- Number of servers: 8/10
- Speed: 7/10
- Pricing: 7/10
- Ease of use: 10/10
- Reliability and support: 8/10
Last Updated: September 7, 2021
- Number of servers: 8/10
- Speed: 7/10
- Pricing: 7/10
- Ease of use: 10/10
- Reliability and support: 8/10
Secure browsing and P2P servers
- Free plan
- Open-source app
- No data logging policy
- Tor over VPN
- Split tunnelling
- Low speeds
- Sub-par customer support
- Unblocks streaming platforms with Plus and Visionary plan only
If you ever heard of ProtonMail, then it’s time to learn about its VPN sidekick.
ProtonVPN has now been a part of the ProtonMail family for seven years and has become a favourite provider among users in that time. It’s based in Geneva, Switzerland—out of reach of strict data rules. It offers top-notch security and protection features and is great for Netflix streaming and torrenting.
But are there any downsides? We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about this service in our comprehensive ProtonVPN review.
We ran several tests through various server locations. Interestingly, with ProtonVPN, your speed will depend on the plan you choose—the higher-priced packages will give you better rates.
Keep in mind that when using a VPN, your connection’s speed will decrease to some extent with any provider. For most VPNs, the average speed loss is around 50%, while with ProtonVPN, we experienced a decrease of more than 60%.
Our non-VPN download speed was about 200Mbps, while the ProtonVPN download speed averaged at about 80Mbps from all of the locations that we tried. ProtonVPN also includes the traffic on servers, so you can see which ones give you the fastest connection.
Unsurprisingly, the UK servers were the fastest, with a download speed of 120Mbps. Connecting to the US got it down to 70Mbps. After that, we tried a Hong Kong server and got a rate of about 45Mbps. Our connection took the biggest hit on the Washington DC server, where we got a download speed of 15Mbps. On the Washington DC and US West Coast servers, the upload speed was about 30Mbps.
Overall, the speed tests showed good performance, although you might have some issues torrenting or streaming HD video on some of them. If a super-fast connection is among your priorities you might want to look at providers such as CyberGhost.
The number of devices you can connect is linked to the pricing packages as well. The Free plan offers only one connection, whereas the Basic, Plus, and Visionary plans can get you two, five, and ten simultaneous connections, respectively.
Security and Privacy
VPN users often worry about their data being secured and protected. So is ProtonVPN safe?
Overall, Proton VPN is safe to use, but bear in mind that the different pricing plans will offer you different security options and features.
A key element that affects VPNs is the privacy jurisdiction. Since ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland, it’s not obligated to share users’ data with governments and third parties.
The encryption method it uses is of the highest standard. Internet browsing is encrypted with AES-256, while the key exchange has 4096-bit RSA encryption. ProtonVPN uses HMAC with SHA384 for message authentication.
ProtonVPN uses OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec, the safest and most widely used protocols today. To give you some context, NordVPN and Surfshark use the same protocols.
The provider also offers IPv6 and DNS leak protection. It did well in our leak detection test, as no IP address, DNS, or other information was left exposed.
ProtonVPN has a secure server network that logs only a minimal amount of data. It only saves the last login, and it overwrites it the next time you make an entry. The company also gives an account of its data logging policy in annual reports. Plus, all of ProtonVPN’s apps are open source and audited, so anyone interested can investigate the company’s privacy and security practices.
ProtonVPN also includes a kill switch that disconnects you from the internet if your VPN drops so that none of your data is leaked.
We were glad to see that ProtonVPN allows split tunnelling. This feature lets you route part of your traffic through your VPN and another part through your internet service provider. So, for instance, you can watch Netflix in your country while you are still browsing the net through the VPN or vice versa.
Note that ProtonVPN’s split tunnelling is only available on Windows and Android apps. This is the case with most providers, including heavyweights like NordVPN, since the latest versions of iOS and macOS don’t yet support the feature.
Servers and Server Locations
ProtonVPN has an average number of servers and locations. According to its website, ProtonVPN covers 55 countries with 1,200+ servers.
For comparison, Surfshark has 3,200+ servers in 65 countries and uses static IP addresses, while HotSpot Shield has 1,800+ in over 80 countries.
ProtonVPN recently added server locations in South America, Africa, and India, which is a good sign that the provider is taking steps to broaden its network.
ProtonVPN Free covers three countries—Japan, the Netherlands, and the US, with a total of six locations. All of the other plans (Basic, Plus, and Visionary) include 55 countries. There are 35 ProtonVPN servers in the UK, but they’re only available for the Plus and Visionary subscriptions. Out of these 35, 11 are included in the Basic plan.
What’s more, ProtonVPN offers a secure core as one of the ProtonVPN Plus and Visionary plans’ privacy features. It resembles Surfshark’s MultiHop feature—it reroutes you to other server locations. The company says some of its sites are former military bases and underground data centres.
ProtonVPN’s Primary Uses
Let’s take a look at what you can use ProtonVPN for.
Since streaming services are not available in many countries, VPN providers try their hardest to deliver movies and TV shows from Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, or Hulu. But unblocking streaming services may not be ProtonVPN’s biggest strength.
If you have a Basic or Free subscription to ProtonVPN, you must update to the Plus or Visionary plans to get streaming access. ProtonVPN unblocks Netflix, but we faced some issues when we tested the service. We had to go through several servers to find the right one that unblocks Netflix, and there was some buffering time and a low-quality picture. If streaming entertainment content is why you need a VPN, you might want to look at other options, such as ExpressVPN.
Although ProtonVPN claims that it can unblock Disney+, we couldn’t stream it from any server. On the other hand, US Amazon Prime worked like a charm.
If you want to use your VPN while torrenting, this VPN will be the right fit. ProtonVPN allows torrenting through its P2P-optimised servers. It worked as expected with BitTorrent, and there were no logs of our data.
We tried gaming with the Proton Free VPN plan and with the Plus one too. The speed on the free servers was insufficient, and it lagged almost every minute. The Plus plan’s performance was a lot better—we had no interference. You can’t install ProtonVPN on any gaming console, but there’s a router app that effectively connects all the devices in your network to the VPN.
Depending on what ProtonVPN plan you choose, you can connect up to ten devices to the VPN.
The service is available for the following platforms:
- Android TV
Remember that for optimal performance, your devices have to be updated to the newest versions.
You can also use the ProtonVPN extension on Chrome, Mozilla, Safari, and Opera (it recently stopped supporting Internet Explorer).
The user interface is pretty much identical for the desktop and mobile versions. The only difference is that on the mobile apps, you have to switch between screens to see the servers. You can download ProtonVPN for iOS on the App Store and get ProtonVPN for Android on Google Play.
What about Tor compatibility? Good news there—you can connect to Tor networks over ProtonVPN, but only if you have the Plus or Visionary plans. Users often use Tor networks to add an extra layer of anonymity and access Onion sites from the Dark Web.
ProtonVPN may be more expensive than some other popular providers like Surfshark, but you get what you pay for. It offers four pricing plans: Free, Basic, Plus, and Visionary. The provider has discounts if you subscribe for one or two years. In addition, all of the packages have no data limits. Let’s dive into the Proton VPN pricing structure.
|Free plan||Basic plan||Plus plan||Visionary plan|
|Monthly plan – $5/month;
Annual plan – $48/year or $4/month;
Two-year plan – $79/every two years or $3.29/month
|Monthly plan – $10/month;
Annual plan – $96/year or $8/month;
Two-year plan –
$159/every two years or $6.63/month
|Monthly plan – $30/month;
Annual plan – $288/year or $24/month;
Two-year plan – $479/every two years or $19.96/month
|One device||Two devices||Ten devices||Ten devices|
|Six servers in three countries||Servers in 43 countries||Servers in 55 countries||Servers in 55 countries|
|Medium speeds||High speeds||Highest speeds||Highest speeds|
|Few features available||Added features: P2P servers for torrenting;
Access blocked content
|All features included||All features included plus a ProtonMail Visionary account.|
All bundles have a 30-day money-back guarantee, and the payment methods include credit cards, Bitcoin, and PayPal. Overall, prices are on par with premium providers, such as ExpressVPN.
ProtonVPN’s customer support is not very versatile. There’s no live chat or phone support. The only way you can contact them is via an online ticket system or an email, to which you’ll get a response within 24 hours.
ProtonVPN’s rating on Trustpilot is 3.4 out of over 90 reviews, which is average. For comparison, TunnelBear has a rating of 3.0, while CyberGhost has 4.8.
Want to Consider Other Options?
If you’re still unsure if ProtonVPN is the right provider for you, check out our comparison to a couple of other popular services below.
ProtonVPN vs. NordVPN
ProtonVPN has a smaller server park than NordVPN—around 1,200 servers in 55 countries, compared to NordVPN’s 5,300+ in 59 countries. If minimal speed loss is among your priorities, then once again, NordVPN might be a better bet since it offers higher speeds in both short and long distances.
Both offer excellent security features and are similarly priced.
ProtonVPN vs Surfshark
Surfshark has 3,200+ servers in 65 countries—a larger network than that of ProtonVPN. The two’s performance in terms of speed is comparable, but Surfshark’s monthly plan is a bit pricier.
Both providers offer a feature-packed service and top-notch privacy and security (both are outside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance jurisdictions). One difference is that Surfshark uses diskless RAM servers, whereas ProtonVPN has full disk encryption.
All things considered, we definitely recommend ProtonVPN.
The most significant benefit of this provider is the Free plan which lets you give the service a try (although at lower speeds and with some other limitations).
ProtonVPN is on the pricey side and has a smaller server base, but the features and ease of use are worth the cost.
The free ProtonVPN plan offers you the same protection and privacy as the other plans. The only difference is that with the free version, you have lower speeds and fewer add-ons.
ProtonVPN generates a tunnelling protocol that encrypts data that you put on the internet. Once you connect to a server, it starts doing its job. It protects your data from third parties and covers your real IP address.
ProtonVPN has a no data logging policy. The only thing that it will hold is the last login you made, but it’s overwritten the next time you sign in and leaves no trace.
As noted in our ProtonVPN review, the company is based in Geneva, Switzerland, so ProtonVPN has no obligations to share data with jurisdictions in the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances.