IT Pro Verdict
ProtonVPN is a breath of fresh air in the VPN environment, bringing such advantages as unlimited free service, open-source and audited apps in several languages, impressive security technologies, and unblocking all the popular streaming services.
Unlimited free plan
Premium plan unblocks lots of services
All apps open-source and audited
No live chat
ProtonVPN is a Switzerland-based VPN provider whose name may sound familiar if you’ve had the chance to encounter another popular product made by its creators - an end-to-end encrypted email platform ProtonMail.
This VPN service may not have thousands of servers like some others, but the ones it has are well distributed around the world - over 1200 of them are located in 55 countries, including India, South Korea, Brazil, Hong Kong, South Africa, and so on.
Another great detail is that the provider owns and runs all of its servers, which means more control over how they’re installed and used, leading to potentially better security and performance.
The company also stands out from the crowd with the proprietary Secure Core technology that directs traffic through multiple servers before leaving the network. In other words, it will prevent even the most tech-savvy of hackers spying on an exit server to track individual users.
ProtonVPN apps can be installed on Android, Windows, iOS, Linux, Mac, Android TV (beta), and Chromebook devices, and they’re available in several languages, including Italian, French, Polish, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese. The vendor has made all of its apps open-source and had them audited, and you can actively use them on up to 10 of devices at the same time. ProtonVPN can also be manually installed on routers to put all of your devices (including those that aren’t directly supported) under its protection.
ProtonVPN: Plans and pricing
Most VPN providers have subscription plans revolving only around their length in months or years. ProtonVPN does things slightly differently. There’s a free plan that gives you coverage for one device, access to servers in three countries (Japan, the US, and the Netherlands), delivers medium speeds, and, refreshingly, doesn’t impose any data traffic limits.
It is followed by the Plus subscription at £5.16 a month (charged £61.89 every year), which gives you access to all the provider’s servers in all countries, covers simultaneous connections on up to 10 devices, enables P2P traffic, and delivers top speeds. It's also available in a two-year or one-month plan, respectively priced at £4.30 a month or £8.60 a month, with the two-year plan costing £103.12 over the two years.
The Plus option also provides access to all servers, P2P capabilities, and highest speeds. Plus expands the coverage on up to five devices, adds the super-fast Plus servers (capable of delivering speeds of up to 300Mbps), Tor servers that enable access to Onion sites, and Secure Streaming tools that facilitate watching of popular geo-restricted content such as Netflix. The ProtonMail Visionary service is also included.
All paid plans also include NetShield - a feature that protects you from malware, online trackers, and it serves as an ad blocker as well.
You can pay using Bitcoin for better security, credit cards, or Paypal. ProtonVPN allows you to cancel your account with a refund for any unused portion of its service period within 30 days since the original purchase.
ProtonVPN: Privacy and logging
ProtonVPN uses a long list of mechanisms, tools, and features to ensure top security and privacy online. These include a kill switch - a handy option that automatically shuts down your Internet access whenever the VPN connection is cut off, DNS leak protection, as well as the integrated Tor support for accessing Onion websites.
All the apps employ AES 256-bit encryption, 4096-bit RSA key exchange, HMAC SHA384 message authentication, and Perfect Forward Secrecy. The Windows and Linux clients are built on the OpenVPN protocol, while the Android, iOS, and Mac apps employ both OpenVPN and the IKEv2/IPSec protocol. You can even customise your own OpenVPN files, depending on the platform and protocol you need. The company states it’s also working on introducing WireGuard.
You can also enable a split-tunneling option for apps and destination IP addresses you wish to bypass the VPN when the rest of the system is connected to it.
The no-logs policy states that the company does “not track or record your Internet activity,” and is therefore “unable to disclose this information to third parties”. The only thing that is stored is the time of your last successful login and email address when you sign up.
To prove its dedication to privacy, ProtonVPN has made all its native clients open-sourced and allowed them to be audited by independent security experts from SEC Consult.
It is also worth mentioning that the company is based in Switzerland, a country with a well-known reputation for keeping its nose out of people’s business, so you can be certain your sensitive data is safe.
ProtonVPN: VOD and torrents
Although ProtonVPN dedicates a lot of attention to privacy, this doesn’t mean its other important areas are left forgotten. One of them is providing safe access to popular video-on-demand services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer. ProtonVPN successfully unblocks both of them, as well as HBO Now, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and others, as long as you have its Plus or Visionary service package. There’s even a collection of guides on the website for every streaming service you can view with ProtonVPN.
The provider also offers P2P-friendly servers, so there aren’t any obstacles to using your favorite torrenting client to download and upload large files.
This VPN vendor has a solid support site with plenty of articles divided into groups according to their content. They should be able to assist you with anything related to the platform, but if they don’t, your next choice is to contact the support team.
This may not be easy as with some of the competitors, as there’s no live chat option and the email support may take up to a couple of days to respond.
ProtonVPN: Final verdict
ProtonVPN is a superb VPN service that not only delivers bullet-proof security but also goes out of its way to convince you of its honest intentions. Its apps are available for anyone’s scrutiny and can be used in multiple languages. Furthermore, it doesn’t ignore any part of its service, including the torrenting support and successfully unblocking various streaming content. The prices may be a bit higher than the average, but top quality often is expensive.
Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. His work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a multimedia journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.