ProtonVPN Free vs. Paid (2021) – Is It Worth Paying for This VPN? Let’s Find Out!

If you check our hands-on ProtonVPN review, you’ll see that we had plenty of positive things to say about this capable VPN service. And since you’re reading this article, you already know that ProtonVPN offers both free and paid versions. Naturally, this raises the question of whether it’s worth paying for this VPN? With that said, we wish you a warm welcome to our ProtonVPN free vs. paid comparison! 

We'll dive in-depth into comparing ProtonVPN's free and paid plans, helping you decide which of those is better suited for your needs. However, before we do so, we bring you a handy and quick overview of ProtonVPN's free and paid plans, which you can check just below.  

  ProtonVPN FREE ProtonVPN PAID
Supported Devices Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and more. Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and more.
Simultaneous Connections Up to 10
Bandwidth Limitations NO NO
No-Logs Policy YES YES
Available Server Network 23 servers (3 countries) 1,200+ servers (55+ countries)
Advanced VPN Features Not available Available
Expected Speed Limited Unlimited
P2P Support NO YES
Media Streaming NO YES

If you'd like to dive deeper into understanding the differences between ProtonVPN's free and paid plans, make sure to keep reading this article. 

ProtonVPN Free vs. Paid (2021)

Our ProtonVPN free vs. paid comparison dives deep into individual aspects of this VPN service. That will help you understand what you'll get for free and what if you pay. Check the following table of contents to see what we'll talk about. 

Supported Devices & Simultaneous Connections

Download Center ProtonVPN Dashboard

First, let's check the differences between ProtonVPN's free and paid plans regarding the platforms and devices they support and the number of simultaneous connections they offer. 

  ProtonVPN FREE ProtonVPN PAID
Desktop Platforms Windows, macOS, Linux.  Windows, macOS, Linux.
Mobile Platforms Android, iOS, iPadOS.  Android, iOS, iPadOS. 
Web Browsers Not available.  Not available. 
Other Platforms Android TV, Chrome OS. Android TV, Chrome OS.
Parallel Connections 1 Up to 10
  • ProtonVPN FREE: Most free VPNs typically support only a small number of platforms. However, that's not the case with ProtonVPN, whose free plan lets you install the VPN on any device it supports. Still, a significant limitation is that you can use your free ProtonVPN account on a single device only. 
  • ProtonVPN PAID: As you can guess, ProtonVPN's paid plans don't have any restrictions in the scope of platforms they support (and yes, you can even install this VPN on your router). On top of that, paid plans come with a higher limit of simultaneous subscriptions, ranging from 2 to 10 (depending on which paid plan you pick). 

SUMMARY: The most limiting difference here is in the number of simultaneous connections. With ProtonVPN’s free plan, you get only 1 connection, while paid plans support up to 10. So, if you plan on using ProtonVPN on more than a single device, the free plan won’t meet your needs.  

User Privacy & Security (VPN Features)

Privacy-Related ProtonVPN Features

Next, let's look at the basic and more advanced features that ProtonVPN provides to its free and paid subscribers. Check the following table for a quick comparison. 

  ProtonVPN FREE ProtonVPN PAID
No-Logs Policy YES YES
DNS Leak Protection YES YES
IPv6 Leak Protection YES YES
Kill Switch YES YES
Split Tunneling YES YES
Ad-Blocker, Anti-Malware NO YES
Unlimited Server Switches YES YES
Unlimited Bandwidth YES YES
Unlimited Data YES YES
  • ProtonVPN FREE: We have to note that ProtonVPN's free plan is surprisingly "relaxed," giving you access to the majority of the VPN's features. Most importantly, ProtonVPN doesn't log data, and that applies to its free plan as well. And also, you get a complete set of protection mechanisms designed to keep you safe and private on the Web (on a single device only, though).
  • ProtonVPN PAID: If you decide to pay, know that ProtonVPN offers several tiers of paid plans that unlock new sets of features. That’s how you can access everything that free users have, in addition to an ad-blocker, anti-malware, as well as ProtonVPN’s famous 'Secure Core' servers that route your Web data through multiple servers. 

SUMMARY: At least on paper, it looks like ProtonVPN offers the same features via its free and paid plans. And yes, both of those can keep you safe online. The main difference is that you get access to more advanced tools to take your privacy protection to another level with paid plans. 

Server Count & VPN Infrastructure

ProtonVPN Number of Servers

Managing a vast network of servers comes at a cost, which is why free VPNs typically limit your access to their server network. That’s the case with ProtonVPN as well, as you can see below. 

  ProtonVPN FREE ProtonVPN PAID
Number of Servers 23 1,250+
Number of Countries 3 55+
Unlimited Switching YES YES
  • ProtonVPN FREE: Using the free plan, you get access to 23 servers in 3 countries only, and those are Japan, the United States, and the Netherlands. You’re free to switch between those at any moment, which seems beneficial, as ProtonVPN’s free servers are typically always under a heavy load. 
  • ProtonVPN PAID: There are two tiers of ProtonVPN’s paid plans (Basic and Plus), giving you access to the VPN’s server network either partially or fully. If you get the Basic plan, you’ll get access to 350+ servers in 40+ countries. And if you get the Plus plus, you’ll get access to all 1,250+ servers in 55+ countries. 

SUMMARY: This is one of the most drastic segments of our ProtonVPN free vs. paid comparison. Unless you decide to get one of ProtonVPN’s paid plans, you’ll get to deal only with a small group of typically overcrowded servers. 

Data & Speed Limitations

Highlighted Performance Features of ProtonVPN

One of the main characteristics of free VPNs is their bandwidth/speed limitation. They’re forced to impose those limits to cut their costs and preserve their servers’ performance. 

  ProtonVPN FREE ProtonVPN PAID
Data Limitations Unlimited Unlimited
Speed Limitations (Very) limited Unlimited
  • ProtonVPN FREE: We’re happy to report that ProtonVPN’s free servers don’t have data limitations. That means that you can download or upload as much data as you want. However, since you'll encounter limited speeds, you'll only get to do regular Web browsing in practice. Streaming online media will be impossible, and you'll need to wait for a long time to download any file from the Web. 
  • ProtonVPN PAID: Depending on the premium plan you pick, ProtonVPN can give you access to 10Gbps servers. And thanks to a newly introduced feature called VPN Accelerator, your connections to even the most remote servers should be incredibly fast and stable. Therefore, you'll pay for ultra-fast performance, and that's precisely what you'll get. 

SUMMARY: While ProtonVPN's free plan is sufficient for regular Web browsing (and other non-intensive activities), your possibilities are endless with ProtonVPN's paid plans. The only limitation you'll encounter will be the speed limit of your Web connection. 

Media Streaming & Torrenting

Listing Prominent Features of ProtonVPN

If you're looking for a free VPN to streaming online media and download torrents, you'll want to read this segment carefully. Here's what you need to know.

  ProtonVPN FREE ProtonVPN PAID
Access to Restricted Sites YES YES
Media Streaming NO YES
Torrenting NO YES
  • ProtonVPN FREE: Thanks to its strong encryption, you’ll get to unblock websites that might be restricted in your country. ProtonVPN’s free plan gives you access to servers in the US, Japan, and the Netherlands, so you’ll get to unblock websites available in those countries. Of course, we’re talking about "regular" websites such as Wikipedia, YouTube, and similar. Media streaming and torrenting are not on offer. 
  • ProtonVPN PAID: ProtonVPN’s Basic plan gives you access to blocked content and P2P file transfers. However, if you want to unblock and access media streaming sites, you’ll need ProtonVPN’s Plus plan, which gives you access to Netflix, Disney Plus, Prime Video, and more. 

SUMMARY: If you want to access media streaming sites not available in your country, your only option would be ProtonVPN’s Plus plan. Sadly, media streaming and torrenting are not supported on the free plan, which can only unblock a range of “standard” websites. 

Customer Support

ProtonVPN's Customer Support Center

Of course, even if you don’t pay for a VPN, you’re still entitled to its customer support. With that said, we’ve made sure to include the customer support segment in our ProtonVPN free vs. paid comparison. 

  ProtonVPN FREE ProtonVPN PAID
Knowledgebase YES YES
Installation Guides YES YES
Support Tickets YES YES
  • ProtonVPN FREEYou'll be happy to know that ProtonVPN provides support for its free customers, who can rely on several self-help resources. That includes the VPN's knowledgebase, installation guides, frequently asked questions, and more. And for those times when you can’t find a solution yourself, you can always contact ProtonVPN via its online contact form. 
  • ProtonVPN PAID: Everything said above applies to ProtonVPN’s premium customers as well. You get a whole range of self-help resources and the ability to contact the VPN at any point. Still, we’re sure that ProtonVPN prioritizes paid customers, even though there’s no option to identify yourself that way (when filling out a contact form, for example). However, your account ID can reveal if you’re a free or paid customer. 

SUMMARY: In general, both free and paid ProtonVPN subscribers have access to ample resources at their disposal. So, no matter if you're an experienced VPN user or beginner, you should have no problem using this VPN, even if you encounter a technical issue. 

Pricing

Comparison of Prices Between ProtonVPN Paid and Free Plans

Finally, we come to the most differentiating factor when comparing ProtonVPN’s free and paid plans. And yes, we’re talking about their pricing. Here’s what you need to know. 

  ProtonVPN FREE ProtonVPN BASIC ProtonVPN PLUS
1-Month Price $0 $5.00/month $10.00/month
1-Year Price $0 $4.00/month ($48.00) $8.00/month ($96.00)
2-Year Price $0 $3.29/month ($79.00) $6.63/month ($159.00)
  • ProtonVPN FREE: As you can imagine, ProtonVPN's free plan really comes free of charge. There are no gimmicks here or any "fine print." You don't even have to supply your payment information when signing up, which means that there's no chance of ProtonVPN charging you at any moment. 
  • ProtonVPN PAID: If you decide to pay for ProtonVPN, you can choose from two VPN plans, called Basic and Plus (whose prices you can see just above). As explained in this ProtonVPN free vs. paid comparison, there are differences between the Basic and Plus plans, which also reflects in their price. And then, there’s also the Visionary plan – for those who want ProtonMail as well (an encrypted email solution). 

SUMMARY: ProtonVPN's free plan is quite honest and straightforward, without any fine print. However, if you decide to pay for the VPN, you can choose from a whole range of plans whose prices go down if you pick a long-term plan. 

In The End – Who Should Use ProtonVPN’s Free Plan? Should You Pay Instead? 

Screenshot of ProtonVPN's Home Page

Based on everything said so far in our ProtonVPN free vs. paid comparison, the conclusion is clear. This VPN offers one of the best free-of-charge subscriptions out there. However, it's suitable enough only for basic Web browsing and if you don't care about downloading large files, streaming online media, gaming, or torrenting. 

In other words, if you needs are very basic, ProtonVPN's free plan will meet all of them. Still, we also think it's worth paying for ProtonVPN, as it brings a complete solution to protecting your privacy at affordable pricing ranges. To learn more, head over to ProtonVPN's website

That would be all for our ProtonVPN free vs. paid comparison. If you have any questions for us, make sure to post them just below. And finally, thank you for reading! 

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