Proton Technologies started its project with ProtonMail to boost the security of users of a private email provider. But with time, it has expanded its services and developed a VPN provider named ProtonVPN.
Over time ProtonVPN has improved a lot from the past. It is now a top-rated VPN provider that offers a range of impressive security and privacy features to maintain your digital privacy.
The VPN provider claims to serve more than eight million people, but does it live up to its claims of providing users with robust online privacy and security? or Does it work with Netflix and streaming channels?
Dig out everything you need to know in this in-depth ProtonVPN review. So, let’s get started.
Who Owns ProtonVPN?
Proton Technologies is the parent company of ProtonVPN, created to protect the journalists and activists who use ProtonMail. A team of scientists who met at the CERN founded Proton Technologies. Their first project was developing the largest encrypted email service, ProtonMail, to communicate more privately over the web.
The company belongs to Geneva, Switzerland, which is a privacy-friendly jurisdiction. The country falls outside the jurisdiction of the global surveillance alliance, which means it is not bound by any agreement to collect and share users’ data logs. Switzerland follows the strongest privacy laws and respects users’ privacy so, the company isn’t required to retain users’ data.
Moreover, it is not the European Union’s member country, so the mandatory data retention laws are also not applicable. Hence, for all these reasons, ProtonVPN is reliable, and you can trust the company.
However, a recent incident has raised questions over the integrity of ProtonVPN. The company has been facing backlash after it amended its policy and gave French climate activists the IP address to the Swiss Police.
The company CEO has stated this incident and said that the company uses strong encryption that prevents it from viewing the contents and identity of the ProtonMail account. In this case, too, it wasn’t known that the revealed information was of the activist.
Though the incident is quite severe from a privacy perspective, there hasn’t been any incident that shows that ProtonVPN follows the same steps. Also, its security audit reports for the apps and annual transparency reports are enough to prove its reliability.
ProtonVPN is a featured-rich VPN provider. It offers various features that boost your digital privacy and security and ensure a hassle-free browsing experience. The table below gives a brief highlights of the features that ProtonVPN offers so, let’s have a look at it:
|Encryption||AES-256 bit encryption, 4096 RSA, HMAC with SHA384 for authentication|
|VPN protocol||OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard|
|Servers||1,441 servers in 61 countries (Plus plan)|
|P2P support||P2P-optimized servers for torrenting|
|Device support||Android, iOS, macOS, Linux, and Windows|
|Browser Extensions||No, but works on all major browsers including Chrome and Firefox|
|Log policy||No-log policy|
|Log audit||Verified audit of apps.|
Each of the above features gives off excellent performance and makes ProtonVPN a strong contender among its rivals. Now, let’s start reviewing each of these features in detail and learn how they contribute to increasing your online privacy and security. So, here we go.
ProtonVPN claims to be a secure VPN provider that provides users a top-notch online security level. Let’s see how well the ProtonVPN performs with different VPN leak tests.
- IPLeak Test
Your IP address is the gateway that reveals a lot about your browsing activities. The primary purpose of using a VPN is to hide your IP address; if it fails, there’s no use. With ProtonVPN, you won’t find any IP leaks, after running the test. The VPN provider ensures complete anonymity over the web by hiding your IP address.
- DNS Leak Test
DNS leaks tests help determine if your device is sending the DNS server traffic outside the VPN’s tunnel. If it happens, your DNS requests and IP address would be visible to anyone monitoring your activities. Fortunately, ProtonVPN protects against DNS leaks. When the DNS leak test is performed, it redirects your DNS requests via an encrypted tunnel. The ProtonVPN app has DNS leak protection on by default. If you have any doubt, use the DNS leak test tool and run a test.
- WebRTC Leak Test
ProtonVPN also provides WebRTC leak protection to the users. WebRTC allows browsers to communicate directly without the need for intermediate servers. It might sound helpful, but it isn’t because any two devices that need to communicate require your IP address. In this way, the hackers or third-party can use the WebRTC technique to hunt your actual IP address without your consent. It means the VPN lives up to its claim to protect against WebRTC leaks.
ProtonVPN uses the best-in-class encryption ciphers and protocols that take your security to the next level. It encrypts your data with AES-256 bit encryption. Also, it uses a 4096-bit RSA key and SHA384 authentication. To further enhance the safety of your data traffic, it has perfect forward secrecy. It prevents anyone from capturing your encrypted traffic and decrypting later. It generates a new encryption key with every connection and ensures it won’t be reused.
ProtonVPN encryption was tested to analyze the data packets using WireShark software. The following screenshots show how ProtonVPN transfers data packets across the network:
The above test result shows that the VPN uses secure tunneling protocols that ensure maximum security, fast speeds, and stability of your VPN connection. ProtonVPN uses OpenVPN, IKEV2, and WireGuard protocol that promises better security and speed.
With such high encryption, ProtonVPN is undoubtedly safe to use and offers robust online protection to users.
Privacy Features Of ProtonVPN
Besides providing solid online security, ProtonVPN also comes with a range of privacy-focused features that makes you more private over the web. Below is a deep insight into the privacy features offered by ProtonVPN:
ProtonVPN is a genuinely private VPN. It is a no-log VPN that respects users’ privacy and doesn’t keep any user data logs. Here’s a look at the ProtonVPN logging policy:
The above screenshot shows that the VPN doesn’t retain your:
- IP address
- Session data
- Connection logs
Besides this, ProtonVPN collects your:
- Email address
- Payment information
- Support request
All the collected information soon gets deleted when you delete your account.
ProtonVPN is a trusted VPN provider as its apps are open-sourced and audited. It is the first VPN that has open-sourced apps on all supporting platforms. Moreover, each app has undergone a third-party security audit by SEC Consult, previously built in partnership with Mozilla.
The security audit report highlights the issues and vulnerabilities in each app. The most secure app was macOS, as it found no bugs. The Windows app detected vulnerabilities related to jailbreaking while the iOS found flaws in using hardcoded credentials and other valuable data in the memory. The least secure app was Android, as it had logout issues.
However, all the vulnerabilities were fixed at the time of exposure. Now, all the apps except for Linux are audited and safe to use.
The company also issues annual transparency reports that ensure that users’ data is untraceable. In 2019, the Swiss court approved a foreign country’s request to hand over users’ logs. But since ProtonVPN doesn’t store IP addresses and all the servers are protected with full disk encryption, no data was provided.
Thus, ProtonVPN is fully compliant with the GDPR laws and by no means shares your data with anyone.
ProtonVPN promises increased online protection with the kill switch feature. Like many other secure VPN providers, ProtonVPN also has a built-in kill switch or Always-on VPN feature. It cuts off your VPN connection and blocks the internet traffic when the VPN connection drops. Later, it automatically re-establishes the connection when the connection is reported.
To clarify doubts, when the kill switch was tested, it worked perfectly fine.
The split tunneling feature is yet another impressive and advanced feature that ProtonVPN offers. It allows users to either encrypt their entire connection or select some apps to route via the VPN. This feature is convenient during torrenting as encrypting your torrent-specific activities ensures more security and better downloading speed.
To enable the split tunneling feature, you need to: Go to Settings > Advanced > Tab on Split tunneling to turn it on.
However, the feature is only operational on the Android and Windows platforms. If you’re a Windows user, you can add specific IP addresses and apps that you want to include to go through the VPN tunnel. Similarly, you must add the IPs and apps manually in the Android app.
As a whole, it is an impressive feature that you can’t ignore using.
Tor Over VPN
If you’re looking for a VPN provider that works exceptionally well on the Tor browser, then ProtonVPN is the one you should go with. ProtonVPN comes with built-in support for the Tor browser. It has Tor servers in several countries that you can quickly identify under the Tor label. These servers consist of nodes that route your traffic through the Tor network and even allow you to access the .onion sites and hidden services.
Another impressive thing about ProtonVPN is that it doesn’t require you to download the Tor browser to access the hidden services. You can use any regular browser to connect the Tor network by using ProtonVPN plus a premium plan.
Full Disk Encryption
ProtonVPN VPN is a private and reliable VPN provider. One reason for this is that it uses full disk encryption technology on all its servers. It means that the data is virtually stored on the servers. The latest feature introduced by the company helps prevent man-in-the-middle attacks and other government surveillance tactics.
ProtonVPN comes with another innovative feature that keeps your browsing activities protected. It has a NetShield feature that uses the DNS filtering technique to block all intrusive pop-up ads and online trackers that snoop on your actions. This ensures that your browsing activities are not tracked and ruined with unwanted ads. Moreover, besides blocking ads, this feature boosts your browsing speed. It stops your device from loading irrelevant content from a website that contains ads and trackers.
You can decide what type of protection you want by navigating the settings option. It can be against the ad, malware, or trackers.
Secure Core Servers
ProtonVPN comes with secure core servers to add an extra security layer while you surf the web. These servers provide a double VPN feature that encrypts your data traffic through two VPN servers. These servers are located in a jurisdiction with strong internet and data privacy laws that violate users’ privacy like Switzerland, Iceland, and Sweden. When you connect to these servers, data traffic goes from your device to the VPN server and then to another server before reaching its final destination.
With this feature, the VPN protects you against network attacks. But because of double encryption, you might experience slow speed. So, if your prime concern is security, then you should use this feature.
Alternative Routing Technology
In 2020, ProtonVPN launched an advanced alternative routing technology that helps in bypassing censorship or accessing websites blocked by the government, ISPs, and network administrators. Besides this, it has also introduced a Smart Protocol that searches for the best VPN protocol to bypass censorship. At the moment, the anti-censorship is operational on iOS and macOS.
Other Supported Features
Besides providing top-notch security and privacy features, ProtonVPN also offers extra supported features that ensure a hassle-free usability experience. These features are discussed as follows:
ProtonVPN allows users to customize their profiles. When you download the app, you can change the color, server, and protocols according to your wish. You can prevent the trouble of manually selecting the settings each time you perform a different task.
Another feature similar to Profiles is Quick Connect. The quick-connect option shows you’re connected to the fastest available server upon downloading the app. But, you can tailor them as you want.
Does ProtonVPN Work With Netflix?
If you’re looking for a VPN for streaming blocked content, then you should try ProtonVPN. Streaming will be troubling if you use a free plan because server access is limited. But, in the Plus plan, Netflix was working perfectly. Moreover, you can watch your favorite TV shows and movies in HD quality with fast speed and consistent speed. You can unlock libraries of different regions and make your experience worth amazing.
Does ProtonVPN Offer Fast Speed?
When it comes to speed, ProtonVPN is no less. It works exceptionally well on local and international servers without negligible connection lags.
ProtonVPN servers are just impressive. Each server displays a sign that shows how much load each server can bear. Users can select the servers accordingly to enjoy fast connection speed.
When ProtonVPN was tested for speed, the results were outstanding. The screenshot below shows how the speed test went: I have used Mobile data to avoid “data throttling.”
When ProtonVPN was connected with the servers in Canada, Russia, Germany, and the USA, the speeds increased by almost 15%. This is more than expected. The last two results are when ProtonVPN was not connected. From the above test result, it can be concluded that ProtonVPN also helps in bypassing ISP throttling. So, that’s great!
Does ProtonVPN Offer Any Free Trial?
Previously, ProtonVPN does not offer any free trial period on its premium plan. You can use the free version if you first want to test the ProtonVPN service and features. As the name indicates, it is entirely free to use, and by signing up for a free account, you can directly start using it.
But, if you want to access all ProtonVPN servers and test how it works with Netflix and supports P2P activities, you must subscribe to a premium plan. But don’t worry if after subscription you’re not satisfied with its service. ProtonVPN offers a 30 days money-back guarantee offer. According to its website, you’ll get a refund for the unused portion of the service during the initial 30 days of purchase. You can request a refund by filling out the support form, and you will get your refund within 14 days of the request.
Is ProtonVPN Compatible With Torrenting?
Users quickly share large files of movies, TV shows, and songs using the popular BitTorrent protocol. However, as most of these files contain copyrighted material, it can put you in trouble. Fortunately, ProtonVPN supports torrenting but doesn’t support using BitTorrent to download and share any illegal or copyrighted content. The VPN offers P2P protocols that are only for downloading and sharing legal content. In this way, ProtonVPN ensures a safe torrenting experience.
Moreover, the VPN provider offers unlimited bandwidth, fast speeds, and P2P-optimized servers, making your downloading process fast. It also protects against DNS and IP leaks so, no need to worry about your IP getting exposed. ProtonVPN further uses split tunneling and a kill switch feature to enhance the safety of your torrent downloading process. These features enhance your security and make you anonymous over the web while you download torrents.
ProtonVPN is a good option for torrenting, but it isn’t supported in the free plan. To enjoy unlimited torrenting, you need to switch to any premium plan.
For the best torrenting experience, look for secure core servers as these servers have been optimized for P2P file sharing.
How Many Servers Does ProtonVPN Have?
A good VPN comprises a vast server network that ensures fast connection speed. ProtonVPN comes with one of the most extensive server networks that provide above-average streaming speed and torrenting. At the moment, ProtonVPN has a global coverage of 1,441 servers in 61 countries. Moreover, the VPN offers 96 secure core servers that you can access in the Plus plan.
It is important to note that your server access would be limited if you use a free or basic plan. The free plan allows you to access only 23 servers in Japan, the Netherlands, and the US. Similarly, in the basic plan, you can access more than 350 servers in 40+ countries.
Is Free ProtonVPN Worth Using?
ProtonVPN offers both free and premium versions, and if you want to try it first, you can consider using the free version of ProtonVPN. Unlike most other free VPN providers, ProtonVPN is safe to use and doesn’t keep data logs. All of its apps are open sources and have undergone a verified log audit process. The audit proves that it neither shares nor records users’ data to earn money. Their prime source of income is through the subscription fee people pay while buying the premium plan.
Besides this, the free plan offers unlimited bandwidth with no sluggish or poor connection speed. It provides a medium speed that is good for browsing the web. You can even access any blocked websites or services such as YouTube. However, the free version comes with a few concerns. The free plan has 23 servers in three different locations. You won’t be able to access Plus servers; thus, streaming on Netflix and downloading torrents is impossible. Nevertheless, ProtonVPN is a good VPN, and you should try it out once.
Does ProtonVPN Accept Payment Via Bitcoins?
Many people are concerned about their online identity and want to keep it hidden while buying a VPN. Fortunately, ProtonVPN does offer an anonymous payment option to the users. You can pay via bitcoins and make sure there aren’t any track records left that can expose your purchasing the ProtonVPN service.
But, when you sign for any premium plan, you have to make the first payment via credit card or PayPal. Later, when you upgrade your account, you can pay through bitcoin or other conventional payment methods.
How Many Simultaneous Connections Does It Offer?
ProtonVPN offers four subscription plans that allow a specific number of VPN connections. The number of VPN connections is the number of devices you can connect with a single ProtonVPN subscription account. Below you can see how many VPN connection does each plan offers:
|Subscription Plan||No of VPN Connections|
|Plus Plan||10 (Torrenting, Netflix Works)|
|Visionary Plan||10 (Torrenting, Netflix Works)|
From the above table, it is evident that if you want to connect more devices with a single account, you should consider using the Plus or Visionary plan. Both of them offer up to ten simultaneous device connections. Moreover, if you opt for the Visionary plan, you can enjoy the encrypted ProtonMail benefits.
The Bottom Line
To conclude, ProtonVPN is a reliable, safe, and secure VPN to use. It comes with unlimited bandwidth and numerous security and privacy-protected features to use. Moreover, the premium plans allow unlimited torrenting and streaming with fast speeds.
The VPN provider also uses state-of-the-art encryption and adheres to a no-log policy that keeps your data protected and out of the reach of the surveillance eyes. So, do try out ProtonVPN and enhance your browsing experience.