ProtonVPN is growing steadily and has earned its place among the best VPN services that work to protect your online privacy. The service offers an excellent free version with no data limits, enabling thousands of users to risk-free their online data. We have tested this VPN against the main considerations of the best VPN service, including privacy, security, speed, number of servers, location, and unblocking capabilities. Let’s dive deep into this ProtonVPN review.
Below is a summary highlighting the features of ProtonVPN
|Jurisdiction||Switzerland- not a 5/9/14 EYE International surveillance alliance|
|Security||Secure core, Tor over VPN, Kill switch|
|Protocols||IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, WireGuard|
|Encryption||Robust AES 256-bit encryption|
|Privacy||Strictly no logs policy|
|Streaming||Works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu on the premium plans|
|Torrenting||Allows torrenting on the premium plans|
|Number of servers||1538 servers in 60 countries|
Let’s now tackle ProntonVPN features one by one
ProtonVPN aims at providing access to secure internet and privacy for all regardless of their location. True to their mission, ProtonVPN offers various subscription plans that take care of a wide spectrum of users (from those who can’t afford to pay for VPN to those who require premium service). Hence, the VPN offers Free, Basic, Plus, and Visionary memberships.
ProtonVPN Free plan has no data limits, no ads, and allows connection in 3 countries. We like that the free version is no logs guaranteed and allows access to blocked content (social media, news, YouTube, Wikipedia, and many others regardless of your location). You get medium speeds and one device connection.
One level up, and you get the Basic plan to connect to 400+ servers in 40+ countries. The basic plan offers two device connections, high speeds, strict no logs policy, P2P BitTorrent support, access to blocked content, and Adblocker (Netshield).
The Plus plan supports connection to 1500+ servers in 63 countries. The plan allows 10 VPN connections, the highest speed of up to10Gbps, access blocked content, P2PBitTorrent, streaming service support (Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, and many others. Secure Core VPN and Tor over VPN.
The Visionary plan offers all the Plus features plus ProtonMail Visionary account.
ProtonVPN for Windows
ProtonVPN offers Windows, Android, Android TV, iOS, Chromebooks, and macOS clients. The provider also offers comprehensive instructions on configuring a Linux machine to use the service. Installing ProtonVPN’s Windows app was easy and with no hitches.
ProtonVPN VPN has a user-friendly interface that’s easy to use even if it’s your first time using a VPN. We like that the VPN offers buttons that give you quick access to some of its important features, including Secure Core, ad blocking, and the Kill Switch feature.
Using the app is easy thanks to the VPNs Quick Connect button. The interface is elaborate and shows your connection status and the available servers to enable you to change your VPN location with much ease. You also get a real-time network traffic assessment, as well as a map showing the available servers.
The VPN offers the opportunity to browse the available servers from the list or map. You can also search for your desired server location quickly. The app lets you drill down to any specific server of interest in a location. You also get to know the load the server is experiencing and the kind of server i.e., Plus servers, specialized servers for streaming, Tor, file sharing, and many others.
We particularly liked that the VPN offers a kill switch invaluable for disconnecting your traffic should the VPN disconnect, thus protecting your traffic from exposure. Equally important is the Permanent Kill Switch option in its kill switch that prevents your computer from communicating with the internet even when your computer reboots.
Another important feature we liked was Split Tunneling, a technology that allows you to choose which of your traffic passes through the VPN tunnel and the traffic through your ISP. Hence, you can leave other apps like your local banking app clear while encrypting your streaming or torrenting activities to be anonymous.
ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland, an excellent VPN location that does not require VPN services to keep user data logs. Switzerland is not a member of the 5/9/14 international spying alliance; hence it’s a safe location for privacy.
Strictly no logs policy:
- Log users’ information or the content of any traffic
- Discriminate against devices, applications, or protocols
- Throttle user’s internet connection
The provider only collects your username (not your name or surname), email, and billing information for support and account creation purposes. However, your email address is never shared with third parties.
Full Disk Encryption:
ProtonVPN uses full disk encryption, meaning that a user’s data is kept until erased or overwritten. This increases the chance of data leakage. Many leading VPN services, including NordVPN and ExpressVPN, have moved to RAM-based servers, which are superior in that a user’s data is deleted when the servers are restarted. It’s about time ProtonVPN should move from full disk encryption to RAM-based servers.
ProtonVPN security and encryption
ProtonVPN has impressive security features aimed at protecting users again all kinds of online privacy threats. The VPN uses the unbreakable AES 256 encryption and IKEv2, OpenVPN (UDP/TCP), and WireGuard protocols. WireGuard is the epitome of ease of use, speed, and low attack surfaces.
Making sense of ProtonVPN Secured Core Servers
ProtonVN provides Secure Core servers that route a user’s traffic through multiple servers, making it impossible for malicious third parties to discover the location or IP address of the ProtonVPN user. Even if the attackers were to seize a VPN server, the Secure Core scheme ensures that they cannot get hold of a user’s information. The traffic will appear to be coming from the Secure Core server and not from the user’s actual computer. The VPN also has Tor integration for added security.
ProtonVPN Netshield feature is excellent at protecting users against malware, trackers, and invasive ads. A kill switch is also available on Windows, macOS, Linux, and iOS/iPad OS. Hence security-wise, ProtonVPN is good.
ProtonVPN speed and performance
We connected to a 600Mbps connection in the UK and USA in our tests. Then we checked the speed results with speedtest.net, a reliable internet speed check service. We repeated each test thrice and analyzed the data to determine the median speeds.
OpenVPN results were excellent at 260Mbps in the UK and 300Mbps in the US. That is an impressive performance compared to many VPNs we’ve tested for the two regions.
Interestingly, our speeds went high when we connected to the WireGuard protocol giving us P-310Mbps in the UK and 410Mbps in the US. We noticed a considerable loss in speed when using the ProtonVPNs Secure Core servers feature.
ProtonVPN has speed calculation on its pricing page, which is a guideline on the expected speeds per subscription tier. However, ProtonVPN does not throttle a user’s speed. For instance, the free subscription has medium speeds because ProtonVPN expects users to crowd on a few servers. On the other hand, paid subscriptions have higher speeds because they have many servers with few users per server.
ProtonVPN server and server locations
ProtonVPN has an impressive server coverage spreading in 61 countries. This is above the 53-country average for many VPN services. However, ExpressVPN offers servers in 94 countries which is very impressive. A VPN with a huge server coverage offers a high possibility of connecting to the nearby server quickly. Also, you get an opportunity to unblock services worldwide by spoofing your location to any desired region.
ProtonVPN servers are well spread worldwide. Indeed, it is among a few VPN server locations in Africa, South America, and India. They are continuously expanding their server presence in many new geographical locations in response to users’ requests.
ProtonVPN has servers in highly censored regions like Russia, Vietnam, Turkey, and China (Hong Kong). While the presence of servers in these countries will not help the residents bypass censorship, they provide the citizens with much-needed security and privacy.
ProtonVPN offers torrenting on selected servers. We like that it has the kill switch feature, which is invaluable as you can choose to turn the VPN on only on the torrenting app, thereby taking care of speed issues. Split tunneling is available on Windows and Android. ProtonVPN does not condone the use of BitTorrent to share copyrighted material illegally but for downloading and sharing legal content. You can read our best VPNs for torrenting to learn more about the best P2P services that are safe for torrenting in 2022.
Netflix and streaming
While ProtonVPN is known for its security and privacy features, we established that the VPN is excellent at unblocking websites.
In our streaming tests with ProtonVPN, we could unblock and access various streaming platforms that prove elusive to many VPN services.
We easily bypassed BBC iPlayer to access the platform’s extensive library from different locations. Even our test for reliability with distant servers was impressive.
ProtonVPN is among a handful of VPNs that work with Netflix UK and Netflix US. We were equally successful with distant test locations, and the quality of the streams was impressive no matter the test location.
The test results were also impressive with Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus, whereby we could stream US-only content from all-out desired locations.
However, you will need at least a ProtonVPN Plus account to access these popular streaming services. The free account or Basic subscription won’t do.
Reliability & Support
Just how reliable is ProtonVPN’s support? The provider offers email support for paid users. ProtonVPN promises to answer email queries within 1-2 business days, which is long if you get stuck using the VPN service. It offers no sense given other VPNs’ 24/7 live chat service where users get answers to their questions and help in real-time. The VPN also has a detailed FAQ on its website, but a live chat would be invaluable for users.
Contacting them for a query took them more than twenty hours to answer, and I honestly didn’t have the patients wait for another similar duration to get some clarification. The back and forth would be unnecessary if only the VPN had a live chat service. So, I wouldn’t say I liked the ProtonVPN support service; they need to improve in this sector to be competitive.
Final verdict-impressive privacy and security features but slow speeds
ProtonVPN offers excellent privacy and security features; however, its speeds still want More so when you connect on distant servers or perform heavy internet activities like torrenting and streaming movies. The speeds are slow even on its premium plans. However, we found the WireGuard protocol to lift the speeds and the VPN Accelerator feature, which is good.
Does ProtonVPN have a free version?
Yes, ProtonVPN has a free version. However, if you want to get the best performance, I recommend using its paid version. While the free service offers unlimited data and is the only one of its kind, they offer servers in only 3 countries which are undoubtedly overcrowded. Hence, you get slow speeds. Indeed, in our tests, we experience really slow speeds with the free option; at times, we got as low as 8Mbps, you get the idea. Besides, the free version does not support streaming services. You will require the plus account to unblock and stream Netflix.
Does ProtonVPN work with Netflix?
Yes, ProtonVPN unblocks Netflix, but you’ll need the Plus account. Its free version will not work with Netflix. The basic servers can only access Netflix movies and show available everywhere.
Is ProtonVPN legal?
ProtonVPN is a legit VPN service provider based in Switzerland with 1538 servers in over 60 countries. It embraces a strict no-data logging policy, which supports the Swiss government’s robust consumer privacy laws.
Is ProtonVPN safe to use?
ProtonVPN is safe; The VPN uses AES 256 encryption to protect users’ online data. You can add a layer of security by using the VPNs Secure Core servers that enable you to double-hop your traffic to one of its secure data centers. ProtonVPN also has a strictly no logs policy and is based in Switzerland, an excellent VPN privacy location with no metadata laws. A trustworthy company owns ProtonVPN, its code has been audited and verified, and the VPN publishes transparency reports. The VPN passed all our DNS and IP leak tests at ipleak.net; hence it’s a safe VPN service.
What devices does ProtonVPN support?
ProtonVPN works with Windows, Android, Android TVs, Android phones, Mac, iOS, Fire TV Stick, Linux, Chromebook. However, it does not work with Playstation, Apple TV, or Xbox. But you can manually configure the VPN to work on a router that connects to these devices. It’s important to note that PRotonVPN does not offer Smart DNS that makes connecting to gaming consoles and certain smart TVs a breeze.