Proton VPN Review

8.6/10
Top security and great free version
Last updated Jul 8, 2024 at 5am ET

Proton VPN is a super-secure tool that will keep you safe online. Its privacy credentials have been audited through multiple avenues, while its performance is excellent. Proton VPN is a superb service for breezy web adventures.

Minimum Price:
$4.49 / month
Apps available:
windows macos ios android linux androidtv
Works with:
router
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Proton VPN is a highly-regarded VPN brand brought to you by the creators of ProtonMail. It claims to be one of the most security and privacy-focused services for safety-craving internauts.

Its superb premium version offers loads of nifty features that will make your digital life less troublesome. But is Proton VPN as safe as it claims to be? Is it a trustworthy provider? And can you use it to smoothen up your torrenting and streaming experience?

In my Proton VPN review, I’ll answer these questions to help you determine if this is a solid choice for your VPN needs.

Enjoy safety with security-first VPN

Proton VPN phenomenal features that will make you basically untouchable on the web. Its privacy policy guarantees that your data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. Not to mention, it will be your trustworthy buddy when streaming & torrenting.

8.5 /10
Outside Fourteen Eyes jurisdiction
Excellent safety features
Great for streaming

Proton VPN overview

🏆 Rating:8.6/10
🖥️ Servers:6300+ servers in 100 countries
📺 Streaming: Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max
🔛 Torrenting:Yes
❔ Support:Email, knowledge base
🛡️ Logs:Independently-audited no-logs policy
💵 Price:From $4.49/month
🏷️ Coupons:Proton VPN coupon 55% OFF
🆓 Free version or trial:Yes

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Is Proton VPN safe?

Proton VPN is very committed to robust online security and privacy. Safety-wise, it’s incredibly tough 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.

Encryption and tunneling protocols

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:

  • WireGuard
  • OpenVPN TCP
  • OpenVPN UDP
  • IKEv2/IPsec
  • Stealth

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. Meanwhile, the proprietary Stealth option is essential for bypassing censorship and VPN restrictions.

Feel totally safe with Proton VPN

Does Proton VPN have a kill switch?

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.

Proton VPN kill switch

 

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.

Split tunneling

Proton VPN also offers a split tunneling feature. You’ll find it under Settings > Advanced.

Proton VPN split tunneling

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 and Tor over VPN

Secure Core is one of the most praised features that Proton VPN offers.

Proton VPN Secure Core servers

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. So, in the process, you add another layer of security to your traffic.

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.

Stealth protocol

Proton VPN developed and added a Stealth protocol for premium and free users. The technology is built from the ground up and employs the best practices for masking VPN traffic and making it appear as regular web traffic. This is an essential tool for bypassing VPN blocks and avoiding censorship.

Currently, the feature is available on Android, macOS, and iOS devices.

Does Proton VPN leak?

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.

Proton VPN leak test

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.

Minimal logs and privacy-friendly location: Switzerland

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.

According to the Proton VPN Privacy Policy:

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.

Open-source and audited

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.

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How fast is Proton VPN?

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.

Proton VPN
Average download speed
148 Mbps
Servers6300
Countries
100
Download
German server138 Mbps
US server149 Mbps
UK Server152 Mbps
Australian server151 Mbps
Upload
Germany server11 Mbps
US server112 Mbps
UK server15 Mbps
Australian server80 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.

VPN Accelerator

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.

But why read about it, when you can test it out yourself? Experience phenomenal speeds and excellent performance by grabbing Proton VPN. It offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk whatsoever.

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Does Proton VPN support my device?

Yes, it probably does. As far as its multi-platform availability goes, Proton VPN is available on the most popular desktop and mobile operating systems, including:

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • Linux
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Android TV
  • Chromebook

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.

Proton VPN for Windows, macOS, and Linux

The desktop apps are easy to navigate – they have a huge map and are not cluttered at all. Every option has useful explanations.

Proton VPN main menu on Windows

 

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 in. 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.

Proton VPN Advanced Settings

  • Quick Connect. You can switch between connecting to the fastest or random server.
  • Protocol. The default option is Smart which allows Proton VPN to determine the protocol. However, we must not that WireGuard is way faster than OpenVPN or IKEv2.
  • VPN Accelerator. Improves connection speed and automatically switches to a faster server.
  • Port forwarding. This is an important feature for torrenting, especially if you’re behind a firewall and need to seed for better download speeds.
  • IPv6 Leak Protection. There is absolutely no reason why this should be switched off.

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.

Proton VPN on mobile: Android and iOS (iPhone)

The mobile versions of Proton VPN have a bit fewer functions. They use the same WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 protocols.

Proton VPN for iOS

 

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 an “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 the provider’s website. 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.

Other platforms for Proton VPN

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.

Does Proton VPN work for Netflix and other streaming platforms?

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.

Proton VPN unblocks Netflix US

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’s also worth noting that you won’t be able to watch your favorite shows with a free version.

Thus, if you’re getting tired of the same old content libraries, explore new horizons on Netflix, Disney Plus, and Hulu with the reliable Proton VPN. Plus, it will unblock loads of other services and websites for you to enjoy.

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Does Proton VPN support torrenting?

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.

Proton VPN email support, knowledgebase, and subreddit

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 support page

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.

Pricing: is Proton VPN worth your money?

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. If you grab a 2-year plan you’ll save a ton of money, as you’ll have to pay 50% less than paying once every month.

  • 1-month plan costs $9.99/month
  • 1-year plan costs $4.99/month and a total of $71.88
  • 2-year plan costs $4.49/month and a total of $119.76

Proton VPN plan prices

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.

On top of that, every paid plan has a 30-day money-back guarantee. Also you can find good deals with Proton VPN coupons.

Don’t overspend with Proton VPN

Proton VPN free version

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. Not to mention, you’ll be safe and sound while browsing the world wide web.

Proton VPN premium and free comparison

Nevertheless, the no-pay version is lacking in a lot of departments compared to the premium counterpart. Proton VPN freemium is a bit slower and it offers way less servers. Moreover, bypassing geo-blocks and torrenting will be virtually impossible. Therefore, if you need more versatility, choose a paid plan.

Should you get Proton VPN?

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 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 2024.

Best deals this week

You might also like to read:
NordVPN vs. Proton VPN
Proton VPN vs. ExpressVPN
Proton VPN for torrenting
Most secure VPNs
Best VPN for crypto trading


FAQ

Is Proton VPN any good?

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 2024.

Is Proton VPN free safe?

It is. In fact, Proton VPN offers one of the best free VPN 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.

Can you trust Proton VPN?

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.

Good

  • Amazing security credentials
  • Great free version
  • Very user-friendly
  • Unblocks Netflix and more
  • Apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android
  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • Accepts Bitcoin and cash

Bad

  • Few P2P servers
  • Not good in China
 8.6 / 10
Total score
$4.49 / month
Minimum Price
17 comments
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  1. Mark January 13, 2023 at 10:49 pm

    Avoid this VPN. It’s terrible. Been using it 1.5 years and regret renewing it. The servers are constantly bogged down and slow. Google constantly throws me capchas on these vpns. Many sites block the vpn servers, tiktok, etc. The software is buggy on linux, constant problems. Not worth it. Go with another.


    1. Jon March 20, 2023 at 6:49 pm

      I have the opposite opinion, I’ve tried the top 3 (still have active subscriptions) – Nord, Express & Surfshark, and can honestly say I much prefer Proton, realistically it’s down to preferences and what we need from a VPN.

      I’ve had no end of trouble with the Kill switch from Surfshark being so unpredictable, connecting fine then not connecting at all until I turn my internet/ mobile data off and back on again.

      Nord does the job but isn’t the same service from when I purchased a year ago. They are really pushy now, sending out notifications to buy their other services which puts you off.

      Express VPN was perfect I can’t deny it worked incredibly well but I had a few instances where my IP would show different on the app to what i would see if I went to an IP checker website for example, this was a red flag as I was getting three different results per what was allegedly one IP that I was connected to. Not only that the Kape thing really made me question using it at times, and probably made my mind up for me about re-subscribing.

      So in the end about a month ago once my favourite VPN (Express) had expired I took the plunge to Proton. It’s pretty much half the price of Express VPN once you’ve subbed for the 24 month period.

      So far I’ve had 0 Captchas whilst using Proton, I believe this is something they were actively pushing for.

      The only let down for now is the lack of kill switch feature on Android TV (Nvidia Shield) & FireTV (Firestick), I did enquire about this and was told this was in the pipeline to be added at some stage.

      Other than that out of my still active subscriptions I really recommend Proton VPN, followed by Surfshark and then Nord.


  2. Jerry March 20, 2022 at 5:32 am

    Interferes with the functionality of my windows 11 system; slows down computer significantly.


    1. avatar
      Ethan Payne March 21, 2022 at 7:24 am

      Hey, Jerry. That doesn’t sound very good. Are you using the free or premium version of ProtonVPN? And have you tried contacting customer support?


  3. Richard September 13, 2020 at 7:26 pm

    Thank you for the very useful information. I am leaving ExpressVPN and evaluating my company’s options.

    Do you have any recent comments or suggestions?


  4. Albert Roicou March 3, 2020 at 11:47 am

    Thanks for the review, as I made my decision here. I was planning to get the Visionary plan, but, now i see, that Plus plan meets all of me needs. You saved me some money.


  5. Dannn October 29, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    As a free vpn, Proton is great. Probably one of the best out there when it comes to the free version. But for the paid one, it is a little slow for my taste and lacks a few features I can easily find with the better vpns.


  6. Esther Rhobi August 29, 2019 at 12:04 pm

    When I first came across ProtonVPN, I was in doubt whether to giving it a try or not, after a moment of contemplation I decided to test the free trial. I was impressed on ProtonVPN high-quality services they offer. After which, I purchased the visionary plan to use it for multiple tasks such as anonymously browsing the web, watching Hulu, Netflix, TV, and other restricted streamers outside my country.
    ProtonVPN is affordable, super-secure, works perfectly both for my Linux laptop and android phone. However, it is a bit slow and needs little patience when streaming
    I would recommend ProtonVPN services to those who use public and other unsecured WiFi connections. It was worth giving a trial as it has never disappointed me.


  7. Lucas Moronge August 29, 2019 at 11:57 am

    I’m a Journalist, and I travel a lot around the world, I’m always in search of world latest news and information to air and write about. Before I learned about ProtonVPN, it was an uphill task for me to work in countries that restrict its citizen from accessing the internet outside its territory. About two years ago, a friend referred me to ProtonVPN, and I took a step to subscribe to their free trial version. Guess what! The experience was terrific! It is such amazing they deliver as promised. I have been to China, Russia, Iraq, Turkey, and the ProtonVPN worked great. It offers end to end VPN solution whether you are using Linux, Mac, or Window PC.
    Sometimes I have experienced difficulty in connecting ProtonVPN to the Netflix, but then I got instant help upon contacting ProtonVPN live chat support.


  8. Miles August 25, 2019 at 12:58 am

    Other VPN services I’ve used have been slow, risky or connected to questionable parent companies. ProtonVPN is great because it offers a fast, secure connection that I don’t have to feel guilty or concerned about using. ProtonVPN pricing is fair, affordable and the various subscription packages offer service plans to fit any budget. Definitely one of my top picks.


  9. Eden Ingram April 22, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    Proton VPN says on their website that with the free version they “don’t serve ads or secretly sell your browsing history.” They explain that the free version is subsidized by ProtonVPN paid users, which makes sense to me. I plan to try them out to see if the speed with the free version is sufficient for me to browse the internet. Thanks for the step-by-step instructions for installing ProtonVPN


  10. Ron April 1, 2019 at 3:40 am

    Proton VPN is ok as a paid option and it shines as a free one. Their free version is probably the best there is. The security is far above anything else that’s free. The speed is… so and so but that’s to be expected. Netflix doesn’t always work on the paid version.


  11. Mason Chalifour February 26, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    ProtonVPN has a really nice user interface, no logs, and their security is top of the line. I think their Visionary plan at $24 a month is pretty steep. The Plus plan at $8 per month is a much better deal. The only difference I see is that ProtonMail Visionary is included. I know the email service is based in Switzerland and is hyper secure, but that price just seems excessive.


    1. Kevin Marlowe March 4, 2019 at 10:01 am

      Yes, it certainly only makes sense if you want to have a Protonmail account (which, by the way, is a great thing to have for some).


  12. theomytho February 15, 2019 at 6:29 am

    The best thing I like about ProtonVPN is the Free version they have. Even though the free version falls a bit short on speed, it delivers as much data to the nonpaying customers as they would want. If you are not happy with the free version, you can then choose to go for the 7 day trial which is equal to ProtonVPN Plus subscription plan.


  13. Phillip December 13, 2018 at 7:19 am

    Great! Let me start with the free version first.


    1. Kevin Marlowe December 14, 2018 at 12:51 pm

      Hi Phillip,

      Thanks for the comment! How are you liking it so far?

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Proton VPN review
Proton VPN
8.6 / 10
Apps available:
windows macos ios android linux androidtv
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