Want to know what ProtonVPN users like or dislike about the service? User reviews will help you!
But one thing at a time.
Whereas many people use ProtonVPN for torrenting, to hide IP addresses and unblock sites, it’s time to check its facilities.
If it is as good for P2P file sharing, as Reddit users state it to be?
Can I count on security with ProtonVPN?
Can we download this VPN free of charge?
Why it’s not in the list of top VPN providers?
Apart from answers to these questions, this ProtonVPN review contains:
- unbiased ProtonVPN user reviews;
- advantages and disadvantages of the service;
- most beneficial and unique features of the VPN client;
- speed and security testing results;
- answers to the most common questions.
The navigation below will help to go to the point of interest:
- ProtonVPN: Unique Benefits and Features
- Pros and Cons of ProtonVPN
- ProtonVPN: Speed and Security Tests
- ProtonVPN: Benefits and Features Tests
- ProtonVPN: Frequently Asked Questions
- User Reviews about ProtonVPN
|ProtonVPN pros||ProtonVPN cons|
|⊕ 30-day refund||⊗ slow support service|
|⊕ free VPN plan||⊗ limits for a free package|
|⊕ 7-day free trial||⊗ high prices|
|⊕ 387 servers||⊗ 2 gadgets for a Basic plan|
|⊕ premium facilities|
|⊕ Swiss jurisdiction|
|⊕ access to streaming services|
|⊕ secure torrenting|
|⊕ no-logging policy|
No-logging VPN policy, facility to go round geo-blocking and premium features win me over. But the price and server network make me change my mind.
I don’t recommend a free plan of the service if you look for a fast and stable connection. However, in case you’re ready to overpay for the servers in 32 countries for 2 devices, you are welcome.
If you are in solidarity with me, then have a closer look at ProtonVPN alternatives:
Before I start highlighting ProtonVPN, let’s have a look at its history.
ProtonVPN is a Virtual Private Network service worked out by ProtonMail developers.
ProtonMail is a popular email service with encryption. It was worked out in 2013 by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) employees.
The headquarters and servers of the company are located in Switzerland, known for its advanced laws in the sphere of internet security.
The peculiar feature of the development group is their confidentiality and security focus. ProtonMail differs from many email services in the facility of end-to-end encryption of letters.
Messages between ProtonMail users are ciphered on default. On the whole, the team has a clean record on the Internet.
In light of this, the service was launched in summer 2017.
ProtonVPN: Unique Benefits and Features
For a start, I’d like to call your attention to the peculiarities of Proton service. Some of them are second-to-none others might seem to be familiar to you. Anyway, the ones listed below are not the basic features of an average VPN service.
Just look them through:
- Secure Core
One of the main peculiar features of ProtonVPN is secure core. It serves to route users’ traffic through servers in Switzerland, Sweden and Iceland. It helps to mask an IP-address although a person is spied on.
- Perfect Forward Secrecy
This feature prevents traffic interception and data decryption. A new encryption key is guaranteed during each new connection.
- Integration with Tor
Being integrated with the anonymous network, Proton VPN service allows its subscribers to open Onion-sites. In simple terms, you can browse dark web sites.
As for October 2018, the number of its subscribers reached 1 million. Whereas CyberGhost, for example, protects more than 30 million people worldwide.
Thus, I cannot call it a major VPN service in the market. Still, it’s worth using it in 2020, and this ProtonVPN review explains why.
Taking into account brand credibility, I expected ProtonVPN to be a great solution in the sphere of anonymity and confidentiality protection.
I’ll present the results a bit later.
But now I’d like to introduce the advantages and disadvantages of Proton VPN provider.
Advantages of ProtonVPN
In this part of ProtonVPN review, I’m going to show you why the provider is worth making use of.
ProtonVPN free: truth or a lie?
If you are here to find an answer to the question “Can I use ProtonVPN free?”, this section will indulge your curiosity.
ProtonVPN does offer a free trial period. It lasts for 7 days. And during this time, you have access to all the facilities of a ProtonVPN Plus package.
A free ProtonVPN plan is available on an unlimited basis as well. At the same time, the users of a free package have access to servers in only 3 countries:
- 3 servers in Japan;
- 2 servers in the Netherlands;
- 2 servers in the USA.
Besides, Secure Core feature and Tor servers are not available for this plan.
ProtonVPN server park
The number of VPN servers for a provider with a 2-year history is relatively big – 387. They are located in 32 countries (355 standard VPN servers):
Meanwhile, 32 Secure Core servers are placed in only 3 countries – Switzerland, Iceland and Sweden.
In general, diverse locations of servers allow bypassing restrictions of any kind. Besides, regular switching between servers helps to hide your digital footprint. Keep in mind!
Dedicated servers for torrenting
The opportunity to download torrent files and not being caught by ISP is so alluring, isn’t it?
This VPN service provides its subscribers with this chance. Just find the sign and connect to the server.
If you have already tried a free VPN app, you definitely know what might happen when the secure connection is interrupted. If you don’t, I’ll tell you.
All your traffic is not protected anymore.
A VPN Kill Switch function blocks all network traffic when the VPN tunnel is lost. It cannot be changed when the VPN is connected. To change the settings, you are to disconnect and make your choice.
The technology of Split Tunneling is used to route a part of your traffic through a protected VPN network, whereas other apps or sites might be accessed through the Internet.
Just exclude an application or an IP address from VPN traffic and access it by means of your home IP address. Similar to Kill Switch function, the settings cannot be changed when the VPN is connected.
The location of the headquarters of the provider is definitely a big plus!
Switzerland is the country where the strongest privacy law is in force. It’s not the member of the 14 eyes alliance. Also, the country is out of the USA and EU jurisdiction. In other words, the countries of the European Union and the USA have no opportunity to monitor your online activity.
This tunneling protocol provides maximum speed and stability. Although many VPNs perform unstable work when switching between mobile phone towers or WiFi and LTE, ProtonVPN users enjoy stable and fast internet connection.
One of determining factors when choosing a VPN provider is the compatibility with different platforms.
The client is compatible with all popular platforms and therefore can be installed on:
To sum up, the strongest sides of ProtonVPN are:
- a 7-day free trial period;
- unlimited free VPN package;
- fast-growing VPN server network;
- P2P servers for torrenting;
- Kill Switch;
- Split Tunneling;
- the provider is under the jurisdiction of Switzerland;
- fast IKEv2 protocol.
Disadvantages of ProtonVPN
If you asked me whether the service is perfect, my answer would be ‘No’. And this section of ProtonVPN review explains why.
The opportunity to use ProtonVPN free of charge I marked as a plus. But it’s worthy of note that you shouldn’t expect a lot from a free plan. According to user reviews, only paid packages offer stable connection and fast speed.
Here’s the price list:
You see that it’s possible to save up to 20% when paying annually. However, the lowest possible price is $4 per month. It’s too expensive for a VPN service which offers servers in 32 countries for 2 devices only!
I’ve compared the prices of top VPN services. Thus, NordVPN is cheaper by 25%.
Slow Support Service
The client is easy to set up and run. But if you’re not a tech-savvy user, some issues might be unclear for you without third-party assistance.
What should you do get all your questions answered?
The support service is the first thought that crosses your mind. We usually want life assistance.
But unfortunately, ProtonVPN won’t delight you.
First, it lacks live chat support. Second, after filling the form, you’ll have to wait within 1-2 days.
Although it’s stated on the site that Proton VPN servers are very fast, the internet speed falls by 60-74% when VPN is enabled. In this regard, Proton isn’t on the list of the fastest VPNs.
The detailed speed test results are presented further in this ProtonVPN review.
2 Devices per Account
The cheapest VPN plan allows for 2 gadgets per subscription.
Don’t you think it’s not enough?
Lifehack! Set up Proton on your home router. It will serve to protect all devices connected to the Internet through WiFi. This tip helps to protect all the devices you use at home. But what about the time spent outside your house? Just choose your smartphone as the second allowed gadget and be protected!
The minuses are the following:
- expensive plans;
- no live chat support;
- slow servers;
- 2 allowed gadgets for a paid Basic plan.
ProtonVPN: Speed and Security Tests
This section contains only facts based on testing and detailed study.
ProtonVPN speed test results
When it comes to VPN speed, Proton has perspectives for growth.
The speed without a VPN connection (European location):
The speed when connecting to the fastest server (auto):
The speed when connecting to the US-based server:
The graph below clearly demonstrates the changes in internet speed.
Being physically located in Europe, my internet speed is 77.18 Mbps (download) and 73.11 Mbps (upload).
Proton VPN app has chosen the fastest server for me automatically.
As a result, speed dropped by 74%.
That’s incredible for the server which is announced to perform the fastest internet speed.
I was surprised!
When connected to the server based in the USA, the speed test results were a bit better – 69% speed reduction. Not perfect, but still.
Lifehack! The point I’m trying to drive home is you’d better choose the server by yourself. Switch between them until you find the one with optimal speed.
ProtonVPN leak test results
ProtonVPN was underwent extensive leaks testing. I’ve chosen the Windows ProtonVPN app for this purpose. The client version is 1.7.4. The developers state serious bugs were improved. But nothing was said about leaks.
Well, I’ve checked it myself.
The first leak test I’ve conducted was concerned with DNS. To cut a long story short, DNS leak is a bug which is followed by disclosure of confidential information. DNS-requests are transferred through unprotected tunnels but not through VPN connection.
The location – Poland. The features of Kill Switch and DNS Leak Protection are enabled.
Here’re my findings:
The DNS leak is observed when a person connected to a VPN server sees third-party servers while testing (not the ones belonged to the VPN provider).
And now look at the picture above. The program has detected only 1 IP address, and, luckily, it belongs to the VPN I use. It means there’s no DNS leak when being connected to the VPN server by Proton.
IP-leak test results are also presented on the screenshot:
The provider copes with the task to change my IP and change it with the one which is on the list of ProtonVPN. That’s awesome!
If you’re looking for the service to mask your IP, ProtonVPN might help.
Also, there’s a pleasant surprise by way of no WebRTC leak.
Is ProtonVPN safe?
The service offers two types of OpenVPN tunneling protocols (for Windows): TSP and UDP (on default) and IKEv2/IPsec (for Android and Mac).
Why other VPN tunneling protocols are not supported?
According to the provider, OpenVPN can hardly be cracked. It was the reason to pass up other protocols.
Other protocols are sometimes faster and cheaper, but ProtonVPN opts for reliability and security.
In other words, this encryption method is perfect!
Especially given that network traffic is encoded by means of AES-256 encryption, RSA 2048-bit is used for keying and HMAC SHA512 ciphering – for message authentication.
As for IKEv2/IPsec, apart from unsurpassed security, this protocol serves to reconnect in case of internet connection is interrupted.
And there’s more!
In the first part of this ProtonVPN review, I’ve pointed out one of the significant features of the provider – Secure Core. By means of this technology, your traffic passes through several servers before access a site. In fact, all servers of this provider are located in the regions with strong legal systems.
What about ProtonVPN logs?
It’s an open secret that most free VPN services sell data on their users to third parties or install malware.
The research conducted shows that 38% of VPN apps installed on Android devices contain malicious software. More than that, Hotspot Schield VPN, for example, was caught in selling user data.
Luckily, it cannot be said about ProtonVPN.
As you see, ProtonVPN doesn’t keep logs. It means that neither the service nor any other interested party would know what you’re doing online.
At the same time, the provider reserves the right to store some information on its subscribers:
- user email;
- support issues;
- bug reports;
- 4 last digits of user’s credit card;
- non-identifying data (site speed, time spent on a page, etc.)
The information collected by the provider is a common practice for many credible VPNs like NordVPN and ExpressVPN. It might not do harm to your online privacy.
ProtonVPN: Benefits and Features Tests
ProtonVPN review would be incomplete without the tests of the VPN functions on different devices. First I set up it on my Windows NT 10.0 – a generic computer, similar to the one you possess.
How to set up ProtonVPN on Windows?
The installation process is very simple. However, if you face any troubles, just follow the steps below:
- There are 2 variants to embark on a voyage of discovery into the client. Open the ProtonVPN site and click on ‘Get ProtonVPN now’ or start with the signup procedure.
- Choose one of four packages. But remember annual payment allows saving up to 20%.
- If you have a ProtonMail account, log in with it. If you don’t, enter the valid email.
- Choose the payment method: PayPal or a credit card and confirm payment. The chosen plan is shown on the right.
If you opt for a free plan, skip this step and verify your account through email or SMS.
- Think about your username and a secure password to complete ProtonVPN download procedure.
- After you verify your account, you are free to download ProtonVPN client.
- It’s possible to download the app installer for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. I’ve chosen Windows.
- The installation process takes about 3-5 minutes. Special skills are not required.
- After you log in, the app offers you a quick tutorial.
In general, the client is easy to run and use. However, there are some things you should know:
- Premium ProtonVPN servers are marked with ;
- sign shows what servers connect to the TOR network;
- the servers marked with support P2P traffic;
- DNS Leak Protection function is always on (the settings cannot be changed);
- it’s possible to enable/disable Kill Switch and Split Tunneling when the VPN is not connected;
- ‘Quick Connect’ feature serves to automatically connect to the fastest server;
- save your preferred servers and settings for future use;
- there’s a facility to choose which country and server you want to use for your end IP;
- Secure Core helps to route your traffic through additional servers for another layer of network security.
Download ProtonVPN on Android
You have the choice: whether to download ProtonVPN on the site or on Google Play for your Android gadget. I’ve chosen the second option. It’s handier.
First, it’s proposed to look through a quick guide on how to use the app.
Then, it asks username and password to log in the system. If you don’t have an account yet, just create the one by means of your device.
As for the functions of Proton VPN provider, I haven’t found any difference with the desktop client.
Best VPN for torrenting: is it true?
I’ve counted 52 P2P servers located in 5 countries:
- the Netherlands;
Well, not bad.
Torrenting sites are available. But as for speed, it’s a bit slower, while leaks were not detected.
How to use ProtonVPN for unblocking sites?
One of the main reasons to subscribe to a VPN service is the desire to go round local restrictions.
News portals, online games and streaming services are often unavailable for some regions.
Thus, Pandora radio is available in the USA and Australia only. When about 30% of the Netflix library is available for non-US users.
HBO GO subscribers are the first to watch a new season of Game of Thrones in April 2019. But what if you’re outside the United States?
I’ve tested the service to check how good it is in terms of restrictions bypassing.
The results are impressive!
Have a look! Pandora is not available in my region. And when a VPN connection is disabled, here’s what I see:
On the next screenshot you see the result when I connect to the US-based VPN server:
Have you faced troubles when accessing Netflix?
Netflix integrated a smart system on the site to detect people connecting through anonymizing services like proxies and VPNs.
Proton VPN developers did a great job!
I opened the site and more than that, I got access to the full library of the service. Thus it’s perfect for Netflix unblocking.
Other streaming services like (CBS and HBO GO) are available as well when connecting to ProtonVPN.
What can I say?
ProtonVPN copes with the restrictions and has P2P servers. It’s not bad if you search for the tool to access entertainment services and download torrents.
Besides, I didn’t have to read any guides to set up ProtonVPN app on my Windows PC (which took 3 minutes, in fact).
But as for the speed and security?
I have some doubts. The speed test results leave much to be desired. Well, yes, it’s possible to stream, but lags take place.
Although leak tests were passed successfully, there are some issues regarding security. The service requires email for verification. It might lead to identity disclosure.
ProtonVPN: Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions but can’t find the answers? I’ve collected the most common ones and replied to them in plain language.
The process of ProtonVPN installation is described in the previous section of this VPN review. It takes about 5 minutes. But the setup file can be downloaded only after the sign-in procedure.
Although ProtonVPN is paid, it has a free plan with limited features (3 countries, 1 device, low speed, no extra features). But, you have an opportunity to make use of its premium features free of charge. A 7-day free trial period allows doing it.
A paid plan is required. There are P2P servers which make your connection secure and protected against ISP and other interested parties.
A free ProtonVPN package provides servers in Japan, the Netherlands and the USA. Thus, even the US Netflix can be unblocked.
Remember! Don’t delete your account. It won’t help you to cancel ProtonVPN subscription. Instead, you are to contact the support service (in fact, it’s very slow) and follow the instructions.
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