ProtonVPN comes with plenty of enticing promises. If you take a look at its official website, you’ll see that it claims not to collect your personal data. Furthermore, it goes on to explain all the ways your data can’t get into the wrong hands. This means that ProtonVPN is focused on protecting your privacy and your online identity – which is certainly admirable. However, can this VPN fulfill its promises? How fast does it perform? And most importantly – what kinds of features can you expect? Let’s find out – welcome to our ProtonVPN review!
We’ll start this review by first introducing you to this VPN service. For this purpose, we’ve prepared three tables with overviews of ProtonVPN’s most prominent features. So, let’s introduce you to this VPN by listing its jurisdiction, number of servers, logging policy, and other useful bits of information.
|Logs||No user activity logs.|
|Number of Servers||40+ countries; 630+ servers.|
|Parallel Connections||Up to 10.|
|Encryption Standards||AES-256; IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN.|
|P2P Support||YES (via some servers).|
|Live Chat Support||NO|
|Supported Platforms||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, routers.|
|Price||Starts at $4.00/month.|
We understand that many of you are interested in media streaming. Therefore, we always test each VPN’s capability of unblocking streaming platforms. In case you want to watch the US version of Netflix, or perhaps unblock Hulu from anywhere, pay attention to the following table.
Media Streaming Support
|Amazon Prime Video||YES|
And we have one more table to show you. We’ve created this one for those who are in a rush. Check out some of the most prominent pros and cons of using ProtonVPN, along with our final (post-review) verdict.
The Bottom Line
|Pros||Easy to install; Polished UI; Extra-fast performance; Strong encryption; Unblocks Netflix USA; Supports P2P; Plenty of advanced features.|
|Cons||Relatively small server network; Not the most affordable option.|
|The Final Verdict||Despite a few drawbacks, ProtonVPN is one of the most capable and one of the fastest-performing VPNs that you can find right now.|
Dear readers, that would be all for our introductory segment. We’ll now continue with our full and hands-on review of ProtonVPN, so make sure to join us.
ProtonVPN – TechNadu’s Hands-On Review
Before we get started, you need to know that we’ve been testing the ‘Plus’ version of ProtonVPN. There’s also the ‘Basic’ version which comes cheaper but is severely limited. And there’s also the ‘Visionary’ plan that is covered by this review (this one supports more devices and includes a product called ProtonMail). And also, don’t forget to check our article on our process of reviewing VPNs.
Background, Jurisdiction & Reputation
ProtonVPN seems to be a reliable and trustworthy VPN service. Being based in Switzerland, it has proactive security measures regarding your privacy protection. Our Score: 10/10.
You might not be aware of the importance of knowing where your chosen VPN comes from. Since these services handle plenty of personal data, you need to make sure that no one collects it. And that’s why we always recommend VPNs that come from ‘exotic’ countries with privacy-friendly laws.
Jurisdiction & Applicable Laws
As proudly stated on its official website, ProtonVPN comes from Switzerland. This country is known for its neutral diplomatic stance and its efforts in protecting the privacy of its citizens. In fact, the right to privacy is guaranteed in Article 13 of the Swiss Federal Constitution. So, let’s go over some of the most interesting highlights regarding the privacy-protection laws of this country.
- Any individual has the right to have its data corrected or deleted. This means that if you ask any data processing company to delete your personal data (in writing), the company must respond within 30 days.
- Your IP address is considered to be your personal information. As ruled by the Federal Supreme Country of Switzerland, your IP can’t be used to trace your Internet usage (without you being aware of this action).
- There’s also the Swiss Federal Data Protection Act (DPA). This is a comprehensive set of laws dictating the way data is processed by individuals, companies, organizations, and federal authorities. Interestingly enough, companies are forbidden to disclose your private data to third parties without your consent.
We should also highlight the fact that Switzerland isn’t a member country of the European Union. Furthermore, this country isn’t a member of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance, which certainly sounds reassuring. In theory, it looks like your private data is protected in the best way possible. As you’ll see later on in this review, ProtonVPN doesn’t collect your personally identifiable information. So, even if something happens and your data is collected (which can hardly happen), there are still numerous valid protections in place.
In addition, it’s interesting to know that ProtonVPN is made by the same company as ProtonMail. This service offers encrypted email exchange and is often targeted by authoritarian governments. Just recently, ProtonMail got banned in Russia, and a whole slate of phishing attacks was targeted at ProtonMail. So, it’s safe to say that this company knows how to protect its users.
Previous Data Leaks
Back in September 2018, a privilege escalation bug was discovered in ProtonVPN’s code. However, this VPN acted before the bug was revealed publicly and patched this vulnerability. In other words, no users were affected, and this vulnerability didn’t lead to any malicious code being sent through its secure network. Other than this report, we didn’t find anything that could be troubling regarding ProtonVPN’s practices.
It’s safe to say that ProtonVPN has managed to create a secure connection. It never leaked any personal data of its users, and there are no reports of someone hacking into its network. So far, all of this sounds very reassuring. Of course, we’ll test all of ProtonVPN’s security-related claims, so make sure to read this article in its entirety.
Supported Platforms & Devices
ProtonVPN can be used on many popular platforms, with routers included. Sadly, it doesn’t offer native apps for media streamers or Web browser extensions. Our Score: 7/10.
As noted earlier, we’ve tested the ‘Plus’ version of ProtonVPN, which gives you 5 simultaneous connections. In general, having 5 ’empty slots’ within a single subscription should be more than enough to meet your needs. Of course, you also want to make sure that you can install this VPN on a wide range of devices.
|Desktop Platforms||Windows, macOS, Linux.|
|Mobile Platforms||Android, iOS.|
|Routers||DD-WRT, Tomato, AsusWRT, and more.|
In terms of desktop platforms, there are native apps for Windows and macOS. Also, Linux is on board as you can install the OpenVPN package and input ProtonVPN configuration files. When it comes to mobile platforms, Android and iOS are supported. This was previously a drawback as ProtonVPN wasn’t available on Apple’s mobile platform. However, the situation changed in November 2018, when ProtonVPN reached the iOS App Store.
Additionally, ProtonVPN can be installed on a range of capable routers. Since it uses the OpenVPN protocol, there’s a nice array of routers based on DD-WRT, Tomato, and AsusWRT firmware versions. In theory, you can install ProtonVPN on any of these.
As we can see here, there are no Web browser extensions. Also, there are no apps for devices such as media streamers, gaming consoles, and more. This is important to note, as this is something that today’s top-rated VPNs offer.
Installation & Initial Configuration
You shouldn’t have a problem installing ProtonVPN even if you’re a complete beginner. The entire process can be done within minutes of your time. Our Score: 10/10.
Before getting to use this application, you first need to subscribe to ProtonVPN. Once you sign-up on the official website of this VPN, you can proceed to download ProtonVPN. You can do this by logging to your account (on the website), where you can also check plenty of useful information.
Once you log-in to your account on ProtonVPN’s website, click on the left-placed item called ‘Downloads’. You can see the available platforms here, as well as OpenVPN configuration files if you want to want to avoid installing the application natively. We’ve tested ProtonVPN on our Windows 10 PC, where the installation process went without a single problem. The installation file comes in at around 14MB, so you can download it fairly quickly even if you don’t have a fast Web connection. Then, initialize the Installation Wizard and that’s pretty much it.
Once installed, you will see ProtonVPN’s log-in screen. Make sure to enter your username and password, and you’ll finally get to access all of this VPN’s capabilities. We’ll explain its UI and what you can expect later in the article, in our ‘Ease of Use’ segment.
ProtonVPN comes with plenty of unique features, adding a lot of value to its offer. The only thing that’s missing right now is ad-blocking and anti-malware. Our Score: 8.5/10.
VPNs may look the same on the outside. However, make sure to take a look ‘behind the scenes’ and inspect their features before buying a subscription. This will tell you how much value you’re getting for your money, and you can easily see if a VPN meets your needs. So, here’s what kinds of features you can expect out of ProtonVPN.
VPN Features Checklist
|DNS Leak Protection||YES|
|IPv6 Leak Protection||YES|
|Unlimited Server Switches||YES|
In terms of protecting your online data and preventing leaks, ProtonVPN uses DNS and IPv4 leak protection. And even though this VPN doesn’t fully support IPv6 yet, it comes with servers designed to prevent any leaks. In other words, all IPv6 traffic is rerouted via this VPN’s servers and it never leaves them, so you can continue to browse the Web like you normally would.
It’s also interesting to note that ProtonVPN comes with a whole series of advanced features. You get a built-in kill-switch, whose role is to prevent any Web traffic if your secure connection becomes compromised. There’s also split tunneling, allowing you to select which applications use VPN traffic and which ones don’t.
ProtonVPN has also developed technologies you won’t find elsewhere. For example, Secure Core is a system of servers in privacy-friendly countries, giving you another layer of security. In other words, this system routes your traffic through several servers before leaving ProtonVPN’s network. Another feature called Forward Secrecy automatically generates new encryption keys each time you use the VPN. This means that your traffic can’t be decrypted even if any of your previously used keys get compromised. And lastly, ProtonVPN enabled Tor over VPN via a selected set of servers.
ProtonVPN comes with a relatively small network of servers. ‘Popular’ destinations are included, but these servers are not evenly spread out across the world. Our Score: 4/10.
Now, we’ll check how many servers does ProtonVPN offer, as well as in how many countries and locations – so you can compare it to its competitors. Check out the following table.
Server Count Info
|Number of Servers||630+|
|Number of Locations||55+|
|Number of Countries||44|
|Specific Cities Selection||YES|
As you can see, ProtonVPN currently offers more than 630 servers in 44 countries across the world. It’s important to note that none of these are virtual servers – and instead, they’re physical units. However, we can’t say that we’re impressed by this number as top-rated VPNs currently offer from 3,000 up to more than 5,000 servers across the planet. Therefore, it can be said that ProtonVPN is far behind those VPNs, at least when it comes to its server count.
As you can expect, ProtonVPN offers servers in ‘popular’ countries such as the USA, Australia, and many European countries. So, if you live in any of these countries, you can count on having a nearby server. Unfortunately, the situation isn’t that good in Africa and South America, as you’ll only find servers in Brazil (Sao Paulo) and South Africa (Johannesburg). Differently said, you can’t count on having nearby servers, so you’ll most likely experience some throttling. The situation is somewhat better in Asia, as you’ll find servers in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, and Israel.
Ease of Use
ProtonVPN comes with a clean and modern UI design, and it’s one of the most polished VPN applications in terms of its appearance and ease of use. Our Score: 10/10.
Unlike the majority of VPNs, ProtonVPN isn’t forcing a mobile-like UI. Instead, this is a fully-featured VPN application that you can freely resize and reposition as you want. The home screen provides everything you need to get started, with the biggest portion taking an interactive map of the world. You can use this map to connect to different countries, but it doesn’t really give you an option to fine-tune your experience (which is where the left-placed sidebar enters the game).
To select a server, take a look at the left side of the screen. You’ll see two tabs here named Countries and Profiles. The first one gives you a list of all countries that host ProtonVPN’s servers. You can click on any of these to connect automatically or you can use a dropdown menu to select an individual location. Also, make sure to check out symbols and icons next to each country’s name – as this is how you can identify servers suitable for P2P traffic, Tor over Onion, and more. Once you connect to a server, ProtonVPN will provide real-time information at the bottom of the screen. You can see the duration of your session, how much data you’ve uploaded and downloaded, and you can also check upload and download speeds.
To dive a bit deeper into this application, click on the hamburger button in the top-left corner. This is where you can check information related to the software version, your profile, and you can also update the application here and get help as well. In general, these are links to the official ProtonVPN website – expect from one item called Settings. So, let’s see what can be done here:
- General: To keep yourself protected at all times, you can set ProtonVPN to launch on system startup. This tab also allows you to test new features early, and you can fine-tune the application’s behavior as well.
- Connection: Here’s where you can choose from different protocols, and you can decide whether ProtonVPN can automatically connect to a server once you launch it. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tab, allowing you to employ VPN protection at all times.
- Advanced: Finally, here’s something truly important. The ‘Advanced’ tab lets you enable/disable DNS leak protection, kill-switch, and split-tunneling. DNS leak protection is enabled by default (as it should be), so make sure to do your research about kill-switch and split-tunneling, and then utilize these options.
All in all, ProtonVPN is one of the VPNs with a highly polished UI design. It’s suitable both for beginners and advanced users, as it allows plenty of customization. Every option is explained nicely and there are helpful tooltips around the application’s UI.
Media Streaming & Torrenting Support
ProtonVPN is currently able to unblock Netflix USA, Hulu, and Prime Video, in addition to supporting P2P traffic. BBC iPlayer is out of this VPN’s reach. Our Score: 7/10.
One of the most popular uses of VPNs is their website unblocking capability. This is especially interesting when it comes to streaming platforms, so let’s see which services can be unblocked and used via ProtonVPN.
Media Streaming & Torrenting Support
|Amazon Prime Video||YES|
When it comes to accessing the US version of Netflix, you’re covered well. Plenty of servers offered by ProtonVPN can make this happen. As you probably know, Netflix USA has the biggest media library out of any other regional version of this streaming platform, so you’ll get to use your subscription in the best possible way. In addition, you can also unblock the UK and German versions of Netflix.
ProtonVPN can also help you unblock Hulu, and this works well for the most part. However, unblocking Hulu is a notoriously tough thing to do, so we can’t promise that you’ll get the best possible performance. The same applies to Amazon Prime Video, which works for the most part. The only popular service that that’s out of this VPN’s reach is BBC iPlayer.
Let’s also not forget about torrenting. ProtonVPN comes with a range of servers that support this kind of traffic. More precisely, you’ll get to use P2P servers found in Switzerland, Sweden, Singapore, Australia, and the Netherlands. So, in case you’re located in any of these countries, the chances are you’ll get usable download speeds.
Security & Privacy
Having the ability to unblock streaming platforms is a nice feature. However, this doesn’t matter much if your chosen VPN isn’t capable of protecting your online data. With this said, we’ll tell you all the ways that ProtonVPN can make you secure on the Web.
Supported Encryption Protocols
This VPN comes with the strongest type of encryption that’s commercially available. We’re talking about AES-256, with the key exchange method being 4,096-bit RSA, while SHA384 if used for message authorization. You don’t have to worry about all these numbers and names – all you need to know is that AES-256 should keep your data encrypted in the best way possible.
ProtonVPN has decided to drop less secure VPN protocols and to focus only on OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec. Both of these are known as strong protocols with no known vulnerabilities. Depending on your platform of choice, you’ll either get to use OpenVPN or IKEv2/IPsec – and it really doesn’t matter which one you’ll end up with, as both of these provide reliable performance.
Update (January 2020): ProtonVPN has announced that it’s testing the OpenVPN protocol on iOS devices. At the moment, this option is available for those willing to enroll in a beta program, giving you the ability to switch between IKEv2/IPSec and OpenVPN. It’s also worth noting that ProtonVPN already brings these two protocols on Android phones.
When signing up for a new account, ProtonVPN will collect information like your username, email address, and password – as this is needed for you to log-in and use the service itself. Then, once you start using the application, your timestamps will be collected. This seems a bit strange, but the explanation here is that ProtonVPN protects you against password brute-force attacks. In addition, this information is overwritten each time you log-in to the application, so there’s nothing to be worried about.
DNS Leak Test
We have also done a DNS leak test, to ensure that there are no active data leaks. As you can see from the image above, ProtonVPN employs effective DNS leak protection measures. Third-parties on the Web can only see what ProtonVPN is showing them, and this includes your virtual IP address, hostname, country of origin, and more.
Speed & Performance
ProtonVPN is one of the fastest VPNs right now. It slowed us by only 9.8%, on average – which is why we give it the highest score. Our Score: 10/10.
Now, we will tell you what kind of performance you can expect from this VPN. We’ll do this by connecting to several of ProtonVPN’s servers and we’ll run a series of speed tests. So, let’s get started.
We’ll begin by checking our baseline data. So, we’ve checked the speed of our Web connection without enabling this VPN. During our first round of speed tests, we got 136.31 Mbps for downloads and 9.80 Mbps for uploads. Now, it’s time to connect to a nearby server.
We’re located in Europe where ProtonVPN has plenty of servers. In our case, the nearest server was located in Italy, so we allowed the VPN to make this connection. Then, we ran another speed test, and this time around we got 124.35 Mbps for downloads and 9.12 Mbps for uploads. So far, so good.
Finally, we also connected to a server in the USA. Based on our location, this is a remote server. Check out the image above, and you’ll see that we got 121.30 Mbps for downloads and 6.48 for uploads. We have to say that we’re impressed as remote servers usually don’t produce such fast speeds.
|Download Speed||Upload Speed||Speed Reduction|
|Baseline Data||136.31 Mbps||9.80 Mbps||0%|
|Nearby Server||124.35 Mbps||9.12 Mbps||8.7%|
|Remote Server||121.30 Mbps||6.48 Mbps||11.0%|
On average, ProtonVPN made our Web connection slower by 9.8%. We’ve tested a large number of VPNs so far, and this is one of the best results. Highly recommended if you care about maintain the speed of your Web connection.
Since live-chat is missing, all you can do is open a support ticket – and hope that someone will contact you back within 48 hours. Our Score: 5/10.
VPNs are incredibly complex applications that depend on a large network of servers. Therefore, you should not be surprised if something goes wrong from time to time. And this is why you should always go for a VPN that offers reliable customer support, ready to resolve your issues in a timely manner. So, here are all the ways that ProtonVPN will be able to assist you.
- Installation Guides: Installing ProtonVPN is simple. However, more advanced users will want to install this VPN on a router, which certainly requires some technical knowledge. Luckily, ProtonVPN can help you by offering nicely written step-by-step guides.
- Frequently Asked Questions: There’s a whole range of frequently asked questions on the website. These are related to using the application, accessing different types of content, and troubleshooting technical problems. This can be helpful in some situations, even though this customer support section isn’t the most comprehensive.
- Support Tickets: Finally, you can contact the company by filling out a form on its website. Explain your problem in detail and expect to receive a response within 48 hours.
Unfortunately, ProtonVPN doesn’t offer live-chat on its website, which is clearly a downside. We think that you’ll manage to find the answer to your technical issues, but be prepared to wait for some time. We have to say that we’ve expected something better from such a reputable VPN service.
ProtonVPN could benefit from having its price reduced. It offers a lot of value, but it’s still one of the most expensive VPNs out there. Our Score: 5/10.
As noted earlier, we’ve tested the ‘Plus’ version of ProtonVPN. This one supports up to 5 devices at the same time and also includes premium servers (needed to unblock streaming platforms). So, let’s take a look at how much you need to pay for this service – by going for its ‘Plus’ version.
|Total Price||Per Month||Savings|
As you can see, ProtonVPN isn’t the most affordable VPN out there. If you decide to subscribe to ProtonVPN, you should go for its annual plan – which lets you save 20%. In other words, the price goes down from $10.00 to $8.00 per month, and this is still more expensive than what offer VPNs offer (even the top-rated ones).
Once again, it’s important for you to know that we’ve talked about the ‘Plus’ version of ProtonVPN. If you need something more affordable, you can go for its ‘Basic’ version ($5 per month) that supports up 2 connections at the same time. You also won’t get premium servers (which means you’ll get limited speeds and no website unblocking), and features like Secure Core and Tor Servers are not on offer. There’s also the ‘Visionary’ subscription plan which includes ProtonMail – the company’s encrypted email client. However, it comes at a very high price ($30 per month).
Finally, you can pay via PayPal and credit cards. And also, you should know that you’ll get a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Do We Recommend ProtonVPN?
It’s easy to recommend ProtonVPN to a broad group of users. It protects your private data in a reliable way, and it seems that it doesn’t log any of your data. Also, you can count on unblocking Netflix USA, and streaming in the highest possible resolution since ProtonVPN is incredibly fast. So, there’s definitely plenty to like about this VPN.
- PROS: Polished UI design; Easy to install; Unblocks Netflix; Strong encryption; Capable VPN protocols; Incredibly fast performance.
- CONS: Relatively small server network; Semi-helpful customer support; High priced.
- OUR SCORE: 7.8 out of 10!
Are you intrigued by what ProtonVPN offers? Well, we’re sure you are. So, if you need additional information, or if you want to subscribe to ProtonVPN straight away, make sure to use the provided link. We’re sure that many of you are going to be perfectly happy with your choice.