As cyber crime proliferated and online security threats reached beyond computers to mobile phones, tablets, and virtually anything with an internet connection, ZenMate was created with the idea that the internet was no longer just for the tech-savvy. Therefore, its vision has been to simplify the world of security and privacy and make it accessible to everyone. ZenMate has thus positioned itself as a VPN provider whose service is extremely easy to use and available on all possible devices.
What ZenMate lacks in features it compensates for with an extremely user-friendly layout for either desktop, mobile, or browser. Although the app changes somewhat depending on what device you’re on, there’s one common feature: the ease of opening it, clicking on the “connect” button, and ultimately being completely safe while on the internet.
Features Designed Specifically for Each Device
As we’ve mentioned, ZenMate undoubtedly kept ease-of-use as its primary goal when tailoring its interface and feature set to the target device it’s running on.
On the desktop version, there are different tabs for servers optimized for both torrenting and streaming and also to select the VPN protocol. In the browser version, you can enable smart locations, which will redirect to a different server depending on the website you’re visiting. Unsurprisingly, the mobile flavor has the least number of configuration options: its objective is to be running completely in the background. There is however a tab to select servers optimized for streaming.
Nevertheless, some features are equal across the board. Regardless of which device you’re using, you can be zen about the amount of security you’re getting. Combining a kill-switch with DNS leak protection and a feature that will reconnect ZenMate anytime you regain a lost internet connection, this VPN provider strives to ensure the connection is secure at all times.
For a company the size of ZenMate with its more than 45 million users, you might expect it would have a larger VPN network. Despite having locations in all continents, there are only around 3,000 shared IP addresses across 300 servers in 37 worldwide locations.
In terms of connection speed and reliability, ZenMate showed good performance. Of course, internet speeds varied depending on the distance between us and the location being accessed, though ZenMate’s performance was above average compared to the overall VPN field. Our tests were conducted from Europe (which explains Spain showing the best speeds), and we tested servers from all continents. For comparison purposes, note that with ZenMate disconnected we were able to achieve a ping of 3ms, a download speed of 47.45 Mbps, and an upload speed of 43.86 Mbps.
However, although the internet speed was somewhat reliable, we can't say the same for ZenMate’s DNS protection. We've made multiple tests on various servers while using the desktop version of ZenMate with its DNS leak protection enabled. Even so, we experienced DNS leaks in some server locations such as South Africa, Japan, and Australia, with some of the leaks revealing our original ISP. DNS leaks are extremely serious since DNS servers can keep data about its users and store information about which IP addresses made initial requests to any hostname on the internet. Not very zen, we feel.
Although ZenMate has previously declared its preference for AES 128 encryption, it seems this statement is no longer accurate. Nowadays, ZenMate offers two types of encryption depending on what device you’re using. While using the desktop or mobile apps, you actually get 256-bit encryption, but if you use the browser extension instead the encryption is only 128 bits strong.
Nevertheless, when it comes to tunneling protocols, ZenMate follows the industry standards and provides a good variety, including OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP. However, users are only able to choose their favorite protocol while using the desktop version.
OS, Device Support
ZenMate offers the expected device support by providing software for computers running Windows and MacOS, apps for both Android and iOS, and browser add-ons for Opera, Mozilla Firefox, and Chrome. However, ZenMate is OpenVPN compatible so it can also be used with other platforms like Smart TVs, gaming consoles, Linux, and others. You can find tutorials on ZenMate’s website for installing this VPN on those devices.
ZenMate clearly wants to be your VPN provider for protecting all your devices. There’s a premium account that allows a maximum of five simultaneous connections.
The desktop app is easy to use but feels empty when compared to the browser extensions. Apart from the list of countries and a connect button, the most important elements are a couple of checkboxes for useful features like the kill switch, DNS leak protection, and a few more.
However, it would be nice to have certain ZenMate features available in the browser version, such as Smart Location which allows you to manually attribute a specific server to a specific website. Other options include the activation of malware blocking, tracking protection, and more. It’s true that the two apps complement one another, but it’s not recommended to use both at the same time since it will decrease the internet speed.
ZenMate offers monthly, semiannual and annual plans to the general public, but Best Reviews readers can enjoy a special price with an 82% discount for a yearly subscription.
There are three payment methods you can choose from, and the lowest price available is $2.05 per month for a biannual plan. A monthly plan is also available at $9.99, as well as an annual one costing $3.99 per month. If you take advantage of our limited offer however, you can get the yearly plan discounted to $1.75 a month. This is not only cheaper than the biannual plan, but you also won't be bound to the company for as long.
ZenMate offers a limited free plan for the browser extensions for Firefox, Opera and Chrome with four different servers and a maximum internet speed of 2MB/s. There is no free plan for the desktop or mobile versions, but you can try the VPN with its seven-day free trial. What’s more, ZenMate also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. Payment options are credit card and PayPal only.
There are several different options for getting answers should a question arise. The first would be a quick visit to the FAQ, which successfully addresses some very specific topics. However, since the most recent update, some parts of the FAQ are now outdated. Because there’s no live chat or phone line, social media is a suitable method for direct contact with ZenMate. It's common to see ZenMate answering clients' questions on Twitter. Over on Facebook, ZenMate responds to its direct messages within an hour. If you’re not able to solve your problem through these channels, there’s a ticket submission platform that will take at most 48 hours to get a response.
ZenMate’s update to version 5.0 was a tremendous improvement. Moreover, this update made it clear that ZenMate listens to its customers since it improved many features people hadn’t been happy with, such as the desktop interface and the lack of an option to choose which tunneling protocol to use.
However, ZenMate continues to stand by its vision and targets its VPN at beginners, meaning that it's most attractive to those seeking a casual VPN experience.
ZenMate nonetheless provides interesting features such as a kill switch, malware protection, and smart location as well as providing decent internet speeds. However, it's necessary to keep in mind that even with DNS protection enabled, we experienced DNS leaks in some of the servers.
To summarize, ZenMate is a good and user-friendly VPN provider offering a useful service for all devices – perfect for beginner users. However, we feel the DNS issue should be corrected as soon as possible.
- Nice browser extensions
- Good range of security features
- Good speeds
- Dedicated servers for torrenting and streaming
- DNS leaks
- Not for experienced VPN users