Updated · Oct 12, 2022
Best for: Geo-restriction circumvention
ZenMate VPN is the flagship product of ZenGuard GmbH, a tech company based in Berlin, Germany.
The software reportedly has a user base of 47 million. But how popular is it, really?
It’s hard to tell. There are barely 600 ZenMate reviews on Trustpilot, G2, and Capterra combined. Based on that small sample size, this VPN service is highly rated.
The lowest average rating it has received across the three platforms was 4.4 stars. According to more than 570 ZenMate reviews, it’s good enough to get 4.7.
The question is, do I feel the same way about it? For this ZenMate VPN review, I tested four apps to determine whether it deserves high praise or it’s overrated.
You’d want to know what I found out. So, let’s begin!
If you visit ZenMate’s site, you’ll presume it doesn’t do much. But nothing could be further from the truth. Here’s a brief overview of its functionality.
First and foremost, ZenMate can work with practically any platform or device. Make no mistake about it — It only has eight downloadable apps.
The ZenMate for Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge extensions as well as the Mozilla Firefox addon, are the primary products. They’re packed with premium features but also available for free, albeit with significant limitations.
Also, all of these ZenMate VPN extension options work on desktop and laptop browsers only.
It’s possible to find and install a ZenMate Opera extension, although ZenGuard doesn’t officially support it. You can download it from Opera addons, but it hasn’t been updated since June 2019.
ZenMate’s support for the OpenVPN client opens a world of new connection possibilities.
With the OpenVPN client, you can indirectly install ZenMate on many other operating systems (like Linux) and routers.
The VPN-router configuration, in particular, lets you secure all of your electronics, including Chromebook, Raspberry Pi, and game consoles.
If you stream videos, play games, or play Spotify on Kodi, you can find ZenMate’s versatility useful. It might be in the same league as the best VPNs for this media player.
Admittedly, ZenMate’s list of apps is a bit misleading. For instance, it includes ZenMate Opera even if this VPN doesn’t natively support it.
To be fair, the company probably did it for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes. But it should have provided readers with alternative ways to integrate ZenMate with Opera.
With this VPN service, there’s no data cap to worry about. It doesn’t matter even if you use the ZenMate VPN free edition.
The downside to the free ZenMate for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge is the speed limit. Without having the Pro or Ultimate subscription, 2MBps (megabytes per second) is the most you can use.
It doesn’t sound a lot, but it’s actually good enough to browse through a web page smoothly. But it’s inadequate for loading lots of sites fast all at once.
Unlimited Device Connections
With any ZenMate VPN premium plan, you can use this service on numerous devices at the same time. This is a big deal, for you can share your subscription with your loved ones at no extra cost.
To put things into perspective, few industry-leading VPNs allow unlimited simultaneous connections on multiple devices.
Automatic Kill Switch
This feature forces your device to go offline when you lose your VPN connection. This way, your privacy is safe until your VPN goes back.
It’s available on ZenMate desktop and mobile clients only. In other words, you need at least the Ultimate subscription to use this kill switch.
Though unadvisable, you can disable it on the Windows app. It’s not an option on the Android client.
This form of split tunneling is exclusive to the ZenMate addon and extensions.
Whitelist enables you to identify sites whose traffic you don’t want to encrypt for better speed. If you visit anything you listed, your VPN service automatically will turn off.
Ideally, you should add sites you absolutely trust and don’t discriminate against you based on your IP address.
You can set the Windows client to start up as you power on your PC. It’s a convenient option if you want to secure all of your online activity with this VPN service.
Auto-Connect / Auto-Select
As with every VPN, you can connect your device to this one with one click.
ZenGuard doesn’t use a uniform mechanism for choosing a location to route your outgoing traffic, though.
ZenMate for Chrome automatically picks the last server used. The Windows app leans toward the best server location with no explanation for what constitutes the best. The Android client has Auto-Select by default, which implies random selection.
The Windows and Android apps I tested told me about how far the VPN servers are from my location.
Distance affects connection speed. So, such information can be helpful if you’re doing resource-intensive activities like gaming.
ZenMate mobile and desktop clients also conveniently display the usage on individual servers. It can help you spot and avoid locations with overburdened hardware for better performance.
If you want to connect to a handful of locations only, you can bookmark them for faster access.
DNS Leak Protection
When activated, this feature ensures that your DNS (Domain Name System) queries securely go to ZenMate nameservers. It keeps your ISP (internet server provider) from knowing the sites you visit and monitoring your online activity.
The ZenMate Firefox addon and Chrome extension have this privacy feature to stop browsers from revealing your ISP-assigned IP address. Such a leak can stem from WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communications).
Built into Firefox, Chrome, and Opera, WebRTC helps facilitate voice and video chats. But it includes your actual IP when transmitting data.
I was glad to find out that the ZenMate addon and extension can neutralize this vulnerability. However, I would have wanted it to be activated by default to safeguard the identity of all users outright.
Web tracking blocking is inherent in ZenMate VPN for Chrome and Firefox. You have to turn this functionality on first, though. But when activated, it stops all attempts of third parties to keep tabs of your online activity.
It’s also one of the extra features you can opt-in to when setting up ZenMate on the OpenVPN client.
When configuring ZenMate for OpenVPN integration, you have the luxury of blocking all sorts of intrusive advertisements. I don’t have to tell you how annoying ads in the form of pop-ups, banners, etc., are.
When enabled, this ZenMate browser extension feature can bust malicious code before it infiltrates your system. It can steer you away from dubious sites too.
Likewise, you benefit from ZenMate’s malware-neutralizing prowess when using it via the OpenVPN client.
This one is another optional functionality when hooking up ZenMate onto the OpenVPN client. It ensures that you can benefit from HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) when surfing the Web 100% of the time.
HTTPS is today’s standard. And it’s one of the easiest ways to take advantage of encryption. But the official sites of some reputable organizations have yet to use this secure communication protocol.
HTTPS can’t completely protect you from phishing. But you’ll certainly get more malicious emails if you visit unsecured sites.
ZenMate VPN for PC has a reset button.
Having the option to restore the default settings is always neat. If you can bring things back to the way they were, you’d feel encouraged to create and try different configurations.
ZenMate Advanced Features
Now, let’s have a look at ZenMate’s distinctive capabilities.
It’s available in the ZenMate VPN Firefox addon and Chrome extension. This functionality enables you to pick a location to connect to when visiting specified sites. This way, you don’t have to keep changing your IP manually when browsing the Web.
This feature isn’t VPN obfuscation. But it can automatically erase your browsing activity after a VPN session.
When enabled, Stealth Connection removes cookies and clears your device’s cache from when you first switched on ZenMate for Chrome or Firefox.
Random Port Connection
When enabled, it can help you connect to the VPN in hotels and airports. It works only when your ZenMate’s Windows or Android client is on OpenVPN.
IPv6 Traffic Blocking
ZenMate for PC gives you the ability to disable IPv6 traffic (outgoing and incoming). IPv6 connections are not routed over the VPN. Turn on this feature if you don’t need such connections locally.
Unique to the Android app, this ZenMate feature can obscure the true destination of your connection to defeat online censorship.
It can trick censors into thinking that you want to browse unrestricted sites so they’d ignore you.
ZenMate Servers and Locations
On paper, ZenMate’s private network is decent. It has more than 3,800 VPN servers in roughly 90 cities across no less than 79 jurisdictions.
In reality, the ZenMate server fleet is smaller. My connections to some locations didn’t push through. To make up for these failed attempts, the service gave me random IP addresses instead.
On one occasion, I tried ZenMate’s Venezuela server and received a pop-up message saying that it’s no longer available.
Here’s the screenshot:
This ZenMate review is the 32nd entry in TechJury’s collection of VPN evaluations. But this service is one of the few that offers IP addresses from incredibly unique locations.
Off the top of my head, UltraVPN is the only one I can think of with more exotic choices. For starters, it has Greenland and Isle of Man on its roster. It also offers IPs from the likes of Algeria, Belize, and Kyrgyzstan.
Furthermore, not all ZenMate servers are physically located within the boundaries of the places they’re supposed to be in. I counted 33 virtual server locations on this VPN service provider’s list.
What this means is that ZenMate has no actual presence in nearly 42% of its global network.
Is this bad? Not necessarily.
As long as you can get the IP from the place you want, the hardware’s location is insignificant. It comes into play only when the country’s government likes to harass VPN vendors.
In fact, ZenMate can lend you IP addresses from countries that police the internet without having any hardware there. Without using virtual servers, ZenMate may not be able to help you connect to China, Iran, Turkey, and the like.
The ZenMate app boasts lightning-fast connection speeds.
Is this an exaggerated claim?
I tested its US, UK, and Australia VPN servers while in the Philippines using Speedtest by Ookla to find out. As follows are the results.
Australia was 3,908 miles (6,290 kilometers) away from my location, but I experienced a negligible speed loss.
The nearest ZenMate US physical servers were closer to me than their European counterparts by 1,512 miles (2,434 kilometers). Yet, connecting to the States didn’t impact my internet speed as much as trying the UK.
Also, my ping was at its highest when I routed my traffic data to Great Britain.
I couldn’t quantify how big of a factor this vendor’s US network of 619 VPN servers across six cities. But it’s good to know that the ZenMate app can be workable even when its hardware is halfway around the world.
ZenMate Privacy and Jurisdiction
ZenMate has a strict no-logs policy and collects IP addresses in an anonymized format.
It does seem counterintuitive, considering that the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation defines IPs as online identifiers.
But ZenMate gathers IP addresses related to the usage of its site to catch fraud and criminalize black hat hackers.
By definition, it may share its database with the authorities in the event of a cyber assault, like a ransomware attack. But it doesn’t sell, rent, or trade its logs of personal data with any third party.
Also, this VPN vendor promises that nobody could associate its records with any online activity done inside its tunnels.
And if you don’t want to avoid data logging, the ZenMate desktop and mobile apps clients have an opt-out option.
Let’s say the government subpoenas ZenMate’s database. Will your identity be in jeopardy? Will your personally identifiable information wind up in the wrong hands?
The company’s HQ is in the backyard of the Fourteen Eyes Alliance, an international intelligence-sharing agreement.
Germany isn’t part of the original Five Eyes Alliance, whose members are extremely close culturally and politically. But you can expect it to cooperate with any of the 13 to identify individuals, especially criminals or suspected ones.
Also, many cybersecurity experts believe that Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Israel are in cahoots with the Fourteen Eyes Alliance.
What’s more, ZenMate has infrastructures in 16 out of 17 of the aforementioned countries. New Zealand was the one left out.
In addition, ZenMate has physical servers in Nigeria, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates. These nations allow VPNs but heavily restrict their usage.
In repressive states, the activities VPNs are most useful for are typically illegal. So, their governments are likely to demand access to ZenMate server logs by hook or by crook.
ZenMate Security and Protocols
ZenMate supports four good common tunneling protocols:
- IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange v2)
- L2TP/IPsec (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol over Internet Protocol Security)
You can pick your preferred VPN protocol. But if you don’t know which one is suitable for which activity, you can let ZenMate decide.
When on Auto or Automatic Selection (default setting), ZenMate will figure out which protocol is best for your network connection.
With ZenMate for Windows and Android, you can switch between UDP (User Datagram Protocol) and TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). These transport modes determine the OpenVPN connection’s reliability and speed.
For the most part, this VPN obscures traffic data with AES 256-bit encryption. The only time that it won’t be the case is when you choose WireGuard.
Instead of AES-256, WireGuard uses ChaCha20, a largely untested alternative to the gold standard of encryption.
Further, ZenMate doesn’t take a cue from PIA (Private Internet Access). PIA AES-128 by default. It renders the longer key size optional to strike a balance between security and speed.
But I’m not going to criticize ZenMate for using the strongest tunneling encryption almost exclusively. AES-256 is military-grade and is still resistant to brute-force attacks.
ZenMate Leak Test Results
Here’s the moment of truth: will this VPN expose your identity and online activity when surfing the Web?
Here are the results:
Original IP Address
Original DNS Addresses
Australia Server Connection
Based on the evidence, the ZenMate extension and addon are the real deal.
ZenMate and Streaming Services
It has several servers optimized for specific platforms. They allow you to access your local content libraries when traveling abroad or watch regional shows back home.
Can you maximize your streaming subscriptions with ZenMate for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android? See the list below.
- Italy: Disney+, Netflix IT, Amazon Prime Italy, Rai Play Diretta, Rai Play, Netflix IT (Firestick), and Netflix IT (Android TV)
- US: Netflix US, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Crunchyroll, ESPN+, and Comedy Central
- Germany: Netflix DE, ZDF, 7TV, Comedy Central, Zattoo DE, and ARD
- France: 6play, France TV, TF1, Netflix FR (Android TV), Netflix FR (Firestick), and Amazon Prime France
- UK: BBC iPlayer and Netflix UK
- Austria: Servus TV and ORF
- Brazil: Fox Sport, Globo, and Globo SporTV
- Canada: CBC
- India: Disney+ Hotstar
- Japan: Netflix Japan
I tried the ZenMate Netflix US server and wasn't disappointed.
I found no dedicated ZenMate YouTube servers on this VPN’s Windows and Android clients. But regular ones should do. Actually, any ZenMate extension or addon can be an effective YouTube unblocker.
How Good Is ZenMate for Torrenting?
ZenMate won’t break into the top seven VPN services for torrenting soon.
This VPN has the necessary ingredients for facilitating P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing. ZenMate for PC has 59 locations with VPN servers designed for torrent downloading.
I tested that one in Japan and verified that it could hide my actual IP address on BitTorrent.
However, the same P2P-friendly server leaked my DNS requests even though I activated DNS Leak Protection.
Can ZenMate Bypass Geo Blocks?
Yes, it can.
I put ZenMate for Android to work and successfully circumvented Funimation’s geo-restrictions. I connected to ZenMate’s server in Ireland, one of only eight countries where this anime streaming service is available.
See my before-and-after screenshots.
Ease of Use
Let’s start with the good stuff first.
ZenMate is easy to set up. Its free ZenMate edition requires no email address, and the trial version of Ultimate does. But at least the company accepts masked email addresses. Good thing I used Blur.
The interfaces of all ZenMate products are aesthetically pleasing. Of the four I tested, the Windows app was the buggiest. But it wasn’t severely and frequently sluggish.
This VPN vendor has separate lists for regular, P2P-friendly, and streaming servers for convenience. There’s a search bar on tap if you want to look for a particular location.
I hope to see city-level server options when I write another ZenMate VPN review in the future.
Also, ZenMate VPN for Chrome, Firefox, and Windows are available in multiple languages.
Now, the bad...
At times, I couldn’t connect to the locations I chose. And ZenMate picked a different one for me when this happened.
Ultimately, this VPN secured my online communications and hid my original IP. But I saw no rhyme or reason with the VPN’s selection process. It didn’t route my outgoing traffic to the nearest or the least used server. Either would have been logical.
Such randomness can negatively impact your connection speed.
ZenMate provides chat and email support. The former is reserved for paying customers only, though.
Nevertheless, ZenMate doesn’t take forever to reply to emails. Its automated disclosure advised me to expect a response within 48 hours. But I normally received satisfactory answers to my messages in 1 to 4 hours.
ZenMate has a bunch of self-serving customer support options too. It has an informative FAQ section and a decent Blog.
ZenMate has three editions: Free, Pro, and Ultimate.
The ZenMate free version applies to browser extensions only. Unlike many other free VPNs, this one’s functionality is wanting.
The Pro subscription applies only to ZenMate for Firefox, Chrome, and Edge. But what you’ll be paying for are unrestricted server access, zero speed constraint, and a bunch of browser-only features.
The Ultimate package includes a cross-platform license for ZenMate Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, and any Android-driven device. This is the one you need if you want to use this service for P2P file sharing. It also unlocks configurations for platforms ZenMate doesn’t natively support.
See the following to compare ZenMate’s editions:
Access to servers in 4 jurisdictions (Germany, Romania, Singapore, and the US) 1 device 2MB maximum speed
$1.99/month (billed $23.88)
Additional offers and features include 1 month: $7.99, 6 months: $3.19/month (billed $19.14), 2 months free (introductory offer); access to all servers, unlimited browsers, unlimited speed, streaming-optimized servers, stealth connection, smart locations, whitelist, and personal support.
All ZenMate VPN premium plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
At the time of writing this ZenMate VPN review, this vendor offers a student discount. If you qualify, you can pay for the service for $1.75 a month for one year. Student status verification via Student Beans is required.
In ZenMate for Android, the advertised prices were different. They were in my local currency but were cheaper in dollar terms. Many software companies employ geo-blocking to do the opposite.
If you’re planning to change VPNs, consider masking your IP before buying ZenMate’s Ultimate subscription. Make sure to use the ZenMate mobile app to score discounted prices when placing your order.
This VPN vendor’s payment options vary by region. But in general, you can purchase a ZenMate plan with your:
- American Express
- Diners Club
If you live in Germany, you can use Giropay too.
The company doesn’t support cryptocurrency payments at the moment, though.
ZenMate Review - Verdict
This VPN could be a solid choice for torrenting. But it should hide DNS requests consistently first.
Still, I understand why most ZenMate reviews are glowing.
This vendor’s P2P and streaming server locations outnumber those of many popular competitors. Its misleading content is forgivable since it's truly a versatile VPN.
ZenMate doesn't support double VPN yet. But its security features can let you surf the Web with peace of mind.
The lack of city-level server options is a downer. And the unavailable location was a disappointment.
Overall, ZenMate wasn't bad. But it wasn't overwhelmingly good either. Give its free trial a go. It's risk-free and worth your while.
Is ZenMate VPN free?
Yes, but the ZenMate free version is severely limited. You can take advantage of the seven-day free ZenMate trial to determine if the premium editions are worth the expense.
Is ZenMate VPN Chinese?
No, ZenMAte is based in Berlin, Germany.
At the time of writing this ZenMate review, it has 12 China virtual servers and provides IP addresses from Shenzhen.
Is ZenМate VPN safe?
ZenMate operates in a country that belongs to a 14-nation intelligence-sharing network accused of widespread internet surveillance.
Also, this VPN may collect and store users’ IP addresses to detect fraud and help prosecute hackers. But ZenMate assures that no party could identify its VPN users through the personal data in its custody.
Should you trust it? Read this ZenMate review in full to learn about this VPN service provider’s credibility.
Romj is a veteran copywriter who used to be a Jack of all trades. Now, he's trying to be a master of one: technology. He jumps down the rabbit hole to size the latest innovations up. As a content contributor for TechJury, he hopes to help you keep up in our fast-paced world with his discoveries.
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