its customer support over the years. Currently, they offer multiple customer support options, such as a ticket system, LiveChat service, and an extensive knowledgebase system.

The knowledge base system gives you tons of material that you can benefit from. You can find various guides, the content on how to get started with ZenMate as well as several troubleshooting documents.

Their ticketing system “submit a request” is also high, but they took an hour to respond to our filed ticket. A bit on the upside, you’ll get an automated confirmation email to confirm that your ticket has been submitted.

We loved the LiveChat service. We managed to chat with an agent [Jhullieann], who we think earned our 5-star rating – lovely chap! He was kind, polite, and extremely informative. The agent didn’t hesitate to provide material links to help us further with our issue.

Zenmate Customer Support

Bottom Line

Pros

  • Super-fast speeds
  • Optimised for streaming and torrenting
  • Affordable plans
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 7-day free trial
  • P2P filesharing allowed
  • Dedicated IPs
  • Kill switch
  • Decent customer service
  • Supports multiple platforms and devices
  • Unlimited concurrent connections
  • OpenVPN and IKEv2
  • Unlimited bandwidth

Cons

  • Controversial privacy policy
  • Its China compatibility uncertain

Conclusion

Keeping every aspect in check, ZenMate comes out with a decent VPN. The Berlin-based VPN is also an excellent option for streamers and torrent lovers. This is thanks to the specialised servers the VPN offers. ZenMate also does well in terms of security but presents controversial privacy statements.

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Compatable with:

Windows

Apple iOS

Android

Linux

Extra Features

ZenMate’s apps are flavored with a suite of security tools, such as a kill switch, DNS leak protection as well as malware and tracking protection. Thanks to the “Ever Secure” feature, ZenMate users - particularly iOS and Android users - can be sure their VPN connection will keep running in the background as long as they’re connected, despite their default mobile system behavior which may result in sudden disconnections.

Features

  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • 7 Day trial
  • More than 30 countries
  • Access Netflix and BBC iplayer
  • Up to 5 devices

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