ProtonVPN review 2021: Is ProtonVPN trustworthy as it claims to be?
The love of privacy-focused folks
the bottom line
ProtonVPN might not hit lightning speed, but it’s top tier VPN due to its unblocking ability, security walls, and privacy initiatives. The prime job of any VPN is to protect you online, and ProtonVPN has got full marks for it. It might seem marginally expensive given its competitors and features, but it takes the lead on the security and privacy grounds. Free version to independent audits, unlimited bandwidth to Tor compatibility – there are still tons of features for which ProtonVPN deserves applause. Give ProtonVPN a shot, because it’s truly worth it.
Unblock all major streaming sites
Highly secured with highest level of encryption and security protocol
When we think about purchasing a VPN service, a lot of things go into the decision-making process. Fast speed, unblocking ability, robust security and privacy, torrenting, and other competitive features help us make the right choice and purchase the VPN service that fully fulfils our needs. However, every VPN provider declares itself as the best in all areas. This generic affirmation can easily lead us to purchase the wrong VPN service that may not partially or entirely serve the purpose. To ensure you start on the right foot, I’ve extensively tested the ProtonVPN and reviewed it, considering all the relevant areas. My ProtonVPN review will definitely answer your two critical questions: 1) Is ProtonVPN worth your money, and 2) is it trustworthy? So, keep reading to find out every little thing related to the ProtonVPN.
Tight on time? These eight points matter most to make a buying decision promptly:
1. Does ProtonVPN work with Netflix and other streaming services?
In my testing, I got slightly disappointed with the end result. You can stream Netflix and other streaming services such as Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and Disney+; however, you’ll need the ‘plus’ or ‘visionary’ plan to do so. Free and basic plans of ProtonVPN aren’t good enough to unblock the geo-restricted content, and the company also recommends its ‘plus servers’ to stream the geo-restricted content. I tried ‘plus servers’ and faced the occasional lag and buffering while streaming the content. On the positive side, ProtonVPN did unblock the region-locked content on all the primary streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, and many others.
2. Does ProtonVPN support torrents?
ProtonVPN uses IKEv2 protocols for its macOS and Android app and OpenVPN protocols for its Windows app. More on it later, rest assured: ProtonVPN absolutely works for torrenting. The company’s concrete privacy mechanisms and strong reputation ensure your safe p2p filesharing experience. Although ProtonVPN isn’t the fastest VPN for torrenting, I still suggest it after testing rigorously.
3. Is ProtonVPN safe?
DNS leak protection, Secure Core (a bit similar to Multihop feature), no-log policy, registered in Switzerland (heaven for data privacy), and independent security audits make the ProtonVPN one of the safest VPNs. Privacy and security are the company’s unique selling points, and I also appreciate their measures in this regard. After the strictest scrutiny, I’ve included ProtonVPN in my list of safest VPNs.
4. Does ProtonVPN work with every device and platform?
The VPN provider, just like the top VPN companies, has developed customized applications for the famous and most used platforms. ProtonVPN’s Tailor-made applications are at hand for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and Android TV. Linux and Android TV applications are in the process of beta testing.
I’ve used ProtonVPN on the different devices, and the interface is similar across the various platforms. Plus, it’s exceptionally convenient to navigate. Additionally, ProtonVPN can be set up with the router to secure every device connected to the router. The process to establish ProtonVPN with the router is quite technical, and I only recommend you set up the ProtonVPN with your router if you’re tech-savvy.
5. How fast is ProtonVPN?
Since the VPN providers are killing competitors’ edge based on the speed and unblocking abilities, ProtonVPN has opted another way. It takes pride in privacy and security, and speed comes afterwards. In my testing, I found ProtonVPN didn’t underperform, if not the best, concerning the speed. Until you’re not looking for the fastest VPN, ProtonVPN is decent with good speed results, and it can ensure internet browsing and streaming without the frustration of slow speed. You might face an occasional lag while streaming the videos; the rest of the tasks can quickly be completed without any speed issue. But if you don’t want to compromise over the speed performance, you must go with NordVPN, ExpressVPN, or Hotspot Shield.
6. How much does ProtonVPN cost?
ProtonVPN has again taken a different route to set the pricing plans. VPN providers offer the same set of features and throw a discount if you purchase a more extended subscription period. Unlike the regular pricing strategy, ProtonVPN differentiates the pricing based on the offered features and the more extended period of subscription. More on the pricing later, here is a quick brief.
ProtonVPN has four pricing tiers: Free, Basic, Plus, and Visionary. A free plan costs nothing, and ProtonVPN is only a credible VPN company with a free plan for the users (although the free plan has a far few functionalities). The next one is a basic plan, which costs $5 monthly ($48 if purchased annually and $79 if purchased with the 2-year plan). In the plus plan, ProtonVPN charges $10 monthly ($96 if purchased annually and $159 with the 2-year plan). The fourth plan is visionary, and it costs $30 monthly ($288 if purchased annually and $479 with the 2-year plan). The most crowd-pleasing plan is the ‘plus plan’ with the 1-year pricing strategy. Get the plus plan here for 1-year only for $96!
7. What are the different features offered in these four pricing plans?
The free plan includes:
Only three server options: Japan, the Netherlands, and the U.S.
One device connection per free account
No geo-unblocking such as Netflix and Amazon Prime
The basic plan includes:
Two device connections per basic account
Servers options across the 50 countries
Slightly faster speed
P2P file sharing and BitTorrent support
No access to the geo-restricted content
The plus plan includes:
Five device connections per plus account
Server options across the 50 countries, including the plus servers
P2P filesharing and BitTorrent support
Unblocking the region-locked content on almost every streaming service, E.G., Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, ETC
Additional security protocols
Tor network as an additional protection
Significant speed upgradation
The visionary plan includes:
Ten device connections per visionary account
Proton Mail Visionary account for encrypted messaging (which further includes five users, ten custom domains, 20 GB of storage, unlimited messaging, and more)
And all of the plus account features.
8. Do I recommend ProtonVPN?
Absolutely! If you’re on the lookout for the best and safest internet surfing, ProtonVPN is highly recommended. However, if unblocking the streaming services and the fastest VPN speed are your core objectives, then you have better options in the shape of NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and Hotspot Shield. Again, if privacy, security, and online protection are prime reasons you wish to use a VPN, ProtonVPN is a go-to choice for you. I rate ProtonVPN 8.00*!
“ProtonVPN is a no logs VPN service. We do not track or record your internet activity, and therefore, we are unable to disclose this information to third parties.”
What does this exactly mean? In simple words, even if a court rules to handover your data, ProtonVPN would not be able to do so because the company didn’t collect your information at all. As mentioned earlier, not storing user data is permitted by Swiss laws; this is why the territory is a ‘safe haven for privacy and security.’
In reality, there is no black and white; instead, we have to spot grey areas. The truth is that some type of data is always collected and stored by every VPN company, and it’s standard practice until the stored data doesn’t reveal your identity and activity to anyone, including government and law enforcement agencies.
“We retain this limited information to protect user accounts from password brute force attacks.” This clarification makes sense, and I see no harm in it, as almost every VPN retains this information.
Additionally, the company keeps your email address, support requests and bug reports, and payment information. Furthermore, this info is deleted if you close your account. Until that, the data mentioned above is encrypted and secured on the highly-protected servers. And if you want complete anonymity, you have an option to sign up through ProtonMail or burner email and pay via cryptocurrency.
After reviewing more than 50 VPNs and spotting all sorts of misleading information and woolly languages, I can safely say ProtonVPN has impressed me concerning their privacy and no-log policy. The company, rightly so, claims one of the top spots among the safest and highly-protected VPNs.
Security: Is ProtonVPN safe to use?
While evaluating VPN’s protective gears, the significant aspect is figuring out the handful of features offered while they keep strengthening the security walls. Keeping this in mind, I start with the kill switch feature.
Does ProtonVPN offer Kill Switch?
Kill Switch revokes your device’s internet connection if at any point in time the VPN is disconnected during the VPN session. Say, you’re downloading a torrent file, which could take two hours. In between the downloading, the VPN connection is lost even for a split of a second. If the VPN doesn’t provide the Kill Switch feature, your activity, IP, data, and traffic will be disclosed to the internet service provider or any third-party. Whereas if Kill Switch is enabled, it stops your device from accessing the Internet until the VPN connection is restored. The Kill Switch feature is also called ‘Network Lock’ and ‘Always-on.’ Luckily, ProtonVPN offers a Kill Switch feature for Mac and Windows, and for Android, this feature is called Always-on. You have to manually turn-on Kill Switch in the ProtonVPN’s app by selecting the Kill Switch icon in Windows and Mac. In the Android, selecting the Always-on VPN will enable the kill switch. Unfortunately, iOS users can’t get Kill Switch with the ProtonVPN; however, you can check theNordVPN. It has a Kill Switch for iOS users as well.
I tested Kill Switch with the ProtonVPN on IPLeak, ipleak.net, DNS Leak Test, and Browser Leaks, and each of them confirmed the ProtonVPN’s non-DNS leakage claim. During my testing, IP (Internet Protocol), DNS leaking (Domain Name System), data, and traffic – everything was shielded. Full marks to ProtonVPN for the highly efficient Kill Switch feature.
Does ProtonVPN have split-tunneling?
Yes, ProtonVPN offers the split-tunneling for Windows and Android users. Again, iOS and Mac users are missing out on split-tunneling with ProtonVPN. Split-tunneling creates two traffic tunnels, one for VPN traffic and second for the rest of the traffic. Say, you wish to stream Netflix and Amazon Prime through VPN tunnel, at the same time, you want to connect your bank application via your original IP address. Split-tunneling allows you always to connect some of the applications (such as Netflix and Amazon Prime in our example) with the VPN tunnel and simultaneously, the rest of applications (bank application in our example) with your real IP address. This feature is pretty useful for some, and nice-to-have for others. I like it as I won’t need to switch on and off VPN each time when I need to connect my bank application in the middle of streaming Netflix. The split-tunneling feature works flawlessly with Windows and Android in my testing. Again, it’s not available for iOS users.
What is Secure Core, and why does it matter?
To protect users’ online activity, VPN providers have to grow smarter than the smartest hackers and countries with broad surveillance. Also, countries with restrictive internet regulations keep elevating the tracking technology to discover the real IP address behind the VPN security walls. A few VPNs introduced Multi-hop or Double-hop feature. To understand Multi-hop, let’s dive in and dig how a standard VPN connection works. Afterwards, I’ll discuss Multi-hop and Secure Core (how does it differ from the Multi-hop).
VPN encrypts your traffic and creates a tunnel from your connection to the VPN server.
From VPN server, your traffic heads off to the final destination (the web page you want to connect).
Government, internet service provider (ISP) and third-parties can’t figure out which web page you’re accessing.
Similarly, the website you’re visiting can’t trace you back where you are coming from.
A tunnel is created in Multi-hop to the VPN server from your connection, just like the standard VPN practice. However, from the VPN server, your connection is routed to another VPN server instead of sending you to the final destination. Finally, from the second server, traffic reaches to the final web page. This way, any third-party, tracing you, first has to surpass the protection of two VPN servers. Multihop makes the tracking really hard even for the smartest hackers and super-tech countries. What’s more? If the VPN server is seized or taken in custody, the recovered data will still be unable to point your direction.
Secure Core is the next step presented by the ProtonVPN. ProtonVPN will drive your traffic through multiple servers located in the privacy-friendly countries if the threat is detected. These are Iceland, Switzerland, and Sweden. Let’s pay closer attention to what company itself what has to say:
“We also placed our Secure Core servers in high-security data centres to ensure strong physical security. ProtonVPN infrastructure in Switzerland and Sweden is housed in underground data centres, while our Iceland servers are on a former military base. Furthermore, Secure Core servers are wholly owned and provisioned by us(shipped on-site directly from our offices). Finally, Secure Core servers are connected to the Internet using our own dedicated network with IP addresses that are owned and operated by our own Local Internet Registry (LIR)”.
Secure Core is an extremely vital feature for journalists and activists who absolutely need online privacy. You might also need it too. For instance, if cryptocurrency is illegal in your country, you probably prefer Secure Core to avoid any legal complications. A standard VPN can’t offer you this level of protection, because if the VPN server is compromised, the data can be revealed. So the benefits of using the VPN will be nullified and of no use. The Secure Core really assists in mitigating threats to the user’s online activity and privacy. ProtonVPN has taken the lead in this regard because no VPN provider has such a strong infostructure keeping in mind the Multihop or Secure Core. Besides ProtonVPN, NordVPN also offers the Multi-hop, but it’s behind the ProtonVPN in this domain.
Since the traffic is routed through two servers, the internet speed declines – it’s quite understandable. Secure Core can manually be activated inside the VPN settings, and it’s provided only with the plus and visionary plans. The good news is that it’s available for all the platforms, including iOS and Mac users.
The ProtonVPN Windows client and Linux script utilizes the OpenVPN protocol. The Mac OS, Android, and iOS apps use the IKEv2 protocol.
For the data channel, ProtonVPN uses an AES-256-CBC cipher together with HMAC SHA-512 authentication. To become more transparent, ProtonVPN announced in January 2020 that its apps are now open source, welcoming for the independent audits. SEC Consult took the challenge and found nothing significant security inefficiency. Other than that, a few independent audits have been conducted, and just like SEC Consult, they also weren’t able to spot a considerable threat. Instead of going in the technical nitty-gritty, I can safely tell you ProtonVPN has one of the outclass encryption and protocol systems in place. With ProtonVPN, your online world is in safe hands.
Does ProtonVPN work with Netflix and other geo-restricted streaming services?
Well, the short answer is yes. But hang in there, ProtonVPN won’t be the best choice to unlock the Netflix and region-locked content on other streaming services. I ran a test on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, and BBC iPlayer. It succeeded on every attempt but with not the desired speed. At times, a player took too long that the session timed out. On top of it, if you’re looking to access a wide range of libraries, the ProtonVPN won’t make you delighted. It offers far few libraries compared to the competition. NordVPNand ExpressVPNare way ahead in unblocking Netflix and all other streaming services with highly impressive speed outcomes. My vote goes for them if unblocking region-locked content is the prime reason you’re getting VPN for. The reasoning is straight forward, as ProtonVPN is more focused on privacy and security instead of playing around the streaming services to unlock their content. One more thing, you can’t get in with the free or basic plan. Only plus and visionary accounts will work with Netflix and other streaming sites.
Does ProtonVPN support torrenting?
Torrenting involves various risks. Your IP is exposed to everyone who is sharing files with you. Furthermore, an internet service provider can also detect you’re downloading Torrent files. Subsequently, it can throttle the connection, which will result in slower internet speed. Additionally, it can also sell the data to any third-party. To keep it short, Trustworthy VPN is inevitable for safe and secure Torrenting experience. Keeping this thing in mind, I tested ProtonVPN and discovered that the VPN provider provides optimized P2P filesharing servers. Torrent support is offered only with paid plans (basic, plus, and visionary).
To hit the optimized P2P servers, connect with the servers with the two-arrow icon in front of them. Unfortunately, these optimized servers are only available in five locations: Switzerland, the Netherlands, Iceland, Singapore, and Sweden. If you’re not anywhere near to these places, you’ll counter with massive speed reduction while downloading the Torrent files. This aspect is a bit disappointing. Just in case, if you connect to the non-optimized P2P server to overcome the speed issue, ProtonVPN will likely redirect you to the P2P optimized server or present with an error message. There’s nothing much you can do to speed up the process.
Other than speed problem, ProtonVPN is super-secure VPN for Torrenting. No-log policy, reliable encryption, and highly protective VPN protocols such as OpenVPN and IKEv2 make it the top choice for peer-to-peer file sharing. While taking the security systems into count (mentioned previously), I prefer ProtonVPN for Torrenting. Make sure you don’t need frequent Torrent downloads because slower speed will cause slight frustration. However, there isn’t any data cap and bandwidth restriction in place. If you use a plus or visionary plan, speed will be much faster than the basic plan. Some of the best options for Torrenting are NordVPN,ExpressVPN,and SurfsharkVPN. Be sure to check them out, too.
How to contact ProtonVPN customer support
Unlike the top VPNs, ProtonVPN doesn’t have the option of live chat. This is somewhat not expected from the premium VPN service like the ProtonVPN. We all require assistance from the VPN provider at any point in time. If you face even a minor issue, there is no quick fix for your problem with the ProtonVPN. You’ll have to submit an online ticket and wait 24 to 48 hours to receive a response. I tried, and ProtonVPN customer support reached back to me after 24 hours with my problem’s detailed solution. Their answer was satisfactory and thorough.
If you need a quick fix, the better option is their knowledge base. The most common issues are well-explained, and solutions are provided accordingly. There is no phone support available, which is a bit disappointing if you’re countered with the uncommon problem with the ProtonVPN. Trustpilot rating is 3.1, which tells that customers didn’t have a delightful experience with the support team. However, if you use VPN for regular internet surfing, there will hardly be any need for a support team. Also, if you require assistance, they get back to you inside the 48 hours – that’s okay, too.
Does ProtonVPN offer static IP addresses and adblocker?
No, ProtonVPN doesn’t include static IP address and adblocker in any of its plans. You can’t purchase these services, either.
How many servers does ProtonVPN have?
The VPN provider has strategically built its server infrastructure across the 54 countries. It also covers some of the most challenging regions, including Africa, South America, China, Turkey, and India. Most VPN providers ignore these places due to several factors, such as high cost and government restrictions. The company has 1,048 servers – which are far fewer compared to the top VPNs. Yet, strategic placement of servers allows users to enjoy the decent speed with the ProtonVPN.
What is ProtonVPN refund policy?
The refund policy is tricky. Unlike the other VPNs providers, ProtonVPN will only refund the amount of remaining days of subscription. After purchasing the monthly plan, if you ask for a refund on the fifteenth day, you’ll be reimbursed only for the unused subscription period (fifteen days in our example). They call it proration.
To cancel out a subscription, you first need to downgrade your account level to free, submit a support form via online ticket or email, give reasons of cancellation, and upon their confirmation, wait for two days to receive remaining amount in your selected option (credit/debit card). I didn’t test it out, so I can’t say much about their cancellation policy. A few people have a positive experience, but there are also people complaining about the refund policy. The things get more complicated if you purchased the plan through the Bitcoin. The support team will guide you with the process in that case.
Does ProtonVPN offer Tor over VPN?
Users of plus and visionary plans can access the Tor over VPN feature with the single click. Tor over VPN means you connect to the VPN, and after that, Tor browser. This way, Tor browser will not figure out your real IP and VPN provider will not know about your online traffic. It’s a zig-zag, which makes you a ghost in the online world for everyone, including VPN provider and Tor browser.
Does ProtonVPN have browser extensions?
ProtonVPN doesn’t have any customized-built browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
Is it easy to navigate ProtonVPN?
Yes, apps across different platforms have a similar interface. This is quite helpful, as if you learn to operate ProtonVPN on Windows, you won’t have an issue to run it on your mobile device (Android and iOS). The interface is pretty good and clean. Installation to configuration and navigating – everything is super-easy and requires no complicated technical skills. The process is self-explanatory, and handful guides are also there if you face any issue in the middle of using VPN service.
The bottom line
ProtonVPN might not hit lightning speed, but it’s top tier VPN due to its unblocking ability, security walls, and privacy initiatives. The prime job of any VPN is to protect you online, and ProtonVPN has got full marks for it. It might seem marginally expensive given its competitors and features, but it takes the lead on the security and privacy grounds. Free version to independent audits, unlimited bandwidth to Tor compatibility – there are still tons of features for which ProtonVPN deserves applause.
Thedarkweb.co uses affiliate links, and we may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post at no additional cost to you. The commissions help us keep testing VPN services to suggest the best pick according to your needs. All experts are paid separately, and the website doesn’t share any percentage of commission with writers to ensure honest and unbiased opinions.
Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.