Proton VPN has set out to offer the world a VPN that is secure, not funded through malicious means, and not limited in terms of bandwidth or amount of data transferred.
I decided to see if Proton VPN does live up to these aspirations. I’ll look at plenty of essential questions about Proton VPN in this review. Is Proton VPN safe to use? Is it trustworthy? Is it good for torrenting and streaming?
In my Proton VPN review, I’ll answer these questions to help you determine if this is a solid choice for your VPN needs.
|Rank||#11 out of 231 providers|
|Support||Email, knowledge base|
|Logs||Independently-audited no-logs policy|
|Free version or trial||Yes|
Not into reading the whole article? We have a video review of Proton VPN right here! There’s also an in-depth comparison with its rival in the best free VPN category – Atlas VPN.
Proton VPN is very committed to robust online security and privacy. Security-wise, it’s incredibly safe and is a surefire choice for protecting your digital assets. From hiding your IP address and ensuring your anonymity online, to torrenting safely and avoiding online censorship, this VPN service is pretty much as good as it gets.
Proton VPN uses AES-256 encryption, which is considered the gold standard of cryptography techniques. Used by both cybersecurity experts, banks, and even world militaries, AES-256 is practically unbreakable.
As far as tunneling protocols go, Proton VPN offers the following:
That’s quite a good range of protocol options, knowing that many VPNs still haven’t implemented the next-gen WireGuard. It offers unparalleled speed and extra security. All in all, it’s always good to have such time-proven alternatives like OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec.
Proton VPN offers a powerful kill switch. If your VPN connection drops for some reason – the program will stop all traffic and prevent your IP address from leaking.
I tested the Proton VPN kill switch on their Windows app, and the results didn’t disappoint – it worked reliably whenever I got disconnected from Proton VPN, including some unorthodox scenarios.
To activate this feature, simply click the flip switch icon on the left side of your Proton VPN app.
Proton VPN also offers a split tunneling feature. You’ll find it under Settings > Advanced.
With this feature, you can choose which apps and IPs to include or exclude from using a VPN tunnel. That’s especially convenient if you want to protect torrenting and browse from your location at the same time.
Secure Core is one of the most praised features that Proton VPN offers.
Put simply, with this feature, your traffic would be first routed through the Secure Core servers, and only then go to the VPN server. Secure core servers are located in privacy-friendly Switzerland, Iceland, and Sweden. What Secure Core adds is this extra layer of security.
Naturally, you might worry about how this feature would affect the speeds. Of course, going through two servers means experiencing some slow down. However, even with Secure Core enabled, I found the speeds satisfying enough.
Meanwhile, Tor over VPN is a feature that combines the anonymity given by the Tor network and a VPN. With Tor support already built-in, your traffic could be routed through the Tor network, enabling you to access the dark web.
One thing to mention is that they won’t work with the free plan.
Proton VPN offers DNS leak protection on the client-side as well as a private DNS network. This should ensure the prevention of most DNS leak situations.
There have been reports that Proton VPN is susceptible to the notorious WebRTC leak. However, at the moment, my tests show that this is not the case.
The situation with IPv6 leaks is less clear, but any allegations about Proton VPN’s IPv6 leaks lack substantiation. In the worst case, it’s possible to simply turn off IPv6.
All in all, I can reliably say that Proton VPN is a leak-free VPN service.
Proton VPN is based in privacy-friendly Switzerland. Apart from being strict on privacy in general, Switzerland has no data retention laws and is not part of the Fourteen Eyes alliance. This means that jurisdiction-wise, Proton VPN is based in one of the best countries on the planet.
The service logs your email address, support tickets, and payment details, such as your name and the last four digits of your credit card, as well as a timestamp. However, they state that it gets “overwritten each time you successfully log in” and you can ask the staff to erase it. While there are several elements logged, the company has had no issues regarding the sharing of those data bits.
Each time a user connects to the Service, we only monitor the timestamp of the last successful login attempt. This gets overwritten each time you successfully log in. This timestamp does not contain any identifying information, such as your IP address or your location; it only contains the time and date of the login.
This is far less than many other VPN providers collect and shouldn’t be of much concern.
Therefore, even though Proton VPN has a “no-logs” claim on their website, which changes to “no activity logs” after scrolling down a bit, it does the minimum required logging after all. Thankfully, various third-party audits have confirmed that users have nothing to worry about while using this provider.
At the beginning of 2020, Proton VPN announced that their apps are now open-source and audited. It was an anticipated step, given the fact that the company is well known for its dedication to providing a safe and secure browsing experience.
At the same time, Proton VPN decided to focus more on third-party audits. Hence, Proton VPN signed a contract with the leading security firm SEC Consult to conduct the audits.
In April 2022, Proton VPN went through an independent no-logs policy audit by Securitum. This well-established security auditing company ensured that the hardware side of Proton VPN is just as reliable as the software. Now there’s no doubt in my mind that this VPN service is ideal for privacy enthusiasts.
Our base connection speed at the time of the test was 193 Mbps download and 196 Mbps upload with the IKEv2/IPSec protocol. Looking at the table you can tell that Proton VPN speeds are quite fast thanks to their bare-metal server network, modern tunneling protocols, and unique technologies for improving connectivity.
|Average download speed||148 Mbps|
|German server||138 Mbps|
|US server||149 Mbps|
|UK Server||152 Mbps|
|Australian server||151 Mbps|
|Germany server||11 Mbps|
|US server||112 Mbps|
|UK server||15 Mbps|
|Australian server||80 Mbps|
Of course, the speed is not determined by the number of servers only. For example, Plus plan subscribers can use 10 Gbps servers, which can really make the difference if your internet connection is fast.
As mentioned, you can use the Secure Core feature, but bear in mind that with it on, you’ll be sacrificing the speeds to some extent.
Also, make sure that you have VPN Accelerator enabled to take advantage of the unique technological solutions that Proton VPN has implemented to improve connectivity.
Recently, Proton VPN released a unique feature called VPN Accelerator that improves connection speeds across all devices, regardless of what tunneling protocol you’re using. Best of all, it’s available for premium and free users alike. It’s enabled by default once you update your app.
Apparently, VPN Accelerator should improve connection speeds by up to 400%. This feature works best when connecting to servers located further away. Meanwhile, connecting to nearby locations will yield less noticeable improvements.
Through research and development, Proton VPN developed a stack of performance-improving technologies that deal with various inefficiencies and limitations when using a VPN. For starters, many VPN protocols do not take advantage of multithreading. VPN Accelerator is meant to address this issue in a variety of ways.
Of course, that’s just one piece of the puzzle. To find out more about VPN Accelerator, visit the Proton VPN blog where they announced the feature.
Yes, it probably does. As far as its multiplatform availability goes, Proton VPN is available on the most popular desktop and mobile operating systems, including:
There are also tutorials on installing it on AsusWRT, DD-WRT, Tomato, and Vilfo routers.
While the number of apps and supported devices is still quite small, it’s only a matter of time until Proton VPN adds more. After all, this VPN was created with security – and not popularity – in mind.
The number of devices per account depends on the pricing plan. The free version gives you just one, while the priciest Visionary plan allows for up to 10 simultaneous connections.
The desktop apps are easy to navigate – they have a huge map and are not cluttered at all. Every option has useful explanations.
On the primary screen of the Proton VPN Windows app, you’ll see a map, which you can zoom into and out of using the bar at the top right. Hovering on the little triangles will reveal what country the VPN server is based. If you hover over the country name, it will change into a Connect button.
On the top left, you should notice a Quick connect button, which will connect you to a server nearest to your location. Below there is a Search tab and an expandable list of countries with Proton VPN servers.
Special servers are marked with different icons. Two opposing arrows mean a P2P server, and the onion stands for Tor over VPN.
If you turn Secure Core on, all your traffic will go through Proton VPN’s hyper-secure servers in Switzerland, Sweden, or Iceland. This will also slow your connection down considerably.
The Settings menu has three tabs, but I’ll only discuss the most critical options in all of them.
There isn’t much room to get lost in the Proton VPN client – the tool feels spacious but uncluttered and functional at the same time.
Unlike most VPN providers out there, the Proton VPN offers a Mac client that is just as secure as the Windows app. Many VPN services strip certain security features from their macOS apps, which is not the case with Proton VPN. Both Secure Core and Tor over VPN are present in the Proton VPN macOS client as well.
Finally, the Proton VPN Linux app is a command-line tool without GUI. That’s relatively common across the VPN industry, with the exception of Surfshark VPN.
The mobile versions of Proton VPN have a bit fewer functions. They use the same WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 protocols.
The Proton VPN Android app doesn’t feature a kill switch, so you’ll have to turn on the Android OS version, which is barely an inconvenience. In contrast, the iPhone client has “Always-on VPN” setting which is… always on. The kill switch is also there if you want to block all network traffic in case of a VPN failure.
You can get the Proton VPN Android app for your phone or Chromebook on Google Play or as an APK package file from protonvpn.com. It’s also available on F-Droid, the biggest free and open-source Android APKs repository.
The Proton VPN iOS app is available on the Apple App Store.
You can install Proton VPN on Android TV. Once you set it up, you’ll be able to watch all supported streaming channels (more on that in the next chapter). The app, available on Google Play Store, also includes DNS and IP leak protection.
Chromebook users can also install the Android version of Proton VPN. This can be done either via Google Play Store or by downloading the .apk from the provider’s website. The Chromebook app will unblock content and secure your public wifi connections.
Proton VPN also offers set up tutorials for on AsusWRT, DD-WRT, Tomato, and Vilfo routers. This means that with a bit of work, you can protect your whole home network. That leaves the other nine connections (if you own a premium subscription) for protection on the go.
Proton VPN unblocks Netflix US, UK, Canada, and Japan, among others. However, when choosing a server, you should look for a Play icon that marks streaming-ready servers. Some countries with great Netflix libraries like South Korea or Czechia don’t have those at all.
The speeds were good enough for Ultra HD (4K). Although the initial loading of the show may take longer when connecting to a remote location, skipping and streaming are seamless.
Proton VPN also unlocks other streaming platforms, such as Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, or HBO Max. It didn’t work with DAZN for us, though. It’s also worth noting that you won’t be able to watch your favorite shows with a free version.
Yes, Proton VPN supports torrenting, but not on all servers and only for paid users. It also clearly states being against copyright infringement.
The remarkable security credentials make Proton VPN a natural choice for torrent users. Unfortunately, P2P traffic is optimized only on selected servers in Canada, Czechia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Singapore, Sweden, United States, and the United Kingdom. That’s less than a third of all available locations.
This means that users outside of Europe, North America, and the Asia Pacific should not expect good speeds because of the distance to the nearest P2P-friendly server. What we did like was the availability of the split tunneling and port forwarding features. The latter is a godsend if you find yourself behind a firewall with a need to seed for download speed improvement.
Learn more about Proton VPN and torrenting in our dedicated article.
The content on Proton VPN’s website is useful. Although the self-help material is not abundant, it’s searchable, well-written, and discusses the most essential topics. If you have a question not covered by any of the articles on the site – fill out a support ticket, and you’ll eventually receive an informative answer. The only problem: it might not come quickly if you’re a free user!
Proton VPN also has an official r/ProtonVPN subreddit, which is a transparent and efficient way of dealing with various questions. The employees answer most of the questions within 24 hours.
We didn’t like that after all these years, live chat support is not available 24/7 yet. While paid users can start one after logging in to the Proton VPN website, don’t expect a quick answer if you’re from Asia or the Americas.
Below you can find more information about Proton VPN regular plans.
Proton VPN offers three pricing plans – you can choose to pay monthly, annually, and bi-annually. There are no differences between them apart from the price.
You can pay by credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, and cash. Please note that Bitcoin and cash payments are accepted from existing users only. Thus, you’ll need to create a free account first before buying. The paid options are excellent for security-first users who don’t need good speed and are fine with only US Netflix.
Proton VPN’s Free version is one of the top free VPN deals I’ve seen so far. The no-logs policy protects subscriber anonymity, and they get access to 3 locations (US, Netherlands, and Japan) with 100+ servers.
On top of that, every paid plan has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Proton VPN is suitable for security-first users who also want to stream Netflix or download some torrents safely. It is a hugely ambitious project, led by the CERN employees, and already one of the best choices for those who want a solid free VPN.
With the addition of the WireGuard protocol, this provider made another step towards becoming one of the top VPNs overall. It will be interesting to see what Proton VPN is planning for 2022.
Proton VPN makes it to our Top VPN providers list – that’s a very good result. Besides, it’s one of the best free VPNs in 2022.
It is. In fact, Proton VPN offers one of the best free plans on the market today. When downloading the free app you’ll be sure that your online activities are well protected. Moreover, the speeds you get are great – both for general browsing and for content streaming online.
Taking into account the features that Proton VPN has, it’s one of the most reliable providers on the market today. With military-grade encryption, independently-audited no-logs policy, and Secure Core servers, you can rest knowing that your security and privacy needs are met.