VPNs are the epitome of security and privacy. A user employs a VPN to protect their digital lifestyle and maintain digital wellbeing. However, not many providers in the market offer quality services. Luckily, we wrote this review of Proton VPN with the mindset that it can bring favorable changes to our readers. It’s a VPN provider that offers a free version without any limits. However, the vendor also has a paid version that emphasizes security and privacy more than its competition. With that in mind, we will review Proton VPN and establish whether the service is worth the money or if the only way out is the free version.
Disclaimer — The following article is a subjective representation. We do not recommend any particular vendor or service. Reader’s discretion is well advised. Also, we recommend visiting the official Proton VPN website to better understand the service.
Overview of Proton VPN
Proton VPN hails from Geneva, Switzerland. Thus, the provider enjoys some of the world’s strongest privacy laws. Also, the vendor has the support of FONGIT and the European Commission. A group of scientists, engineers, and developers established the company, which shared a common goal of a private internet. In 2014, these CERN scientists came out with the world’s first encrypted email service, ProtonMail, and laid the foundation for Proton VPN. The vendor has emphasized transparency above everything. Thus, it provides regular information regarding its management team. That is a welcome move as VPNs are a trust-based product. Also, it has a distinct no-logging policy. Even an independent audit vetted the VPN.
Specs of Proton VPN
Below is the significant data for both VPN software versions of Proton VPN:
|Key data||Proton VPN||Proton VPN Free|
|VPN connection speed||Up to 96 Mbps||Varies|
|Logging policy||No-logs VPN||No-logs VPN|
|IP, DNS leaks||No||No|
|Number of VPN servers||1828+||100+|
|Number of simultaneous connections||10||1|
|Subscription pricing||$5 monthly for 2 years||Free|
|Money-back guarantee||30-day money-return warranty||–|
Proton VPN features
Now let us give the Proton VPN and its attributes a detailed look:
Privacy and jurisdiction
Proton VPN prides itself when it comes to privacy. Foremost, the service hails from Switzerland, a country with lenient privacy laws. Moreover, the logging policy explicitly tells users that it doesn’t log any sensitive data. And the fact has been vetted by Securitum after they conducted an independent audit of the workings and logging policy of the VPN. Thus, the service provides multiple layers of security to your online identity.
The only information the vendor retains is your email ID and payment details for running its services. However, a user can further strengthen his anonymity by using a ProtonMail ID and cryptocurrencies for payment. Note that this information is stored locally on hardware servers and is deleted when you terminate your account with Proton VPN.
Security and advanced features
In addition to privacy, the VPN also focuses on data security. As such, it uses the most advanced VPN protocols and VPN encryption availableor the market. As such, there are no IP nor DNS leaks. The following is a rundown of various encryption practices at play:
- It uses AES-256 cipher to secure network traffic
- RSA-2048 handshake is used to establish a connection
- The vendor offers Perfect Forward Secrecy via an ECDH (Elliptic-curve Diffie–Hellman) key exchange
- Authentication is done using an SHA-384 hash
There are numerous advanced features you can enjoy on Proton VPN. Although the VPN isn’t well versed in other peripheral services, it still offers services like Tor over VPN to aid obfuscation. There is a kill switch and port forwarding to support torrenting. Although we missed Smart DNS that can bring the streaming experience to a new height, the VPN makes up for it with a pre-flashed router.
Here are the perks of Proton VPN:
- VPN protocols — IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN (TCP/UDP), WireGuard
- Security features — DNS leak blocking, First-party DNS, IPv6 leak blocking, VPN kill switch, Full disk encryption, Always-on VPN
- Advanced features — Tor over VPN, Split tunneling, Ad-blocker, VPN accelerator, Secure Core
VPN connectivity and speed
The VPN offers decent speed both locally and globally. With the VPN accelerator feature, we can expect an increase of around 10% in overall download speed, which is welcomed. Although it is still somewhat slower than the top choices, given its prices, the VPN is sufficiently fast.
VPN servers and their locations
Proton VPN’s paid version has over 1800 servers, and the count is growing daily. Furthermore, the network encompasses around 63 locations worldwide. While it can’t be seen as a lot, it is more than enough for a premium service. Moreover, the vendor offers over 100 servers for the free version. The best thing about the VPN, though, is that it has physical servers. Also, the service offers full disk encryption and periodically deletes the information.
The jurisdiction and logging policy, along with features like kill switch and port forwarding, make Proton VPN an attractive choice for torrenting. While some users turn away due to average to high speed and relatively small P2P server network, the service has done enough.
Sadly, the VPN is not meant for streaming. We don’t mean you can’t bypass geo-blocks on regional streaming platforms. Instead, the VPN itself doesn’t focus on this aspect as much as its competitors. Yes, you can use the VPN for streaming, but better choices are available.
Despite offering Tor over VPN, the service fails to overcome stringent VPN blocking. However, this approach is very slow and fairly defeats the whole purpose of having a VPN. Thus, if you are looking to see this service to avoid censorship, we advise against that.
Platform and device support for Proton VPN
Proton VPN, like other premium vendors, offers VPN clients for almost every popular device. It includes well-known platforms like Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. Also, the VPN has a fully functional app available for Linux, and that too with a GUI (Graphical User Interface). Although the device limits the number of simultaneous connections to 10 devices, it offers a pre-flashed VPN router that more than makes up for it. Also, there are apps for Smart TVs and Amazon Fire Stick.
Proton VPN subscription plans and pricing
Although users can enjoy the unlimited experience of Proton VPN for free, the paid version permits them to enjoy all its features. All that comes at moderately reasonable pricing. While it may not be the cheapest VPN on the block, we felt the pricing worthy of the service. Here is the subscription breakdown for Proton VPN:
- Monthly — $10 per month
- Annually — $6 monthly
- Every two years — $5 per month
- Strong encryption
- Modern VPN protocols
- Open-source app
- Pre-flashed routers available
- Numerous advanced features
- Favorable for P2P transfer
- Up to 10 Gbps theoretical speed on Plus plan
- Port forwarding and PFS
- 10 concurrent devices allowed
- 1800+ servers in 63+ countries on paid version
- Independent audit and no long-policy
- Tor over VPN servers
- Free app available
- Somewhat pricey
- Slower than top-tier services
- Weak on the streaming front
- Unreliable obfuscation
- No 24/7 live chat
- No Smart DNS
We are satisfied with the Proton VPN after a review. Although we won’t deny that there’s a lot of room for improvement, as a premium service, the VPN doesn’t fail far behind the market leaders. Also, the emphasis on privacy and security is quite detailed, especially the numerous encryption practices it undertakes to ensure data safety. Yes, the pricing can be more competitive, but the VPN offers a capable and quality “free version” to counterbalance it. Furthermore, torrenting is also favored on the network. While the VPN needs to work on its connectivity and streaming capabilities, there are only a few VPNs with such stringent privacy and security features.
Proton VPN Review
Proton VPN is a VPN provider from Switzerland that provides an outstanding free VPN service that fights online censorship and doesn’t log or sell data. It also has a great premium plan with lots of servers, top-tier security, plenty of advanced features, and good torrenting and platform support. It could be cheaper and provide better streaming, obfuscation, and speed capabilities, however.