ProtonVPN Review 2024: A Super-Secure VPN with a Host of Outstanding Features
ProtonVPN was developed by a Harvard physics doctorate and a CERN scientist who was also the brain behind ProtonMail, which is known as the largest encrypted mail network in the world. Since they have already created the world’s largest encrypted email service, I had really high expectations from their VPN service too. I wanted to test out how their VPN service fares in terms of speed, encryption connection standards, security, pricing, support and more. ProtonVPN is a Swiss-based top-notch VPN which offers outstanding security and the Windows client is simply superb. But there’s much more to it than just the security features. Here are the finer points.
- Based in Switzerland
- Strict no-logs policy
- Open-source and independently audited apps
- Strong encryption and protocols
- Dedicated servers for streaming and torrenting
- Ad-blocker and stealth modeositive
- 30-day money-back guaranteesitive
- Expensive monthly plans
- Free servers in only 3 locations
|Android, Android TV, Chromebook, iOS, Linux, macOS, and Windows
|Does it work in China?
|Servers’ speed (overall)
|Easy to use
|Comprehensive online support center. Priority support and live chat with paid plans
A single paid Proton VPN license will let you connect up to 10 devices simultaneously, whereas the free version allows only 1 connection at a time. Proton VPN is compatible with various operating systems with native apps for Android, Android TV, Chromebook, Linux, macOS, iOS, and Windows.
The company boasts a global network of over 2,900 servers across 68 countries with 10 Gbps capabilities. Proton VPN operates 99 Secure Core servers in 65 countries and offers over 2,600 Plus servers for Plus users. There are also 65 free servers in Japan, the Netherlands, and the USA. While top VPN companies like ExpressVPN (3000+), NordVPN (5000+), and CyberGhost (9100+), and offer more servers, they are unable to beat the speed and functionality of Proton VPN’s Secure Core servers.
Proton VPN encrypts your network traffic with AES-256, authenticates messages with HMAC with SHA384, and uses 4096-bit RSA for key exchange. Add to that strong tunneling protocols like IKEv2, OpenVPN, and WireGuard, and you have a secure VPN app that offers reliable protection.
Proton VPN’s in-built Kill Switch feature, known also as Always-on VPN, protects your DNS queries and IP addresses from inadvertently leaking in case your VPN connection suddenly drops. While the Kill Switch instantly blocks all your network traffic when the connection drops, the Always-on feature automatically re-establishes your network’s connection to a secure Proton VPN server.
NetShield is the app’s DNS filtering feature that not only blocks annoying ads but also protects you from malware and prevents website trackers from tracking your online activities. Proton VPN’s unique VPN Accelerator feature can boost VPN speeds by reducing latency and overcoming CPU limitations with the help of advanced networking techniques. Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) generates a new encryption key for each VPN session so that encrypted traffic can’t get decrypted in case a session is compromised.
What about prices?
The Proton VPN monthly plan starts from $11.49 per month, while the annual plan costs $5.99 per month and allows users to save up to 48% on the monthly rate. However, the best deal comes in the form of the 2-year plan that costs just $4.99 per month thanks to a hefty 57% discount on the monthly rate. All Proton VPN paid plans are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Proton VPN claims that it only uses high-speed servers with a minimum bandwidth of 1 Gbps and many of its servers are capable of 10 Gbps connections. To test Proton VPN’s lofty claims, I tested the speeds of different Proton VPN servers on speedtest.net and compared the results with the base speed of my internet connection. The download and upload speeds without a VPN connection were 49.38 Mbps and 7.20 Mbps, respectively.
The first Proton VPN server to which I connected was in London and it offered an average download speed of 38.31 Mbps and an average upload speed of 6.61 Mbps. While the latency shot up to 199 ms from 57 ms, I noticed no visible change in browsing speed, and streaming videos went smoothly. I even streamed a few shows on BBC iPlayer without lags while I was connected to the London server.
The next server in Vienna, Austria gave me a download speed of 31.10 Mbps and an upload speed of 5.96 Mbps. While a 37% decline in download speed may seem bad, you will barely notice any drop in speeds while browsing the internet or watching videos.
On connecting to Proton VPN’s New York server, the download speed further decreased to 29.74 Mbps but the upload speed went up to 6.23 Mbps. As with the other servers that I had tested, this too allowed me to smoothly surf and stream without issues. The New York server even allowed me to access Netflix’s US library and stream a few shows.
The last server I tested was in Tokyo, Japan, which recorded a download speed of 19.46 Mbps and an upload speed of 6.13 Mbps. While web browsing on this and a few other servers in Asia was smoother than I had expected it to be, I encountered some lags when streaming videos on YouTube or downloading large files from the internet.
With the company’s headquarters in Switzerland, Proton VPN enjoys the benefits of stringent Swiss privacy laws. Switzerland is not a member of the international 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance network and thus cannot be coerced into sharing confidential user data. Additionally, Proton VPN is also outside the jurisdiction of US and EU laws.
To complement the privacy-friendly Swiss laws, the company has put in place a strict no-logs policy that applies to all users and even extends to the free version. Proton VPN apps are open source, peer-reviewed, and independently audited to ensure that consumers can trust the VPN with their privacy. The app does not log session lengths, monitor IP addresses, or record online activities.
When it comes to using Torrents, Proton VPN offers more than 1500 secure servers that support P2P file-sharing protocols. Proton VPN is an ideal app for torrenting thanks to practical features like NetShield Ad-blocker, VPN Accelerator, and Stealth mode. As if that wasn’t enough, Proton VPN comes with built-in support for Tor over VPN that allows you to anonymously route your traffic through the TOR network. To fight censorship, Stealth VPN allows users to evade online detection, bypass internet firewalls, and ignore VPN blocks.
During my tests, Proton VPN was not only able to unblock geo-restricted content on BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO Max, Netflix, and YouTube, among other OTT platforms but also allowed me to stream shows and videos without any buffering. That is quite an achievement in my opinion, considering most top VPNs can’t even unblock geo-restricted content on YouTube let alone seamlessly stream content from Netflix and BBC iPlayer. Overall, Proton VPN is arguably the best VPN app that I have used for torrenting and streaming.
In a digital world connected via the internet, the online community holds great sway over consumers when it comes to products and services. While not an accurate metric for measuring the popularity and efficiency of products, current trends often influence users into choosing one product over another. To find out how important trends are, I used Google Trends to check the interest in keywords like “Proton VPN” within the USA.
Interest in the topic “Proton VPN” has been consistently rising over the past 5 years indicating that an increasing number of users are either learning about the product or purchasing it. Interest in the topic over the past 12 months has been considerably high and even peaked thrice during this period. Such high interest in Proton VPN can be due to several factors, including but not limited to, the VPN’s strict data privacy laws and regular updates from Proton VPN. Thanks to its arsenal of advanced features and ease of usability, Proton VPN is competing closely with established VPN service providers like CyberGhost VPN, NordVPN, and ExpressVPN, to name a few.
Comparison with competitors is my favorite part of any VPN review. You can see how one VPN could keep the lead for a long period of time and then all of a sudden it loses it positions in search popularity to some newcomer who managed to implement some unique VPN feature or after a major update. As for ProtonVPN we can see that starting 2019 it prevailed over VyprVPN, then managed to keep good search traffic and on spring 2020 it took the lead from another top-rated VPN – CyberGhost. As for ExpressVPN, one of the most trusted and popular VPN services among users, ProtonVPN was very close to snatch victory on autumn 2022 but failed.
I explored some popular social media platforms and various VPN forums to find out the public opinion of ProtonVPN. The app received unanimous praise on Facebook and Twitter from several first-time users for its usability and efficiency. However, a few users were understandably miffed with the lack of customer support options. Those complaining about customer support also pointed out that the online support system was quite slow in responding to and resolving customer tickets. Nonetheless, most users were happy to overlook the poor customer support system in lieu of the functional features and usability of the Proton VPN apps.
I also checked a couple of consumer review sites, namely Trustpilot and SiteJabber, to learn how real users are rating the Proton VPN apps. ProtonVPN earned an average TrustScore of 2.5 out of 5 stars from over 300 reviews. However, most of the reviews about the VPN app were positive and the negative reviews were mostly limited to the company’s customer support. The overall average score is indicative of how the quality of customer support can influence user ratings on review sites and forums. While such reviews help us understand how a product is faring in real use cases, online scores aren’t always an accurate indicator of a product’s performance.
DNS leaks are a serious threat to user privacy as such leaks can expose personal identifiers like IP addresses, browsing history, and online activities to ISPs and, more worryingly, third parties. I tested Proton VPN on dnsleak.com, dnsleaktest.com, and ipleak.net to see whether its servers are prone to DNS, IP, and/or WebRTC leaks. After several standard and extended examinations of various Proton VPN servers, I could not find any DNS or IPv6 leaks while connected to the Proton VPN servers.
Proton VPN’s strong encryption protocols, IPv6 leak prevention features, and independent audits ensure that unwanted DNS leaks don’t spoil your experience. Proton VPN automatically encrypts and resolves all DNS requests on its own servers to prevent ISPs and DNS providers from accessing customer data.
To download Proton VPN, I visited the website and bought the 2-year plan of Proton VPN for the best deal. Not only did I get a generous discount on the monthly rate but also got access to priority support for becoming a paid member. The download did not take long and the installation process on my Windows desktop was a breeze thanks to the clear setup guide.
Proton VPN apps sport different interfaces that are optimized for the platform on which the app is supposed to be used. Despite having different interfaces, Proton VPN apps are easy to navigate and use. Once the app installs on your device, you can click on the “Quick Connect” button to connect to the fastest server based on your location. The app uses a tri-color system to define the load of each server with red, amber, and green indicators.
While the UI is modern and easily navigable, I would like to see Proton VPN offer access to live chat and customer support, as slow as those may be, directly from the app.
After testing and playing around with the Proton VPN app for a couple of months, I had no reservations about recommending it to my friends, family members, and colleagues. With its extensive network of servers, consistent speeds, and advanced security features, the Proton VPN is an easy recommendation for anyone willing to spend a few bucks more for uncompromised privacy and reliable service. The VPN’s ability to seamlessly bypass geo-restrictions makes it the perfect choice for gamers, streamers, and media consumers.
Although not as affordable as most of its competitors, Proton VPN offers a well-rounded VPN service that is community-supported and independently audited. The app is packed with a plethora of advanced and functional features, secured by strong encryption protocols, and supported by an extensive global network of fast and secure servers. From Secure Core architecture and Forward Secrecy to Stealth VPN protocol and VPN Accelerator technology to boost speeds, Proton VPN offers a bunch of advanced features that you may not get from its more affordable competitors.
- Free version
- Good encryption
- Limited number of servers with free version