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A product of ProtonTechnologies, a Geneva-based firm which also owns ProtonMail, ProtonVPN is an online privacy and security solution known for offering a wide range of perks. After the creation of ProtonMail, an email service, ProtonTechnologies felt the need to develop a further project by the name of ProtonVPN, which kick-started with crowdfunding. It is little surprise that while ProtonMail and ProtonVPN are two separate projects, they have a shared knowledgebase.
Because ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland, you can be sure the tool keeps zero user logs. In their own words, the people behind this VPN claim that they are located in a region where there is no law compelling them to log user traffic. This claim has a lot of truth in it given that Switzerland is not a member of the dreaded Five Eyes network.
At first glance, ProtonVPN is no doubt an excellent product, thanks to the fact that it seems to have all the essential security and privacy features of a VPN. When you visit the provider’s site, you will most likely be carried away by such features as Core Servers. The project has also put together a team of technology experts drawn from various areas of specialization. A closer look at the profiles of these experts will leave you without a shadow of a doubt that ProtonVPN can be mentioned in the same breath with crème de la crème in the VPN world.
Despite all the praises, however, it is possible that you may not be persuaded by mere content uploaded on the website. That is why we prepared this review. Here, we take all the claims made by the owners of ProtonVPN through a litmus test to determine if the tool is indeed true to the hype.
ProtonVPN has about 474 servers set in 36 or so countries across the globe. Of course, this count does not include Core Servers, which are exclusively reserved for multi-hot feature users. However, the free plan has only three server locations, which are located in the Netherlands, Japan, and the United States. This is a bit disappointing, considering the fact that there are other solutions in the market with better free plan offers.
ProtonVPN also comes with P2P dedicated servers, which facilitate seamless torrenting while keeping you completely anonymous. As you would expect, torrenting is not available on the Free Plan. That means you will need to upgrade to either Basic, Plus, or Visionary Plan if torrenting is your thing. With none of its servers located in China, users who want to access Chinese content are forced to look for other tools.
With ProtonVPN, you have a total of four service plans to choose from. They include Free, Basic, Plus, and Visionary plans. The plans differ in terms of such factors as connection speeds, the number of supported simultaneous connections, and the number of servers. What this implies is that every extra perk comes at an extra charge.
Besides allowing access to three server locations (Netherlands, Japan, and the United States), the Free Plan offers unlimited bandwidth. The bad news with this plan is that it has a very low connection speed, and it does not support multiple device connections.
The Basic Plan comes with slightly improved features as opposed to the Free Plan. For instance, it supports up to two simultaneous device connections, which is an upgrade to what the Free Plan offers. The plan also comes with a slightly higher connection speed and allows access to all server locations. However, Basic Plan users don’t access premium servers. The plan does not have Tor functionality either.
With ProtonVPN’s Plus Plan, users enjoy all the perks of the Basic Plan, as well as other advanced features, such as Tor compatibility and Secure Core. Additionally, this plan comes with the highest possible connection speed – not to mention five simultaneous connections.
The Visionary Plan is the highest possible plan, which comes with two distinctive features. Firstly, the simultaneous connections are increased to 10 devices, and secondly, the plan has ProtonMail added to it.
Each of the ProtonVPN’s paid plans comes with two packages: a monthly and a yearly package. The Basic Plan costs $4 and $38.40 monthly and yearly respectively. The monthly Plus Plan costs twice as much as the monthly Basic Plan. The trend is the same when it comes to the yearly package: the yearly Plus Plan costs twice as much as its yearly Basic counterpart. On a monthly Visionary Plan, you will part with $24.00 every month, while the yearly package sets you back $230.40. As you can see, you can save up to 20% if you use a yearly package.
Setting up ProtonVPN app on your device is a breeze. The instructions for the same can be found on the provider’s website. Once you log in, you will realize that the app has a simple and easy-to-navigate interface. There is a world map showing the provider’s server locations. Each server has its load percentage, pings, and other pertinent information attached to it, to guide you into making the best choice. Want the tool to choose the fastest server closest to your location? Simply push the “Quick Connect” button and the client will automatically do that for you.
ProtonVPN app also helps you to manage your connection by providing you with important information, such as upload speed, amount of data downloaded, amount of data uploaded, time connected, and assigned IP address. There is nothing difficult with finding your way to the “Settings” tab, from where you can easily enable such features as leak protection, kill switch, and auto-connect. The Visionary Plan users get to enjoy exclusive protonMail, an encrypted email service.
Not every VPN software will allow you to effectively download and share files with other peers over the web. This is a dangerous activity considering the fact that peers with ill motives can use the opportunity to access your sensitive personal data. Therefore, a reliable VPN is a must if you want to torrent safely. Thankfully, ProtonVPN allows you to torrent in such a safe environment, while effectively keeping your activities completely hidden. Remember, you can only torrent on any of the provider’s paid plans. Furthermore, torrenting is limited to certain servers.
With many content streaming sites implementing restrictive measures, it is no surprise that Netflix in your country is different from Netflix in another country. Yes, we are using Netflix as a yardstick because it is not only the most popular content streaming site but one with very restrictive measures in place. As such, very few VPNs have the capability to unblock Netflix. Thus, any VPN that unblocks this site is definitely a good tool for content streaming.
So, does ProtonVPN unblock Netflix? Yes, but only on its two plans: the Plus Plan and the Visionary Plan. Moreover, not every US-based server guarantees express access to the site. While the service lists six of its US-based servers as Netflix servers, there is no assurance that the tool always unblocks Netflix. In fact, the provider issues a disclaimer to that effect.
What other streaming sites does ProtonVPN unblock? CBD, Pandora, Hulu Plus, and Hulu are all accessible via this VPN. Like in the case of Netflix, there is no guarantee that you will always gain access to these sites using the tool. Overall, while ProtonVPN unblocks some of the biggest streaming sites, the tool is not consistent in this respect. It is this inconsistency that stands in its way to becoming a top solution for content streaming.
ProtonVPN can be used on mobile devices, desktops, and even routers. As long as your device runs on Android, Windows, iOS, Linux, or MacOS, you can rest assured the tool will work. You can find a setup manual for each device on the provider’s knowledgebase.
With Tor network, you can be sure all your online activities are anonymous. This anonymity will even be better if the network is combined with a VPN tool. Thus, the most secure VPNs are those which are Tor-compatible, and ProtonVPN is one of them.
As you may have noted from the “Subscription Plans” section above, ProtonVPN supports up to 10 simultaneous connections, depending on the service plan you are using. While the Free Plan allows only one connection, the Basic Plan allows two simultaneous connections. Users on the Plus Plan connect to up to five devices at once, while the Visionary Plan users are privileged to connect a single account to up to 10 devices at once. Hence, if you are running a small business or have a family, you can effectively secure all your devices using a single ProtonVPN account.
To enjoy smooth torrenting, streaming, and other online activities, a good speed is just as essential. Several factors go into determining ProtonVPN’s speed. They include the server in use, the service plan, and the online activity being undertaken by the user. As you would expect, the speed of the tool improves as you move up the plans. And if you are connecting to a nearby server, you will most likely enjoy faster speeds than someone who is connecting to a faraway server. However, it goes without saying that there is only a slight speed difference between distant and near connections. Additionally, the Free Plan, though advertised as being the slowest, will still get you flying. In fact, it is even better than speeds offered by some paid VPN plans you will find out there.
ProtonVPN claims that security is its main focus. Let’s test this claim by taking a look at such things as jurisdiction, logging policy, leak protection, kill witch, encryption, protocol, and Secure Core.
ProtonVPN claims to have its headquarters in Switzerland, a country which has long been known to have one of the strongest laws when it comes to privacy. It is also located outside the United States and the European Union. Switzerland is not one of the Five Eyes surveillance network either. Thus, chances of user information ending up in the hands of intelligence agencies are minimal. On a negative note, however, Switzerland has been passing some laws, requiring service providers to keep user logs for one year. This poses threat to the country’s privacy laws. Thus, you would want to keep tabs on the progress of these laws to ensure that the country is still a safe VPNs haven. Of course, it is not a responsibility of ProtonVPN to strengthen or water down the laws.
While virtually every VPN claims to keep zero user logs, some of them don’t stay true to their word. Thankfully, ProtonVPN keeps its word. The tool is a no-logs service, which means it does not log your traffic. As you would realize at the point of registration, the provider will only require your valid email address. When paying for the service, they will only keep the last four numbers of your credit card. At your own request, the provider promises to delete every little piece of your information from their system. Overall, the tool is a stickler to a zero logs policy.
Security Leak Protections
Your IP address will be at risk of getting exposed if there are Web-RTC, IP, or DNS leaks. For instance, a DNS leak diverts your DNS requests from a VPN tunnel to your internet service provider’s DNS servers, posing a threat to your privacy and security. Therefore, a secure VPN is one that does not give even the slightest chance to DNS leaks. ProtonVPN is one such a solution. Whether you are using any of its paid or free plans, you will always be safe from leaks.
You probably already know the kind of trouble you may be in if your data or online activities end up in the hands of third parties. Heavy fines, imprisonment, stealing of your sensitive data, blah blah – this is a vocabulary you don’t want to hear. And that is why you need a VPN. However, not even the best VPN is immune to failure. Any VPN service can disconnect all of a sudden, exposing all your activities and sensitive data. In such a case, a kill switch will come to your rescue. This feature will automatically discontinue your online activity if your VPN fails. ProtonVPN comes with a built-in kill switch, which you can customize to either disconnect your entire device from the internet or certain selected programs.
Encryption and Protocol
Encryption and protocols are essential to any VPN service. While there is no shortage of protocols, OpenVPN is no doubt the most sought-after thanks to its unequalled security, speed, and reliability. It has been tried and tested, and it is completely devoid of vulnerabilities. For its protection duties, ProtonVPN uses OpenVPN only. While it would be noble for the VPN to have an alternative protocol in place just in case OpenVPN fails, no other protocol is a 100% secure. The icing on the cake is ProtonVPN’s encryption. The service employs AES-256-bit, a super security feature. The encryption also features 2048-bit RSA, which protects your traffic from decryption even if someone compromises your encryption key in the hope of decrypting your traffic in the future.
A Secure Core acts as an extra security layer by first routing your traffic via special servers located in Iceland, Switzerland, or any other privacy friendly jurisdiction before routing the traffic via the server your VPN is connected to. Thus, even if the server you are connected to happens to be compromised, your privacy will remain intact. With so many premium services out there being unable to offer this extra security layer, ProtonVPN surely deserves credit in this regard. However, this feature is only available to those users on Visionary and Plus plans. So, if you are on the Free or Basic Plan, you should think of upgrading to enjoy the feature.
With a solid customer support system in place, service providers are able to handle every query or request, both efficiently and effectively, leaving their patrons satisfied. Yes, VPN users will always encounter issues, some of which require immediate attention. So, if the service provider has not put together a strong team, it is a tale-tell sign that the service is poor as a whole. For any assistance, you can communicate with ProtonVPN’s support team through an email or a ticket system.
ProtonVPN website lists various different email address to use for different queries or issues. The team stands out especially when it comes to delivering clear and satisfactory answers. However, the team is not the best when it comes to response time as there are cases when they take up to 24 hours to attend to an issue. This is quite frustrating especially if you are in a pressing situation. Another minus is that ProtonVPN does not provide live chat or a telephone service, further making instant responses difficult. Given that the majority of VPN services provide instant response features, this is an aspect the engineers behind ProtonVPN must consider if they want their tool to remain competitive.
But there is one more positive thing: the support center, which is home to lots of resources. You could go there for quick answers. The materials here are arranged into categories to ensure you have an easy time finding what you want. The categories include Access Consent, Troubleshooting, Account, Download and Setup, and General Information. Each category contains detailed pieces of content with answers to some common questions.
True to its word, ProtonVPN is indeed a tool designed with user security and privacy in mind. Firstly, the service is based in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction, a Five Eyes non-member. Secondly, the service operates on a strict no-logs policy and supports only OpenVPN, the undisputed No.1 protocol in the VPN world. Add to this the kill switch and the unhackable 256-bit AES encryption and you will understand why the tool is one of the most secure. As if these security features were not enough, the provider goes an extra mile to use a Secure Core, an equivalent of a double VPN feature, which ensures your IP address or internet traffic remains hidden even if your VPN terminal server is compromised. ProtonVPN also supports Tor network for an extra layer of anonymity.
In terms of service, the tool supports multiple device connections (up to 10), and it is optimized for all major operating systems, which include Android, Windows, Linux, iOS, and macOS. The speeds are good enough to support streaming and torrenting.
While there are drawbacks associated with this tool, there is always room for improvement. In terms of the server network, for instance, the provider has been spreading their wings from time to time, a clear signal that they are committed to improvement. Thus, ProtonVPN is not a bad choice at all if you want to be on the safe side online.