The popularity of ProtonVPN is rapidly growing. It’s ranks are getting higher and recommendations better. We decided to prepare our own ProtonVPN review and verify whether all of the stated features and characteristics make ProtonVPN a fast-growing key player in the market.
A wide range of offered reviews claim ProtonVPN to be safe and secure, and this is something one would naturally expect from a service developed by people who created ProtonMail – probably the most secure email service. It may be a new player in the game but it has some big guns to play.
ProtonVPN has a special bonus in the form of Swiss jurisdiction which we’ll talk about later. It has a number of physical servers spread out across the world to enhance the speed and functionality. In addition, it operates within its own network through various servers prior to leaving into the open Web.
Perhaps most users don’t need that level of masking and encryption on a daily basis. But the company has turned its artillery into an understandable, versatile, easy-to-use VPN tool. Let’s take a closer look at ProtonVPN to find out if it’s as secure and unique as it claims to be.
- Advanced security features
- Strong encryption
- Consistently speedy connection
- Double-hop configurations
- No logs
- Perfect forward secrecy
- Free version
- Built-in Tor support
- Up to 10 connections at a time
- DSN leak protection
- Unlimited bandwidth
- P2P support
- Comparatively high prices (above average)
- Frequent connection issues
- No live chat.
A Short History Lesson
According to ProtonVPN official website, its history began at CERN, which is the place of birth of the world wide web. The same CERN Scientist, who created the ProtonMail encrypted mail service to commemorate the 25ths anniversary of the web, decided to come up with a VPN solution to allow even better protection on the web for journalists and public activists who used ProtonMail.
As a crowdfunded project, ProtonVPN keeps being supported by the community. The team of qualified engineers, scientists and developers are working on further improvement and development of the service to guarantee the leading encryption connection standards, undeniable security, competitive speed, and moderate pricing.
It all sounds great, and still, we cannot but mention that if you dig a little deeper, it becomes clear that ProtonVPN/ProtonMail is actually closely associated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, as this is where they initially got the funding. At the same time, you won’t find a single mention of the fact through the company’s official channel – they prefer to be treated as an exclusively Swiss company.
But let’s move on to basic features ProtonVPN has to offer to see if the service is really focused on users’ privacy and security as it claims. At first glance, the set of features one can get with ProtonVPN looks quite impressive. As the service was designed on the back of protection experts, its encryption and protocol standards are top-notch. Additionally, other important features such as connections and customer support don’t disappoint. However, there are certain drawbacks that will be mentioned in our review.
ProtonVPN Plans & Pricing
There’s a logic to ProtonVPN pricing and a bunch of features that are divided among the packages. The Free Plan doesn’t require any price per month and offers the least: just three countries to choose from, the encryption, 1 device and medium speed. It works great, will cover your basic browsing needs and mask you well but that’s it. However, other major VPNs don’t offer such an option, which makes Proton an enticing brand.
The Basic Plan provides access to all countries, you get the standard ProtonVPN encryption, high speed, the P2P is covered and is available for two devices. There isn’t really a bandwidth limitation at this point really but you won’t get access to Proton’s premium services just yet.
The best price/feature option, the Plus Plan, is an awesome deal where you get all of the ProtonVPN features, including OnionOver VPN, Tor, torrenting, Netflix, premium servers, availability for 5 devices, secure streaming – the full meal-deal. All the features are included in this ProtonVPN price plan.
The Visionary Plan adds the famous ProtonMail and 10, virtually creating a void for all of the Internet activities you may desire to accomplish within the Proton network, fully concealing you from any snooping hackers, government workers, or malware. The price may seem a bit biting but it is justified for what you get.
Let us note that the company offers a 30-day money back guarantee irrespective of the plan you have chosen. PayPal and major credit cards are accepted.
ProtonVPN Trial Version
ProtonVPN trial version is the infamous carrot on a stick that lures you into something bigger than you. The free trial will be quite short, only 7 days long, but it will be worth your while. ProtonVPN trial offers the full Plus Plan experience to you for a week to have a valid test drive of its full potential.
You will get to try out the high speed, premium serves, streaming, torrenting, OnionOver VPN, Tor compatibility, full encryption and everything else on either 1 or 5 devices for 7 days. To experience the ProtonVPN free trial version, just click on this link, create a free account, download, install, and open the tool.
ProtonVPN Free Version
It’s quite tricky to mix the trial and free versions when it comes to ProtonVPN because it has a special offer to users like no other VPN has. While VPNs usually have a free 30-day trial version after which you have to either buy the plan or ta-ta, ProtonVPN has a permanent free version with limited features.
This plan has a set of primary functions. You can only use the service on one device at a time and will have servers in three selected countries at your disposal. You are not likely to have bandwidth limitations or annoying ads, but the speed will be comparatively low. Free download is here.
ProtonVPN Money Back
As we’ve already mentioned, ProtonVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee. It is nothing new to the market: the absolute majority of VPNs has the exact same policy. Nonetheless, it’s better to have it than not. Like in any other warranty, the guarantee has terms to be fulfilled.
ProtonVPN 30-day money-back guarantee commences on the day of the purchase and starts its countdown from that moment. You may request a refund for any unused part of the service within 30 days after the initial purchase by canceling your account.
The unused part means the remaining unused days from these 30 ones. ProtonVPN may consider refund requests outside this window, but it’s totally at their discretion. The money is refunded in the original currency and is processed within a 30-day period. The clause works only if you bought the subscription from the official ProtonVPN or ProtonMail websites.
To read more about the terms and conditions of the ProtonVPN money back guarantee, click on this link.
ProtonVPN Payment Methods
Like most other VPNs, ProtonVPN accepts the standard payment methods, like Visa/MasterCard, Bitcoin, and PayPal. While accessing the ‘Pricing’ tab on the official website, you’ll be offered to choose either of the said payment options. If you want to upgrade your Free version, you can do it in the ‘Dashboard’ section of your ProtonVPN account. Remember that if you decide to request a refund, you will get the same currency in the same form transferred to the same financial account from which the purchase was made initially.
Privacy and Security
So, let’s proceed with our review of ProtonVPN and shift our focus back to privacy and security. ProtonVPN claims that the safety and security of the client are their primary concern. There are several characteristics to consider that make up the service’s privacy and security features quite reliable.
Firstly, the encryption is full-proof and uses the best available option on the market – AES-256. The idea behind this type of encryption is that it’s not as scientific as it is mathematical. The data is easily encrypted but is very hard to decrypt because of the specificity of the encryption algorithm. This is the highest encryption standard on the market at the moment.
Additionally, the network is characterized by carefully selected encryption cipher suites. Perfect Forward Secrecy is used to ensure that encrypted traffic can’t be decrypted or captured in case the encryption key from the session is compromised. Each connection has a separate specifically generated encryption key to eliminate possible risks.
OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols are used as they may guarantee the maximal security of the connection. Furthermore, a customer may be 100% sure that the VPN tunnel will not use an already compromised protocol.
While OpenVPN is a gold industry standard, most VPNs offer several more options for users to choose from (L2TP, PPTP). With PrrotonVPN other protocols are not available, which is a disappointing fact for the users of older devices that do not support OpenVPN.
Another feature is the 4096-bit RSA key exchange. It uses long server encryption keys to safeguard files that can be decrypted only within the same system and network. It’s a heavy-duty addition to mask the P2P experience, but it’s worth it in order to avoid any leaks of your digital imprint.
HMAC with SHA384 is utilized to guarantee full security of your communication while using ProtonVPN. It is a feature that ensures the safety of your messages while they travel between the Proton network and your device. It serves as an additional precaution that the traffic between you and Proton hasn’t been tampered with. Temperance can occur on any step of the way.
We concur that the advanced security system developed by ProtonVPN eliminates the ability of attackers to eavesdrop on your connection.
IP and DNS Leaks
ProtonVPN claims that no IP or DNS are leaked during its utilization and that is true. Remember that IP, Web-RTC and DNS, if leaked, will immediately give away either your or your ISP’s location which will quickly lead to your device being individualized by a safeguarding program or an intentional seeker.
The issue can be caused mainly by the connection conflicts, which results in data seeping through. This is especially relevant since data can be leaked during reconnection if the connection was killed.
We were happy to discover that all the ProtonVPN connections turned out to be leak-free. All the conducted tests proved that the service guarantees 100% safety and protection of the connection.
Apart from the top-notch encryptions and protocols, ProtonVPN has some extra useful features:
- Kill Switch. ProtonVPN Windows app features a kill switch that is supposed to block all the network connections the moment the connection with ProtonVPN server is lost. The function is ultimately useful. It helps to prevent revealing of your IP address when the VPN server disconnects. Mac, iOS and Android devices boast an always-on feature instead. We recommend to keep it on as this way the app will automatically reestablish a VPN connection.
- Secure Core. To ensure ultimate security and anonymity, the traffic is routed through several servers (in Switzerland, Sweden or Iceland) before leaving ProtonVPN’s network. It is worth noting, though, that enabling this feature leads to a significant speed drop.
ProtonVPN Logging Policy
Privacy-focused users will appreciate ProtonVPN’s adherence to no logging policy. With this provider, you can rest assured that your VPN connection is anonymous and no personal information or other details of your connections are stored by the company. There is much privacy-related going on here.
The idea behind the no loggins policy is that nothing about your experience within the Proton network gets stored, except for a single timestamp of your account’s last login and ProtonID. However, this data will be overwritten by the next time that you log in. ProtonVPN doesn’t even store crash logs. This will not let any surveillance service track you, and no information about your location and the time of your staying logged is stored.
The mentioned details are paramount not only for your concerns about being discovered. People use VPNs not only to access restricted content but to indulge in iffy online behavior as well. It is especially relevant since ProtonVPN is Tor-compatible and has OnionOverVPN, allowing you to experience the full submergence into the darknet.
Offering all these features requires a very high standard for privacy. You, as a consumer, have to be comfortable with Proton seeing what you’re up to while the rest of the world isn’t. Either way, ProtonVPN is fully automatic. Nobody will observe your activity or store any logs about it apart from that last login timestamp. Your ProtonID that can be linked to any email you desire.
One last pro we’d like to mention is the ProtonVPN transparency report which shares the last requests for sharing user information from outside parties and how they were dealt with. Although this data is at Proton’s discretion and we’re only left with the choice to trust it, it does enhance the feeling of staying safe within the Proton network as a masked consumer.
The Swiss stamp of guarantee is present on the ProtonVPN ‘pros’ list as it isn’t a member of the 14-eyes surveillance network and it’s outside of the US or EU jurisdiction. The company’s official jurisdiction is in Switzerland, which unlike the US, is substantively privacy-friendly. It is not a 14-eyes country (just a cooperative member of the eyes alliance), which makes it a good, but not the perfect location for VPN’s HQ.
For comparison’s sake, NordVPN is located, operates from and is subject to Panama’s jurisdiction only – a country that is under nobody’s jurisdiction and isn’t a member of the surveillance network in any manner.
ProtonVPN also features built-in Tor support. Literally, it means that a customer can route all the traffic through the Tor network, as well as access dark web sites. Thus, a customer gets a unique opportunity to access Onion sites conveniently just in one click.
Performance & Speed
ProtonVPN is an undeniable expert in privacy and security. With more than 400 servers in more than 30 locations, it is also a useful tool for accessing geo-restricted content. However, a significant number of servers to choose from do not guarantee stable performance. Therefore, we tested ProtonVPN in terms of speed, and for DNS and IP leaks to see if we can expect to have a pleasant experience with this service.
Speed is one of the most important features of a VPN, as it determines whether the service will be a good match for torrent downloads, streaming, and gaming, and these activities are among the major reason to use a VPN.
Based on the results of several speed tests we came to the conclusion that ProtonVPN’s speed is overall decent but it demonstrates higher ping than some of its major counterparts. It depends to a great extent on the location of the server. Here are the results we’ve obtained:
- UK servers. Ping – 183ms, download – 24.8Mbps, upload – 87.5Mbps
- EU servers. Ping – 216ms, download – 18.5Mbps, upload – 77.8Mbps
- US servers. Ping – 150ms, download – 80.9Mbps, upload – 99.6Mbps
- Asia servers. Ping – 366ms, download – 12.83Mbps, upload – 12.1Mbps
Naturally, when connecting to more distant locations, one can expect to experience a significant speed drop. However, this wasn’t the case for ProtonVPN. You can successfully opt for farther servers if the US ones are too crowded: servers in Australia, Singapore, India, and South Korea performed well within the range of 20-45Mbps on a 75Mbps testing scale.
Proton VPN for Netflix & Streaming
Accessing Netflix and other streaming services is the most popular feature the average consumer looks for in a VPN. There are various reasons for this demand, and not all of them have to do with malicious attempt to avoid paying for certain content.
Netflix is very keen on acquiring any possible royalty for all the copyright included within its content. It has a whole security system searching out ‘unsafe’ (VPN-ized) connections to block them out. The US, in general, enhances all of the copyright or governmental censorship licenses and agreement.
According to the information, offered within ProtonVPN website, Netflix can be accessed successfully on certain servers. We’ve managed to access Netflix on Netherland servers, and after a number of tries, one of the US servers worked as well.
Therefore, for now, ProtonVPN does successfully unblock Netflix, but it may take you a while to find a server that will work for you. When it comes to other popular streaming options, like Kodi, Firestick and Popcorn time, ProtonVPN can unblock them, but they are only available on specific servers.
ProtonVPN for Torrenting
Relying on a VPN with the safety of your data is just a part of a deal, as the ability to torrent and stream is highly valued by many users.
While ProtonVPN is good at keeping the IP address anonymous, speed tests results turn it into a questionable choice for torrenting and streaming. Which means you may torrent with no worries that this fact will become evident to your ISP, but it may take you a while to actually get the file downloaded.
With ProtonVPN’s free and basic plans you will not have access to torrent file sharing at all (the plans come with numerous limitations, which we’ll discuss in detail shortly).
The reason for the inconvenience can be easily explained, though. P2P can enhance the load on the servers, putting more pressure and restricting the ability to subsidize free accounts. Nevertheless, torrenting is available on paid plans, on certain servers.With Plus and Visionary plans (top tiers) you’ll get a chance to use the Secure Core feature, enjoy safe file sharing and secure streaming. ProtonVPN allows torrenting on the condition that is intended for “personal, non-commercial use.” Therefore, Plus and Visionary plans users can torrent using selected servers in a torrenting-friendly location.
In the event that you encounter any problems when using the VPN service, you may contact their customer support via email or use the knowledge base to resolve the problem. The knowledge base is quite useful when it comes to FAQs, terms & conditions, as well as regular issues regarding the tool’s use.
We were quite disappointed to see no live chat option is available, as pretty often the whole process of back-and-forth requests and replies sending may take up to a week. This is especially ineffective if the consumer has experienced crashes or other malperformance.
Nonetheless, it took ProtonVPN less than 24 hours to answer our request, just like other users’ reviews indicate. Besides, the answer was quite comprehensive and informative. Therefore, the ProtonVPN support, despite not being readily available, possesses a high level of expertise and comprehensively approaches the customers’ requests for help.
ProtonVPN is a highly versatile masking tool which aims to cater to everyone on the market. It is compatible with Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Linux, and you can even install it on your router. It functions formidably on all of the devices it offers to be installed and has a simple, common interface as well.
VPN companies sometimes tend to choose sides as an additional marketing leverage, being marketed for either Mac or Windows users, or being limited to certain extensions, but ProtonVPN doesn’t play that game. It tries to offer its Proton Network experience to anyone who has the wish to give it a go.
ProtonVPN for Windows
The company has ensured that the installation experience is as individual as browsing through its Proton Network. You will have to visit ProtonVPN’s website and either create an account, firstly, or download the file and do all that later. Pick any email you own. Click this link to access the installation file directly.
ProtonVPN for iOS
Open your AppStore and type in “ProtonVPN” into the search bar. Open the page, click the download button. Your iPhone will perform the downloading and installation processes automatically, just ‘Accept’ everything it demands. The app will open up automatically and an icon will be available for future use.
Nothing new: it will offer you to register an account and set up your preferences for using ProtonVPN. Remember that there are several ways to go about using it, beginning with the free and trial versions and ending with the Plus Plan. The interface is easy to use, with clear instructions as to setting if you need to change them. Check out this link for a more detailed description.
ProtonVPN for Android
The process is very similar to the previous section. Open your Google Play Store and type in “ProtonVPN” into the search bar. Click ‘Install’ and agree with everything necessary. Your Android will download and install the app automatically, opening it afterward.
You will have to register and set up your ProtonVPN account. It is the point where you’ll have to choose a plan in order for you to be able to use the relevant features it has to offer. The registration, setting up, and utilization of the app’s interface is very straightforward, so don’t be scared. Check out this link for a more detailed description.
ProtonVPN doesn’t offer browser extensions for the time being. You will have to choose an appropriate option for your OS/device, download and set it up for utilization based on the kind of features you want to have. It may sound like a drag, but the app is very easy to use and doesn’t impact your CPU much.
ProtonVPN Discount & Coupons
ProtonVPN coupons is probably the trickier subject of the two. Luckily, there is an official statement on their website regarding coupons, explaining the respective policy. ProtonVPN issues coupons only in the form of customer loyalty for certain troubleshooting or as promo actions which are always announced on its official Facebook and Twitter accounts.
ProtonVPN has a permanent discount regarding yearly plans that offers you the opportunity to save some coin if you choose the annual plan instead of renewing the monthly one on and on. The brand may also offer holiday discounts, so be on the lookout for that.
Either way, be sure to check for coupons or discount information only on their official website and Facebook/Twitter accounts.
Do We Recommend ProtonVPN?
Despite being a new player in the market that was designed primarily to ensure maximum security and privacy to its users, ProtonVPN has already won itself a considerable fanbase. Stellar encryption and top-notch protocols along with special features like Secure Core and Kill Switch make it a solid pick for privacy fans.
Although ProtonVPN does not provide the fastest VPN experience and needs some more tweaking in the streaming area, its individuality is what sets it aside from other companies. By choosing this VPN, you will be submerged into the Proton Network where all the magic happens inside a vacuum inaccessible to anyone from the outside.
We do understand that not all users want or require the full, heavy-duty masking experience. In addition, not everyone uses VPN for Netflix, torrenting, and other streaming option.
ProtonVPN is a solid choice for users who desire to remain as concealed as possible without having anyone’s eyes on them while still surfing on a decent speed. Be sure to check ProtonVPN out and share your experience with us in the comments below.
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