ProtonVPN is a product of a Swiss company Proton Technologies, the company behind the popular email service brand ProtonMail. The company has been running its VPN product for quite some time. It promises to deliver impressive VPN features, including strong security and fast speeds.
But we aren’t going to believe it until we put this service to the test! In this ProtonVPN review, we will go through all of its nitty-gritty details, running some speed tests, leak tests, and assessing its security and privacy features. And at the end of this blog, we will announce our final verdict of whether this VPN is the right choice for you.
ProtonVPN Review – Specifications and Details
|Number of servers||1520|
|Number of country locations||61 countries|
|Log policy||Strict no-log policy|
|Tor Over VPN||Available|
|Protocol||OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard|
|Customer Support||Online ticket system|
|Simultaneous connections||10 devices|
As we mentioned earlier, ProtonVPN is a Switzerland-based VPN service, meaning it’s not part of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or 14 Eyes alliances. While it may sound like a nuclear/chemical company, it claims to have created ProtonVPN to protect “the activists and journalists” worldwide.
Being a tech analyst and a journalist myself, it’s quite thoughtful and appreciated for a profession like journalism that is generally assumed one of the dangerous professions out there.
Since its inception, ProtonVPN has expanded its server coverage to over 1500 servers in 61 countries, with better speed and connectivity. Let’s dig deeper with our ProtonVPN review analysis and learn about its pros and cons.
|Secure server network||Below-average speed|
|Additional security features (Ad-block, Tor over VPN)||A bit expensive compared to competitors|
|Strict no-log policy||Complicated email support system|
|User-friendly VPN clients|
|Great at unblocking|
ProtonVPN Server Locations
ProtonVPN has around 1500+ servers across 61 countries, with 3 servers located in Canada. However, free plan users have only access to 24 servers in 3 countries.
Let’s compare to the industry’s leading VPN providers such as NordVPN. The provider offers the maximum number of servers (5500 and counting), while CyberGhost offers 6900+ servers in 90+ regions. Keeping this in mind, ProtonVPN falls short in its server coverage.
What is Secure Core on ProtonVPN?
The ProtonVPN plus plan also includes access to multi-hop Secure Core servers (94 servers). These servers are located in countries with robust privacy laws, and it claims to have ownership directly.
So, when you connect to its Secure Core servers, your VPN connection hops twice, one through the Secure Core server and then to the VPN server you’ve selected. Pros? Your data remains safe even if one of the servers gets compromised.
It’s quite similar to Tor, but Tor is much more complex, with plenty of hops in between you and your destination. Any cons? You might experience speed loss since your traffic will be routed through two servers.
Security, Privacy, and Encryption
Security is the most important aspect of any VPN service. A VPN without security is like a human body without a soul – it serves no purpose. Let’s see what ProtonVPN has got for us:
Does ProtonVPN log activity?
No, it does not, at least, what they have been told in their privacy report. This means that even if they are served with a subpoena, the company will have nothing on you to hand over.
It clearly states on their website that “we do not store, collect, or track any information about your connection logs, IP addresses, session lengths, or location.”
However, the only thing it records is your session data, the last time you tried to log in, and any suspicious logins to prevent force sign-ins against your password. Other than that, it also keeps a record of your following personal data:
- Payment information
- Support requests or bug reports
- Email address
ProtonVPN claims to remove all this data when you delete your account, but until then, the company has your personal data stored in its encrypted servers.
Does ProtonVPN have a Kill Switch?
Yes, ProtonVPN has a Kill Switch on its apps for Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, and Linux devices.
Wait, a Kill Switch? Is it supposed to harm anyone?
Well, the only thing this switch kills is your internet activity when it suspects a connection drop. Okay, why is it important again?
Using a kill switch, otherwise known as the network lock feature, will protect your data from getting exposed during connection drop. Consider it a digital backup plan.
For example, let’s say you’re downloading a huge torrent file. Obviously, it’s going to take some hours, so when the VPN disconnects for even a millisecond, your ISP will not be able to see what you’re doing. You will be safe (literally! In this case, especially).
What is Split Tunneling in ProtonVPN?
Split Tunneling is a feature that splits your device’s traffic into two tunnels; one is VPN encrypted, and the other goes through your regular network. With this feature, you can watch Netflix in your home country and simultaneously surf the web with your VPN connection. More specifically, it is great for enhancing your internet speed.
ProtonVPN offers Split Tunneling for Windows and Android users. iOS users cannot benefit from this feature since Apple software doesn’t support this facility.
Does ProtonVPN have an adblocker?
Yes, ProtonVPN has an adblocker, which they call ProtonVPN’s NetShield. This ad-block is designed to:
- Block privacy-invading ads
- Prevent malware from infecting your device
- Stop trackers from monitoring your browsing
When I tested this feature, it worked great at blocking sites and most ads, but YouTube advertisements still come through.
What Protocol does ProtonVPN use?
ProtonVPN uses some of the most secure VPN protocols like OpenVPN (UDP/TCP) and IKEv2. The protocols are available on Android, iOS, Linux, and Windows apps. However, the macOS app is limited to only IKEv2.
Just recently, ProtonVPN announced full support for WireGuard. This new cutting-edge VPN protocol deems to be much safer and faster than the existing ones. However, the protocol is still in the experimental stage. Therefore, it requires using it with another protocol to minimize its shortfalls.
Does ProtonVPN have DNS leaks?
ProtonVPN claims to have built their entire apps DNS-leak protected. But we’re going to test ourselves to see how effective their protection is.
As you can see above, my IP indicates that I am from France, but actually, I am testing it in Canada. Since that’s not my actual IP address, and I was nowhere near France at that time, our test proved that ProtonVPN is indeed DNS leak protected.
Does ProtonVPN have a WebRTC Leak?
We tested ProtonVPN for WebRTC leaks, and the test came out negative, meaning it did not leak my IP or any other information. Running a WebRTC leak test is important if you plan to use your VPN with web browsers like Firefox, Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Opera.
WebRTC, also known as Real-Time Communication, is a bundle of technologies enabling web browsers to communicate with each other directly without any intermediary. This feature makes for faster speed during video calls, live streaming, and file transfers.
However, it needs to know your IP addresses to establish communication between two devices. So, in theory, a website or app could use WebRTC to detect your actual public IP address. That’s why it is recommended to only go for the VPNs that provide full protection against WebRTC leaks.
Streaming – Does ProtonVPN work with Netflix?
Yes, ProtonVPN works with Netflix, but only if you use its Plus version. Unfortunately, Free and Basic subscription packages don’t offer access to Plus servers, and your internet speed will not be fast enough to allow for streaming services like Netflix. If you’re looking for a VPN for streaming Netflix, consider subscribing to one of the best VPN for Netflix.
Does ProtonVPN allow BitTorrent?
Yes! With ProtonVPN, you will be able to download P2P files with either a Basic or Plus subscription package. However, we recommend you go for a Plus subscription for fast torrenting as it offers a better torrent experience than the free package. If none of these work for you, have a look at our best VPN for torrenting list.
ProtonVPN Speed Test
Based on our testing, ProtonVPN has a pretty decent speed. We could easily download files and stream videos in HD quality with its Plus version. However, its speed is nowhere close to ExpressVPN, which is faster and more efficient than ProtonVPN. Have a look at its speed results:
|Server location||Download speed||Upload speed||Pings|
|Australia||81.42 Mbps||92.34 Mbps||180 ms|
|Canada||39.5 Mbps||92.75 Mbps||261 ms|
|France||60.17 Mbps||28.25 Mbps||366 ms|
|India||74.59 Mbps||47 Mbps||219 ms|
|Israel||43.42 Mbps||84.92 Mbps||169 ms|
|Russia||61.34 Mbps||30.75 Mbps||180 ms|
|South Africa||69.84 Mbps||96.42 Mbps||293 ms|
|UAE||87.09 Mbps||94.09 Mbps||50 ms|
|USA||75.59 Mbps||89.59 Mbps||233 ms|
ProtonVPN’s speed varies depending on the subscription plan you signed up for. Of course, Basic will be faster than Free, and Plus will be faster than the other two. We used the Plus package to test the speed rates.
Keep in mind your internet speed will inevitably drop when your traffic routes through the intermediary server. Obviously, advanced encryption and high security come at a price.
Is ProtonVPN good for Games?
Yes. ProtonVPN showed a low ping and latency rate during our testing. This means ProtonVPN could make the best VPN services for gaming.
Technically speaking, any amount below a ping of 10 ms is considered exceptional and ‘low ping.’ This is the ideal ping rate for playing heaving titles like Call of Duty.
However, this rate might differ from one server to another. It’s better to check with ProtonVPN’s customer support and inquire about which of their servers work best for gaming.
ProtonVPN Device Compatibility
ProtonVPN has a dedicated app for all major OS devices, including:
Unfortunately, it does not have apps for Smart TVs, routers, and gaming consoles, meaning you will have to set up your VPN manually on these devices.
Does ProtonVPN work on Android?
Yes, ProtonVPN has a dedicated application for Android devices. We tested its Android app, and we must say we’re quite impressed. Colors, designs, icons, and navigation are perfect for users of any age.
The Android ProtonVPN app looks quite similar to its Windows app, with the same map graphics, country list, and Profile system.
The setting menu has almost similar options and controls: you can turn on and off the kill switch, set up split tunneling, enable the malware-blocking NetShield, and more.
However, the app doesn’t allow you to enable setting up a custom DNS server, as it does on its desktop client. Please note that the ProtonVPN app requires Android 6.0 and above. You may also check which are the top VPNs to use with Android devices.
Is ProtonVPN available for iOS?
Yes. You can download ProtonVPN on your iOS devices. iOS app looks a bit more stylish, with neat graphics and colorful flags as markers on the map than the Android app. The app contains the same basic options and settings: OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2 protocols, NetShield ad and malware protection; DNS leak protection; split tunneling, and even the facility to change your MTU.
Does ProtonVPN have a browser extension?
Yes, ProtonVPN browser extension is available for all major web browsers, including Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and more. However, its extensions have limited features than its full-fledged app. You need to install its Windows app first to make its extension work on the ProtonVPN Chrome extension.
What does ProtonVPN cost?
ProtonVPN offers three different subscription packages and one free trial. Starting at $5 per month, ProtonVPN is one of the affordable VPNs we’ve reviewed. Here are the details of its packages and pricing:
|One year plan cost||$48||$71.88||$288|
|The monthly cost of a one-year plan||$4||$5.99||$24|
|Two-year plan cost||$79||$119.76||$241|
|The monthly cost of a two-year plan||$3.29||$4.49||$19.96|
Since ProtonVPN’s motto is to provide a secure and private internet experience to everyone, its VPN services should be economical enough to meet that goal.
ProtonVPN Free trial offers a bare-bone VPN experience with only basic features. One level up from Free and the basic package gives you access to more servers in different countries.
And then there is a Plus package, which offers faster speeds and access to high-security features. The visionary plan offers the same perks as the Plus package, with the addition of the ProtonMail Visionary account, so it’s a VPN encrypted mail and ProtonVPN accounts.
Here’s the list of features you get with a particular ProtonVPN pricing package:
|Number of server locations||3||55||55||55|
|Server access||Free servers only||Free and Basic servers||All servers||All servers|
|Total number of servers||23||400||1,418||1,418|
|Access to P2P servers||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Access to Secure Core servers||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Number of devices||1||2||10||10|
|Speed priority||Medium speed||High speed||Highest speed (up to 10 Gbps)||Highest speed (up to 10 Gbps)|
ProtonVPN Customer Support
ProtonVPN offers articles, guides, and email-based customer support. They have a lot of detailed articles and guides, but these aren’t organized or communicated helpfully. We had to scroll all the way through the last page to find speed information; information is clustered and confusing.
You can contact ProtonVPN customer support through an online ticket system in case of any technical issue. Honestly, we didn’t like this system as it takes ages to resolve one problem. From a technical aspect, live chat or telephone support will be more suitable.
FAQs – ProtonVPN Review
How many devices can you have on ProtonVPN?
Does ProtonVPN work in China?
Is ProtonVPN virus?
In November 2019, cybercriminals registered the domain ProtonVPN[.]store, so whoever visited the counterfeit website downloaded what they believed to be the legitimate installer for ProtonVPN. Therefore, it is advised to click only on legitimate sources and not on ads, especially for the products we install on our computers.
Is ProtonVPN free?
Alternatives to ProtonVPN
ExpressVPN – the best and top recommended VPN for online security, privacy, and freedom! ExpressVPN offers access to 3000+ servers in 90+ countries worldwide with fast speed and connectivity. Speaking of speed, it’s the fastest VPN we’ve ever tested, recording an average download speed of 85.6 Mbps on a 100 Mbps connection.
With ExpressVPN’s fast and consistent speed, you can get around even the most stubborn geofences on streaming sites like Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. This allows you to stream geo-restricted content from wherever you are.
ExpressVPN uses military-grade encryption protocol, AES-256-bit, and Kill Switch to ensure maximum security of its users. Its subscription package is available for $6.67/month with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can get further technical details about ExpressVPN in this review blog.
Final Verdict – do I recommend ProtonVPN Canada?
Yes! “a decent VPN service with a generous free package” with this comment, we will wrap up our ProtonVPN review. ProtonVPN passes every test, including DNS, WebRTC, speed, and unblocking. It also works great with Netflix and has a pretty low ping rate for online gaming. Its well-designed apps are now open source and independently audited with the availability of top-notch VPN protocol WireGuard.
However, ProtonVPN does have some drawbacks; it simply does not perform on the level as the industry’s leading VPN services like ExpressVPN. Server speeds can be hit or miss, depending on the proximity of your selected servers and other factors.
Nonetheless, ProtonVPN remains a decent choice, with impressive online security from a reputable company. So, if you think it’s cut out for you, it doesn’t hurt to give a test drive. And if it doesn’t float your board, check out the alternatives to ProtonVPN above.
We will give ProtonVPN an overall rating of 4/5.