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Both NordVPN and ProtonVPN are respected and widely-used VPN providers. But which one offers more value for its users?
In my comparison, I’ll discuss topics such as security, privacy, apps, ease of use, pricing, and more. No time to read an entire article? No worries – below, you’ll find a summary table.
|“Best for” nominee||Best overall, Best for Netflix, Best for P2P, Best for China, Fastest VPN||Best Free VPN for Android, Best Free VPN for Popcorn Time|
|Price starts at||$3.30/month||$3.29/month|
|Review||NordVPN Review||ProtonVPN Review|
As you can tell, apart from price, NordVPN looks better when I compare both providers side by side. Continue reading to see what makes NordVPN the winner.
Security of ProtonVPN vs NordVPN
|Protocols||NordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2||OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec|
|Security features||Double VPN, Onion over VPN, CyberSec, SOCKS5 proxy, Obfuscated servers, app, and internet kill switch||Kill switch, Tor over VPN, Secure Core|
What about IP and DNS leaks? To see how both providers do in this department, I ran an online test:
First, I connected to a ProtonVPN DE server. In the picture above you can see that my IP address shows a German location, meaning there is no leak.
The same case was with NordVPN:
Both ProtonVPN and NordVPN offer strong bonus features, such as integration with the Tor network (Onion over VPN or Tor over VPN), and a stealth mode. NordVPN’s Double VPN option (in the picture below) lets you chain VPN servers. ProtonVPN has a similar feature in Secure Core, which funnels traffic through servers in privacy-friendly countries (such as Switzerland or Iceland).
NordVPN, though, goes the extra mile by providing its users with its propriety WireGuard implementation called NordLynx. With it, you’ll enjoy great speeds without sacrificing security. ProtonVPN’s protocols are great, however, they cannot compete with NordLynx.
Hence, NordVPN is the definitive winner of this round.
Privacy of ProtonVPN vs NordVPN
|Logging||Zero logs (independently audited)||Zero logs (independently audited)|
Both providers are based in privacy-friendly locations, that are not part of the Five Eyes alliance. NordVPN has had its zero-logs policy audited by third-party auditors in 2018. Meanwhile, ProtonVPN has built a lot of trust in that regard with their long-standing ProtonMail product.
Lastly, I’m glad that both providers offer an anonymous payment option using cryptocurrencies. While NordVPN offers more of them – at the moment 10 – this is not a great deal of difference.
Despite the minor differences, both providers are winners in this round.
NordVPN vs ProtonVPN speed and performance
|Average speed||132 Mbps||47.4 Mbps|
|Germany server||252 Mbps (17% drop-off)||106 Mbps (65% drop-off)|
|US server||213 Mbps (29% drop-off)||85 Mbps (72% drop-off)|
|Germany server||87 Mbps (72% drop-off)||65 Mbps (78% drop-off)|
|US server||88 Mbps (71% drop-off)||22 Mbps (93% drop-off)|
|Germany server||46 ms||39 ms|
|US server||136 ms||167 ms|
NordVPN is much faster than ProtonVPN. The latter’s 1200+ servers in 55+ countries are put to shame by NordVPN’s ever-expanding list of 5500+ servers spanning over 59+ countries worldwide.
On average, NordVPN, our fastest VPN provider, will give you two times the speed that ProtonVPN does, but some of the Swiss VPN’s servers can be up to six times slower than those of NordVPN.
To see how great both providers are in terms of speed, I tested their speeds online using a server in the US. Before connecting to either VPN provider, my download speeds were 106.19 Mbps and my upload speeds were 104.87 Mpbs.
After connecting to the US server with my NordVPN account I got the following results: download 252 Mbps and upload 87 Mbps.
Once connecting to the US server with my ProtonVPN account I got the following results: download 26 Mbps and upload 34 Mbps.
The difference is quite striking, and NordVPN is yet again number one.
For more accurate and up-to-date results, be sure to take a look at our own VPN speed test.
ProtonVPN and NordPVN apps: ease of use and support
|Major apps||Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android||Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android|
|Other apps||Fire TV & Fire Stick, Android TV||Android TV|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Edge, Firefox||Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera|
|Manual setup||Routers, firewalls, NAS||Routers|
|Simultaneous devices||6||1 (Free plan) & 10 (Visionary plan)|
|Customer support||24/7 live chat, email, FAQ, tutorials||Email, knowledge base|
In terms of apps and ease of use, both providers look great. Both VPNs offer apps for all major platforms, while the specific details differ a bit.
Proton VPN ease of use and customer support
Here’s a peek at the user interface of the ProtonVPN Windows app:
It is simple, straight to the point, and provides some extra information about your connectivity.
ProtonVPN has an additional dedicated app for AndroidTV. Naturally, manual configuration is possible on routers. Plus, there are browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Opera.
The number of simultaneous connections depends on your subscription plan. The free plan allows one connection, while the visionary plan allows a whopping 10 connections.
In terms of customer support, ProtonVPN is a bit behind. You get the typical means of communication, such as email and a knowledge base on the website, but the lack of 24/7 live chat is disappointing.
NordVPN ease of use and customer support
And here’s what the NordVPN Windows interface looks like:
It is much simpler and easier to use but provides less information about your current connection.
When it comes to additional dedicated apps, NordVPN goes the extra mile by providing apps for Android TV and Amazon FireOS (Fire Stick and FireTV). Furthermore, there are browser extensions for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. Manual configuration is available for routers, firewalls, and NAS (Network Access Storage). Finally, six simultaneous connections are possible with all subscription plans.
NordVPN is way ahead of most VPN services in terms of customer support. Communication options include:
- 24/7 live chat
- A chatbot
- An online knowledge base
- Video tutorials
Essentially, the 24/7 live chat option is what tips the scales in NordVPN’s favor.
Torrenting and P2P with NordVPN and ProtonVPN
|Allowed on||Selected servers||Selected servers|
|Free SOCKS5 proxy||Yes||No|
|Split tunneling||Yes (on Windows and Android)||Yes (on Windows and Android)|
ProtonVPN and NordVPN are both good choices for torrenting, but NordVPN is simply the best VPN for torrenting.
Firstly, it’s about the speed – NordVPN is many times faster than its Swiss counterpart. This will be particularly important with a weak connection: ProtonVPN can make torrenting excruciatingly slow unless your base connection is amazing.
Both services have a split tunneling feature, which means you can use your VPN connection only for the torrenting app, but that will only solve the speed reduction for your other online activities.
NordVPN has none of these issues – its server base is huge and the speeds are amazing. Additionally, it offers a free SOCKS5 proxy you can set up directly on your torrent client.
Netflix and other streaming platforms
|Netflix US||Yes||Selected servers|
|Other Netflix libraries||Yes||Yes|
|Other platforms||Yes||Yes (Hulu)|
Looking at the table, you might guess that both providers work more or less the same when it comes to Netflix. However, there’s something to consider when choosing ProtonVPN.
It is true that you can stream with ProtonVPN (American Netflix and other Netflix libraries) but to do that you’ll need to opt for the Plus or Visionary plan. Free and Basic will not be able to unblock streaming platforms, and I find it to be a huge detriment.
On the other hand, NordVPN is our top VPN for streaming. NordVPN’s superior download speeds make a substantial difference, especially if you want to watch HD and Ultra HD content.
China and other restricted countries
|Works in China||Yes||Unstable|
|Stealth VPN||Yes (Obfuscated servers)||No|
|Tor over VPN||Yes (Onion over VPN)||Yes|
For those traveling behind the Great Firewall of China, we do not recommend ProtonVPN. While its great security features make ProtonVPN a good choice for your safety, the lack of a stealth mode means your traffic can be blocked.
Secondly, there’s again the issue of speed – ProtonVPN has few servers in Asia, which means it won’t offer great performance even if does work.
NordVPN, on the other hand, is one of the few VPN services that work reliably in China. Its Obfuscated Servers feature means the service can’t be stopped by Deep Packet Inspection or other common VPN blocking means. It’s also very fast and has top-notch security features.
Likewise, NordVPN is better equipped to protect those who travel in other censorious countries as well, including Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and any other region that might restrict and/or monitor internet access.
Pricing of NordVPN and ProtonVPN
|One year||$4.92/month||$4.00/month; $8.00/month or $24.00/month|
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||30 days|
ProtonVPN offers more user-friendly prices, especially when you opt for the one-month plan. It also offers a very good free version, which you can use without the fear of running out of data. This is one round that ProtonVPN comfortably wins.
On top of that, ProtonVPN is our number one Best Free VPN.
NordVPN has a typical pricing plan in the VPN industry. It comes with three subscription plans:
- $11.95/month for one month
- $4.92/month for one year
- $3.30/month for two years
However, this only for the first month/year/two years. After the initial period is over, the price actually increases. To be precise, the plan simply switches to the monthly price, which will cost you $119 annually. The logic being that the first deal was just a temporary promo.
The pricing may also differ if you got a subscription bundled with a different Nord Security product, but that’s a whole different story. In any case, you will be informed once the subscription renewal period is nearing.
Besides that, NordVPN offers a 7-day free trial for Android users. Once claimed, it can be used on other devices too. Furthermore, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee with all plans.
ProtonVPN is a bit different from the usual VPNs in terms of pricing. Instead of choosing a subscription plan based on a time frame, you can choose between four plans based on your needs. The four plans are:
- Free, which doesn’t cost anything
- Basic, which costs $4.00/month
- Plus, which costs $8.00/month
- Visionary, which costs $24.00/month
Each plan has different benefits and needs to be paid for one year in advance. Of course, there’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee.
NordVPN vs ProtonVPN video reviews
NordVPN vs ProtonVPN – which is better?
|Speed and performance||Wins✔️||Loses❌|
|Apps and ease of use||Wins✔️||Loses❌|
|Torrenting and P2P||Wins✔️||Loses❌|
|Total wins||6 out of 8||1 out of 8|
In spite of facing a strong competitor, NordVPN is the true winner in this competition. Its security and privacy features are unbeatable, it works great with Netflix and torrenting, and it’s easy to use.
Even though NordVPN is a little bit more expensive, the features it provides are worth the price.
Is ProtonVPN a good VPN?
Yes, ProtonVPN is a good VPN. It has a free plan, but also a few premium options. It’s based in Switzerland and has an independently-audited no-logs policy, as well as a wide range of security features.
Is the free plan of ProtonVPN limited in any way?
The free plan of ProtonVPN does not have any data limits. However, the connection speed is not as fast as the premium plans.
Is using a VPN legal?
Yes, using a VPN is perfectly legal. It is an essential security feature used by many companies around the world.
Is NordVPN worth it in 2021?
NordVPN is totally worth it in 2021. It uses strong AES-256 encryption, has fast connection speeds with NordLynx, plenty of features against geo-blocking or monitoring, and is still quite affordable.
Disclaimer: Affiliate links help us produce good content. Learn more.
Nadin has been tinkering with computers and gadgets for as long as she can remember. She has extensive knowledge about various topics, including IoT, Linux, digital security, and more. Nowadays, she works as an IT network professional and writes helpful guides in her free time.