ProtonVPN (review) comes from an equivalent CERN scientist and Harvard physics PHD brains behind ProtonMail, the world’s largest encrypted email network.
As a result, they’ve already built a free-to-pay, encrypted internet privacy service in a single location. They must be able to do it in the VPN room as well.
That is what we are here to seek. For the past few months, we’ve been extensively testing their OpenVPN protocol, encryption connection standards, speed, security, pricing, and more.
And you’ll hear about the good, the bad, and the ugly during this ProtonVPN review.
|OVERALL RANK:||#19 out of 78 VPNs|
|USABILITY:||Very Easy, Supports All Devices|
|LOG FILES:||No Logging Policy|
|LOCATIONS:||32 countries, 345+ servers|
|SUPPORT:||Ticket system, Decent response times|
|ENCRYPTION/PROTOCOL:||AES 256, OpenVPN only protocol offered|
|COST:||Free or $4/mo (basic plan)|
ProtonVPN was founded behind the back of security experts. So you acknowledge that the encryption protocol and standards will be top-notch. They don’t disappoint in a few other key areas, either, like customer service and a strong connection.
Have a look.
Exceptional Security & Privacy Standards
ProtonVPN comes equipped with OpenVPN (UDP / TCP) and IKEv2 as its protocol, with super-secure AES-256 encryption.
These are state-of-the-art bank-grade encryption standards.
Put it this way:
If you are going to suffer an attack, it will not be because they broke this encryption. Because it has never been done.
Instead, most hackers will cut their losses and follow other intrusion methods, such as guessing your password reminders.
Strict No-Logging Policy
We have analyzed 118 VPN logging policies over the past few years.
It is usually a tedious and tedious job.
But it is important.
Because looking at all these privacy terms and policies has taught us where VPNs want to bury their privacy bodies.
For example, we’ve found that 7% of VPNs typically log their connection details. And nearly 30% of VPNs have a shady (not straightforward) logging policy. They often use technical jargon or vague legal terms to allow for “gray” areas that can haunt you.
Now, ProtonVPN has a solid reputation that backs up its previous work.
But we’ve also confirmed that once they say “no registration”, you will really trust it.
Decent Customer Support
Ticket-based support systems generally make us cringe.
This is because we have all experienced ~ several days delay between each email, requiring a round trip each week to answer even a single question.
That initial thought crossed my mind once I saw Proton’s support options.
Reluctantly, I filled out the form with a couple of simple questions and hit “Submit.”
However, I received a response in my inbox within 24 hours.
And to my surprise, it wasn’t a direct link to a knowledge domain article on their site either.
It wasn’t impressive or anything. But it didn’t have to be that way.
He just needed to be relatively quick and direct. And that’s what it had been.
A pretty good experience overall.
DNS and Web-RTC leaks will reveal you’re true IP address inadvertently. These are usually caused by connection conflicts that open a small hole for your data to leak.
It sounds minor. But is not.
It allows your ISP, governments, and even two-bit hackers to identify you from a mile (or more) away. Thus, it completely undermines the use of a VPN.
All without you noticing.
The ProtonVPN connection was leak-free in all the tests we ran. Check it out.
No WebRTC leaks either:
But that is not all.
We also run its installation files through VirusTotal.com and locate them so that they are completely free of malicious software.
One Netflix Server Worked (Out of Five)
ProtonVPN says on its site that Netflix will work on “certain servers.”
The trick, I suppose, is deciding which one.
Many VPNs make that bold claim, but only a few of them can back it up. What’s more, VPNs that manage to unblock Netflix may not maintain that achievement for long. This is because Netflix is constantly trying to prevent VPNs from following its tracks, blocking access to its geo-blocked content.
All Netflix content is exclusive to the world during which it is accessed. Netflix has certain on-site agreements with content providers to bring different shows and movies to different areas of the world. If you were inside the US, your Netflix list would look very different than someone trying to watch in the Netherlands.
To stop the unwanted flow of its restricted content, Netflix unleashed a robust VPN detection and blocking system on the web. It swept through the VPN world like a tsunami, taking down many platforms of the world’s largest streaming service. However, despite this purge, there are a variety of VPNs that also have some success in unblocking Netflix’s attempts to keep them out.
We checked five servers when we first looked at ProtonVPN. They were in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, and two servers in the US At the time, we discovered that only one of the five was working, and it had been the server within the Netherlands. We tested this again in August 2019, and on another occasion, one in 5 servers connected to the Netflix service. Yet he had been a special servant.
The UK server, which once received the dreaded black screen of doom from Netflix, worked perfectly once I logged in. The Netherlands server, once our only beacon of hope in the war against Netflix bans, sadly didn’t work once we tested it at this point.
ProtonVPN is listed in Pros for having a hit. But practically speaking, just keep in mind that your options might be a bit limited here.
Easy to Install and Use
When you choose a VPN provider, the last thing you want is to open an overly complicated system that you simply need to be a scientist to know. This is why only VPNs are the simplest. While ProtonVPN won’t initially look super easy to use, looks are often deceiving. Despite an above-average download time, ProtonVPN proved to be an easy system to install, which had excellent simple use once you became familiar with its very busy dashboard.
After registering with ProtonVPN, you will be directed to the customer panel. From there, you are ready to download the platform of your choice.
After selecting the Windows download, they still took me to one more download page to actually select the Windows client and begin the installation. This didn’t take long, but it had still been strange that I had to choose which program to download only to be taken to a different page where once again I had to choose which program to download.
Once it finished, the ProtonVPN software started downloading. Typically, it takes 10-30 seconds for VPN software to download to my computer. This one took quite a bit longer, and I found myself waiting almost two minutes. Again, this is not often the top of the planet, and once it was downloaded, the installation was done almost instantly.
Register on Proton VPN
The registration screen was simple and straightforward, which is usually a good thing when using a VPN. you would like to be ready to register efficiently without having to navigate through various options. You will be linked after entering your username and password. You will also find your VPN client to remember your login information (not recommended on a shared computer) or to automatically start with Windows.
When you first log in, ProtonVPN takes an extra step that you haven’t seen before on many VPNs. It takes you on a tour of the user interface. This is often particularly helpful as, as you will see momentarily, it is often a bit intimidating once you first see it.
The tour guides you through some of the key features of ProtonVPN.
One of them is the ability to create profiles, which allows you to save much of your settings to return to them whenever you want. This is usually great for users who want to travel directly to their favorite Netflix server or one that is particularly fast. Once you are connected to a server, there will be a green link in the upper left that says “Set as a profile.” Click here and you’ll keep any of the servers you simply enjoy without having to browse through the list to find them again.
It also talks about ProtonVPN Secure Core, which allows you to add additional levels of security to your browsing session. It should be noted that this service is only available to ProtonVPN Plus or Visionary plan subscribers.
Once this was all over, I clicked on “Quick Connect” in the upper left corner and was instantly connected to the fastest server they had.
While this interface may look like a NORAD screen, it is actually much simpler than it appears. Everything you would like is on the left side. which has the button to attach and disconnect, the list of servers, the saved profiles, and therefore the possibility to activate Secure Core.
Another fun feature is the incontrovertible fact that the flag of the country you select appears in the upper left. The map, which takes up most of this massive interface, exists primarily to tell you where in the world your signal is traveling. It also monitors a number of other data, such as speed, volume, and therefore session duration. This is often important information that many VPNs skip over.
Switching servers was very easy. Find out the country of the server you want in the list on the left, click on it and it will automatically connect to the simplest server in the region. it will also expand the listed country by country to choose specific servers.
All in all, despite the longer-than-average setup time, this is often a VPN that is easy to use and effective.
ProtonVPN gets high marks for its attention to security details. However, there are still a couple of drawbacks that we discovered.
However, let’s look at each of them in more detail.
They are Located in Switzerland
Switzerland has a long history as a “neutral” country. One that protects the privacy of its citizens and does not want to get involved in domestic disputes.
And all of that is true.
Swiss laws protect privacy. Generally speaking.
However, the problem is that Switzerland is also a contributing member of the expanded Eyes security alliance.
This is a global agreement that essentially helps government agencies spy on each other’s citizens under the name of “world security.”
So a location in Switzerland means you’re mostly good. Your privacy is usually safe.
The good news is that ProtonVPN doesn’t keep tons of customer data in its archives. But limit the back of your mind so your government can force them to cooperate.
Server Speeds are Too Slow for the Price
Speed is the great equalizer.
If everything else is similar (prices, features, security protocols, etc.), you can accompany the faster option.
Because speed makes everything possible (streaming, torrenting, or just a dozen tabs up while bouncing between browsing sessions).
Unfortunately, ProtonVPN’s combined speed score only ranks them 48th out of 78 VPN companies.
This is how we get the data:
- We use SpeedTest.net to prompt a reading of our benchmark non-VPN internet connection. We got a 97 Mbps download and a 53 Mbps upload at the time of this review.
- Next, we connect to a couple of different ProtonVPN servers. We try to select a few randomly from around the world to drive a good and unbiased view.
- Finally, we calculate the differences and are available with a combined score that ranks against all the opposing reviews that we have done before.
Sounds good? inspect each server test intimately now.
U.S. Servers (East & West)
ProtonVPN’s servers in the US started extremely slow. Download speed especially would cause most torrenting activities to slow down.
- Ping: 190 ms
- Download: 24.6 Mbps (75% slower)
- Upload: 36.4 Mbps (31% slower)
EU Servers (Switzerland)
The EU servers, by contrast, did not disappoint. This probably had something to try with our closest proximity to current servers as well. Even something as simple as the physical distance between you and therefore the connected server can affect performance. But credit where credits are due.
- Ping: 66ms
- Download: 54.46 Mbps (44% slower)
- Upload: 37.86 Mbps (29% slower)
Asia Servers (Hong Kong)
We thought the US server speeds were bad. Until we saw the Asians leave Hong Kong. 85% slower across the board.
- Ping: 317 ms
- Download: 16 Mbps (84% slower)
- Upload: 6.4 Mbps (88% slower)
And last but not least, a UK server sits somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately, it wasn’t on the “good” side of downtown.
- Ping: 46ms
- Download: 52 Mbps (46% slower)
- Upload: 47 Mbps (11% slower)
These results were disappointing across the board. Consistent, yes. But consistently slow is not good.
Companies like ExpressVPN, PIA, and Trust.Zone offers better speed (at just a fraction of the price).
Limited Device Compatibility
The best VPNs we’ve reviewed offer pre-designed apps for every device imaginable.
This way, all you have to try is a point and click. No technical experience is required. No labor is needed.
ProtonVPN provides predesigned applications for Mac, Windows, Linux, and Android devices.
Unfortunately, that’s all they offer.
Any TOR user will find that this VPN is unfortunately incompatible with it.
The last time I checked ProtonVPN, they didn’t have a native app for iOS clients. They now have an iOS app (as of February 2019).
But even worse, it means that there is no preset for smart TVs or game consoles.
While there was no router support last time I checked ProtonVPN, they now support installing your VPN on DD-WRT, AsusWRT, and Tomato routers.
They have 345 servers in 32 countries, which could be a drag on people who go to VPNs to download torrents.
The positive side? ProtonVPN’s paid plans provide up to 10 simultaneous connections; this is often on the higher end of what we have seen.
Limited Torrenting Available
Unfortunately, ProtonVPN does not allow unlimited torrent downloading.
It is not allowed in the least on free plans.
“P2P will increase the demand on our servers due to torrenting,” the logic goes, “and this may bring further pressure on us, potentially preventing us from subsidizing free accounts from paying accounts.” That is fully understandable.
It is allowed in payments, but only on certain servers. Again, the rationale is that they funnel P2P traffic through neutral “safe countries.”
However, they also take this moment to mention Swiss law: “File sharing is allowed simply for private and non-commercial use.”
So yes, they allow it. But there are several restrictions that could make it impractical for you.
Limited Protocols (OpenVPN Only)
The latter is on the border.
ProtonVPN only offers the OpenVPN protocol.
Technically speaking, this is usually a great thing. It is the leading-edge industry standard. Almost everyone, everywhere, should ONLY use OpenVPN.
So why this exhibition in the Cons section?
Because not everyone has the option to use only this protocol option.
Many older devices, or maybe some less expensive newer ones like some Chromebooks, still don’t offer OpenVPN support.
Instead, you’ll need to connect through a special (though less desirable) protocol like L2TP or PPTP.
Other alternatives aren’t nearly as secure. You wouldn’t want to use them in most situations.
But here’s the thing: there’s a catch:
That option isn’t always available. Often you just have to do what you have to do.
As a result, ProtonVPN could not be ideal for a wide variety of potential customers.
ProtonVPN Pricing, Cost & Payment Methods
ProtonVPN has four plans to choose from, with optional discounts for paying annually.
ProtonVPN has four plans to set up, with optional discounts to pay annually.
Therefore, the prices below INCLUDE the ~ 20% annual discount.
Free: $ 0 / month
Yes, Proton has a free VPN. But yeah, it’s pretty basic too.
The service comes with just three server locations: the Netherlands, the US, and Japan.
It does not include any additional features.
But it helps you unlock a seven-day free trial of your paid plans. so that it could be a sincere thank you for dipping your toe into the waters of ProtonVPN without spending a penny.
Basic: $ 4 / month (we bought this)
Proton’s basic plan may be a marginal upgrade from the free plan, to be honest. You are accessing all or some countries, but not the Plus, Secure, or Tor servers. Your access speed is “high” but not “highest”.
Also, you can simply connect two devices simultaneously.
To be honest, it’s a bit of a headache. This feature should be skipped.
Plus: $ 8 / month
Proton’s Plus plan increases your connection limit up to 5 devices. The speed is the “highest” and you have access to Plus, Secure Core, and Tor servers.
This is probably the only plan that I should accompany, to be honest.
The fourth plan, Visionary, is a bit equivalent to the Plus, but with a cross-sell for its ProtonMail offering. So that’s also an honest option at $ 24 / mo (paid annually) if you were already considering both encrypted options.
Otherwise, you will buy all those plans with MasterCard or PayPal. Nothing more (cash, bitcoins, etc.) than what we have seen.
ProtonVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, you simply get a prorated amount of the “unused portion.” In other words, if you use it for 10 days, you will get a refund worth 20 days.
That’s not a great refund policy compared to others, like CyberGhost, which offers a “no questions asked” full money-back guarantee.
Refunds will also be granted within the original currency or the payment method you used.
You will need to send an email to email@example.com to request your prorated participation.
Do I Recommend ProtonVPN?
No, we don’t.
ProtonVPN presents an impressive reference to the best security considerations. Their customer service was good and Netflix was even running on a server.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of other areas that allow it in the end.
A home base in Switzerland is usually an honest thing to do for privacy. But they cooperate with other aggressive government agencies around the world.
Honestly, the server speeds weren’t good. Device options are limited.
And the price, even at a 20% annual discount, remains on the higher end for what you’re getting in return.
With great care, there are many better options available, with equivalent connection strength, faster performance, and more devices, for a lot less.
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