WARP VPN Review 2021: Before You Buy, Is It Worth It?

What do we look at?

Disclosures:
Referral fees

Wizcase may earn an affiliate commission when a purchase is made using our links. However, this has no influence on the content of the reviews we publish or on the products/services reviewed. Our content may include direct links to buy products that are part of affiliate programs.

Ownership

Kape Technologies PLC, the parent company of Wizcase, owns CyberGhost, ZenMate, Private Internet Access, and Intego, which may be reviewed on this website.

Our Reviews

WizCase includes reviews written by our experts. They evaluate the products/services in accordance with their professional standards.

Reviews standards

All reviews published on Wizcase meet our strict reviewing standards, in order to ensure that each review is based on the reviewer's independent, honest, and professional examination of the product/service. Such standards require the reviewer to consider the technical qualities and characteristics of the product alongside its commercial value for users, which may affect the product's ranking on the website.

WARP VPN Overview May 2021

WARP’s free mobile VPN came as a surprise to many after starting off as an online security and infrastructure company with its 1.1.1.1 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.

Don’t Have Time? Here’s a 1-Minute Summary

WARP by Cloudflare Doesn’t Unblock Content — It Only Improves Connection Speeds in Your Country

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.

Speed3.0

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.

Screenshot of WARP speedtests on a home WiFi connection without WARP connected and the 80% speed reduction with it connected.
I got significantly slower speeds when connected to WARP since it’s not intended for high-speed networks

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.

Why Most Speed Tests are Pointless & How We Correctly Test VPN Speeds

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.

Servers3.0

Server Network — Large Network but No Manual Server Selection

WARP is based on Cloudflare’s fast global network in 200 cities and over 100 countries. This is an impressive built-in infrastructure that many other VPNs lack.
Screenshot of Cloudflare's global server network map.
Cloudflare is known for its fast and robust server infrastructure — a great foundation for a VPN

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).

Security — Strong Encryption With Some Drawbacks

I’ve liked Cloudflare’s commitment to a more secure and private internet for a while, starting with the 1.1.1.1 service before WARP was released. 1.1.1.1 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 1.1.1.1 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.

You can also integrate Cloudflare’s Gateway service into WARP for free by signing up and entering your unique ID in the app. This gives you another layer of security by blocking dangerous DNS requests by matching them against its threat database (which monitors new and evolving threats including malware and spyware across over 25 million websites).
Screenshot of Cloudflare's WARP IP and DNS leak test result - it didn't pass since it doesn't replace users' addresses.
WARP increases connection security, but doesn’t add complete privacy

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.

Privacy — A Good Foundation but a Few Grey Areas Leave Room for Concern

Cloudflare makes a number of promises for user privacy, including that it:

  • Never logs user-identifiable data to disk.
  • Never sells your browsing data or use it in any way to target you with ads.
  • Doesn’t require personal information including your name, number, or email address.
  • Hires third-party auditors to verify its claims.

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.

When Cloudflare hired KPMG to perform an independent audit in 2019, it passed with a couple of minor issues. The auditor found that Cloudflare’s logs were actually wiped after 25 hours and some anonymized data was stored indefinitely. It updated its privacy policy in line with this.

Torrenting — No IP Change Makes It a Bad Choice

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.

Additionally, Cloudflare has stated in its privacy policy that it will share your personal data “to respond to subpoenas, court orders, or legal process, or to establish or exercise our legal rights or defend against legal claims.” This means that if you’re caught illegally pirating and the copyright holder legally requests information from Cloudflare, it can share your information with the government.

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.

Does WARP by Cloudflare Work in China? — No, Don’t Try!

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.

Server Locations

WARP VPN

User Experience6.0

Simultaneous Device Connections — Inconclusive Number of Devices

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.

Device Compatibility — Currently Just on Mobile but Desktop Version In Progress

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.

Ease of Set-Up & Installation — Easy Mobile Installation on Android and iOS

  1. Go to the Google Play or iOS App Store and download the 1.1.1.1 app.
  2. Open the app, click “Get Started”, and accept the Privacy Policy once you’ve read it.
    Screenshot of the WARP install process on Android.
  3. When you click to connect, you’ll be prompted to install a new VPN configuration on your device. Afterwards, you’ll be automatically connected.
    Screenshot of Cloudflare's WARP initiating a connection on an Android phone.

Support3.0

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.

Screenshot of Cloudflare's WARP customer support information, informing users to only use the app for support issues.
Your only other option is to use Cloudflare’s support forums in the large and active community and a dedicated section for the 1.1.1.1 app. Since there’s no instant support available, this is another good alternative to submitting a bug report in the app.

How We Test Customer Support and Why Should You Care

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.

Pricing5.0

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).

There’s no official money-back guarantee from Cloudflare — you’re only able to get one if you subscribe through Google Play and initiate the refund within 48 hours. You won’t be able to get a refund on iOS. Fortunately, I bought my subscription on Android and successfully got a refund.
Screenshots of WARP Google refund process.
I was disappointed that WARP doesn’t have a longer refund policy

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 VPN offers the following plans

Final Verdict

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.

Common FAQs

😀 Is WARP worth getting?

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.

🤑 Can I use WARP for free?

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.

🙃 Is WARP actually safe?

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.

😅 Is it legal to use WARP?

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!

Try WARP now

Important to know

No

Contact Details

one.one.one.one

Compare with Alternatives

9.8 / 10
Visit
9.5 / 10
Visit
9.4 / 10
Visit
WARP VPN
4.0  / 10

Share & Support

WizCase is an independent review site. We are reader-supported so we may receive a commission when you buy through links on our site. You do not pay extra for anything you buy on our site — our commission comes directly from the product owner.

Support WizCase to help us guarantee honest and unbiased advice. Share our site to support us!