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ProtonVPN review

How Switzerland's largest VPN service takes VPN quality to the next level.

Updated: January 4, 2022 By Dean Chester

This ProtonVPN review lists the pros and cons, tests the technologies used, and reviews the privacy policy regarding the protection of user data.

ProtonVPN review

Screenshot - play.google.com

Supported platforms:

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Linux
  • Router
  • PlayStation
  • Xbox
  • Nintendo Switch

What do we want from a quality VPN? For most of us, the answer is stable and uninterrupted operation, high connection speeds, Netflix support, reliable encryption, a high level of confidentiality and the protection of transmitted data.

ProtonVPN claims to do it all well, and to maximize important features like speed and security.

Do they deliver? Cooltechzone has tested ProtonVPN on different devices and we are ready to give a detailed overview of the capabilities of this VPN. Spoiler alert: the service has successfully passed all our tests, but we do have some comments.

ProtonVPN pros and cons

Pros: Cons:
  • Good free plan*
  • Speed over 300 Mbps
  • 1500+ servers in 61 countries
  • VPN Accelerator
  • WireGuard support
  • Streaming and torrenting support
  • No logs
  • Based in Switzerland
  • Intuitive app design
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Cash payment option
  • Netflix-enabled tariff is more expensive than other VPNs
  • No Smart DNS
  • More expensive if you pay in euros or pounds

* most of the characteristics listed in the table do not apply to free ProtonVPN

 

 
View Packages ProtonVPN
 

ProtonVPN overview

Cooltechzone rating:
4.4 ★★★★★
App Store rating:
3.9 ★★★★★
Google Store rating:
4.3 ★★★★★
Website visitors:
3.5M
Price:
Depends on the feature set
Jurisdiction:
Switzerland
Server locations:
61 countries
Streaming:
Netflix, other streaming services
Torrenting:
+
Logs:
No
Independent audit:
+
Own innovations:
+ (VPN Accelerator)

Visit ProtonVPN to connect to VPN

ProtonVPN focuses on privacy and security. To achieve this, they have not only developed technically flawless applications without vulnerabilities or leaks but have also launched full server encryption and introduced the Secure Core service, which we will discuss below.

Despite the measures taken by the service, we often hear from VPN users that ProtonVPN’s jurisdiction does not guarantee 100% privacy. Is this true? We will try to answer this question within the framework of this ProtonVPN review.

Looking ahead, we can announce that ProtonVPN has passed all our tests on all operating systems and has proven its ability to provide 100% reliable protection even using the default settings.

What makes ProtonVPN one of the best VPN services?

  • Well-deserved reputation of a company that has been working in the field of personal data protection since 2014
  • High level of safety and reliability confirmed by testing
  • Support for all platforms, including TV, routers and gaming platforms
  • Support for Netflix and other video services
  • Support for technologies that increase the security of personal data and transmitted information

What flaws could be corrected?

  • ProtonVPN may not work in China as it does not offer VPN obfuscation.
  • The service does not have a Smart DNS function to bypass geo-restrictions on most TV platforms.
  • The ability to pay with cryptocurrencies with low transaction fees, such as XRP, should be added.

ProtonVPN innovations

The service has developed its own technology to accelerate tunneling, which has no analogues. They have solved the main problem faced by most fast VPNs – the maximum speed of the device and server math calculations.

The fact is that the higher the Internet speed, the more encryption and decryption operations the device needs to perform per unit of time. With the advent of 5G and the expansion of fiber optic coverage, more and more users are demanding high-speed VPNs.

But not many people know that this speed is conditional and largely depends on the power of the user’s device. This is especially noticeable when using a VPN router, when one processor has to pack and unpack the data of several connected devices.

What has ProtonVPN done?

They have modified how the VPN protocols work and made the connection multithreaded. ProtonVPN has named this technology the VPN Accelerator.

How VPN Accelerator works

The essence of the system is that for encryption and decoding, 4 processor cores are used instead of one, which in theory increases performance up to 4 times (400%).

With ProtonVPN, even weak devices can run faster than the competition.

In addition to VPN Accelerator technology, ProtonVPN offers a service that is rare in the VPN industry – access to special servers in a uniquely protected data center in the mountains of Switzerland.

The innovations described above, combined with other useful features integrated in their VPN software, make ProtonVPN one of the most progressive and technologically advanced VPN services of 2022.

ProtonVPN for streaming

Testing has confirmed the effectiveness of ProtonVPN's advertised function of bypassing the geo-restrictions of streaming services:

Depending on which country you are in, your selection of content on streaming services can be severely limited. ProtonVPN lets travelers access geoblocked content that is available in any country as part of your streaming service license.

We have created guides to help you unblock all the major streaming platforms using ProtonVPN.

ProtonVPN

At the same time, they declare support for more than 30 video services with geo-restrictions.

We have tested 9 of the most popular video and audio streaming operators and summarized the test results in the table below.

Name of service Overall score
Netflix ★★★★★
BBC iPlayer ★★★☆☆
Amazon Prime Video ★★★★☆
Disney+ ★★★★★
HBO Max ★★★★★
Hulu ★★★★☆
DAZN ★☆☆☆☆
Spotify ★★★★★
ESPN+ ★★★★☆

The study was conducted on the Plus plan. The cheaper "Basic" plan and especially the "Free" plan do not support bypassing geo-blocking.

Description of paid and free versions of ProtonVPN

Let's briefly compare the capabilities and characteristics of the paid and free tariff plans. This is important for understanding whether you need to pay for a VPN or whether the free version is sufficient for your purposes.

Both use cases provide the same high level of protection for information and personal data. The functionality of the application is identical. All protocols and options are available. There are no ads.

A large amount of information is available in the main window:

  • Geographic map for convenient location selection
  • A text list of countries and servers
  • Active IP / country / server
  • Speed ​​indicator (rare feature)

The operating rate of the server

  • The amount of transmitted and received traffic with the visualization:

The convenient visualization of countries and bandwidth consumption

Paid ProtonVPN

The fully functional version is available on 2 tariff plans with the option to pay monthly, annually or every two years.

61 countries are available for both plans. You can select not only countries but also servers within these countries, according to your preferences and speed requirements. But not all of them will be available because there are some differences between the plans.

Unlike most other VPNs, ProtonVPN splits plans not only according to pricing, but also according to their capabilities. The less you pay, the fewer features are available to you, and vice versa.

The “Plus” tariff

+ 61 countries

+ 10 devices

+ Servers with the highest speed (up to 10 Gbps)

Additional servers with the “Secure Core” function

Torrenting

Netflix

Tor over VPN

- The price is higher than competitors’ for a similar package of services (excluding Secure Core)

This is the most powerful plan and offers the most possibilities.

You will have access to all servers, and you can choose the least busy for maximum speed thanks to the indicators showing the speed of each server. In addition, servers with Secure Core can give you an extra layer of protection against hacking attempts on an encrypted VPN.

Plus, it allows you to download torrents and you can remain anonymous while doing so.

Another feature of the Plus tariff plan is the ability to unblock Netflix for most regions.

The “Basic” tariff

+ 40 countries

+ 2 devices simultaneously

+ P2P servers

+ high speed

- servers for Netflix are not available (but other streaming sites may work)

- no advanced security settings

The name of the plan speaks for itself. You will have access to all the basic functions, but some additional ones will be limited.

The defining feature may be the lack of the ability to watch Netflix. It is also quite inconvenient that VPN usage is limited to only two devices.

Also, note that you cannot use the Secure Code servers. Objectively, this function is only necessary for the transmission of especially important information, and its necessity is highly controversial. This feature is not needed for any of the common tasks that are carried out among VPN users.

It is also worth considering that under the "Basic" tariff plan there are restrictions on the use of Tor.

Pros of ProtonVPN

Safety and reliability

Privacy, anonymity, and security are on the highest level of ProtonVPN:

  • AES-256 encryption, key exchange is done with 4096-bit RSA, and HMAC with SHA384 is used for message authentication;
  • No IP leaking (WebRTC web browsers are exposed to leaking, DNS and IPv6 leaking can show your location);
  • Protection on public Wi-Fi or other unsafe networks.

You can trust ProtonVPN in matters of data protection because it has a 5-year experienced development and support of secure e-mail service with data encryption.

I didn’t find any references to scandals or other discreditable information (selling information about its users to third parties, the spread of malicious software and so on) connected to ProtonVPN. Its software tests on different platforms showed no IP leaking.

ProtonVPN IP leaks test

No IP leaking

Logging policy

ProtonVPN claims about strict “No logging” policy:

ProtonVPN doesn’t keep logs

It means that the provider doesn’t save any information about your online activity.

Moreover, it should be noted that ProtonVPN is located in Switzerland that is out of the “14 eyes” alliance. It is an additional advantage of security

Additional functions

The Secure Core servers are set in the special data center at a depth of 1km in the rock.

Protected data center in Switzerland

Protected data center in Switzerland

Only staff has access to VPN in this DC. If you want to use ProtonVPN with these servers, you should buy a subscription for the tariff plan “Plus”.

The Split Tunneling function offers to choose apps and indicates IP when you need to shut down VPNs for them for some reason.

Opportunities on different platforms

Not taking into account some visual differences of apps, functionality for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux is the same. There are no differences in a free trial version like many competitors have. You can download ProtonVPN from the official website using the link, or you can use Google Play Market or Apple App Store.

Methods of payment and money refund

ProtonVPN offers to buy the subscription using your credit card, cash, bitcoins or PayPal.

You can buy a VPN anonymously using other VPN providers.

If you need to refund your money, you can do it by applying to technical support for 30 days.

The number of simultaneous connections

ProtonVPN offers from 2 to 10 simultaneously (10 connections with Visionary plan).

Cons of ProtonVPN

The choice of country

44 countries are the average rate on the market. If you need a provider with a greater choice of locations, I recommend you NordVPN or CyberGhost VPN that offer 59 and 90 countries respectively.

Speed

On the one hand, ProtonVPN has fast servers and good infrastructure technology, but on the other hand, you can top speed only for $8 - $10 per month. It is more expensive than the competitors offer.

Speed measure on the tariff plan “Basic”:

Speed measure on the tariff plan “Plus” showed much better numbers:

US: 67Mbit/s
NL: 71Mbit/s

Hong Kong: 19Mbit/s

A free trial version

Undoubtedly, it is an advantage of ProtonVPN. A 7-day trial version of the top plan “Plus”. You will get access to all functions of VPN even without using your credit card (in comparison with a large number of competitors with a free trial version of VPN). But this is not all. After the end of a trial version you can continue to use VPN for free but only a restricted version. This opportunity offers only ProtonVPN among the other good VPNs. 

A free version

ProtonVPN is one of the few providers that preserved a free VPN of high quality. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have a lot of restrictions in comparison to other providers.

What does ProtonVPN offer for free?

+unlimited traffic each month

+credit cards are unnecessary

+speed with fewer restrictions

+extended functionality

+absence of ad

-only 3 locations (US, NL, JP)

-torrenting is not available

-Netflix is not available

After the end of using a fully-functional period, you can see this message:

Message about the end of a trial period

After that, you can either continue to use VPN or buy a paid tariff plan. We are interested in the first variant. After pressing the button “Maybe Later”, you will be sent again to the main window of the app, and there are no differences at first glance. They will occur only during the process of use. The choice of locations offers only 3 countries available:

Locations of Free ProtonVPN

There will be 1-3 servers available with the mark “Free” and their upload is quite high according to my tests. During the process of testing, I highly appreciated speed and convenience (in comparison to other FreeVPNs). I had no problems with opening websites. For example, you can watch Youtube videos of high quality. In general, there were no difficulties before I began to test Netflix. The website Netflix opened properly, but when I opened the video I got the standard error:

Error Code M7111-5059

When I tried to download torrents I also failed at the maintenance of ProtonVPN:

ProtonVPN doesn’t allow torrenting on its free tariff plan

Consequently, the provider offers a good free VPN for some simple tasks but at the same time gives some restrictions to other tasks. That is why it is quite difficult to say is it suitable for you or not because it depends directly on purpose.

Torrenting

Free anonymous torrenting is available on both plans and during a 7-day trial period. The speed is quite high, but if you want to reach the maximum, you need to buy the most expensive subscription. You can see other ways of torrenting in our review 10 Best VPNs for Torrenting (2022): Up-to-date Rating of 5 Paid and 5 Free Services

About the Proton VPN AG company

The company ProtonVPN AG was founded in 2017 as a beneficiary of the Proton Technologies AG company which deals with the service ProtonMail and Foundation Genevoise pour l'Innovation Technologique (FONGIT) of a non-profit fund financed by the Federal Technologies and Innovations commission in Switzerland.

Chemin du Pre-Fleuri 3
1228 Plan-les-Ouates
SWITZERLAND
phone:   +41225483551
e-mail:  noc (at) protonvpn (dot) com
website: protonvpn.com

Conclusion

So, should you use ProtonVPN?

In most cases, absolutely yes. But, as with other VPNs, it depends on your tasks and requirements.

If you are looking for a free web surfing service, then this is the perfect option for you.

If you are looking for a free VPN for torrenting or streaming, I recommend you choose another provider.

ProtonVPN is not optimized for bypassing internet censorship in China, Iran and some other countries.

As for the paid version, this provider is definitely one of the best on the market. The only drawback is the price.

Explore our review of good cheap VPNs if you want to find a cheaper option.

ProtonVPN is good for those tasks that you shouldn't skimp on – the ones that require maximum privacy and security. Perhaps, in this case, ProtonVPN is the best option.

Its impeccable reputation, Swiss jurisdiction, secure privacy policy, and commitment to security and free speech make ProtonVPN one of the most trusted VPN providers today.

Senior Researcher
Dean Chester
Cybersecurity and online privacy expert and researcher. He's been published on OpenVPN, EC-Council Blog, DevSecOps, AT-T Business, SAP Community, etc. Dean has been testing VPNs for 8 years.

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5 comments for ProtonVPN review

Jayme Silvestri's picture
"Greetings! Very useful

"Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article!
It is the little changes that make the largest changes.
Thanks for sharing!"

4thInternet's picture
Down with Google!

The coolest thing for me personally about ProtonVPN is that it’s available on degoogled devices such as Android.

Yvetteroque1971@gmail.com 's picture
cool thing

Great vpn

drastic harassment's picture
Good service!

I’ve been using Proton VPN for more than a year now. What can I say, a great service XD The only issue I have with it is the price cause you have to pay quite a lot for the really good stuff.

AEZAKMI's picture
Codes

Hi, I have a question about Proton. Should I pay for it with gift codes? What is generally the safest way to buy it?