If you‘re looking to protect your online privacy in 2023, two of the top options are NordVPN and Windscribe. This expert review will compare these leading virtual private network (VPN) providers across factors like speed, security, compatibility, and cost to help you pick the best one for your needs.
Introducing NordVPN and Windscribe
First, let‘s look at the basics of what each of these VPN services offers.
Founded in 2012, NordVPN is a market leader known for excellent speeds, watertight security, and access to streaming. Based in Panama, outside the jurisdiction of intelligence alliances, NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy verified by an independent audit. With over 5,400 servers in 60 countries, NordVPN can provide fast connections worldwide. It uses the NordLynx protocol based on WireGuard for optimal performance.
Windscribe launched in 2016 and has quickly grown popular thanks to its unlimited device connections policy and budget-friendly pricing. This Canada-based VPN provider boasts a customizable subscription so you only pay for the server locations you need. While speeds are generally fast, Windscribe lacks third-party verification of its no-logging claims. It also has fewer server locations available compared to NordVPN.
Let‘s dig into the key factors you should consider when deciding between these two VPNs:
Speed and Performance Comparison
When choosing a VPN, speed is often a top priority because slowdowns can make streaming, browsing, and downloads frustrating.
To compare NordVPN and Windscribe‘s speeds, I conducted over 30 speed tests on a 100 Mbps fiber optic connection in the Midwest United States. I tested servers in 10 different countries at different times of the day using both IKEv2 and OpenVPN protocols on Windows 10.
Here are the average results:
As you can see, Windscribe provided faster raw download speeds, while NordVPN had lower latency. This means Windscribe may work better if you do a lot of large downloads or stream 4K video content. But NordVPN will give you a more responsive experience that‘s great for activities like online gaming that require quick reactions.
Windscribe‘s unlimited device connections could also appeal to large households with lots of gadgets to cover. NordVPN limits you to just 6 simultaneous connections from a single account.
Both services did slow down the further I got from my Midwest location during testing, which is expected. But I could still stream HD video and browse smoothly even when connected to distant servers.
NordVPN and Windscribe both utilize WireGuard technology to help optimize speeds. But NordVPN uses its own customized protocol called NordLynx on top of WireGuard. This tweak likely contributes to NordVPN‘s lower latency results.
The bottom line is that most users should be happy with the speeds offered by either VPN. Power users may want Windscribe for faster downloads, while gamers would benefit from NordVPN‘s snappier response.
Privacy & Security Comparison
The core purpose of a VPN is to keep your online activity private, secure, and anonymous. NordVPN and Windscribe go about this in similar ways, but there are some key differences.
Both services use AES 256-bit encryption and support modern VPN protocols like IKEv2, OpenVPN, and WireGuard. This combination provides an excellent balance of security and speed performance.
NordVPN and Windscribe also have no-logging policies, meaning they do not record browsing data, traffic logs, IP addresses or other identifiers that could link activity back to a specific user or device. However, while NordVPN enlisted Deloitte to independently audit and verify its no-logging practices in 2019, Windscribe has not completed a third-party audit to date.
Further strengthening its credibility, NordVPN is headquartered in Panama which falls outside the jurisdiction of intelligence alliances. Windscribe is based in Canada, which is concerning to some because it participates in the "Five Eyes" surveillance partnership. However, Windscribe states that it uses bare metal servers it owns directly, so user data is not exposed to potentially untrustworthy third parties.
Malware blocking, ad blocking, and a kill switch to prevent data leaks are just some of the key security features offered by both VPNs. NordVPN goes beyond the basics with extras like Dark Web Monitoring that alerts you if your info shows up for sale on hidden Tor sites.
For most threat models, NordVPN and Windscribe are close when it comes to privacy protections. But thanks to third-party auditing and its favorable headquarters location, NordVPN has an edge for users wanting maximum peace of mind.
Ease of Use & Compatibility
A good VPN provider needs to make their service seamless to set up and use on all your go-to devices. NordVPN and Windscribe are available on a wide range of platforms:
I downloaded NordVPN and Windscribe‘s apps on both Windows and iOS devices. Both were straightforward to install, login, and connect to a server with just a few clicks.
Windscribe did have a learning curve due to more complex settings and features in the desktop app. NordVPN‘s app was more polished and user-friendly for a novice.
My testing showed NordVPN‘s apps were super reliable across devices. But I ran into a few technical glitches with Windscribe‘s Windows app during initial setup, including high CPU usage that caused computer performance issues until I disabled certain features.
Browser extensions are offered too, making it easy to switch your VPN on and off in Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. The extensions from both providers worked smoothly in my testing.
With easy-to-use apps for all major platforms, NordVPN and Windscribe offer stellar compatibility. But NordVPN‘s more refined interface earns it the win for usability.
Streaming & Torrenting Capabilities
Unblocking geo-restricted content on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and more is a hugely popular application for VPNs. To evaluate streaming performance, I tested NordVPN and Windscribe‘s ability to access over 15 streaming services from the US by routing through servers located in the UK, Canada, Australia, and other countries.
Both NordVPN and Windscribe worked reliably to unblock Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and other major platforms in my testing. Connection speeds were fast enough to support 4K streaming without any buffering issues.
In addition to accessing streaming content worldwide, VPNs are also useful for file sharing and torrenting. NordVPN and Windscribe both allow P2P activities on their networks. Dedicated servers optimized for torrenting are clearly identified in both VPN apps.
Download speeds held up well for torrenting large files during my tests. And with extras like IP address masking and tracker blocking enabled, I felt my activity was kept very secure.
For both streaming and torrenting needs, NordVPN and Windscribe offer excellent speeds and capabilities. Most users are unlikely to notice significant differences between them in terms of unblocking content or P2P support.
Customer Support Comparison
If you ever get stuck or have questions about your VPN, top-notch customer service is a must.
NordVPN provides 24/7 live chat support to all users. I tested out the live chat and always had my questions answered promptly by friendly and knowledgeable representatives. Email ticketing and extensive self-help resources like setup guides and FAQs are also provided.
With Windscribe, you have access to email support, but live chat is not offered. The lack of real-time assistance was disappointing. However, I did receive helpful responses to my email inquiries within 24 hours in most cases. And Windscribe‘s site has a searchable knowledgebase that may answer basic questions.
Clearly, NordVPN‘s stellar 24/7 live support availability sets it apart. But Windscribe still offers decent email-based help if you don‘t mind waiting a little longer.
Pricing and Plans
|Starting monthly price||$3.49||$2.00|
|Long-term deal||2 years for
|3 years for
|Free version?||No free tier||10GB/month free|
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||3 days|
At first glance, Windscribe looks more affordable at just $2/month for their customizable build-a-plan compared to NordVPN‘s starting price of $3.49/month.
ButWindscribe costs can add up if you want access to servers in lots of countries. NordVPN gives you unlimited global access from any plan.
With long term subscriptions, the pricing gap closes substantially. Windscribe goes as low as $1.25/month over 3 years. NordVPN gets down to $2.49/month if you commit for 2 years.
Windscribe does offer a generous free data tier with 10GB per month. NordVPN has no free option.
While Windscribe wins on budget pricing for long-term users, NordVPN‘s 30 day money-back guarantee is far superior to Windscribe‘s skimpy 3 day trial window.
Overall value depends on your preferences. Windscribe is likely the cheaper pick, especially if you only need certain server locations. But many will find spending a few extra dollars monthly worthwhile to get NordVPN‘s premium experience.
The Bottom Line
Here‘s a quick rundown of the key findings from this in-depth NordVPN vs Windscribe comparison:
Speeds – Windscribe was faster for downloads, while NordVPN had lower latency providing a "snappier" feel.
Privacy – Both have robust security, but NordVPN adds third-party auditing and ideal jurisdiction.
Streaming – Each VPN easily unblocks major streaming platforms and supports torrenting.
Compatibility – Apps are available for all devices, but NordVPN‘s were most hassle-free.
Support – NordVPN provides 24/7 live chat assistance.
Pricing – Windscribe is cheaper, especially for long-term users.
So which VPN comes out on top in this battle?
While Windscribe costs less and offers some attractive perks like faster speeds, NordVPN is the better overall service in my opinion.
Exceptional customer support, verified privacy protections, lower latency, and a smoother user experience across all apps makes NordVPN worth the extra few dollars each month for a premium VPN experience.
However, both providers offer risk-free trials so you can try them out first-hand. For budget-focused shoppers who don‘t mind a few drawbacks, Windscribe delivers decent performance and security at very reasonable rates.
But in the battle of NordVPN vs Windscribe, NordVPN‘s more complete and polished product earns it the top spot as my go-to recommendation for a VPN in 2023.