Online safety is more important than ever, so it’s important to find a VPN that you can trust. ProtonVPN is a cutting-edge option that comes from Switzerland, a country known for being privacy-friendly, and was made by Proton, a company whose mission is to protect users’ privacy. In this review, we will show you how ProtonVPN works. We talk about the VPN’s features and how well it works, as well as our general impressions of it. Does it live up to its image as a site that protects your privacy online?
When protecting yourself online, you don’t want to give up your privacy or safety. This Swiss company also cares a lot about security, but it also makes sure that its services are easy to use. After all, what good is a good program if you can’t figure out how to use it? Proton not only has a great paid VPN, but it also has the best free VPN on the market. Both programs have many servers all over the world, so you’re always sure to have a good, fast link when you use them.
Proton VPN: Plans and Pricing
There are two different versions of Proton VPN: Proton VPN Free and Proton VPN Plus. Even though the free version sounds good, it has very few features. The Proton VPN Plus version, on the other hand, has everything the service has to offer. You can choose from one month, one year, or two years. The 30-day money-back promise on the annual plans lets you try it out before making a long-term commitment.
Here are the different ways to sign up for Proton VPN Plus and how much they cost:
- 1-month plan: $9.99/month ($119.88 if you buy it every month for a year)
- 1-year plan: $4.99/month (or $71.88/year)
- 2-year plan: $4.99/month (or $119.76/year)
It’s not a secret that VPNs charge less for longer deals. You’ll have to choose the 2-year plan if you want to get the most for your money. Full safety costs only $4.99 a month, or $119.76 a year.
Proton VPN Key Features Table
The number of servers, bandwidth, and speed are the major differences between the Free and Plus plans. The Plus plan comes with extras like the NetShield ad-blocker, support for streaming services, Secure Core servers, Tor over VPN, and split tunneling.
|Feature||Proton VPN Free||Proton VPN Plus|
|Servers||100+ in 3 countries||1900+ in 65 countries|
|Streaming service support||Yes||Yes|
|Secure Core servers||No||Yes|
|Tor over VPN||No||Yes|
|Strict no-logs policy||Yes||Yes|
|DNS leak protection||Yes||Yes|
|Encrypted VPN servers||Yes||Yes|
|Split tunneling (Android and Windows only)||Yes||Yes|
|Access to Proton Mail, Proton Calendar, and Proton Drive||Yes||Yes|
Proton VPN: Features
Proton VPN has all the most important VPN privacy features, such as:
- 256-bit AES encryption: This is a type of encryption that is sometimes called “military-grade” encryption because it is so strong.
- No records policy.
- No-logs policy: Proton VPN doesn’t keep records of your personal information or what you do online.
- Kill switch: If your VPN link fails, you will be automatically cut off from the internet by this feature. Note that the kill switch in the
- Perfect forward secrecy: This means that every time you connect to a Proton VPN server, your encryption key changes. If one encryption key is broken, only the data on that one key is at risk, not the data from any other sessions.
- Full-disk encryption: If a Proton VPN server is hacked, disk encryption makes sure that all of the data on that server is safe and can’t be read.
Proton VPN: Set Up
On most devices, setting up ProtonVPN is easy and won’t take more than a few minutes. On a Mac, it took less than five minutes to set up the VPN. ProtonVPN also has clear instructions for setting up on all devices. Go to the ProtonVPN website and sign up for a plan to run it on a desktop. Get the app and run it. Then, sign in and join to a server.
That’s it, you are done. ProtonVPN is just as easy to set up on a mobile device, but it can be harder to set up on a router, smart TV, or game system. You need a software app to set up ProtonVPN and connect to it. ProtonVPN makes it easy to set up on different routers by giving clear setup tips. Make sure you carefully follow the directions so you don’t break the device.
Proton VPN: Protocols
VPNs have been around for a long time, and there are many different kinds of encrypted paths to choose from. OpenVPN has been our top choice for years, but the WireGuard protocol is quickly becoming popular in the business world. WireGuard is an open-source system that can be checked for flaws in the same way that OpenVPN can.
|VPN Protocol||Platforms||Encryption||Speed Potential|
|OpenVPN||All (Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows)||Strong (AES-256)||Balanced|
|WireGuard||All (Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows)||Latest technology||Potentially Faster|
|IKEv2||All (Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows)||Strong (AES-256)||Balanced|
But WireGuard also uses the latest encryption technology and may offer faster internet speeds than other choices. We were told by Proton VPN that all of its apps for Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, and Windows use IKEv2, OpenVPN (UDP/TCP), and WireGuard. The app picks the best mode to use by default.
Proton VPN: Server and Locations
At the time this piece was written, Proton VPN had more than 2,970 servers in 68 countries. The important thing to know is that the amount of servers you can connect to depends on the plan you have.
Europe, Asia, and the Americas are the best places to find servers.
|Regions||Number of countries||Number of servers|
|Europe||31 countries||400+ servers|
|Asia||14 countries||250+ servers|
|Americas||10 countries||700+ servers|
|Rest of world||4 countries||100+ servers|
Users who don’t pay can only connect to computers in Japan, the Netherlands, and the US. So, you get some coverage, but all of the choices for people in South Africa are bad. It’s also the only plan without peer-to-peer computers.
With the Proton VPN Plus plan, you can use all servers in 68 different countries. Only people on the Plus plan will be able to use servers with special features like Secure Core VPN and TOR over VPN. Plus, Proton VPN has virtual servers. This is called Smart Routing, and it is a technology that Proton VPN uses to offer VPN servers that are not truly located in a certain country.
Proton VPN: Security and Privacy
ProtonVPN is a secure and private VPN service that is based in Switzerland. It keeps your data safe by using strong encryption, a “no logs” policy, and a number of other security features. The 256-bit AES security that ProtonVPN uses is thought to be impossible to break. All of your data, including your traffic, DNS requests, and IP address, is protected by this protection.
|Encryption||256-bit AES encryption|
|Tor over VPN||Yes|
ProtonVPN has a no-logs policy that is very tight. This means that the company does not keep any of your traffic data, such as your IP address, browsing information, or DNS requests. This makes it impossible for ProtonVPN to keep track of what you do online or give your information to other people.
Proton VPN: Streaming
Proton VPN works well for security and privacy, and it has a lot of other fun and useful features as well. It is one of the best ways to get into Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, for example. Netflix changed how it limits users who use VPNs around the middle of 2021, and many companies are still having trouble getting access. But there are a few people who have found good ways to deal with this. And it looks like Proton VPN is one of them.
|Netflix||Working (UK, US, CA)|
During my tests, it unblocked not only US Netflix, but also UK Netflix and Canadian Netflix. Few other providers can beat this, so we included Proton VPN in our guide to VPNs for Netflix because of how well it works. It’s also good news in other places. I was able to get into Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer from outside the UK. That’s a coveted full house and more proof that the Swiss provider isn’t resting on its laurels and is spending in improving service everywhere.
Proton VPN: Speed and Performance
Since WireGuard is usually the best tunneling protocol for speed, it’s not too strange that Proton VPN was pretty fast. But while the provider can sometimes show great speed results, it can also be a bit inconsistent and seriously slow down your connection. But if you connect to servers close to where you are, you shouldn’t have any big problems.
|Proton VPN||Download retention||Upload retention|
|US||30% (291 Mbit/s)||28 % (273 Mbit/s)|
|United Kingdom||62% (597 Mbit/s)||50 % (480 Mbit/s)|
|France||54% (522 Mbit/s)||61 % (584 Mbit/s)|
|Singapore||39% (374 Mbit/s)||35 % (335 Mbit/s)|
|Australia||69% (660 Mbit/s)||62 % (595 Mbit/s)|
Using Tor over VPN will slow things down, so you’ll have to find a good mix between security and speed if you want to enjoy your time online. If you want to use Proton VPN for gaming, the latency scores are about average. When it was tried with WireGuard, it took anywhere from 10ms to 514ms. But on average, it took 212ms, which is just a good performance.
Overall, there are VPN providers that are faster than others, but your experience will rely on the connection protocol, how far away you are from the server, and what other features you choose.
ProtonVPN works on many devices and operating systems, like Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook, Android TV, and routers, so you can stay safe whether you work from home or in a shared office.
Here are the devices that are compatible with ProtonVPN.
|iPhone||iOS 14.0 or later|
|Android||Android 6.0 and above|
|macOS||10.12 and higher|
|Windows||Versions 7, 8 and 10|
|Linux||Depends on the distro, so check ProtonVPN setup on Linux|
|Fire TV Stick||Fire OS 6 and higher|
Users of the Plus plan can connect up to 10 devices at the same time with one membership. With the free version, you can only use it on one computer.
Proton VPN has a nice-looking interface with a lot of customizability options, but it might be too much for people who aren’t used to VPNs or don’t know how they work. You don’t really need to change anything because the default settings are enough to keep you safe. It works on computers with Windows, Mac, and Linux. When you first open it, you’ll see a map with the locations of all the active servers marked. If you don’t like the map, you can hide it and just look at the server list. Before you click on a server, the list is color-coded to show connection and transfer speeds. You also get a lot of information about the servers themselves.
Load is a great thing to see (I wish more VPNs did), and you can also tell which servers are best for P2P (not all of them are). It does take some time to connect to Proton VPN. Most services take up to 4 seconds to connect, but Proton takes 10 seconds on average. This isn’t that long of a wait, but in a world where technology is more instant, I definitely expect faster. The “Profiles” feature of Proton VPN is a great way to make it easier to use because it lets you save your most-used settings.
For example, maybe you’ve found that a certain server works best for accessing US Netflix or for P2P, but you use a random Dutch connection for day-to-day browsing. You can connect to either one with just one click if you save them both as profiles. In the app, you can also see a lot of information, like your IP, how long you’ve been connected, how much data you’ve uploaded and downloaded, and your average connection speed.
You can change settings like the kill switch, split tunneling, Quick Connect, and DNS protection in the settings. I didn’t find any settings that were stuck or wouldn’t change, which is surprisingly common with this kind of software. The VPN Accelerator is a feature that is already turned on. This takes advantage of some technical tricks to speed up connections that might be slow otherwise. One thing that isn’t great about Proton VPN is that it can’t automatically connect to networks that aren’t safe. In reality, though, you wouldn’t want to risk putting security at risk.
The Proton VPN apps let you choose cities in many different countries, but the list of locations makes this process harder than we’d like. Instead of just showing a list of cities like Denver, Miami, New York, etc. in alphabetical order, it shows every server in that country, sorted by region or server number. Since the list isn’t in alphabetical order, you might have to scroll through hundreds of US servers to find the city you need. When you type a city name into the Search box, any matches are shown quickly.
For example, typing “Dal” is enough to find all the Dallas servers. But they are sorted by server number, not by load, so it’s not easy to find the fastest one. Use the Profiles feature instead, which is kind of like a smart Favorites system. You could use this to make profiles that connect you, for example, to servers in New York or Colorado, but that’s just the beginning. You can connect to the fastest server in a country or location, choose a random server to make it harder to track you, choose the best P2P or Tor-friendly server, and even choose your preferred protocol (WireGuard or OpenVPN TCP/UDP).
Mac and Mobile Apps
The Mac and mobile apps for Proton VPN look a lot like the Windows version. They have the same map, location list, and Profiles system, which is similar to Favorites. In some ways, they did even better (connection times were often faster, and connections were stable while we looked at them). The best Proton VPN features, such as the kill switch, Secure Core, Netshield’s ad-blocking, WireGuard, and more, are all supported by the Mac app. It doesn’t support split tunneling, but it does support IKEv2 in addition to WireGuard and OpenVPN, and overall, the app is still better than most of the Mac competition.
The Android app makes great use of the screen space and both portrait and landscape modes to make the desktop app interface look as good as possible. Its list of locations is a little better than the Windows app’s because it sorts servers by city name instead of state. It’s also powerful, with all the Mac features and split tunneling support. The iOS app for Proton VPN has some nice visual touches that make the interface stand out. For example, the plain markers on the map should be replaced with colorful flags, which is much better.
But like the desktop apps, it sorts servers by state instead of city, which is confusing. This should be the same across the board, and we’d also like it to be able to be changed. Other than that, though, the iOS app has all the same features as the Android app, plus simple iOS widgets to connect and disconnect, check battery life, and look at logs to figure out why a connection isn’t working. If you’re tired of VPNs that never quite get around to porting the best features to iOS, Proton VPN will be a refreshing and powerful change.
The support form is the simplest way to get help, but you can use it to send in a ticket for any problem. Live chat is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is the best way to get help quickly. You can also get help by email, but it may take longer to get a reply.
|Support form||24/7||Submit a ticket for any issue you’re having.|
|Live chat||24/7 for paid subscribers||Get help quickly from a support agent.|
|24/7||Send an email to Proton VPN support.|
|Knowledge base||24/7||Articles on troubleshooting common problems.|
The information base is a good place to find answers to common questions about how to fix problems. It has information about how to install Proton VPN, how to use the different features, and how to fix problems with the connection. Overall, the customer service for Proton VPN is quick and helpful. They are always happy to help their customers in any way they can.
Proton VPN: Pros and Cons
Because Proton VPN maintains a sizable server network all over the world, it is possible to connect to the internet regardless of where you are physically located.
- Unblocks streaming services, including Netflix
- Improved Mac version features
- Numerous advanced privacy tools
- No-logs kept, period
- The best free plan on the market
- Awkward ChromeOS implementation
- Customer support response times can be slower
Overall, Proton VPN is a top-notch VPN service, and if your privacy and security are your top priorities, you should definitely use it. It is also one of the best choices if you want a free VPN. Even though the paid plans are pretty pricey, Proton VPN’s Secure Core network adds a strong extra layer of encryption to highly sensitive network data.
The VPN also has a number of servers that are designed for fast P2P and connecting to the Tor network. Proton VPN has recently become a good VPN for viewing as well, with fast and regular access to Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and more. This and torrenting sites are not available to free users, which is a shame.