ProtonVPN review: Is it the best VPN for privacy?

In this ProtonVPN review, we explore whether it's the best VPN for privacy. Discover its features, pricing, pros, and cons to make an informed decision.

May 31, 2024 - 13:04
May 31, 2024 - 13:04
ProtonVPN review: Is it the best VPN for privacy?

Our Verdict

Our Verdict

ProtonVPN is a secure and privacy-focused VPN service that offers strong encryption and a strict no-logs policy. It is operated by Proton Technologies AG, the same company behind the popular encrypted email service ProtonMail. One of the key features of ProtonVPN is its focus on security and privacy. It uses AES-256 encryption to protect user data and offers secure VPN protocols such as OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec.

like Pros

  • Generous free plan
  • Open-source applications
  • Ideal for streaming purposes
  • Extensive network of servers globally
  • Allows for 10 simultaneous connections
  • Graphical user interface (GUI) for Linux
  • Noteworthy privacy and transparency practices

dislike Cons

  • Average pricing
  • Absence of an Apple TV application
  • Limited availability of 24/7 live chat support
  • Potential for improvement in app design for better user-friendliness
star star star star star
Our ratings take into account a product's cost, features, ease of use, customer service and other category-specific attributes. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

Starting price

$4 per month

No-logs policy


Number of servers


What is a ProtonVPN?

Best known for its encrypted email service ProtonMail, ProtonVPN expands the company’s cybersecurity offerings by providing a virtual private network. This VPN incorporates security features like DNS protection measures, a kill switch, and split tunneling, operating from high-security data centers to ensure maximum privacy and access to geo-blocked content.

With over 2,100 servers across 67 countries, ProtonVPN allows you to find a high-bandwidth server near you, preventing attackers from eavesdropping on your activities. This also enables you to stream your favorite shows and movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, and others. Your identity remains protected without compromising your internet speed or performance.

What makes ProtonVPN stand out?

ProtonVPN distinguishes itself by offering robust protection, including military-grade servers, for its users. It prioritizes online privacy through a strict zero-log policy, verified by independent security experts. Additionally, to ensure that users don't compromise privacy and anonymity for speed and performance, ProtonVPN provides unique features like a VPN accelerator and the ability to create multiple profiles for different uses. However, it lacks some features common in other VPN services, such as a dedicated IP address, smart DNS connection, and 24/7 customer support.

ProtonVPN core features

ProtonVPN offers a range of features to safeguard your online privacy and security. Here are its key features:

  • Anonymous browsing: ProtonVPN masks your IP address, preventing hackers, advertisers, and government agencies from tracking your online activities. Your IP address is replaced with that of your chosen server, and ProtonVPN minimizes the data it retains about you, requiring no personal ID for sign-up. You can even register using an anonymous ProtonMail email account.
  • DNS protection measures: When you browse a website, your browser sends domain name system (DNS) requests to locate the requested web page. These requests can be intercepted to monitor your activities. ProtonVPN protects DNS queries by routing them through its encrypted tunnel rather than third-party DNS providers, ensuring your online activities remain private.
  • Always-on Kill Switch: ProtonVPN includes a Kill Switch feature that activates if your internet connection drops, maintaining your privacy. It blocks all network traffic until you reconnect to a ProtonVPN server, ensuring your IP address and DNS queries stay hidden. You can choose to activate this feature permanently or manually.
  • Split tunneling: ProtonVPN's split tunneling feature allows you to choose which connections (applications and IP addresses) pass through the VPN tunnel and which do not. For example, you can stream content on Netflix using a VPN server while browsing the internet through your ISP. This feature is available on Windows and Android devices, and you can set it up easily by toggling on "Split Tunneling" in the "Advanced" tab.

ProtonVPN pricing and plans

ProtonVPN provides various privacy plans to meet diverse privacy requirements. It offers both a free plan and paid options, with higher tiers offering better speed and security features. The free plan is limited to one device and access to 100+ servers in three countries. It lacks features such as peer-to-peer (P2P) support, DNS leak protection, and Proton's ad-blocker, which enhance privacy and access to geo-restricted content.

ProtonVPN tiered plans

Proton Free VPN Plus
Number of servers 100-plus 1,900-plus
Countries available 3—U.S., Netherlands and Japan 65-plus
Number of devices allowed 1 10
Unlimited bandwidth Yes Yes
Ad-blocker and malware protection No Yes
High-speed streaming No Yes

You have the option to select from ProtonVPN's monthly, yearly, or two-year plans, with the two-year plan being the recommended choice due to its 50% discount. ProtonVPN accepts payments via card, bank transfers, PayPal, bitcoin, and cash, and provides a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, Proton does not offer refunds for cash or bank transfer payments or for subscriptions made outside of ProtonVPN’s website and apps.

Additionally, Proton offers Proton Unlimited, a plan that grants access to all Proton premium services, including ProtonMail, Proton Calendar, Proton Drive, and ProtonVPN, under a single subscription.

ProtonVPN setup

Installing ProtonVPN is a straightforward process that typically takes only a few minutes on most devices. Setting up the VPN on a Mac, for example, can be done in less than five minutes. ProtonVPN provides clear setup guides for all devices.

To install ProtonVPN on a desktop, visit the ProtonVPN website, subscribe to a plan, download and install the app, sign in, and connect to a server. Installing ProtonVPN on a mobile device follows a similar process and is equally simple. However, setting up ProtonVPN on a router, smart TV, or game console can be more complex.

For these devices, you'll need to use a downloader app to install and connect to ProtonVPN. ProtonVPN offers detailed setup guides for different routers. It's important to follow these instructions carefully to avoid damaging the device.

ProtonVPN ease of use

While the Proton apps feature different user interfaces, they are all well-optimized and user-friendly. Upon installation, you'll notice the "Quick Connect" icon, which swiftly connects you to the fastest server. However, you also have the option to select your preferred server from a list of over 1,900 servers, down to specific cities and locations.

ProtonVPN simplifies server selection by using a percentage metric and a three-color system (green, amber, and red) to indicate server load. You can save multiple profiles on your account, allowing you to tailor your security and speed preferences. For example, your work profile might utilize Secure Core for enhanced security, while your leisure profile could use the WireGuard protocol for faster streaming.

Additionally, ProtonVPN displays data speeds and connection quality, making it easy to identify slow servers and switch with a single click. Overall, ProtonVPN offers a user-friendly experience. However, users would appreciate the inclusion of browser extensions and 24/7 live chat support directly within the VPN apps, not just on the ProtonVPN website.

ProtonVPN servers and locations

ProtonVPN operates a network of over 1,900 servers spanning 65+ countries, with a strong presence in Europe, North America, and South America. The company's extensive global server coverage, which includes locations in Africa and Asia, ensures that users can easily find a nearby VPN server to protect their online privacy without compromising browsing performance. ProtonVPN is commended for its ongoing efforts to enhance its geographic distribution, often seeking feedback from users on which countries to add to its server list.

All ProtonVPN servers utilize full-disk encryption to safeguard against data interception. Unique features like Secure Core VPN and Tor over VPN are available to Proton Plus subscribers. We found that connecting to servers closer to our location or those with lower loads resulted in faster speeds. Therefore, if speed is a priority for you, it's advisable to check the load metrics and select servers that are closer to you.

ProtonVPN speed and performance

To accurately assess ProtonVPN's performance, we conducted speed tests on a macOS device using Ookla's publicly available speed test tool. While browsing and streaming speeds varied across different servers, we generally experienced good speeds, particularly when connected to servers near our location in Africa.

As with any VPN service, the speed you experience with ProtonVPN depends on several factors, including your device, location, internet service provider, server locations, proximity to servers, and the specific VPN protocols you use. To maximize speed, it's recommended to connect to servers that are closest to your location.

Additionally, selecting servers with lower loads or utilizing ProtonVPN's VPN accelerator can help enhance your connection speed and stability. During our tests, the VPN accelerator doubled the average download and upload rates, even when connected to servers in Europe and South America.

ProtonVPN security and privacy

ProtonVPN excels in security and privacy, combining strong protocols with standard security features to encrypt your data and protect it from prying eyes. The service operates with a strict no-logs policy and offers multifactor authentication for added security.

Use of strong protocols:

  • Stealth: ProtonVPN can bypass firewalls and VPN blocking methods by disguising your VPN traffic as regular traffic. This feature is available on Android, iOS, and macOS.
  • Secure Core: ProtonVPN routes your internet traffic through dedicated secure core servers in secure locations like Switzerland, Iceland, and Sweden. This protects against network-based attacks, ensuring your true identity remains hidden even if a server is compromised.
  • NetShield: Paid users can access ProtonVPN's ad-blocker feature, NetShield, which uses DNS filtering to block privacy-invading ads, trackers, and malware. This keeps your device clean and can improve internet speed.
  • OpenVPN: ProtonVPN uses OpenVPN with forward secrecy, generating new keys for each session. It can run on UDP or TCP transmission for secure internet communications.
  • WireGuard: This open-source VPN protocol is faster than standard protocols and uses the advanced ChaCha20 encryption cipher for enhanced performance and security.

No-logs Policy

ProtonVPN adheres to a strict no-logs policy and is based in Switzerland, a privacy-friendly country without mandatory data retention laws. This means ProtonVPN does not retain logs of your online activity, including connection logs, session lengths, IP addresses, visited web pages, or location. The company's no-logs policy is regularly audited by independent security experts.

Multifactor Authentication (MFA)

ProtonVPN offers two-factor authentication (2FA) as an additional security measure for your account. This requires an additional verification step during the login process, ensuring that even if an attacker obtains your password, they cannot access your account without the second factor, typically a code from an authenticator app.

ProtonVPN customer service and support

ProtonVPN provides email support and support tickets for its premium users. During our testing, we received a response to our support ticket within an hour. We inquired about the specific operating system versions compatible with ProtonVPN, and the response was prompt and informative, directing us to additional resources for further assistance.

Additionally, ProtonVPN's support includes comprehensive articles and guides categorized into sections such as Download and Setup, Troubleshooting, and General Information. These guides are detailed, with step-by-step instructions accompanied by screenshots. Users can also use the search function to quickly find answers to their questions. ProtonVPN maintains a subreddit where both employees and users share their experiences and discuss the VPN service.

ProtonVPN and device compatibility

ProtonVPN is compatible with a wide range of devices and operating systems, such as Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook, Android TV, and routers. This compatibility ensures that you are protected regardless of whether you work remotely or in a shared office. Here are the compatibility requirements for ProtonVPN.

ProtonVPN for streaming

ProtonVPN excels in unblocking content, making it a great choice for streaming. It successfully unblocked BBC iPlayer from various servers, and we were able to access Netflix libraries in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Additionally, ProtonVPN supports streaming on popular services like Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, ABC, Peacock, fuboTV, and Pluto TV. However, the availability of georestricted content can vary depending on your location. It's important to note that ProtonVPN's free plan does not support streaming.

One limitation of ProtonVPN is the lack of a smart DNS feature for streaming on devices like gaming consoles and smart TVs that typically don't support VPNs. To use ProtonVPN on such devices, you'll need to manually set up ProtonVPN on your router.

Alternative VPN services to ProtonVPN: A comparative overview

ProtonVPN vs. Private Internet Access (PIA):

Proton and Private Internet Access (PIA) offer similar pricing and device limits, along with the Kill Switch feature and a no-logs policy. However, Private Internet Access has a significant advantage in the number of servers, boasting 35,000 servers compared to ProtonVPN's fewer than 2,000 servers. Private Internet Access also offers browser extensions and a dedicated IP address, which can be important for small businesses and remote workers. Additionally, users can add more devices for an extra fee.

ProtonVPN vs. Bitdefender VPN:

Both ProtonVPN and Bitdefender VPN provide online privacy and security for up to 10 devices under one subscription, and they both offer a kill switch. However, Bitdefender VPN has more servers, with over 4,000 servers compared to Proton's fewer than 2,000 servers. Bitdefender VPN also supports VPN extensions for browsers like Edge, Firefox, and Chrome. While Bitdefender VPN is more affordable, ProtonVPN offers a broader range of server locations, available in 69 countries compared to Bitdefender's 51.

ProtonVPN vs. NordVPN:

ProtonVPN and NordVPN both have a no-logs policy and offer kill switches, with ProtonVPN headquartered in Switzerland and NordVPN in Panama. However, NordVPN surpasses ProtonVPN in server count, with over 5,000 servers compared to Proton's approximately 1,900 servers. NordVPN also offers browser extensions for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox, along with a dedicated IP address for an additional fee, features that are not available in ProtonVPN. On the other hand, ProtonVPN allows up to 10 simultaneous connections, while NordVPN only allows up to six.

Is ProtonVPN the right choice for you or your business?

ProtonVPN provides protection against third-party interruptions and monitoring, enabling access to restricted content for both individuals and businesses.

ProtonVPN for personal use

ProtonVPN is particularly suitable for individuals or occasional remote workers like journalists and activists who prioritize strong security measures, high-speed connections, and access to a diverse range of servers, all backed by a company with stringent privacy policies.

ProtonVPN for business use

However, for small businesses, the lack of specialized features may not justify the cost, especially considering the absence of immediate support available for assistance. While the free version offers a basic introduction to VPN capabilities, it is limited in features and restricts simultaneous connections to just one.

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