ZenMate VPN in brief:

  • P2P allowed: Yes
  • Business location: Berlin, Germany
  • Number of servers: 300+
  • Number of country locations: 29
  • Cost: $60 per year
  • VPN protocol: IPSec + L2TP
  • Data encryption: 2048-bit PSK/ESP 
  • Data authentication: AES 256/HMAC
  • Handshake encryption: IKEv2 sha256 with 4096-bit RSA

When you think of Zen you probably think of monks, meditation, and cryptic sayings meant to expand your understanding of the world. But the word also suggests a certain sparseness and simplicity. Germany-based ZenGuard took those latter notions to heart when it created its ZenMate VPN service.

ZenMate is by far one of the more simplified VPN services I’ve tested. Similar to SurfEasy it sits in the system tray and acts as a simple pop-up. There’s no adjustable window, just a panel that cannot be moved.

zenmateconnected IDG

ZenMate with an active connection.

When I first saw this with SurfEasy I found it confining and a little frustrating to use. That’s not the case here. The design is so simple and clean with lots of extra space that it doesn’t feel as restricting.

There’s really nothing to it. If you want to pick a specific country you click the bar with the connection, choose your country from the list, and you’re off to the races. If you want to turn off the VPN, you click the shield in the center of the app.

Note: This review is part of our best VPNs roundup. Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them.

Features and services

That right there is the bulk of ZenMate. At the bottom of the panel are four icons that let you view your account, VPN settings, bandwidth statistics, and notifications.

That’s all pretty straightforward, although ZenMate could’ve been a little more helpful to first-time users by indicating what each icon represents. An easy solution, without mucking up the design, would’ve been to show some pop-up text when you hover over each icon with your mouse.

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