ZenMate Review

Contents

Even though I was actually in the US, ZenMate made it look like I was in Italy

ZenMate Review 2023: Low Prices, but Is It Really Safe?

ZenMate has been a popular VPN for 10+ years, especially with its free browser extensions. It offers low prices and many appealing features like streaming servers and fast speeds. But none of this matters if it can’t keep you safe, so I decided to find out if it really can.

After my tests, I can say ZenMate is a safe VPN offering great value. It works great for streaming, has fast speeds at close distances, and the browser extensions are good (but only the paid versions). There are a few downsides, like a vague privacy policy and weak customer support. But its positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

Important. ZenMate has partnered with the popular VPN provider CyberGhost. Starting May 1st, 2023, ZenMate apps will no longer be active. If you have a ZenMate account, you will have access to CyberGhost’s VPN for the remainder of your subscription. Still, you must contact ZenMate’s support for any questions or concerns. Download the CyberGhost app when logging into your ZenMate account.

Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings

Pros

  • Great for streaming. I was able to unblock every platform I tested. Check out which streaming services it’s optimized for here.
  • Fast speeds. On nearby servers, I barely lost any speed. See which servers gave me the best results here.
  • Solid VPN for gaming. I could play games with hardly any lag. Find out what ping results you need to play lag-free here.
  • Reliable server network. I never had any connection issues while using ZenMate. See the different server types it offers here.
  • Strong security features. It passed all my leak tests and the kill switch works great. Check out how many servers I tested for leaks here.
  • Good option for torrenting. I had no problem downloading files quickly. See which streaming server worked best for me here.

Cons

  • Vague privacy policy. It doesn’t tell you directly what the VPN stores. Find out how it could improve its policy here.
  • Poor customer support. I was never able to get in touch with a live support agent. See what happened when I tried to contact support here.

Zenmate VPN Features — 2023 Update

9.0

&#x1F4B8 Price 1.99 USD/month
&#x1F4C6 Money Back Guarantee 30 Days
&#x1F4DD Does VPN keep logs? No
&#x1F5A5 Number of servers 4700+
&#x1F6E1 Kill switch Yes
&#x1F5FA Based in country Germany
&#x1F6E0 Support 24/7 Live Chat Support
&#x1F4E5 Supports torrenting Yes

Streaming — Good at Unblocking With a Little Troubleshooting

I was able to unblock all major streaming platforms with ZenMate, but it took a little work. Sometimes the optimized server wouldn’t work, but a regular one would. Other times, I had to try a different optimized server (for another service). But eventually, I was able to unblock all the platforms ZenMate has optimized servers for.

This is also an area where the browser extensions underperform. The free servers couldn’t unblock any streaming platforms. But, the paid version of the extensions come with 3 optimized servers from Germany, the UK, and the US. I could unblock Netflix and BBC iPlayer with these, but nothing else. The non-optimized servers in the extension couldn’t unblock any platforms.

Unblocked: Netflix

I unblocked Netflix with 12 ZenMate servers. I did my first test with the Netflix US streaming location. Unfortunately, when I tried to access the platform on Firefox, I got an error screen that stated: “Secure Connection Failed.” But I refreshed the page, and then Netflix loaded right up. If you get a similar error, I recommend trying a quick refresh.

Screenshot of Netflix player streaming R.I.P.D. while connected to Zenmate

It took 7 seconds to load my movie, but then it played back in HD without buffering

I could only unblock Netflix Originals with the 11 other servers I tested. Netflix Originals is a version of the site that only offers movies and shows that Netflix owns the rights to, so you miss out on region-specific content.

And I had a few more issues. For example, the Netflix Japan server was blocked on Firefox, but it worked with Chrome. The Netflix Germany server worked right away, but it couldn’t play videos in HD. The quality was grainy and looked like I was watching a TV from the 90s. The Netflix Japan, Netflix Brazil, and Netflix UK servers were all blocked on every browser I tried.

Similarly, the Netflix Turkey and Netflix India servers only worked with Chrome (not Firefox). However, the streaming quality was perfect on both. I also unblocked Originals with the Netflix-optimized servers from Australia, Korea, France, and the Netherlands. I could also access Netflix with the non-optimized servers from France, the UK, and Japan.

While there are better VPNs for unblocking full Netflix libraries, I was still impressed I could access it with that many servers. Netflix has been banning more and more IPs, so I haven’t found many VPNs that work this well at accessing it.

Unblocked: Disney+

I unblocked Disney+ with the Disney+ IT server (from Italy). It worked once I tested it with Microsoft Edge. I was worried because the menu took about a minute to load and another 14 seconds to play my movie. But after all that, the playback was great.

Screenshot of Disney+ player streaming Captain America: Civil War while connected to Zenmate

The movie played back in perfect quality and even loaded instantly when I skipped around

Unfortunately, I couldn’t unblock the platform with the Disney+ US server. But the good thing is the Disney+ library doesn’t change much from region to region. So, there’s a good chance you’ll find what you’re looking for, even if you can only unblock another country’s library.

Unblocked: HBO Max

I had to test a few different servers, but I eventually unblocked HBO Max. Once I got it working (with Edge), it only took 10 seconds to load my video.

Screenshot of HBO Max player streaming The Last of US while connected to Zenmate

The video resolved into HD after 15 seconds and then played back without any interruptions

The HBO Max US and HBO Max NO (Norway) servers were both blocked. At first, it looked like the home screen was going to load. However, after about a minute it just turned into a black screen both times.

Unblocked: Hulu

I had to come up with a clever trick to unblock this platform. ZenMate doesn’t have an optimized server for this US-only service, so my first test was with the regular US server. It didn’t work, and I got a message at the sign-in screen telling me Hulu detected the VPN.

Screenshot of Hulu player streaming Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle while connected to Zenmate

The video started out a little fuzzy, but it upgraded to HD in less than a minute

The ads on Hulu are super annoying, but the one good thing about them is it gives the video time to load into HD. That meant I didn’t have any issues watching Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle in high quality with no buffering.

Unblocked: Amazon Prime Video

Prime Video is one of the toughest platforms to unblock, so I was happy it worked on my second test. The Amazon Prime US server gave me a familiar error screen, which informed me Amazon knew I was using a VPN, and told me to get lost. But, the error screen vanished when I tested the Amazon Prime IT (Italy) server.

Screenshot of Amazon Prime Video player streaming The Rings of Power while connected to the Amazon Prime IT server

It took 12 seconds for the video to load, but then it played back without stalling

Amazon Prime Video is available in more countries than any other platform, so you could test out any server if this one gets blocked.

Also Unblocked: Crunchyroll, BBC iPlayer, and more

I was blocked a few times, but I could always find a way to access each platform I tested. If you run into similar issues, I recommend switching browsers, protocols, or using a different optimized server. That worked for me.

In addition to Crunchyroll, YouTube, and BBC iPlayer, ZenMate also has optimized streaming servers for 20 other worldwide streaming services, including:

ITVA Peacock Paramount+ Hotstar DAZN
CBC TV Now ESPN+ Servus TV ZDF
TF1 RD RaiPlay France TV ORF
Comedy Central Foxsport RTS CH Play SRF NFL US

Overall, ZenMate is a solid choice for streaming. While it’s not the absolute best, it’s definitely competitive with the top VPNs.

Speed — Super Fast Speeds on Nearby Servers

ZenMate is very fast with local servers, and I got good speeds on many distant ones. For the most part, I didn’t start seeing significant speed drops until the servers were about 6,000 km away. When your traffic has to be rerouted over long distances, it’s harder to maintain speed. So, slowdowns like these are pretty normal.

Before I get into my results, let me explain how we make sure ours are accurate. We have a dedicated speed tester. That way all of our tests are done with the same connection, which makes them easier to compare. Our speed expert tests every server at least 10 times and repeats these tests weekly. That meant I was able to analyze a full month of ZenMate speeds, and I can assure you it’s been this fast the entire time.

A speed chart showing average speeds on several Zenmate servers

I lost 22% of my download speed on nearby servers and 56% on distant servers

I’ve only seen a few VPNs perform better on local servers. And there were even a few faraway servers that were much faster than I expected.

I also want to note that the free servers you can use with the browser extensions are super slow. My speeds dropped by 91% on average with local servers, and close to 99% with distant ones. However, with the paid servers, I didn’t see any difference between the speeds of the browser extensions compared to the apps.

Local Speed

We only lost 9% of our speeds when we used the Auto Connect feature. This gave our tester a nearby server in the UK where she’s located.

Screenshot of Ookla speed tests done with no VPN connection and while connected to Zenmate

There were some weeks where the UK server was even faster

I was also very impressed by the ping and upload speeds. The upload rate only fell by 4%, and her ping only raised by 2 milliseconds.

Long-Distance Speed

On most long-distance servers, ZenMate dropped our speeds significantly. The servers in Brazil and Japan both reduced our download rates by more than 50%, which isn’t great. However, some were faster than others, as you’ll see in the test below.

Screenshot of Ookla speed tests done with no VPN connection and while connected to Zenmate

Even though it’s over 15,000 km away, this server only dropped our speeds by 24%

That’s super impressive because most VPNs will lower your speeds by 50% or more at that range. While ZenMate isn’t the fastest VPN around, if you stick to servers in the 6,000 km range from where you live, you’ll get good speeds.

Gaming — Works Well on Nearby Servers

9.0

I was able to enjoy online games while connected to ZenMate. Your ping rate is important while you’re gaming. This lets you know how quickly your data travels, so your character can instantly react to your inputs. It’s best if it’s under 85 ms, and I was just below that during my first test.

Screenshot of Steam running Counter Strike: Global Offensive while connected to Zenmate

The game ran well because I had a ping rate of 79 ms with ZenMate’s US server

Since I didn’t have the lowest ping rate, the game wasn’t perfect. There was occasional lag where my screen would stutter briefly. However, this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the game. Most importantly, the gun reacted immediately each time I shot, and I was able to duck, run, and jump seamlessly.

On long-distance servers, there was much more lag. That’s actually quite normal for a VPN. I haven’t found one that lets you play online games perfectly with servers on the other side of the world. So, ZenMate is right up there with the best VPNs for gaming I’ve seen.

Server Network — Large With Solid Specialty Servers

ZenMate offers a fairly large network with 4,700 servers in 81 countries. While there are several VPNs that have more, this is still bigger than most. There’s a good amount of worldwide coverage, and a decent mix of virtual and physical servers.

Screenshot of Zenmate

The load lets you know how crowded the servers are, which can lead to slowdowns

However, I do wish there were city-level locations. Right now, you can only choose servers by country. There’s also no option to purchase dedicated servers. On top of that, connecting and disconnecting can take up to 16 seconds, which is slightly annoying. Lastly, it rents its servers. This isn’t necessarily a privacy issue, but the top VPNs usually own at least some of them.

On the plus side, it’s super easy to navigate and the tabs for the optimized servers makes them easy to find. Overall, it’s not the greatest server network on Earth, but it’s solid. That seems to be a trend with ZenMate.

Torrenting Servers

Most of the servers will allow you to torrent, so it’s easier to tell you which ones don’t. You can’t use P2P services with the following locations: Albania, Armenia, MacauSAR China, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and the UAE. That leaves you with about 70 servers you can use.

The only complaint I have with this feature is that there’s no torrenting tab for mobile devices. You can still torrent with your phone; you just can’t do it with the optimized servers. That’s too bad because they’re much faster.

Streaming Servers

I’ve already listed all of the services it works with in the streaming section. They’re available in an impressive number of countries (17 in total). I also like that there are so many region-specific services it lets you target, like BBC iPlayer, or France TV. It’s also nice that the streaming tab is available for every app.

However, I would prefer it if you could easily order the servers by country or service. Right now, the only way to do that is by typing in a country or platform in the search bar.

Virtual Servers

There are 34 virtual locations. That means these servers are physically located in another country. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For example, the Russian government has confiscated VPN servers before. So, virtual servers let you connect to a Russian IP while keeping those servers in a place where they’re safer. However, these can affect your speeds if they end up being farther away than you expected.

The following servers are virtual:

Argentina Armenia Bahamas Bangladesh China
Croatia Cyprus Egypt Greenland India
Indonesia Iran Isle of Man Kazakhstan Macau SAR China
Malta Mexico Monaco Montenegro Morocco
Nigeria Pakistan Panama Philippines Portugal
Qatar Russia Saudi Arabia South Korea Sri Lanka
Thailand Turkey Ukraine Venezuela

While this seems like a lot of locations, these only make up 17% of ZenMate’s server count. That’s because the physical locations offer many more servers. This means they’re usually less crowded and are your best bet for optimizing speed.

Free Servers

The browser extensions give you a way to use ZenMate for free.

Screenshot of Zenmate browser extensions highlighting the free servers

They show up right at the top of the list, so you won’t waste time searching for them

The browser extensions are available for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. I’ll have more on those in the upcoming sections.

Security — Great Encryption and Strong Features

ZenMate has strong security features, and its encryption level is pretty much unbreakable. It uses AES-256 bit encryption with its apps, which is the same level used by militaries and banks around the world. Even a supercomputer would take hundreds of years to crack one of these encryption codes. On top of that, ZenMate uses Perfect Forward Secrecy. This updates its codes frequently, to make it even more secure.

It also passed all of my leak tests, and it comes with an automatic kill switch.

One minor issue is that split tunneling can only be done with the browser extensions. In addition, the extensions use the AES-128 bit encryption level. That’s still very safe, but it’s slightly less secure than the full apps (not surprising since they’re free).

Leak Tests

I never had any issues hiding my real location while connected to ZenMate.

Screenshot of a leak test done on ipleak.net while connected to Zenmate

Even though I was actually in the US, ZenMate made it look like I was in Italy

Along with the desktop checks, I also did leak tests for the browser extensions and the mobile apps. Thankfully, those versions of ZenMate hid my real location just as well. ZenMate also comes with DNS and IPv6 leak protection, which makes it even more secure.

Kill Switch

This is an essential feature that every VPN needs to have. It will disable your network connection if the VPN suddenly disconnects. Luckily, this never happened while I was using ZenMate. But, I tested the kill switch just to make sure it works as advertised.

To do this, I keep a browser open while I’m switching servers. While it’s connecting, I’ll hit refresh to see if my network is blocked. With ZenMate, this happened every time, so I knew the kill switch was active. You can turn it off in the settings, but I recommend always leaving it on.

Protocols

This is one area where ZenMate could be improved. Some OS’ don’t have strong protocols. Check out the table below to see which protocols are available for each device type:

IKEv2 OpenVPN WireGuard
Windows
Android
Mac
iOS

I prefer the OpenVPN protocol primarily because it is open-source. This means it’s perpetually being scrutinized for potential weaknesses by tech professionals globally, which enhances its security. ZenMate also offers the option to toggle between TCP and UDP versions on Windows. While TCP offers greater speed, UDP provides a slight edge when dealing with restrictive networks.

So, I’m disappointed you can’t use OpenVPN on Mac or iOS devices. WireGuard is also the fastest protocol, so it’s too bad it’s only on Android. This isn’t to say IKEv2 is a bad protocol, it’s just a little outdated compared to the other 2.

Privacy — Vague Policy That Needs to Be Proven

ZenMate doesn’t tell you enough in its privacy policy. The biggest problem is the policy is mainly about what it stores when you visit ZenMate’s website. It stores some data, which doesn’t really bother me. Just about every website stores what it can from you to make a profit and keep their site optimized. As long as you’re using a VPN, this isn’t an issue.

What is an issue is the fact that the policy doesn’t explicitly state what is stored when you use the VPN. It also hasn’t been proven, so I can’t be 100% sure ZenMate follows it. In the future, I hope ZenMate takes the time to tell you exactly what it stores and what it doesn’t.

Does ZenMate Keep Logs? Unclear

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what ZenMate stores because the policy is so vague.

Screenshot of Zenmate

The best VPNs have much more clearly written policies that tell you exactly what they log

The worst things a VPN can store are your IP address or browsing history. Most only collect things like timestamps, how many times you’ve connected, and how much data you use. This is usually anonymized, so it can’t be linked to any one individual. I’m guessing ZenMate falls in the latter category, but there’s no real way to know.

Was ZenMate Audited? No

There have been no independent audits in the company’s entire history. That’s too bad because that could clear up the issues surrounding its vague policy. It might even let us know exactly what the company does or does not store. I hope one is done in the future.

Based in Germany

ZenMate is located in a country within the 14 Eyes Alliance. This is an agreement between governments to gather intelligence on their citizens and share the information. It’s concerning when a VPN is headquartered in one of these countries because the government could demand it change its policy at any time.

It would be beneficial if ZenMate contemplated relocating. Given that the VPN is not mentioned in its policy, it is plausible that the German government is already utilizing ZenMate to gather data on its clientele.

Does ZenMate Work in China?No

Unfortunately, support is no longer available for ZenMate. I have reached out to the company over the course of several weeks and received no responses. The live chat is gone, and no one will respond to my emails. That means I just have to assume this VPN doesn’t work in China.

The Chinese government has banned several VPNs, but it normally only goes after the technology. It’s rare for it to get individuals in trouble. However, I recommend you read up on the laws before you decide to use a VPN in China.

Torrenting — Fast Speeds With Optimized Servers

ZenMate gave me fast speeds when I used its torrenting servers. Above, I listed the 11 countries that don’t work with P2P. Every other location will, but there are also optimized servers that let you do it much faster.

Without a VPN connected, I can download Night of the Living Dead in about 17 minutes. It’s a 1.62 GB file. Connected to ZenMate’s US torrenting server, I could complete the file in only 27 minutes. That’s a great result. Most VPNs I’ve tested slow me down much more. It worked with BitTorrent, Deluge, uTorrent, and Transmission in our tests.

However, if you use a non-optimized server, you’ll get much worse speeds. When I used the regular US server, it would have taken me over an hour to finish downloading the movie. I also wish ZenMate had port forwarding. This is a feature that lets you torrent and seed a little faster.

ZenMate is also quite secure, so you’ll be able to access P2P networks safely. While its privacy policy isn’t the best, this shouldn’t be an issue as long as you stick with copyright free files. It is legal to torrent in most countries, but downloading copyrighted files isn’t.

Installation & Apps

9.2

Installation & Apps — Simple Installation and Good Compatibility

ZenMate shares a UI with CyberGhost, which is a good thing. CyberGhost is one of the most intuitive and easy-to-use VPNs out there. It’s usually our number 1 recommendation for VPN beginners. Since ZenMate uses the same UI, you’ll have no problem navigating through it or connecting, no matter your experience level.

Screenshot of Zenmate UI for Windows highlighting where you can find the settings

This will let you switch protocols and toggle the VPN’s different security features

There are some slight differences between the mobile and desktop apps. But every version is just as simple to use.

Setup & Installation

It really couldn’t be simpler to set up ZenMate. Once you subscribe, you’ll sign in on its website and find your account. This is where you’ll get your installation file.

Screenshot of the Zenmate website showing you where to get the .exe file for Windows

ZenMate will automatically know which device you’re using and give you the appropriate file

It’s just as easy to install as any other app on your phone. Browser extensions are installed the same way as they are, by adding the extension from the corresponding store. For routers, gaming consoles, and most TVs, you’ll only be able to use it through OpenVPN, which I’ll describe in more detail in the coming sections. You can see more detailed instructions for installation below:

Quick Guide: How to Install ZenMate in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Sign up for an account. The easiest way is to get a subscription from the ZenMate website .
  2. Go to your dashboard. If you’re on a desktop device, you’ll need to sign in on ZenMate’s website. This will take you to your account page where you can get your installation file. On a mobile device, you’ll download it through the proper store.
  3. Install ZenMate. Once you have the installer, you just have to run it and follow the instructions. On mobile, you’ll install it straight from the store.

Device Compatibility

ZenMate is available for all the major OS’ and can be used in some form on game consoles, routers, and smart TVs. There are also 3 different browser extensions. However, it would be nice if it had a Linux app. Right now, you can only install it manually with that OS.

Desktop — Apps for Windows and Mac

The desktop apps are the easiest to navigate, and the Windows app has a slight edge. On Windows, you can use OpenVPN TCP and UDP. On Mac, you’ll only be able to connect with the IKEv2 protocol. The Windows app also lets you connect the VPN automatically on startup, turn off the kill switch (although I don’t recommend it), and change languages.

Screenshot of the Zenmate app

The other images you’ve seen throughout this article were made with the Windows app

ZenMate doesn’t have a Linux app. Many of its closest competitors offer them, and some even give you a full GUI, so you don’t have to use the command line.

Android and iPhone (iOS)

The Android app has a few more options than you get on iOS. This includes domain fronting. It’s a feature that could let you bypass internet censorship, although it’s not guaranteed. It also lets you switch between WireGuard, OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), and IKEv2. IKEv2 is the only option with an iPhone.

Screenshots of the Android app showing readers how to access each of its screens

I do wish that the mobile apps let you see the load and distance next to the servers

Both versions of the app on mobile let you connect to streaming servers and select favorites. However, neither of them will let you connect to the P2P servers. That’s not a big deal for me since I don’t torrent much on my phone. However, if your phone is the main way you connect to the internet, this could be an issue.

Browser Extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge

The browser extensions can be used for free, with a subscription that only lets you use browsers, or with a regular subscription. With a free account, you can only access 4 servers and you don’t get access to any of the extensions’ special features. However, I do like that they come with unlimited data usage, which is rare for free VPNs.

Screenshots of the Zenmate browser extension for Chrome highlighting where to find the features

The whitelist feature is its split tunneling function, and it’s only available with the extensions

There are quite a few features that only work with the browsers:

  • Smart location. This is a unique feature that lets you pair websites with a country. For example, if you always want to get French results on Google, you can have the browser automatically connect to that country each time you visit the site.
  • Stealth connection. This sounds like obfuscation, but it’s more like an incognito mode. It removes cookies, clears your cache, and erases all browsing history each time you disconnect the browser.
  • Privacy. There are several options for you to toggle here. You turn on malware and tracking blockers, along with WebRTC protection. You can also prevent Google from logging your previously viewed websites or logging any time you visit “unsafe” sites. This also lets you disable autofill details for your credit card or address. Lastly, you can block websites from collecting cookies without your consent.
  • Whitelist. You’ll use this to choose websites you want to bypass the VPN tunnel. It can be useful if you’re trying to access local content, or you trust a site and want to avoid CAPTCHAs.

Apps for Android TV

If you have an Android TV, you’ll be able to download the full app. This will make it easy to watch ZenMate on your big screen. To use it with Apple TVs, Amazon Fire TVs, or other smart TVs, you’ll have to connect ZenMate to your router first. This is a bit of a hassle. I recommend you try casting with your phone while connected to ZenMate before resorting to this option.

Apps for PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo

There are no apps for game consoles. However, you can connect ZenMate to these consoles 2 ways. First, you can set up ZenMate on your router. That way, everything using your WiFi connection will be sent through ZenMate’s servers. The second way is by creating a hotspot with your computer while the VPN is connected. You can connect to that through your console.

Router Compatibility

You can manually configure OpenVPN on your router to use ZenMate servers. However, this is only available for DD-WRT devices. It’s a nice option to have, but it’s a bit of a pain to set up and use. For example, you have to restart the router each time you switch locations.

The top VPNs are available for many more routers. Some, like ExpressVPN, even have a specific app for routers that make it much easier to use, allowing you to quickly access settings and switch servers. So, while I’m glad ZenMate gives you this option, it could be improved.

Simultaneous Device Connections

ZenMate lets you connect an unlimited number of devices. I’m really happy it offers this, especially with its low price point. I tested this out by connecting it to my Android phone, my roommate’s iPhone, my Android TV, and my Windows laptop. I was able to stream on each device at the same time with no issues.

ZenMate Review

ZenMate VPN app for Apple MacOS

Simon Migliano is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He’s tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times and more.

Fact-checked by Callum Tennent Additional Testing by Alyx Morley

Our Verdict

Overall Rating:
7.58 7.6 / 10
How is this calculated? Close

Our overall rating is reached by combining several subcategories. The subcategories are weighted as follows:

  • Logging & Jurisdiction: 30%
  • Speed & Reliability: 25%
  • Security & Extra Features: 20%
  • Streaming: 10%
  • Torrenting: 5%
  • Ease of Use: 5%
  • Support: 5%

See our full methodology in how we review VPNs.

ZenMate is a simple, low-cost VPN aimed at beginners. It has good security settings, streams US Netflix and allows P2P file-sharing. However, the VPN’s mediocre speeds, vague privacy policy, and inadequate customer support are disappointing. In short, ZenMate is an acceptable beginner’s VPN for streaming, torrenting, and protecting data transfers on free public WiFi.

Ranked #23 out of 55 VPNs

ZenMate Category Ratings

  • Streaming

ZenMate Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Good levels of security and privacy
  • Very affordable subscription plans
  • Streams US Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video
  • No WebRTC, IP and DNS address leaks
  • Free proxy browser extension and 7-day free trial
  • 4,800 servers in 81 countries

Cons

  • Vague privacy policy
  • Slow speeds across the board
  • Unreliable streaming servers
  • No Firestick app and no Smart DNS
  • Few advanced customization options
  • Mac and iOS apps use IKEv2 protocol only

Why Trust Our Review?

We’ve spent thousands of hours testing and reviewing 55 VPN services using our impartial review process to recommend you the best VPN software.

Here are some of our key VPN testing statistics:

Total Hours of Testing 30,000+
Weekly Speed Tests 3,000+
VPN Services Reviewed 55
Streaming Platforms Tested Daily 12
IP & DNS Leak Tests Performed 9,500+
How Much We’ve Spent On Testing $25,000+

MARCH 2023 UPDATE: ZenMate has announced it will be merging with CyberGhost VPN, a VPN service owned by Kape Technologies.

If you are already a ZenMate user, we recommend downloading the CyberGhost app as soon as possible with your existing ZenMate account credentials. You can no longer purchase a ZenMate subscription or access the VPN service.

ZenMate is a cheap VPN service that offers three products: a free VPN browser extension, a paid add-on (Pro), and full VPN software for all devices (Ultimate).

All three products are safe to use, and the VPN software provides a good level of security and privacy. However, ZenMate doesn’t provide anything exceptional for its users.

For this ZenMate review, we tested all the VPN’s applications and extensions for speed, security, privacy, streaming and torrenting capabilities.

In our tests, we verified the VPN uses high-standard AES-256 encryption, and doesn’t leak IP and DNS credentials. The VPN won’t record your internet activity, but its privacy policy is vague.

Despite having a large server network, ZenMate’s average speeds were mediocre and particularly poor connecting to far-away servers.

The VPN’s streaming-optimized servers were hit-and-miss, and didn’t always unblocked streaming websites. Having said that, our recent streaming tests show ZenMate works with US Netflix.

While its competitive price tag will appeal to some users, ZenMate needs to improve its software before it can compete with the very best VPN services.

EXPERT ADVICE: Our CyberGhost VPN tests resulted in faster, more private and secure connections than ZenMate. Also owned by Kape, CyberGhost is cheap, easy to use, and unblocks Netflix USA. Try CyberGhost risk-free for 30 days.

ZenMate Key Data

Add to compare

Data Cap Unlimited
Download Speed 94Mbps
Logging Policy No Logs
Data Leaks No
Jurisdiction Germany (14-Eyes member)
Servers 4,800
IP Addresses 4,800+
Countries With Servers 81
US Netflix Yes
Torrenting Unlimited
Simultaneous Connections Unlimited
Works In China No
Support Live-Chat, Email & Online Resources
Cheapest Price $1.51 /mo over 3 years
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Privacy & Logging Policy

Vague Logging Policy

Privacy & Logging Policy Rating
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We dissect the logging and privacy policies of every VPN. A VPN should never log:

  • Your real IP address
  • Connection timestamps
  • DNS requests

A base of operations outside of 14-Eyes or EU jurisdiction is preferable.

ZenMate is a Germany-based VPN, which isn’t the best for privacy. Its logging policy is obscure and vague, too, which means we don’t fully trust the way it handles your data. After talking with ZenMate representatives and having them answer questions, we’re more confident that it’s a safe service. However, its commitment to privacy needs to be clarified and put in writing.

Ranked #15 out of 55 VPNs for Privacy & Logging Policy

ZenMate’s 5,000 word privacy policy mentions the word “VPN” only once:

“The above-mentioned Personal Data is not, at any point, associated with any kind of activity done by the user inside the ZenMate VPN tunnel, which is NOT recorded, logged or stored at all.”

While this sounds good, it’s not actually specific enough. Most of the privacy policy refers to information the ZenMate website collects, or when you register an account, not when you use the VPN service. This includes your name, address, email, IP address, and approximate location.

The policy states that it doesn’t log any of this information when using the VPN itself. However, it doesn’t state the data it actually does log.

In short, ZenMate has written a vague no-logs statement that almost every VPN on the market uses.

We spoke to a ZenMate representative to clarify the situation. They stated that the VPN does not keep records of user activity, metadata, timestamps, or IP addresses.

The company knows how many users there are on a particular server at any given time, but it doesn’t know who these users are.

Based on these responses, it seems that ZenMate is a private VPN that keeps minimal information about its users and their activity.

However, this information needs to be included in the privacy policy before it can be recommended with absolute certainty.

Based on this ambiguity, the company would benefit from an independent audit that verifies its no-logging claims. As it stands, the the current level of ambiguity is not acceptable for a top VPN.

Kape owns ZenMate

Kape Technologies purchased ZenGuard GmbH, the owner of ZenMate, in 2018. Kape owns three other (larger) VPN services: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access.

ZenGuard GmbH is still based in Berlin, Germany. ZenGuard is also merged with Mobile Concepts GmbH, which is based in the town of Übach Palenberg, Germany.

The VPN service falls under the jurisdiction of the European Union. This isn’t ideal for privacy as the EU has intrusive surveillance and data retention laws.

The European Union is also listed as an investor and/or partner in ZenMate VPN, which raises some concerns.

A European jurisdiction is not an issue if the VPN service has a verified no-logs privacy policy. While ZenMate appears to be private, an independent logging audit would go a long way to confirm this.

Streaming

ZenMate Works With 5 Netflix Libraries

Streaming Rating
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Streaming is rated by the number of different services unlocked, how many regional libraries are viewable, and how consistently the VPN can access them.

Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video and more are all tested on a weekly basis.

ZenMate has many servers optimized for unblocking streaming services, but they aren’t always reliable. Currently, ZenMate unblocks BBC iPlayer, 5 Netflix libraries (including the US), and Amazon Prime Video. It’s a good VPN for streaming, but it’s connection speeds can be very slow.

Ranked #20 out of 55 VPNs for Streaming

Here’s a list of popular streaming platforms that ZenMate currently unblocks:

Streaming Platform Works with ZenMate
All 4 No
Amazon Prime Video Yes
BBC iPlayer Yes
Disney+ No
HBO Max No
Hotstar India No
Hulu No
ITVX No
Netflix US Yes
YouTube No

ZenMate is a relatively good VPN for beating streaming geo-blocks, but it doesn’t quite match the capabilities of the highest-rated streaming VPNs.

The VPN has lots of servers designed to bypass streaming geo-blocks, but over years of testing we’ve found that these servers don’t work 100% of the time.

Currently, ZenMate operates servers targeting the following streaming services:

  • 7TV
  • Amazon Prime
  • ARD
  • BBC iPlayer
  • CBS
  • Disney+
  • Fox Sport
  • Hulu
  • ITV
  • NBC
  • Netflix (FR, DE, IT JP, US)
  • ORF
  • SlingTV
  • Yle
  • Zattoo DE

We encountered numerous problems testing the above servers. The VPN often failed to connect to them altogether. When it did connect, it often didn’t unblock the relevant streaming platform.

ZenMate works with US Netflix

In our latest tests, ZenMate worked with 5 Netflix regions: USA, Japan, Italy, Germany, and France. This is very impressive compared to other mid-tier VPNs we’ve tested such as Avira Phantom VPN.

ZenMate US Netflix Streaming Test

ZenMate unblocks US Netflix

Sadly, due to the VPN’s slow long-distance speeds, we experienced a considerable amount of buffering.

ZenMate unblocks BBC iPlayer

Surprisingly, ZenMate still works with BBC iPlayer. The BBC’s video service is one of the hardest to unblock, however ZenMate’s BBC iPlayer server worked as intended and with ease.

HBO Max, DAZN and Disney+ block ZenMate

Despite working with US Netflix, ZenMate couldn’t unblock other popular US content platforms like Hulu, HBO Max and Disney+.

We tried both the streaming servers, and the regular US servers, with no success.

ZenMate doesn’t have a Fire TV Stick app

Frustratingly, ZenMate doesn’t offer a dedicated app for Amazon Fire TV.

Because the VPN company hasn’t released an official Android .apk file, it’s not possible to side load the Android VPN app, either.

Therefore, to use the VPN on your Firestick, you’ll have to install it on your home router. It’s a rather tedious process, so Firestick users should opt for a VPN with a native Fire TV Stick app, instead.

ZenMate has no Smart DNS support

Another failure of ZenMate is the absence of Smart DNS functionality. This is the easiest way to use a VPN on Apple TV and on games consoles.

Your only option to use ZenMate on these devices is, again, to set up the VPN on your router.

Torrenting

Torrenting-friendly Servers But Slow P2P Speeds

Torrenting Rating
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We calculate the average download bitrate of every VPN using a bespoke torrenting setup.

Testing also factors in the percentage of servers which permit P2P, plus useful features like port forwarding.

ZenMate is not a great VPN for torrenting. While all servers allow P2P traffic, with some specifically optimized for torrenting, speeds were too slow. Moreover, the VPN’s vague privacy policy makes us wary of using ZenMate for sensitive file-sharing.

Ranked #28 out of 55 VPNs for Torrenting

ZenMate effectively hides your IP address, encrypts your data, and keeps your internet activity safe from ISP snooping. This is ideal for secure torrenting.

The service allows P2P traffic and file-sharing on all its servers, of which 60 (labeled ‘For downloading’) are specifically optimized for torrenting traffic.

ZenMate

ZenMate lists P2P-optimized servers on its website.

We tested these P2P serveers with torrent clients like BitTorrent, Deluge, uTorrent, and Transmission, and they downloaded torrent files anonymously.

Also, the VPN’s kill switch, called ‘Secure Connect’, safely cut out our internet connection when the VPN unexpectedly failed. This prevented our true IP address from being exposed.

ZenMate Torrenting Test

ZenMate permits torrenting and has P2P servers

The problem with using ZenMate for torrenting are the VPN’s slow speeds. We couldn’t download files as quickly as we did when running ExpressVPN through our P2P tests.

What’s more, many of ZenMate’s servers aren’t fully optimized for torrenting. They’ll work, but torrent speeds weren’t as good in our experience.

Servers not optimized for torrenting include:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • India
  • Israel
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Ukraine
  • Vietnam

ZenMate lacks port forwarding

Another P2P shortcoming of ZenMate is that it doesn’t allow port forwarding. Not many VPNs do, but seeders often seek this feature that drastically improves file upload speeds.

We particularly like PIA VPN’s port forwarding tool, which is one of the most customizable we’ve reviewed.

Speed

ZenMate’s Network Delivers Disappointing Speeds

Speed Rating
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Speed ratings are calculated using upload speeds, download speeds, and ping (latency).

We test average speeds regularly using a dedicated 100Mbps connection in London, UK. Local download speed is considered the most important factor.

ZenMate’s speeds are disappointing. The VPN just isn’t fast enough, on both short-distance and longer-distance connections. Mixed with average ping times, ZenMate’s streaming, torrenting and gaming speeds are underwhelming.

Ranked #37 out of 55 VPNs for Speed

Here’s a table showing ZenMate’s speed test results: