WARP’s free mobile VPN came as a surprise to many after starting off as an online security and infrastructure company with its 126.96.36.199 DNS service. I wanted to know if it’s a viable free VPN option or if it’s cutting corners (in short: it is).
To find out more, I tested WARP’s streaming capability, security features, server network, and user privacy. Although it offers compelling security for local networks, it falls short in delivering the features that you want in a VPN such as geo-spoofing and end-to-end security. If you need a fully-fledged VPN to protect more than just mobile, you should try Surfshark’s high speeds and secure network for free for 30 days.
WARP is unable to unblock streaming content — according to Cloudflare, it was never designed with this in mind. However, you can still access local streaming services. This is due to WARP not changing your IP address (a unique identifier that services can use to geolocate you), but only providing encryption and possible speed improvements for some users.
You can avoid annoying Netflix proxy errors with WARP, unless you’re already in a country that doesn’t have access to the streaming service. This allows you to connect with added security without blocking access to your favorite content.
If you need a VPN to unblock streaming services, I highly recommend ExpressVPN for its high-speed servers and large global server network. These features are the key to streaming content in high definition from anywhere.
While testing WARP’s free version, my speeds were reduced by around 80% while using WiFi and by around 5% with mobile data. WARP claims that speed improvements are more likely on slower networks, though my home network can reach over 400Mbps and WARP wasn’t able to maintain these high speeds. For users with slower or unreliable connections, WARP is more likely to provide benefits.
Even though my speeds were significantly reduced on my home network, this was only a problem for data-intensive activities (like downloading large files). For day-to-day activities, including browsing or streaming videos, 80Mbps is sufficient. I noticed no reduction in loading times and streams loaded instantly in full HD just like before.
I was disappointed in WARP+’s speeds when I ran tests. It routes your traffic to the websites you’re visiting through the Cloudflare server closest to the site to increase your speeds in theory. Sadly, my speeds were almost exactly the same.
Speed determines how fast content uploads, so if you're torrenting or streaming, you want the speed to be somewhat identical to your regular internet speed. Since a VPN encrypts your data, it usually takes a bit longer to send your data back and forth, which can slow down your connection. However, if your ISP deliberately slows down your connection (also known as throttling) a VPN might increase your internet speed. Testing a VPN is somewhat pointless because new servers pop up and affect speed. Your speed can also differ according to your location, so your speed test might not match ours. Having said that, we tested the speed in numerous locations to provide you with the average.
Unfortunately, you can’t take full advantage of WARP’s large network as you’re always auto-connected to the closest server. You also can’t use WARP to access geo-blocked content since it wasn’t designed with geolocation spoofing in mind (unlike most other VPNs). WARP is ideal for securing your connection and potentially increasing your speed. The fact that it has access to such a large network means that you should have a reliable local connection from anywhere. Server congestion should also be reduced as users won’t be connecting to the most popular servers like on other VPNs (to unblock streaming services).
I’ve liked Cloudflare’s commitment to a more secure and private internet for a while, starting with the 188.8.131.52 service before WARP was released. 184.108.40.206 is a DNS resolver (used to connect users to the right server when they enter a URL) that adds speed and encryption rather than using your ISP or Google’s DNS. You can use it to get speeds up to twice as fast as Google’s DNS — impressive considering it launched 8 years after Google and is now the second-largest public DNS resolver.
WARP is a new addition to the 220.127.116.11 mobile app, with which you now get an encrypted tunnel in addition to its encrypted DNS. It hides your traffic from your ISP and anyone locally sharing your network, giving you increased privacy and preventing third-party spying on public WiFi. This is a great first step, but it doesn’t hide your IP address from websites you visit — if you want complete privacy, this isn’t the best solution.
If you want a VPN that keeps you private from your ISP, local users, and websites, you can try Surfshark’s security features for free for 30 days. It has high speeds and a large server network, and it can be used to access streaming content from anywhere unlike WARP.
Cloudflare makes a number of promises for user privacy, including that it:
Cloudflare only claims to store the absolute minimum necessary logs, including performance data (how much users transfer), anonymized device data, request data (source IP, source port, and destination IP), crash logs, and type of operating system.
I was concerned that it retains request data for 24 hours — supposedly to respond to emergency law enforcement requests. This could show which websites a user visited, something that most premium VPNs aim to avoid with various methods. For instance, Surfshark uses RAM-based servers so user data is never even written to a hard drive.
I don’t recommend torrenting with WARP, since it doesn’t hide your IP address. Although you can download torrents, your digital identity won’t be protected. The chances of getting caught are just as high as if you weren’t connected to it.
If you need a VPN for torrenting, NordVPN is a fantastic choice with secure and high-speed servers. You’re even able to use P2P protocols including torrenting software on all of its servers.
WARP doesn’t work in China. WARP only encrypts your data using your existing IP address. This means that it’s unable to unblock content that’s blocked inside China.
If you want a reliable VPN for browsing in China, I recommend checking out the best VPNs for China.
Cloudflare doesn’t state a definitive number of maximum device connections, so you can use it on as many as you want without logging into an account. If you connect on multiple mobile devices logged in to different Google or Apple accounts, the separate installations won’t be tied back to one user’s WARP account.
I tested WARP on 2 Android devices under the same Google account. I stayed connected on both devices for almost a whole day and the connection never dropped or noticeably slowed down.
WARP is currently only available on Android and iOS.
Beta versions will soon be available for Windows and Mac, but you’ll have to enter a waiting list to be notified when they’re available. If you need a Windows VPN in the meantime, you can take a look at this list of the best VPNs for Windows.
Cloudflare has made reaching customer support far more difficult than it should be. It even warns users in its forums not to contact support through traditional means (email, live chat, and phone) but submit a bug report and wait for a response instead. I sent a report and asked if Cloudflare could advise me on how to improve speeds. Unfortunately, more than a week later (at the time of writing), I still hadn’t heard back. This makes me wonder if support is sufficiently managed or just used for bug reports.
We personally test the customer support team of every VPN we review. This means asking technical question through the live chat feature (where applicable) and measuring the response time for email questions. Whether you need to connect to a specific server, change your security protocol, or configure a VPN on your router, finding a VPN with quality customer support should be important to you.
The best thing about WARP is that it’s free and you can also get an upgrade to WARP+ for $4.99/month (which promises faster speeds).
I can’t currently recommend WARP+, since it didn’t improve my speeds over the regular WARP connection. For less than half the price of WARP+, I can get a Surfshark subscription — which has higher speeds, more advanced security, and the ability to unblock geo-restricted content like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and more.
WARP offers some great features such as an encrypted tunnel and DNS, but overall fails to compare to other premium VPNs on the market.
I was most excited to see WARP’s supposed higher speeds, but experienced slower speeds on both WiFi and mobile instead. It fills a very niche spot in the VPN market — primarily offering protection against those sharing your local network and hiding your browsing from your ISP and other prying eyes. If the speeds and security features can be improved, I might change my mind. I can’t recommend getting WARP until then.
If you’re searching for a more fully-featured VPN with high speeds, strong security, and the ability to unblock numerous streaming platforms while on a budget, Surfshark is a better option. You can also try it for free for 30 days with zero risk.
Since it’s free, it’s worth checking to see if WARP makes a difference to your internet connection. If you have a slow or unreliable connection, it may help you get faster speeds. Otherwise, it’s a good basic option if you want to stay secure on shared networks or hide your activity from your ISP. WARP+ (the paid option) isn’t worth using since my tests showed no difference in speeds, and you can get a premium VPN with better features for the same price or less.
If you’re looking for higher-level security and the ability to unblock streaming content and torrenting, you should check out one of the top 10 premium VPNs on the market.
Yes, you can get WARP completely for free through the Android or iOS mobile app stores.
If you’d like to find out more about other free VPNs, you can check out this list of the best free VPNs on the market. However, I recommend against using free VPNs for their weak performance and security issues.
WARP is safe, but it has some security restrictions. Although it encrypts your traffic, it doesn’t hide your IP address from peers or websites you visit when you’re torrenting. This gives you security in certain situations but leaves you exposed in others. It also keeps some logs for 24 hours, but you can avoid this by choosing a VPN with a strict no-logs policy.
For a secure alternative, Surfshark has advanced encryption that keeps you hidden online, a no-logs policy, and changes your IP and DNS addresses so websites can’t identify you.
Yes, using a VPN is legal in almost all countries around the world. There are a few including North Korea or Iran where it’s criminalized, and some other countries that ban VPNs or make using them a challenge. As long as you don’t engage in criminal activity while connected to WARP, you should be fine!
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