ZenMate is a German VPN provider headquartered in Berlin and launched back in 2013. It was released by a company called ZenGuard, which should not be confused with the popular anti-snoring device. At the moment, ZenMate has more than 45 million satisfied customers around the world and it is one of the most beginner-friendly pieces of VPN software out there.
Speed & Performance
During our tests, we monitored ZenMate’s overall performance on 13 different servers for a period of one week. Our testing team was located in Belgrade, Serbia (Europe) and covered everything from simple browsing and online gaming to torrenting and streaming.
Our best results were recorded in Stockholm, where we managed to maintain 97.65% of our original speed. Servers in Frankfurt and London also performed pretty well. In the US, we had the best result in New York (72.19% of the original speed) and we were able to stream Netflix US in full HD without any problems. Our speeds were decent while using servers in Sydney and Hong Kong as well.
We did not experience any sudden disconnects, connection problems, lags or similar inconveniences, except for the server optimized for Netflix US, which was a complete nightmare. The software took some time to establish a connection with more distant servers, but that was not a huge issue.
|Location||Ping (ms)||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)|
|New York, US||130||26.11||4.1|
|San Francisco, US||195||19.42||2.8|
|Sao Paulo, Brazil||233||22.29||2.43|
ZenMate supports all popular platforms, including Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, gaming consoles, Firestick TV, Apple TV, Chromebook, Raspberry Pi, routers, and Smart TV. It comes with browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. It is worth noting that not many VPN services offer extensions for Opera, so if this is your favorite browser, ZenMate has you covered.
ZenMate allows up to 5 simultaneous connections, which is pretty much the standard with modern VPNs. You can add more devices easily by simply downloading the software form the official website and using your login data in the client (the registration and client credentials are the same). On the other hand, you can also remove any devices at a moment’s notice through your personal dashboard on the site.
ZenMate currently operates an unspecified number of servers spread across 30+ countries. The company also features private DNS servers as a part of its protection strategy against DNS leaks. The client offers separate sections that allow you to connect to special VPN servers optimized for streaming and torrenting. The “All Servers” and “Torrenting” tabs both feature the number of current users for any given server, which helps avoid overcrowded locations.
The software also indicates the physical distance between your current location and VPN ZenMate servers. If you are not sure about the optimal location for your needs, you can use the auto-pick option and the software will choose the best server automatically. Finally, you can also create a list of your favorite servers for easier access.
When it comes to areas with heavy censorship measures in place, ZenMate does not publish its applications in China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. Even if you are able to download the software in these countries, the company advises against any premium purchases since it cannot guarantee reliable services. You also might experience certain connection problems in Turkey, Pakistan, and UAE and you should contact the ZenMate customer support if these problems persist for longer periods of time.
With ZenMate, you have unlimited bandwidth and server switching, but the speed is capped at 1 GB/s.
Safety & Security
ZenMate utilizes AES-256 encryption, which is the industry standard and considered virtually unbreakable by modern computers. When you see a company mentioning things like “military-grade” or “bank-grade” encryption, they are talking about 256-bit AES cipher. Numerous ZenMate online reviews point out that its browser extensions are basically proxy services that cannot encrypt your traffic, which is not true. Granted, the extensions utilize AES-128 instead of 256, but this is still considered to be a top-notch security configuration.
ZenMate also implements perfect forward secrecy, which means the software generates a new encryption key for each session. In other words, even if somebody manages to crack your current encryption and intercept your online traffic, the moment you log out, the current encryption key will become obsolete and useless.
When it comes to connection protocols, the software supports OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP. Obsolete and low-security options like PPTP and SSTP are not available, but we would not recommend using them even if they were. The official website features detailed OpenVPN setup guides for the most popular platforms that are not supported with native apps. If you do not have any experience with connection protocols, the software can pick one automatically based on the properties of your Internet connection.
The software also comes with an automatic killswitch feature that can be turned on or off in the client. A killswitch can be quite annoying with unstable connections, so if you are using your VPN just to stream geo-restricted platforms, for example, you can switch it off without any consequences. The software also comes with anti-malware and anti-tracking capabilities.
Logging & Privacy
ZenMate collects the following information from its users:
- Non-personal data – Browser type/version, operating system, potential referrers, sub-websites, dates and times of access, IP addresses, and ISPs.
- Personal data – Name, address, email, username, payment info, anonymized IP address, country, items purchased, transaction information, billing method, price paid, chargeback requests, and partial credit card info.
If you opt to receive ZenMate newsletters, note that these emails contain the so-called tracking pixels. These pieces of software are designed to tell the company when you opened its emails and whether you clicked on some links inside. In other words, they are there just for statistical analysis and cannot harm you in any way.
Having said all that, ZenMate NEVER collects or records any logs of your online activities (the websites you visit, for example). Bottom line, the company does store some anonymized data needed to provide its services, process payments, communicate with customers, and deal with attacks and fraud attempts, but it does not log any sensitive information that can reveal your identity or put you in any kind of danger.
ZenMate offers streaming servers optimized for different platforms, including Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Yle, HBO Now, Globo SportTV, Fox Spot, Eurosport, Channel 4, ORF, Player.PL, Comedy Central, and Globo.
ZenMate does work with Netflix US, UK, and GE, but the specialized US server constantly kept on disconnecting and reconnecting during our test, which completely ruined our experience. The UK and GE servers were more stable and allowed for seamless streams. The regular US VPN server also enabled us to stream anime on Crunchyroll without any problems. Unfortunately, the same was not true for Netflix US.
As we already mentioned in this ZenMate review, the company features servers specifically optimized for torrenting. In other words, you can count on safe and fast downloads without having to worry about your P2P traffic being monitored.
All torrenting servers listed in the client come with their respective user count and server load expressed as a percentage. This means you never have to go in blind and suffer slow downloads due to server overcrowding.
Plans & Pricing
ZenMate offers three different pricing plans, including the 1-month subscription for $9.99 per month (billed $9.99 every month), 1-year subscription for $3.99 per month (billed $47.88 every year), and its most cost-efficient 2-year plan for $2.05 per month (billed $49.20 every two years). The accepted payment methods include credit cards and PayPal.
ZenMate offers a limited free-trial version you can use for 7 days before having to purchase one of the premium plans. The free version comes with limited speed, locations, and platforms. You will only be able to access servers in the US, Germany, Hong Kong, and Romania and you will not be able to use the Opera browser extension. This is quite fair in our opinion since we are talking about a completely free trial. Every purchase comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is also quite generous.
ZenMate’s customer support leaves much to be desired, unfortunately, and is definitely something the company should improve in the future. First of all, there is no live chat; the form that looks like one on the official website is just another way to create a ticket. Once the staff receives your request, they will provide you with an answer within 1-5 business days (usually in a day or so). Having said that, you can also send a ticket directly from the client. On top of this, the FAQ section on the official website is rather poor and outdated for the most part.
ZenMate Pros & Cons
As we wrap up this ZenMate review, here’s a quick overview of the features that wowed us and the aspects of the service that could use some improvement.
- AES-256 encryption
- Perfect forward secrecy
- Auto killswitch
- No DNS leaks
- Servers in 30+ countries
- Up to 5 simultaneous connections
- Servers optimized for streaming and torrenting
- Works with Netflix US, UK, and GE
- Support for all major platforms
- Decent speeds
- Affordable pricing
- Beginner-friendly client
- Support for 11 languages
- 7-day free trial
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Subpar customer support
- Does not work in China
- Poor performance on the server optimized for Netflix US
- Limited payment methods