The next VPN on our to-do list is ZenMate VPN, a service whose name doesn’t come up with self-glorifying terms such as “strong,” “fast,” “secure” and whatnot. It’s discreet enough to let us know that it is, indeed, a VPN service, but not bragging about it too much.
Enough about its name, let’s see exactly what will come of it today, at FindYourVPN.com. Well, for starters, we’re going to take a look at the company’s policies and see if we can find anything interesting (something we can strongly disagree with, I mean). Then we’ll give the app a try and see if it has any issues worth mentioning.
Then we’ll run some tests and see how secure and fast ZenMate VPN really is. Sounds lengthy and boring? Don’t worry, we’ve compiled a table of content, so you can jump straight to the part you’re most interested in.
- Company information
- Germany Jurisdiction
- Terms of service analysis
- A quick introduction to ZenMate VPN
- Creating an account
- Downloading the app on your device
- Checking the installer for malware
- Installing the application
- Running ZenMate VPN on your computer
- Changing the settings
- Looks a bit familiar?
- ZenMate vs CyberGhost
- List of servers
- Services unlocked
- TOR and torrenting support
- Customer support
- Security check-up results
- Speed test results
- Pricing plans
ZenMate VPN was developed by a company called ZenGuard GmbH, based in Berlin, Germany. Apparently, their parent company is Kape Technologies (formerly known as Crossrider Plc), a company that also owns CyberGhost (another popular VPN service), but other solutions, as well, such as DriverFix and ReImage.
This might cause a bit of confusion, but we’ve poked around and made inquiries, so at least we know that ZenMate VPN is still under German jurisdiction, which is not necessarily a good thing, but at least we know what’s what, right?
If you’re familiar with the subject, you might already know that Germany is among the countries that are members of the 5, 9, 14 Eyes Alliances. You might not think much of this information, but if you kept your eyes peeled and ears open lately, you know that there have been a lot of discussions related to privacy violation, backdooring encrypted services and drilling peepholes in every private communication channel that you can think of, and here’s the kicker: nothing can come well out of it.
The fact that Germany is a member of these Alliances means that, should the need arise, ever, the government can seize sensitive data (yes, including your personal, private data) and hand it to whatever member (or members, for that matter) required it, even if your data is held by a company you trust (such as Kape, or ZenGuard, whoever’s calling the shots at ZenMate VPN).
Terms of service analysis
Since most of the Terms of Service documents that we’ve ever encountered were, as we put it before, “lengthy and boring,” we’ve made it a habit to extract their quintessence and bring it to you. You know, for your overall convenience.
We understand that this might not be of any interest to you, but nowadays you need to be really careful about who you’re lending your data to, since more and more companies are eager to collect it and sell it to the highest bidder, or use it in various ways that might not exactly be profitable to you (at all). That being said, let’s take a quick look at ZenMate VPN’s Terms of Service:
This looks promising (not); we’ve found that the English version of the Terms of Service document is just a translation and that only the German version of the document is legally binding. Well, we hope that the translation is at least accurate since we have no knowledge of German here.
- As expected, the conditions in the Terms of Service document apply to all the services supplied by ZenMate/ZenGuard, not only for ZenMate VPN;
- Deviations or interpretations of the terms in their ToS document are only valid if they confirm it in writing;
- They’re not responsible for any third party that you might access via ZenMate;
- The main language that defines the contractual relationship between you and them is German, and translations, although supplied by them (and probably checked for inaccuracies, as well, right?), are to be seen as mere translations, and nothing more;
- You are not allowed to use ZenMate VPN for commercial purposes, or for purposes other than your private, personal ones;
- Minors are only allowed to use ZenMate’s services (both free and non-free ones) only with the consent of their legal representatives;
- You need to register an account in order to use the ZenMate services. For the moment, registration is free;
- The email address that you provide during registration must be accurate and valid;
- The email address that you’ll provide during registration will be used to create your account and contact you or provide information to you;
- The email address that you’ll provide during registration will also be used to notify you about modifications brought to ZenMate and/or provide you with information about similar products;
- If you want to stop receiving marketing emails, you must write an objection email and send it to [email protected], with the subject “objection to e-mail marketing”;
- It goes without saying that using ZenMate VPN can only be done by downloading the browser extension or the app;
- Here’s an interesting fact: ZenMate VPN’s servers are operated by third-parties that ZenGuard has selected, but the third-parties aren’t required to follow ZenGuard’s instructions;
- ZenMate VPN might offer you a feature of data compression that doesn’t affect the content of the said data, however, if this function is enabled, it will automatically check for incoming malware and adware and block them;
- The free version of the ZenMate VPN service might include ads that might overlay other elements that are shown on your screen;
- You are not allowed to infringe the copyright or any other intellectual right while using ZenMate VPN, whether we’re talking about ZenGuard’s rights or the rights of another entity/person/user;
- If you access third-party content while you’re connected to ZenMate VPN, ZenGuard can’t be held responsible for said content;
- Any manipulation of ZenMate VPN through any method is strictly prohibited;
- You are not allowed to transmit content that promotes violence, racism, bigotry or the such while connected to the service;
- You are not allowed to transmit nor access child pornography while you’re connected to the ZenMate VPN service;
- You are not allowed to create content which promotes gambling or one that consists of chain letters, pyramid schemes, bets and the such;
- You are not allowed to transmit or create content that violates the privacy of other people or their rights;
- You are not allowed to engage in any kind of behavior that even resembles hacking (port scanning, vulnerability assessment, sniffing) without proper permission;
- If you break any terms in the Terms of Service and ZenGuard are held responsible by third-parties for your actions, you shall reimburse ZenGuard the costs of legal defense;
- If you break any term in the ToS document, you’ll receive a penalty, ranging from a warning if the breach is less severe to an account deletion/suspension;
Since the original document is lengthy, we shall extract its most important parts and showcase them to you, so that you can understand them better. For the sake of accessibility, we’re going to split this section into three parts, namely personal data that ZenGuard collects, non-personal data that are collected by ZenGuard and why do they collect it, to begin with.
First thing’s first, they claim that your activities while connected to the ZenMate VPN service are never recorded, logged or store whatsoever.
- Your name;
- Your email address;
- Your username;
- Your payment information;
- Your IP address;
- Your country;
- Your transaction information;
- The items you’ve purchased;
- The price you’ve paid;
- Partial credit card details;
- Chargeback requests;
- Your cancelled orders;
- Your browser type and version used;
- Your operating system used on the device you’re connected to the service with;
- The website from which you reach the ZenMate VPN website;
- The date and time that you access the website;
- Your IP address (isn’t this personal data, though?);
- Your ISP provider;
- Other similar data that can be used in the event of attacks (provide it to law enforcement authorities);
Why do they need this data
- To provide you with the ZenMate VPN service;
- To improve their service and personalize it on a per-user basis;
- To let you participate in Discussion Groups;
- For newsletter subscriptions;
- For scientific research and service improvement;
- To notify you of new services and/or changes to the existing services;
- To send you communications regarding the service or technical issues;
- To enforce the terms and conditions of their policies;
A quick introduction to ZenMate VPN
ZenMate VPN advertises itself as a one-click solution that can help you “ensure security and privacy online,” but let’s get deeper on the matter and unfold more layers.
From their website we can see that their service lets you protect up to five (5) devices, has “lightning speeds” (to be announced), more than 30 global server locations, a strict no-logging policy, “apps for all your devices” and last, but not least, it’s “made in Germany,” like that alone is enough for you to at least give it a try, right?
Creating an account
ZenMate VPN also offers you a trial version so that you can take its app for a spin without purchasing a subscription plan beforehand. However, you might want to create an account if you ever plan on purchasing a subscription plan and just want to be ready. All you have to do is:
- Navigate to the product’s page;
- Click the “Log In” button that’s at the top-right corner of the screen;
- Click the “Sign Up” tab button when you see the login fields;
- Input your email and password of choice in the designated fields;
- Hit the “Sign Up” button after typing the required data;
The account creation process is generally a painless one, as you don’t need to go through several endless check-ups. After hitting that “Sign Up” button in the last step, you’ll see the confirmation message letting you know that your account has been created, but also a PUK code.
You’re going to need that PUK code in case you lose your login details, so just save it somewhere or print it. As you can see, no confirmation email is sent to you, so your account is ready to use just moments after creation.
Downloading the app on your device
You probably noticed the “Downloads” tab at the top of the website, so it’s likely that you’ve figured out something: ZenMate VPN can be downloaded without creating an account beforehand. In order to do so, follow these steps:
- Navigate to the product’s page;
- Locate the “Downloads” button at the top of the website, but don’t click it just yet;
- Hover your mouse cursor over the “Downloads” button mentioned above;
- Select the platform you want to deploy ZenMate VPN on by clicking it;
- Hit the “Start free 7-day trial” button to initiate the download;
As you can see, the only way that you can download any client is that you initiate a 7-day trial, since the other option “GET ZENMATE VPN” only takes you to a pricing page, where you can see the available subscription plans and their prices.
Checking the installer for malware
We’ve got the installer, but we still need to check it before deploying it on our computer. It’s not preferential treatment, either, we do that to everything that comes near our computer, just to be sure.
For the scanning process, we’re going to use VirusTotal since it has an impressive range of antivirus engines that will analyze our file, so the detection rate is greater. Of course, the chance of it triggering a false-positive is even greater, but we like our odds, so we’re going to stick with it.
We’ve picked up a pretty nasty alert that was pointing to a Trojan-Downloader, but the executable’s community score was tilting the scale on the positive side, so it’s probably just a false-positive like mentioned above. Check our results here and our screenshot below.
Installing the application
After the installer’s been scanned and we’ve seen that it’s good to go (except for that alert), it’s time to install it on our computer. For the sake of keeping it short, we’re just going to briefly mention the steps, just so that you don’t miss anything:
- Double-click ZenMate VPN’s installer executable;
- Accept the Terms of Service;
- Wait for the setup to complete;
As you can see, there are no dialogs, no menus, no buttons, and no driver installation prompts. Everything goes smooth from one end to another. The only requirement is that you’re connected to the Internet since the installer actually fetches its required files from the Internet and doesn’t pack them locally.
It’s kind of annoying that the setup window has no “minimize” button and, on top of that (pun intended), it’s set to be “always on top”, so if you want to see something under it, you either move it out of the way or close it.
At the end of the setup process, ZenMate VPN is automatically launched. As before, there’s no way to minimize the app’s window, but here’s where things get worse: you can’t even move it out of the way. The ZenMate VPN version we’ve installed on our computer is 188.8.131.5233, although the installer said 184.108.40.206.
Running ZenMate VPN on your computer
At this point, you should be facing the app’s main window already, since we already know that the app is automatically launched at the end of the setup.
Remember when we advised you to create an account? Now here’s where it comes in handy: you have to log into it if you want to use the app, whether you’re a free trial user or just purchased a subscription plan.
After you log into your account, you’re free to use ZenMate VPN. The main window of the app comes with a bunch of controls that are intuitive enough to be used even by novices: a server selection menu, a large connection button, a side menu that expands the app and an additional settings button that’s shaped like a gear.
Changing the settings
There are two ways that you can access the configuration section. First of all, no matter what you do, attempting to access the Options menu will expand the ZenMate VPN app’s window and there’s nothing you can do about it.
That being said, if you expand the window, you’ll be able to see an additional gear-shaped button next to a “Settings” description. Pretty self-explanatory, right? That’s what you need to click to access the configuration section.
The second way of doing that is to click the first gear-shaped button that I’ve mentioned above (the first mention of it), in the mini version of the app’s window, and select “Settings” from the combo menu.
However, once you’re here, you’ll notice that there’s not much that you can do except for setting the app to run automatically at startup, automatically connect once launched, choose a location for the auto-connect feature, select your preferred language and enable an automatic kill switch. No protocol configuration, no port selection, no obfuscation toggle, no split-tunneling. What you see is what you get.
Looks a bit familiar?
It’s not exactly properly said, as we’re not going into a head-to-head session between ZenMate and CyberGhost. Do you remember when we said a while back that CyberGhost and ZenMate are basically owned by the same company? Well, it turns out that there’s more to this story than we initially thought.
The truth is that ZenMate looks a lot like CyberGhost and for good reason: it’s like CyberGhost’s low-budget version. Or, if you like, CyberGhost is somehow the premium version of ZenMate. But we’ll soon get into details.
ZenMate vs CyberGhost
Judging by the app’s interfaces on Windows, you could swear that they’re clones, but if you take a closer look, you’ll see that it’s not exactly true. While the main section of the app is identical feature-wise (only the theme is different), expanding the window to its full size will reveal that ZenMate does, indeed, lack a bunch of features that CyberGhost encompasses.
If you want to browse the list of servers, you’ll notice that ZenMate only has four categories: Favorites, All servers, For torrenting and For streaming, while its “premium version”, CyberGhost, comes with an extra two entries: Smart rules and Connection features, each of which holding additional features, including an ad blocker, a malicious websites blocker, an online tracking blocker, automated HTTPS redirection and data compression.
The “Settings” section is pretty much the same for ZenMate as it is for CyberGhost, but as the often-used phrase “there is strength in numbers” says, CyberGhost has some major perks that ZenMate lacks. For instance, CyberGhost counts more than 4800 servers in over 60 countries, while ZenMate only holds 277 servers in 30 countries.
Bottom line, while ZenMate and CyberGhost are built on the same infrastructure, one’s greater than the other by providing their users with more features, servers, and locations.
List of servers
We couldn’t manage to find a complete list of servers, along with their addresses and whatnot, but we’ve located a list of locations and the number of servers that operates in each of them. So, according to the list, ZenMate VPN has 277 online servers, in 30 countries.
Australia – 10 servers
Austria – 4 servers
Belgium – 4 servers
Brazil – 2 servers
Bulgaria – 4 servers
Canada – 5 servers
Czech Republic – 4 servers
Finland – 4 servers
France – 4 servers
Germany – 40 servers
Hong Kong – 15 servers
Israel – 4 servers
Italy – 4 servers
Japan – 11 servers
Latvia – 4 servers
Luxemburg – 5 servers
Moldova – 4 servers
Netherlands – 4 servers
Norway – 4 servers
Poland – 4 servers
Romania – 35 servers
Russia – 3 servers
Singapore – 7 servers
South Africa – 2 servers
Spain – 4 servers
Sweden – 12 servers
Switzerland – 4 servers
Ukraine – 4 servers
United Kingdom – 13 servers
United States – 56 servers
Fortunately for you, we have some great news, so brace yourselves: ZenMate VPN is fully capable of unblocking several popular entertainment services, including, but not limited to Netflix and its U.S. version, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Spotify, and Amazon Prime Video.
Some of the services mentioned above even have dedicated servers in the ZenMate VPN application, so that you can go spot-on for the service you’re most interested in. Some examples include Netflix U.S., BBC iPlayer, HBO Now, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Eurosport.
TOR and torrenting support
As the streaming services, the torrenting support also includes P2P-dedicated servers, so that you can stop guessing which server works with what service in a quicker, more effective manner. Yes, this also means that ZenMate VPN supports torrenting and we’ve thoroughly tested it, too. No slowdowns, no throttling, no issues, everything went smooth from A to Z.
As for TOR, well, this is where things get a bit hairy. The thing is that TOR can be used in conjunction with ZenMate VPN, but we’d strongly advise you against it, because the risks of doing so heavily outweigh the benefits. Those risks include but are not limited to passing unencrypted traffic and exposing your connection in such a way that you subject it to monitoring by third-parties. Plus, the speed will fall to an extremely low value.
ZenMate VPN’s customer support includes live chat, a ticket submission system and a knowledge base that’s full of helpful articles you can use to solve your issue all by yourself. You know, if you’re not a big fan of chit-chat.
However, we are huge fans of chit-chat, so we’ve decided to drop in unannounced and ask the customer support crew some questions and see how they react. We were nothing short of pleased, our inquiries were met by helpful, prompt and friendly answers.
Security check-up results
In this section, we’re going to perform a series of tests on several websites, in order to decide exactly how secure is ZenMate VPN and whether or not it can keep your connection private, secure and generally away from prying eyes.
During these tests, we’ll select a server in the United States which won’t change from one test to another, since we’re aiming to detect location inconsistencies, as well. The tests will unfold just as we’ve previously described in this article.
Conclusion: After performing our series of security tests, we can safely conclude that ZenMate VPN doesn’t leak IP, DNS, WebRTC and Flash IP data, making it able to provide you with a secure, airtight connection.
Speed test results
Now that we know that ZenMate VPN is capable of keeping you and your privacy safe, we should check exactly how fast their servers really can get.
As opposed to the security tests scenario, this time we won’t use a single server for our speed tests, since we’re determined to check how location can affect speed, as well. That being said, the results are as follows:
- New York, U.S.A. – 40 Mbps;
- Frankfurt, Germany – 44 Mbps;
- Sao Paulo, Brazil – 28 Mbps;
- Hong Kong – 22 Mbps;
- Cape Town, South Africa – 9.1 Mbps;
- Sydney, Australia – 35 Mbps;
Not too good, not too bad, the speed tests we’ve carried out on ZenMate VPN’s servers proved that the speed values are somewhere in the middle (average). On the downside, connecting to and disconnecting from a server can take a while, compared to other similar services.
ZenMate VPN comes with two plan types, a free one (for browser extensions) and three paid subscription plans. You can access them as follows:
|Duration||–||1 Month||1 Year||2 Years|
|Features||100% no logs policy
Max 2 MB/s
Chrome, Firefox, Opera
|100% no logs policy
Chrome, Firefox, Opera,
AndroidiOS, Windows, OSX,
Open VPN, Linux, Xbox
Use on 5 devices at a time
P2P and torrent support
To wrap things up, ZenMate VPN is a VPN service provider developed by the Germany-based company ZenGuard and is now owned by Kape, which is an Israeli-based company and owns several other popular services. It is worth mentioning that Germany is a member of the 5, 9, 14 Eyes Alliances, which means that they cooperate with other member countries in sharing mass surveillance data if the need arises.
ZenMate VPN has a network that counts 277 servers in 30 countries. Their network is far from being an impressive one, but at least they cover all major areas and have multiple servers in several locations in the countries they operate in.
Their Windows client can be easily installed on the target computer and operated without significant efforts since it packs no over-complicated features, hidden menus or settings for advanced users. If you have basic computer operation skills, you can master ZenMate VPN in no time.
ZenMate VPN is able to unblock numerous entertainment services, including, but not limited to Netflix and its U.S. version, Hulu, Spotify, Eurosport, BBC iPlayer, Spotify and Amazon Prime Video. Additionally, it comes with several dedicated servers for many of the services mentioned above (and more) and features support for torrenting/P2P activities, also with dedicated servers.
Although it can work in conjunction with TOR, we strongly advise you to just choose between TOR and VPN and stick with your choice, since using them both can have disastrous consequences and your speed will be reduced to almost nothing.
During our security tests, we didn’t detect any IP, DNS, WebRTC or Flash IP data leak, so it’s safe to say that ZenMate VPN is capable of providing you with an airtight connection. During our malware security scan, however, VirusTotal triggered a Trojan-Downloader alert, which, although it might be a false-positive, it might startle inexperienced users and make them wary of installing the app on their computers.
ZenMate VPN’s customer support has the complete experience, providing you with live chat, ticket submission and a knowledge-base that’s overflowing with self-help articles, guides and whatnot.
ZenMate VPN offers you a free service type, but it works only on Chrome, Firefox and Opera browsers and, compared to their premium subscription type, is heavily limited in various ways, such as speed throttling, locations, available platforms and more.
Do we recommend Zen Mate VPN? Yes, if you’re not bothered that ZenGuard is a 5, 9, 14 Eyes Alliance member. The service can effortlessly unblock several entertainment sites, it features torrenting support, and, although it has average speed and not the largest network of servers, its price is widely accessible, especially if you’re considering purchasing a bigger subscription plan.
+ Works with TOR and supports torrenting; (5)
+ Good security, leak-free; (5)
+ Can unlock Netflix, Hulu, etc; (5)
– Germany is a member of the 5, 9, 14 Eyes Alliances; (0)
– Terms of Service is only available in German, their translation is not “official”; (1)
– Narrow server network; (2)
– Average connection speeds; (1.5)
Zen Mate VPN receives a 2.78/5 rating.